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This year marked the third consecutive year that the Mermaid Sailing Association held a stand-alone Prizegiving Dinner event to properly acknowledge the winners of the sailing season just gone. Now normally held around February time, this event gives a fantastic opportunity for the class to close out the sailing season just gone and look forward to the one shortly coming up. On the evening of the 18th of February, with the club fully decked out and over 80 people sitting down for a fantastic three course meal provided by the team at Skerries Sailing Club, this year’s Prizegiving dinner followed the success of the 2 years previous and the night was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Kieran Branagan, Commodore of Skerries Sailing Club gave some nice opening words expressing how excited the club is to host this year’s Mermaid National Championship on what is the 85th Anniversary for the class. With at least 2 races per day planned over a full 6 days racing (7 if you count the practice race), this year’s National event is promising to give a fantastic week full of top class racing and entertainment making for the perfect week’s holidays for true sailing nuts!

Brian Mc Nally of Skerries Sailing Club also gave a fantastic opening speech as part of his newly appointed position as the Mermaid Class Captain for Skerries. He recalled back to one of his first ever Mermaid Championships where he was eager to please the skipper and let’s just say there were a few learning curves! The Mermaid fleet are known just as well for their excellent social scene and comradery as they are for their racing and Brian’s story was testament to this fact as he recalled how this event was also where he first laid eyes on his now wife, Valerie! The speech got the room into a really positive and “humorous” mood which followed through for the rest of the awards, making for some very interesting speeches. It’s clear from the smiles on everyone’s faces in the pictures just how much fun everyone actually had on the night.

A summary of the prizes awarded on the night are as follows:

The Skipper Clarke Memorial trophy which is awarded to the winners of the National Yacht Club Regatta or combined clubs Dun Laoghaire Regatta was presented belatedly to 134 Jill for 2014 and 2015. There was no race in 2016.

The Skipper Clarke Memorial trophy being awarded by MSA President Des Deane to 134 Jill, Paul Smith, Anne Smith and Pat Mangan from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire.

The Mermaid National Championship cups were awarded as follows:
• The Rockabill Cup, Championship Race 1, 189 Azeezy
• The Dorene Models Cup, Championship Race 2, 77 Tiller Girl
• The North Bull Cup, Championship Race 3, 189 Azeezy (Not presented as this cup’s whereabouts are unknown)
• The Mavis Cup, Championship Race 4, 77 Tiller Girl
• The Rush (Carthy) Cup, Championship Race 5, 189 Azeezy
• The Bailey Cup, Championship Race 6, 123 Vee

The Designer’s Tankard which goes to the best championship boat where the top 2/3 of boats from the previous Championship are excluded went to 182 Dolphin helmed by Shay O’Toole with his crew Seamus Murray and Pierce Benyon.

The Designer won by 182 Dolphin, Shay O’Toole 

The Daphne Cup which goes to the best championship boat where the top 1/3 of boats from the previous championship are excluded was won by 186 Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally with crew Valerie McNally and Keith Rochford.

The Daphne won by 186 Gentoo, Brian McNally
Along with the main class trophies and cups, the official ISA medals (which were all beautifully engraved and customized) were also awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall. Bronze Medals went to Jonathan O’Rourke, Carol O’Rourke and Tom Murphy from 77 Tiller Girl who finished 3rd overall in the 2016 Mermaid National Championship held at Howth Yacht Club.

Bronze ISA medals awarded to Jonathan O’Rourke, 77 Tiller Girl
Silver went to 131 Wild Wind helmed by Paddy Dillon and crew Johnny Dillon and Mo Dillon for finishing 2nd place overall at the 2016 National Championship, a fantastic result for the Dillons having won the National Championship the year previous in 2015. 

Silver medals won by 131 Wild Wind
And the number one spot for overall National Champions 2016 went to 189 Azeezy helmed by Sam Shiels with crew Con Bissett and Eoin Boylan. Needless to say they are truly delighted with their Gold ISA medals and the beautiful Mermaid trophy and were the stars of the night taking the top prize in their home club.

