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Cruising is the side of sailing which sometimes finds it difficult to make its voice heard. Its essence is in the quiet enjoyment of seafaring and the peace of secluded anchorages. Unlike the absolute clarity of racing results, which create their own noise and are energised by a sense of competition with others, cruising folk are in competition mainly with themselves, and with their own self-reliant ability to see a voyaging venture brought to a successful conclusion. W M Nixon takes us through a weekend which is cruising-oriented, and concludes tomorrow with a celebration at the home port of Irish cruising’s most legendary figure.

In previewing the prospects for the sailing season of 2017 a couple of months ago, we suggested that it would be The Year of the Everyday Sailor. For inevitably, 2016 was a year of the high profile happenings featuring superstars, events such as the Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, the KBC Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire, and the absolute peak in Rio de Janeiro, Annalise Murphy’s Olympic Silver Medal.

But 2017 sees a total change of emphasis. With a clear two or three years before the 2020 Olympics start to come up the public agenda again, it’s time to savour and enjoy the sort of sailing most of us do all the time. Local events, neighbourhood regattas, regional offshore and club racing, and that most indefinable of all waterborne activities - cruising.

Last night in Dublin, the Irish Cruising Club held its Annual General Meeting and Prize Giving in which the logs of outstanding cruises – activities which usually stay well under the radar – were given full recognition.

Annabelle J 2The rugged power of a seaworthy vessel – Annabelle J on passage from Smerwick Harbour in the Dingle Peninsula to Kilronan in the Aran Islands during her 2016 cruise on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard Photo: Maire breathnach

Today in Cork, the Irish Sailing Association/Cruising Association of Ireland Annual Cruising Conference is being staged, and it has attracted so much interest that the venue has had to be moved to larger premises than originally planned. As last night’s ICC AGM was a distinctly crowded affair too, clearly the interest in cruising is stronger than ever. But quite how many have managed to attend both events we won’t know until this morning, yet it’s just about possible with a bit of early morning discipline.

Then tomorrow, the focus swings northwestward from Cork to Foynes on the Shannon Estuary, where a Family Day from 2.30pm to 5.30 pm sees a celebration of Foynes Yacht Club becoming the new Volvo ISA Training Centre of the Year, with ISA President David Lovegrove doing the honours for a club which is the very essence of voluntary enthusiasm and community spirit.

Of course, many of the 200 or so young people who emerge from the Foynes Yacht Club Sailing Academy hope to go on to the highest level of racing success. But equally, they will find their talents in sailing much appreciated aboard keenly-sailed cruising boats. And the club has a solid record in offshore racing, with FYC’s Simon McGibney the current Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, while father-and-son team Derek and Conor Dillon from Listowel have sailed their Dehler 34 under the Foynes colours to win the two-handed division in the Round Ireland Race.

And then beyond that, Foynes was home port to the great Conor O’Brien (1880-1952) of 1923-1925 Round the World fame. He lived out his final days on Foynes Island, and is buried in the nearby churchyard, but the recently-confirmed plans to build a replica of his famous 40ft ketch Saoirse in her 1922 birthplace of Baltimore will draw further favourable attention to everything that Foynes has done, and is doing, for Irish sailing – racing and cruising alike.

It’s all interconnected, for when the Irish Cruising Club was formed in Glengarriff on Bantry Bay on 13th July 1929, one of the first things they did was make Conor O’Brien an honorary member, and the first time I saw the noted portrait of Conor O’Brien sketched by his wife Kitty Clausen, it was in Foynes YC more than a few years ago..

model of Saoirse in Foynes MuseumAlways remembered. The model of Saoirse in Foynes Museum reminds us that she will soon be re-created full size

portrait of Conor OBrienThe portrait of Conor O’Brien by his wife Kitty Clausen, seen for the first time in Foynes Yacht Cub.

So last night’s ICC post-AGM dinner was well peopled with friendly ghosts, but as well it was a celebration of some really remarkable cruises on every scale. Then too, it marked two significant changes of the watch with Peter Killen of Malahide, who led by example with his Amel Super Maramu 54 ketch Pure Magic seemingly always on the move, retiring as Commodore to see the to post go north to Stanton Adair of Belfast Lough, a long-serving committee member and flag officer who will be leading his members in the ICC Cruise-in-Company to the Galician Rias of Northwest Spain this summer in his well-travelled Beneteau Oceanis 43 Grand Cru.

However, while Commodores and other top officers may be the public face of the ICC, the strength of the club is in its voluntarily-produced publications, with Honorary Editors who between them keep the two volumes of Sailing Directions for the entire Irish coast up to date with notable rigour, and produce an Annual journal of the club’s cruising logs.

Norman Kean of Courtmacsherry is very much in charge of the Sailing Directions which are publicly available, and he’ll be one of the keynote speakers at today’s conference in Cork. But in their way the logs in all their rich variety in the Annual can be every bit as informative, particularly as the club is now so far-ranging that its members can be found cruising on most of the planet’s oceans.

