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Irishsailing – After the remarkable across-the-board success of the 2014 Irish sailing season, 2015 will have to be very special indeed to be remembered with such enthusiasm. But it's a special year in any case, as two major sailing Bicentenaries – one in the Irish Sea, the other in the Solent – will have added and poignant meaning, as the Centenaries a hundred years ago could not be celebrated because of the First World War.

As for Irish sailing generally, life moves on, there are new sailors on the water, successful young sailors are graduating to the next stage of their rapidly developing careers, and established stars continue to plan fresh campaigns, for sailing is indeed a sport for life.

Then too, new fixtures successfully introduced in 2014 will require nurturing, tuning and encouragement if they are to fulfil their potential in the coming year, while at the same time there's always extra effort needed to give proper support to established fixtures, which have to live with the reality that they might wilt through being taken for granted. Both new and longer-established boat classes will need continued enthusiastic involvement, and our well-loved classics and traditional craft must be cherished and sailed, for lack of use is the real enemy of boats, whether old or new.

As for the major administrative initiatives introduced in 2014, they will need constant monitoring, but deserve full support from the sailing and boating community at large, for it was in response to a grass-roots initiative that the radical and very necessary reforms of the Irish Sailing Association were undertaken. Those appointed to undertake the root-and-branch reform of the national authority have done so with commendable dispatch, so it is now the duty of the rest of us to support their continuing efforts. And we can best do that by enjoying our boats and our sailing and time afloat in its myriad of interests, while encouraging others to do the same. W M Nixon outlines on what the coming year may bring.

One thing at least is certain for the coming season afloat during 2015 in most of Europe. It will not mark any significant sailing Centenaries. Instead, we are immersed in four years of remembering the Great War of 1914-1918 a hundred years on, with all the added twists of that period's longer historical narrative in Ireland. In such a context, it may seem frivolous to point out that sports like yachting have no great Centenaries to mark at all in 2015. But this minor off-screen fact is a reminder of the all-involving horror and obscenity of total warfare on an industrial scale. It obliterated anything like normal life.

Yet as recreational sailing had been going on in some sort of organised form for hundreds of years – albeit in a fairly rudimentary way in its earliest years in the 16th Century – there may well have been several important dates to be marked during the time of the Great War itself, but they were allowed to pass as there was no sport afloat, while civilian life ashore was very subdued.

And in Ireland, with the Troubles persisting for four years after the end of the Great War until 1922, the Bicentenary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1920 was to be a muted affair – the official History of the Royal Cork Yacht Club (published 2005) tells us: "Plans for a special dinner to celebrate the club's bicentenary in 1920 had to be cancelled, probably because of the disturbed conditions in the country"

So the idea of celebrating the Centenary of the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in 1915 at the height of the international war - other than in a rather solemn shorebound way - would have been unthinkable. But that in turn fuels the celebrations when the peacefulgood times roll again. Thus the Royal Cork Yacht Club, having been unable to celebrate its Bicentenary in 1920, went on to have a fabulous two-year Quarter Millennium celebration in 1969-70. And as the RYS couldn't have a proper party in 1915, there's no doubt that the up-coming Bicentenary in 2015 will be the nucleus of international sailing's megafest-of-the-year.

There are of course several clubs which pre-dated the Squadron when it was founded in 1815. And there are many whose members outshine the small membership of the RYS in the breadth and energy of their sailing. But for 2015, let's just acknowledge that the prestigious Squadron has been at the heart of sailing history for a very long time, while their clubhouse's location right on the Solent at Cowes is so central that when any great Solent-related events are under way, the Squadron is in the middle of the story.

Thus it was on the Squadron lawn that in July that the Irish team celebrated their epic Commodore's Cup victory at the end of July 2014. And it will be towards the Squadron and its Bicentenary that the fleet will be racing in 2015's west-east Transatlantic Race. And then it will be the firing of the cannons from the historic Squadron battery which will signal the start of the 46th Fastnet Race on 16th August 2015.

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Party time at the Royal Yacht Squadron – the Irish team and their management gather to celebrate victory in the Commodore's Cup at the Squadron Castle in Cowes on August 1st 2014

There'll be many Irish boats involved, and the best-placed of them at the finish will be the winner of the Gull Salver, currently held by Martin Breen's Reflex 38 Lynx from Galway Bay SC, which was skippered to success by Aodhan FitzGerald in 2013's race. It's a coveted trophy, instituted to honour the memory of Harry Donegan of Cork and his famous cutter Gull, which was one of seven boats which inaugurated the Fastnet Race in 1925, and placed third. Since then, Irish Fastneteers have frequently been in the great race's top places, and best of all was in 2007 when Ger O'Rourke's Cookson 50 Chieftain out of Kilrush, sailing under the burgee of the revived Royal Western of Ireland YC, came sweeping in to the finish line at Plymouth to win the Fastnet Race
overall.

