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As the 2023 season draws to a close with the news of three major keelboat events in Dun Laoghaire in September 2024, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) is seeking members’ view on cruiser racing and events during the past year.

ICRA says the feedback will help it ensure that the association represents the views of its members, participants and non-participants alike, and makes targeted efforts to improve cruiser racing in Ireland.

Click HERE to access and complete the short online survey, and share with your crew and any other interested parties.

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One of the most popularly acclaimed victories in sailing in Ireland in 2023 was Johnny Murphy’s September winning of the “Champion Boat” award at the conclusion of the ICRA Nationals at his home port of Howth with his J/109 Outrajeous. With only one good – admittedly very good – day of racing out of a schedule of three, it was a nerve-racking contest, and Outrajeous has been having difficulty in showing the kind of success which her owner-skipper had shown in campaigning an Albin Express and a 1720. But with emotionally-acknowledged crew support – particularly from first mate Neil Spain – Outrajeous emerged victorious to achieve well-earned and tumultuous applause at the prize-giving.

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"Schizoid" or "Schizophrenic" are not words you'll find to describe weather conditions in any meteorological textbooks. But how else are we to convey the flavour of the racing situations which ran through the gamut of experiences in the three-day Monday.com ICRA Nationals at Howth?

Waiting for the wind on the half tonner Mata on day one of the ICRA Nationals in Howth when the wind didn't blow for the IRC classes Photo: AfloatWaiting for the wind on the half tonner Mata on day one (Friday) of the ICRA National Championships in Howth when the wind didn't blow for the IRC classes Photo: Afloat

Goldilocks Conditions they were not. The only thing lacking in excess - or often in any form at all - was wind. Oh for sure, Saturday - with its four races - was wellnigh perfect. Yet it was only when the sea breeze finally cooked itself into action that it happened. And it took a long time to do so. For by mid-September, the sea is approaching its warmest to lessen the disparity with the relative heat ashore, and while the sun was indisputably glaring, it seemed so because it was at an angle rather than providing the ultra-power of direct sunlight.

Brendan Foley's First Class 8, Allig8r from the Royal St. George in Dun Laoghaire, finished third in IRC Three at the ICRA Championships Photo: AfloatBrendan Foley's First Class 8, Allig8r from the Royal St. George in Dun Laoghaire, finished third in IRC Three at the ICRA Championships Photo: Afloat

As for the cloudbursts of the final day, you could have been forgiven for thinking of donning scuba gear. Miraculously, the deluges were of sudden and very clearly defined brevity, otherwise the Howth Peninsula would have reverted to island status. And miraculously again, the hard-done-by race organisers did manage to get in just one race, but it was only for the already multi-blessed plutocratic denizens of Class 0.

The biggest boat of the regatta - Nigel Biggs and Dave Cullen's Class Zero First 50 in fine set up in Saturday's four race day Photo: AfloatThe biggest boat of the regatta - Nigel Biggs and Dave Cullen's Class Zero First 50 in fine set up in Saturday's four race day Photo: Afloat

However, their solitary and slowly completed Sunday race did provide a popular winner Class Zero winner for the day that was in it, with Paul O'Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI having her one moment at the peak of the ICRA podium. And as she notched the ISORA Championship 2023 a week ago, we need not allow excess emotion to overflow on the O'Higgins crew's behalf.

ICRA Class Zero IRC Champion 2023 - The Brian Jones skippered J122 Jelly Baby from Royal Cork Yacht Club. Jelly Baby had a narrow one-point win over John Treanor's ValenTina from the National Yacht Club.  That result reversed under the ECHO Performance handicap result Photo: AfloatICRA Class Zero IRC Champion 2023 - The Brian Jones skippered J122 Jelly Baby from Royal Cork Yacht Club. Jelly Baby had a narrow one-point win over John Treanor's ValenTina from the National Yacht Club (below).  That result reversed under the ECHO Performance handicap result Photo: Afloat

Two National Yacht Club boats, Valentia (left) and Searcher, finished second and third, respectively in Class Zero IRC Photo: AfloatTwo National Yacht Club boats, Valentia (left) and Searcher, finished second and third, respectively in Class Zero IRC Photo: Afloat

But it was the overall winner which brought it all up in lights. Admittedly seasoned observers casting an eye over the pre-prize-presentation results suggested the smart money would be on the J/109 Outrajeous (Johnny & Suzy Murphy, Howth YC). But nevertheless when it became official, the wave of shared emotion was off the scale. 