Here, there has been another change of the watch, with Ed Wheeler from he north producing his final and as ever excellent Annual to cover the 2016 season, and after four years he hands over to noted sailor/musician/writer Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan. Or at least she’s from Dungarvan and she spends about a third of her time there, but as she’s married to another formidable voyager, Andrew Wilkes of Lymington on the south coast of England, they spend about a third of their time there, where - with other Irish ex-Pats - they’ve created a sort of West Hampshire Gaeltacht.

Maire Breathnath off Cape Horn 5Maire Breathnach off Cape Horn at the helm of Andrew Wilkes’ Swan 44 King of Hearts during their cruise round South America in 2004. Photo: Andrew Wilkes

Annabelle J 2The new girl in town. Annabelle J as seen recently from Reginalds Tower in Waterford, with the sail training ketch Brian Boru astern. Photo Maire Breathnach

However, the remaining third of their time is maybe most interesting of all, as its spent aboard their gorgeous 55ft gaff cutter Annabelle J, which they bought about 18 months ago to replace their steel gaff yawl Young Larry, with which they’d transitted the Northwest Passage.

The 1996 steel-built Annabelle J first entered Irish maritime consciousness during her previous ownership in 2013, when she was undoubtedly the Queen of the Fleet during the Old Gaffers Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company, which took in both Dublin and Belfast. However, if you’ve progressed along the waterfront in Waterford recently, you’ll see her there near Reginald’s Tower, berthed just ahead of the Sail Training ketch Brian Boru, for she’s simply too big to fit into the handy little pool just below the bridge in Dungarvan which Young Larry used to make her winter home.

Although she’s “only” 55ft long in overall hull length, Annabel J is 66ft from nose to tail with spars included, and she speaks “ship” rather than “yacht”. The basic design was by David Cox completed by Gary Mitchell and she was constructed by shipbuilders A & P of Appledore in Devon. Yet while they admit to Bristol Pilot Cutter influence on her design, the original owners made no direct claims for this, but the fact is that she’s such a strikingly handsome vessel that it’s difficult not to see her as the definitive modern version of a pilot cutter, even if she’s larger than most of the original Bristol Channel boats.

For Maire and Andrew, taking on such a vessel was a leap in the dark until they could be confident they could handle her with just the two on board, but a cruise of Ireland’s west coast to Donegal and back in 2016 – including a transit of the Joyce Sound pass inside Slyne Head – showed them they could manage her both in confined waters and at sea, so for 2017 the far horizons call.

However, for 2017 there’s also the additional challenge that Annabel J is now editorial headquarters for the most important annual record of Irish cruising achievement, but her crew being aces in the communications business, they’ll take it all in their stride even if Ed Wheeler has left a very high standard to maintain.

For his final edition of the Annual, the adjudicator for 2016’s logs was former Commodore Cormac McHenry, himself a Transatlantic veteran, and although the ICC now has an enormous selection of trophies to highlight various specialities of achievement, nevertheless he had to by-pass some very notable cruises in order to make his final selection.

The ICC’s premier trophy, dating back to 1931, is the Faulkner Cup, and its latest award is to Daragh Nagle, a member based in Victoria on Canada’s west coast, from where he cruises extensively with his wife Cathy and others in his 1987-built Moody 376 Chantey V.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7Cathy & Daragh Nagle aboard Chantey V in the Sea of Cortez on the west coast of Mexico.

Chantey 8Chantey V is a standard Moody 376, designed by Bill Dixon and built 1986.
Chantey V’s 2016 cruise was from San Salvador on the Pacific Coast of Central America northwest along the Mexican coast to the long inlet of the Sea of Cortez, followed by the big ocean hop to the Hawaii Islands, before heading eastward back to Canada.

For the long haul out to the islands, he recruited Portuguese-based ICC member John Duggan as first mate, a role he filled with added diligence as he also obligingly wrote up the log of that stage of the voyage – other first mates please note. And as his skipper was unable to collect the Faulkner Cup last night in person as he is at a family wedding in Malaysia, John Duggan was in Dublin last night to do it for him.

His views on the Pacific between West Coast America and Hawaii were interesting. He says it may seem Pacific after you’ve battled your way round Cape Horn, but by comparison with his usual Atlantic stomping grounds, it seemed an oddly unsettled area of water, with twitchy little waves patterns running every which way.

Chantey V Moody 376Man aloft. Daragh Nagle rigging an emergency inner forestay in mid-Pacific. Photo John Duggan

In fact, the going was so jerky at times that Chantey V broke her baby stay. The word from riggers is that the shorter the stay, the less able it is to absorb sudden snatches in loading. But whatever caused it, Darren Nagle spent a few hours getting well bruised at the lower spreaders before he’s rigged a satsfactory temporary baby stay to the stemhead to keep the rig in place for the rest of the voyage. By the time Chantey V got back to Victoria, this cruise totalled 7,858 miles for 2016, and just under 25,000 miles since they started their North America circuit three years ago.

As it happens, the Strangford Cup for an alterative best cruise goes to a venture which John Duggan has done a couple of times with his own 40-footer Hecuba, from the Iberian peninsula out to the Azores and then cruise in detail before returning to Spain or Portugal. In 2016 this very Atlantic cruise was undertaken by Seamus OConnor with his new Hallberg Rassy 42, and with three weeks in the Azores, he produced a mass of interesting information in addition to obviously enjoying himself, which is really what cruising is supposed to be all about.

