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After the success of last year's match racing nationals in Howth Yacht Club last December, organisers say the 2015 event is set to be an exciting event for both competitors and spectators. With the event being hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the championship due to take place within Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the west and east piers will provide viewing of the close, fast paced racing.

Organisers are currently inviting helms and their teams to email in for an invitation request by the 9th of this month. The top 10 skippers will then be invited to enter.

The NOR has been published and can be downloaded below.

 

Published in Match Racing

Following the fun we had with our new  at Dun Laoghaire Regatta we wanted to race Checkmate XVI in a one-design fleet, so took the decision to ship her to the United States where the class is developing quickly writes Nigel Biggs. With the help of our friends at Hyland Shipping, the boat was shipped to the port of Baltimore and then transported by road to Annapolis where she arrived safely at Bert Jabin’s Yacht Yard on the shores of the stunning Chesapeake Bay.

The guys and girls at Jabin’s were extremely helpful and Checkmate was soon rigged, afloat and awaiting the arrival of the crew which included young Irish sailors Cian Guilfoyle (recent All Ireland winner) and Adam Hyland together with Dublin resident Jimmy Houston and myself (Nigel Biggs) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

We arrived a day early, hoping to get some practice in before the racing began, only to find that most of the boats had the same idea so we had a full day of straight line tuning in a steady southerly breeze of around 10 knots, with a couple of short practice races thrown in at the end. It soon became apparent that the boats were extremely evenly matched and that results would be decided by good starts and going the right way, proper one-design racing.

The first race of the Annapolis Fall Regatta was to be 24 miles around the Chesapeake Bay, which included a scoring gate and a points weighting for the second part of the race. Just in case it wasn’t going to be tricky enough finding our way around, the course description referred to passing “through one of the 3 highest spans of the William Preston Lane Jr Memorial Bridge”. Try working out which of the 20 or more spans are the highest from sea level. Add in 15 knots of breeze, lots of commercial ships (both moving and anchored) a downwind start and we felt we had a bit on but at least the sun was shining!

An average start saw us hoist the spinnaker and head off across Chesapeake Bay in cloud of spray, in hot pursuit of the leaders. With everyone struggling to lay the first mark spinnakers were dropped early and we rounded in 2nd . The next leg was an 8 mile beat, against the tide, under the bridge. Maintaining our position in the leading bunch things were looking good until quarter of a mile from the windward mark (and scoring gate) when we found our own little hole and watched the rest of the leading group sail around us, just as happens in Dublin Bay although this fact didn’t help us feel any better about it. We continued around the course in a gradually decreasing breeze, only managing to pick off one boat before the finish where we crossed 5th. A frustrating start but as we kept reminding ourselves, better than being at home in the rain.

The evening’s entertainment included a party launch trip around the bay (courtesy of one of the competing boats owners) which was enjoyed by all, followed by food at a local bar. After a few beers we had soon forgotten our disappointments of the race course and set about doing what we do best, making new friends.

Day 2 began with a shifty 10 knot northerly breeze and warm sunshine, tricky conditions for the 3 planned windward/leeward races. After our early (ish…) night we were keen to make up for the previous days results and started well with a 3rd in the first race of the day. Scoring 4,4 in the next 2 races we returned to the dock in 4th position overall, within reach of 3rd and reasonably satisfied with our days work. Conscious of the fact we were representing the Royal Irish, we considered it our duty to befriend more locals in our new favourite watering the hole, McGarveys Irish Bar, where we sank a few pints and failed miserably to follow the rules of the American Football match being shown on the TV screens. Being fellow athletes, we decided another early night was required, or maybe the time difference was having an effect.

The finally day dawned with more breeze, rain and a lumpy sea so we felt right at home! Unfortunately our early night didn’t seem to have the desired effect and we only managed 5,7 in the days two races, leaving us in 4th overall. On the long motor back to the boatyard the skies cleared and the sun came out, making de-rigging the boat far more pleasant that it would otherwise have been. We attended the prize-giving at the lovely Eastport Yacht Club and after a couple of beers with our new American friends (who’s names really do include Chuck, Randy and Clay) we took the short journey back to Baltimore airport for the return flight home.

We had a fantastic time in our first C&C 30 One-Design event, learnt a huge amount, made new friends (mainly) and are very much looking forward to the next event at Key West in January. Checkmate XVI is now packed up on her trailer ready for the 1200 mile road trip to get her there whilst we are all back at work struggling with jet lag.

I would like to thank everyone who sailed on the boat and all those who helped us along the way and made us feel so welcome, particular thanks going to Clay Deutsch and his team on Just A Friend together with all the staff at Jabin’s Yacht Yard and North Sails whose support was invaluable.

Published in Racing

The top Irish Squib at July's British Isles Championships in Howth has won the 11-boat Squib Irish East Coast Championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club at the weekend. Afficionado sailed by John Driscoll and David Cagney of the Royal North Ireland Yacht Club beat club–mates Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan. Third in the five race, one discard series was Royal St. George's Jill Fleming and Conor O'Leary. Full results downloadable below. 

 

Published in Squib

After three days of typically tricky Dublin Bay conditions, the Dun Laoghaire crew aboard Sin Bin (IRL 3544) – Michael O’Connor, Owen Laverty and Kevin Johnson - were deservedly crowned the 2015 Irish SB20 National Champions writes Ted Laverty.

Hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club and under the experienced race management of Jack Roy, racing commenced at lunchtime on Friday in 15+ knots of breeze. 20 boats made it to the start line in what was a highly competitive fleet with multiple Olympians (past and present) and former all-Ireland helmsmen winners in attendance.

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The 2015 SB20 Irish National Champions – Kevin Johnson, James Horan, Commodore of the RIYC, children Peter and Olivia O’Connor, Michael O'Connor, Owen Laverty and outgoing SB20 class president Justin Burke

Race 1 was won by the returning SB20 veterans in Martin Reilly Motors (Colin Galavan / Chris Arrowsmith / Rory Byrne), beating the top ranked SB of the 2014 season Corona Extra (Graham Grant / Ronan Dowling / Katy Kelly) into second place, with the crew of Sharkbait (Darren Martin / Simon Murray / Roger Parnell) coming in third. After the first race it was apparent that it was a ’streaky’ Dublin bay day, with localised pockets of breeze enabling the most alert crews to climb up the leaderboard.

Race 2 was won by former Olympian Peter Kennedy with Stevie Kane and Emmet Ryan aboard Ridgefence. The eventual champions on Sin Bin came in 2nd, with Espey 3 – a boat containing no fewer than 2 Olympians on board (Rob Espey / James Espey /Steve Milne) crossing the line into 3rd.

Race 3 concluded the day with Espey 3 climbing up to 1st place, local boat Animal Origami (Marty O’ Leary / Chris Chapman / Neil O’Hagan) scoring 2nd in their first event together and Ridgefence following up in 3rd. Some very tired crews sailed back in for light refreshments and craic in the RIYC. Things were tight at the top with Espey 3 and Sin Bin both on 12 points, so there was plenty to discuss!

