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Displaying items by tag: Sailor of the Month

At February 19th’s AGM of the Irish Cruising Club, Alan Rountree of Wicklow was awarded two trophies of great distinction independently of each other. The ICC’s East Coast group nominated him for the Donegan Memorial Cup, which is for an outstanding contributor to cruising from their sector of the nationwide membership. It went to the Wicklow man in recognition of his 55,000 miles of very varied cruising since he first launched his own-built Legend 34 Tallulah in 1987, sailing on many coasts of Europe and going out to the Azores and north to the Faroes too.

And Hilary Keatinge, adjudicator of the ICC’s annual log competition in what was a particularly good year for outstanding cruising achievement - many to very remote places - nevertheless awarded the premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to Rountree for his 3,120 mile venture in 2015 to the Azores, where he cruised the islands in detail with different crews at different times, and then sailed home single-handed.

Talk to Alan Rountree about his life experience, and you find you’re contemplating a universe. Stainless steel is his speciality, but though he was MD of Newbridge Silverware & Cutlery at the age of 26 with nearly 500 employees beavering away in County Kildare, in the end he preferred to run his own smaller show with a production unit beside a house he’d built himself in the heart of the Wicklow Hills.

He came to sailing through the unusual route of building himself a currach, then cruising to and camping on any rock or island on Ireland’s west coast big enough for a tent with a beach or inlet which would shelter the boat. But one foggy summer’s morning at Clare Island with the currach, he saw a proper cruising yacht making herself ready for a Transatlantic passage, and decided cruising under sail was for him.

He started asking questions – “Just keep asking questions, and be really interested in the answers, and you’ll learn a lot” is his mantra - and decided that a van de Stadt Legend 34 from BJ Marine in Dublin would best meet his needs. But being Alan Rountree, he wanted to build her from scratch, as his “country complex” in Wicklow now included the necessary boatshed/workshop. So Bernard Gallagher of BJ Marine simply lent him the moulds with the throwaway line that once Alan had the hull finished, he’d find himself putting lots of business BJ Marine’s way for extra bits and pieces. They’ve been friends ever since.

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Nearing perfection. Tallulah as she’d become by 2007, seen here in Aldan in Galicia. But owner Alan Rountree continues to make improvements, and after losing his sprayhood in a Force 9-plus while returning from the Azores in August 2015, Tallulah will be launched at the end of this month fitted with a new own-built GRP sprayhood.

When Tallulah was launched in 1987 after five years work “off and on”, she set a standard which few DIY projects remotely match. And as for learning to sail, Alan had done a cruise in West Cork in the summer of 1986 on a charter boat with a professional skipper. It took place during the mayhem of Hurricane Charlie,and as Alan drily remarks: “I learnt a lot, and I kept asking questions when we weren’t totally busy with saving the boat”.

In his 29 years of cruising with Tallulah, he’s had a policy of making improvements every winter, and by the early noughties she was nearing perfection. He has now been out to Galicia ten times, one of his favourite areas, he’s been north to Norway and the Faroes, and he took in the Azores in 1991, though the boat was rolled through 360 degrees in a massive storm while homeward bound across the continental shelf, but she emerged relatively unscathed.

But even Alan Rountree finds the years are catching up with him, so for 2015 he signed on Greg McGarry (who’s more into horses, but is clearly a great cook) for another voyage out to the Azores while the going is still good. And though they’d expected to take the traditional approach of going first to northwest Spain and then cutting westward to the islands, they carried a fair nor’easter direct to the Azores all the way from Ireland. Out there, Tallulah cruised the islands with a variety of crew including Alan’s wife Angela. But then as anticipated, he planned the 1,100 mile passage home single-handed, but he expected this time to definitely take in northwest Spain as a staging post.

However, all the forecasts for the direct route were for sou’westers of not more than Force 6 and mostly less, so he went for it, and after near calms in the Azores (which he reports as having been notably hotter than in 1991), a breeze from the sou’west was more than welcome. But it just built and built as a localised low developed into a proper storm, and he’d Force 9 for three days.

Fortunately one of the winter mods had been asking sailmaker Philip Watson to put a fourth reef in the main, and it was under this very short sail and nothing else that Tallulah continued on her way, for Alan subscribes to Bernard Moitessier’s theory that in a storm you’re going to be bashed by rogue waves no matter what you do, so you might as well keep going.

His trusty Aries self-steering – which he has much reinforced – kept going, and though other damage was sustained such as losing most of the sprayhood, the home-made boat from the Wicklow Hills came through with flying colours. As for being single-handed, in typical style the skipper observes that as he’d to sleep as best he could on the relative safety of the cabin sole, there wasn’t room there for anyone else, and if anything needed doing in the cockpit, an extra hand would have only got in the way……..

So Alan Rountree is our February 2016 “Sailor of the Month (Cruising)” simply for being Alan Rountree as much as for receiving the ICC’s top award. The word from the heart of Wicklow is that, snug in her shed, Tallulah has already received her first coats of varnish in anticipation of launching as usual at the end of March. And she’ll also be sporting a new extra-strong glassfibre sprayhood, the latest product of Rountree Marine Industries. The Odyssey continues.

