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The ‘Celtic Challenge’ will be raced in Glandore, West Cork this weekend, June 17/18. It is held annually, alternating between the Glandore Harbour Yacht Club and the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club of Wales.

The format is Admiral’s Cup style team racing under regular racing rules of sailing in International Dragons provided by GHYC in Glandore and in Fife Menai Straits One Designs when in Anglesey provided by RAYC. Two club teams sail four boats each, drawn by lot and exchanged on the second day. Each is crewed by a minimum of three, one of which is an owner’s caretaker.

The regatta dates back to 2005 when RAYC members trailed their Straits One Designs to Glandore for the GHYC Classic Regatta and came again in subsequent years. From that, the Celtic Challenge developed. A perpetual trophy was presented by Eamon Timoney of Fehily Timoney and Company, a Glandore Dragon sailor. It was won last year by the Welsh club. This year’s event is sponsored by Heineken, with Glandore YC determined to wrest the trophy back in home waters.

Published in West Cork
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The 40th anniversary of the Lar Casey Cup for Dragons was won by Adrian Bendon’s MarJ at Glandore Harbour YC in West Cork.

Second was Ghost, C.Dunne and C.Daly and third Little Fella, Cameron Good.

The original event was also won by Adrian.

In normal years, the Lar Casey Cup is sailed on the Saturday of the Glandore Regatta but for the 40th Anniversary, the event was expanded to two days with 3 races Saturday and 2 on Sunday. The local fleet of 11 Dragons was boosted by 8 visiting Dragons from Dublin and Kinsale some of whom were previous winners of the Lar Casey Cup.

The conditions on Saturday were very light for racing outside the harbour but Race Officer David Forde, assisted by Mary O’Sullivan and Emily Jane O’Mahony, was able to set the windward leeward course and got in the scheduled 3 races. Race winners on the day were Moonshine and Mar J (2) and overall leader Mar J. For the last race of the day after the second general recall the black flag was raised and Phantom and Aphrodite were called out and sent home early.

On Sunday the conditions were even lighter but the fleet was sent out to sit through a one hour postponement until a sea breeze 4-5kts appeared. The course was set in the outer harbour with club mark Goat as windward mark and a finish in the inner harbour opposite Casey’s Bar. The breeze dropped soon after the start and made it a challenge to get to the windward mark. For the run it looked like the middle of the harbour was favoured with more breeze but the boats that hugged the shore fared better. Race winner on the day was Pongo, a previous Lar Casey Cup winner. Mar J finished 4th to secure overall winner. Mar J helm Adrian Bendon, a long time previous resident of Glandore, sailed as crew on Pan, winner of the first race for the Lar Casey Cup! Crewing on Mar J was Shawn Kingston, also a previous winner.

Casey’s Bar sponsored the event and provided all the prizes for individual race winners and the overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, with a special prize for oldest wooden boat, Gypsy, sailed by Don Street, also a previous winner of the Lar Casey Cup. Dinner on Saturday night and snacks on Sunday prize giving were also provided by Casey’s Bar.

Published in Dragon
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You may remember a little while back, we were recording the sad yarn of Don Street losing his beloved vintage clinker-built service tender Red Rocket when a freakish October gale swept over Glandore pier, and removed everything in its way, including boats stowed where they’d been safely stowed for many a year. Well, Red Rocket was among them, gone to smithereens after 41 years of faithful service. But after a farewell libation or two in honour of her memory at the outer pierhead as soon as things had settled down a bit, 90-year-old Don set to with an almost nationwide search for something similar, as he wouldn’t dream of bringing anything manufactured in synthetic rubber alongside his beloved vintage International Dragon Gypsy.

We thought the search had become too intense when we got a brief email from him recently saying he’d got the dengue, for dengue fever is no laughing matter. But it turned out that the accursed predictive text, which those of us bewildered by much of modern IT find a hellish nuisance at the best of times, had struck yet again. It seems Don was only in a bit of a rush to tell everyone that he had the dinghy, that his son Richard in West Wicklow had managed to acquire possession of an ideal dinghy which had been sourced via the more obscure corners of the internet by the man who is the real foundation of just about everything worthwhile that has happened in Glandore for several decades, the Blessed Kieran O’Donoghue of the Glandore Harbour Inn and much other good work that is largely done by stealth.