Gold ISA medals awarded to overall 2016 National Champions 189 Azeezy

The growing, continued success of the event is proof of the great positive work that is being done in the class with some new boats and members joining and Skerries campaigning to get 35 boats at the Nationals this year. It’s fantastic to see all the hard work and volunteerism starting to pay off. Everyone is now looking forward to the Mermaid season ahead which kicks off with club racing in May and the first official Championship event being held at Foynes Yacht Club on the 3rd and 4th of June for the Munsters.

The MSA would like to thank everyone who came along and supported the night making it so enjoyable. MSA President Des Deane and Hon Secretary Paul Smith did a great job hosting the awards and handing out the prizes. Thanks also to Ross Galbraith for providing the photos and of course to Skerries Sailing Club for putting on such an enjoyable event.

New members are always welcome to the Dublin Bay Mermaid class If you would like to inquire about getting involved or even coming out for a sail on one of these beautiful classic boats, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Secretary Paul Smith on [email protected]

Published in Mermaid

Following on from last week’s article which kicked off the Mermaid Dinghy Sailing series, ‘Champions in the Spotlight’, this week Roisin McCormack has been chatting to Derek Joyce who sails his Mermaid 187 Zuleika out of Wexford.

A long time participant in the class from the mid 80’s up until 2010, Derek is now a living legend to budding Mermaiders having won the National Championship 5 times. Having been idle for a few years, Zuleika was overhauled and relaunched in 2016 much to the excitement and delight of the class. With a new deck, sails and trailer and looking about as slick as a Mermaid can get, she was the talk of the class last year.

The 2016 Leinsters event saw the Mermaids return to Wexford for the first time in a number of years. As a local man knowing the waters better than anyone and with a newly refurbished boat, Derek was always pipped to win, however no one was prepared for the conditions. A steady 21 knots gusting up to 33 had the fleet questioning whether racing would go ahead at all. Opting to race in the more ‘sheltered’ inner harbour 10 boats headed out for race 1 on the Saturday morning and within the first 5 minutes 2 had retired. 119, ‘3 Chevrons’ sailed off the start line and immediately headed for home as they realised they were sinking quite quickly (this was later discovered to be because of a 5 ft crack in a plank by the keelbox) and 191, ‘Maybe’ made the wise decision to retire due to an injury that meant the crew weren’t at 100% (something which was essential on this particular day!). A particularly nasty capsize for 146, ‘Fugitive’ also took them out of the race meaning only 7 boats finished the first and only race of the day.

Derek Joyce on 187 Zuleika with his crew James Sinnott and Cillian Joyce made a very welcome comeback to the fleet and certainly didn’t disappoint as they comfortably secured a 1st place on the day.The wind was so strong and visibility so poor for the start line that only one boat seemed to be anywhere near it! Indeed this Championship demanded boats, crew and trim to be 100%, any slip up or error at all equaled a wipe out. A young female helm in the Mermaid class, Anna Lowes from Foynes Yacht Club (who was 17 at the time) truly shone and proved her talent as an up and coming helm-to-watch by sailing and completing all of her races in what was undoubtedly some of the most demanding conditions Mermaid helms can be faced with.

The second and final day of the Leinster Championship on the Sunday saw similar conditions as 7 Mermaids headed back out to the inner harbour racing area for 1 final race. Lively conditions again kept everyone on their toes and thankfully there was only 1 retiree on the day. 188, Innocence who had been leading the race decided to fly the spinnaker and ended up breaking their mast which took them out of the race. Apparently, to the select few who just have ‘it’ (whatever the equivalent of the x-factor is in sailing!), winning events is like riding a bike and Derek Joyce smoothly claimed the Leinster title with two 1sts, having not sailed his Mermaid for a number of years. Here, MSA Captain Roisin Mc Cormack chats to Derek to find out a little bit more about his sailing background and some of his favourite sailing memories.

Mermaid Zuleika5 time National Championship winning boat, number 187 Zuleika

How did you first get involved with the Dublin Bay Mermaid sailing class?