Despite the challenging weather conditions, the monday.com ICRA National Championships at Howth saw four races with all podium results delivered by John and Suzie Murphy's Outrajeous to crown the local boat as the overall event winner. In Class 1, Murphy's Howth team was also crowned IRC champion in their ten-boat division Photo: AfloatDespite the challenging weather conditions, the monday.com ICRA National Championships at Howth saw four races with all podium results delivered by John and Suzie Murphy's Outrajeous to crown the local boat as the overall event winner. In Class 1, Murphy's Howth team was also crowned IRC champion in their ten-boat division Photo: Afloat

For as Johnny told us in a deeply felt few words, he'd had such difficulty in getting the J/109 to show the kind of performance he used to get out of the Albin Express and the 1720 that he was seriously thinking of jacking it in. But fortunately helmsman and shipmate Neil Spain persuaded him to keep going. Sailing in Ireland needs as many Neil Spains as it can get. Meanwhile, there'll be celebrating in the Murphy stronghold in the Hills of the Naul tonight.

John Minnis's A35 Final Call II made a strong challenge for Class One ICRA Honours but ended up as runner-up in the cut-short championships Photo: AfloatJohn Minnis's A35 Final Call II made a strong challenge for Class One ICRA Honours but ended up as runner-up in the cut-short championships Photo: Afloat

Class Two

James Dwyer's classic New Zealand half-tonner Swuzzlebubble won the championship after Johnny Swan on Harmony from the host club couldn't match the all-podium scoreline from Saturday's four races that comprised the championship for the bulk of the fleet.

ICRA Class Two IRC Champion 2023 - James Dwyer's Half-Tonner Swuzzlebubble from Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: AfloatICRA Class Two IRC Champion 2023 - James Dwyer's Half-Tonner Swuzzlebubble from Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

Class Three

The Class 3 championship went to the Quarter Tonner Snoopy from Courtown Sailing Club, owned by Joanne Hall and Martin Mahon, which counted two race wins and all podium results in their scoresheet for this, the largest class after the J24's with 13 entries.

ICRA Class Three IRC Champion 2023 - Martin Mahon and Joanne Hall's Quarter Tonner Snoopy from Courtown Sailing Club Photo: AfloatICRA Class Three IRC Champion 2023 - Martin Mahon and Joanne Hall's Quarter Tonner Snoopy from Courtown Sailing Club Photo: Afloat

A Class Three battle saw the X-332 take second overall at the ICRA Nationals Photo: AfloatA Class Three battle saw the X-332 take second overall at the ICRA Nationals Photo: Afloat

White Sails

Dermot Skehan's MG34 Toughnut of the host club won the White Sails fleet.

ICRA White Sails Champion 2023 - Dermot Skehan's MG34 Toughnut from Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatICRA White Sails Champion 2023 - Dermot Skehan's MG34 Toughnut from Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

The event, which saw 70 boats representing 27 clubs from all coasts of Ireland plus inland venues, witnessed Royal Cork and Howth Yacht Club boats each winning two of the five individual championship titles.

J24 National Championships

The 24 National Championships was raced as part of the 2023 ICRA National Championships Photo: AfloatThe 24 National Championships was raced as part of the 2023 ICRA National Championships Photo: Afloat

David Bailey and partners with Hard On Port from Bray Sailing Club won the J24 national championship title over five races in their 20-boat fleet that also comprised many of the Under 25 crews.

The U25 trophy was won by the crew on Kinsailor hailing from the West Cork club who also placed second overall and were just three points off the overall win.