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One of the greatest moments in Irish sailing history – Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain sweeps towards the finish line to become the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2007. Photo: Rolex

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Just the spot for a great Tricentenary celebration - the very complete sailing facilities provided jointly by the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Crosshaven will become a world focus in 2020 with the Club's 300th anniversary. Photo: Bob Bateman

The realisation that 2015 sees this significant RYS Bicentenary is a timely reminder that the Royal Cork's Tricentenary is only five years down the line. They're five years which will be gone in a flash, and already behind-the-scenes moves are afoot to ensure that the national sailing programme will properly facilitate the extraordinary anniversary being celebrated in Crosshaven in 2020.

But meanwhile other Irish sailing centres have their own regular programmes to operate in the intervening four years, and in terms of numbers and scale there's no doubt the top event in Ireland in 2015 will be the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 9th to 12th July.

Anyone – and there were many - who took part in this unique "suburban sailfest" in 2013 will know that the VDLR has come of age. It's an event which is comfortable with itself while at the same time being always in development and evolution mode. Each staging of this remarkable Dublin Bay happening sees lessons being learnt and implemented even while the multi-class racing is under way on several courses. And in the two year gap before the next staging, the experience gained is closely analysed and the programme refined to further improve the sport in every area.

You get some idea of the sheer depth of racing experience in Dun Laoghaire by noting that the Chairman of the 2015 Committee is Tim Goodbody, with Martin Byrne as Vice Chairman while the Race Director is Con Murphy. And those three sailing megastars are just the peak of a mountain of race administration experience which is being drawn in from all over Ireland to ensure that the fleet of 400-plus boats gets the best sport possible.

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The first regatta in 1828 at the new harbour at Dun Laoghaire, which will be the setting for Ireland's biggest event in 2015, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 9th to 12th July.

While there'll be keenly participating boats from all over Ireland as well as Scotland, England and Wales, the setup of Dublin Bay being right on the city's doorstep means that it's the locals who would pose an administrative problem for a less experienced team. As the dates for the VDLR approached in 2013, the weather forecast steadily improved, and thanks to the Regatta's "extra long weekend" format, the sudden arrival of summer meant that a host of boats from the greater Dublin area came in as last minute entries, their owners and crews managing to scrape the extra day-and-a-half needed off work. It's a scenario which would put an overstretched administration off course, but the VDLR team took it calmly in their stride, and the result was a successful summer festival of sunlit sails and great sport, with maybe two thousand taking part.

This year there's a more structured cross-channel involvement, as the venerable Royal Dee YC in Cheshire has leapt to life to celebrate its Bicentenary. Founded as the Dee Yacht Club in 1815 with the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it didn't get the Royal seal until 1947, but nevertheless claims to be older than the RYS. With growing fleets in North Wales and the Mersey, it has put together a Bicentennial Royal Dee Irish Sea Offshore Championship linked closely to ISORA, which will bring the fleet across to Ireland to take in four offshore day races sailed as part of VDLR 2015.

Irish National Championships which will be part of the VDLR 2015 programme include the J/109s, the RS Elites, the Beneteau First 21s, and the Wayfarers, while the Leinster GP 14 Championship is also included as an integral part of the Regatta.

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Party time in Dun Laoghaire – the Royal Irish YC during VDLR 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

As for Ireland's classic clinker-built vintage classes, one of the pleasantest surprises in VDLR 2013 was the large turnout of Mermaids, which had superb racing on the course area in the northwest corner of Dublin Bay. Despite having been born as the Dublin Bay SC Mermaid in 1932, this class of 17ft super-dinghies is no longer included in the regular DBSC programme owing to shortage of numbers for weekly turnouts. But it seems that as far as the VDLR is concerned, the Mermaid is now an event boat, and the fleets still thriving at other centres, together with some of the dormant Dublin Bay craft, bestirred themselves for the four days to enjoy good sailing for more than three dozen boats, something which is highly likely to be repeated in 2015.

The even more venerable Water Wags, founded 1887 with the current boats dating from 1903, continue to thrive in Dun Laoghaire, and the word is they expect to have at least twenty boats in action, while another wooden classic, the Mylne-designed 25ft Glen keelboat, is 50 years and more in Dun Laoghaire, and looks forward to having at least twelve boats racing in 2015.

All these specialized and historic classes are in addition to the numerous cruiser-racers which continue to be the backbone of Dublin Bay sailing. And while many of them will see the VDLR 2015 as a highlight of the year, in turning to consider the overall national programme, we find a sport which is shaking off economic recession to get on with an extraordinary plethora of local, national and international sailing events.

The problem is that most events of significance hope to locate themselves in the peak sailing period from late May to early September, so clashes are almost inevitable, and if you're interested in several different kinds of sailing, the overall choices can be bewildering in their complexity and logistical challenges.

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The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival attracts an eclectic fleet – included here are a Shannon Gandelow, a West Cork Mackerel Yawl, the ketch Sile a Do, and an Heir Island Lobster Yawl (left).

For instance, the variety of events now available for the traditional and classic boats – usually but not necessarily under the Old Gaffer umbrella – would keep anyone busy for most of the summer. It starts with the Baltimore Wooden Boat & Seafood Festival from Friday 22nd May to Sunday 24th May, which you'd think very early
in the season for someone faced with fitting out an old wooden boat in Ireland's climate, but somehow they do it.

