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While the headlines and public attention for much of the summer were dominated by the acrimonious Brexit vote in Britain and the extremes of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, out beyond a narrow sandspit on a secretive peninsula east of Ireland, a special project was being finalised. This has seen the local sailing club benefit both from the Brexit fallout, and the general increased goodwill towards sailing in Ireland which Olympic success has generated. W M Nixon finds that his home-from-home of Howth Yacht Club has been doing some remarkable things while everyone else – himself included - was looking elsewhere.

You’ve heard the story about the three Howthmen who went across to England a few weeks ago to buy four J/80s, and came back with five? We hadn’t either. But all we know is that every time recently when we looked along the hard-standing on the waterfront at Howth Yacht Club, there seemed to be a couple of extra J/80s about the place. Soon there were five. And they all looked distinctly newer than the eight long-used J/80s of the SailFleet flotilla of the ISA, four of which are regularly stored out the back of the Howth club when they’re not in action.

All was revealed last weekend. The background is that Howth YC had undertaken to look after the ISA’s SailFleet flotilla of eight J/80s when the national authority began its severe slimming process three years ago. The club uses four of them at any one time in a leasing programme from the ISA for its own training purposes, but rotates the boats for their periods of non-use to implement an “equalisation process”. And of course, all eight are made available for the use of the ISA in national events like the Helmsmans Championship, wherever such events may be held.

However, since 2013 when Breda Dillon was Commodore, the Howth club has also had in place the allocation of a Sports Council capital grant for buying keelboats for training, the grant of €77,000 being conditional on HYC raising an extra €23,000 to provide a round sum of €100,000.

It was also conditional on being spent before 31st July 2016. Logic would seem to suggest that they would buy the ISA boats, four of which were on lease until 31st December 2016 anyway. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Those boats were bought with a government grant in the first place. There were all sorts of potential problems with VAT and whatever. And a bidding war against other clubs was an additional unknowable. 

howth j80 2They look like they were made for the place – four of the new HYC-owned J80 flotilla in Howth Marina last weekend. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet the Howth men knew that for a multi-purpose boat which can play a key role in getting new people into sailing, or encouraging lapsed sailors back again, the J/80 was and is and will long continue to be the best boat for the job. It’s one of the very few sportsboat types which qualify for a European offshore certificate. And it is also entitled to an IRC rating. Thus in the Irish context, you can race it as a One-Design, but you are also eligible for open ICRA competition.

In addition to that, the J/80 is a very likeable knockabout boat, real fun to sail with a cockpit big enough to take significant numbers of beginners out for good yet educational times afloat, while still being a very serious racing proposition for crews of three to five. Thus the feeling in Howth was that increasing the national stock of J/80s by whatever means would be good for Irish sailing anyway.

howth j80 3While the J/80 was designed primarily as a performance boat with racing a priority, in Howth they find many other uses. Photo: Brian McDowell
But though the J/80 has been a major part of the sailing scene in Europe only since a new production facility for the boat was set up in France in 2002, the design actually first appeared in America in 1992. And with the remorseless new product initiative which drives J Boats as it drives any other successful company, in late 2012 J Boats introduced the J/70, more of an outright sportsboat than the J/80, but still with a little cabin – albeit a much smaller one.

Thus for those with a taste for novelty and fashion trends, the J/70 will have been seen as the successor to the J 80. But many would reckon that the J 80 continues to be a significant brand in her own right, as she has that cherished European offshore cert. And while her cabin is minimal, it does offer significantly roomier overnight space than the J/70, as the J/80 is almost 9% larger in every way than the newer boat, an addition in size which adds a very useful bit of beef to her potential for multi-purpose functions.

That said, in the last couple of years the advent of the J/70 has tended to freeze or even reduce the price of used J/80s. For the Howthmen sitting on a war chest of €100,000 which had to be spent before the end of July 2016, the availability of top-quality used J/80s in the Solent area presented something of a dilemma. They could either enter into a lengthy tender process to take over the ISA J/80s, or else they could send an expeditionary force to the south of England to snap up four quality J/80s in a neat and clinical operation.

Four was the key number, as experience in the past three years has shown HYC that the total SailFleet flotilla of eight boats is too much for one club to handle comfortably, but anything less than four boats would be less than the required critical mass. Four boats was the absolute minimum, but as Howth YC also have two J/24s in their successful U25 Keelboat Training Squad, including the Enda O Coineen-donated Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen (Ireland’s Eye are knitwear manufacturers in nearby Baldoyle), they had some flexibility of movement in finalizing boat numbers.

In fact, in recent years the Howth club has become so dedicated to introducing people to sailing and training generally that the noted offshore racer Kieran Jameson, a General Committee member who heads the HYC key “Vessels Committee”, finds his group running a club-owned training fleet of thirty dinghies including Optimists, Toppers, 420s, and Laser Vagos. But in addition to dinghies, the Howth sailors are very strongly of the opinion that keelboats also have an important role to play in getting people started sailing, thus at any one time the club has had six “training keelboats” – the four J/80s being used at any one time plus the hotly-competed pair of J/24s – playing an active role.

The feedback from HYC Marine Manager Brian McDowell during the 2016 season has been particularly encouraging regarding the popularity of the J/80s as much for non-racing activity as for racing/training. Ireland’s many cruising enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that day cruises to places as diverse as Skerries, Dalkey Island, and Dun Laoghaire rating high on the list of favourite activities aboard J/80s amongst both younger and adult newcomers to sailing alike.

howth j80 4Cruising enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that trainee sailors at Howth particularly enjoy using the J/80s for cruises-in-company along the local coast. The photo above shows them returning round the Baily after a visit to Dalkey Island and Dun Laoghaire, while (below) one of the most popular destinations has been Skerries, which involves a 14 miles coastal passage with proper navigation and pilotage exercises. Photos Brian McDowell

howth j80 5

So acquiring the best possible J/80s within the budget was clearly the way to go. After Vice Commodore Emmet Dalton had burnt the midnight oil and the fibre optic cables in ensuring that everything in the original capital equipment grant application of 2013 was still valid, Commodore Berchmans Gannon and his committee confirmed Kieran James as “Concept and Logistics Director” with his three man “Solent Procurement Task Force”, and off they went with the 31st July deadline looming.

All this may sound very formalised, but as anyone who is familiar with Howth will know, there are times when you’ll find yourself in the midst of what seems to be a convivial gathering, yet it’s actually an open-ended official planning meeting. The club takes much of its internal communication style from its oldest class, the Howth 17s of 1898, which have managed to stay together for 117 years while apparently relying largely on telepathy for in-class information. And as all the many people involved in the J/80 acquisition programme were old friends who frequently sail together as shipmates, new ideas and understandings of how best the project might best move forward could emerge in all the most unlikely places at unexpected times.

The three man squad was imbued with enthusiasm, as Kieran Jameson is a total J/80 fan. So he already had the class’s used-boat scene sussed out in some detail in the south of England where he is well known, and with him he brought his keen sub-committee member Johnny Wormald, while third hand was a very important man when money is being spent, HYC Honorary Treasurer David Sargent.

They’d two very busy days around the Solent finalizing deals on four J/80s of the required standard in a time of financial turbulence. After the Brexit vote, the Pound Sterling had plummeted against the Euro, but their feeling (quite rightly as it turned out) was that even though it was still falling, it might be about to bounce back a bit any time soon, so there was some urgency to their work.

With no slackening of the pace, the buying job was done, and then with four boats satisfactorily secured, they were having a celebratory lunch in the RORC’s Royal Corinthian clubhouse in Cowes. But David Sargent couldn’t stop being the money man. He’d been working the screen for the numbers and the exchange rate, and in mid-meal he came up with the news that they’d hit the dealing floor on the sweet spot, in fact if they wished there was still enough in the kitty to buy a fifth boat.

Well, why not? A quick phone call home got the cheerful instruction to go right ahead. And another quick phone call ensured the fifth boat was theirs before news had spread from the Isle of Wight that three mad Irishmen were on the prowl around the Solent ready to throw good money at proper quality used J/80s.

Moving up to five boats from four may not seem such a big deal. But in fact it puts you across a significant threshold as many clubs such as Dublin Bay SC will recognize five boats as a valid class eligible for its own start, but not four. Yet thanks to Brexit, as former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey has since put it: “We landed sunny side up” – five boats and all of them good ones.