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Early days. A younger Alan Rountree testing the new Tallulah’s Aries self-steering gear in a breezy day off the Wicklow coast.

Published in Sailor of the Month

When Conor Fogerty’s beamy new Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 Bam first appeared on Howth Marina, most observers wanted to like her. After the grey years of the recession, BAM was like a breath of fresh air, a wonderful free-wheeling yet mainstream take on the all-conquering JPK range, with the same twin rudder configuration. Yet by being from Jeanneau, she had an air of accessibility, whereas you’ve to queue for a JPK.

Nevertheless it was clear that the short-leg courses of the racing in the greater Dublin region were scarcely going to allow her to spread her wings, and even in longer ISORA events, much of the time you’re unlikely to get a pronged period of the kind of conditions that allow BAM to fly, and sail up to and beyond her rating.

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BAM in Dublin Bay. She looked great, but gave every indication of needing wide open spaces, plenty of breeze, and preferably a bit of sunshine to give of her best.

But with a mighty leap, our hero freed himself. BAM and her skipper and some mates took off in the Autumn, and scampered across the Atlantic in the ARC to line themselves up for the RORC Caribbean 600 at Antigua on Monday February 22nd.

In the race, BAM was never out of the frame, and other Irish-crewed boats doing well too. But while most of the other Irish personnel had crossed the Atlantic in comfortable big jetliner style, there was the little BAM racing her heart out after sailing every inch of the way from Howth just to get there. It was inspirational stuff, brought to a perfect conclusion with the IRC 3 overall win.

The story will go on, and BAM’s skipper has further projects to implement during his Atlantic circuit venture. But for now, Conor Fogerty is a very worthy “Sailor of the Month (Racing)” for February 2016.

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Wishing him well – Howth YC Commodore Brian Turvey with Conor Fogerty at a party in the clubhouse to send BAM on her way across the Atlantic last year. Brian Turvey later caught up with BAM and her crew in Antigua in late February, having jetted out to join the Howth crew on the First 40 Southern Child which finished third in IRC 2 in the RORC Caribbean 600 2016.

Published in Sailor of the Month

It’s that time of year again. Deciding on la crème de la crème is never easy. And in a vehicle sport like sailing where so many elements beyond athletic ability and the capacity for quick thinking are involved, it can be surprising and reassuring just how widely the net can be cast. W M Nixon takes a look over the runners and riders, all of whom have already been winners for one glorious month regardless of who becomes the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2015 at the Annual ISA Sailing Awards Ceremony in the RCSI on Thursday, February 4th 2016.

JANUARY – CONOR CLARKEClarke2

Conor Clarke, who cut his sailing teeth on Dublin Bay, was our Sailor of the Month for January after a dream debut at the Key West Regatta with his Melges 24 Embarr. In fact, “dream” is the theme of the story, as they made their debut in the kind of conditions you could only fantasise about in mid-January Dublin, with 18 knots of breeze in an air temperature of 25 degrees and sunshine sparkling on the bluest sea imaginable.

Cheerfully admitting that the Key West event had long been on his bucket list, Clarke had also brought out a dream team of all the talents with 470 Olympic hopefuls Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes as helmsman and tactician, while Maurice Prof O’Connell was there to knock them back into shape, particularly in the one race when things went pear-shaped, when the Prof did it to such good effect that that they went up through the fleet from the crab grass to battling for the lead against the Norwegian crew at the last gybe. They went on to win overall with one race to spare, but they raced that anyway.

FEBRUARY – NEIL HEGARTYsomfeb2

Neil Hegarty of Cork was awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s historic premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, as February drew to a close. A former dinghy sailor who was at the front of the fleet both as crew and helm in boats as diverse as IDRA 14s, Enterprises and 505s, Hegarty went on to campaign keelboats with the J/24 and Impala 28 fleets. He has since graduated with aplomb into long distance voyaging and detailed cruising in exotic locations with his 2003 Dufour 34 Shelduck.

His award-winning 2014 cruise was Transatlantic from Cascais in Portugal via the Canaries to the Caribbean, which was then cruised in detail including Cuba, followed by island and port-hopping along the East Coast USA until eventually the boat was laid up in advance of the hurricane season near the Chesapeake.
In the finest traditions of cruising, he not only kept an informative log, but at its conclusion he made a detailed analysis of all the special equipment which he had found particularly useful during this exemplary voyage.

MARCH – FIONN LYDEN

Fionn  Lyden

Fionn Lyden (19) of Baltimore became March’s winner by ushering in the new month with a stellar role in bringing University College Cork’s First Team to overall victory in the decidedly breezy Intervarsity Team Racing Nationals at Schull from February 27th to March 1st.

Of all forms of sailing, this is of course the most group-oriented. But Lyden’s achievement emerged above the efforts of his team mates with his additional acclamation as First Year Sailor of the Year from among the large turnout at the championship. Indeed, everyone – both participants and organisers alike – deserved an award at a series in which the highly-regarded Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre and a large team of volunteers skillfully dealt with deteriorating conditions to get a worthwhile result.

APRIL – ANTHONY O’LEARYolear1

'Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2014' Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork YC started his 2015 season in winning style by book-ending April with a runaway overall victory in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from April 3rd to 5th as the new month got under way, and then rounding it out with a convincing win in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship, a twelve race series which concluded on Sunday April 26th.