Then on the East Coast for the early summer Bank Holiday Weekend from May 29th to June 2nd, there's the Old Gaffer gathering in Dublin Bay at Poolbeg Y&BC with the annual race for the Leinster Trophy in the bay on Saturday May 30th, the event then morphs into the Dublin Port Riverfest in the Liffey on Sunday May 31st, and finally it all concludes with the race for the Asgard Trophy back in the bay on Monday June 1st.

The annual Lambay Race at Howth, a regular fixture since 1904, has seen its course becoming increasingly complex in modern times in order to satisfy the desire of modern racers for competition on every possible point of sailing. But in 2014, to celebrate the Centenary of the Lynch family's Echo, the venerable Howth Seventeens were sent on the traditional course north from Howth Harbour through the sound inside Ireland's Eye, then on round Lambay leaving it to port, and then back south inside Ireland's Eye again to the finish at Howth pierheads.

This was such an attractive proposition for Old Gaffers and Seventeens alike that on the day an extra Classics Division was added to cater for ancient craft, and it hit the spot. This option will be offered again for 2015's Lambay Race (it's on Saturday June 6th), and the word is that Dickie Gomes's 1912-built 36ft yawl Ainmara will be coming down from Strangford Lough to defend her title after 94 years. 94 years? Yes indeed - she won the Lambay Race in spectacular style in 1921 when still under the ownership of her designer-builder John B Kearney.

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After 94 years, Dickie Gomes's 36ft 1912-built yawl Ainmara (seen here on her home waters of Strangford Lough) hopes to return to defend the title in Howth's Lambay Race, which Ainmara won in 1921 while still in the ownership of her designer-builder John B Kearney. Photo: W M Nixon

The Old Gaffers attention then swings north as the Tall Ships are coming to Belfast from Thursday 2nd July to Sunday 5th July. This is going to be a serious biggie with those ships already signed up including a significant turnout of Class A vessels, which are square riggers and others of more than 40 metres in length. Belfast Lough lends itself particularly well to the Parade of Sail which follows a Tall Ships gathering, and in 2009 when they were last in the port they put in in a virtuoso display with the Dutch ship Europa in particular going to the trouble of getting herself over towards Whiteabbey in the northwest corner of the lough to allow her time get every stitch of sail set before proceeding seawards down-lough in colossal style, a much more impressive display than we've become accustomed to in Dublin, where the shape of Dublin Bay is such that it doesn't really provide the space for square riggers to set all cloth before getting out to sea.

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The Tall Ship Europa shows how it should be done in Belfast Lough in 2009, taking time out to set full sail before she starts to gather power to make the proper input into the Parade of Sail.

Like Dublin, Belfast has shown it can be hospitable to Old Gaffers, and it was a very welcoming main port during the OGA Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company in 2013, so for 2015 the OGA National President Sean Walsh hopes to up the ante by persuading his members from all round the Irish Sea to gather in Belfast, and to add spice to the mix, he hopes to persuade the Howth 17s to put in an appearance as well, to sail with local one designs like the 1903 Belfast Lough Waverley Class, which have been experiencing a revival in recent years.

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Old Gaffers in Belfast for their Golden Jubilee in 2013. The Irish Sea classic and traditional fleet will return to the same venue for the Tall Ships gathering in July 2015. Photo: W M Nixon

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The Belfast Lough Waverley Class Lilias (built 1903) sailing at the Titanic Centre in Belfast. In 2015, the Waverleys will be joined by some of the 117-year-old Howth 17s to participate in the visit of the Tall Ships. Photo: W M Nixon

The Seventeens have made long treks as a class before – in 1998, five of them were road-trailed to Carrickfergus to mark the class's Centenary, with the first five boats built by Hilditch of Carrickfergus. So though they'd trailed there, they then sailed the 90 miles back to Howth, just as the first boats had done a hundred years earlier. Then in July 2003, fifteen of the Seventeens took part in the Glandore Classics Regatta thanks to a brilliantly organised exercise in logistics using a flotilla of low loaders which could take three boats apiece.

For all of Ireland's classic and traditional boats in 2015, and an international fleet too, Glandore is very much up on the radar again, as a special effort is being made by a GHYC team led by Donal Lynch to encourage increased numbers in the CH Marine Glandore Classic Regatta from Saturday July 18th through Friday July 24th. It's a date which certainly allows Old Gaffers plenty of time to get down from Belfast, indeed some may even consider the option of making the voyage northabout to take in a round Ireland cruise while they're at it. And as that great magnet of the Irish Sea classic and traditional scene, the Peel Traditional Boat Weekend, isn't until Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August, it's just about possible to factor that in as well.