But now the challenge was to keep things moving along. Everyone had been fuelled with the excitement of the chase. Yet with high summer and its holiday plans upon them, a busy sailing programme in full swing, and the all-dominant Olympics taking over all sailing thinking for two weeks in mid-August, the challenge for all involved was to get the five boats safely back to Howth and moved into the next stage of the plan, for it was essential that the boats be in active use as soon as possible.

howth j80 6Perfect conditions for introducing the new J80 flotilla to Howth YC, and for showing junior sailors the workings of the sails. Photo: Emmet Dalton
Thanks to the usual useful contacts, the boats were road-trailed to Fishguard and popped on the ferry to be taken across channel on their own to Rosslare. There, another key contact made sure they were taken safely off the ship and put in secure storage while a volunteer towing team co-ordinated by Ian Malcolm journeyed up and down the M11 from Howth until all the boats were safely on the peninsula to successfully complete a project in a league of its own for sheer value for money.

Which is fine and dandy, but the boats need to be used, and used for a lot for multiple purposes, to make this extraordinary example of club and voluntary effort worthwhile, and worthy too of the Sports Council’s support. Yet by now total serendipity had set in. Even as the newly-acquired boats were being checked over and rigged by the flotilla’s newly-appointed bo’sun Luke Malcolm, the news from the Olympic sailing in Rio got better and better. Suddenly thanks to Annalise Murphy and her team-mates, the sun was shining on Irish sailing, and there was no better time to be launching a new initiative in sailing promotion. While there’d been some concern that moving up to five boats from the projected four was maybe a bit ambitious, now people were wondering would five boats be enough.

The day after the fantastic Annalise Murphy “Welcome Home” night at the National Yacht Club, across Dublin Bay on Friday August 26th, beyond the Baily Lighthouse round in Howth Harbour the new five-strong flotilla of Howth YC’s own J/80s were in final preparation for their introduction to the membership and public with an Open Evening providing many immediate options for sailing aboard the boats. It was primarily designed with the club’s rapidly growing beginner and junior sections in mind, and as one of those perfect evenings which have blessed the late summer, it showed how well the performance-oriented J/80s lend themselves to simply being used as fun boats which can maximise the numbers getting afloat for straightforward sailing pleasure.

howth j80 7Celebrating a job well done. Brian Turvey and Emmet Dalton finally get the opportunity on Sunday for their first sail on one of HYC’s new J/80s. Photo: W M Nixon
It also underlined the fact that at Howth as at other clubs, people such as Kieran Jameson and noted instructor Graeme Grant share the concern of leading thinkers in other clubs, that it has been too easy to let junior training and coaching take the more easily-managed route of single-handed sailing. Thus Howth has become a centre of 420 encouragement in the hope of leading on to more advanced two-handed boats, and while the J/80s were making their debut with waves of youngsters on board, on the same waters the current World 420 Bronze Medallists Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan were having their first forays with their newly-acquired 49er skiff, one of a new national wave of seven 49ers with crews drawn from a number of Irish sailing centres.

But primarily it was the J/80s’ evening, and they performed with style. With the weather co-operating, the programme moved jauntily on into a junior party with early supper in the club, and then finally, with a very informally-minded audience made up of every age and interest in Howth sailing, the plans for “our very own J/80s” were at last officially revealed by Commodore Berchmans Gannon and his team.

Noted offshore racing champion Ross McDonald, as Chairman of the HYC Performance Sub-committee, left us in no doubt that while the multi-functional uses of the J/80s are significant in the new flotilla’s programme, the boats’ performance potential is also another pillar of their activities, and they’re going to be very actively raced, with their first major series the up-coming Howth Autumn League. The possibilities of sending a boat or two to major J/80 championships in the future has not been overlooked, and of course next year’s ICRA Nats at Royal Cork Yacht Club from 9th to 11th June to will be another option thanks to those very useful IRC Certs.

howth j80 8Kieran Jameson (left) led the team buying the new J/80s, and as a former ICRA Commodore, Nobby Reilly (right) has unrivalled experience in introducing people to sailing using the J80s in Try Sailing initiatives. Photo: W M Nixon
It seems an awful lot to be asking of a little fleet of five 26ft boats, but the best way to show me why it could all work very well indeed was to let me sail a J/80 on Sunday, when all was revealed. The secret of a J/80’s appeal seems to lie in the fact that she’s a boat of broad-spectrum performance and function aboard which kids feel like grown-ups, while a group of grown men start behaving like a pack of schoolboys having sailing fun.

My four ship-mates were at the heavy-hitter end of sailing’s local and national sailing administrations. They included former ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly who has unrivalled experience in using the J/80s in Try Sailing events – he regularly gets turnouts of upwards of 80 total newbies at such happenings – there was also HYC Vice Commodore Emmet Dalton who somehow finds himself to be the owner of a foiling Moth and the skipper of a Howth 17, there was of course Kieran Jameson whose devotion to sailing and it development and promotion is lifelong, and there was also former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey who has been the club’s liaison man in handling relations with the ISA SailFleet administration while coming to the conclusion that the only way forward was for Howth to buy its own fleet of J/80s to give the programme an extra and vital element of direct proprietorial pride, something which has been achieved.

howth j80 9In sailing a J/80, it’s the effortless speed which will most impress sailors of more traditional craft. In a light breeze, we’re clocking 7.6 knots through the water and 8.7 over the ground. Photo: Brian Turvey
So in sailing “our” J/80 in a glorious burst of sunshine and a grand little north to nor’east breeze last Sunday while the HYC Junior Dinghy regatta with 90 boats in several classes proceeded apace nearby, and Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan buzzed over the ocean towards the northern horizon in their 49er, we had ourselves a ball. While you can certainly get sensational speeds out of a J/80 when the breeze is stonking, we’d no bother in that pleasant moderate wind of finding 7.6 knots through the water with genniker set, and as that translated into 8.7 SOG thanks to a favourable tide, the schoolboy glee was much in evidence between sessions of serious information exchange about the importance of the boat in Howth’s development programe.

In such sailing conditions, the J/80’s effortless progress made it possible for us to get quicky up to Malahide and then have some sport carrying the genniker as close as it could go to get us round Ireand’s Eye where the gannets are more crowded than ever on the Stack, and back into Howth Marina with the J/80s manoeuvring capacities being demonstrated with a flourish.

howth j80 10“There’s something about a J/80 which makes junior sailors feel like grown-ups, and grown men act like schoolboys….” Photo: Brian Turvey

howth j80 11Home waters. Effortless yet swift sailing as we close in on the Stack Rock on Ireland’s Eye. Photo: W M Nixon

Of course, it won’t always be a sunny nor’easterly of very manageable strength, and it won’t always be a time when a club can look back on its own good season while sharing the national mood of euphoria over an Olympic Sailing Silver Medal. But this new J/80 project at Howth has a lot going for it. And when you start looking at the figures which would have come up if they’d ordered new boats, or maybe even new J/70s, through the formal channels, you’re very quickly getting away from €100,000 for five boats, and approaching the region of a quarter million euros.

But for the times that are in it, it seems that Howth took the best approach. In fact, when the boats are going to have such a multi-functional role, it’s surely better to start with the best second-hand boat available rather than a brand new one. When knockabout use is part of the programme, evidence of the occasional little scape or minor bump makes the boats seem less daunting.

So in all, it has been a very good six weeks of voluntary work. But out in Howth, they don’t see it that way. As far as they’re concerned, the work is only beginning. If those boats aren’t all being kept very busy, steps will be taken immediately to accelerate the pace.

howth j80 12Home port, and everyone gives a hand. Former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey and former ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly stow the J/80’s mainsail while above on the forecourt the presence of the 1898-built Howth 17 Rita is a reminder of HYC’s long and colourful history. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
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The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) and the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the two associations to work closely together to support cruiser racing efforts. Initiatives such as ICRA's crew training 'Crewpoint' resource will be developed further to help give crew and boats an easier path to matching up opportunities to race together.

Crewpoint will help to unite crew with skipper and boat, as well as create a greater awareness of access to sailing. For non boat owners ICRA, Crewpoint and the ISA are linking up with the Try Sailing campaign to create access points for more people to give sailing a try and to encourage more sailors to give racing a try in open days, crewing opportunities and events.

To help support the development of Cruiser Racing in Ireland all ECHO and IRC handicap fees are reinvested in the development of Cruiser Racing.

Published in ISA

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the AGM of the Irish Sailing Association, now in its 70th year since its foundation in 1946, as the Irish Dinghy Racing Association. In 1946, when the sole requirement was to promote dinghy racing, little did our founding fathers realise what their brainchild would grow into. Today, it is the shear diversity of watersports in Ireland that is difficult to comprehend. Hardly a year goes by without some further extreme form of sailing being conceived and attracting its following. It is sometimes difficult for the Association to keep track of developments let alone find ways of representing them!

