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Displaying items by tag: Topper

That's the thing about an unstable weather system – testing conditions in Belfast Lough, which threatened the race programme for the Irish Topper Championships this weekend.

Hosted by Carrickfergus Sailing Club on the north shore of Belfast Lough over three days - Friday 20th till Sunday 22nd, the event was sponsored by commercial property consultants Osborne King and supported by Mid and East Antrim Council. Over those three days, the 56 competitors in two fleets of 4.2 and 5.3 had moderate winds but an awkward chop on the Friday, persistent rain and a gusty 18-knot breeze yesterday and hardly any wind for a time on the final day. The principal Race Officer was Sheela Lewis from County Antrim, BC.

But patience paid off in the end and the breeze filled in enough from the north to run two races yesterday (22nd) to complete a nine-race event.

In the 10 boats 4.2 fleet it was Tom Driscoll of Royal North at Cultra and Ballyholme, on the south side of Belfast Lough and Callum Pollard of County Antrim YC, a few miles east of Carrickfergus, who topped the table in that order, with scores never below a 5th, which were the discards in both cases. Finishing with a flourish and a first place was local girl Chloe Craig assuring her of third overall.

Toppers prepare to launch at Carrickfergus's new slipwayToppers prepare to launch at Carrickfergus's new slipway

There were 56 competitors in two Topper fleets of 4.2 and 5.3There were 56 competitors in two Topper fleets of 4.2 and 5.3

Top of the 46 strong 5.3 fleet was Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme, and he finished 5 points ahead of runner up Bobby Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme. Up until the final race yesterday, Palmer never dropped below third, but a big fall to 16th in that race meant he needs to discard a 16. The long journey north for the Royal Cork pair, Liam Duggan and Rian Collins paid off as they took third and fourth. And it also did for Julie O'Neill from Royal Cork, who won the overall female prize having finished sixth in the 5.3 fleet.

Tom Driscoll, Irish Topper Championships 4.2 winnerTom Driscoll, Irish Topper Championships 4.2 winner

Joining the local Northern Ireland Toppers were visitors from as far away as Waterford Harbour, Malahide, Howth, Cork and Wexford. Also on the water were safety boats supplied by saferwaters.org. This is a not-for-profit service in Northern Ireland, established in 2020 to provide a Safety Boat service for water-based community events such as sailing, swimming, paddle boarding and windsurfing, which may not have safety cover of their own or may need additional resources.

Assistant Race Officer Gavin Pollard was very pleased with how the event turned out; "Despite the challenging range of wind conditions over the three days, the championship ran very well with all races upheld with minimal recall!"

Published in Topper
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It was worth the wait for Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to stage a full-on Topper Northern Ireland Championships over the past weekend.

Sixty-nine young sailors came from the length and breadth of Ireland; from Royal Cork and Waterford in the south and Galway in the West, and even from the south of England to compete within this exciting two-day event. There was racing for two divisions, the 4.2 fleet and the 5.3 Toppers in what turned out to be, weather-wise, completely contrasting conditions on each day. And many of the fleet were first-time competitors.

Winning the 4.2 fleet was Callum Pollard from County Antrim Yacht Club in Whitehead on the north shore of Belfast Lough and Bobby Driscoll, (son of Ireland's 1996 Olympian competitor) in a 5.3 from Royal North, Ballyholme and Strangford Lough Yacht Club, was the overall winner.

The lack of a steady breeze on the Saturday forced Race Officer Commodore Aidan Pounder to postpone racing but he managed to get two completed. The next day had completely different conditions with a strong and eventually rain-laden westerly giving some hair-raising racing in a breaking sea, among sailors most of whom seemed to be able to cope with anything. But the rain has no friends among the Race Committee and having postponed the fifth race due to bad visibility when it cleared, they ironically had to abandon it due to increased winds.