O’Leary’s new Antix was the unmistakably Munster red state-of-the-art Ker 40 which was formerly Catapult, key member of Ireland’s winning 2014 Commodore’s Cup Team, in which she was also the top individual points scorer. Most of the crew were very new to the boat, but the results speak for themselves, and by the end of the month, the remarkable new Antix with her very dished stern was being sailed as though the crew had been with her for at least a year.

As for their skipper, he showed his versatility by retaining the All Ireland Helmsman’s Championship in October by a convincing margin racing the SailFleet J/80s.

MAY – ROB McCONNELL fools gold scotland

May 2015 was a good month for Dunmore East, with the confirmation that the long-awaited dredging of this pretty fishing/sailing port – a €6 million contract – would swing into action in June, and then from far-off Scotland came the news that one of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club’s most popular and enthusiastic skippers had emerged as overall winner of the Silvers Scottish Series 2015.

Rob McConnell is well-known at all Ireland’s main sailing centres, as he campaigns his A35 Fool’s Gold with targeted campaigns of skill - coupled with sheer joy in sailing - in any event which can be fitted into a busy schedule. Crewed by friends who may be from all parts of Ireland but undoubtedly have a Dunmore East emphasis, he can be relied on to be always in the frame on the leaderboard, and in line with this approach, The Scottish Series was regarded as unfinished business after Fool’s Gold finished second overall in 2014, and in 20215 they clinched it in style.

MAY INTERNATIONAL AWARD – SIDNEY GAVIGNETOman crew

When a round Ireland record has stood for nearly 22 years, clearly it is something very special, and the 44 hour time set by Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota in 1993 - a venture engineered by Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey who were in Lakota’s crew - had withstood several challenges, including three by top French skipper Sidney Gavignet.

And it was Ireland’s own Damian Foxall – a frequent shipmate of Gavignet – who first got Gavignet hooked on the challenge of the round Ireland record. So it was ironic that a mid-race call to Foxall to beef up one of the crews in the Volvo Ocean Race meant he was unavoidably absent on other business when Gavignet saw the opportunity developing for the MOD 70 Musandam-Oman to knock off the Ireland target at the beginning of May. That month of notably atrocious weather provided one of those rare but perfect record conditions where a deep low pressure area sat plumb over the country on May 4th.

Donegal proved to be obtuse, but Gavignet and his crew were soon making up lost time as they streaked down the Connacht coast in a strong nor’wester, and though they were well shy of taking the originally anticipated ten hours off Lakota’s time when they returned to the finish line at the Kish L/H off Dublin Bay, they’d got down to within shouting distance of 40 hours in rugged sailing.

JUNE – LIAM SHANAHANliam shanahanD2D

The comprehensive overall victory in the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race by Liam Shanahan in his family’s J/109 Ruth was the highlight of a busy month of Irish sailing in June, with Ruth emerging as winner in the last fifty miles of racing after a head-to-head all round the course on three coasts of Ireland with sister-ship Mojito.

When Ruth finally crossed the finish line at the entrance to Dingle Harbour at 1945hrs on the summery evening of Sunday June 14th, she and her crew had been racing at a high level of sustained intensity for forty-seven and three-quarter hours. Their reward was in knowing that on corrected time they’d beaten all four larger boats already in port, while their closest rival Mojito was a clear two miles astern. It was the duel between Ruth and Mojito which set them apart in every sense, and the heightened performance it provided made Liam Shanahan a very worthy Sailor of the Month.

JUNE INTERNATIONAL AWARD – JUSTIN SLATTERYJustin Slattery1

The clear win by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 was achieved by solid consistency in the classic “good series” style favoured by regular champion sailors. Except that, instead of being a pleasant five day championship regatta staged at some agreeable summer venue, the Volvo Ocean Race was made up of nine legs which took the fleet right round the world, getting them south of both Good Hope and Cape Horn, yet also back north again across the equator.

In such a challenge, a mixture of experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium, and Ireland’s Justin Slattery (40) has both in abundance. He was a key crew member aboard Abu Dhabi, which was well placed top of the leaderboard with a scoreline of 1,3,2,2,1 after the first five legs. But with four legs still to be raced, experience became the key ingredient, as the leading boat has to defend her position against a chasing fleet with three close contenders.

But the crew of Abu Dhabi kept their cool, they kept their boat intact too, and they sailed on to win overall by 24 points to the 29 of Team Brunel and the 33 of Dongfeng Race Team, making Justin Slattery the winner of an Afloat.ie International Award for June 2015.

JULY – RACING – GEORGE SISKWOW ICRA champion

George Sisk of Dun Laoghaire was Sailor of the Month (Racing) for July with his Farr 42 WOW already having a glorious season with victory at Kinsale in June two weeks before she was declared Top Boat at the conclusion of the often breezy four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. To achieve this, WOW and her veteran crew (some of them very veteran indeed) had won three of the four demanding offshore races, further demonstrating that this is their preferred area of sailing - four weeks earlier they’d notched up a good Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in an event in which size benefits meant that the J/109s were ideal for the course and the conditions.