Mermaids were a strong class in Wexford when I got “Pearl” 161 in the mid ‘80’s. We had good racing 2 evenings each week and every second Sunday we did a passage race to Rosslare Harbour or Carne. And not to mention the class had a lively social scene (Beer!).

What is your favourite thing about the class?
The great camaraderie over the years and the good racing offered by the class.

Do you do any other sailing?
I also sail Lasers and do a good bit of Cruising.

What makes your boat go faster?!
It has to be minimum weight, a fair hull and foils make a big difference and paying attention to detail.

What was a key ingredient for securing your overall Leinster win last year?
It blew hard that day and as Gay Brennan often said: “A day for the ignorant”.

Can you tell us about your winning crew and how long you had all been sailing together prior to the win?

I had James Sinnott, a seasoned Mermaider and legendary crew and also Cillian Joyce who provided the bulk and brawn. We had never sailed together previously.

What is your favourite sailing spot in Ireland? West Cork.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite sailing memories?
Any event with a lot of breeze and downwind with spinnaker but particularly one event stands out in my memory where we were on a 1720 in 30 knots and all the crew were standing behind the helm to keep the bow out!

Can you give one piece of advice for upcoming, budding Mermaiders?
A light fit crew, add in a lot of practice and mix with a good dose of perseverance.

What is next for you and your Dublin Bay Mermaid?
The boat was recently redecked (2016) and is now up for sale, full details here on Afloat boats for sale here


Sincere thanks to Derek for his time sharing some Mermaid memories. Next week we have the final article in our ‘Champions in the Spotlight’ series, we’ll be talking to Darragh Mc Cormack from Foynes Yacht Club who clinched the Munster Championship 2016 title. A long-time member of Mermaid sailing (having bought his first boat when he was 16) Darragh has recently been climbing the ranks considerably, finishing 2nd in the 2015 Nationals and 5th in last year’s Nationals, he’s a man on a mission and is certainly one to watch!

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The five–times National Championship winning clinker–built Mermaid Zuleika is for sale. Built in 1996 by Des Tyrrell the Derek Joyce owned and skippered dinghy was fitted with a new deck last season.

Priced at €16,500 the boat comes with many extras including a trailer.

See the full advert for Zuleika on Afloat boats for sale here. Contact: Derek Joyce. Ph: 087 2533085. E: [email protected]


Published in Boat Sales
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As anyone involved in Dublin Bay Mermaid racing knows it’s no easy feat to claim a Championship title. Many have been sailing for years, edging ever closer but not having quite gotten there yet, so, with an excellent sailing season lined up for 2017, and everyone already dreaming of the glory of claiming one of this year’s titles, MSA Captain Roisin Mc Cormack sat down with the Dublin Bay Mermaid reigning National Champion, Mr Sam Shiels from Skerries Sailing Club. Here the class champion tells us a little more about his background, his boat and his ambitions for the future!

The 2016 Nationals saw a strong fleet of 23 boats battling it out across 4 days. With 2 races per day and a mix of conditions going from sun-drenched drifting to gale force survival mode on the final day, last year’s Nationals again pushed sailors to their limits ensuring only the most consistent and skilled ended up in the top rankings.

With all of his final counted results in the top 5, Sam Shiels on 189 Azeezy clinched the title fighting off some very impressive competition from the likes of Paddy Dillon who finished 2nd on 131 Wild Wind and Jonathan O’Rourke who finished 3rd on 77 Tiller Girl. What’s more impressive is that this is Sam’s 2nd time winning the National title (along with a Munster Championship title and several Leinster Championships).

Mermaid Sam SheilsAzeezy skipper Sam Shiels of Skerries Sailing Club with crew Con Bissett and Eoin Boylan on the way to victory in 2016

How did you first get involved with the Dublin Bay Mermaid sailing class? 

My Mermaid sailing started in the late 1960’s, I first crewed on Nichapando Number 114 with John Grimes as helm. My first Mermaid Championships was in Wexford in 1971 crewing for John where we finished 10th out of a fleet of 44.