ICRA says next year's championship will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

See all Afloat's coverage of the 2023 ICRA Championships in one handy link here

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Dermot Skehan's MG34 Toughnut of the host club leads the White Sails fleet at the Monday.com ICRA National Championships at Howth Yacht Club.

After no racing on the first day of the Championships, clouds cleared to allow a perfect sea breeze to develop, with four races completed on all three-course areas on Saturday.

Windsor Lauden in the vintage Shamrock, Demelza, also of Howth, is lying second after four races sailed. Third in the seven-boat fleet is the North Dublin Club's Splashdance (John Beckett Andy George).

Racing continues on Sunday.

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After four races sailed with no discard, Snoopy, the 2021 Champion ICRA Class Three Champion, is currently leading the 2023 Monday.com sponsored ICRA Championships in Howth, according to provisional results.

The Courtown Sailing Club Quarter Tonner, co-skippered by Joanne Hall and Martin Mahon, is in the lead with two race wins on their scorecard, giving them a 3.5-point lead over Nico and Caroline Gore-Grimes in the X332 Dux from the Howth Yacht Club, who are currently in second place with 11.5 points. 

Nico and Caroline Gore-Grimes in the X332 Dux made the best of the sub-ten knot conditions in Howth to lie second overall in the Class Three fleet of the 2023 ICRA National Championships 2023 at Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatNico and Caroline Gore-Grimes in the X332 Dux made the best of the sub-ten knot conditions in Howth to lie second overall in the Class Three fleet of the 2023 ICRA National Championships 2023 Photo: Afloat

Brendan Foley's Allig8r from the Royal St. George Yacht Club is currently in third place with 14 points.

Brendan Foley's Allig8r from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour is currently in third place in the Class Three fleet of the 2023 ICRA National Championships 2023 at Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatBrendan Foley's Allig8r from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour is currently in third place in the Class Three fleet of the 2023 ICRA National Championships 2023 at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

Despite the favourable southeast breeze of seven knots, Snoopy had to work hard for their lead. In the 13-boat fleet, Hall and Mahon were scored with a DPI2 in Race three, a two-point discretionary penalty.

Snoopy has had previous successes, including becoming the ICRA Divison 3 National Champion in September 2021 after a superbly sailed series on Dublin Bay. More recently, in July 2023, Snoopy was the top Irish boat at the Royal Cork Yacht Club hosted Quarter Ton Cup.

The racing will continue on Sunday.

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Half Tonners dominate the Class Two fleet in the Monday.com ICRA National Championships in Howth.

After no racing on the first day of the Championships, clouds cleared to allow a perfect sea breeze to develop, with four races completed on all three-course areas on Saturday.

Among the eight participating boats, Swuzzlebubble, a vintage Half Tonner from Royal Cork skippered by James Dwyer, is leading the pack with two sisterships close behind.

Johnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony was the first race winner in the 2023 ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatJohnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony was the first race winner in the 2023 ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

This Crosshaven crew has already claimed victories in the Sovereign's Cup and Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta earlier this season, and they are determined to add the national title to their list of achievements.

Despite having a three-point lead, John Swan from the host club won the first race in a light south-easterly wind, securing second place overall with 10 points. Mata, the Half Tonner owned by Wright, Sheridan, and De Neve from Howth, is currently in third place.

Mata, the Half-Tonner owned by Wright, Sheridan, and De Neve from Howth, is currently in third place in the 2023 ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat Mata, the Half-Tonner owned by Wright, Sheridan, and De Neve from Howth, is currently in third place in the 2023 ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat 

Racing continues on Sunday.

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ICRA Class I is billed as John Minnis's A35 Final Call II from Belfast Lough being in with more than a shout against the "monstrous regiment" of J/109s. But in the end today, she had to be content with reaching the evening in second overall, as Johnny and Suzy Murphy moved out on their own both in class and against their sister-ships, ending the day for the J/109 Outrajeous (Howth YC) on just 8 points from 1,3,2,2 against Final Call's 14pts from 2,1,3 and 8 (ouch!).