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Everything happening at once – the famous Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise was the star of the Glandore Classics in 2013, and as it was her own Centenary she celebrated by sailing round the Fastnet Rock – she has been a successful Fastnet Race participant several times. Photo: Brian Carlin

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The Glandore Classics attracts an international fleet, and 2013's regatta included a class of Fife One Designs from the Menai Straits, all of them keen to party and showing it. 2015's Glandore Classics is from July 18th to 24th. Photo: Cormac O'Carroll

All this is already happening for the oldies with August barely under way, yet for modern cruiser-racers the potential programme for any keenly-sailed Irish boat is equally complex, attractive and challenging. The season starts as usual with the Scottish Series from Friday 23rd May to Monday 26th May – there'll probably still be snow on the mountains of Arran. They've gone back to their roots by starting with a feeder race from Gourock to the main regatta centre at Tarbert on Loch Fyne. "Going back to the roots" is something of a theme for this year's staging of the Clyde Cruising Club's main racing event, as this is the 40th Scottish Series. Come to think of it, there are so many important 40th anniversaries happening in sailing these days that we have the admit that the decade which brought us the full horror of wide lapels and flared trousers also contributed some lasting elements of the international sailing scene, indeed it could be said that the modern era in sailing really began about forty years ago.

Back in Ireland, the ISORA programme will be well under way by June, while the Lambay Race on June 6th can be looked at with more interest by several boats, as the biennial National YC Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race doesn't start until Friday June 12th . Last time round, there was a total fixtures clash between the two events, but in times before that hyper-keen sailors such as the Tyrrells of Arklow with Aquelina have been able to fit in both, indeed one year they did it so well they won both too, and were rightly acclaimed as the Afloat "Sailors of the Month" for their success.

For 2015, defending champion in the Dingle Race is Brian O'Sullivan of Tralee with the veteran Oyster 37 Amazing Grace, which came good in the end in 2013 with a new breeze which knocked pending leader Antix (Anthony O'Leary) off the winning perch. But with the 2015 Dingle Race acting as a useful if rather indirect feeder for the Covestone Asset Management Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale from June 24th to 28th, there could be all sorts of sharp boats lining up to take the prize, for the Sovereigns Cup 2015 includes the all-singing all-dancing ICRA Nats 2015. 

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The welcoming port – Kinsale is one of Ireland's most popular destinations, and in 2015 its hosts the combined Sovereigns /ICRA Nationals from June 24th to 28th.

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Perfect sailing – racing in the Sovereigns at Kinsale in June 2013. Photo: Bob Bateman

Yet the timing of the combined Sovereigns/ICRA Nats is such that there's still plenty of time and space to get back to the Irish Sea for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, a reminder that much of the cruiser-racer programme for 2015 is in a neatly balanced and user-friendly timescale for everyone except perhaps those who wish to do either the entire ISORA or SCORA programme as well, so the problem mostly is going to be getting time off work.

And for the hyper-keen cruiser-racers, particularly those whose boats are small enough to be conveniently trailerable, further temptation looms in 2015 with the WIORA Championship at Galway Bay Sailing Club from July 22nd to 25th. For the fleets in the Shannon, on Tralee Bay, and in Clew Bay, it's a bit more than a day's sail away, but they'll be there to challenge Liam Byrne of the home club who won it in 2014 with his Corby 25 Tribal at Mayo SC in Clew Bay, while some top boats from more distant centres are expecting to trail to Galway Bay to spice up the competition.

By this stage of the season a more relaxed pace might be welcome, but the lively turnout of 80 boats in 2014 for the new-style four day Cork Dry Gin Calves Week out of Schull in early August (Tuesday 4th to Friday 7th August in 2015) suggests that for racing sailors, the best relaxation is more racing, but in a holiday setting. And yes, it has been noted that a true West Corkian sailing nut could indeed do all of Calves Week 2015, and still be on the Squadron line for the start of the Fasnet Race nine days later.

For dinghies in 2015, the big story is the debut of the newest version of the National 18, and just how popular will the Bray-bult foiling Moths become, while established classes will frame their programmes to accommodate sailors whose time is limited, also having to fit in with a national scene where the number of Race Officers with the necessary skills is inevitably a finite amount.

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The big stories in Irish dinghy racing in 2015 will be the arrival of the new National 18s at Crosshaven, and the revival of Dinghy Week there in late August. Here, in the Autumn of 2013, To Dwyer and Nin O'Leary test sail the prototype of the new 18 on Cork Harbour. Photo: Bob Bateman

The new Third Generation (or maybe it's fourth or fifth generation) National 18 may have been designed in England by Phil Morrison, and is being built there too. But it was the very active Crosshaven fleet with the Royal Cork Yacht Club which led the charge towards a new boat, and when it came to stepping up to the plate to pay twelve substantial new boat deposits to move it all along after the prototype had been rigorously tested in Cork harbour last Autumn, it was the Crosshaven fleet that provided eight out of those twelve cheques.

So it's entirely appropriate that in August 2015, the dinghy focus will swing big time towards Crosshaven and a short form "Dinghy Week" from August 21st to 23rd. The old style Irish Dinghy Weeks – the last one was in 1970 – became victims of their own success, they just got too large. But the different classes became over-optimistic about their continuing individual growth prospects. Then the pendulum swung too far the other way, and dinghy classes were alone and their events shrinking. But a resurgence of club and championship dinghy sailing in Crosshaven during 2014, and a growing realization that over-reliance on single-handed dinghy classes does not necessarily produce a socially-adjusted national squad of junior sailors, resulted in some clear and creative thinking about developing two-handed boats, and reviving some old classes such as the Mirrors.

