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Newgrange Currach Sailor Tests Navigation Skills in ISORA Race

8th May 2013
Newgrange Currach Sailor Tests Navigation Skills in ISORA Race

#isora – The recent ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead provided a novel development for one of the lesser known sailing clubs based on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, Sailing in Dublin Club. The club entered their Sigma 33 'Obsession' and the skipper,  Hungarian born, Attila Védő and the four crew, all relatively new to sailing, were happy with their placing at 14th position in what was their first competitive Offshore race.

Amongst the crew on Obsession was artist Claidhbh O Ghibne from Newgrange Currachs  who joined SID to improve his seaman skills and, in particular, his knowledge of maritime navigation.  Claidhbh is in the process of recreating a 7 bench, (36 ft) currach made from wicker and leather, a craft that would have been in existence around the 3,500 BC or the period when Newgrange was being built. 

Claidhbh's eventual aim is to retrace the journey thought to be made by early settlers across the Atlantic from Spain to Ireland but first he has to build up his sailing skills – and that is where club sailing has met his need.  Sailing in Dublin (SID) Club was founded in the 80's by sailors dwelling in the capital who had completed summer sailing courses at the Les Glenans Sailing School in the wilds of the Western seafront.

The basic founding objective of the club remains to offer regular sailing for a low cost in a club environment, all the benefits of club sailing such as skill development, racing and cruising with little of the difficulties associated with boat ownership such as maintenance cost and finding crew.

In 2011, on completing yacht sailing courses with Sailing West, Claidhbh found he still wasn't confident about determining the wind direction. He was advised to take up dinghy sailing to get a better feel for the wind and since he wasn't at sufficient standard to crew for a racing dinghy and wanted to build up his skills with a safety boat close at hand, he joined SID dinghy sessions for regular Dublin Bay sailing.

In the meantime, back in his studio and workshop, the artist and boatbuilder was continuing to produce different prototypes of seagoing currachs and also writing a book on the Boyne currachs, the last remaining wicker craft. The book 'The Boyne Currach: from Beneath the shadows of Newgrange' was published last year and provides the fascinating story of Ireland's smallest currach with prehistoric origins.The book also gives an account of the methods used by Claidhbh to recreate the 7 bench currach of the Dal Riada, an ocean-going craft with the capabilities to withstand the wrath of the Atlantic.

While the craft is near completion, financial constraints have meant that the maiden test voyages have been put on hold for the moment and Claidhbh has been using the time to brush upon his navigation skills on board SID's slightly more modern Sigma 33. While the boats taking part in the ISORA race  series may seem a long way from hazel and cowhind boats, the opportunity to practise 'course made good' will be imperative for the arduous journey envisaged by the Newgrange Currach project from the western Atlantic coast of Europe to the Boyne Valley.

Published in ISORA
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