Weather conditions on day 2 were lighter than the previous day but there was still just enough wind to get boats planing downwind and make the racing exciting. However, the flooding tide was to make starting conditions challenging for the fleet and the ever patient race management team in the Northerly breeze, with the latter tasked with running 4 back-to-back races on the day.

The crew of Espey 3 put the pressure on early, winning Race 4 from the reigning 2014 national champions on board Bad/Kilcullen (Stephan Hyde / Jerry Dowling /Jimmy Dowling) in 2nd and with Lia (Dave Barry / John Malone / Bob Allen) coming in 3rd. Race 5 was a local affair at the very top, won by RIYC boat Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey/Chris Nolan/Blair Stanway/Graham Barker) who lead from the start over 2nd place Bango (James Gorman / Ted Laverty / Keith Staunton) with Ridgefence coming in 3rd. Race 6 was then won by the crew of Sharkbait, with Sin Bin re-establishing their credentials with a fine 2nd place and the crew of Espey 3 maintaining their claim for the championship with a hard fought 3rd place. The final race of the day was won once again by Sharkbait – who were now worrying some the event favourites – with Venuesworld.com nailing 2nd and Ruby Blue (Aidan O’Connell / Kieran Dorgan / Ben O’Donoghue ) following closely in 3rd.

A long day and a deserved evening of relaxation (after the formality of the class AGM, but more on that at a later date) with a sit down dinner in the RIYC. The dinner was extremely well attended, with a few bottles of wine consumed along with some great craic. The class is fast gaining a reputation for its competitiveness on the water and the warmth of its apres-sailing to one and all.

The final day. 2 races and places up for grabs. With just a couple of points separating the 2 leaders – Sin Bin and Espey 3 – nothing could be taken for granted. The forecast was for extremely light conditions and it didn’t disappoint with Jack Roy working hard to get the full quota of races in.

Race 8 saw the fleet split evenly on the downwind leg, with the wind filling in from the left side of the course leaving anyone on the right hand side floundering. Sin Bin, who had proven to be highly consistent all event, came out trumps on this leg with Espey 3 having chosen the wrong side. Sin Bin never lost the lead and won the race handsomely with Espey 3 coming in 4th. Bad/Kilcullen crossed in 2nd, with Animal Origami in 3rd.

The final race, and Sin Bins’ to lose. You already know they didn’t! Sharkbait topped off a strong second half to their event with another race win, with Ridgefence claiming 2nd and the new class presidents boat Seriously Bonkers x 3 ( Martin Cuppage/ Peter Lee (President)/Rory Groves) coming in 3rd.

The crew of Sin Bin won from Espey 3 by 4 points in the end, with the crew of Ruby Blue climbing up to 3rd place on the back of highly consistent scoring after an OCS in race 1.

All in all a fantastic event, expertly run by Jack Roy and team, in a superb venue in the RIYC. The new SB20 Association Committee have a lot to live up to. A word also to our event sponsors – Dubarry, Venuesworld.com and Dinghy Supplies whose continued support was greatly appreciated. 

Published in SB20

#dlregatta – As well as winning the 'Volvo Boat of the week award' with George Sisk's offshore performance in Wow, the Royal Irish Yacht Club topped the leaderboard of Dun Laoghaire's waterfront clubs with eight wins across IRC and one designs at yesterday's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The club took wins in IRC One, IRC Four, J109, White Sails Two, Dragon, Beneteau 21 and Mermaid. Significantly, the RIYC won two of three national Championships being sailed as part of the extensive 29 class regatta programme. ICRA divison one champion, John Maybury's Joker II came from behind yesterday afternoon to win the J109 Irish title after a battle with Howth Yacht Storm in an 11-boat fleet. Séamus Storan's Capilano of the RIYC overhauled a Scottish entry to win in a 13-boat Beneteau 21 fleet.

As well as boat of the week, the Royal Irish also won VDLR's 'Best Overall IRC Yacht' with an impressive performance by club–quarter tonner Cri–Cri skippered by Paul Colton in IRC four. Paul O'Higgin's Rockabill V took the final advantage yesterday to take IRC one from overnight leader Tony Fox's A35 Gringo of the National Yacht Club who suffered from a premature start.

Neighbours at the Royal St. George YC were not far behind in the winning stakes. The George won in seven classes of the one design divisions from Beneteau 31.7 keelboats to GP14 dinghies. The National Yacht Club had five class victories; White Sails one, Flying Fifteen, SB20, Shipman and Moth.

The event that is organised by all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs is being hailed a huge success both afloat and ashore. Although 180 visiting boats, made up nearly half the fleet, yachts from outside the bay area took away only seven trophies. The bulk of the silverware – 17 titles – have stayed on Dun Laoghaire's waterfront.

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Published in Volvo Regatta

#dlregatta – With the Kinsale ICRA Nats/Sovereigns Trophy 2015 very successfully concluded last weekend, and a classic Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race put stylishly in place before that, the feeling of another sailing summer busily in progress is all-pervasive. But while the image projected may well be one of stately progress by the cruiser-racer fleets along the Irish coast, taking in an offshore race here and a regatta there with much leisurely cruising in between, the reality is usually otherwise. For those boats doing significant segments of the programme, it's a case of fitting chosen events into the usual hectic early summer life of work and family commitments and exams and everything else, with the re-location of boats to the next venue being a hurried task undertaken by delivery crews.

Next week sees the mid-season peak of the sailing summer, with the four day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 in Dublin Bay from Thursday July 9th to Sunday July 12th. In a way it is an amalgamation of all that has has already occurred in this year's season, together with new elements to make it a unique sailfest which celebrates the fact that the citizens of Ireland's capital city and their guests can be conveniently sailing and racing within a very short distance of the heart of town. W M Nixon sets the scene

In the dozen or so years since its inception, the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has settled itself firmly into the sailing scene as an exceptionally varied event in terms of the boats and classes taking part. There are five regular cruiser-racer classes, plus an offshore division, fourteen one design keelboat classes, and nine dinghy classes. And although there are contenders from Ireland's north coast and from the Cork area and south coast too, together with one gallant entry from Galway, it is essentially an Irish Sea Sailfest, though with a remarkably strong Scottish presence.

However, it was on the coast of Wales at 8.0pm last night that this sailing celebration began, with an ISORA Race starting in Holyhead and heading for Dun Laoghaire to set this large and complex programme into action towards a culmination on Dublin Bay in eight days time with the conclusion of VDLR2015.

2015 marks the Bicentennial of the Royal Dee YC, which was founded in 1815 on the Cheshire shores of the River Dee estuary where northwest England marches with northeast Wales. Originally the Dee Yacht Club (and founded, it's said, a month or two before the Royal Yacht Squadron came into being in the south of England, making the RDYC the second-oldest Royal yacht club in England after the Royal Thames), the Cheshire club became the Royal Dee YC in 1847.