Bobby Driscoll (47521) and Daniel PalmerBobby Driscoll (47521) and Daniel Palmer

In the 54 strong 5.3 fleet, Driscoll and Daniel Palmer from BYC, both Juniors, showed consistency throughout the racing and ended on equal nett points, with the tie split in Driscoll's favour. Driscoll counted two firsts and a second and Palmer the same. Driscoll also won the prize for Ist Junior Male. In the third slot was Liam Duggan from Royal Cork and he also took the prize for 1st Youth Male. In the same fleet fourth-placed Julie O'Neill, also from Royal Cork, took home the prize for 1st Youth Female and Ciara McMahon from Howth and National lifted the prize for 1st Junior Female.

In the 15 strong 4.2 fleet Callum Pollard counted a first and two seconds to finish three points ahead of Tom Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme, with Tyler Playfair of Carrickfergus SC third with the same score.

Bobby Driscoll, Topper NI ChampionBobby Driscoll, Topper NI Champion

Callum Pollard  Topper 4.2 NI ChampionCallum Pollard, Topper 4.2 NI Champion

Ballyholme Commodore Aidan Pounder was delighted with the success of the event: "With the pandemic forcing the cancellation of the ITCA GBR Nationals this year, Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) approached Topper Ireland about hosting an event as restrictions eased.  Over the last few weeks, members of BYC have been very busy putting together 'The Topper Northern Ireland Championships' and were hopeful of a good turnout, given the problems Covid-19 has presented in hosting events. On Saturday we had 69 Toppers take to the water in Belfast Lough for Race 1, a makeup of 15 sailors in the 4.2 class and 54 sailors in the 5.3 class. From a BYC perspective in the competitor make up, BYC Cadets accounted for 10 in the 4.2 fleet and 24 in the 5.3 fleet, a truly fantastic figure and testament to the success of our Cadet programme driven by David Nelson and Colin Robinson. For a lot of these cadets, it was their first event, and they had everything to contend with, from very light wind on Saturday to 22 kts of breeze on the Sunday.

All the competitor sailors did remarkably well with the conditions. I was absolutely delighted to see so many Cadets from both the South and North competing, clearly demonstrating how strong our Cadet sailing is on the island of Ireland, and the great support the families have shown to sailing. I very much hope that it won't be long before we see a return to European and World events in our great sailing waters in Northern Ireland".

Published in Topper

Royal Cork Yacht Club congratulated the rescheduled Astra Construction Topper 'Winter' Championships winner at Crosshaven yesterday evening after two full days of competition on the Curlane Bank in Cork Harbour.

As Afloat reported earlier, after four races sailed on Saturday, the host club's Liam Duggan lead the 69 boat 5.3 fleet and on Sunday's two races the RCYC youth extended this lead to six points over clubmate Rian Collins.

Third overall was Ballyholme YC visitor Daniel Palmer from Belfast Lough.

In the much smaller seven boat 4.2 fleet, Riain O'Neill overhauled Hugo Boyd of Ballyholme YC overnight to take the title.

Organisers chose to sail one extra race on Saturday as permitted in the sailing instructions to give the 76 boat fleet a full day on the water in some great Cork Harbour sailing breezes. 

Two races were sailed on Sunday in a light southerly breeze to bring the number of races sailed to six overall. The smooth operation afloat, however, did not stop a number of racing protests before the final results could be announced.

Full results are here

Royal Cork's Annamarie Fegan, Rear Admiral Dinghies and Maurice Collins, Class Captain of the RCYC Toppers along with PRO Richard Leonard presented the prizes.

See day one racing report and photo gallery here. Day two racing and prizegiving galleries are below

RCYC Astra Topper Championships Day Two Racing Photo gallery by Bob Bateman

RCYC Astra Topper Championships 2021 Prizegiving Photo gallery by Bob Bateman

Published in Topper

Royal Cork Yacht Club may have had to cancel its planned Topper World Championships scheduled for next month due to COVID but the Astra Construction Topper 'Winter' Championships at the Crosshaven club is just the ticket for 76 Topper youth sailors in Cork Harbour this weekend.