The circumstances were such that this 14ft edge-glued epoxied sweety had to be taken untested. But Richard like his father has an eye for a boat - as too had Kieran O’D in viewing the first vague image on-screen - so it wasn’t until now that Richard felt he’d be within the pandemic regulations taking the new boat for a test row on Blessington Lake, aka Lough Poulaphouca, where he is one of the stalwarts of the thriving GP14 class. The photo says it all. Thanks to the clever construction, she’s as light as a feather, thanks to the classic design the transom sits properly clear of the water when there’s just a solo oarsman aboard, and yet it’s obvious she’ll be capable of carrying a good load when required, and at a handy speed too.

So despite the pandemic, the job has been done - and done well.

Published in News Update

Glandore Harbour Yacht Club has cancelled its Classic Regatta which had been scheduled to start on July 18.

Since it was first held on a July weekend in 1992 Glandore Classic Boats Regatta has developed into an outstanding event, “where the masterpieces of the great age of sail mingle with traditional West Cork workboats for a regatta of sailing and spectacle.”

This year’s event was intended to join with the Tricentenary celebrations of the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s 300 years, having been postponed from last year, which would have been its normal two-year cycle schedule.

So the decision by the committee of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club to postpone the event is a double “whammy” and will also be a big blow to the local tourist economy.

There wasn’t much alternative.

Sailing Secretary, Hal Andrews, told Afloat the reasons: “Social distancing requirements affect our ability to provide support and safety boat cover, ferry boat services, all social activities, club facilities, etc. We would have had to postpone, anyway, under current Irish Sailing ‘Back-to-Sailing plans. And it is impossible to know whether a return to lockdown definitely will not happen. We will make a decision later about whether to reschedule for 2021 or 2022, to link again to Cork 300 as originally planned.”

The combination of a new venue for a gathering of classic boats – Glandore Harbour’s natural amphitheatre, a warm welcome and the growing interest in traditional boats, contributed to the success of event after its first year. That had attracted a fleet of local and visiting traditional and classic boats. The original ‘Parade of Sail’ has been a strong spectator and visitor feature since the outset that has always been included and the ‘Classics’ has survived some turbulent weather conditions.

After the Millennium the biennial cycle regatta was re-titled Glandore Classic Regatta. While the Traditional and West Cork Mackerel Yawls and Lobster boats formed the backbone of the event, the regatta attracted a fleet of classic yachts, one-designs and classic day-boats. In following regattas, the Water Wags arrived from Dublin Bay to showcase formation sailing under the baton of Hal Sisk. The first of the Heir Island Sloops and the revived Cork Harbour One-Designs participated. The Fastnet Race for bigger boats was added to the programme. The Castletownshend ETTE Class raced, Howth 17’s took part as well as Conway Fifes, Shannon One-Designs and Classic Dragons as interest in the regatta expanded.

“An outstanding event where the masterpieces of the great age of sail mingle with traditional West Cork workboats for a regatta of sailing and spectacle. A ‘must-see’ on the sailing calendar for connoisseurs of classic, traditional or even just plain odd boats, it’s a feast for the eye, the memory with vividly contrasting boats all united in at least one purpose,” was one of the descriptions lavished on the event, I’ve had the pleasure of sailing in it several times aboard the late Guy Perrem’s MAB out of Monkstown Bay, which brought great pleasure to him when she took prizes back to Cork Harbour a number of times.

This year’s event was set to be the biggest and most exciting of the series as Glandore Harbour YC partnered with the RCYC’S Cork 300 with the possibility of bringing outstanding classic boats from around the world to the West Cork coast.

Its postponement is another of the long list of sailing event casualties due to the current health pandemic.

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Published in Tom MacSweeney

Since 1991 the scenic Glandore Harbour has seen some of the most elegant classic yachts coming together for racing and craic on shore.

Organisers say the reason why so many classic yachts keep coming back to Glandore is that it offers an unbeatable combination of one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, highly competitive racing, expertly organised, plus very relaxed friendly evening entertainment in the best West Cork tradition.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club will be celebrating its 300th anniversary during the week before Glandore. The close link with Cork 300 as well as with the Fife and Cowes Classic Regattas has generated unprecedented interest from the bigger classic yachts many of whom are extending their visit to the Irish south coast in order to cruise west and take part in the Glandore Classic Regatta 2020.