What is your favourite thing about the class?
I enjoy the one design racing which the Mermaid class gives and of course the close knit comradery of the Mermaid class itself.

Do you do any other sailing?
In my younger years most of my sailing was in GP14s supplemented with Mermaids and whatever the sailing calendar would allow at the time. In 70,80, 90’s I did a bit of offshore racing in any boat that would have me. However in April 1989 instead of buying my wife flowers for the birth of our son I presented her with a photograph of a Mermaid I had just bought. It was Fugitive No.146. Thereafter my full time Mermaid sailing began.

What makes your boat go faster?!
The key ingredients to make a boat go faster are the Helmsman and Crew, sails and rig, a clean hull, centre plate and good working rudder blade. Though there is no substitute for time on the water.

What was a key ingredient for securing your overall National win last year?
Following on from the above question, time on the water. My Mermaid is launched each year on the first weekend in May and taken out of the water at the end of October. Sailing with a regular crew is a great help. We actually sail two up (Con and myself) in pretty much all sailing conditions.

Can you tell us about your winning crew and how long you had all been sailing together prior to the win?
Con has crewed with me for 27 years, we know each other’s moves (and moods!!) and we work very well together. The two of us are well capable of sailing Azeezy in all weather conditions. This was Eoin’s second championship with us. He is young, fit, light and agile making for a great crew and has helped bring the average age of its overall crew down considerably.

What is your favourite sailing spot in Ireland?
Skerries would have to be my favourite place to sail.

Can you tell us about one of your favourite sailing memories?
As a sailing family we have had lots of very good sailing memories including watching my son and daughter compete successfully over the years. One of the many championships that comes to mind was the world GP14 championships in Howth many years ago. My wife Micheline crewed, we raced in gale force conditions. I learned some new words that week. And of course winning two Mermaid National Championships in two boats that I built.

Can you give one piece of advice for upcoming, budding Mermaiders?
I am not a natural sailor, I had to work hard for results and as I said when we won the first national championships that if I can do it so can anybody. If you want to win a championship, get out sailing as often as you can. Have a boat as good as your competitors. During the winter months I read a number of sailing books (tactics, sails, tuning etc), understand and practice what they say. There is no substitute for time on the water. It’s like most sports, the more you practice, the luckier you get.

What is next for you and your Dublin Bay Mermaid?
Looking forward to a new season with plenty of sailing in 2017 and looking forward to defending the National title in Skerries at the upcoming National Championship in August.

Next interview: reigning Leinster Champion, Derek Joyce, a 5 time National Champion who sails 187 Zuleika out of Wexford.

Published in Mermaid
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The 2017 racing calendar for the Dublin Bay Mermaid fleet has been announced. Outside of regular club racing which runs from May - October, there will be 5 main racing events encompassing the Munster Championship, Leinster Championship, Skerries Regatta, the National Championship and Rush Regatta.

The 2017 Leinster Championship is hoping to see a large amount of Mermaids return to Dun Laoghaire harbour as the event will run in conjunction with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. With 4 mermaids already entered ‘super early’ for this event (and hoping to be one of the lucky 10% that will have their entry fee refunded), the class is confident they will have the minimum 10 boats competing in what is shaping up to be a fantastic 4 days of racing.

The National Championship returns to Skerries Sailing Club with an optional practice race on Saturday the 5th of August and 6 days of Championship racing commencing on Sunday the 6th of August - Friday the 11th. 6 days of Championship racing, aiming for 2 races per day is going to make for a very interesting and demanding event so we’re already excited to see who will be crowned the 2017 National Champ!