After four races sailed on Saturday, the host club's Liam Duggan leads the 69 boat 5.3 Fleet. Duggan has a three-point cushion over clubmate Rian Collins. Lying third is Royal North of Ireland's Bobby Driscoll. 

In the much smaller seven boat 4.2 fleet, Hugo Boyd of Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough leads overall.

Full results are here

Astra Topper Championships Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

Published in Topper

Donaghadee Sailing Club on the north County Down coast heard the first gun fired in the Topper Northern Championships on Saturday 3rd July with a sense of relief and excitement.

Race Officer Aidan Pounder, Commodore of Ballyholme YC, assisted by Colin Loughead of Royal Ulster, sent the 37 competitors off for the first of three races on the first day, having waited for the breeze to fill in. The strong tide in the Sound off Donaghadee gave the sailors trouble resulting in general recalls, but all three races were completed successfully.

The Topper Northern Championships get underway at Donaghdee Sailing ClubThe Topper Northern Championships get underway at Donaghdee Sailing Club

Not like the following day when racing was abandoned in the early afternoon due to rolling fogbanks, so despite trying to run a fourth race which would have given a discard, three had to suffice.

For Rian Collins of Royal Cork, the long haul north was worthwhile for he lifted the overall first prize with Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme runner up.

Rian Collins of RCYC (left) was the overall winner of the Topper Northerns pciturd here with Donaghedee Sailing Club Brian LennoxRian Collins of RCYC (left) was the overall winner of the Topper Northerns pciturd here with Donaghedee Sailing Club Brian Lennox

With prizes galore for the two divisions, the spoils were relatively well spread around the country.

Tyler Playfair of Carrickfergus won the 4.2s in Belfast Lough with Ballyholme's Hugo Boyd second. Ella Fitzgerald of National YC and Sutton Dinghy Club took the 5.3 prizes, followed by Eve McDonagh of Ballyholme. Junior Male went to Rian Collins, with Palmer runner up and

Junior Female to Autumn Halliday of Strangford Lough YC with Isobel Nixon of Ballyholme runner up. Toby Hughes (Royal North and Ballyholme) won Youth Male with Max Killiner also from Royal North second.

Brian Lennox, Commodore of Donaghadee SC, was delighted that the event could be held at his club; "I am delighted to see so many dinghies back in the Harbour after such a long break due to Covid. Thanks to all the volunteers who made this event a fantastic occasion".

Published in Topper
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Ballyholme Yacht Club would have relished hosting the Topper Nationals in August, but sadly this event has suffered the same as the Worlds in Cork and been cancelled.

The joint Organising Authority for the 2021 Topper National Championships has been carefully monitoring the Covid 19 situation and information from the UK Government, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Irish Government. Some time ago, it was determined that a final go/no-go decision should be made at the beginning of June to allow competitors and their families time to make suitable travel and accommodation arrangements and the Organising Authority to commit resources and funds to the event.

This decision was taken due to several factors, but ultimately the safety of competitors, their families, volunteers and the wider local community was key. We hope that making this decision now it will allow families time to make alternative plans.

Aidan Pounder, Commodore of BYC, expressed disappointment that the Club isn't able to welcome the Topper fleet: "ITCA (GBR) and Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) are very disappointed that the ITCA GBR Nationals are not proceeding in August this year. With the uncertainty around Covid-19, ongoing restriction reviews and ultimately the safety of all participants, families, friends, and all those associated with the delivery of a safe and fun event being of paramount importance, we have jointly made this decision. A lot of work and organisation went into the hosting of what would undoubtedly have been a great and successful event. I want to take this opportunity to thank all concerned from ITCA (GBR) and Members of BYC and would welcome the opportunity to host this event again in the near future. We wish all the young sailors a safe and happy summer and look forward to welcoming you to BYC in the future"

Published in Topper

Following weeks of waiting for Covid 19 travel restrictions to be relaxed, extensive research of all options and agonising over the decision, the Royal Cork Yacht Club says it has been left with no option but to cancel its staging of the 2021 Topper World Championships in Cork Harbour.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty of when overseas travel restrictions on non-EU countries in Ireland may be lifted, the club said it 'sadly had no option but to cancel' the July event.