Class One leader J/109 Outrajeous (Howth YC) starts on port in race two of the ICRA Nationals at Howth Photo: AfloatClass One leader J/109 Outrajeous (Howth YC) starts on port in race two of the ICRA Nationals at Howth....

...and gets an early advantage

John Minnis's A35 Final Call II from Belfast Lough goes downwind in the first race of the ICRA National Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatJohn Minnis's A35 Final Call II from Belfast Lough goes downwind in the first race of the ICRA National Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

Obviously, that fourth race is in line for the discard if we can get it tomorrow, but meanwhile, Saturday night sees defending champion Joker II (J/109, John Maybury, RIYC) third on 9,2,7,1, with Mighty Mouse, aka Mike & Richie Evans' J/99 Snapshot (HYC) in fourth after logging 6,8,1,3.

Downwind in class one of the ICRA Nationals 2023 at Howth, with the J109 Joker II (John Maybury) lying in third overall on port gybe Photo: AfloatDownwind in class one of the ICRA Nationals 2023 at Howth, with the J109 Joker II (John Maybury) lying in third overall on port gybe Photo: Afloat

Racing continues on Sunday.

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With a building breeze promising livelier conditions later in the day, you might have expected the slipper, smaller craft to set the pace in the opening salvo of Class 0's delayed series of the Monday.com ICRA National Championships at Howth Yacht Club. But it was the comfortably proportioned First 50 Checkmate (Dave Cullen & Nigel Biggs) of the host club which put down the bullet marker in the initial race of four completed, though times were close - sometimes very close.

The J122 Jelly Baby beats the J111 Ghost Raider to the line in the first race of the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: AfloatThe J122 Jelly Baby beats the J111 Ghost Raider to the line in the first race of the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

 John Treanor's J112E ValenTina from the National Yacht Club is lying second overall at the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat John Treanor's J112E ValenTina from the National Yacht Club is lying second overall at the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

However, Brian Jones and family from the Royal Cork in Crosshaven with the J/122 Jelly Baby were clearly in the process of familiarising themselves with the mysterious waters of the Fingal coast, and after taking third in Race 1, they were never off the top three, carding a total of 3, 1,3,1 to total 8 points and have it overall by close of play to the 12 points from 2,5,1,4 of John Treanor's newer J Boat ValenTina (National YC).

The First 50 Checkmate (Dave Cullen & Nigel Biggs) was the first race winner in Class Zero of the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club and lies third overall Photo: AfloatThe First 50 Checkmate (Dave Cullen & Nigel Biggs) was the first race winner in Class Zero of the ICRA Nationals Championships at Howth Yacht Club and lies third overall Photo: Afloat

Checkmate XX stayed in the hunt to finish the day on third OA with her opening win followed by 7,5,2, taking it on countback after tieing on 15 points with Pete Smyth's Sunfast 3600 Searcher (NYC & RIYC) which scored 5,2,2,6. As for Jelly Baby, she'd quite the day of it, as she won overall on ECHO too.

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The J24 National Championships, being raced as part of the Monday.com Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships at Howth Yacht Club on Friday, were the only class to manage a race with winds of less than three knots across three race courses. 

Racing had to be abandoned for the IRC classes due to lack of wind, despite all efforts to start the fleets at 11:45 am. However, the sub-three-knot variable winds and haze persisted well into the afternoon, making it impossible to begin the annual event for the cruiser-racer divisions.

'There's nothing anyone could have asked of the race management teams today that would have made a difference,' ICRA Commodore David Cullen, who is competing in Class Zero, said.

Abandonment flags fly on the Howth Yacht Club Committee Vessel Photo: AfloatAbandonment flags fly on the Howth Yacht Club Committee Vessel Starpoint on day one of the ICRA Nationals Photo: Afloat

Kinsale Yacht Club's Under 25 Kinsailor team are now top of the J24 leaderboard after their win on a windward leeward course in the northernmost race area. Wicklow Sailing Club's Conor Haughton in Jade took second. Third was Diarmaid Mullen's Smugairle róin. See the results below.