Published in Historic Boats
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#RNLI - Union Hall RNLI were tasked yesterday evening (Friday 11 August) by Valentia Coast Guard to a 16ft pleasure craft with five teenagers aboard that suffered engine failure in West Cork’s Glandore Harbour.

The lifeboat was launched and underway at 6.05pm to go to the aid of the casualty vessel, whose passengers had been angling at the eastern entrance of the harbour.

In favourable weather conditions, the Union Hall lifeboat was on scene within a few minutes to assist the pleasure craft as its position was a mere 15 feet away from rocks.

Following the incident, the five teenagers and their parents called to the lifeboat station to thank the volunteer crew for coming to their aid.

Martin Limrick, Union Hall RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew member, said: “The teenagers did everything right. They rang for help, deployed their anchor and were all wearing lifejackets.

“We would urge people when heading out on the water to have a means of communication, always wear a lifejacket and to respect the water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

With just twelve days to go to the start of the 25th Anniversary Glandore Classic Boat Regatta 2017 from July 23rd to July 28th, Glandore Harbour Yacht Club are swinging all systems into action with the extra muscle provided by sponsorship writes W M Nixon. As ever, the theme will be variety, with the pace in sheer style being set by elegant craft such as the 1970-vintage all-varnish 55ft McGruer ketch Cuilaun (Brian Smullen & Michael O’Flaherty).

She’s a fine ship which, in her day, has won her class in a Transatlantic Race to Cork. But then at the other end of the spectrum in terms of size and detail, there will be a host of boats representing the strong Traditional Boat theme which is central to West Cork sailing and rowing.

And this time round, there’ll be an unprecedented level of input from the Shannon Estuary, including the Theo Rye-designed CityOne dinghies from Limerick.

Internationally, the late naval architect and maritime historian Theo Rye was noted as the ultimate authority in everything to do with real classics right up to such giants as the Fife 23 Metre Cambria. But he was a man of many and inventive talents, and when his friend Gary MacMahon of the Ilen Boat-Building School in Limerick requested some ideas for an easy-to-build sailing dinghy whose construction would fit neatly into the school’s curriculum, Theo came up with the CityOne concept.

cityone dinghies2CityOne dinghies on the Shannon in Limerick. Designed by Theo Rye, built by the Ilen School, and with their sail colour schemes selected by international competition, they will be in Glandore to honour the memory of the late Theo Rye. Photo: W M Nixon

limerick gandelow3The late Theo Rye (centre) rowing one of the Ilen Boatbuilding School’s gandelows in the heart of Limerick. In the bow is Liam O’Donoghue, while the third oarsman is Hal Sisk. Photo: W M Nixon

With vivid sail colour design schemes which resulted from a global internet competition run from Limerick, the CityOnes are a visually-striking and functionally successful concept. Yet they’re probably not what many would have expected from Theo’s drawing board. But as it was typically generous of him to provide the very innovative design, and now the very existence of the CityOnes is a Theo memorial following his untimely death last year. Thus their racing at Glandore will be part of a celebration of the life and contribution of Theo Rye, both in the world of classics, and in his generous and often unusual ideas in all the areas with which he became involved.

Also coming to Glandore from the Ilen School in Limerick will be the flotilla of trainee-built 23ft gandelows, which have revived the Shannon Estuary’s fleet of these uniquely-local mud-sliding boats. But although their flat-bottomed mud-sliding capacity is key to their design, they’re attractive boats in their own right. As a result, Patrick Beautement from England was so inspired by the Ilen School’s ethos after working there as a volunteer that he has built a 15ft version of the gandelow in deepest Gloucestershire, and she’ll be making her debut at Glandore.

limerick gandelows4Although the gandelow was developed as a Shannon Estuary work and fishing boat capable of being slithered across mud, the Ilen Boatbuilding School’s scheme has resulted in the new fleet developing a racing programme. Photo: W M Nixon

mini gandelow5jpgThis “mini-gandelow”, just 15ft long, will be at Glandore. She was built in Gloucestershire in England by Patrick Beautement, who had worked as a volunteer in the Ilen Boat Building School in Limerick