Although the great prosperity of Liverpool in the 19th century saw the club's fleet of substantial yachts gathered in the Dee and then increasingly in the Mersey, by the late 1900s it was looking to the Menai Straits area as the focus of its keelboat events. As well, the completion of Holyhead breakwater in 1873 added a new and important harbour to its list of possible big boat sailing locations, and there was an increase in the number of cross-channel "matches" which the Royal Dee and the Royal Mersey, in conjunction with the Dublin Bay clubs, had already been running for some years.

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A Royal Alfred YC cross-channel match from Dublin Bay to Holyhead gets under way in 1888. Cross-channel links were strong in the latter half of the 19th Century, and with the new breakwater completed at Holyhead in 1873, a new venue was available both for the Irish clubs and those on the other side such as the Royal Dee and the Royal Mersey

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The bicentenary logo of the Royal Dee YC. In 1815, this club on the Cheshire coast was founded shortly before the Royal Yacht Squadron in the souh of England, whose Bicentennial is being celebrated at the end of July.

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Dun Laoghaire saw its first regatta staged in 1828, and participation by yachts from the northwest of England and North Wales was regularly recorded. This is the Royal St George YC regatta of 1871.

So when we say that the Royal Dee has always been a stalwart of offshore racing in the Irish Sea, we're not referring to a story spanning only the 20th and 21st Centuries. On the contrary, it goes well back into the 1800s. And now, with the revival of keelboat sailing in the Mersey with several of Liverpool's myriad docks being given over to recreational use, we have in a sense come full circle with enthusiastic Dublin Bay support of the Bicentennial celebrations reflecting sailing links which go back almost 200 years

The Lyver Trophy is the Royal Dee's premier offshore challenge, and this year it is special, as it's a fully-accredited RORC event counting for points in the annual championship, and a highlight of the ISORA Programme 2015. It's start scheduled for yesterday evening in Holyhead will see the fleet – mostly regular ISORA contenders – sail a course of at least a hundred miles before finishing in Dun Laoghaire. Then as VDLR 2015 gets under way, races in it, combined with the Lyver Trophy results, will count as part of a series towards finding an overall winner of the RDYC Bicentennial Trophy.

Only entrants in the Lyver Trophy race are eligible, and for that race itself – which can be followed on the Averycrest Yellowbrick Tracker - the favourite has to be the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth, still buoyed up by her great victory in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race three weeks ago.

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Back in The Bay – the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth will be back in her home waters of Dublin Bay after winning the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and completing the Lyver Trophy Race from Holyhead which started last night. Photo: David O'Brien

At the other end of the size scale, the VDLR2015 Dublin Bay programme includes several dinghy classes, and the biggest fleet will be mustered by the International GP 14s, who have designated the racing in Dublin Bay as their Leinster Championship. In an interview with Sailing on Saturday in March, VDLR Chairman Tim Goodbody emphasised that, overall, the event should be seen as a regatta rather than a championship, and for most boats that's just what it will be. But the GP 14s with their great esprit de corps have always done things their own way, and with their compact boat size – albeit comprising a large fleet of dinghies – they reckon they can get in a proper championship while sharing in the fun of the event.

v6.jpgThe brothers John and Donal McGuinness of Moville Sailing Club in Donegal are expected to be among the pace-setters in the GP 14 class with their superb Alistair Duffin-built boat. Photo: W M Nixon

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The GP 14 Ulsters 2015 were recently won on Lough Erne by Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken of Greystones

As to who is favourite, the McGuinness brothers – Donal and John - from Moville in Donegal, with their top-of-the-line Duffin boat built in Northern Ireland, have to be in the reckoning after being top Irish at last year's Worlds on Strangford Lough, but there's fresh blood in the fleet with the newest class developing at Youghal, while this year's recent Ulster Championship on Lough Erne was won by the Greystones duo of Shane MacCarthy and Damian Bracken.

The dozen and more boats coming south from Scotland, most of them substantial cruiser-racers, are testimony to a growing trend in sailing on Europe's Atlantic seaboard. Given a choice of venues, your average yachtie on this long coastline will incline to head south if at all possible. Other things being equal, it's reckoned the further south you go the warmer it is likely to be. And from the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde, there are times when Dublin Bay might seem like the distant and sunny Mediterranean.

Maybe so, but we'd caution that much depends on the moods and location of that all-powerful weather determinant, the northern Polar Jetstream. In July, so long as it's well clear of Ireland -whether to the north or the south - we will have glorious high summer, and that occurred for the previous VDLR back in 2013, where the photos speak for themselves.

So we hope for the best in looking forward to welcoming a fleet of around 415 boats to Dun Laoghaire between July 9th and 12th, with all four of our in-harbour yacht clubs extending the hand of hospitality in a regatta tradition that goes right back to 1828. But while heritage and ceremonial are all very well in their place, it's the prospect of good sport which energises the participants and their sailing, and with several major contests already logged in 2015, what can we expect on the leaderboards next week?

At the top of the tree, Class 0 has formidable competition, including former Scottish champion Jonathan Anderson racing his XP38i Roxstar against the Royal Cork's Conor Phelan with the Ker 37 Jump Juice, which was one of the best performers in last year's ICRA Nationals at the same venue, and this year again became a force to be reckoned with as the breeze sharpened in the four day Kinsale ICRA Nats 2015/Sovereigns Cup a week ago.

v8.jpgFreshly squeezed – her storming finish to last weekend's final race of the ICRA Nats/Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale makes Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice one of the top contenders in the VDLR2015. Photo: David O'Brien

With a win in the final race, Jump Juice came in second to seasoned campaigner George Sisk's class overall winning Farr 42 WOW (RIYC), the pair of them in turn displacing the early leader, lightweight flyer Mills 36 Crazy Horse (ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly & Alan Chambers, HYC) down to third in the final day's racing, so Crazy Horse will be hoping for a return of lighter breezes when racing starts next Thursday on Dublin Bay.

In the previous Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in 2013, the most successful boat in was Nigel Biggs' much-modified Humphreys Half Tonner Checkmate XV, but this year the Biggs team is racing as Checkmate Sailing with the newest boat in the fleet, the Mark Mills-designed American-built C & C 30 OD Checkmate XVI. She may be only 30ft LOA, but she's such a hot piece of work with so many go-fast bells and whistles that she has a rating of 1.140 to put her in Class 0.

The oldest boat in the cruiser-racer fleets will be found in Class 3, where the 44ft Huff of Arklow is making an historic return to Dublin Bay racing. Originally built in 1951 by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow to a design by dinghy genius Uffa Fox, Huff is so-called because her concept is reckoned three-quarters Uffa Fox and one quarter Douglas Heard. The latter was the founding President of the Irish Dinghy Racing Association in 1946, and he later went onto to become Commodore of the Royal St George YC and a noted cruising and offshore racing enthusiast with this unusual boat, which is like a very enlarged Fying Fifteen with a lid – in fact, with her 30ft-plus waterline, she was described as a Flying Thirty. In recent years she has undergone a total restoration with Cremyll Keelboats near Plymouth in Devon, and Dominic Bridgeman of the Cremyll group will be racing her with trainee crews in her old home waters of Dublin Bay.