A quick look across the diversity of our sport gives some idea:
- Dinghy racing, covering the range from optimists to 49ers
- Keel boat racing from Squibs and Glens to top of the range Commodore Cuppers
- Cruising sailors, who by their very nature are lone sailors
- Surfboarders and Kiteboarders
- Power boating
- Add into that the administration of racing and handicaps, international representation, regulation and inspections, lobbying and complying with ever changing and evolving legislation, gives you some idea of the workload of the ISA.
Over the past two years, one thing that has struck me is the fact that each of these groupings is independent of the others and is really oblivious as to what the ISA is doing for the sport generally and for other groupings. This proves difficult, because into the mix you also have to add in the wide range of classes, clubs and training centres. So, if we have not implemented all the changes that your class, or club or training centre hopes for, please bear with us, we will get to you.
Having said that, we are making progress and 2015 has been another year of change and achievement. It must also be remembered that we are only in year one of a five year implementation plan as set out in the Strategic Plan, which was approved by last year’s AGM.

I, and indeed Irish sailing, is most fortunate in having a Board of dedicated Directors, who give tirelessly of their time:
Brian Craig: Training and Coaching
David O’Brien: Secretary
Paddy McGlade: Cruising and Risk and Governance
Sarah Byrne: Dinghy racing classes
Colm Barrington: Olympic Steering Group and High Performance
Robert Dix: Representation
Pierce Purcell: Access and Participation
Jack Roy: Racing
I would also like to thank Roger Bannon, our Treasurer for the past twenty months, who, due to pressure of work had to stand down a short while ago.

A quick review of the major achievements of the past year shows the following:

Dinghy Racing Classes:
One of the main objectives here has been to improve communications with the dinghy classes. However, there is still a lot more to be done in this area.
The Club Racing Classes survey, in addition to the communications issue, highlighted the large segmentation of dinghy classes, which, given the smallness of the Irish market, is a major issue
The Regional Development Officers have worked closely with clubs and classes to identify local Club ‘pathways’ that will build on local/regional penetration to improve competition.
The introduction of Dinghy Fest by Royal Cork Yacht Club was a very positive event and it is hoped that events of this nature will help promote dinghy sailing. The initiative has been taken up by Galway, who will run Dinghy West in 2016 and dates for Dinghy Fest 2017 are already under discussion. I would urge sailors to support this event and other such events where classes combine to run regional and national championships.

Looking to this year, there is a very extensive schedule of work planned:
- Consult with classes to examine fall out at youth level.
- Facilitate Event Calendar discussions with classes starting late August, November is too late.
- Renewed emphasis on promotion of double-handed dinghy sailing
- Carry out a junior and youth survey, with a target date of late April/early May. This will further inform on how the ISA as well as club and classes can formulate policy and initiatives to transition and retain more sailors into adulthood. It should be noted that while we have heard from parents and classes, we still have to hear from the youth themselves, this will be important as they are the lifeblood of our sport.
- The Racing Policy Competition Policy Group, as defined by the 2016 focus group, will be reformed to some extent to reflect representation from those who will deliver on the ongoing needs of the group as defined by the focus group and objectives reflected in the Strategic Plan.
- Promotion of third Level Sailing & Racing:
• Liaise with College Sports Administrations, we will look to provide support for organising events, event management, what is required, to run College Club and Intervarsity circuit successfully.
• Raise profile in the media, while this is up to college sailors themselves, we plan to give them guidance on how to proceed.
• Promote student transition and involvement in keelboat racing. Howth Yacht Club has been successful here with their K25 group. This concept to be explored and expanded where possible. Work with local clubs to identify opportunities to expand into keelboats on a more regular basis and build on the success in CIT and UCC last year with the 1720 event
• Club Pathway definition by Regional Development Officers to assist transition to ‘adult’ classes & encourage race formats for distinct groups of junior/learner racing to ensure:
i. Accessibility and sustainable participation at Club and local level.
ii. ICRA Crew Point initiative will assist in putting more keelboats on the water over time.

Two important issues which were raised in the Satisfaction survey with Classes are:
• Event management templates and documents to be developed for the ISA elibrary, which will be accessed through the website. These will be aimed at assisting classes, clubs and colleges to develop standard documents to maintain continuity when administration changes and give:
o Class specific event guidance to host Club and Race Officer
o Event management guidance documents and checklist
o Post event evaluation for clubs and debrief checklist for clubs and classes
o Classes coaching and clinic template guidelines

• Many clubs identified a gap between Try Sailing, formal courses and transition to racing for youth and adults alike across dinghies and keelboats. The policy group will work with Training Policy Group to build a simple, structured achievable learning program, with delivery by clubs, class sailors, instructors or coaches

Cruising Policy Group:
In promoting cruising, we have been very careful not to transgress into the domains of the Irish Cruising Club (ICC) and the Cruising Association of Ireland (CAI), both of whom represent cruising sailors. However, as there is a large group of cruising sailors who are members of the ISA, we felt that we had to actively support their activities.
The newly formed policy group decided to continue to develop some of the suggestions from 2014. The main one being, holding a Cruising Conference. The event went extremely well with good quality speakers, good range of topics and an oversubscribed attendance.
Naturally we have learnt from the event in terms of length of time speakers were given, need for fewer speakers, bigger venue etc. In the future, it is likely that there will be a half day conference in the odd years in the regions (Cork area 2017, Galway area 2019, for example) with a one day conference in the Dublin area on the even years. This ties in with RYANI on the odd years.
We joined the CoolRoute project to keep informed of their progress and to contribute where possible.
The group drafted and published Guidelines for running a Cruise in Company (1 day, weekend and weeklong cruises). They have also updated and added to the Cruise Routes around Ireland and plan to enhance these with better chartlets.
We continue to assist CAI and there have been discussions with their Commodore on activities they might consider to create more opportunities for CAI members to meet and interact.

Risk Management and Governance:
The Board re-drafted the Code of Conduct for ISA Directors from a Sport Ireland template.
We also have a new Risk Policy Procedure (with help from RYANI), and a new Risk Register.
During the year, in collaboration with Sport Ireland, the Board undertook a review of its workings and communications. This led to a detailed report being prepared by the Institute of Public Administration. This led to a document on the Roles and Responsibilities for ISA Directors and this is currently being studied by the Board to see how it can inform the work plans for 2016 and beyond.

Training – A Year of Transition:
2015 was a year of transition for ISA Training as the significant decline in activity and the reduced satisfaction, as recorded in the Strategic Review, in ‘the ISA training product’ necessitated the reorganisation of ISA Training in late 2014.
The Staff, Instructor Trainers and Training Policy Group had a busy 2015 bedding in the new structures put in place to improve the support to member clubs and centres; introducing changes to make Instructor qualifications more attractive and standards more consistent; while also planning some of the more fundamental changes for 2016.

Small Boat Sailing Scheme:
A number of changes were made following feedback on the Small Boat Sailing Scheme (SBSS):
The changes initiated for 2015 were:
• Instructor revalidation period extended from 3 to 5 years.
• Instructor Revalidation Courses reduced from a two-day into a one-day ‘practical skills’ course organised directly with training centres.
• VHF Licence no longer a mandatory prerequisite for dinghy instructor
• Outsourced the provision of Emergency Care course element at reduced cost to aspiring instructors
• Pre entry Course - theory elements put online by way of sample background papers.
• Instructor Pre entry and Revalidation Courses - developed an Explanatory Guide with the Instructor Trainers to ensure each element of the assessments are marked consistently across the Instructor Trainer panel.

Instructors:
The availability of qualified Instructors to clubs and centres remains a key area of attention. While progress was made in 2015 we continue to focus on improving the skills, the consistency in standards and the availability of Instructors and Senior Instructors. In this key area of ISA Training we:
• Certified 485 instructors (45% Increase on 2014)
• Certified 79 Senior Instructors (44% Increase on 2014)
• 68 Instructor Courses and 18 Revalidation Workshops run around the country (similar number to 2014).
• Developed a Senior Instructor assimilation programme to bring long time-lapsed senior instructors back into the fold.
• Partnered with clubs to run 5 Senior Instructor Courses to ensure adequate supply of courses in each region.

New Initiatives:
Last year was also spent planning for the more strategic changes and the piloting of some new initiatives. Thanks to the excellent support received from the Instructor Trainer Panel the considerable work involved has been completed to enable the roll out of a number of fundamental changes, for example:
• The top level SBSS has been revised and streamlined for 2016 with a view to increasing participation and then link with the new Coaching Programme which is under development.
• New Advanced Instructor Qualification is being introduced to reflect the SBSS Course changes.
• The importance of the logbook to be re-established through the introduction of an electronic logbook and Sailing Passport which was piloted last season.

But ISA Training is not only about the Small Boat Sailing Scheme.
On the Cruising side an expert group from the Cruiser Trainers following a consultation process made recommendations to the Training Policy Group on how the ISA and RYA could best work together to provide quality practical and shore based certification to our sailing and motor boat members. As a result, Irish centres providing ISA and RYA practical and shore based courses both now use, as a common standard, the RYA training materials and instructor training processes rather than both organisations resourcing dual systems.
A new Cruiser Working Group has recently been formed under the Training Policy Group to undertake a review of the existing schemes and the wider issues affecting Cruiser Training. We expect these findings and recommendations to be finalised before the year end.