Eight boats were scrutinised on Friday as part of competition rules, and organisers report 'good compliance'. However, some boats had to return for items such as anchors, flares and fire extinguishers. The organisers say more boats will be subject to checks on Saturday.

Despite the forecast of more light winds, organisers plan to restart the IRC championship on Saturday with up to four races scheduled.

The racing will continue until Sunday, hopefully giving organisers ample opportunity to make up for the lost time on Friday.

As previously noted by Afloat's WM Nixon, the ICRA Nats 2023 event is a contemporary take on a time-honoured tradition in the North Dublin harbour.

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When the three-day Irish Cruiser-Racing Association monday.com-sponsored annual National Championship gets underway today (Friday) at Howth, it will be the combination of a modern innovation in Irish sailing, which is barely twenty years old, and a local regatta tradition of major significance going back 170 years.

For it was in the not-so-distant yet seemingly remote days of 2002 that those sage observer-participants of the Irish cruiser-racer scene - Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire and the late Jim Donegan of Cork - rightly concluded that the cruiser-racer fleets played such a significant and growing role in our sailing that they needed their own Irish Cruiser-Racing Association to represent and promote their interests.

And beyond that, they perceptively envisioned that their new baby of ICRA would give such extra heft to the popularity of cruiser-racing that at season’s end the title of ICRA “Boat of the Year” would become one of sailing’s most coveted titles. And equally, it would build a strong feeling that ICRA should stage its own stand-alone National Championship, ideally at least three days long.

SUCCESS OF ICRA CONCEPT HAS CONFLICTING RESULTS

Ironically, the success of the first ideal has contributed to the difficulty of fulfilling the second. With ICRA flexing its muscles, established regatta organisers have had a national body to which they can quickly refer when any problems involving their large cruiser-racer entry arise.

Champion John Maybury at the ICRA Nats 2022, when the series was within Volvo Cork Week 2022, with the platform party including RCYC Admiral Kieran O’Connell (right). Photo: Robert BatemanChampion John Maybury at the ICRA Nats 2022, when the series was within Volvo Cork Week 2022, with the platform party including RCYC Admiral Kieran O’Connell (right). Photo: Robert Bateman

Thus the pre-event setting of class rating bands for ICRA boats has now assumed the sort of pre-regatta interest which in times past would be focused on which of the One-Design classes would have the biggest turnout. Yet this inevitable re-focusing has in turn so strengthened the significance of the ICRA presence at all major regattas that local club organisers very much prefer the large Cruiser-Racer presence to be a central part of their event, rather than take on the challenge of including the ICRA Nats as a part of – yet still semi-separate championship – within their established event.

CROWDED ANNUAL PROGRAMME

Thus in an ideal world, the already-crowded annual national sailing programme would include a comprehensive three or four-day ICRA Nats in all its solitary stand-alone splendour. But the annual setting of the programme is already a matter of dexterous juggling and much trading in barely-available dates So an exhausting and event-packed programme of very mixed weather, such as we’ve already seen in 2023 has meant that the prospects for the late-season turnout and success of the ICRA Nats at Howth in the second weekend of September have not necessarily been viewed with optimism.

“A Force in the Land” – trophies lined up for the 2022 Championship. Photo: Robert Bateman“A Force in the Land” – trophies lined up for the 2022 Championship. Photo: Robert Bateman

Yet it now looks as though the turnout today of race-ready IRC-rated boats will be north of 70 keenly-sailed craft. And with the entry list very strong in quality to offset any queries about quantity, the key problem is whether or not there’ll be enough wind to move them through Howth’s interesting racing waters in any worthwhile way, while managing to keep the Indian summer heatwave temperatures under control.

WEIRD WEATHER OF SEPTEMBER 2023

In the weird weather of September 2023, that’s a big ask. But as for staging weather-optimising regattas, Howth has form – and good form at that. In this year in which they are celebrating being the MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year 2023”, Commodore Neil Murphy has been leading his members in putting on events of local, regional and national status in which - as you’d expect, with the numerically-largest club in Ireland – HYC members have themselves not been strangers to the podium.