The club came to the decision jointly with the International Topper class.

Up to 200 young sailors from around the world planned to come to the event that was scheduled to dovetail with the UK National Championships, following on two days later at Ballyholme YC in Northern Ireland, from the 2nd to 6th August – providing sailors with a fortnight of top-quality racing.

topper worlds

In a joint statement from ITCA World and Royal Cork Yacht Club said: 

"The decision was taken with the safety of sailors and their families, club members and the wider local community at its heart. We also appreciate that sailors and their families need certainty now in order to make their bookings for the event, or to plan alternative activities. Additionally, the lack of clarity on when non-essential overseas travel would be allowed into Ireland and the need to commit significant sums now to prepare for the event that has so much uncertainty around it, has left the organisers with little choice but to cancel the event.

The proposed travel restrictions into Ireland from 19th July will enable EU visitors to travel under the Digital COVID Certificate which will not require self-quarantining based on vaccination or a negative PCR test. However, those travelling from outside of the EU, including from the UK, will have to present a pre-travel PCR test, self-quarantine on arrival and undergo post arrival testing. Considering the strong representation expected from GBR, this has been deemed too restrictive to expect visitors to travel.

ITCA World President Andy Millington said, 'We have exhausted every avenue in an effort to see how it might be possible to run the World Championships with the continued travel restrictions on competitors being able to travel to Cork without quarantining and the added uncertainty over the new variant of Covid 19. In discussions with the RCYC we both agreed that cancelling the 2021 championship in time for families to make alternative holiday or sailing plans was sadly the right thing to do. We would like to thank our partners Ronstan, Rooster and Topper International who had undertaken to generously support the event."

The event was to form part of the continued Tricentenary celebrations of the Royal Cork Yacht Club which mark it's founding in 1720, making it the oldest yacht club in the world. The club is committed to hosting a Topper World championship and have requested to bid for the International Topper 2023 World Championships.

Commenting, Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Colin Morehead said, "It is with considerable regret and sadness that we have to cancel the International Topper Class World Championships. While the vaccine rollout is progressing and restrictions are lifting, the health of our members, our visitors and country continues to be the main priority. I look forward to working with the International Topper Class Association on the possibility of hosting the event in Cork in the near future."

A full refund of entry fees will shortly be processed in line with the Notice of Race.

ITCA World will now focus on its plans for the 2022 International Topper World Championship at Fraglia Della Vela Riva, Garda, where we look forward to welcoming back Topper sailors from across the globe. There are plans to include an inaugural Topper 6.4 championship for those who may by then have outgrown the 5.2 rig and lost the chance to race a world championship but don't want to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to race on the majestic Lake Garda.

We look forward to seeing you at Riva 2022!" 

Covid 19
Published in Royal Cork YC

Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough will host the British Topper Nationals, scheduled for early August next year, a few days after the World Championships in Cork Harbour.

With the Irish Nationals in Northern Ireland at Strangford Lough Yacht Club in the calendar for 2nd-4th July, there will be a fantastic festival of Topper racing in Ireland next year.

Commodore Aidan Pounder is pleased that the club has been chosen for the event. "Ballyholme Yacht Club is delighted to be hosting the GBR ITCA Topper Nationals on 2nd -6th August 2021. This is the first time the Nationals have been held in Northern Ireland and we very much look forward to welcoming the competitors to our excellent sailing waters for a safe successful event".