Enjoyment takes many forms, yet cruising to northeast Greenland would not be many people’s first choice. But Brian Black of Strangford Lough finds he’s drawn back there seemingly year after year in his fairly standard 1985-built Trident Voyager Seafra. He writes of it in such an unassuming yet elegant way that his cruise first to the Faeroes then eastward of Iceland to Ittoqqortoormiit in northeast Greenland (it’s just south of the latitude of Jan Mayen) wins him the Wild Goose Cup for a log of real literary merit, and in it he finds the time to tell us of gig racing in the Faeroes and a visit to his favourite Arctic anchorage of Jyttes Havn.

Gig racing in the Faroes 10Gig racing in the Faroes as watched by Brian Black while cruising towards northeast Greenland. Photo: Brian Black

Arctic anchorageFavourite Arctic anchorage. Seafra in Jyttes Havn, Greenland. Photo: Brian Black

The sun may have shone for Seafra in Jyttes Havn, but far to the southwest in Labrador, Neil Hegarty and his shipmates on the Dufour 34 Shelduck found the weather classic Grand Banks cold and foggy as they readied their Dufour 34 Shelduck for a rugged but efficient passage to Baltimore in West Cork via Newfoundland to complete a three year Atlantic circuit which has been already been garlanded with awards, and now adds the Atlantic Trophy to its laurels.

Neil Hegarty Ann Kenny 13Cold and foggy. Neil Hegarty’s Shelduck at Red Bay, Labrador. Photo Neil Hegarty

Neil Hegarty Ann Kenny 13Homeward bound. Neil Hegarty (right) with Ann Kenny of Tralee and icebergs off St Anthony, Newfoundland

Even the briefest summary of the other main awards doesnl’t do them justice, but it gives some idea of the ICC’s level of activity:

Fortnight Cup: Best cruise within 16 days, Adrian & Maeve bell of Strangford Lough in the Baltic with their Arcona 430 Oisin Ban.

Round Ireland Cup: Donal Walsh of Dungarvan with his newly-acquired Ovni 385 Lady Belle. Thanks to his new boat’s lifting keel, not only was he able to explore shallow ports seldom visited such as Belmullet and Donegal town, but the fact that an Ovni is well able for seafaring meant he made St Kilda part of a round Ireland cruise while he was at it.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7Donal Walsh’s newly-acquired Ovni 385 Lady Belle showing her versatility by comfortably finding enough water with keel raised to visit Donegal town (above), while she also made the passage out to St Kilda (below) with no bother. Photos Donal Walsh

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7

Fingal Cup: for the log which the judge most enjoyed goes most deservedly to Peter Fernie of Galway for a cruise round Ireland with co-owner Dave Whitehead in the Moody 27 Mystic. At least, it was basically round Ireland, but they also took part in the RUYC 150th Anniversary Cruise-in-Company with the ICC and the Clyde Cruising Club to Tobermorey, so through the minimum round Ireland circuit is 704 miles, the little Mystic had logged 1,228 miles by the time she got back to Kinvara.

Despite its many global adventures, the West Coast of Scotland still figures large in ICC activity, and it has its own trophy, the Wybrants Cup, awarded in 2016 to Robin & Denise Wright for a Hebridean jaunt including St Kilda in their 12m Jeanneau Geronimo.

And the charms of the Irish coast aren’t forgotten, they have their own Glengarriff Trophy, and most approoriately for 216 it goes to the new Annual Editor Maire Breathnach for her account of the mighty Annabel J’s stately progress up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

In fact, the Annabel J is the largest of the award winners this time round, and despite her traditional appearance, she’s also one of the newest. So anyone who has an image of the ICC as large glossy new yachts tearing about the ocean is somewhat mistaken, and the club makes a point of honouring its relatively humble origins with the Marie Trophy for the best cruise by any boat under 30ft. It celebrates the little 1893-built gaff cutter Marie which was the first awardee of the Faulkner Cup way back in 1931, and 85 years later, the Marie Trophy goes to Conor O’Byrne for his cruise from Gaway to the cruising paradise of southwest Ireland in the 1986-built Sadler 26 Calico Jack.

It says everything about the ICC’s breadth of achievement that the awards are only the tip of an iceberg of seagoing coasting and island-hopping variety. One particularly notable cruise which didn’t get any nod of special recognition was from Galway Bay to Russia by Fergus and Katherine Quinlan with their own-built van de Stadt 12 metre steel cutter Pylades, a wonderfully detailed account of many countries which contrasts very vividly with their previous big venture, a voyage round the world.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7A long way from Pacific Islands. Dawn beyond the Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands, as seen from Pylades during the cruise to Russia. Photo: Fergus Quinlan.

But then that world circuit saw Pylades being awarded the Faulkner Cup three years on the trot, so maybe there’s room for a new trophy “For A Cruise Which Is As Different As Possible From The Same Vessel’s Previous Award-winning Cruise”.

And then there’s no award for a cruise which provides photos which best capture the sprit of a cruising area, but for 2016 it would have gone to Paul Newport of Howth, whose cruise his wife Fiona to the Hebrides with the Najad 332 Puffin Eile was not only a gem of its type, but he brought back a couple of photos which make the place live for the rest of us.

