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#mermaid – The National Yacht Club's Jonathan O'Rourke with Carol Cronin and Alan O'Rourke in Mermaid No. 77 Tiller Girl have sailed to victory at the 2012 Mermaid National Championships in Skerries Sailing Club at the weekend. Last week's 40 boat regatta was sailed in a varitey of conditions and marked a special 80th anniversary for the clinker dinghy class. Full results available below as a pdf for download.

Of the six races O'Rourke and crew had four wins, a ninth and an eleventh place. The Dun Laoghaire trio also won a haul of class cups to boot inlcuding the Master's Trophy for helms older than a certain age! Celia No.5 Trophy for boats older than 40 years, the North Bull Cup for winning Race 3, Doreen Cup for Race 4, Rush Cup for Race 5 and Bailey Cup for Race 6.

Runner up was Skerries sailing Club's Mark Boylan with Niall Collins and Andrew Sexton sailing No. 177. Of the six races Mark and crew had three seconds, a third and two sixths.

O'Rourke's club mate Roger Bannon sailing with Kate Grimes and Robert Bannon in No. 102 Endeavour. Of the six races Bannon and crew had a win, a second, a third, a fourth, an eleventh and a disqualification.

Published in Mermaid

#mermaid – Saturday 7th July last was an historic day at Rush Sailing Club with the launch of three new Dublin Bay Mermaids. Three members built the boats over the past two years: brothers Enda and Anthony (Ants) Weldon and Paddy Archer. Mermaids have been at the heart of Rush Sailing Club since members built four of them together in the 1950s. The prime mover of this project was Enda Weldon, who had built a Mermaid before. In fact Mermaids are in the Weldon blood, they still have their father's boat built in the 1960s, which along with the new ones, brings the family fleet to six!

Nationally, the active Mermaid fleet numbers around fifty boats, with around ten boats regularly competing in Rush. Designed by J. B. Kearney in 1932, these 17ft, clinker built dinghies are one of the oldest one-design classes, celebrating their eightieth birthday this year. The building of the three new boats, numbers 190, 191 and 192, created quite a 'buzz', with many turning up in the Weldon's farm shed to lend a hand throughout the long winter evenings.

In spite of the forecast for more grey weather on Saturday, the boats glistened in the sunshine of a glorious afternoon as they arrived in procession to a welcoming crowd on launch day (God must be a Mermaid sailor!). They were a splendid sight. The creamy Sitka spruce planking contrasts with rich mahogany sheer strakes, decks and transoms, trimmed with pale ash rubbing strakes and combings. The spruce was sourced through a boat builder in the South of England, whose father is in the timber business in Canada, and selects special logs for him. Timber of such quality is hard to find, there was hardly a knot or a shake to be found in the entire lot.

Naming the boats was left to the last minute, with Enda, choosing Mayhem for no. 190, followed by a more cautious Maybe for 191 by Paddy Archer. Anthony Weldon chose the more romantic Ariel for no. 192, inspired by many hours of reading stories to his daughter Ciara.

After a brief sail around the bay, the three skippers declared themselves contented with very well balanced boats. As to how competitive they prove to be, only time will tell – no two hand built wooden boats are exactly the same, and Mermaids are notoriously 'tweeky', with tiny adjustments to rig tension and mast positions proving crucial. What is certain is that they are a credit to the men that built them, and a proof that the skills of traditional boat building are not dead yet.

Published in Mermaid
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#mermaid – One of the biggest Irish one design dinghy fleets of the 2012 season has gathered in North Dublin this week to celebrate an important birthday both for the class and Irish sailing. The 80th Anniversary Mermaid Championships in Skerries has attracted 41 entries who have enjoyed very close racing in light winds, strong tides and coped with yesterday's poor visibility with dense fog rolling in from the Irish Sea. Full results to date are available for download below.

Most of the usual names are to be seen at the top of the leader board but a number of new young helms are making their impression, not the least being the consistent performance from 20 year old Mark Boylan and his young crew from Skerries sailing a boat built by his grandfather no177 "This Is It"

After 4 races Mark Boylan leads from a group of former winners including Paddy Dillon in Wild Wind no131 and Roger Bannon in Endeavour no102.

Jonathan O Rourke in Tiller Girl no 77 has recorded 2 back to back emphatic wins but a slow start in earlier races currently holds him in 5th place just behind another multiple championship winner Jim Carthy from Rush in the famous Vee no 123.