But if needs be, the gallant old codgers on WOW have shown they can cut the mustard in close-fought inshore contests, with the well-tested Farr 42 revelling in the fresh winds.

George Sisk has been making an exceptional contribution to Irish offshore racing since the late 1960s, and he has done it in a fascinating range of boats of several sizes, and many types. Yet through several boat changes, his longtime crewing panel has reflected his personal popularity and an admirable loyalty to old friends and shipmates. He sets an example which any sailing enthusiast could usefully follow, and his own quiet but steady and determined enthusiasm for our sport is inspiring.

JULY – CRUISING – NATHANIEL & FERGUS OGDENlugger round ireland

When the Ogden brothers (Nathaniel (23) and Fergus (16) sailed their 18ft Drascombe Lugger Lughnasa in to their home port of Baltimore to berth at the new in-harbour pontoon in the evening sunshine of Wednesday July 29th, a casual observer might well have thought that this was just another characterful Drascombe concluding a couple of hours of sailing in weather which had, albeit briefly, been much better than that experienced for most of July.

But Lughnasa was successfully completing an eight weeks voyage of clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland. Sailed as a fund-raiser for the RNLI, the voyage would have been quite something for a Drascombe Lugger in a reasonably normal summer. In the exceptionally bad weather of 2015, it was an extraordinary achievement.

On every coastline of Ireland, the brothers had to contend with adverse conditions at some stage, and often for long periods. Even when they finally reached the home stages of the final passages along the coast of West Cork, 2015’s weather demons hadn’t finished with them, as one of the roughest passages of the entire cruise involved getting round the Old Head of Kinsale from Kinsale itself, and battling on westward towards Baltimore and home.

AUGUST – OFFSHORE – RONAN O SIOCHRURONAN OSIOCHRU copy

The Rolex Fastnet Race offers an ideal “living lesson” for the increasing number of offshore sailing schools in Europe, providing as it does clear stipulations of the basic requirements for those hoping to take part. This means that a beginner to sailing in May of a Fastnet Race year can aspire to take part in the historic race in August if he or she has stayed with an offshore sailing school’s gruelling course of training and participation in distance races in the build–up to the start of the 608-mile marathon off Cowes.

Nevertheless when you get your Irish offshore sailing school boat down to the Solent, the Fastnet start will bring with it the realisation that not only are you up against the crème de la crème of international offshore racing, but there are many other offshore sailing schools also taking part, and some of them are sailing seriously modern heavy metal.

So when, with only an hour or so to go to the prize-giving of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in Plymouth on the evening of Friday August 21st, it emerged that the recently-finished Class 4 Jeanneau Sunfast 37 Desert Star of the Dun Laoghaire-based Irish Offshore Sailing was winner of the Roger Justice Trophy for the best-placed sailing school boat in the entire fleet which included 33 sailing school boats, and was additionally second overall of all the Irish entries, it was the stuff of dreams.

Desert Star’s crew were Louise Gray, David McDonnell, Rupert Barry, David Garforth, Symeon Charalabides and Sam Lamont, while the first mate was Kristian Aderman and the skipper/chief instructor was Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing.Ronan O Siochru, our Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for August.

For someone who was once a schoolboy who had to hitchike from the family home in Bishopstown in Cork down to Kinsale to pursue his dream of sailing, it was a great achievement.

AUGUST – INSHORE – SHANE McCARTHY & ANDY THOMPSONgp14 shane mcCarthy

2015 was very much the year for the GP14 dinghy at the top levels of the popularity polls in Irish dinghy sailing. And it has also been the year in which Greystones Sailing Club have been flexing their muscles both as a hotbed of dinghy racing, and as a popular addition to the list of centres for keelboat activity with the new marina bedding in.

These positive themes united in the Greystones GP 14 crew of Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson. Their sailing year started well with wins in the season’s early regional events, they had their skills further sharpened in the large GP14 fleet racing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and then their campaigning really started to sing with the British GP 14 Nationals at Brixham in Devon in the first week of August.

Although only a small contingent of Irish boats travelled to this big championship, McCarthy & Thompson led the charge to such good effect that they had the title won outright without having to sail the final race.

AUGUST – INTERNATIONAL – DAVE CULLENcheckmate half ton champion

Dave Cullen of Howth is well-known in sailing circles as an affable bloke whose amiable appearance disguises a very keen determination to win. And in Irish business life, his management style at Euro Car Parks is so highly regarded that the company regularly features in the frame in those annual competitions for “best place to work in Ireland”.

Both these aspects of the Cullen way of life came together when he and his team took his Classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV to the Worlds at Nieuwpoort in Belgium from 17th to 21st August. For sure he had some of the best sailors in Ireland in his crew. But then such people wouldn’t join any crew unless they were certain that their skipper was in Belgium on serious racing business, and not just in pursuit of fun.

It says everything about the Cullen style that not only did his carefully assembled campaign win the championship with a race to spare, but he personally was one of the most popular owner-skippers in the entire fleet, a friend to all and more than ready to give practical assistance to the opposition if required.