The more dramatic is taken into the sun at Cragaig Bay on the island of Ulva west of Mull, with the distinctive Dutchman’s Cap island in the distance. In the foreground are four cruising yachts, all lying to their own anchors in the approved manner, all at a distance from each other which is enough for politeness and privacy, yet they’re not so far apart that there can’t be some sociable interchange if it is mutually wished.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7The most perfect small Hebridean island…..Puffin Eile at Eriskay. Photo Paul Newport

The other is simply Puffin Eile lying to the visitor’s mooring in the lovely little island of Eriskay. Eriskay is so perfect that when we first went there, one of my shipmates was so impressed that he duly named his next boat after it. Yet somehow timetables in cruising the Outer Hebrides recently have meant that we’ve missed out on Eriskay while passing south or north through the Sea of the Hebrides, so it’s good to see the little place looking so well.

Getting a special satisfaction out of sailing your own boat to places like Eriskay is part of what cruising is all abut. But there are many other factors which contribute to true enjoyment of this mainstream yet low-profile aspect of sailing, and one of them is good food.

So it’s a brilliant idea that Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe should be another of the key speakers at today’s Cruising Conference in Cork. Only recently she featured here in Afloat as Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy has been doing the intensive 12-week Cookery Course at Ballymaloe, which is definitely not an undertaking for the faint-hearted.

annalise Murphy darina allen Rachel allenDarina Allen, Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy, and Rachel Allen at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
But Ballymaloe’s connections with sailing are much wider than that, for it was windsurfer Rory Allen of Ballymaloe, who started the famous Round Great Island Race in Cork Harbour scheduled at the top of the tide, and it’s now an annual highlight. And Rachel herself is of the O’Neill sailing family, whom we’ve known afloat for many years. It goes back a very long time to when they’d the Nicholson Half Tonner Silver Mite, and we buddy-boated together from West Cork home to Dublin in good company with Denis and Brian O’Neill. The latter very obligingly hauled one of the Nixon kids out of Kinsale Marina when he fell in while being over-enthusiastic about fishing. I’m happy to tell “Disgusted of Dunmanway” that the young fisherman was wearing a lifejacket, but the O’Neill pull-up was very much appreciated nevertheless.

anchorage Cragaig Bay Ulva off Mull19The cruising dream on Scotland’s West Coast. The anchorage at Cragaig Bay on Ulva off the west coast of Mull, with the distinctively-shape Dutchman’s Cap island beyond. Photo Paul Newport

Published in Ilen

Due to demand for this weekend's ISA Cruising Conference 2017 in Cork city, there has been a change of venue. The one day conference sponsored by Union Chandlery moves from the Port of Cork offices to the Clayton Hotel City Centre, on Lapps Quay. Seats have been released to a waiting list of delegates and additional seating is now available.

'The delegate enthusiasm for the conference and all the speakers is fantastic.' says organiser Gail McAllister.

More details here.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

In public perception terms, sailing had never been higher on the scale of national interest in Ireland than it was in August 2016 when Annalise Murphy’s Olympic Silver Medal victory had an entire nation and its widespread diaspora on the edge of their seats as the final seconds were sailed out in the Medals Race at Rio writes W M Nixon.

But popular attention is a very fickle thing which has now turned to other matters. And with Annalise Murphy since being garlanded with well-earned major national awards under just about every category you could think of, there wasn’t undue concern that the biggest non-surprise for a long time – her elevation to become the Volvo Sailor of the Year 2016 – would simply be taken for granted, and as such, would be regarded as non-news by mainstream media.

So whether it was a mature acceptance of this reality by sailing’s organizers, or whether or not it was just pure serendipity, is neither here nor there. But the fact is that holding the awards ceremony on the last Friday night of January in Dublin may have been the sentence of death of terms of popular news coverage. But for the true faithful of the sailing community from every last corner of Ireland, it was the perfect opportunity for an extraordinarily diverse crowd of people to gather and celebrate their sport in all its forms, and hail their heroes.

Of course the ultimate spotlights were on our supreme award winner Annalise Murphy, and the Youth Sailor of the Year Ewan MacMahon. But with other youth awards, training centre awards, and the very elastically-interpreted Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” awards with 27 winners coming into focus, that same spotlight shone brightly if briefly on remarkable achievements in every part of Ireland and abroad, all of them contributing to the fabulous tapestry which is Ireland’s world of boats.

Normally the world of boats and sailing is well aware that it is a minority sport. But on Friday night, it wasn’t a case of it briefly becoming a majority sport. It was the only sport. The camaraderie was palpable. The shared enthusiasm was energising. And the way that people from near and far instantly connected was heartening to behold.

For me, it was summed up by one brief but eloquent encounter. I was talking with Ted Crosbie, who was Admiral of the Royal Cork in 1984-86, and long before that he was the All Ireland Helmsmans Champion, racing in IDRA 14s in 1950. He was there to see his grand-daughter Sophie receive proper recognition for her achievements in Topper racing. As we chatted, Peter Ryan of the National YC hove into view with his shipmate Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli in North Wales, whose overall victory in the ISORA Championship 2016 with his J/109 made him Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for September.