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The Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow racing off Dublin Bay while under Douglas Heard's ownership in the 1950s. Built by Tyrrell's of Arklow in 1951, the hugely innovative Huff has recently had a major restoration, and will be making her return to Dublin Bay to take part in VDLR2015.

Among the newer boats on the bay, the 2013 champion Checkmate XV is still very much in the picture, but now she's owned by Howth's Dave Cullen, and took second overall in class in the Kinsale series a week ago. In Dun Laoghaire next week, she's with other Half Tonners at the lower end of the Class 2 rating band on 0.944, almost 200 rating points below the new Biggs boat. Class 2 also includes the Division 3 winner at Kinsale, Richard Colwell & Ronan Cobbe's Corby 25 Fusion (HYC) which bested VDLR 205 Chairman's Sigma 33 White Mischief in a real duel after they went into the final day's racing equal on points, while another Kinsale success story in the Class 2 lineup is Paddy Kyne's X302 Maximus from Howth, overall winner of the Portcullis Trophy for top ECHO boat.

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Dave Cullen's modified Half Tonner Checkmate XV will be looking to take the top slot on Dublin Bay after being runner-up in Kinsale. Photo: David O'Brien

In between the two Checkmates on ratings, we find most of the cruiser-racer fleet, with Class 1 shaping up some interesting competition between the likes of Paul O'Higgins Corby 33 Rockabill (RIYC), Kenneth Rumball skippering the Irish National Sailing School's Reflex 38 Lynx, and two very sharp First 35s, Prima Luce (Burke, Lemass & Flynn, NYC & RIYC) and another former Scottish Series champion, John Corson (Clyde Cr C) with Salamander XXI.

This year's Scottish Series Champion and the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for May, Rob McConnell of Dunmore East, will certainly be racing in the VDLR 2015, but whether or not it's with his all-conquering A35 Fool's Gold (second in class at Kinsale) or aboard another boat (a Flying Fifteen) remains to be seen. And the Top Sailor Count doesn't end there, as there'll be at least four Olympic sailors involved in four different classes, with Robin Hennessy racing in what has all the marks of a quality International Dragon fleet against the likes of former Edinburgh Cup winner Martin Byrne, Annalise Murphy racing in the Moths which will surely be a change from the Water Wag which she raced with her mother Cathy MacAleavy (also another ex-Olympian) last time round, and Mark Mansfield helming John Maybury's J/109 Joker 2. After Joker 2's class overall win in Kinsale, we can expect a battle royal in the J/109s with boats of the calibre of Ruth for the National title fight.

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The Shipman 28s find that the sport and socializing which the VDLR guarantees will provide some of their best racing of the year. Photo: VDLR

The J/109s are the queens of an impressive array of One Design keelboats which includes Sigma 33s (where VDLR 2015 Chairman Tim Goodbody's White Mischief is racing under the command of Paul McCarthy), Beneteau First 31.7s, Shipman 28s having one of their best gatherings of the year, Ruffian 23s with a good turnout, the attractive First 21s which are steadily gaining traction as a Dublin Bay class, and best OD keelboat turnout of all is by the Flying Fifteens, nearly all of them under the NYC flag.

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Olympians all – in VDLR2013, Olympic sailors Cathy MacAleavey (1988) and her daughter Annalise Murphy (2012) raced the family Water Wag Mollie. But while Cathy will be sailing Mollie again this year, Annalise will be on her own racing a foiling International Moth.

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Newest of the oldest – Adam Winkelmann and Doug Smith's new French built Water Wag No.46, Madameoiselle, has been launched in time for the regatta. Photo: Owen McNally

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The Howth 17s of 1898 vintage will be the oldest class racing. Photo: David Branigan

Veteran classes include the IDRA 14s from 1946, the Glens from 1945, the Howth 17s of 1898 which pre-date the 1902 Water Wags, and the 1932 Mermaids, the latter being in the interesting position of no longer having an official division in Dun Laoghaire, yet it's a Dun Laoghaire skipper, Jonathan O'Rourke of the National, who continues to dominate the class both at home and away.

With large fleet numbers afloat guaranteed, the shoreside programme is appropriately busy, with the official side of each day's racing concluded by the evening's daily prize-giving at one of the four waterfront clubs. But with so many sailors involved, there'll be action in all the clubs – and at other establishments in Dun Laoghaire - throughout the week. The scene is set, let the party begin at a venue which has been staging regattas since 1828.

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When the summer comes, the après sailing at the VDLR is world class. Photo: VDLR

Further reading:

Download the full entry list for Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 class by class below

Download the Sailing Instrcutions for Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 HERE

 

Published in W M Nixon

#waterwag – Dublin Bay Sailing Club doyen Carmel Winkelmann officiated at the launch of the newest Water Wag dinghy, Mademoiselle, No. 46 on Sunday at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

The new 12–foot clinker dinghy was built for Bay sailors Adam Winkelmann and Doug Smith. The boat was built in Skol Ar Mor, France.

The Water Wag is the oldest one design dinghy in existence, having been devised in 1886 and formalised as a one design class in Ireland in 1887. The design (last modified in 1900) is still sailed to this day on Dublin Bay and is one of the most popular dinghies sailed on the capital's waters recording some notable turnouts of late.

Immediately after the champagne launch ceremony, the Water Wag class held its annual picnic race (which has been running since 1887) with a pursuit down to Dalkey Island and back. An exciting race down to the Island with the end of the ebb tide. Mademoiselle led for most of the way but Mollie managed to overtake her coming into Dalkey sound, with David McFarland in third.

On the return home, No 1 Ethna sailed by Bill Nolan and Niamh Hooper led out of Dalkey sound, Moosmie had to go back as she was over the line but came steaming up the inside to take the win with Ethna 2nd and Mollie 3rd so taking the overall win!

The class thanks 'Thyme Out' and the Bretzel Bakery for sponsoring the fabulous lunch on Dalkey Island. Also our thanks to Brian and Anne Craig and Michael O'Leary for acting as mother ships, Dara, Caoimhe and Eddie Totterdell who had just got in from Greece at 4 in the morning from holidays and made it out drive a rib for us, also to Sandy Aplin who did a sterling job of ferrying us in an out of the Island.