With a number of new boats joining the fleet in the past 2 years, the class is always looking for crew. If you are interested in getting involved in the class, racing for the 2017 season or just trying out one of these beautiful classic boats please feel free to get in touch with the Mermaid Sailing Association

mermaid calendar

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Year Name of Boat Skipper/Owner Club
1953 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1954 Nereid Ronnie Kay NYC
1955 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1956 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1957 Ferdia II Brian Dowling CY&BC
1958 Milk Wood Barney Heron RStGYC
1959 Elf Neville Maguire RORC  etc.
1960 Helen Ken (Danny) Daniel NYC or RStGYC  ??
1961 Jessie Harry Grimes SSC
1962 Jessie Harry Grimes SSC
1963 Tiller Girl Johnnie Walker NYC and/or RStGYC?
1964 Ferdia III Brian Dowling CY&BC
1965 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1966 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1967 Cliona II John Robinson CY&BC
1968 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1969 Nichapando Harry Grimes SSC
1970 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1971 Paula Leslie Downes NYC
1972 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1973 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1974 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1975 Ferga Martin Reilly CY&BC
1976 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1977 Helen Dick Ward WBC
1978 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1979 Helen John Davies SSC
1980 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1981 Zeila Joe Boylan SSC
1982 Aideen Jerry O'Neill NYC
1983 Dixie Sean Rooney (Helm Roger Bannon) SSC & NYC
1984 Helen John Davies SSC
1985 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1986 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1987 Elizebeth  Jim Dempsey SSC
1988 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
1989 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1990 Cara II Frank Browne SSC
1991 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1992 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1993 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1994 Vee  Jim Carthy RSC
1995 Helen John Davies SSC
1996 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
1997 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
1998 Innocence Percy Boyle CY&BC
1999 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2000 Elizebeth  Jim Dempsey SSC
2001 Innocence Percy Boyle WBC
2002 Wanago Sam Shiels SSC
2003 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
2004 Tiller Girl Jonathan O'Rourke & Gay Brennan NYC
2005 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2006 Zuleika Derek Joyce WBC
2007 Night Owl Niall McGrotty SSC
2008 Night Owl Niall McGrotty SSC
2009 Wild Wind Paddy Dillon RSC
2010 Wanago Jim Dempsey (Owner: Paul Winters) SSC
2011 Endeavour Roger Bannon NYC
2012 Tiller Girl Jonathan O'Rourke NYC
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The annual Rush Regatta took place this weekend at Rush Sailing Club with 2 races planned for both Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th of September. A very wet and windy Saturday morning saw 14 boats entered, busy rigging and getting ready for what was shaping up to be a very eventful day. OD Liam Dineen held a briefing at the club at 10am informing the Mermaid fleet that they would be doing a trapezoidal course, a change from the usual Olympic course normally used. This was to accommodate running cruiser and dinghy races all out on the same race zone. Conditions for the day were showing 18-24 knots and big waves to make for excellent surfing and high adrenaline, fast racing.

A ripping tide meant getting out to the course proved a challenge in itself but by 12:20 everyone was on the course and ready to race. With a cruisers race already in progress, the Mermaids got away on a clear start for race 1 at around 12:30pm on Saturday. Poor visibility and the challenge of a new trapezoidal course saw the Mermaids out of their comfort zone with a lot of pointing into the distance, squinting and generally very confused faces about! The left side of the beat going up the outer loop paid hugely and saw some boats making big gains on that first lap. The final mark 4 had cruisers coming in rounding to starboard and mermaids rounding to port, needless to say it was interesting! The full course was completed with first place going to Skerries boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian McNally. Second place went to Vincent Mc Cormack on 119, Three Chevrons from Foynes Yacht Club and third place to Frank Browne on Cara II also from Skerries. With concerns over the demanding conditions and a 2nd race possibly proving too much, the decision was made to cancel racing for the rest of the day and the fleet headed back in battered and bruised but very invigorated and looking forward to the next day’s racing.

Sunday saw very different conditions as Mermaiders wearing t-shirts and sunglasses rigged up in sunshine. With the forecast looking light and set to drop off during the day, everyone was keen to get launched and racing according to schedule. Again the tide proved challenging to get out to the course and following a short postponement Race 2 of the Regatta got underway with the familiar Olympic course being used. Local boat 123, Vee helmed by Jim Carthy banked hard right on the first beat with the majority of the fleet going left. The tactic paid off hugely with Vee gaining a massive lead as they rounded the first windward mark. As the race progressed the wind began dropping off and despite a wise decision by the Race Committee to shorten course, the fleet only barely managed to complete the final leg with the tide overpowering the breeze and boats just about managing to keep moving forward. A deserving first place went to 123, Vee. Skerries boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian Mc Nally took 2nd and 3rd place went to Vincent Mc Cormack on 119, Three Chevrons from Foynes Yacht Club.