The fact that a top Welsh skipper should win an Irish Sailor of the Month award says all that needs to be said about the creative flexibility of the Afloat system. But equally, here were two top sailors from very different places and backgrounds and generations instantly hitting it off in their shared joy in our sport. The divine spark was undoubtedly present. It was that kind of night.

Published in News Update

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has nominated Colm Barrington (70) as a candidate for 'First Vice President' in February's election of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) Executive Committee. The Irish sailing champion and former Aer Lingus Chairman says he is running 'in support of Sarah Keane's bid to be OCI President and her reform programme'.

The OCI election is shaping up to be a battle between the old guard and those seeking change for an organisation in crisis. For the first time since 1989, long-standing president Pat Hickey will not be running in the election.

Sarah Keane, William O’Brien and Bernard O’Byrne are the candidates who will fight it out for the OCI's top position at next month's meeting.

Barrington, a global aircraft leasing chief, is in no doubt about the work ahead if elected and pulls no punches about the current state of the OCI in the Afloat.ie interview below. His experience is that 'the OCI has done nothing to support the efforts of our high performance sailors'. He also says 'the successes of Annalise and the rest of the team in Rio, and at previous Olympic Games, were despite the OCI and not because of anything they did for us'.

Sailing's sole nomination for the XXXII Olympiad – Tokyo, Japan 2020 executive is running against Irish Taekwondo's Martin Fleming for the First Vice President role.

Barrington, a passionate Irish sports fan, served for 12 years as Chairman of the ISA's Olympic Group stepping down after Rio. He continues to Chair the Irish Sailing Foundation, the Olympic fundraising body for sailing, established by him in 2015.

He maintains Ireland’s success rate at the Olympic Games is not good enough, particularly for a 'sports–mad and relatively well–off nation'. 

Irish Sailing's candidate also says he hopes the terms of office of future OCI officials and Executive Committee members will not exceed eight years.

The election will take place on Thursday, 9th February 2017 at the Conrad Hotel, Dublin. 

Read the interview below

Afloat.ie: What future direction do you think the OCI should go in?

Colm Barrington (CB): I am passionate about sport and, particularly, about achieving international success. Ireland’s success rate at Olympic Games is not good enough, particularly for a sports-mad and relatively well-off nation. In Rio, Ireland’s two medals put us 62nd in the medals table out of the 87 countries that won any medals. The OCI needs to respond to that situation and assist our athletes, their coaches, their families and their federations to be more successful. Olympic success is the best way to promote the Olympic movement in Ireland. The OCI needs to up its game in this regard.

Assistance needs to include helping federations to bring in the right people for both governance and management and to develop high performance programmes with them. It also needs to include providing appropriate logistical and management support at Olympic Games and focusing on maximising financial support that can be passed on to the athletes and their programmes. The OCI must focus on athletes rather than on itself and its officials. Simple changes, such as making Olympic tickets available to athletes and their families, can help the Olympic movement greatly.

While my main objective would be to help make the OCI a truly athlete centred organisation, I would also aim to bring my corporate experience to help institute appropriate governance in line with best international practise. Specifically, I would plan to oversee implementation of the recommendations of the Deloitte Report.

It is also important that the OCI becomes an important part of Irish social life and an influential supporter of the many benefits of Olympic sport in this country. In this regard the performance and results of the OCI and the GAA are poles apart. I would hope to use my relationships at all levels of Irish and international society to help restore the OCI’s reputation and to enhance its profile with commercial sponsors.

What lessons from your successful work as Chair of the ISA's Olympic Group do you think could be useful for the OCI and other Irish Olympic sports?

CB: I am proud to have witnessed Ireland's high performance sailing programme develop from ad hoc talent management into a high performance system which has produced numerous international successes at junior, intermediate and senior levels and, finally, Annalise’s Olympic medal in Rio after her near-miss in London.

In my experience the Olympic Council of Ireland has done nothing to support the efforts of our high performance sailors. The successes of Annalise and the rest of our team in Rio, and at previous Olympic Games, were despite the OCI and not because of anything they did for us. Indeed, at Rio their arrangements for accommodation, transport and accreditations were useless and we had to make our own parallel accommodation and transport arrangements at an additional cost of €70,000. This was a big part of our 2016 budget and has resulted in corresponding cutbacks in other parts of our HP programme. And it was all as a result of the OCI’s unwillingness to respond to our reasonable requests and to focus on what was needed to support our athletes as they tried to achieve success. I assume that they treated other athlete groups in a similar manner.

The OCI needs to help our sporting federations to institute appropriate programmes to support athletes’ ambitions, to help get the right people to run the programmes and to maximize the funding support that is available for our athletes.

Given the recent changes recommended in the Deloitte report do you consider your nomination to be an engine for change?

CB: There are significant changes required in its governance in order to restore the reputation of the OCI and to ensure that it is regarded among the most respected sports organisations in the country. A strong and respected OCI will be of huge benefit to its member federations and is also vital in maximising the potential of Irish high performance athletes on the world stage. I hope that I can help make this happen. There are many recommendations in the Deloitte report, but I hope that one of their main recommendations - that terms of office of OCI officials and Executive Committee members should not exceed eight years - will be taken seriously by the federations and will apply to the upcoming election.