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Mademoiselle (above and below) led the Wags on their annual picnic race to Dalkey Island after her launch. Photos Owen McNally

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The Wags moor up off Dalkey Island (above) and go ashore for a picnic Photos Owen McNally

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Results;

1st Moosmie
2nd Mollie
3rd Mademoiselle
4th Ethna
5th Skee
6th Barbara
7th Coquette
8th Good Hope
9th Chloe

Published in Dublin Bay

#sailability – On the 26th June four sailing cruisers from Lough Foyle will set off from Greencastle in Donegal on a round trip passage of Ireland stopping at each Sailability Club around the coastline of Ireland. This is to promote Sailability - sailing for disabled people in Ireland. Sailability Ireland is the new name for the Irish Disabled Sailing Association (IDSA) which was established in 1980 to introduce and encourage people of all ages with disabilities to take up sailing. Thirty years later, Sailability Ireland members are involved in all levels of the sport, from regular club racing, through international championship, to Paralympic Campaigns.

The cruisers will arrive in Dun Laoghaire for the day on Monday 29th June where they will be hosted by the Royal St George Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Sailability. D/L Sailability run a very successful programme of courses for disabled children throughout the Summer. 35-40 children are involved in the sailing thanks to the support of the four waterfront clubs, the Royal St. George, the National, the Royal Irish and the DMYC, as well as their instructors and volunteers.

To mark the occasion Sailability sailors from Dun Laoghaire will meet the Lough Foyle Crews for a BBQ at the Royal St. George and then head off in local cruisers at 6pm and accompany the Lough Foyle as far as Dalkey Island or perhaps Killiney Bay as they head towards the next port of call Kinsale.

Sailing for disabled people in Ireland has blossomed over the last few years and there are now centres in all provinces in Ireland. In Dun Laoghaire the programme started 6 years ago and has grown every year to the extent that all of the events this season are full, from the regular Sunday morning sailing to the week courses in June and August .

This year the Royal Irish are hosting the Presidents Cup an all-Ireland competition for disabled sailors with a team from each Province competing in 4 different types of boats. the event will be held in Dun Laoghaire harbour on 22nd and 23rd August

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Published in RStGYC

#dlharbour – Hostile questions were asked in the Dail on Wednesday by local TD Richard Boyd Barrett on the proposed development of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a cruise liner port. They were deflected in ministerial replies about legislation currently being drafted, and the two possible viable ways forward for the harbour's administration. But the underlying pace is accelerating towards a resolution of the future of this unique example of Victorian design, engineering and construction. W M Nixon finds that, in recent days and weeks, his views on the possible uses of this magnificent artificial harbour have undergone considerable change.

Embarrassment is a powerful stimulant for change. Change of attitude, change in ways in behaving, change in ways of looking at things, change to entrenched ways of thinking. I was hugely embarrassed by something seen in Dun Laoghaire nine days ago. And within seconds, there came a complete epiphany, with the sudden awareness that an entrenched attitude towards the development of Dun Laoghaire as a cruise liner port had turned through about 140 degrees.

It made for the complete 180 degrees, as the first 40 degrees of the turn had already been achieved a couple of weeks previously, while spending two completely absorbing if mentally exhausting hours with the maverick Alistair Rumball and his team at the Irish National Sailing School beside the inner recesses of Dun Laoghaire's inner harbour, which is still called the Coal Harbour even though it's very many years since anyone offloaded any lumps of the black gold there.

Be that as it may, as we parted we were shooting the breeze about the proposed development of Dun Laoghaire as a cruise liner port, which has been top of the local agenda since the end of March, and handily gave us one of our choicer April Fool's Day stories here on Afloat.ie - it proved so effective we had to add a health warning.

When a story provides you with something like that, you develop a certain affection for it. So while Alistair and I agreed that that the absolute dream solution for Dun Laoghaire Harbour would be a top-of-the-line government-funded National Monument Preservation Scheme, with the entire place given over exclusively to recreation afloat and ashore, and no commercial shipping of any significant size whatsoever allowed about the place, we knew it was pie in the sky.

"How on earth would they really pay for it?" he asked. "This place is huge, it costs a fortune to run and maintain. A cruise liner berth offers the best and most compact method of providing a worthwhile income stream. And as we in our sailing school – being a commercial operation – have to be rigorous in observing harbour regulations and keeping clear of the established in-harbour shipping lanes, we know that you can continue to sail small boats in large areas of the harbour without any undue sense of space restrictions".

Subsequently, I've been spending some time around Cork Harbour, where circumstances are so different from Dublin Bay that, unlikely as it may seem, you end up feeling sorry for the sailors of south Dublin. For while Cork is almost embarrassed by its riches in natural amenities for sailing, and it's all in a large and attractive harbour where marinas can be put down almost anywhere with no more than a floating breakwater to provide the necessary minimum of shelter, Dublin Bay by contrast is a hugely deprived area in terms of natural waterfront facilities for sailing, yet any attempts to provide man-made shoreline amenities for boats and sailors are dogged with local opposition every inch of the way.

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Around Cork Harbour, it only needs a floating breakwater and, hey presto, you've suddenly got a marina - as seen here at Monkstown. Photo: W M Nixon

Thoughts of this struggle, and how things change, emerged again for various reasons in Dun Laoghaire nine days ago, at the reception in Irish Lights HQ to launch the Great Lighthouses Tourism Initiative. Time was when our many fine lighthouses were places of mystery, and permission to visit took quite a bit of arranging if it could be managed at all. But my word, times have changed. In this electronic age, there are those who wonder if we need all our lighthouses. Yet Irish Lights is legally obliged to maintain them, and the built structures around them.

So Yvonne Shields, the CEO of Irish Lights, whom we'd describe as very switched on and extremely bright were we not talking of the top executive in a lights organisation, unveiled this sensible scheme whereby twelve of our greatest lighthouses are being transformed into stations on a tourist trail, while continuing as working lighthouses.

As the greatest and most monumental lighthouses on land tend to be on rugged headlands in remote areas, in the eyes of Brussels they're in peripheral areas deserving special aid. So there's €2 million of Eurodosh going into this project, which sees what had become increasing liabilities being transformed into tourist resources. And if we're going to be sniffy about that, let's face it: the kind of tourist who'll want to visit a remote lighthouse will not be the kind of tourist who would keep you well clear of Temple Bar.

So the old grey matter was churning briskly away on the business of seeing lighthouses in a new way as we headed home past the Coal Harbour, and there it was: The Embarrassment. For this was the evening at the end of the day when the majestic and rather handsome cruise liner Queen Mary 2 was anchored off Dun Laoghaire in a near gale from the southwest which had delayed the morning's arrangements to ferry passengers ashore in the ship's own tenders to the special landing pontoon installed by the Harbour Company in the inner harbour.

By this time, they were trying to return on board, waiting patiently in a queue which ran the length of the inner pier and more as the two ship's tenders bustled the mile and a half plus out to the ship, yet still more buses turned up to disgorge more passengers, such that for a while the long length of the queue seemed to stay persistently the same.

Perhaps it's because we Irish don't do queuing that I found the entire thing acutely embarrassing to behold. And it wasn't even as if it was raining, which it well could have been. Nevertheless it struck me as being a Third World sort of scenario. Yet obviously these people were keen to visit Dun Laoghaire – most of the thousands of passengers on board had elected to go ashore.