On the international front, not only did they stage the J/24 Europeans within the past 12 months, but as well in 2023 as in 2022, the Howth names have been featuring abroad towards the top of various leaderboards.

Howth Yacht Club as newly-built in 1987 – it has since been extended to complete the curve of the “regatta roof” to the left. Sailing in the foreground are gaff sloop-rigged yachts of the Howth 17ft OD Class, founded 1898. Photo: Jamie BlandfordHowth Yacht Club as newly-built in 1987 – it has since been extended to complete the curve of the “regatta roof” to the left. Sailing in the foreground are gaff sloop-rigged yachts of the Howth 17ft OD Class, founded 1898. Photo: Jamie Blandford

ANCIENT HISTORY OF “REGATTAS”

As to the matter of Howth having regatta history, where could we begin? It was a Viking venue for special sailing events, then the Breton-Norman sailing party which subsequently became the St Lawrence family took over the village and castle in regatta style in 1177, and stayed until 2021. And when - in 1576 - the great western sea queen Grace O’Malley called by while cruiser-racing in the area, she temporarily abducted the son and heir to the castle because she felt the hospitality offered to visiting seafarers did not meet her demanding Connacht requirements.

Howth Castle today. It was smaller when Grace O’Malley sailed to it in 1576, but her subsequently-agreed hospitality requirements were to be scrupulously maintained over the centuries since Howth Castle (left) and Harbour (right) with race area beyond island of Ireland's Eye

THE KIDNAP “RANSOM”

The kidnapped boy was safely returned when it was agreed that the gates of Howth Castle would never be closed in future (even if the main door was much reinforced), and there would always be an extra place at the dinner table for any unexpected but otherwise well-intentioned visitor.

Thanks to this, it can be assumed that hospitality for visiting seafarers has since been kept up to the mark generally, with the inauguration of the Howth rail connection on 30th May 1847 opening up the possibility of regattas as a spectator sport to provide a significant shoreside element.

RAILWAY DAY EXCURSIONS TO WATCH THE BOATS

The viewing figures were augmented by special railway regatta day tickets to such an extent that the railway – originally intended mainly to transport fish from the expanding port – found it worth their while to provide regatta prizes and sponsorship in an era before the entertainment of profitable arena sports had become a central part of life. It was a simpler time when watching boats sailing was still in the heights of daytime entertainment, somewhere along with horse racing and bare knuckle boxing.

Ten years after the railway had reached Howth in 1847, annual railway-company-sponsored regattas were a regular feature. While most of the yachts were home-ported at Kingstown, those with the RWYC were of the 1828-founded Royal Western Yacht Club, whose fleet had dispersed from Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary after the Great Famine of 1846-49Ten years after the railway had reached Howth in 1847, annual railway-company-sponsored regattas were a regular feature. While most of the yachts were home-ported at Kingstown, those with the RWYC were of the 1828-founded Royal Western Yacht Club, whose fleet had dispersed from Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary after the Great Famine of 1846-49

Thus regattas at Howth long pre-date any local sailing clubs, which didn’t start to become established at the port until 1895. But with its 2,000-plus membership and extensive marina/clubhouse complex now providing a significant element of the economy both of Howth Harbour and its Peninsula, Howth itself is a significant part of the ICRA engine, and the fact that current ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen is a longtime and successful Howth sailor is part of the pattern.

Dave Cullen of Howth, current Commodore of ICRA. After many successful years racing Classic Half Tonners including winning the Worlds, he now campaigns the First 50 Checkmate XX with Nigel Biggs, their successes in 2023 including winning the Coastal Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. Photo: Robert BatemanDave Cullen of Howth, current Commodore of ICRA. After many successful years racing Classic Half Tonners including winning the Worlds, he now campaigns the First 50 Checkmate XX with Nigel Biggs, their successes in 2023 including winning the Coastal Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. Photo: Robert Bateman

This Howth input also arises with the remarkable role played by the American-originating range of cruiser-racing J/Boats. It is simply impossible to imagine the current Irish sailing scene without the extensive J/Boat range – first founded in 1977 - playing a key role in it.