OCI vice-presidents can go forward for nomination to the Presidency every four years. Is this a role you would consider?

CB: I am running for the position of First Vice President in support of Sarah Keane bid to be President and in support of her reform programme. I believe that I can make my best contribution to the OCI and its member federations by helping change the OCI’s focus to an athlete rather than official centred organisation, by improving governance and by creating openness and fairness. I have no aspirations to be President.

Download the OCI's List of Nominations for Election of Officers and Executive below.

Read more about Colm Barrington's role in Irish Olympic sailing in Afloat's pre–Rio interview here.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under

#ISF - Rio silver medallist Annalise Murphy is now an honorary member of the Irish Sailing Foundation (ISF) following her incredible Olympic success this past summer.

The announcement comes as the ISF, the new investment support structure for Ireland’s high performance sailing programme, celebrates a year of achievement at every level of competition.

Indeed, Murphy’s medal win wasn’t the only result for Irish sailing in August, with fellow Team IRL members Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern making their medal race in a final hurrah before their recent split, Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey just missing out on their skiff final, and Finn Lynch putting in a strong performance as the youngest in his class in preparation for a medal challenge at Tokyo 2020.

Beyond the Olympics, August was a good month for Johnny Durcan, Fionn Conway and Ronan Walsh, who took second, third and fourth places respectively in the UK Laser Nationals, while Johnny’s twin Harry Durcan, with Harry Whittaker, won the UK 29er Nationals in Torbay, and Tom Higgins sailed the first Irish boat to win the Volvo Gill Optimist National.

Earlier in the summer, there was success for Ireland’s girls in the Topper Worlds at Ballyholme, as Sophie Crosbie, Ella Hemeryck and Jenna McCarlie claimed the podium from gold to silver in that order, though the boys didn’t fare too badly either, with Michael Carroll in fourth and Jack Fahy sixth.

Elsewhere, at the Laser Worlds in Dublin, Nicole Hemeryck — sister of Ella — placed seventh in the U19 girls competition, while Ewan McMahon was second among the boys. Nicole was also second in the under 19s( 13th overall) at the under 21 worlds in Kiel, Germany.

And even earlier in the year, there was a bronze medal for Dougie Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan at the ISAF 420 Youth Worlds in Malaysia, the first ever podium for Ireland in that competition.

Currently all development teams in the Laser, Laser Radial and 49er have moved to Cadiz to escape the cold ahead of January’s annual World Cup in Miami, with further training camps to follow in Spain and Malta in February and March.

But the year isn’t over yet, as Ireland will be represented by Nicole Hemeryck and Johnny Durcan at the Youth Worlds in New Zealand from 14-20 December.

Looking at the longer term, ISA performance director James O’Callaghan will be on hand at a Performance Pathway information meeting at the Royal Cork this Wednesday 30 November where he will discuss, among other things, the results of his recent fact-finding mission to Tokyo.

O’Callaghan was gathering intel on the sailing venue at Enoshima with a view to Team IRL establishing an early base there — identified as one of the keys to Annalise’s medal finish this summer. That will be especially important at Tokyo 2020, where temperatures and humidity will be significantly higher than they were in Rio.