The form of this new Dinghy Week is still in the melting pot, but at least eight classes have responded with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the National 18s in Crosshaven will be such a focus of interest during 2015 with the first of the new boats making their debut that we'll have a season-long dinghy narrative developing on Cork Harbour, and the revived Dinghy Week will be just part of it.

As for inshore keelboats, the big one in terms of number is the combined British and Irish Championship Squib Championship at Howth from 27th June to 3rd July. The handy little Squibs are something of an oddity, as they serve so well as a cherished local class in so many Irish sailing centres that many owners see them as that, and nothing more – handy little club sailors to be raced on home waters a couple of times a week.

This means that when a major regional or national event is held, the number taking part will often only be a fraction of the total Irish Squib fleet. But for those who do make the trek, the competition is fierce and the racing great – in Howth, the high point was in 1996, when this "Nationals" event attracted a fleet of exactly a hundred boats, and on one never-to-be-forgotten morning, there they were, every last one of them on the starting line.

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A hundred Squibs all in a row at Howth on Tuesday July 25th 1996. Photo: Mandy Murnane

The most recent Squib event of national stature was the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer on Lough Derg on the weekend of October 18th-19th, and the battle for the top places was between the Kinsale and Belfast Lough fleets, with James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale rounding out their year in style with a good win.

But with the Squibs in England undergoing a revival – they were the second-biggest One Design fleet in Cowes Week 2014, bested only by the legendary XODs – there's no doubt there's a strong challenge coming across channel, and any Irish boat getting into the top ten will be doing well.

As for that annual Autumn Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer, while it may have been much hampered by the spinoff from some ferocious weather out in the Atlantic with frustration for some of the sixty boats hoping to take part, it's an event of enormous potential, and the many who wish it well and have enjoyed it in the past will be ready and willing to do their part to make 2015's regatta a success.

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The Squibs enjoying a lull in the strong winds during the Lough Derg Freshwater Regatta 2014. Overall winner was Mucky Duck (no 51, James Matthews & Rob Jacob, Kinsale YC). Photo: Gareth Craig

All these specialised and localized events planned for 2015 will be the continuing background music to the usual events of national sailing focus, everything from the selection of the Irish team for the Student Yachting Worlds to the Helmsmans Championships to the steady increase in pace while 2015 develops as the pre-Olympic year. As the year rolls along, other stories will develop too. So perhaps it's appropriate that we exit this review as we entered it. Just pause to remember now and again that, a hundred years ago, you simply couldn't have gone freely afloat like this for sport and recreation at all.

But we can't close on such a solemn note. Seasoned Solent sailors may have noted our header photo from Guido Cantini at the Panerai Classics Regatta was looking just slightly odd, for some reason difficult to pin down. Well, as it happens, the photo was sent to us back in September just as we were contemplating the excellent cleanup up done by Jason Hurley of Jason Hurley Design on the Mercedes-sponsored billboard photo of Howth 17s on the end wall of Howth Yacht Club. As with many photos taken over the RYS starting cannons, the Cantini pic included an obtrusive part of the Fawley Oil Refinery across on what Isle of Wight people call "the north island". Though Fawley has been there for yonks, it still has the look of a temporary structure. So we got Jason to treat as just that. But here for your edification is the true picture. You could get a taste for this sort of thing. What about brushing out Whitegate, lads? And as for Milford Haven.........

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The unvarnished truth. In real life, the view from the RYS battery at Cowes can be slightly marred by the clutter of Fawley Refinery across the Solent on "the north island". Photo: Guido Cantini/Panerai

Read also: 2015 Irish Sailing Fixtures List (provisional)

Published in W M Nixon

#isora – ISORA held its annual prizegiving dinner dance at the NYC on Saturday 15th November. 171 members and guests packed into the dining room of the club to be treated to a superb night's dining and entertainment.
ISORA's guests at the event were Larry Power, Commodore of the National Yacht Club, Derek Matthews, Commodore of the Royal Dee Yacht Club and Barry MacNeaney, Commodore of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club.
The MC for the evening was Peter Ryan, Chairman of ISORA, who directed the traditional toasts made by each of the guests and Andrew Hall, past Chairman of ISORA. Due to the numbers of people in the dining room the Royal Navy tradition of not standing for the Loyal Toast to the "President of Ireland" was invoked. It was also noted that the Royal Dee YC will be celebrating their 200th anniversary next season and that between the three clubs present at the dinner, it represented 501 years of sailing existence!
Anne-Marie Ryan presented the numerous trophies and prizes to the members. The winner of the Overall ISORA championship for 2014 was Liam Shanahan and "Ruth". Liam was presented with the coveted "Wolf's Head" trophy by the Commodore of the Royal Dee YC, whose emblem is the "wolf's head". ISORA sailors and recent successful Round Britain & Ireland Race two-handed class winners, Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive were presented with ISORA's "Penmaen Plate", a trophy dedicated to a past Chairman of ISORA, Anthony Jones, and award to that member that has most exhibited the "Spirit of ISORA". Pwllheli Sailing Club won the Team Prize.