The top 3 boats are within 3 points of each other and the race on Thursday when the discard clicks in will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on the outcome with Tiller Girl hoping to claw back ground lost earlier in the week and go into Friday with a real prospect of success in conditions she normally dominates.

Published in Mermaid

#mermaid – As readers know from our coverage of Thumbalina (the voyaging Dublin Bay Mermaid) the Mermaid National Championships “Mermaid Week” is being hosted by Skerries Sailing Club  from August 4th to 10th, 2012. It is a very special class occasion as it coincides with the 80th Anniversary of the boats original design in the 1930s by Mr. John Kearney.

Retaining its classical tradition, Mermaids from all over the country will arrive in Skerries to compete in the annual Dublin Bay Mermaid National Championship. The festivities and celebration commence on Saturday 4th August with a "Parade of Sail" from the south beach in Skerries around to the harbour.

The seaside resort of Skerries is expected to draw a crowd to watch these traditional boats sail in formation around Red Island on Saturday 4th August, before commencing a week of dramatic close combat racing visible to all from the shoreline.

Skerries Sailing Club expects over fifty entries, with hundreds of keen Mermaid sailors seeking championship honours as well as fun on the water. Fully rigged, these beautiful classic wooden boats will look spectacular racing each day in Skerries bay during the week.

Mr. Sam Shields, Commodore of Skerries Sailing Club stated:

"Mermaid Week this year is a very special occasion, not only will the championship be the most competitive in the history of the class, this event has motivated every Dublin Bay Mermaid owner, sailor and crew alike to get their boats, old and new, out on the water for the 80th Anniversary Celebration of this amazing classic wooden boat"

Mermaid Week traces its origins back 1970 when the first Mermaid Week was held in Skerries. Prior to 1970 the Championship was decided on the basis of Regatta results from 1953 to 1969. Each year 30 to 50 Mermaids race against each other in this seven day championship.

With an active fleet of over 60 boats, it remains one of the largest racing fleets in the country and continues to flourish. The construction of three new boats has been completed this year. Nos. 190, 191 & 192 were launched at Rush on 7th July built locally under the management and experience of Enda Weldon.

A number of 'home town boats' and previous championship title holders will also be competing to win the national championship title on the 80th anniversary of the class. As part of the celebrations, 'The Voyage Home', organised by Therese McHugh a former MSA President and local Skerries resident, has seen a Mermaid (no. 26) leave Foynes, on the Shannon estuary and sail via South Coast up the East Coast intending to arrive in Skerries in time for the Championship.

The Championship has had immense support from the local community, with individuals and businesses alike contributing the organisation and success of Mermaid Week 2012.

Published in Mermaid
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#mermaid – As part of the celebrations for the 80th Anniversary of the DBSC Mermaid, the class undertook a voyage from Foynes in Limerick to Skerries in North Co Dublin where the National Championships will be held in early August. The intention was to visit all the locations where Mermaids sail and call in to other traditional cruising haunts along the way.

The boat selected for the trip, Thumbalina no 26, is owned by Patrick Boardman from Rush. The boat was built in 1952 and in the hands of the late Noel O' Hare proved virtually unbeatable in Dun Laoghaire during the late 50s and early 60s.

The trip was undertaken in legs of 20 to 40 miles usually accompanied by local RNLI inshore boats or cruising boats form nearby clubs along the way. 20 different crew sailed Thumbalina with the assistance of over 50 support personnel on accompanying boats.

There are reports of some very exciting sailing, particularly from Derek Joyce and his team who recorded speeds in excess of 12.5 Knots on their journey from Kilmore Quay to Wexford. Pat Mangan also recorded similar speeds over the ground with a huge tidal stream in their favour as they flew through Dursey Sound. Patrick Boardman recorded the longest daily run of over 54 miles from Smerwick Harbour to Derrynane. The most picturesque journey was enjoyed by Roger Bannon and Therese Mc Hugh who brought Thumbalina from Crookhaven to Baltimore travelling on the inside route through all the islands of that famous part of West Cork.

The distance sailed until arrival in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday 15th July is 480 miles with 32 miles remaining to be covered by visiting Clontarf and Rush before concluding in Skerries.

Clontarf will be hosting the Leinster Championships on 21st and 22nd July.

The voyage onwards will visit Rush to celebrate the launching of 3 new boats, Mayhem, Ariel and Maybe.

The final leg to Skerries will be sailed in company with as many as 20 boats in advance of Skerries Regatta on 28th and 29th July.