Published in News Update

Looking back over the past season, two things stand out for me – the success of our Olympic sailors and the ISA’s Try Sailing initiative. Our Olympic sailors gave us marvellous inspiration this summer and showed our young sailors what can be achieved if you follow your dream and no doubt encouraged many newcomers to discover the thrill of sailing for the first time. My next blog will focus on our Olympians but, for the moment, I want to reflect on the success of the ISA Try Sailing initiative over the past season. 66 ISA clubs and centres throughout the country created new opportunities for local communities to come along and Try Sailing and, as a result, over 3,600 people tried sailing. A great achievement.
If you are not from a sailing background it can be hard to know where and how to start, and buying a boat before you have given it a try is a tall order. The simple message of “Try Sailing” is to help promote the idea that people can do just that – give Sailing a Try.
At those 66 venues there were open days, competitions, crewing initiatives, tasters, corporate programmes, Women on the Water events, Surf ‘n’ Turf days, cruises, Sailability events, kids’ clubs, bring a friend and more. It was wonderful to see each organisation running events and programmes to suit their own facilities and local community. Below I have set out just a few examples of the dedicated effort and creative activities of a handful of the clubs in 2016.
Try Sailing 2016 kicked off with an open day at Kinsale Yacht Club for local school children and an introduction to the Sailability opportunities for all physical abilities at the club. It was a blustery day and the strong team of volunteers adapted the activities for everyone with cruiser sailing, Sailability Squib sailing and rigging games. The club followed up with a series of coaching days for the young sailors throughout the season and successfully saw an increase in club training and membership.
Just around the corner, Royal Cork Yacht Club had a particularly busy year under the Try Sailing banner. Colin Morehead, Try Sailing ambassador at Royal Cork and ISA policy group member, says they have had their busiest year yet. Their Try Sailing all started in May with the annual 6-week introduction to youth sailing programme with 80+ children participating.
The club then organised an 8-week training programme with 45 sailors from a large Cork based company, Voxpro, and developed a winning team to race in the Non-Spinnaker Class of Volvo Cork Week. It was particularly satisfying to see complete novices grow into sailors capable of successfully racing a 1720 sports boat in such a short time.
Combined with a highly successful Open Day in June, a very popular Women on the Water programme and Try Sailing sessions for adults, Royal Cork Yacht Club opened the doors to over 250 new Try Sailors.
Meanwhile over on the West coast, Foynes Yacht Club went for a gentle approach to attract new crews for cruiser racing. Club members brought newcomers out on the water to simply observe the racing and gain a basic understanding of what all the activity was about. This soft approach worked well in giving newcomers confidence to get on board and participate in cruiser racing. The ICRA ‘Crew Point’ initiative launched this year will continue to help to create many more new crewing opportunities throughout the country.
Foynes Yacht Club Junior Organiser Elaine O’Mahoney was delighted with the turn out when they linked up with the local youth clubs and transition year students for Try Sailing. Elaine tells me that a dedicated time slot for visitors to come and try, helped locals to make sailing part of their weekly routine. Overall, Foynes Yacht Club registered over 200 Try Sailors and are pleased to see the number of new members, sailing academy trainees and racing crews increasing.
Dingle Sailing Club introduced a clever “Bring a Friend” programme and doubled their participation numbers. Training Manager Feidhlim OBriain says he saw immediate results from their initial Try Sailing open day and then continued to use the Try Sailing branding to promote a series of Try opportunities, bringing a total of over 170 Try Sailors onto the water.
Galway Bay Sailing Club launched Try Sailing with an early season open day and saw an immediate impact on courses and membership for dinghy and cruiser sailors. They followed their open day with a 5 week Try Sailing coaching programme for adults, which then grew into a series of start sailing adult courses. 152 Try Sailors brought an increase in membership, training and crewing. The club are now making plans for a new ‘Women on the Water’ programme for 2017.
Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club’s ‘Sail Against Suicide’ provided a chance to Try Sailing with a typical Clontarf welcome in the clubhouse afterwards. Combined with earlier corporate and public events Clontarf registered 98 Try Sailors in dinghies and cruisers and have big plans for 2017.
Overall, the message of Try Sailing is helping to open the doors, hatches and pontoons to more newcomers to our wonderful sport. So, next time you are getting on board, remember “Bring a Friend” and give them the chance to “Try Sailing”.
Our Regional Development Officers look forward to helping your club implement its Try Sailing plans and together we can grow the number of people enjoying the delights of sailing.
Happy Christmas and safe sailing in 2017.

Published in ISA
Tagged under

#TrySailing - Baltimore Sailing Club is now taking bookings for places on its 2017 ISA summer sailing courses.

The first course runs over three weeks from Monday 3 to Friday 21 July, while a second three-week course runs the following month from Tuesday 8 to Friday 25 August.

In addition, a Junior Try Sailing Taster Course runs from Monday 24 to Friday 28 July comprising two half-day courses each day.

Application forms are available on the Baltimore SC website HERE.

Published in How To Sail

Two invitees have declined their invitations to this weekend's Irish Sailing Association (ISA) All Ireland sailing competition at Royal Cork Yacht Club over an entry fee that the ISA says it is forced to charge in the absence of an event sponsor.

GP14 World Champion Shane MacCarthy says the 'entry fee is too expensive and not in line with dinghy entry fees'. 

Fellow GP14 helmsman Hugh Gill goes further and says the €220 charge is 'an indication of how the ISA is out of touch with how the majority of sailors manage their participation in the sport'. 

Neither sailor is attending the Crosshaven event that is to be sailed in National 18 dinghies.

16 sailors, including Rio Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy, have been invited to attend the annual end–of–season event organised by the national governing body.

Sutton Dinghy Club's Gill wrote to Afloat to say he had declined the invitation due to the insistence by the ISA that all entrants, despite being invited to participate, must pay an entry fee of €220. Gill says' Other participants have entered but have sent correspondence expressing their disappointment regarding the entry fee'.  He adds: 'The imposition of an entry fee is a recent change, maybe for the past 5 years, to what was always an invitational event attended by various Class National Champions and other sailors who had achieved success on the international stage. To impose any fee on this event let alone a charge of €220 for an event comprising a number of short races over two days for 16 invited sailors is another indication of how the ISA has lost touch with the reality of how the majority of sailors manage their participation in the sport'. 

In response, ISA Chief Executive Harry Hermon has described the withdrawal of both GP14 helmsmen as 'most unfortunate'. 

In a statement the ISA says: 'the background to the current situation is that up until 2008, the event was sponsored which enabled the host club to run it without an entry fee. Since that date there has been an entry fee paid to the host club, with the average being in the range of €120 - €150. Last year’s event had an entry fee of €130.

Each year, as part of a review following the event, we ask sailors how it can be improved. These questions produce mostly expected answers, namely dinghy sailors prefer the event to be in dinghies, while keelboat sailors prefer keelboats! In recent years the event has been run in J80 Keelboats, and this year we are delighted to be able to return to dinghies using the National 18’s thanks to the generosity of the National 18 Class in loaning their boats.