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Anne-Marie Ryan presenting the "Penmaen Plate" to Round Britain & Ireland Sailor. Liam Coyne. Photo: GP Foto

Other awards included a presentation to the Manx Sea Scouts who marshalled and looked after the ISORA fleet during their visit to the Isle of Man during the season.
At the dinner Commodore Derek Matthews of the Royal Dee YC announced that in celebrating their 200th anniversary next year they were organising, in conjunction with ISORA, the Royal Dee Irish Sea Offshore Championship next season. It will be a championship using offshore courses and will consist of the RORC Lyver Race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and the four Offshore Races as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The event, while part of the VDL Regatta, will be based in the NYC.

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Anne-Marie Ryan presenting an award to Manx Sea Scouts for "Services Rendered" Photo: GP Foto

Earlier at the well attended ISORA AGM it was agreed to run 14 races as part of their series next season – 6 traditional cross channel races including the RORC Lyver Race and an offshore weekend that will include a Friday evening race from Holyhead to Douglas, Isle of Man and another race on the Sunday morning from Douglas to Dun Laoghaire. The Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race will also be part of their Series. Subject to confirmation with Greystones marina it was decided that two Day races would take place simultaneously from Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli to finish in Greystones on the day before the Greystones Regatta. This will allow those boats to partake in this new popular event. It was also decided to that the day races that start in Dun Laoghaire would not necessarily finish at the same venue but would finish in Wicklow or Howth, subject to weather conditions etc.
Other issues discussed and agreed at the AGM that ISORA would continue its practice of specifying a mandatory Safety requirement in accordance with the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations.

Published in ISORA

#hyc – The by now familiar blue skies for this year's Howth Yacht Club's Autumn League were accompanied by slightly cooler weather this Saturday, along with a brisk 13-20 knots of wind from the west. Other alterations from the previous 3 weeks of keelboat racing included the start of the Mini-Series and a welcome to some new entrants - Philip Smith's Bavaria Match 35 'Just Jasmin' and Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner 'Cri Cri' both from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, as well as Declan Murphy's Hanse 37 'Zuri' from Carlingford.
Following this weekend's races and with the exception of Class 3 in the main series, all other classes in the main series now apply a discard having sailed 4 races. In Class 1 Pat Kelly's J109 'Storm' continues to dominate IRC and ECHO with 'perfect scores' – now discarding first places in each division means that the competition looks to be left to compete for the minor places. The very competitive Class 2 divisions are a much closer affair, where Anthony Gore Grimes' 'Dux' is 4 points clear on ECHO, but only one point ahead of Richard & Michael Evans' 'The Big Picture' and a further 3 points back is the Swan-Freyne partnership on the other half-tonner 'Harmony'.
A win by Vince Gaffney's 'Alliance II' from the HYC Under 25 team in 'Kilcullen' means that they remain in those respective positions at the top of the Class 3 IRC division, while the 'Kilcullen' team top the ECHO division from Lionel McMurtry's 'Hellyhunter' following Lionel's race win this week. In Class 4 White Sails IRC, David Sargent's 'Indulgence' looks set to challenge the Hughes-Harris' Beneteau 40.7 'Tiger', as they are now positioned 2 points behind 'Tiger' following victory in race 4. 'Indulgence' leads the other 16 competitors in the ECHO division and Michael Fleming's second-placed 'Trinculo' by 6 points.
In Class 5 White Sails IRC, a win by Harry Byrne and his team on 'Alphida' closes the gap to one point between their Sunrise 34 and Emmet Dalton's 'Jebus'.
The large Puppeteer class on the 'inshore fleet' of one-design keelboats pushed a bit too hard on their start line and were given a general recall by PRO David Lovegrove, who then set a Black Flag and discipline was restored for the restart of their race and the busy start line. A race win for the Murphy-Costello 'Yellow Peril' and a second place for Colin and Kathy Kavanagh's 'Blue Velvet' did little to alter the leaderboard, but the top placed Gold Dust will need to be consistent to for the final 2 races after applying their discard this week. Cyprian Feeley's Cloud 9 leads the handicap division by 2 points.
Being short a crew member for this week's race didn't help the Flynn-Buckley team on the ISA Sailfleet J80s, as they watched Joe Phelan and his team win this week and take the overall lead from them by one point. The gradually improving results by Alistair Kissane's team (2nd for this race) puts their boat into contention also.
The closest racing of the day was reserved for the two Squibs Fantome (Ronan McDonnell) and Selik (Fergus O'Kelly) with the former crossing the line a single second in front! Most of the Howth 17s had to be content with contending for 3rd place after Peter Courtney's Oona and Marcus Lynch and John Curley's Rita held on to their early lead and finished 1st and 2nd respectively. Rita consolidated her lead in the scratch division while the handicap spoils look likely to be contended by Mary Faherty's Sheila and Tom Houlihan's Zaida.
The MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz sponsored Autumn League continues next Saturday afternoon.

(Photo: the Class 2 half-tonner 'Harmony' powers upwind)

Published in Howth YC
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#ruffian23 – The Ruffian 23 National Championships take place this weekend, hosted by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and are being held in conjunction with the J109 National Championships.

Seven races on Dublin Bay are scheduled over three days – two scheduled on Friday 18th, three on Saturday 19th and two on Sunday 20th.