International Accreditation:
Arrangements are underway to have the ISA Training Schemes formally accredited by World Sailing.

A Training Guide for Clubs to assist junior organisers and a Guide to ISA Junior and Youth Classes to help members decide what class best suited their needs were both published on line during the year.

Work is also ongoing on the Windsurfing side and a full review of the National Powerboat Scheme will be undertaken in 2016.

High Performance:
2015 has been a busy year for the High Performance area, especially with Rio on the horizon. In addition, there have been a number of other notable achievements:
• More than 100 young people participating in the High Performance pathway programmes, from all over the country.
• Break-through year for the 420 Academy with our best ever results at Kiel (3rd and 5th) followed up by Douglas Elmes’ and Colin O’Sullivan's Bronze medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds in December.
• Stunning success of youth sailors over the summer, multiple top 10 positions, including Ewan McMahon's Silver at the U17 Laser Radial Europeans and Bronze at the U17 Laser Radial Worlds .
• Inaugural 49er Development squad set up and two teams competed at the Junior Worlds.
• Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern's 49er Medal Race Finalists at Olympic Test Event and Gold Medal at the recent Princess Sofia 49er Olympic Qualifying Regatta
• Four teams qualified for Rio Olympics: 49er, 49erFX, Laser and Laser Radial. Trials for Laser and Laser Radial places ongoing.
• Successful re-negotiation of carding criteria with Sport Ireland to include results from Under21 championships, ensuring smoother transition from youth to senior
• Confirmation of sponsorship from Providence, GUL and High 5 Nutrition.
• Formation of Irish Sailing Foundation with initial seed capital from Sport Ireland and a private donation enabling the appointment of Jack Gleeson as Foundation Director.

Access and Participation:
2015 saw a new concept and new branding of "TRY SAILING", with banners and flags containing youthful colours and fonts, this has created a strong brand helping to promote the Association’s initiative in attracting new interest in trying sailing, joining clubs and completing courses. It is a warm and welcoming brand receiving a very encouraging response by all establishments in its first year. Over 3,000 people participated in events nationwide in 2015.
This was achieved with a very small budget, and as a result of the initial success, the ISA is increasing the funding considerably for 2016. We are pleased to announce The Marine Institute have agreed to support our campaign for 2016, promoting the sea and its environment.

Full details of the 2016 programme are contained in the appendix to this document.
In addition, we are delighted to be linking up with ICRA’s Crew point initiative, which together, with Try Sailing will provide a complete range of activities from children’s programmes to crewing on cruisers for the more mature person.
However, the ISA can only drive the concept so far and it’s then up to clubs and training centre’s to work with the numbers participating in the various activities and put in place attractive packages to make joining a club or taking a sailing course attractive

Early events will be kicking off with:
• Royal Cork Yacht Club on the 23rd April in Crosshaven,
• DunLaoghaire at the Royal St. George Yacht Club on Sunday 24thApril
• The Irish National Sailing Centre on 15th May
• Galway on 23rd May

Representation Policy Group:
The group’s primary aims for 2015 were to:
• Represent the interests of Irish sailors in respect of statutory affaires and legislation
• Identify strategy for the ISA’s representation on the various committees of ISAF, now World Sailing for the period 2016-2020
• Develop a strategy to effect change in the way Government and state agencies view sailing and lobby to promote safe & responsible participation

Effecting change within the statutory agencies through lobbying is by its nature a slow process and a number of issues are currently under discussion with the relevant departments, for example:

Small Craft Register:
Since the Department of Transport’s request for the ISA to withdraw the ISA’s Small Craft Register on the grounds that it was being used illegally, the ISA has continued its discussions with the Marine Survey Office in introducing the statutory registration system that has been promised. Unfortunately there appears to be little sign that the statutory register will be operational in the short term. The policy group is continuing to work towards a solution.

Green Diesel:
Following the lifting of the EU derogation that Ireland enjoyed for use of tax free diesel for pleasure craft, the solutions that were approved by the Department for buying marked (green) diesel at the rebated (tax-reduced) price still remains. Consumers are obliged to make an annual declaration of the quantity purchased and pay the extra tax by the following March. The ISA is continuing to monitor this issue to allow us to be proactive in the event there are any changes being suggested.

Passenger Boats regulations:
This continues to be a major issue particularly for ISA Cruising Schools. The feedback the ISA is receiving from members is that the implementation of the regulations are inconsistent depending on the interpretation of the surveyors.

ICC’s and Commercial Endorsements:
The Department of Transport conducted an audit of ISA’s systems for the training, assessing and issuing of ICC’s and Commercial Endorsements. Our authority to continue to issue the certificates has been renewed until May 2019.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Submission:
The ISA sent in a submission to An Board Pleanala and presented at the subsequent hearing in support of the Dun Laoghaire Combined Clubs. The outcome of the hearing is due to be published sometime later this month

World Sailing Representation:
World Sailing is the International Governing Body for Sailing, which was formerly called ISAF. The ISA currently has representation on some of the World Sailing committees. Committees run on a four year Olympic Cycle at the end of which, Member National Authorities put forward their nominations for committee representation. The policy group has revised our strategy for our representation within World Sailing with aims of:
• Identifying and securing the opportunities for hosting international events in Ireland
• Appointment and progression of Irish International Race Officials (Race Officers, Judges and Umpires)
• Establishing and maintaining a network of relationships with international sailing administrators
• Influencing decisions affecting Irish Sailing at all levels; training, racing, race management and Olympic sailing.
All ISA nominations will be made in an open and transparent manner.

Racing:
Sailfleet:
The fleet of J80’s continues to be based in Howth Yacht Club.
The Irish Match Racing Championships were held early in the 2015 season and all 8 boats were used for this event. The entire fleet was used again in Dun Laoghaire in late September for the Senior All Ireland Championships.
The Sailfleet Board continues to monitor the fleet and have recently engaged a professional survey of the each boat to establish what maintenance issues need to be allowed for, this report is currently under review. The fleet will be 10 years old next season and maintenance is a growing issue, the Sailfleet Board continue to look at options for the future of the fleet.

All Ireland Championships:
The Senior All Irelands were hosted by the National Yacht Club. On the water Anthony O’Leary from the Royal Cork Yacht Club, and reigning 2014 Champion, sailed superbly to win back to back titles. It is worth nothing that this is 7th time out of the last ten years that the O’Leary family name appears on the trophy, an outstanding achievement!
The Working Group operated a totally transparent selection process in 2015, this along with better communication with the classes in general, has helped greatly in everyone’s understanding of who and how nominees are selected.
By establishing the last weekend of September for the Juniors and the first weekend of October for the Seniors, classes now know each season what the dates are so conflicts can be avoided. The 2016 Junior‘s are being hosted by the Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre in Schull utilising their TR4.2 class a move away from the ISA Topaz fleet. The Senior’s will be hosted by the Royal Cork YC where we are delighted to announce that the National 18 class have enthusiastically offered a fleet of their exciting new designed boats for the event.

ICRA:
The ISA continues to work closely with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) in all aspects of the very important cruiser racing sector of our sport. We have recently concluded an agreement with ICRA which will lead to closer cooperation and understanding between the two bodies. This will be important in the areas of developing a cruiser racing coaching scheme, linking Crew Point and Try Sailing and possibly developing a keel boat academy.

Race Officials:
The Race Officials Policy Group continues the duties of managing officials, including all disciplines, who officiate at our racing events. Within this Policy Group, all aspects of training and education of our race officials is coordinated.
During this last year we have built on already good relationships with our neighbours in the RYA, who are rightly accredited with having the best experience and training courses, in relation to all aspects of Race Management. We will continue to work closely with the RYA Race Management team which will be of great benefit to all our officials. In the same vein we have re-engaged with the Eurosaf Officials Exchange program which promotes a system whereby National Judges, Umpires and Race Officers can get experience at European events.
In addition to running courses on Race Management, Jury, Protests procedures, and Rules, throughout the year, a most successful Race Officials Conference was held in Dublin in February with 85 attendees. There was a full day of workshops and lectures which was very well received by all. There are new courses available to clubs and individuals on Mark Laying and an updated Race Management Course for Regional and National Race Officers.

Certificate of Identity:

The ISA is consolidating the various details currently held on boats belonging to ISA members in order to streamline the ISA’s several databases of craft, and to build a complete database of craft owned by ISA members. We will encourage members to apply for a Certificate of Identity which will incorporate all the services ISA members avail of in respect of their craft into a single document. This will include racing handicaps administered by ISA, racing sail numbers issued by ISA as the member national authority for World Sailing and other services.