Last year, the feedback highlighted the fact, that while the on-the-water format was good, the social side was totally lacking, with a very low turnout for the Championship dinner. In fact, many of the sailors indicated in advance that they would be attending, but on the night very few appeared. This left the host club with a lot of uneaten food and a significant loss on the night. This year in response to the feedback received from the competitors, the ISA decided to try to make it a more sociable event and to promote the dinner as something worth attending, hence the cost of the dinner is included in the entry fee. The fee of €220, is made up of three dinners at €30 each and entry fee of €130, the same as last year. As all event organisers will concur, the costs associated with staging an event with only 16 entrants do not differ significantly from staging a larger event with more competitors enabling lower entry fees. It is also worth noting that the ISA sets the entry fee, but does not get any of the funds generated through the staging of the event.

All the other nominees accepted the nomination and the entry fee of €220. The two competitors who were subsequently invited to take up the slots made available by Shane and Hugh were delighted to accept. It is regrettable that two sailors, who should be sailing in the event have declined their invitation, however in the absence of a sponsor, we do not believe it is unreasonable to ask the competitors to pay for the costs associated with staging the event, and buying dinner for the person lending them their boat.

At this late stage it is not possible to change the format or pricing structure for the event, however the ISA will initiate a detailed review of the event following this year’s championship, and in the improving financial environment specific efforts will be made to attract a sponsor for future championships.

In closing I'd like to express our gratitude to Royal Cork Yacht Club for hosting the event and to thank the members of the National 18 class for facilitating this event by lending their boats, their generosity is acknowledged.

We wish all the contestants every success and hope that all the participants have a truly enjoyable event and a sociable evening' – Harry Hermon, ISA.

Published in All Irelands

Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport is inviting nominations in respect of the National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards 2016. The purpose of this awards scheme is to recognise outstanding acts of courage, heroism, skill and initiative in the context of marine emergency incidents. The scheme also recognises exceptional dedication to duty in the execution of Ireland’s marine emergency response. The Marine Gallantry award is presented in the form of a medal (called the Michael Heffernan Medal for Marine Gallantry, in memory of an individual who lost his life during a marine incident a number of years ago). Three levels of medal may be awarded, based on the level of gallantry involved. The medal is awarded in gold, silver or bronze.

A second award, Marine Meritorious Service Medal, may be awarded where outstanding meritorious service has been provided to, or within the remit of, the Irish Coast Guard. The person must have demonstrated exceptional dedication to duty, coupled with skill and initiative, in the execution of the service being provided.

A Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation may be awarded for meritorious service where outstanding dedication to duty over a career of service can be demonstrated, or for an act of particular meritorious dedication, showing skill and initiative, but which is not of an order for receipt of a Meritorious Service Medal.

The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Service Awards Committee is chaired by Mr Bryan Dobson of RTE. Members of the Committee include representatives of the following, the Irish Sailing Association, Irish Water Safety, Irish Harbour Masters Association, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport as well as other independent members. The National Marine Gallantry and Meritorious Awards Committee will adjudicate upon the nomination received.

The first award ceremony took place in February 1999 and the awards ceremony was last held on 23rd October 2014. In this round of Awards, nominations may be considered in respect of events occurring during the period 31st August 2014 to 31st August 2016.

Details of the Awards scheme, including nomination form, are available on the Department’s website www.dttas.ie/maritime/english/marine-awards. Completed nomination forms should be submitted by Friday 9th September 2016. The submission should be comprehensive and include all relevant information (e.g. eye-witness statements, official reports, maps, charts, photographs, newspaper cuttings etc.).

2014 Award Recipients
Mr Tony McNamara and Mr. Patrick McNamara - Marine Ministerial Letters of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Ben Graham, Mr David Grant and Mr. Alexander May - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Drogheda Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Michael O’Regan and the crew of the Goleen Coast Guard Unit - Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Jim Griffin – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mr Damien Dempsey – Marine Ministerial Letter of Appreciation for Meritorious Service
Mulroy Coast Guard Unit – Michael Heffernan Bronze Medal for Marine Gallantry

Published in News Update

#ISA - Annalise Murphy's success in Rio is bringing the sport of sailing to "a much wider platform", according to the Irish Sailing Association's performance director.

Speaking to Bobby Kerr on Newstalk's Down to Business yesterday morning (Saturday 3 September), James O'Callaghan remarked on the sheer number of people of all ages who turned out for the Laser Radial silver medallist's homecoming in Dun Laoghaire.

"That's the first big change: all of a sudden we have a sports star," he said of Murphy, who was a guest on Friday's Late Late Show.

But beyond the media profile was talk of the business of getting her to sailing's elite level – thanks in great part to investment from Sport Ireland, investment that's focused on the sailing classes where Ireland can be most competitive.

O'Callaghan said taxpayer support is "exactly what's needed for Ireland to succeed on the international stage. But it's limited; the sport budget hasn't grown in the last four years."

As a result, private sponsorship – both of the ISA's programmes and individual sailors – remains a linchpin of the sport's funding, while the new Irish Sailing Foundation aims to attract the backing of philanthropists with a passion for Irish sporting success.

Listen to the whole interview below:

Published in ISA
Page 3 of 17

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