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This just won't do at all – images of Third World destinations came to mind on seeing the passengers from the Queen Mary 3 queuing in the Coal Harbour in Dun Laoghaire to get back out to their ship anchored in the bay. Photo: W M Nixon

So the epiphany came with the essential flashing great light. If we're going to have cruise liners calling at Dun Laoghaire, boomed this disembodied voice, then let's do it properly and provide them with a proper berth. Otherwise, don't have them about the place at all. But please, please – no more buzzing in and out in little tenders in this Irish climate, and no more queuing on a comfortless pier. It's an affront to our best traditions of hospitality.

This sudden firing-up with all the zeal of the recent convert (for until then, I'd wanted Dun Laoghaire to stay exactly as it is, and damn the expense) resulted in my being right into the dragon's den four days later. It was meant to be a short and businesslike meeting with Gerry Dunne, the CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, to discuss the Cruise Liner Berth Proposals. But so many ideas were flying around that we ran well over time.

Please be assured, though, that I did my best to represent the needs of the boat-owning and sailing community while accepting that since Stena Sealink withdrew from running a ferry service from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, something very serious indeed needs to be done to pay for the maintenance of the harbour.

We have to remember that, among Ireland's main sailing centres, Cork and Kinsale are blessed with such good natural harbours that any marinas located in either harbour do not need fixed breakwaters. As for Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough, it may need a very substantial solid breakwater on its north side, but otherwise - thanks to being located in a bay - three of its four sides are naturally sheltered. But Dun Laoghaire is badly done by – it's so totally an artificial harbour in an exposed location that three of its four sides are protected by large man-made breakwaters, and while they are constructed in monumental style, continuous monitoring and maintenance is essential.

This is costly, but it would become even more so were standards allowed to slip for even a year or two. Even with the present high standards, there can be underlying wear and tear which in time needs major capital expenditure, and according to one recent report, hidden erosion on the most exposed section of the East Pier may eventually need up to €5 million for a proper remedial job.

As it is, the current basic running costs of the harbour are between €2 and €2.5 million a year. Were it kept as a purely recreational harbour and general public amenity, this figure could perhaps be slightly reduced. Yet the Dun Laoghaire recreational boating market still could not withstand paying the full amount out of its own resources and expected annual expenditure, so the shortfall would have to be made up by Government subvention.

But would the sailing and boating people of Dun Laoghaire really like to feel that they're beholden to taxpayers throughout Ireland for their continuing enjoyment of this wonderful amenity at affordable prices? There's something unpleasantly artificial about the idea of such an arrangement, whereas a harbour which is providing a modest but genuine profit is something which has a much healthier feel to it.

Surely if a way can be found of generating a worthwhile income stream without unduly distorting the traditional functioning of the harbour, then that idea should at the very least be actively explored, and recreational boating groups should be prepared to reach out towards compromises in the knowledge that, in turn, such arrangements would make the Harbour Company more accountable to all.

However, local representative Richard Boyd Barrett TD of the People Before Profit party, and Chair of Dun Laoghaire Save Our Seafront Group, sees it differently, and he has called for "a major campaign of people power against the planned cruise berth, and to protect the future of the harbour as a public amenity". His three main objections to a cruise berth plan are "(1) That the cost and financing of the project at €18 million means that the Harbour Company will have to borrow using its existing assets, where no proper business case has been produced. This puts the very future of the harbour at risk. (2) The entire plan has been hatched by an unelected board of the Harbour Company, Council Executives, and local business people who ran a sham of a public consultation over the two weeks of the Easter Holidays, and (3) The scale of the luxury liners at 300 metres long and 59 metres high will dwarf the harbour and reduce public access and public enjoyment of the most intact Victorian harbour in Britain and Ireland".

So with a Harbour Company which is government-owned, yet is charged with maximizing the economic benefit and exploiting the commercial opportunities provided by Dun Laoghaire Harbour, clearly there is something of a divide between the two sides. In fact, "light years apart" just about sums it up.

Nevertheless, politics being the art of the possible, it has to be possible to bring people together sufficiently to see that perhaps a proper sympathetically-designed cruise liner berth might indeed be the answer. After all, although it was built between 1817 and 1842 purely as a harbour of refuge for sailing ships with no thought of any interaction between sea and land, it very quickly became a ferry port for cross-channel steamships. At the height of this activity, with frequent roll-on roll-off ferries and their unpleasant shoreside traffic dominating the waterfront, Dun Laoghaire had lost much of its charm.

For the life of me I can't see that the much more limited shoreside traffic generated by the visits of cruise liners in the summer months can be seen as being anything like as obnoxious as the previous waves of road and rail traffic for the ferries, which was readily tolerated, and helped to keep the place going for 180 years.

And in any case, with the end of the ferry services, Dun Laoghaire definitely lacks purpose. In the Irish climate, it is very difficult to maintain a sense of vitality around a harbour which is purely devoted to personal recreation, whether afloat and ashore. It could be argued that, regardless of the economic benefits, it would be good for the mental spirit and communal well-being of Dun Laoghaire to be a cruise liner port of call, as a cruise liner strikes a neat balance between work and play. Like it or not, all work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but all play and no work makes him mad.

But even if we accept that the shoreside traffic will be much less than it was with the regular ferries even if there is a cruise liner in port every other day, that is only part of the equation. How does the town itself shape up as a desirable cruise liner destination?

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The Harbour Lodge is symbolic of today's Dun Laoghaire, a classical building from an earlier age, but now enclosed by modernity. Photo: W M Nixon

When we get down to the nitty gritty like this, Gerry Dunne is in his element. He's an affable guy, and good company, but I wouldn't like to get into a row with him, as there's steel underneath it all. So in the sedate setting of Harbour Lodge – which he cheerfully admits his opponents and friends have nick-named "Mussolini's Palace" – he's just the man to fight off the brickbats and work his way towards several objectives. But although he actually lives in Dun Laoghaire within walking distance of his office, he's not really into boat and water sports, yet that's no drawback, as personal preferences definitely don't come into it at all as he plans the way ahead.

He makes no bones about admitting that his attitude is strongly commercial. Before taking over the reins at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, he was Commercial Director at RTE, a job description which boggles the mind. Before that, he honed his skills in the UK, working for several large Irish food companies. If that gives you a vision of ditzy little artisan cheeses selling in agreeable country shops, then perish the thought – the big Irish food industries provide as tough a business environment as you could imagine.

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The many moods of Gerry Dunne.Toughened by a varied and demanding career in business and marketing, he has brought a fresh mind to the problems of making Dun Laoghaire harbour economically viable. Photos: W M Nixon

He joined the Harbour Company in 2009, when talk of Stena's withdrawal was already in the wind. So he got Dun Laoghaire moving towards the cruise liner market in a small way, with the miniature 53-passenger Quest in 2011. Finding Quest an in-harbour berth was no problem, and she provided invaluable information on what Dun Laoghaire can provide as a USP for discerning cruise liner passengers. For Quest's rather specialist group, it was the easy access to the Wicklow Hills and particularly Mount Ussher Gardens, and they definitely didn't want to have to travel through Dublin City to get there.