The arrival of Thumbalina in the National coincided with the ISAF Junior World Championships and this provided a wondrous contrast between the classic and rugged attributes of the Mermaid compared with the modern alternatives that these talented future young Olympians were sailing.

The National Mermaid Championships will be held in Skerries from 4th to the 10th August and over 45 entries are anticipated which compares with 60 entries in 1983 when the 50th Anniversary was also celebrated at this Mermaid sailing stronghold of over 60 years.

For the first time it is expected that 9 former winners of the coveted Mermaid Trophy will participate; Frankie Brown (3), Jim Dempsey(2) and Roger Bannon(6) all of whom sailed in the event in 1983 with Jim Carthy(4), Derek Joyce(5), Paddy Dillon(1), Niall Mc Grotty(2), Sam Shiels(1) and Johnny O' Rourke (1).

New blood featuring Ruari Grimes and Anthony Carthy in established quick boats together with the trio of new boats from Rush will also add new possibilities to the usual excitement of Mermaid Week in 2012.

Published in Mermaid
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#mermaid – Thumbelina Mermaid no 26, completed the passage from Balycotton to Dungarvan, a distance of almost 30 miles in a little over 4 hours! a pace with which many 40 foot cruisers would be delighted. The crew skippered by Eugene Burke arrived over an hour ahead of the support boat accompanying them on the trip.

Dungarvan hosts it first Mermaid event over the weekend with several boats attending from all around the country to support the embryonic fleet in Dungarvan.

Long time Mermaid stalwart, Derek Joyce is expected to undertake the next stage and bring Thumbelina to Kilmore Quay and if the weather is kind, onwards to Wexford next week.

It is anticipated as Thumbelina starts the homeward stages up the East coast she will be joined by other Mermaids on some of the legs, culminating in a sizable fleet of mermaids doing the last leg to Skerries from Dun Laoghaire via Rush during the final weekend in July. The entire trip is estimated to be 520 miles from its commencement from Foynes on the Shannon just under a month ago. Thumbelina is being sailed in stages by different Mermaid sailors who bring their own sails and regular crew from all around the country.

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#regattas – After a week of rain and gales there was a full programme of yachting round the coast at the weekend with one of the biggest fleets racing for RAYC Bloomsday regatta honours at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. From the same club the clinker Waterwags celebrated 125 years of racing on Dublin Bay with a 20–boat fleet and a Victorian high tea yesterday afternoon. There were celebrations too further up the east coast for K. Halliwell's 'She of the North' who won the fiftieth round Ailsa Craig race from the Royal Ulster Yacht Club.

Antrim sailor Chris Penney won the Laser Leinsters at Howth and in a possible sign of good things to come ISAF Youth Rep Finn Lynch of the National YC won the radial division. The Ruffian 23s raced for national honours on Dublin Bay and 20 Fireballs turned up to race for Ulster honours at East Down Yacht Club.

In Cowes, Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary, who finished second last weekend in the 1720 Nationals on home waters, was second overall again yesterday in IRC one class at a windy British National Cruiser Championships. Great onboard action video from Cowes here.

And finally, if you are on the south coast this week and see a small half decked Mermaid dinghy take the time to say hello. She is currently in Crookhaven, West Cork heading east so expect to see her in Cork harbour this week or next! The clinker built Thumbalina is cruising round the coast from Foynes on the Shannon Estuary to Skerries in North Dublin as part of the eightieth celebrations of the traditional Dublin Bay class.

Published in Racing

#mermaid – When the ubiquitous DBSC Mermaid was established in the 1930's, few could have envisioned the class would continue to flourish 80 years later with new boats still being built and large competitive fleets regularly racing around the country.

The Mermaid is 3 person ¾ decked dinghy designed by "Skipper" John Kearney, a noted member of the National Yacht Club, during the first half of the 20th Century and well known internationally for many iconic designs. The brief given to Kearney by a group of Dun Laoghaire sailors was to design and build a rugged, but lively centre board dinghy suitable for Dublin Bay for no more than the cost of a motor cycle. It is a robust seaworthy boat with a good turn of speed and is very demanding to get best out of it when racing.

Over the years almost 200 boats have been built and with about 60 boats still active, it remains one of the largest racing fleets in the country. Whilst retaining its classic construction, the boat has carefully evolved over the years and become faster, easier to sail and most importantly, stronger and much easier to maintain.

The Mermaid Class is celebrating its 80th Anniversary in 2012 with up to 50 boats expected to attend the National Championships in Skerries in August.