But the influence of the Shannon Estuary doesn’t stop there, as another Glandore debutante will be the characterful 25ft cutter Sally O’Keeffe from Kilrush. She was built as a community project in Querrin on the south shore of the Loop Head Peninsula in a successful attempt to re-create the sailing hookers of the Shannon Estuary which served the many little local ports such as Querrin in times past. Naval architect Myles Stapleton gave the Querrin folk a wonderful design which draws its inspiration from the old vessels, but adds a little bit of its own magic stardust for a fine little ship which will be sailing from Kilrush to Glandore.

sally okeeffe6The attractive 25ft cutter Sally O’Keeffe of Querrin will be sailing the long oceanic haul from Kilrush to Glandore for the Classic Regatta

etchells 22 classic1 1etchells guapa7 The classics experts at Glandore will be keen to give their opinions on Guapa, the extraordinary re-configuration of an Etchells 22 by Bill Trafford of Alchemy Marine.

While it was a shed in Querrin that produced the Sally O’Keeffe, another distant shed away to the eastward at Skenakilla Crossroads in north Cork near Mitchelstown saw the irrepressible Bill Trafford working away on what started as a standard Etchells 22 of a certain age, but has emerged a year later as the unique and very elegant Guapa, an astonishing transformation which will certainly find people in Glandore who will appreciate the time and talents that have gone into her creation.

But in addition to modern twists on classic themes, Glandore Harbour will be well populated by what we might call classic classics, with the pace being set by the locally-based fleet of Classic International Dragons, which set so many records in terms of racing longevity and major international trophies won far back in the previous Millenium that it’s arguable that they should be a listed species.

water wag murphy8Cathy MacAleavey (left) sailing a family Water Wag with her daughter, Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy. The lines of the current Water Wag fleet were drawn in 1900 by a woman designer, Maimie Doyle, daughter of builder James E Doyle of Kingstown.

Another even more vintage racing class of 100% Irish origins that has already been strutting its stuff big time in 2017 at both the Semaine de Morbihan in Brittany at the end of May, and the recent Dun Laoghaire Regatta in Dublin Bay, is the Water Wags from Dun Laoghaire. They expect to muster nine boats at Glandore. And in addition to including many noted women sailors with the Murphy/MacAleavey family in particular making a big input, it should never be forgotten that when the original 13ft Water Wags of 1887 vintage decided to trade up to a larger 14ft-plus dinghy in 1900, the new design was by a woman.

The order for their construction may have gone to noted Kingstown boatbuilder James Doyle, yet it was his talented daughter Maimie who actually designed the boats. But then, the Water Wags were always ahead of their time, and the word is that in Glandore they’ll be demonstrating their special skill at Synchronised Sailing. This may tempt the Ette Class visiting Glandore from Castletownshend next door to try something similar, but we’re told it’s not as easy as it looks.

chod elsie9No Classic Regatta would be complete without a design by William Fife, and Patrick Dorgan’s Cork Harbour One Design Elsie, which will be at Glandore, is of a Fife-designed class that first raced in 1896.

The great name of William Fife as a designer will also be present with the 1905 Clyde Thirty Brynoth, and the Cork Harbour One Design Elsie (Patrick Dorgan), of a time-honoured design which first appeared in 1895-96.

From time to time, these golden oldies benefit from the attention of sympathetic and highly-skilled boatbuilders who understand their special needs, and West Cork is well-filled with such talent, with Rui Ferreira near Ballydehob emerging at Glandore to show his skills with his restored 1936-vintage Flying Fish, which he somehow finds time to work on between skilled jobs for other people.

flying fish10This is Flying Fish as she was shortly after Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob started work on her.

flying fish11This is a more recent image of Flying Fish in Rui Ferreira’s workshop, but it is hoped that the finished restoration will be unveiled at Glandore in twelve days time.

A sailing vessel which has punched way above her weight on Ireland’s behalf for many years now is the 76ft training schooner Spirit of Oysterhaven, and she’ll be at Glandore, an eloquent reminder of the fact that while we await government decisions on a new sail training ship, the Spirit of Oysterhaven has been gallant in filling the role in an unofficial capacity.