SEPTEMBER – DAVID GORMAN & CHRIS DOORLYgorman doorly All ireland

Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly of the National Yacht Club were our “Sailors of the Month” for September on the basis of a great half hour or so of sailing in Dublin Bay on the morning of Sunday 13th September.

Anyone who read Chris Doorly’s riveting account on Afloat.ie of the penultimate race of the Mitsubishi Motors Flying Fifteen Championship, and has raced a sailing boat at any level – whether local, regional, national or international – will have identified totally with this dedicated duo as they sailed their hearts out. And they did it all just to secure a third place, in order to put themselves in the happy position of knowing they were champions without having to sail the last race.

It would be quite something in a club race or a major regatta series. But this was the big one, the Irish Championship with visiting superstar Steve Goacher – three times World Champion – expected to sweep the board. And even if he was off form – which he wasn’t - the class in Dun Laoghaire is now in such vibrant condition, and growing, that the lively home fleet was putting up half a dozen crews who were in there with more than a shout.

But Chris and Dave did it. And being proper sportsmen, they still sailed the last race anyway, but the fact that they were able to discard the fourth place it provided shows the kind of form they’d been in throughout the championship.

It cannot be said too often that winning a series is more a matter of solid consistency than occasional flashes of total brilliance. In the end, though, it can all come down to something so mundane as securing a third place at just the right time. But as Dave and Chris had been lying sixth until they realized the need to up their game, and saw a way of doing so, what they achieved is something we can all identify with.

OCTOBER – DERMOT AND PADDY CRONINencore

Malahide father-and-son crew of Dermot (63) and Paddy (31) Cronin were tops in October after their clearcut win by almost two hours in the IRC Double-Handed Division in the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Sailing their keenly-campaigned First 40.7 Encore, Team Cronin tackled conditions and the opposition as though they were a fully-crewed boat. And though overall it proved to be a race which suited boats around the 50ft mark, the 40ft Encore was very much in contention in her open Class 6 against racers sailed by numerous experienced crews, placing sixth overall out of 18 boats.

This pattern of being a third of the way from the front was continued in the total fleet of 102 contenders, as they placed 37th in an impressive turnout which included all the best offshore racers in the Mediterranean, and such noted international stars as George David’s Rambler 88 (due in Ireland next June in the Round Ireland Race 2016) and the Maxi 72 Momo, which dominated the big boats in the Fastnet Race.

It says everything about the skill and dedication with which Dermot and Paddy raced that we find ourselves easily making comparisons with their showing against the fully-crewed boats, whereas the real story is that they won the Double-Handed Division with plenty of time in hand.

NOVEMBER – TIM GOODBODYgoodbody family

Veteran Royal Irish YC sailor Tim Goodbody became the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for November for his enormous contribution to Irish and international sailing over many decades, both as an active participants, as a race organiser, and as an administrator of leading sailing organisations.

By locating the award in November 2015, we highlighted the fact that at the Dublin Bay SC Annual Prize-Giving on November 15th in the Royal St George YC, three generations of the Goodbody family received major awards. Tim Goodbody’s own Sigma 33 White Mischief not only won overall in the season-long series in Dublin Bay, but also took second overall (by just two points) in Class 3 IRC at the Sovereigns/ICRA Nats at Kinsale.

The timing of the Nats at the end of June could just be fitted into Tim Goodbody’s busy schedule, for as Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, he was out of personal boat-racing for the next two weeks as the structures of the biggest sailing event in Ireland in many years swung successful into place, with the noted light-but-effective Goodbody management style keeping this very complex event moving smoothly forward to a happy conclusion.
The depth of Tim Goodbody’s commitment to every aspect of sailing is unrivalled. He has campaigned successfully to international level in the Dragon, the J/24 and the Sigma 33, and as well he was lead helm on Irish Independent, the Dubois 40 which was the backbone of Ireland’s 1987 Admirals Cup team - our most successful AC squad ever, they placed fourth out of thirteen teams, while Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall.

Ashore, Tim Goodbody has served as Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, the Royal Alfred YC, and Dublin Bay SC, and for the latter organisation he was the mastermind behind the rationalisation of the courses which enables an enormous fleet to race mostly in the southern half of Dublin Bay clear of the shipping lanes. His benefit to our sport is incalculable, but perhaps his greatest single contribution is the example he sets is in his own smoothly organised, quietly enthusiastic, very successful and highly enjoyable sailing.

DECEMBER

The December 2015 Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” is HERE

Published in W M Nixon

Veteran Royal Irish YC sailor Tim Goodbody is the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for November for his enormous contribution to Irish and international sailing over many decades, both as an active participants, as a race organiser, and as an administrator of leading sailing organisations.

By locating the award in November 2015, we highlight the fact that at the Dublin Bay SC Annual Prize-Giving on November 15th in the Royal St George YC, three generations of the Goodbody family received major awards. Grandson Max took The Mitchell Trophy in the RS Feva with granddaughter Georgia crewing, while son Richard - in partnership with Rick Johnson racing the International Dragon Diva - won the Oxford & Cambridge Cup, the Old Time Cup, and the RIYC Cup. And Tim himself, in his final season with the Sigma 33 White Mischief (he has now moved on to a J/109), won the J.B.Stephens Trophy, the Bective Lights Crystal Trophy, and the Fireseal Sigma 33 Trophy.