More details on the Certificate of Identity will be available soon on the ISA website

So, as I think you will have seen, there has been a lot of activity during the past year.

In conclusion, there are a number of people, whom I want to thank:
Firstly, my board of Directors, all of whom have put in a lot of hard work over the past year.
Next, the staff of the ISA, ably led by our CEO, Harry Hermon. I know from personal experience that the staff put in very long hours and are completely committed to work of the Association.
And finally, I want to acknowledge and thank most sincerely all those who have joined our policy groups and who are contributing to help shape the policies and thinking that will drive the ISA and Irish sailing forward. Thank you.

Appendix:

Try Sailing 2015
52 clubs and centres Nationwide with over 3000 participants.

2016 Try Sailing Activity

Try Sailing Initiatives

1. ISA Try Sailing Launch – Monday 2nd May, Kinsale Yacht Club, incorporating -
• Schools Try Sailing and Sailability Try Sailing with -
i. Media invite,
ii. Linking with local fishing community & infrastructure,
iii. Story board for the day “embracing our waters for all they have to offer”.
• Linking –
i. Cork Sports Partnership support,
ii. ISA bursary support,
iii. ISA Sail Fleet,
iv. Sports Capital Funding club boats,
v. Marine Institute objective of embracing the sea.

2. Promotion plans for 2016
• Flags and banners for all participating clubs and centres.
• Try Sailing bumper stickers.
• #trysailing Instagram.
• #trysailing and #adventureireland twitter tagging.
• Bespoke gif for all participating clubs on line advertising.
• ISA search map included Try Sailing events.
• Exhibiting at Seafest 2016 in Galway.
• Outdoor signage for shared use.
• Facebook promotion.
• PR and social media outreach to Irish outdoor adventure market place.

3. ISA Try Sailing Bursary
• New bursary for a total of 75 applicants of €200 (total €15000).
• Forms have gone out to each club and training centre
• Currently awaiting applications
• Closing date for application 5pm on 15th of April 2016
• Try sailing Toolkit & info here http://www.sailing.ie/clubs/trysailingeventplanning/
• RDO responsible Gail MacAllister

4. Schools Try Sailing
• The Local Sports Partnerships will be funding clubs to run a primary and secondary school events in Category 1 clubs (3hr event)
• The target is children who are NOT club members
• LSP will provide each club with €300 to run both events (covering instructor and fuel costs)
• ISA RDO team have designed a flyer/poster, the LSP’s are printing and distributing these to each school in their area.
• Each poster has contact details and the dates of when the Try Sailing session it to happen in their areas clubs.
• Participants must register their interest with a club appointed contact and pay €5 on the day to take part
• If a club can cater for 20 children in each of the two sessions (morning and afternoon) it would be €500 for the club.
• Waterford, Wexford, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Wicklow, Dublin City, Louth and Fingal Local Sports Partnerships are supporting the programme with 20 Cat 1 clubs participating in this in the East region in or around April 23rd 2016.
• The East Coast area alone will include distribution of ISA information up to 1008 primary and secondary schools and the East and South East coasts.
• Cork, Clare and Kerry Sports Partnerships also supporting same programme with 10 Cat 1 clubs participating on variety of dates that suit the regions.
• Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway also supporting same programme with 8 Cat 1 clubs participating on variety of dates that suit the regions.
• Linked in with Schools Active Week programme – all dates published on line.
• East Coast RDO responsible Sarah Louise Rossiter
• South West RDO Gail MacAllister
• North West RDO Ciarán Murphy

5. Scouts Try Sailing initiative
• Working with the Scouts
• Programme not fixed yet, details to be announced
• RDO responsible Ciarán Murphy

6. Surf ‘n’ Turf (local rugby club with boat club event)
contact [email protected]
• Event: Wexford Wanderers and Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club
• Target Market: Other sports club members and corporate day
• Preparation: Meeting with local rugby team, posters in local businesses and clubs involved in the day
• Promotion: Posters designed with information. €50 per team of min 7.
• Minimum of 3 females on each team. One liaison for booking teams.
• On the Day: 10-10:30am meeting. Start tag rugby at 10:30am – 12:30pm. BBQ at 1pm in sailing club, on the water 2-4pm.
• Next Step: Introductory membership and dual club membership specials. Information on clubs summer courses, adult courses etc. Encourage continued groups or a tag rugby/sailing monthly session.
• Top Tips: Good connections can be made with any local sports club whether golf, GAA or cycling. The same principle of this initiative applies.
• RDO responsible Sarah Louise Rossiter

7. Women on the Water
• Cork Sports Partnership and Clare Sports Partnership are supporting Women on the Water programmes of €200 towards running a Women on the Water programme in 2016.

Published in ISA

Howth Yacht Club hosted the ISA Youth Sailing Pathway National Championship and Optimist Trials over the four days from 31st March to 3rd April in varied conditions reports Emmet Dalton of HYC. The regatta attracted 192 entries across five classes from all corners of Ireland (plus a visitor from Italy) and produced Champions from seven clubs. Full results downloadable below.

Thursday's racing was delayed while the wind found time to behave and steady itself. The fleet wasn't too unhappy to wait in the glorious Spring sunshine before getting proceedings off. In the 420 Class, local favourites Elmes/O'Sullivan had it their own way with two bullets. The Laser Radial top spot was shared by O'Beirne (RStGYC), Durcan (RCYC) and Nicole Hemeryck (NYC). Over on the Topper course, the RStGYC was again dominating, with Jack Fahy burning up the course. Rush's Ross Morgan was definitely in a hurry on the Laser 4.7 course, leading by 6 points after Day 1. By the end of the day, the wind had picked up and a lot of tired faces reached the top of slipways, concentrating on the next race...to their dinners!

Day 2 fell victim to the element, with strong and increasing winds keeping the fleet ashore. Principal Race Officer, Derek Bothwell, was cheered by the competitors as he announced a day off. Cinemas and shopping replaced the usual windward mark targets.

With a window of opportunity in the weather, the fleets headed afloat on Saturday, hoping to catch up on the schedule with a few additional races. On the 420/Laser Radial course, four races were crammed, suiting Malahide 420 duo Gemma and Cara McDowell. The sisters closed the gap to the leaders and ended the day only a point adrift of Elmes/O'Sullivan. Radial and 4.7 gurus O'Beirne and Higgins never fell onside the top three for the day. On the Topper course, Carroll was fighting off a strong challenge from another Hemeryck, this time Ella who was only a couple of points behind. Almost a carbon copy of Day 1, Saturday saw some tired bones come ashore!

As the sailors were chasing around the race course, members and visitors did loops of the Peninsula in some spectacular cars, presented by Aston Martin and Bentley. HYC friends in Charles Hurst Motors spent a day showing off Vantages, Continentals, Rapides and, ideal for the Circuit Sailors, the new Bentley Bentayga. Rarely has the clubhouse been so full of grinning faces on a rainy day!

Going into the final day, titles could have been won or lost, testament to the incredibly close racing across a range of conditions. At the end of the day, the Champions filtered to the top and were presented with their medals by ISA President David Lovegrove and cheered by their fellow competitors.

Champions
420
Dougie Elmes / Colin O'Sullivan (Howth YC)
Girls: Champions Gemma and Cara McDowell (Malahide YC)

Laser Radial
Conor O'Beirne (Royal St. George YC)
Girls: Nicole Hemeryck (National YC)

Topper
Michael Carroll (Kinsale YC)
Girls: Ella Hemeryck (National YC)

Laser 4.7
Henry Higgins (Royal St. George YC)
Girls: Heather Spain (National YC)