Hopes for getting another race in on Sunday looked slim as the Mermaids just about managed to complete their first race before the wind dropped off altogether. A strengthening tide had people eyeing up their anchors and getting towlines ready for the trip home. The Committee boat however had other plans hoisting the W flag indicating a course layout change to Windward Leeward. As if by magic breeze started to fill in from Lambay Island and within 10 minutes the fleet were looking at very different conditions with a steady 10 knots of breeze and Mermaids whizzing around hungry for a second race. The Committee were quick to get underway once conditions were right and there was another clear start as Race 3 of the Regatta got underway. A huge pin-end bias on the start line saw Skerries boat 179 helmed by Martin O’Toole and Foynes boat, 119 Three Chevrons gaining a big advantage and port tacking the entire fleet. Overall however it was a very closely fought race and the leaderboard changed a lot. A gate option saw the majority of the fleet going for the starboard mark as a very strong tide meant left and middle was the only way to go heading for mark 1. Skerries boat 185, The Message helmed by Ross Galbraith had a fantastic race, calling all their tactics perfectly and gaining them the lead. Once secured they proved uncatchable for 119 Three Chevrons who came in a close second behind them and third place went to 123 Vee who also had a fantastic race on the day.

Consistent results of 2 seconds and a third saw first place overall at the Regatta going to visiting Foynes Yacht Club boat 119, Three Chevrons helmed by Vincent Mc Cormack with crew Roisin Mc Cormack and Michael Lynch. As the only boat to travel so far it was certainly worth the trip up! Second place overall went to Skerries Sailing Club boat 186, Gentoo helmed by Brian Mc Nally with crew Valerie Cronin and Colm Fitzpatrick and third place overall went to local boat 123, Vee helmed by Jim Carthy with crew Muriel and Paula Carthy. The Regatta cup for the boat that came first in Race 2 also went to Jim Carthy on 123, Vee. Well done to all involved!

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The Howth Yacht Club hosted the Classic One-Design Regatta - incorporating the National Championships of the Dublin Bay Mermaid and Howth 17 Footer classes. Download Mermaid results below. Even before you could see them, the vapour of varnish bumbled over the hills and lowlands into Howth. Facebook updates from sailors on motorways passing shiny timber creations confirmed that the Mermaids were officially on tour. Some arrived under cover of darkness and were only noticed early on Thursday morning with a full dinghy pen. Little sailors, just starting out on their sailing careers, couldn't even see over the gunwhales of these big dinghies. They oohed and ahhed at boats made from "actual timber?"

Twenty-three Mermaids were weighed and plopped into Howth Harbour. Some of them had been here relatively recently (1953!) and wondered who had stolen Howth Sailing Club. HYC's Jedi, Neville Maguire was on hand with fellow Mermaid aficionados Gerry and Ian Sargent to poke and point and raise eyebrows at things called "Cleats".

Under the care of National Race Officer Scorie Walls, Thursday's racing started at a polite 1400. Keeping the Northside flag held high, "Azeezy" from Skerries did the business with two wins from three races. Not content with competing with eachother on the water, the Annual Mermaid Table Quiz followed rehydration. In a show of poor manners, a table made up almost entirely of Howth 17 Footers won. A prize was awarded for the best answer to "What is the capital of Mongolia?" "Don't know, but it's got a lot of vowels and sounds fierce foreign".

Two races for the Mermaids on Friday saw "Wild Wind" (Rush SC) and "Tiller Girl" (National YC) equal "Azeezy"'s daily tot of 6 points. The gap wasn't closing.