Both Tim and Richard were overall winners in their respective classes in the combined DBSC Thursday and Saturday season-long series. But while this shows the family’s devotion to Dublin Bay sailing, both White Mischief and Diva were also seen in major events at other venues, with White Mishchief taking second overall (by just two points) in Class 3 IRC at the ICRA Nats at Kinsale).

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Although the Sigma 33 is not reckoned a favoured performer under IRC, Tim Goodbody still sailed White Mischief to a close second overall in IRC Class 3 at the ICRA Nats at Kinsale at the end of June. Photo: ICRA

The timing of the ICRA Nats at the end of June could just be fitted into Tim Goodbody’s busy schedule, for as Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, he was out of personal boat-racing for the next two weeks as the structures of the biggest sailing event in Ireland in many years swung successful into place, with the noted Goodbody light-but-effective management style keeping this very complex event moving smoothly forward to a happy conclusion.

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J/109s in full flight at the hugely successful Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015, for which Tim Goodbody was Chairman of the Organising Committee. In 2016, he will himself be joining the J/109 class. Photo: VDLR

But then the depth of Tim Goodbody’s commitment to every aspect of sailing is unrivalled. He has campaigned successfully to international level in the Dragon, the J/24 and the Sigma 33, and as well he was lead helm on Irish Independent, the Dubois 40 which was the backbone of Ireland’s 1987 Admirals Cup team - our most successful AC squad ever, they placed fourth out of thirteen teams, while Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall.

Ashore, Tim Goodbody has served as Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, the Royal Alfred YC, and Dublin Bay SC, and for the latter organisation he was the mastermind behind the rationalization of the courses which enables an enormous fleet to race mostly in the southern half of Dublin Bay clear of the shipping lanes. His benefit to our sport is incalculable, but perhaps his greatest single contribution is the example he sets is in his own smoothly organised, quietly enthusiastic, very successful and highly enjoyable sailing.

tg4The Dubois 40ft Irish Independent racing in the Solent in the 1987 Admirals Cup. Somewhere in the middle of the tightly-packed crew is Tim Goodbody, and he is on the helm. During this series, he famously out-sailed the legendary Lawrie Smith on a sister-ship during a long tacking duel.

tg5History is made. Irish Independent rounds the Fastnet Rock on Monday August 11th 1987, on her way to the overall win in the Fastnet Race.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#vor – The clear win by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 was achieved by solid consistency in the classic "good series" style favoured by regular champion sailors. Except that, instead of being a pleasant five day championship regatta staged at some agreeable summer venue, the Volvo Ocean Race was made up of nine legs which took the fleet right round the world, getting them south of both Good Hope and Cape Horn, yet also back north again across the equator.

In such a challenge, a mixture of experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium, and Ireland's Justin Slattery (40) has both in abundance. He was a key crew member aboard Abu Dhabi, which was well placed top of the leaderboard with a scoreline of 1,3,2,2,1 after the first five legs. But with four legs still to be raced, experience became the key ingredient, as the leading boat has to defend her position against a chasing fleet in which, with three close contenders, the likelihood of one of them taking an uncoverable but successful tactical gamble becomes ever more acute.

That, and the cruel possibility of damage or even a dismasting, are among the many threats which a crew defending a good first place has to face, and skill and experience become paramount. But the crew of Abu Dhabi kept their cool, they kept their boat intact, and they sailed on to win overall by 24 points to the 29 of Team Brunel and the 33 of Dongfeng Race Team, making Justin Slattery the winner of an Afloat.ie International Award for June 2015.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#som – May 2015 has been a good month for Dunmore East, with the confirmation that the long-awaited dredging of this pretty fishing/sailing port – a €6 million contract – will swing into action in June, and then from far-off Scotland came the news that one of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's most popular and enthusiastic skippers had emerged as overall winner of the Silvers Scottish Series 2015.

Rob McConnell is well-known at all Ireland's main sailing centres, as he campaigns his A35 Fool's Gold with targeted campaigns of skill - coupled with sheer joy in sailing - in any event which can be fitted into a busy schedule. Crewed by friends who may be from all parts of Ireland but undoubtedly have a Dunmore East emphasis, he can be relied on to be always in the frame on the leaderboard, and in line with this approach, The Scottish Series was regarded as unfinished business after Fool's Gold finished second overall in 2014.

This time round, racing in the biggest class of all, things were looking good from the start. But such was the competition that it wasn't until after the final race on the three-race concluding day that the WHSC boat could be confirmed as overall winner, and a worthy provider of the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for May 2015.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#sailorofthemonth – Current "Sailor of the Year" Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork YC has started his 2015 season in winning style by book-ending April with a runaway overall victory in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from April 3rd to 5th as the new month got under way, and then rounding it out with a convincing win in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship, a twelve race series which concluded on Sunday April 26th.

O'Leary's new mount is yet another Antix, but this time she's the unmistakably red state-of-the-art Ker 40 which was formerly Catapult, key member of Ireland's winning 2014 Commodore's Cup Team, in which she was also the top individual points scorer.