There will be 15 plus Ruffians competing with two travelling down from Carrickfergus in County Antrim. Trevor Kirkpatrick (sailing Carrageen), commodore of newly reopened Carrickfergus SC, will be defending his title as current Ruffian 23 national champion.

Published in National YC

#j109 – After several seasons of success on both inshore and offshore circuits, the Irish J109 class is expanding and hopes are high that the Irish title to be decided in Dun Laoghaire and not Cork as previoulsy announced, will be a 14–boat event.

London 2012 Olympic race officer Jack Roy will be in charge of the National Championships from Friday 18th July to Sunday 20th July at the National Yacht Club. Wires were previously crossed when a January piece indicated Cork Week would be the 2014 venue.

The Irish J109 fleet is expanding with two new new boats joining the Irish fleet this year.

There is now also a number of J109s from Wales and the West coast of UK participating in Irish events.

The 'Celtic Sea' area now boasts16 boats and the Irish class has forged much closer ties with UK sailors to promote a competitive sailing scene for the J109s.

The hope is to have at least 14 boats on the start line for the Dublin Bay Nationals.

Published in National YC

#corkweek – Since 1978, sailors from Ireland and all over the world have enjoyed Cork Week writes Louay Habib. One of Ireland's top regattas has evolved over the years, taking into consideration the changes within the sport but the sailing grounds in and around Cork Harbour have stayed the same. Cork Week offers a variety of courses from Atlantic wind and waves to the tricky tidal confines of Cork Harbour and the legendary 'craic' ashore, hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club, significantly adds to the fun.

J Boats

Once again, the J/109 Irish National Championship will be held at Cork Week. A fleet of 20 yachts from Ireland, UK and overseas is expected, confirmed J Boats, Paul Heys. "J Boats has just completed an excellent London Boat Show and we can definitely see a resurgence in demand for J Boats right across the range. The J/109 Irish National Championship has always been a very popular event and we expect a good turn out for Cork Week. The J/70 design is going from strength to strength, with over 600 boats sold in America and Europe. In November, Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell was appointed J Boat dealer for Ireland and we are already seeing demand for the new Sportsboat in Ireland, we expect to see a number of J/70s competing at Cork Week.

High Performance

South African, Mike Bartholomew's Mills 40, Tokoloshe was runner up to Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens in 2012 and hopes to return to Cork Week with his new GP42, Tokoloshe.

"The new Tokoloshe needs quite a few modification to get it competitive for IRC and we are working on that now." confirmed Mike Bartholomew. "We hope to come to Cork Week and I am really excited about the prospect, as the competition, the courses and the conditions will, as always, produce excellent racing."

Capable of surfing at over 20 knots, the all carbon flyer will revel in the Cork Week courses on the Atlantic Approaches and Tokoloshe may not be alone. Hamble UK based, High Performance Charter, has similar yachts available to charter for Cork Week.

"Cork Week provides well run races in perfect conditions for fast light displacement race boats. High Performance Charter has a range of yachts available including GP42, Ker 40 and Mills 43." confirmed Bryan Davies. "These yachts will be in top condition for racing and the package includes delivery from Hamble to Cork and back. Basically a team can fly in to Cork have a real blast and fly home again."

Falmouth Boys

Tim Cunliffe's Cornish Half Tonner, Insatiable will be returning to Cork Week after coming runner up in IRC Three last time out. Tim explains why the crew from Falmouth will be coming back, proudly flying the Royal Cornwall YC burgee.

"First and foremost, in 2012 we had a successful Cork Week after arriving with no expectations, so I guess it is rather dangerous to be returning! We had great racing with the RCYC Admiral's team, Bad Company, and we would love another battle with them. We really enjoyed the Irish hospitality and Cork Week delivers the best IRC racing anywhere.

I know that there will be a Cornish contingent coming to race this year. There is an affinity between Cornwall and Ireland given the celtic roots, but also because the scenery is very similar in many ways, there has always a good number of boats from Falmouth that have come to Cork over the years."

1720 Sportsboat

A sizeable fleet of 1720 Sportsboats is expected for Cork Week from Dublin and County Cork based. Sailors from overseas will be joining Irish crews and chartering bareboats boats for their own teams. Jamie McWilliam grew up in Cork but has settled in Hong Kong. This summer McWilliam will be returning to race in the 1720 Class

"For the last few years, the 1720 Class has been having a revival in Ireland and I have been keeping up to date with mates, who tell me the racing is awesome. There is little you can do to optimise the boat, so it is really good one design racing and whilst the size of the fleet has been increasing, so has the strength in depth. For Cork Week, the 1720 Class will have some really great sailors competing and the spirit on and off the water will be superb. 20 years ago, courtesy of Tom Roche and the legendary Noddy, we had the best Cork Week ever and we are looking to wallow in nostalgia in 2014 - but with children this time!"

Cork Week Race Chairman, Anthony O'Leary has confirmed that he will be racing Ker 39, Antix with a very strong Irish team.