Howth history in the making was being mentioned all week before the old ladies of sailing, the Howth 17 Footers, put on their Friday night frocks and took to the water for a single race from the East Pier. For the first time in history, 18 boats were afloat and jockeying for position. The busy start line was made slightly more complex when the class was given a downwind/ spinnaker start in front of the East Pier, with boats gybing and tacking simultaneously as they jockied for position with a minute to go. Almost inevitably for the class, the girls began the bumping and grinding before the start signal and "Oona" went for "Rita" like a jealous girlfriend. "Rita’s” stick-man, Marcus Lynch, found himself with a clip around the ear from "Oona's" bowsprit and was forced to retire with injured planks, cracked frames and a split rudder. Turns out that "Oona" picked the wrong girl to shout at and she broke her bowsprit in the collision. And so the anticipated race with the full compliment of the world's oldest one-design racing keelboats never quite happened. The remaining seventeen boats crossed the line with spinnakers flying and more photographers clicking than at a Justin Bieber underwear collection launch. Head girl was "Deilginis" with "Aura" and "Hera" following in her tracks.

Saturday morning saw the Howth 17 Footers dressing up in their finest gowns and bonnets and gliding like debutants to the dancefloor. "Hera" lifted up her skirt and frightened the girls by winning by over two minutes. The brazen thing. She would have to have her cough softened! "Deilginis" took back control of the crowd in Race 3, trailed by "Gladys" sporting her 2016 Spring/Summer collection.

By the middle of the day, the wind had picked up, gusting over 30kts, and it was become hard for some to keep the bonnets atop. The ladies rolled down the run more like drunken maids than the elegant princesses which left the Harbour. Half of the fleet chose to remove their topsails but not before the paparazzi had caught them on video, in full swing...

The Mermaids were on the far side of the trapezoid course and only crossed the Howth 17s at the leeward mark and short beat to the finish. It was likely that some Mermaid sailors were checking their insurance when they saw the 17s approach! Top Mermaid of the day was "Vee" (Rush SC) with a 1st and 4th. "Wild Wind" and "Tiller Girl" produced some magic to close the gap to leader "Azeezy" but it wasn't to be enough to rein in the eventual Champions.

Back on the Howth 17 course, "Leila" and "Aura" sobered and took the last two races, and "Deilginis" was to take the 2016 title. Class Captain, Tom Houlihan, took the Handicap prize aboard his "Zaida".

As the last of the Howth 17 sailors were plucked from the moorings, the Mermaids had already already been craned out and packed up, setting the scene for a packed balcony in glorious sunshine. Rehydration once more!

170 sailors and their entourages filed into the club dining room to be fed, found, watered, awarded and clapped at. Champion Mermaid sailor Sam Shiels pronounced an epic acceptance speech. His Howth 17 opposite, Luke Massey, countered it with an example of brevity and raised the trophy aloft.

The next Classic One-Design Regatta will be held at Howth Yacht Club over the weekend of 10-12 August 2018.

Published in Howth 17

As Dublin Bay Mermaid Week starts in Howth Yacht Club tomorrow, a Kestrel that landed in Dan Brennan's Mermaid, Aideen, writes about her experience at the front end of the Dun Laoghaire Fleet's special races around Dalkey Island on Sunday.

Interviewed after the race the Kestrel said “It has always been my ambition to sail in a traditional hand crafted wooden boat. I could land in a modern mass production boat any day of the week, but I wanted the real classic boat experience. I saw the beautiful five boat Mermaid fleet under spinnaker running towards Dalkey Island and couldn’t resist the temptation to try out a Mermaid. I was not disappointed, the Mermaid handled beautifully in the breeze. We were a bit behind when I landed aboard but the fleet came together at the back of the Island where the tide had started to flood and we worked our way into the lead by playing the shifts and getting into the strongest tide as we returned through Dalkey Sound. The breeze was very shifty with lots of holes as we passed through the Sound and beat back to Dun Laoghaire. My skipper did well but was outfoxed by former three times National Champion, Jonathan O’Rourke in Tiller Girl who was the 2016 winner of the Meg Mug.” The Mug is named after Meg of the Muglins and is raced for each year by the Mermaids around Dalkey Island.