And in a year in which there seem to be more whales off the Irish coast than ever before, it’s more than appropriate that the fleet at Glandore will include the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group’s Research Vessel, the ketch Celtic Mist. In Glandore of all places, the sense of sea and land intertwining in a dynamic interaction is at its strongest, and Celtic Mist’s presence is reminder that our boats don’t just share the sea with other boats, we share it with an entire maritime world.

Glandore harbour12The Glandore Classic fleet on a calm day, gliding through the entrance to one of West Cork’s most beautiful inlet

Published in Historic Boats

#TitBonhomme - Transport Minister Leo Varadkar says he will consider concerns over the handling of emergency calls relating to the Tit Bonhomme tragedy, as The Irish Times reports.

The minister commented after a meeting last week with the widow of the stricken boat's skipper Michael Hayes in Union Hall in West Cork.

Hayes and four of his five-man crew lost their lives when the trawler went down after striking rocks at the mouth of Glandore Harbour. The only survivor was Egyptian fisherman Abdelbaky Mohamed, who was able to swim to shore.

The recent inquest into the incident criticised the handling of 999 emergency calls from the fishing boat prior to its sinking, as it emerged that neither the Irish Coast Guard nor the Marine Casualty Investigation Board were aware that not one but two calls were made by crewman Kevin Kershaw.

It emerged during the inquest that the coastguard was only notified of the event on the second call, three minutes after the first.

Barrister Elizabeth O'Connel, who represented Hayes' widow Caitlín Uí Aodha at the inquest, described the dearth of details taken by the operator on the first call as "extraordinary".

Ireland's emergency call service, operated by BT Ireland from three locations, is currently under review by the Department of Communications.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#TitBonhomme - The "extraordinary" lack of information solicited by the operator who took the first of two emergency calls from the sinking Tit Bonhomme has been taken to task at the inquest into the loss of the trawler's crew.

The Irish Times reports that it only emerged last week that two emergency calls were made from the vessel by its youngest crew member Kevin Kershaw, though the Irish Coast Guard and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) were previously aware of only one.

The first - and previously unreported - 999 call from Kershaw's mobile phone at 5.46am was transferred to Bandon Garda Station rather than to the coastguard. Barrister Elizabeth O'Connel, representing the widow of skipper Michael Hayes, described the dearth of details taken by the operator on that call as "extraordinary".

It was only on the second call placed three minutes later that the Irish Guard was notified of the incident by 5.53am.

The Department of Communications has since announced it will conduct a review of the 999 service provided by the Emergency Call Answering Service (Ecas), operated by BT Ireland from Ballyshannon, Navan and Dublin.

As previously reported on, five fishermen lost their lives when the trawler Tit Bonhomme went down after striking rocks at the mouth of Glandore Harbour.

The only survivor, Abdelbaky Mohamed, gave testimony to the inquest two weeks ago of his last moments aboard the stricken vessel.

Published in News Update

#TitBonhomme - The inquest into the Tit Bonhomme tragedy has heard testimony from the sole survivor of the incident that took the lives of five fishermen.

As The Irish Times reports, Abdelbaky Mohamed explained how he and three other crew had been asleep below deck their trawler hit Adam Island at the mouth of Glandore Harbour on the morning of 15 January 2012.

Mohamed said there was no 'big bang' when the vessel hit the rocks but it began taking on water very quickly has he, his brother Wael, Attia Shaban and Kevin Kershaw made their way to the bridge to join Saied Ali Eldin and skipper Michael Hayes.

The boat was rolling in heavy seas as Hayes handed out lifejackets to each crewmen which they then put on, he recalled, adding that conditions made it impossible for them to put on their immersion suits.

The Irish Independent has published a harrowing transcript of the crew's frantic calls to the emergency services as the Tit Bonhomme was assaulted by the waves and eventually capsized.

Mohamed said his lifejacket was ripped from his body by the force of the water crashing into the bridge, but he was able to grab onto it to reach the surface and swim towards the shore, where he was found by a search party two hours later.

Last month's report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that crew fatigue was "the single overriding casual factor" that contributed to the tragedy, pointing out that the crew had less than five hours' sleep during their 40-hour fishing trip.

But Mohamed told the inquest that he had had sufficient rest at the time of the incident.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE as the inquest continues.

Published in News Update
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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.

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