Published in Youth Sailing

I am a passionate believer in the concept that sailing is ‘a sport for all and a sport for life’. I took to heart a slogan to this effect promoted by the Irish Sailing Association a few years ago. I have advanced that concept since I first heard it. Nowadays I wonder if how many true believers there are in this concept. While I fully support the need for a national sailing association and believe that it means what was said about ‘a sport for all’ I don’t see that concept, simple, direct and embracing in its description advanced as a major focus of the Association. I may be missing something but when last did you see the ISA state this concept forcefully in a public message?
I do not want to be perceived as a critic of the ISA because I am not. I am committed to the essential necessity of sporting representation through a strong national organisation. However, having observed, listened to and received various approaches in recent years from those who have challenged the ISA and, in fairness to them and the ISA executive authorities, created a degree of change, I have a degree of concern that the effective level of national association relationships with and to clubs and ‘the ordinary’ club sailors (not a particularly nice description but perhaps apt), could do with more attention.
I chaired a debate on whether sailing is a welcoming sport at the annual conference of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association in Limerick and was encouraged by the response of delegates there, but they also raised questions about the Irish Sailing Association. It has launched a ‘Try Sailing Initiative’ through associated clubs and training centres. “This is building on last year’s inaugural success of this approach,” Gail McAllister, ISA Regional Development Officer for the Southern Region, told me. “The ISA is partnering with the Marine Institute in Galway and this will see a thorough implementation of initiatives and a strong promotional campaign introducing the public to the joys of sailing. We have a firm belief that you have to take your message to the people at least as much as you expect people to come to your club. We want to make it clear that all are welcome - and genuinely welcome at that.”
I agree with and support those comments. Effort is being put into raising participation levels in the sport. There are attempts to counteract falling membership numbers and an ageing profile amongst boatowners in many. It is my view that the sport is more popular than it was in past years, despite a fall-off in numbers in recent times. The challenge is to put in place plans to maintain growth for the future and to remove, once-and-for-all the, image of sailing as being an ‘elitist’ sport.
On my own boat I have a policy of trying to introduce at least one new crew member to the sport every year. May I recommend that to club members throughout the country? Meantime perhaps you would listen to my Podcast this week where I interview the new Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, Simon McGibney, the first West of Ireland sailor to hold the post. I spoke to him in Limerick at the end of the annual meeting of ICRA. He is committed to expanding involvement in sailing and in racing and he believes this will happen. At the start of the interview I congratulated this member of Foynes Sailing Club on being the first West of Ireland Commodore of ICRA.
• Listen to Podcast below

Published in Island Nation

ISA President, David Lovegrove on an enhanced get started initiative

Spring is traditionally the time when most sailors’ dreams turn with eager anticipation to the approaching season. However, the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) has used the dormant months to plan and prepare for the forthcoming season. Shortly we will be launching a number of exciting new initiatives which we hope will help increase participation and also improve the skills of existing sailors.

Following on the success of the pilot programme in 2015, the 2016 Try Sailing programme will see a greatly enhanced package of assistance available. This will include: a Try Sailing Bursary, the Schools Try Sailing Initiative for Primary and Secondary Schools as part of Active School Week, the Corporate Cup Training Programme for new sailors to try Keelboat and Cruiser racing, the Round Ireland Trophy, Volvo Cork Week Try Sailing Invitational Cup and the Scouting Ireland Try Sailing Programme. There will also be Sailability Programmes catering for those Clubs who specifically want to facilitate people with disabilities to enjoy sailing and Family Fun initiatives to encourage club members to bring their family along and try the full extent of what the Club has to offer. The Try Sailing Programme is supported by the ISA’s dedicated Try Sailing website and PR Toolkit and by the Regional Development Officers team who will be on hand to help each Club develop their own Participation Programme.

On the Training side, the new simplified Small Boat Sailing Scheme (SBSS) syllabus and Advanced Instructor Endorsement will be introduced for the 2016 season in conjunction with the electronic logbook and Sailing Passport. These changes are in response to the feedback to put more focus on the development of skills and the logging of time on the water than on the acquiring of certificates. The SBSS will now focus on introducing sailors to the sport, their acquisition of basic skills and encouraging them to experience a broad range of sailing activities. The higher level racing aspects will from now on form part of a new Coaching Programme aimed specifically at those who wish to progress further into competition.

The new Coaching Programme will help existing sailors improve their skills so as to get more enjoyment from their participation in racing. The scheme will be based around Clubs and Classes with the objectives of providing them with a framework to provide a high standard of affordable coaching for their members, the creation of training structures to develop the pool of suitable coaches and the provision of course materials, aids and mentoring to assist this pool of qualified coaches. The objective of this is to help those sailors at club or class level who are not part of the ISA Performance activities.

We will be assisting Classes and Clubs with the introduction of the programme and running a number of pilot projects during the season and look forward to hearing from Classes and Clubs wishing to be involved.

This time of year is also the time of conferences. The Cruising conference was held in Howth Yacht Club on 20 February and was a sell-out success. We were fortunate in having some top class speakers who delivered excellent presentations. The main priority for the representation policy group is the ongoing issue which is causing frustration to many cruising sailors, and that is the current lack of a statutory registration system for small craft. The ISA will continue to lobby hard to try and speed up the process to establish the registration system for pleasure craft. Other areas being addressed include the passenger boat regulations which continue to restrict the activities of our cruising schools. The tax on green diesel and the foreshore licensing issues are also on the policy group's agenda.

The race officials held their conference on 28 February. It was an interesting event with Anthony O’Leary giving the “view from the tiller”. This is always a fascinating session as it gives race officials first–hand feedback of what sailors are looking for in race management.

The new website, which is focused on how the ISA can assist clubs and classes in improving their range of services to their members, is divided into four sections, which reflect the main thrust of ISA activities under the Strategic Plan. The four areas are: Try Sailing, Racing, Cruising and Training. The site will undergo further development in the coming months.

So with all this activity taking place, it only remains for me to wish you well in your preparations for the new season and hope that we all have fair weather.

Published in ISA

The inaugural ISA Cruising Conference at Howth Yacht Club attracted 90 sailors for a very informative day last Saturday. 

ISA President David Lovegrove opened proceedings and Keynote speaker Eddie Nicholson and his crew entertained with an excellent show on their adventures to Greenland, with stunning photography, video footage and some eye opening tales of ice movement and local culinary delights. Simon Berrow, of Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and Galway / Mayo Institute of Technology, shared his knowledge of the biodiversity of whales and mammals along our Irish Coastline and gave advise on how leisure boat should approach them and help to ensure their safety.

Sponsorship from Union Chandlery and support from Cruising Association of Ireland helped to made the day a great success, along with the contributions and support from Nicky’s Place on Howth Pier, ICC Publications, Wild Atlantic Way, Met Eireann, INFOMAR, DTTAS, RNLI, Helly Hansen, IWDG, Cool Route & Howth Yacht Club all combined to give every delegate a bag full of fun goodies and useful information.

Experienced offshore sailor and author, Daria Blackwell, made a number of male skippers stop and think, with a talk on Women at the Helm. Many women take on the role of crew on board and never actually helm or rather I should say, skipper. The question that had many male skippers thinking was “If you fell overboard, would your crew be able action a safe ‘man over board?”. Not to mention how much easier it is helm a yacht in to a marina than to be the one jumping off with a line in one hand and a fender in the other. Norman Kean, Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and ICC Publications Editor, gave an excellent explanation of the difference between Vector and Raster Electronic Charts, that left the audience assured that maintaining their knowledge of paper pencil navigation alongside their electronic navigation is always a good idea.

Clifford Brown of the Cruising Association of Ireland brought the room up to date with CAI’s “Crew Together” programme, where the East, West and South coast sailors match crew with boats and give sailors a chance to cruise in each others’ waters. Round the world sailor, Pat Murphy, entertained everyone with his tips on caring for, training and communicating with crew for cruising. In the ethos of the ISA programme of Try Sailing, cruising sailors were encouraged to welcome new crew on board and give them a chance to ‘Try Crewing’.

Vera Quinlan of the INFOMAR project at the Marine Institute, and experienced skipper, had everyone amazed by the detailed information available on the sea bed and the idea of being able to know just where your anchor is landing and what you are sailing over. She had everyone eager to learn more. The final talk on weather could have lasted all day as we all know how important forecasting is for sailing, especially in Irish waters. Willemien Phelan of Met Eireann and Volvo Ocean Race participant, gave a fantastic explanation of weather forecasting with John Leahy, Yachtmaster instructor and pilot.

Published in Cruising

Yacht handicapping fees will rise by 12.5% for the coming season.

An average sized boat, such as a Sigma 33, will now have total handicapping costs of €177 in 2016 as opposed to €162 in 2015. This breaksdown as follows: ECHO registration is €42. IRC online registration is €13.50 per metre, an increase of €1.50 per metre (12.5%)

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is the administrator for both the local ECHO and international IRC handicap systems. IRC certs are processed for the ISA by the London based Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) who govern the IRC rule.

The ISA's CEO Harry Hermon says IRC fees are set in € for Irish boats at the beginning of each year. 'The IRC fee structure sent out with the renewals in January 2016 and showed a 12% increase which is due to the sterling exchange rates. There are no changes to the ECHO fees for 2016. Handicap fees will not be reviewed again until 2017'

Ireland has a national cruiser racer fleet estimated between 500–700 boats.

Meanwhile, handicaps will be a focus at the 2016 ICRA conference when it gets underway at the Castletroy Hotel in Lmerick on Saturday, March 5th.

The pow–wow will receive a presentation from the promoters of the ORC handicapping system that is gaining popularity as an alternative to IRC.  Florida's recent Key West Regatta in Florida was split between the two systems.

Speaking to the Irish Times last Friday, former ICRA commodore Norbert Reilly said: “We have no idea what ORC is but would like to know and especially why it is making so much progress overseas.

ICRA also plan a review of the ECHO system for 2016.