She added (because she was a proper lady Kestrel and quite a rare bird) “While I really enjoyed the race I was disappointed that we did not win and I was upset to hear one of the crew, eight year old Charlie Martin say about me ‘this is the scariest thing that ever happened to me’. I have really caught the Mermaid bug and I am looking forward to dropping in on the Mermaid Nationals which are in Howth 4-8 August and maybe doing a few DBSC races. I appreciated the offer to have a few pints with the lads after the race but I had to fly home. ”

The Kestrel circumnavigated Dalkey Island in Aideen and flew away safely when back ashore in the National Yacht Club. Charlie enjoyed his first race and quickly recovered from his Kestrel scare.

A Kestrel is a small bird of prey (raptor) with a distinctive hovering flight which lives on a diet of small mammals. It is not a sea bird. Kestrels are amber listed due to concerns over declining numbers.

If you would like to join the discerning raptor in sailing in a DBSC Mermaid either as a crew or as a Mermaid owner, please contact the Mermaid Sailing Association, any member of the Mermaid fleet or Dan Brennan, Dun Laoghaire Mermaid Class Captain 087 -7985218. You will be most welcome.

Published in Mermaid

This weekend saw a fantastic turnout of 18 Mermaids for the annual Skerries Regatta hosted by Skerries Sailing Club. The event which took place over Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th of July gave the Dublin Bay Mermaid participants a great taste of what is to come at their upcoming National Championship event in Howth from the 4th – 7th of August. The racing was highly competitive with the leader board constantly changing across the 4, successfully completed races. Results are downloadable below.

Two races were successfully completed on the Saturday, which saw clear starts and light airs. A considerable wind shift after race 1 kept the race committee busy as the windward mark moved 40 degrees west and the increasing flow of tide meant tactics came very heavily into play for the second race of the day. Paddy Dillon on 131, Wild Wind was top of the leader board at the end of day 1 with a 1st and a 3rd but positions were very close and a discard that would come into effect the next day provided 4 races were completed meant it was still all to play for.

Competitors were very pleased to find a good breeze filling in on Sunday morning despite the windguru reading of 0-3 knots. As the day progressed the breeze increased making for excellent racing conditions in time for the 12 o’ clock start. Cruisers and a number of other classes including lasers and optimists made for a busy racing area and efficient 3 minute starts ensured racing got under way quickly. Race 3 made for a very interesting start line with a committee boat end bias and 18 boats all trying to get in! Boats banking middle and right up the beat paid off considerably and ultimately local boat 189 Azezzy helmed by Sam Shiels took 1st place. Similar to the day before, a big wind shift which was practically identical to the previous day saw the race course marks being moved and again stronger tide had to be taken into account. The sun also decided to come out and with a steady breeze and flat seas the 4th and final race of the regatta gave champagne sailing conditions and excellent racing.

The beats in race 4 pushed even the best tacticians to their limits seeing 90 degree headers and incredibly shifty conditions meaning the lead boat changed at almost every mark. Brian Mc Nally on 186 Gentoo took a deserving first place in the race with Sam Shiels who secured 2nd place hot on his heels. The final two legs of the race also saw the breeze pick up considerably meaning everyone suddenly went from heeling the boat to hiking to their limits! Such close racing showed just how well the Mermaids know their rules, there was lots of shouting, penalty turns and ‘threats’ but thankfully no protests!

With one discard applied, first place overall went to local boat Sam Shiels on 189, Azezzy who had two firsts and a second. Second place went to Brian Mc Nally on 186, Gentoo who had 2 seconds and a first and third place went to Paddy Dillon on 131, Wild Wind with a first and 2 thirds. The Red Island Perpetual Cup which is awarded to the first Skerries boat in the first race of the Regatta went to Frank Browne on 135, Cara II. All in all the regatta gave fantastic practice for the fleet before their National Championship which kicks off at Howth on Thursday the 4th of August.

Published in Mermaid
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