The club, on the southern shore of the Lough, is ideally situated on a virtually tideless and hazard free large expanse of water. It has a racing pedigree which has provided sailors and officials to the last five Olympic Regattas and many international events as well as the last Volvo Round the World Race. It has renowned expertise in running large national and international events including the Topper Worlds in 2016.

Principle Race Officer for the event is Bangor man Robin Gray who is an International Race Officer and Judge.

The Topper Worlds is reported to attract more than 250 boats regularly and it is expected that the Nationals entry will be more than that.

Published in Topper

Christmas has come early for 12-year-old Rory Pollard, who has been awarded a brand new boat by the John Merricks Sailing Trust.

Rory, from Whitehead and a junior member of County Antrim Yacht Club, is the only sailor from Northern Ireland to receive his very own boat. He will have exclusive use of the boat for the next two years through the on-going partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard.

A Carrickfergus Grammar School pupil, Rory, like many young children, has had a difficult year after being isolated from his friends. However, he is now finishing 2020 on a high as he plans to turn his dreams of sailing in national competitions into a reality.

The delighted young sailor said: "I felt over the moon when I found out I had been awarded the boat, I asked my Mum and Dad to pinch me to see if I was dreaming. I must have jumped five feet in the air!

"I feel really proud that the selection team must have had belief in my ability and have recognised the dedication I have shown to the sport that I love. I can't wait to sail it and to compete and train, and to give it 100 per cent every time I am on the water."

Rory's love for sailing has been inspired by his dad Gavin, an accomplished sailor. "Sailing has always been in my blood," Rory says.

"I first got on a boat when I was two and I can't remember a time when I didn't sail or was not by the water. As soon as I started to sail when I was six, I knew it was what I wanted to do. Ever since then, when I am not doing my school work, I am researching sailing and reading about different sailors and world races."

During lockdown, Rory had been feeling isolated but it was sailing that got him through. His mum, Claire Pollard, comments: "It was Rory's last year of primary school and the loss of completing those important months before transferring to post primary was worrying.

"However, it was his love of sailing and the need to get out on the water that he missed the most. As soon as he was able to, he was out sailing, for up to five days a week. As a parent, the improvement I instantly saw in his emotional health was amazing."

Up until now Rory has been sailing and competing in a borrowed club boat.

Claire says: "Without the support of County Antrim Yacht Club, Rory would not be able to attend and complete in the races he has done to date. The encouragement, support and training he has received has driven him on to always want to progress and achieve his best.

Rory has recently been selected for the RYA Northern Ireland Topper Performance Programme. He hopes to put the new boat to good use as part of his training. He explains: "I have recently been selected to the RYANI Topper Performance Programme and I hope to use this to tune my skills into championship level.

"As we have not been out on the water yet, I have started my own winter training programme to make sure my fitness levels are at their best when we get back on the water. I know the pressure will be on as I will be sailing a brand new boat, but I can't wait to show the coaches my ability!"

He adds: "I'd like to thank the John Merricks Sailing Trust and the RYA for giving me this opportunity along with all the people who have encouraged and supported me along the way.

"I am hoping over the next while to be able to showcase my skills and attract sponsorship so that I can compete in the bigger events while I have the boat. I also hope to encourage younger sailors at my club and show them that if they are dedicated and train hard, they could also be in the same position as me and have the honour of sailing a JMST boat."

RYA Northern Ireland's Performance Manager, Andrew Baker, said: "It is fantastic that Rory has been awarded this boat, it will be a great benefit to his training for the Topper Squad and we look forward to watching his progress.

"Getting enthusiastic young sailors access to boats and helping give them time on the water is what this award is all about and Rory is a shining example of a passionate and dedicated young sailor who fully deserves this award."

Sheela Lewis, Race Coach and Training Officer on behalf of the Sailing Committee at County Antrim Yacht Club, said: "County Antrim Yacht Club is delighted with this outcome. Several of our membership have been previous recipients of JMST dinghies. Following the ethos of the RYA and JMST, we have progressed our Pathway race coaching by reassigning JMST dinghies to worthy Club members.