Published in ICRA
Tagged under

With last night’s Irish Cruising Club Annual General Meeting & Prize-Giving hosted at Howth Yacht Club, and this morning’s day-long ISA Cruising Conference at the same venue, centre stage has been taken by the silent majority – the large but distinctly reticent segment of the sailing population which emphatically does not have racing as its primary interest afloat. W M Nixon takes us on a guided tour.

The great Leif Eriksson would approve of some of the more adventurous members of the Irish Cruising Club. They seem to be obsessed with sailing to Greenland and cruising along its coast. And it was the doughty Viking’s father Erik Thorvaldsson (aka Erik the Red) who first told his fellow Icelanders that he’d given the name of Greenland to the enormous island he’d discovered far to the west of Iceland. He did so because he claimed much of it was so lush and fertile, with huge potential for rural and coastal development, that no other name would do.

Leif then followed in the family tradition of going completely over the top in naming newly-discovered real estate. He went even further west and discovered a foggy cold part of the American mainland which he promptly named Vinland, as he claimed the area was just one potential classic wine chateau after another, and hadn’t he brought back the vines to prove it?

In time, Erik’s enthusiasm for Greenland was seen as an early property scam. For no sooner had the Icelanders established a little settlement there around 1000 AD than a period of Arctic cooling began to set in, and by the mid-1300s there’d been a serious deterioration of the climate. What had been a Scandinavian population of maybe five thousands at its peak faded away, and gradually the Inuit people – originally from the American mainland – moved south from their first beachheads established to the northwest around 1200 AD. They proved more successful at adapting to what had become a Little Ice Age, while no Vikings were left.

Now we’re in the era of global warming, and there’s no doubt that Greenland is more accessible. But for those of us who think that cruising should be a matter of making yourself as comfortable as possible while your boats sails briskly across the sea in a temperate climate or perhaps even warmer for preference, the notion of devoting a summer to sailing to Greenland and taking on the challenge of its rugged iron coast, with ice everywhere, still takes a bit of getting used to.

Yet in recent years the Irish boats seem to have been tripping over each other up there. And for some true aficionados, the lure of the icy regions was in place long before the effects of global warming were visibly making it more accessible.

Peter Killen of Malahide, Commodore of the Irish Cruising Club, is a flag officer who leads by example. It was all of twenty years ago that he was first in Greenland with his Sigma 36 Black Pepper, and truly there was a lot of ice about. The weather was also dreadful, while Ireland was enjoying the best summer in years.

Cape Farewell Greenland 2
Peter Killen’s Sigma 36 Black Pepper in local ice at the quay inside Cape Farewell in Greenland, August 1995

penguin  Antarctica
ICC Commodore Peter Killen’s current boat is Pure Magic, an Amel Super Maramu seen here providing the backdrop for a fine penguin in Antarctica, December 2004.

More recently, he and his crew of longterm shipmates have been covering thousands of sea miles in the Amel Super Maramu 54 Pure Magic, among other ventures having a look at lots more ice down Antarctic way to see how it compares with the Arctic. With all their wanderings, by the end of the 2014 season Pure Magic was laid up for the winter in eastern Canada in Nova Scotia. So of course in order to get back to Ireland through 2015, the only way was with a long diversion up the west coast of Greenland. And the weather was grand, while Ireland definitely wasn’t enjoying the best summer in years.

The Pure Magic team certainly believe in enjoying their cruising, however rugged the terrain. If the Greenland Tourist Board are looking for a marketing manager, they could do no better than sign up the skipper of Pure Magic for the job. His entertaining log about cruising the region – featured in the usual impressive ICC Annual edited for the fourth time by Ed Wheeler – makes West Greenland seem a fun place with heaps of hospitality and friendly folk from one end to the other.

Greenland  coast
If ice is your thing, then this is the place to be – Peter Killen’s Pure Magic off the west Greenland coast, summer 2015.

But then Peter Killen is not as other men. I don’t mean he is some sort of alien being from the planet Zog. Or at least he isn’t so far as I know. But the fact is, he just doesn’t seem to feel the cold. I sailed with him on a raw Autumn day some years ago, and while the rest of us were piling on the layers, our skipper was as happy as Larry in a short-sleeved shirt.

I’d been thinking my memory had exaggerated this immunity to cold. But there sure enough in the latest ICC Annual is a photo of the crew of Pure Magic enjoying a visit to the little Katersugaasivik Museum in Nuuk, and the bould skipper is in what could well be the same skimpy outfit he was wearing when we sailed together all those years ago. As for the rest of the group, only tough nut Hugh Barry isn’t wearing a jacket of some sort – even Aqqala the Museum curator is wearing one.

Pure Magic crew
Some folk feel the cold more than others – Pure Magic’s crew absorbing local culture in Greenland are (left to right) Mike Alexander, Peter Killen, Hugh Barry, Aqqalu the museum curator, Robert Barker, and Joe Phelan

Having a skipper with this immunity to cold proved to be a Godsend before they left Greenland waters, when Pure Magic picked up a fishing net in her prop while motoring in a calm. Peter Killen has carried a wetsuit for emergencies for years, and finally it was used. He hauled it on, plunged in with breathing gear in action, and had the foul-up cleared in twenty minutes. Other skipper and Commodores please note……

The adjudicator for the 2015 logs was Hilary Keatinge, who has one of those choice-of-gender names which might confuse, so it’s good news to reveal that after 85 years, the ICC has had its first woman adjudicator. No better one for the job, man or woman. Before marrying the late Bill Keatinge, she was Hilary Roche, daughter of Terry Roche of Dun Laoghaire who cruised the entire coastline of Europe in a twenty year odyssey of successive summers, and his daughter has proven herself a formidable cruising person, a noted narrator of cruising experiences, and a successful writer of cruising guides and histories.

Nevertheless even she admitted last night that once all the material has arrived on the adjudicator’s screen, she finally appreciated the enormity of the task at hand, for the Irish Cruising Club just seems to go from strength to strength. Yet although it’s a club which limits itself to 550 members as anything beyond that would result in administrative overload and the lowering of standards, it ensures that the experience of its members benefit the entire sailing community through its regularly up-dated sailing directions for the entire coast of Ireland. And there’s overlap with the wider membership of the Cruising Association of Ireland, which will add extra talent to the expert lineup providing a host of information and guidance at today’s ISA Cruising Conference.

But that’s this morning’s work. Meanwhile last night’s dispensation of the silverware – some of which dates back to 1931 – revealed an extraordinarily active membership. And while they did have those hardy souls who ventured into icy regions, there were many others who went to places where the only ice within thousands of miles was in the nearest fridge, and instead of bare rocky mountains they cruised lush green coasts.

Nevertheless the ice men have it in terms of some of the top awards, as Hilary Keatinge has given the Atlantic Trophy for the best cruise with a passage of more than a thousand miles to the 4194 mile cruise of Peter Killen’s Pure Magic from Halifax to Nova Scotia to Howth, with those many diversions on the way, while the Strangford Cup for an alternative best cruise goes to Paddy Barry, who set forth from Poolbeg in the heart of Dublin Port, and by the time he’d returned he’d completed his “North Atlantic Crescent”, first to the Faeroes, then Iceland to port, then across the Denmark Strait to southeast Greenland for detailed cruising and mountaineering, then eventually towards Ireland but leaving Iceland to port, so they circumnavigated it in the midst of greater enterprises.

Poolbeg  Dublin6
You collect very few courtesy ensigns in the frozen north. Back at Poolbeg in Dublin after her “North Atlantic Crescent” round Iceland and on to Greenland, Paddy Barry’s Ar Seachran sports the flags of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland. Ar Seachran is a 1979 alloy-built Frers 45. Photo: Tony Brown

Arctic polar bear
“Definitely the Arctic”. A polar bear spotted from Ar Seachran. Photo: Ronan O Caoimh

Paddy Barry started his epic ocean voyaging many years ago with the Galway Hooker St Patrick, but his cruising boat these days is very different, a classic Frers 45 offshore racer of 1979 vintage. Probably the last thing the Frers team were thinking when they turned out a whole range of these gorgeous performance boats thirty-five years ago was that their aluminium hulls would prove ideal for getting quickly to icy regions, and then coping with sea ice of all shapes and ices once they got there. But not only does Paddy Barry’s Ar Seacrhran do it with aplomb, so too does Jamie Young’s slightly larger sister, the Frers 49 Killary Flyer (ex Hesperia ex Noryema XI) from Connacht, whose later adventures in West Greenland featured recently in a TG4 documentary.

mountains Iceland
“A grand soft day in Iceland”. Harry Connolly and Paddy Barry setting out to take on mountains in Iceland during their award-winning cruise to Greenland. Photo: Harry Connolly

Pure Magic and Ar Seachran are hefty big boats, but the other ICC voyager rewarded last night by Hilary Keatinge for getting to Arctic waters did his cruise in the Lady Kate, a boat so ordinary you’d scarcely notice her were it not for the fact that she’s kept in exceptionally good trim.