GROWTH OF ICRA/HOWTH U25 J/24 DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

Thus the single largest numerical presence will be the 18 boats racing in what is also the J/24 Nationals. It was another Howth-based ICRA Commodore, Nobby Reilly in 2012, who first suggested that a scheme should be set up whereby ICRA and the leading clubs would provide tangible support for Under 25s to race J/24s, and gradually this idea has taken root from its Howth origins.

Its success has been such that one product of the scheme, the all-Ireland crew on Headcase helmed by Cillian Dickson of Lough Ree and Howth, are currently in Thessaloniki in Greece and about to start racing in the J/24 Worlds, having just travelled from Hungary where they won the J/24 Europeans.

Kinsailor (right) on the hunt at the J/24 Europeans at Howth in 2022, when she finished on the podium and was top Irish boatKinsailor (right) on the hunt at the J/24 Europeans at Howth in 2022, when she finished on the podium and was top Irish boat

Meanwhile, the top Irish boat in the 2022 Euros in Howth, the similarly U25-developed Kinsailor from Kinsale with Micheal O Suillebhain as helm, is surely among the front runners at Howth after a convincing display at the J-Cup in Dun Laoghaire a fortnight ago.

J/109s STILL ON TARGET

However, it is the J/24s’ big sister, the ever-young J/109, which seems to have been conceived and developed with Irish needs most specifically in demand. Thus the defending overall champion, after the ICRA Nats 2022 were held within Volvo Cork Week last year, is John Maybury’sJ/109 Joker 2 of the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire, while clubmate Barry Cunningham with sister-ship Chimaera was top boat in the recent J/Cup.

In her time, Chimaera has won at home and abroad, with previous owner Andrew Craig of Dun Laoghaire making his exit from the class in some style with the overall win at the Scottish Series, while racing in Scotland has also provided a happy hunting ground for another top contending J/109, Pat Kelly’s Storm from Rush SC.

SNAPSHOT IN THE HUNT, SWUZZLE BUBBLING, AND FINAL CALL II ON TARGET

A newer, slightly smaller J/Boat is the host club’s Mike & Richie Evans’ J/99 Snapshot, ICRA “Boat of the Year” 2022 and a winner here, there and everywhere looking to hit that extra sweet spot of speed to guarantee success in home waters.

 “Winning here, there and everywhere…” Snapshot on her way to success in the Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman “Winning here, there and everywhere…” Snapshot on her way to success in the Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

Making a return visit to Howth after last being present in 1980 is the extremely likeable Bruce Farr-designed Half Tonner Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble of 1976 New Zealand origins. She last featured in the area in the final race of the 1980 ISORA season across channel to Howth from Abersoch in the ownership of the late Bruce Lyster of RSTGYC, winning to take that year’s ISORA Championship. Now in superbly restored form and looking like new, she is in the ownership of the Dwyer family of Crosshaven, living proof that glassfibre can last just about for ever with TLC, her continuing competitiveness in the right conditions an encouragement for everyone.

Swuzzlebubble coming in to Howth to win the race from Abersoch in August 1980, and the ISORA title with it. Photo: W M NixonSwuzzlebubble coming in to Howth to win the race from Abersoch in August 1980, and the ISORA title with it. Photo: W M Nixon

In sailing as in other sports, competing in an away fixture sometimes adds the vital extra slice of performance that takes those essential extra seconds off the elapsed time, and it is Our Friends In The North, owner John Minnis (RUYC & RNIYC) and helm Gareth Flannigan, with the highly-optimised Archambault 35 Final Call II, who have shown sparks of pure genius and magic extra speed in 2023’s sailing.