In classic O'Leary style, the team debut with the new Antix at Easter was a low-key affair. At the conclusion of the series, some might have expected to witness a close-knit disciplined group in some sort of uniform as the winning crew assembled outside the RORC's new Cowes base at the former Royal Corinthian clubhouse. Instead, they saw what seemed like a bunch of mates of many ages who could have been casually assembled from the RCYC waterfront and taken to the Solent for a bit of light-hearted Easter sport.

 

But the results speak for themselves, and by the end of the month, the remarkable new Antix with her very dished stern was being sailed as though the crew had been with her for at least a year. And their skipper was particularly enthusiastic in his praise for the foredeck duo of Dylan Gannon and Jamie Donegan, "whose performance had been faultless throughout the Brooks Macdonald regatta". But in the end, it is Anthony O'Leary's sure touch in assembling a talented crew and sailing a boat to perfection which makes him a very worthy "Sailor of the Month" for April.

antix_2015.jpg
The new Ker 40 Antix with Anthony OLeary at the helm in the RORC Easter Challenge. The exceptionally dished shape of the stern makes her markedly different from his previous Ker 39, the veteran silver Antix

Published in Sailor of the Month

#sailorofthemonth – Fionn Lyden (19) of Baltimore is the new Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for March. He ushered in the new month by playing a stellar role in bringing University College Cork's First Team to overall victory in the decidedly breezy Intervarsity Team Racing Nationals at Schull from February 27th to March 1st.

Of all forms of sailing, this is of course the most group-oriented. But Lyden's achievement emerged above the efforts of his team mates with his additional acclamation as First Year Sailor of the Year from among the large turnout at the championship. Indeed, everyone – both participants and organisers alike – deserved an award at a series in which the highly-regarded Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre and a large team of volunteers skillfully dealt with deteriorating conditions to get a worthwhile result.

Fionn Lyden is no stranger to sailing at Schull, for although he hails from Baltimore, he is one of a group of childhood friends who journeyed daily to Schull to hone their sailing skills under the tuition of David Harte. From this there emerged the Schull Sharks Team of 2013 and 2014 which won the Irish Schools Nationals, the British Schools Opens, and 90% of their contests during an American tour of the top US School teams.

This resulted in the Schull Sharks being declared the top Schools Team Racing squad worldwide in 2014. Meanwhile, at a personal level, young Lyden had been making history by becoming the first helm to win all races (9) in the Irish Youth Helmsmans Championship, which then entitled him to race in the Seniors, in which he duly won the Silver Medal.

Although clearly one of the most remarkable talents to emerge in Irish sailing in recent years, he has chosen the Corinthian path. Thus most of his efforts and energy are now devoted to study in University College Cork. But when he does find time to go sailing, the world certainly takes notice of Fionn Lyden, Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month for March 2015.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#som – Neil Hegarty of Cork, who was awarded the Irish Cruising Club's historic premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, as February drew to a close, is our latest Sailor of the Month.

A former dinghy sailor who was at the front of the fleet both as crew and helm in boats as diverse as IDRA 14s, Enterprises and 505s, Hegarty went on to campaign keelboats with the J/24 and Impala 28 fleets. He has since graduated with aplomb into long distance voyaging and detailed cruising in exotic locations with his 2003 Dufour 34 Shelduck.

His award-winning 2014 cruise was Transatlantic from Cascais in Portugal via the Canaries to the the Caribbean, which was then cruised in detail including Cuba, followed by island and port-hopping along the East Coast USA until eventually the boat was laid up in advance of the hurricane season near the Chesapeake.

In the finest traditions of cruising, he not only kept an informative log, but at its conclusion he made a detailed analysis of all the special equipment which he had found particularly useful during this exemplary voyage.

However, Neil Hegarty's cruising for 2014 didn't end with Shelduck's berthing at the Chesapeake. As his cruising partner is Ann Kenny of Tralee Bay whose Chance 37 Tam O'Shanter is currently based in the Baltic, at the height of the superb Baltic summer of 2014 they had three weeks of idyllic cruising with Tam O'Shanter in that magnificent stretch of water, the perfect complement to the award-winning ocean voyaging of Shelduck.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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#sailoroftheyear – The voting is over, the judges have decided and today the 2014 ISA/Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year will be revealed at a Dublin city centre ceremony. 

Over 200 invitees are gathering this afternoon to celebrate some remarkable achievements from the 2014 sailing season.

Afloat's ownership of this award – based on Sailor of the Month winners - has a long history, going back to 1996, and it successfully highlights achievement in every area of sailing.

For example, one month there may be an exceptional voyage honoured, while the next month it might be a major international dinghy championship victory. The diversity is total. And just occasionally, to emphasise that we are a community, which functions afloat and ashore, the monthly award might go to someone who has given selflessly of their time for sailing administration.

A full list of the 2014 achievements is HERE.

The overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to Irish sailing during 2014.

The boating public has had a chance to nominate their top three through an online poll, Afloat.ie got a vote too and the Sailor of the Year judges have decided the final winner.

The winner will be announced this afternoon on Afloat.ie and WM Nixon will review today's awards celebration in his 'Sailing on Saturday' blog tomorrow morning.

Published in Sailor of the Year
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How to sail, sailing clubs and sailing boats plus news on the wide range of sailing events on Irish waters forms the backbone of Afloat's sailing coverage.