Drive along in summer past the inner harbour at Dungarvan in West Waterford at low water, and you’ll inevitably be distracted by the number of locally-based bilge-keelers sitting serenely upright (more or less) on that famous Dungarvan mud. There amongst them might be the Moody 31 Lady Kate, for Dungarvan is her home port.

But she was away for quite a while last year, as Donal Walsh took her on an extraordinary cruise to the Arctic, going west of the British mainland then on via Orkney and Shetland to Norway whose coast goes on for ever until you reach the Artic Circle where the doughty Donal had a swim, as one does, and looked at a glacier or too, and then sailed home but this this time leaving the British mainland to starboard. A fabulous 3,500 mile eleven week cruise, he very deservedly was awarded the Fingal Cup for a venture the adjudicator reckons to be extra special – as she puts it, “you feel you’re part of the crew, though I don’t think I’d have done the Arctic Circle swim.”

Svartsen Glacier Norway9
A long way from Dungarvan. Lady Kate with Donal Walsh off the Svartsen Glacier in northern Norway

Indeed, in taking an overview of the placings of the awards, you can reasonable conclude that the adjudicator reckons any civilized person can have enough of ice cruising, as she gives the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to a classic Atlantic triangle cruise to the Azores made from Dun Laoghaire by Alan Rountree with his van de Sadt-designed Legend 34 Tallulah, a boat of 1987 vintage which he completed himself (to a very high standard) from a hull made in Dublin by BJ Marine.

Tallulah looks as immaculate as ever, as we all saw at the Cruising Association of Ireland rally in Dublin’s River Liffey in September. And this is something of a special year for Alan Rountree, as completely independently of the Faulkner Cup award, the East Coast ICC members awarded their own area trophy, the Donegan Cup for longterm achievement, to Tallulah’s skipper. As one of those involved in the decision put it, basically he got the Donegan Trophy “for being Alan Rountree – what more can be said?”

Azores 10
The essence of the Azores. Red roofs maybe, but not an iceberg in sight, and the green is even greener than Ireland. Alan Rountree’s succesful return cruise to the Azores has been awarded the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup.

Tallulah Yacht11
Tallulah at the CAI Rally in the Liffey last Setpember. She looks as good today as when Alan Rountree completed her from a bare hull nearly thirty years ago. Photo: W M Nixon

Tallulah 12
A boat to get you there – and back again. Tallulah takes her departure from the CAI Rally in Dublin. Photo: Aidan Coughlan

Well, it can be said that his Azores cruise was quietly courageous, for although the weather was fine in the islands, the nearer he got to Ireland the more unsettled it became, and he sailed with the recollection of Tallulah being rolled through 360 degrees as she crossed the Continental Shelf in a storm in 1991. But he simply plodded on through calm and storm, the job was done, and Tallulah is the latest recipient of a trophy which embodies the history of modern Irish cruising.

There were many other awards distributed last night, and for those who think that the ICC is all about enormous expensively-equipped boats, let it be recorded that the Marie Trophy for a best cruise in a boat under 30ft long went to Conor O’Byrne of Galway who sailed to the Hebrides with his Sadler 26 Calico Jack, while the Fortnight Cup was taken by a 32-footer, Harry Whelehan’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32 for a fascinating cruise in detail round the Irish Sea, an area in which, the further east you get to coastlines known to very few Irish cruising men, then the bigger the tides become with very demanding challenges in the pilotage stales.

Sadler 26 Calico
The smallest boat to be awarded a trophy at last night's Irish Cruising Club prize-giving was Conor O’Byrne’s Sadler 26 Calico Jack, seen here in Tobermory during her cruise from Connacht to the Hebrides

As for “expensively equipped”, the Rockabill Trophy for seamanship went to Paul Cooper, former Commodore of Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club and an ICC member for 32 years, who solved a series of very threatening problems with guts and ingenuity aboard someone else’s Spray replica during a 1500 mile voyage in the Caribbean, with very major problems being skillfully solved, as the judge observed, “without a cross word being spoken”.

Not surprisingly in view of the weather Ireland experienced for much of the season, there were no contenders for the Round Ireland cruise trophy, though I suppose you could argue that the return of Pure Magic meant the completion of a round Ireland venture, even if in this case the Emerald Isle becomes no more than a mark of the course.

In fact, with the unsettled weather conditions of recent summers in Ireland , there’s now quite a substantial group of ICC boats based out in Galicia in northwest Spain, where the mood of the coast and the weather “is like Ireland only better”. The ICC Annual gives us a glimpse of the activities of these exiles, and one of the most interesting photos in it is provided by Peter Haden of Ballyvaughan in County Clare, whose 36ft Westerly Seahawk Papageno has been based among the Galician rias for many years now.

Down there, the Irish cruising colony can even do a spot of racing provided it’s against interesting local tradtional boats, and Peter’s photo is of Dermod Lovett of Cork going flat out in his classic Salar 40 Lonehort against one of the local Dorna Xeiteras, which we’re told is the Galician equivalent of a Galway Bay gleoiteog. Whatever, neither boat in the photo is giving an inch.

Salar 40 Lonehort14
So who never races? Dermod Lovett ICC in competition with his Salar 40 Lonehort against a local traditional Dorna Xeiteira among the rias of northwest Spain. Photo: Peter Haden

Hilary Keatinge’s adjudication is a delight to read in itself, and last night after just about every sailing centre in Ireland was honoured with an ICC award for one of its locally-based members, naturally the crews leapt to the mainbrace and great was the splicing thereof.

But it’s back to porridge this morning in HYC and the serious work of the ISA Cruising Conference, where the range of topics is clearly of great interest, for the Conference was booked out within a very short time of being highlighted on the Afloat.ie website.

It’s during it that we’ll hear more about that intriguing little anchorage which provides our header photo, for although it could well be somewhere on the Algarve in Portugal, or even in the Ionian islands in Greece were it not for the evidence of tide, it is in fact on the Copper Coast of south Waterford, between Dungarvan and Dunmore East, and it’s known as Blind Harbour.

It’s a charming place if you’ve very settled weather, but it’s so small that you’d probably need to moor bow and stern if you were thinking to overnight, but that’s not really recommended anyway. Norman Kean, Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, had heard about this intriguing little spot from Donal Walsh of Dungarvan (he who has just been awarded the Fingal Cup), and being Norman Kean, he and Geraldine just had to go and experience it for themselves. But it has taken three attempts to have the right conditions as they were sailing by, and it happened in 2015 in a very brief period of settled weather as they headed past in their recently-acquired Warrior 40 Coire Uisge, which has become the new flagship of the ICC’s informal survey flotilla.

Waterford Copper Coast
The secret cove is to be found on Waterford’s Copper Coast, midway between Dungarvan and Dunmore East. Courtesy ICC

Blind Harbour
The newly-surveyed Blind Harbour on the Waterford coast as it appears in the latest edition of the ICC’s South & West Coasts Sailing Directions published this month. Courtesy ICC.

They found they’d to eye-ball their way in to this particular Blind Harbour (there are others so-named around the Irish coast) using the echo sounder, as any reliance on electronic chart assistance would have had them on the nearest part of County Waterford, albeit by only a matter of feet. With a similar exercise a couple of years ago, they found that the same thing was the case at the Joyce Sound Pass inside Slyne head in Connemara – rely in the chart plotter, and you’re making the pilotage into “impactive navigation”.

The message is that some parts of charts are still relying on surveys from a very long time ago, and locations of hyper-narrow channels may be a few metres away from where they actually are. On the other hand, electronic anomalies may arise. Whatever the reason, I know that a couple of years ago, in testing the ship’s gallant little chart plotter we headed for the tricky-enough Gillet passage inside the South Briggs at the south side of the entrance to Belfast Lough, and found that it indicated the rocks as shown were a tiny bit further north than we were seeing, which could have caused a but of a bump if we’d continued on our electronic way.

Electronic charts are only one of many topics which will be covered today. We hope to bring a full report next Saturday, for the participants will in turn require a day or two to digest their findings.

Published in W M Nixon

#ISA - Irish Sailing Association members will be asked to approve the adoption of a revised ISA Constitution at the organisation's AGM at the Green Isle Hotel on Saturday 9 April.

The ISA says it has been working over the past year to bring its Constitution, Formerly the Memorandum & Articles of Association, up to date in accordance with the Companies Act 2014 as well as to reflect the new direction of the association and the needs of its membership.

The proposed ISA Constitution is available to read or download at the ISA website (the current Memorandum & Articles of Association are also available for comparison). A summary of changes will be published by the ISA next month ahead of the AGM.

Published in ISA
Page 4 of 17

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