"It is very encouraging to see that we will have some excellent yachts and top class sailors coming to enjoy Cork Week but the event has always been about a variety of sailors and yachts, everybody will be made very welcome. The Royal Cork Yacht Club will open its doors to all competitors. As in recent years, Cork Week will serve up a variety of courses both inside and outside the harbour and besides outstanding racing, Cork Week will have a great atmosphere ashore."

The entry fee for Cork Week 2014 will also be reduced by 30%, compared to 2012 and the reduction in racing days and other measures will effectively reduce the overall cost of attending Cork Week by at least 20%.

Entry for Cork Week 2014 can be made via the official website or by contacting the Regatta Office: 00 353 (0)21 4831179

Published in Cork Week

#dbsc – The National Yacht Club J109 cruiser racer Ruth lifted the Viking Marine sponsored DBSC Spring Chicken trophy on Sunday after a four race series that saw the final leg of the popular all–in series cancelled due to north westerly gales on Dublin Bay.

John Maybury's consistent performer Joker 2 lead the fleet in to the halfway stage of the series. The Royal Irish contender was five points clear of sistership Ruth after two races but the Liam Shanahan entry from the NYC edged it in the end taking honours ahead of the Grand Soleil 40 Orna after four races and one discard.

Third was the Archembault A35 Another Adventure. Full results downloadable below as an MS Word file.

Published in DBSC

#DBSC – John Maybury's consistent performer Joker 2 leads the fleet in to the halfway stage of the Viking Marine sponsored Spring Chicken series this Sunday. The Royal Irish contender is five points clear of sistership Ruth, the Liam Shanahan entry from the National Yacht Club. Just half a point adrift is the Grand Soleil 40, Orna. The full results from last Sunday's breezy outing plus the overall results to date are downloadable below as a word file

Published in DBSC
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#RAYC – It was only in the last race that Andrew Sarratt's Jedi from Dun Laoghaire moved from second to win the 2012 Royal Alfred Yacht Club (RAYC) Coastal Series run over three races in association with ISORA. Full results for the Dublin Bay based series are available for download below as an MS Word document.

It is another offshore win for the J109 class, a design that has proved unbeatable offshore this season.

The RAYC has awarded two trophies for the coastal series - one for the Gold fleet and another for the Silver fleet.

African Challenge, a Beneteau First 42, won the silver fleet.

The Royal Alfred Yacht Club Dinner and Prize-giving takes place on Friday 30th November in the National Yacht Club.

Published in Royal Alfred YC

#isora – After the weekend's cross channel offshore race to Pwllheli, the North Wales J109 yacht Sgrech is in a commanding position for ISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy overall but Dublin Bay's Joker 2 (John Maybury) can still steal the silver by good results in the remaining races that are usually well supported writes ISORA's Peter Ryan. RESULTS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD BELOW AS EXCEL FILE.

The light weather forced the retiral of four boats from the fleet of 12 starters. Some boats retired within sight of the finish line.

The weather forecast for the race was deadly accurate with south westerly 8-10 knots at the start rising to southerly 16-19 knots and falling again in the evening to south easterly 4- 6 knots.

The upwind start crowded many of the boats at the Committee boat end of the line where NYC Vice Commodore, Larry Power, sent the fleet of 12 boats off toward the Muglins. The course for the race was: Start – Muglins (S) – Moulditch Buoy (P) – Finish in Pwllheli. The course allowed boats to pass either side of Bardsey Island and St Tudwal's Island on route to Pwllheli.

Lula Belle got the best clear start from the pin end and raced towards the Muglins while most of the fleet at the other end of the line shadowed each other from the little wind that was there. Lula Belle's early lead soon disappeared as the fleet left Dublin Bay and sailed into a hole in Killiney Bay.

This was not the last hole to be found by the fleet. Killiney Bay caused problems for most of the boats who got trapped with no wind and a strong foul tide. Again, Lula Belle, made a spectacular break from Killiney Bay by sailing deeper into the hole and coming out the other side with a stronger different wind than the remainder of the fleet. Only four boats managed to get away early from Killiney Bay while the rest of the fleet were stranded.

The four boats proceeded towards Moulditch – Lula Belle followed by Sgrech, Joker 2 and Adelie. After Moulditch the leg to Pwllheli was a tight white sail reach. No distance was gained or lost between the four boats as they crossed the Irish Sea. Lula Belle held it lead until the wind dropped as they approach St. Tudwals. Sgrech overtook Lula Belle for the lead heading into Abersoch Bay.

The last section of race to the finish was a light air run. Sgrech managed to pull away from both Lula Belle and Joker 2 to take 1st place Overall and Class 1. Lula Bell held off Joker 2 to take 2nd Overall and 1st in Class 2.

Lancastrian took 1st place in the Silver Fleet to extend his overall lead in this division. For full results see the attached links. The finish in Pwllheli was provided by Gerry Williams, past Commodore of Pwllheli Sailing Club.

The present results puts Sgrech in a commanding position for the Wolf's Trophy overall championship. However, Joker 2 can still steal the silver by good results in the remaining races that are usually well supported.

The next race is the M2 Day Race on the 1st September with a 10.00 start.

The course will be set to ensure that all boats are back in Dun Laoghaire at 19.00 latest.

Published in ISORA
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