We aim to encompass the widest range of activities undertaken on Irish lakes, rivers and coastal waters. This page describes those sailing activites in more detail and provides links and breakdowns of what you can expect from our sailing pages. We aim to bring jargon free reports separated in to popular categories to promote the sport of sailing in Ireland.

The packed 2013 sailing season sees the usual regular summer leagues and there are regular weekly race reports from Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Howth and Cork Harbour on Afloat.ie. This season and last also featured an array of top class events coming to these shores. Each year there is ICRA's Cruiser Nationals starts and every other year the Round Ireland Yacht Race starts and ends in Wicklow and all this action before July. Crosshaven's Cork Week kicks off on in early July every other year. in 2012 Ireland hosted some big international events too,  the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire and in August the Tall Ships Race sailed into Dublin on its final leg. In that year the Dragon Gold Cup set sail in Kinsale in too.

2013 is also packed with Kinsale hosting the IFDS diabled world sailing championships in Kinsale and the same port is also hosting the Sovereign's Cup. The action moves to the east coast in July with the staging of the country's biggest regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 11.

Our coverage though is not restricted to the Republic of Ireland but encompasses Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea area too. In this section you'll find information on the Irish Sailing Association and Irish sailors. There's sailing reports on regattas, racing, training, cruising, dinghies and keelboat classes, windsurfers, disabled sailing, sailing cruisers, Olympic sailing and Tall Ships sections plus youth sailing, match racing and team racing coverage too.

Sailing Club News

There is a network of over 70 sailing clubs in Ireland and we invite all clubs to submit details of their activities for inclusion in our daily website updates. There are dedicated sections given over to the big Irish clubs such as  the waterfront clubs in Dun Laoghaire; Dublin Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Saint George Yacht Club,  the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club. In Munster we regularly feature the work of Kinsale Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven.  Abroad Irish sailors compete in Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) racing in the UK and this club is covered too. Click here for Afloat's full list of sailing club information. We are keen to increase our coverage on the network of clubs from around the coast so if you would like to send us news and views of a local interest please let us have it by sending an email to [email protected]

Sailing Boats and Classes

Over 20 active dinghy and one design classes race in Irish waters and fleet sizes range from just a dozen or so right up to over 100 boats in the case of some of the biggest classes such as the Laser or Optimist dinghies for national and regional championships. Afloat has dedicated pages for each class: Dragons, Etchells, Fireball, Flying Fifteen, GP14, J24's, J80's, Laser, Sigma 33, RS Sailing, Star, Squibs, TopperMirror, Mermaids, National 18, Optimist, Puppeteers, SB3's, and Wayfarers. For more resources on Irish classes go to our dedicated sailing classes page.

The big boat scene represents up to 60% of the sail boat racing in these waters and Afloat carries updates from the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA), the body responsible for administering cruiser racing in Ireland and the popular annual ICRA National Championships. In 2010 an Irish team won the RORC Commodore's Cup putting Irish cruiser racing at an all time high. Popular cruiser fleets in Ireland are raced right around the coast but naturally the biggest fleets are in the biggest sailing centres in Cork Harbour and Dublin Bay. Cruisers race from a modest 20 feet or so right up to 50'. Racing is typically divided in to Cruisers Zero, Cruisers One, Cruisers Two, Cruisers Three and Cruisers Four. A current trend over the past few seasons has been the introduction of a White Sail division that is attracting big fleets.

Traditionally sailing in northern Europe and Ireland used to occur only in some months but now thanks to the advent of a network of marinas around the coast (and some would say milder winters) there are a number of popular winter leagues running right over the Christmas and winter periods.

Sailing Events

Punching well above its weight Irish sailing has staged some of the world's top events including the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover, Tall Ships visits as well as dozens of class world and European Championships including the Laser Worlds, the Fireball Worlds in both Dun Laoghaire and Sligo.

Some of these events are no longer pure sailing regattas and have become major public maritime festivals some are the biggest of all public staged events. In the past few seasons Ireland has hosted events such as La Solitaire du Figaro and the ISAF Dublin Bay 2012 Youth Worlds.

There is a lively domestic racing scene for both inshore and offshore sailing. A national sailing calendar of summer fixtures is published annually and it includes old favorites such as Sovereign's Cup, Calves Week, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, All Ireland Sailing Championships as well as new events with international appeal such as the Round Britain and Ireland Race and the Clipper Round the World Race, both of which have visited Ireland.

The bulk of the work on running events though is carried out by the network of sailing clubs around the coast and this is mostly a voluntary effort by people committed to the sport of sailing. For example Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland yacht race run in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been operating for over 30 years. Similarly the international Cork Week regatta has attracted over 500 boats in past editions and has also been running for over 30 years.  In recent years Dublin Bay has revived its own regatta called Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and can claim to be the country's biggest event with over 550 boats entered in 2009.

On the international stage Afloat carries news of Irish and UK interest on Olympics 2012, Sydney to Hobart, Volvo Ocean Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race.

We're always aiming to build on our sailing content. We're keen to build on areas such as online guides on learning to sail in Irish sailing schools, navigation and sailing holidays. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]

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