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The mini liner Quest – seen here in the Arctic - began the programme of attracting cruise ships to Dun Laoghaire in 2011

So far so good, but Gerry Dunne really struck gold when he started going to the cruise liner fairs in America and Europe. Gradually he built up a useful network, and again he struck gold when he got a report on the potential attractions of Dun Laoghaire from the Vice President (Itineraries) of one of the biggest American cruise liner conglomerates. Asked to sum up in one word the attraction of the Dun Laoghaire for visitors coming in from sea, her answer was: "Serenity".

We've become accustomed to Venice being talked of as The Most Serene Republic - The Serenissima. But it makes you sit up and take notice to hear of Dun Laoghaire being so described by a tough American businesswoman. Yet that's the impression the waterfront area, with its combination of the old yacht clubs, the station, the Town Hall and the Royal Marine Hotel, apparently makes on seaborn visitors from cruise liners, even if their liners are at present anchored outside the harbour and they have to be ferried in to land by ship's tenders. It seems they can blank out the less attractive buildings, and are left with the abiding impression of relaxed elegance with an easygoing way of life.

This takes a bit of getting used to, as it's so much at variance with the perception in Ireland of Dun Laoghaire as a place where they'd argue over anything and everything all the time, while just up the street there's the real problem of the dreary array of boarded-up shops. But like it or lump it, here it is folks – the reality is the yacht clubs and other other historically significant and stylish buildings of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront area – including the pleasantly under-stated Victorian residential terraces - are the town's greatest tourist asset.

Quite what some of the more senior members of the yacht clubs will make of that we can only guess, but the word is that the clubs have indicated that they'll be prepared to welcome some cruiser liner guests to their premises at pre-arranged times. So perhaps we should see the cruise liners as no more than extra-super super yachts......And there's no doubt that many rugged sailing folk from Dun Laoghaire are themselves only too happy to tootle off on a cruise liner when the peak of the sailing season is over.

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The artist's impression was just that – an artist's impression. If the new berth goes ahead, cruise liners will actually have their sterns towards the town.

But what is the reality if the new berth is agreed? Well, you can forget about your artist's impressions showing a liner facing the town. Space will be restricted, so the liners will come in stern first, thereby enabling them to make an elegant departure for the benefit of crowds down the end of the piers, which could become a popular occurrence.

The new liner pier will be as short as possible, though it will have an underpass for small craft, while the bows of the ships themselves will be held in place by dolphins, as was the HSS ferry. If you think that getting into this berth will involve impossibly ticklish manoeuvring, consider this recent photo of the three Cunard Queens up close and friendly in Southampton, and note that there's no lack of small craft nipping about among them.

dl10.jpgThe three Cunarders can manoeuvre unaided at close quarters even with several small craft nipping about their heels, as seen here in Southampton

One of the other drawbacks about the current setup, with the ships anchoring off and people disembarking in the Coal Harbour, is that there's very little space for buses to move about, but the present waterfront marshalling yard left behind by the exit of Sealink will greatly relieve that problem if the new berth is built. At the moment, it is planned that passengers will walk the short length of the pier to reach their buses, but my own feeling is that the pier should be made a bit wider with a turning circle in order that passengers may board their buses almost directly from the ship, for we're not talking long distance athletes here.

That said, those who are fitter can come and go as they please, with the town within easy reach, whereas being anchored off can cause cabin fever. In other words, if Dun Laoghaire is going to have a cruise liner berth, let it be done properly – half measures involving long walks to buses just won't do, but equally for those who do walk, the town must feel accessible and welcoming.

As to the amount of space the ship will take up in the harbour, that will vary from ship to ship, but some are indeed enormous. And their wind-deflecting presence will certainly add an extra interest to in-harbour dinghy racing. As for the interest of the in-harbour racing for the visitors on the ship, that in turn will all be part of Dun Laoghaire's colourful charm, for which their ship will provide a grandstand view.

In line with that, we should remember that the leading in-harbour class, the historic Water Wags, have only just returned from showing themselves off at Morbihan Sailing week in France. Thus they'll scarcely be unduly bothered about providing a source of fascination for passengers on cruise liners, some of whom will probably be former dinghy racers themselves.

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The Water Wags find it easy to sail freely within Dun Laoghaire Marina on their way out to race in the main harbour, so their only problem with a cruise liner berthed in mid-harbour will be the effect it has on wind flow. Photo: W M Nixon

But what the in-harbour dinghy racers are already becoming happily accustomed to is the newly-emptied eastern half of the harbour, with space now provided where boats used to moor. And this area will not be at risk from maneuvering cruise liners – there's not the depth for them. Finally, as to the height or otherwise of the ships in relation to other structures in Dun Laoghaire, I think we've been righteously indignant about this on a mistaken premise – since the new library was pushed into place, all bets about skyline heights and an elegant relationship with other waterfront buildings are clearly off.

So if the sailing and boating community can be more accepting of the cruise liners which will ultimately provide a real source of income to maintain the harbour which makes their activities possible, what can they expect in return?

They're in a strong negotiating position. After all, the Harbour Company's research has shown it is the comfortable presence of the yacht clubs which underpins this vision of serenity which is Dun Laoghaire's most appealing attraction for the kind of people who enjoy the cruise liner experience. So it's very much in the Harbour Company's interest to keep the clubs in good health.

By today's standards, the Royal Irish YC is thriving, thanks in no small part to its location within the marina against whose creation, ironically, the club fought tooth and nail. But the other three clubs – the Royal St George, the National, and the Dun Laoghaire MYC – are blighted by the limited and relatively unsheltered pontoon berthing at their clubhouses.

It may well be – and I'm only guessing – that the Marina Company's agreement with the Harbour Company includes a clause that these three clubs are not allowed to have their own adjacent marinas. But if such a clause exists, then it should be deleted for the greater good of the harbour and the vitality of the waterfront in general, and the three clubs should be facilitated in providing 150-boat marinas – with proper breakwaters for the George and National - in front of each clubhouse.

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Dun Laoghaire from the southeast. If the new cruise liner berth is installed at mid-harbour, a longterm plan could be the installation of breakwaters in front of the Royal St George YC and the National YC in the foreground to shelter two new 150-boat marinas, as the location of the Royal Irish YC within the main marina gives it an unfair advantage in providing facilities for its members.

As to how Dun Laoghaire town can benefit, that's another matter altogether. The much stronger income and improved employment going through the Harbour Company will undoubtedly be a tangible good, though how seasonal it will be – with liners expected only between April and October – remains to be seen.

But personal expenditure by cruise liner passengers in the town is an imponderable. In fact, some cruise liners in the popular sunshine destinations are notorious for disembarking guests who feel that they made their total investment with the purchase of the ticket back home, so they don't plan to spend any more.