As part of the celebrations, the Class decided to undertake an East about cruise in relays from Foynes on the Shannon, a leading Mermaid stronghold, to the spiritual home of the Mermaid in Skerries. The trip, known as "The Voyage Home", organised by Therese Mc Hugh a former MSA President, plans to visit most of the wonderful cruising locations on the South Coast culminating with hopefully what will be some fast sprints up the East Coast to arrive in Skerries on the weekend before the Championships. It is hoped that as many as 30 boats will participate in the last legs from Dun Laoghaire to Skerries via Rush. All the locations where Mermaids are regularly sailed will be visited during the trip including Dungarvan, the most recent area where Mermaids have established a foothold under the leadership of Eugene Burke.


Thumbalina passes the Mizen on her journey home

Following spectacular sailing over the last two weeks the boat being used for the trip, Thumbalina No 26 (built in 1953 and currently owned by Patrick Boardman), has arrived in Crookhaven. Highlights so far include visits to Smerwick Harbour, Derrynane and fabulous passages through Dursey Sound and the Blasket Sound. Encounters with Dolphins and ideal benign sailing conditions have been features of the first 3 legs. By the completion of the "Voyage Home", it is hoped that virtually all the active sailors in the fleet will have participated in at least one leg.

The vibrancy of the Class is manifested with the imminent launching of 3 new boats built in Rush over the last 9 months. This project has been managed by Enda Weldon who is putting together his second boat since the mid 90's.

Over the next week Thumbalina will be sailed to Baltimore and then to Glandore with a planned arrival in Kinsale by 23rd June.

Published in Cruising
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#MERMAID – Last weekend the weather did not dampen the spirits of the participants who took part in Munster Mermaid Championship's at Foynes Yacht Club to coincide with the Foynes Irish Coffee writes Gerry Ryan.

Thirteen boats travelled from the east coast from club's as Skerries, Rush and the National Yacht Club, where they enjoyed some good racing on the Shannon Estuary.

On Saturday two races took place east of Foynes Island in wet conditions, where a force 3 north-easterly breeze pertained for both races. Officer of the Day, Alan McEneff ensured that the 20 boats participating raced the Olympic triangular course for the event.

Race one was very keenly contested with national winner, Sam Shiels sailing Azeezy from Skerries ensuring some good racing skills in beating Vincent McCormack in Three Chevrons. Race two it was much the same picture with Shiels taking line honours and Jill with Paul Smith and Pat Mangan.

On Sunday the rain eased somewhat to give a force 3 breeze with a slight wind shift during racing, and a strong tide to contend with. The winner of this race was Frankie Browne sailing Cara II, but Sam Shiels received the Munster Mermaid Cup on Sunday.

Overall, the home boats did well, with Vincent McCormack on Three Chevrons finishing third on race one, and Darragh McCormack came middle of the fleet in 9th position on Argo.

Vincent McCormack on Three Chevron's won the Best Foynes boat, while James McCormack won the Silver fleet trophy, which was specially commissioned for the golden jubilee year.

At the presentation of prizes on Sunday, Alan McEneff stressed that the next major event will be the West Coast Cruiser Championships in July, and asked that all the Mermaid sailors would assist in the championship's.

Mermaid Class Captain, Darragh McCormack said: 'It was the most spectacular, and skilful racing for the Munster championship's to date, which is getting new entries as it progresses every year.

This coming weekend the first leg of the Estuary Bell will take place hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club in Kilrush. Two races are scheduled to take place on Saturday and one on Sunday. We wish the Foynes flotilla the very best in Kilrush this weekend. Notice of race etc., is on the club website.

Published in Shannon Estuary
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Dun Laoghaire's Roger Bannon won his sixh Mermaid National Championships in Fenit last week breaking the class record of five wins set by Harry Grimes in 1970.
After four different race winners (5 including the void race which was resailed) there with three potential overall winners going into the last race. The championship had its usual controversies with one race being deemed void after a rule 66 rehearing of a protest for redress. There were 33 entries from the usual Mermaid strongholds.

The top 3 were:

1st Endeavour 102 Roger Bannon National Yacht Club
2nd Tiller Girl 77 Jonathan O Rourke National Yacht Club
3rd Innocence 188 Anthony Carty Rush Sailing Club

The 80 year old class is not steering shy of new technology. Class techie Peter Scallan organised multiple live blogs on a special web site which provided live updates and photos during every race. and

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