 Final Call II from Belfast Lough racing to success in the Wave Regatta at Howth in June 2022. She races today as one of the favourites in the ICRA Nats. Photo: Annraoi Blaney Final Call II from Belfast Lough racing to success in the Wave Regatta at Howth in June 2022. She races today as one of the favourites in the ICRA Nats. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

They’ve broad shoulders, but they’ll surely need them as Final Call II starts racing this morning with a great weight of expectation on her crew. Meanwhile, lead organiser Jill Sommerville and her Howth Yacht Club team are in line with a level of organisation which is a very long way ahead of the modest expectations of the regattas of yore. For Howth is currently in overdrive with the tented village of the weekend’s Howth Maritime Festival on the green beside the clubhouse in tandem with the high-powered sport on the water. All that’s needed is a reasonable sailing wind, and if the skies can stay clear, the sea breeze should do the business.

ICRA Nationals Class Entries 2023

Class Zero

IRL 66 Checkmate XX
GBR 732R Hijacker
IRL 985 Ghost Raider
IRL 2729 Searcher
IRL 3721 ValenTina
IRL 4240 Prima Forte
GBR 7536 HotCookie
IRL 9753 Jelly Baby
IRL 10800 Rockabill VI

 

Class One

IRL 811 Raptor
IRL 1003 Final Call II
IRL 1141 Storm
IRL 1206 Joker 2
GBR 1242r white mischief
IRL 1383 Ruth
IRL 1543 Indian
IRL 1699 Snapshot
IRL 2160 Chimaera
GBR 8933R Bon Exemple
IRL 19109 Outrajeous
FRA 21711 Tribal

 

Class Two 

IRL 977 Crazy Diamond
GBR 1371 Elixir
IRL 1484 Harmony
IRL 1551 Mojo
GBR 2678 Perseverence
IRL 2798 Mata
KZ 3494 Swuzzlebubble
IRL 6909 Extreme Reality
IRL 9970 Lambay Rules

 

Class Three

FRA 111 ALLIG8R
IRL 971 Leeuwin
IRL 988 Dux
IRL 1972 No Excuse
IRL 2507 Impetuous
IRL 3022 Xebec
IRL 3087 Anchor Challenge
IRL 4444 Insider
IRL 4571 Flyover
IRL 7115 Gecko
IRL 7495 Maximus
IRL 8188 Alliance II
IRL 9538 Running Wild
IRL 90210 Snoopy

 

White Sails

IRL 1333 White Lotus
IRL 2070 Out&About
IRL 4073 Splashdance
GBR 8571 Spellbound
IRL 33301 White Pearl
IRL 100 Demelza
GBR 1411t Toughnut

 

J24 National Championships

  Rush 2 Juvenile Delinquent  
IRL 191 Battling J  
IRL 680 Kilcullen  
IRL 1183    
IRL 1234 Lady Caroline  
IRL 3109 Jade  
GBR 4084 Billy Whizz  
IRL 4191 Janx Spirit  
IRL 4212 Cool Jade  
IRL 4217 Hedgehog  
IRL 4236 KINSAILOR  
GBR 4265 smugairle róin  
IRL 4384 Jibberish  
IRL 4532 Jelignite  
IRL 4533 Crazy Horse  
IRL 4794 Hard on Port  
IRL 5067 Jedi  
IRL 5072 Printfix.ie  
IRL 5159 Jibe  
IRL 5219 IL Riccio  
IRL 5278 Hung Jury  
Published in W M Nixon
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Page 1 of 48

Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020

Irish Sailing Performance Head Quarters

Irish Sailing's base for the exclusive use of its own teams are located on the grounds of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The Irish Sailing Performance HQ houses the senior Irish sailing teams such as Olympic Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy

The HQ plans were announced in May 2018 and opened in March 2019.

The HQ comprises a number of three converted shipping containers and a floating slipway and pontoon

The HQ aim is to improve both training and educational opportunities for them, thereby creating systematic medal potential.

The Performance HQ is entirely mobile and has space for briefings and athlete education, a gym, gear storage and a boat maintenance area.

The athlete briefing room can then be shipped directly to international competitions such as the Olympics Regatta and provide a base for athletes overseas.