The historic little Venetian city-port of Dubrovnik on the Adriatic – which doesn't have a proper liner port – recently banned cruise liners from coming anywhere near the place, as their thousands of passengers made the narrow streets very uncomfortably crammed at peak times, yet the average expenditure ashore in Dubrovnik by each cruise liner passenger was precisely €6. There's food for thought. But we will of course get a better class of cruise liner passenger in Dun Laoghaire...

Published in W M Nixon

#sb20 – Jerry Dowling's Bad Kilcullen from the Royal Irish Yacht Club emerged the winner of a breezy 17–boat Leinster Championships off Dun Laoghaire at the weekend by a two point margin. Second was Cork based Corona Extra with Howth's Dinghy Supplies third. Full results for the Royal St. George Yacht Club hosted event are downloadable below. The event was sponsored by O'Connor Intellectual Property.

The fleet were delighted to welcome back SB20 stalwarts Peter Kennedy, Dave Cheyne and Stephen Kane on Ridgefence, Colin Galavan helming Bad Kilcullen (on Saturday), Rick Morris crewing on Ruby Blue and Marco Sorgassi and his new crew on Lupi d'Irlanda. The fleet were also delighted to welcome new young guns Tim O'Laoire, George Kenefic, Rob Bearla and Aoife English on SacreBleu. After some years of steady numbers, the fleet is once again showing promising signs of growth with several boats changing hands in the last few months and it was encouraging to see the returning stalwarts and new converts competing at the sharp end of the fleet.

17 boats took to the start line on Saturday in a fresh to strong westerly wind. With the gusts topping off at 28knts in a short chop, conditions were perfect to showcase SB20 racing at its very best and the fleet certainly didn't disappoint. OOD Barry O'Neill and his team had their work cut out for them with the westerly breeze shifting through 50 degrees throughout the course of the day but they did an exceptional job providing three excellent races on Saturday in such testing conditions.

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Race 1 saw Davy Taylor, Marty O'Leary and Rachel Willamson on Yachtsman.ie take an early jump on the fleet closely pursued by Dinghy Supplies (Daragh Sheridan, Shane Murphy and John Phelan), Ruby Blue (Aidan O'Connell, Rick Morris and Johnny Horgan) and Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor, Owen Laverty and Kevin Johnson). With the wind shifting about and gusting so frequently, there were plenty of passing opportunities and in the end Sin Bin snuck into the lead to finish ahead of Dinghy Supplies with Ruby Blue in third and Corona Extra (Graeme Grant, Ronan Downing and Breffni Jones) recovering well to finish in fourth. Race 2 again saw the fleet tussling for position but by the second weather mark Ruby Blue had built up a commanding lead over the chasing pack of Sin Bin, Ridgefence, Yachtsman.ie and Bad Kilcullen (Colin Galanvan, Gerry Dowling and Jimmy Dowling). Tragedy struck Ruby Blue as they snagged the weather mark anchor line on their way to what surely would have been an unassailable lead down the final run. Second around Sin Bin were unable to take full advantage as they broached three quarters way down the run putting an end to their hopes of race victory. The crew of Yachtsman.ie showed sublime boat handling skills to keep the boat under the rig and took a well deserved victory from Dinghy Supplies in second, Corona Extra in third followed by Bad Kilcullen in fourth. Ridgefence were getting into the swing of things with a creditable fifth. In Race 3, Ruby Blue again got off to a flyer but this time there was to be no repeat of their error in Race 2 and they won convincingly from a chasing pack of Bad in second, Corona Extra in third, Dinghy Supplies in fourth and Ridgefence once more in fifth.

At the end of day one, Dinghy Supplies were leading on 8 points (2,2,4) from Corona Extra (4,3,3) and Yachtsman.ie (6, 1, 7) in third however a protest between Corona Extra and Yachtsman.ie saw Yachtsman disqualified from race 1 and relegated down the leaderboard. Venuesworld (Ger Dempsey, Chris Nolan and Rory Groves) were promoted to fifth in race 1. The exhausted but very happy crews convened to the bar of the Royal St. George for some well-earned apres sail pints followed by a magnificent meal in the club room of the George. There were plenty of tales of high speed escapades with many recording speeds in the high teens on the downwind sleigh-rides. SacreBleu reported a speed of 22.6 knts which was put down by everyone else to a malfunctioning speedo until we saw the photographic evidence and eye-witness reports from the committee boat of a blue blur passing them by very, very quickly!

Sunday dawned with a slightly, although not significantly, lighter breeze (F4 gusting F6 at times) and the competitors ventured out onto Dublin Bay once more in the expectation of more thrills and spills. Race 4 saw new boat to the fleet Bango (James Gorman, Philip Lawton and Keith Staunton) showing some impressive upwind speed to lead at mark one but they were unlucky to be swallowed up by the chasing pack who caught the gusts fractionally earlier on the downwind leg. By the end of race 4, Ruby Blue was back to the fore showing impressive speed and tactics to take their second race win of the series, giving them a (3,1,1) to count with the discard coming in. They were followed by Bad Kilcullen in second (now with regular helm Stefan Hyde in place of super sub Colin Galavan), Corona Extra in third continuing to put in a very consistent series, new boys (and girl) SacreBleu in fourth and Lia (Dave Barry, John Malone and Ger Bythell) in fifth. In Race 5, Ridgefence were fully into the swing of things and won from SacreBleu in a commendable second place followed by Corona Extra in their now customery third place, Bad Kilcullen in fourth and Yachtsman in fifth.

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After five races, things were very close at the top with Bad and Corona Extra tied on 12 points followed by Ruby Blue on 14 points, Dinghy Supplies a further two points back on 16 points and Ridgefence on 17 points not entirely out of the reckoning. In Race 6, Sin Bin led at mark 1 and were being followed closely by Dinghy Supplies, Bad Kilcullen and Corona Extra. These boats tussled it out over the following legs with the three lead boats overlapped going into the final gate! In the end, Sin Bin took the race win, their second of the championship, from Bad in second and Dinghy Supplies in third. Corona Extra took fourth and Venuesworld.com showed a return to form with a fifth in the final race of the day. At the end of the series, Bad Kilcullen were worthy winners of the 2015 SB20 Leinster Championship with Corona Extra in second, Dinghy Supplies in third, Ruby Blue in fourth and Ridgefence in fifth. The silver fleet was won by SacreBleu who came in eighth overall. Interestingly, none of the top three boats managed a race win showing that in this fleet, mistakes are severly punished and there is a high standard throughout with anyone capable of winning a race. Prizes were awarded to the competitors by new RStGYC commodore Justin McKenna and the Royal St. George Yacht Club and race committee were highly praised by the competitors at the prizegiving for a thoroughly enjoyable event. Next up is the Southern Championships in RCYC in early June where another good turnout is expected.

Published in SB20
Page 6 of 12

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