"Rory had the benefit of this which has supported his development to date. As a small club we would not have been in a position to purchase new Toppers to facilitate those members who show the potential and talent that Rory has displayed to date. We share Rory's excitement with regard to this award and we will be supporting Rory to achieve all of his goals and more!"

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Talented youth sailor Jude Armstrong (13) is from High Wycombe and has family in Co. Down including grandparents Rob and Betty Armstrong, Afloat's Northern Ireland correspondent. Jude is one of ten youngsters from across the UK who have been handed a huge boost in their ambitions to become top class dinghy sailors thanks to a national programme helping young talent progress in the sport.

The delighted sailors have been awarded exclusive use of their own boat for the next two years through the on-going partnership between the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and RYA OnBoard

It was on visits to family that Jude learned to sail. He took his first sailing courses in 2017 and 2018 at Killyleagh Outdoor Education Centre on Strangford Lough where his Aunt Alice was an Instructor, and subsequently at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, and just last summer a racing course at Ballyholme Yacht Club.

Launched in 2013, the JMST was set up in the memory of 1996 Olympic silver medallist, John Merricks, and it seeks to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations to achieve their goals. It supports youngsters who display enthusiasm, drive, talent, and commitment to the sport and who may not ordinarily have the opportunity or financial backing to achieve their goals.

Jude, a member of Upper Thames Sailing Club (UTSC), has received a Topper dinghy. He says: "Having my own Topper means I can go to lots more competitions and attend area training, which I could not do before. This will help me become a better sailor, I am really looking forward to sailing my new boat- thank you!" Jude was enthusiastic about taking the step up to a Youth Championship. "I really enjoyed the RYA Regional Youth Championships at Datchet this year and last year. In two years' time, I would like to join the RYA zone training squads and be competing in national and international competitions. Having my own boat will mean I can sail in more regional events."

Jude's dad Barry was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour in April 2019. Whilst mum Jo has been caring for Barry Jude has continued sailing with help from family and friends. Barry sailed as a child and Jude has been keen to follow in his father's footsteps and compete nationally and internationally. 

Jo says of her son: "Jude has been interested in sailing from a young child; a favourite activity was to go to the local river and watch boats going in and out of the lock, and this interest has continued to grow. He has made the most of all opportunities to sail both through his club and when visiting his grandparents in Northern Ireland each summer.
Jude has completed the RYA stages and this summer did Start Racing and Intermediate Racing courses through UTSC and while visiting family in Bangor". Jo continued "We are grateful for support from UTSC which lent Jude a boat for events. He would very much like to progress onto other racing and training opportunities in the region, and the boat from JMST will enable this."

USTC responded: "We were delighted to be able to support Jude's application. He stands out as the keenest young sailor in our group, with a steely determination to succeed, which he frequently does, winning more than half of our junior races last year! Jude's new boat will enable him to take the next steps." After two years in Jude's care the new boat will pass to his club for other youngsters to use.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, said: "We cannot thank JMST enough for continuing to support the programme. Over the next three years, £110,000 worth of funding will be going into junior sailing. This money will have a direct impact to the recipients lucky enough to be awarded a boat - they can now feel confident that they will be able to continue their progression in the sport.

As OnBoard's official charity partner, JMST have so far donated 86 boats and boards with some remarkable success stories. The RYA is delighted to announce that the partnership will continue for another three years. Details on how to apply for the 2021 JMST and OnBoard partnership will be issued soon. Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.

Published in Topper
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The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Information

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny.

While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

ICRA National Championships

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years. 

ICRA Boat of the Year (Winners 2004-2019)

 

ICRA Nationals 2021

The date for the 2021 edition of the ICRA National Championships is 3-5 September at the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

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