Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Irish Sailing Classes. Yacht, One Design & Dinghy Racing News, Class by Class
The 2023 Irish J109 Class events are the J109 Eastern Championships, to be held 10th - 11th of June on Dublin Bay, and the J109 National Championships to be held as part of the Key Yachting J-Cup from the 26th - 27th of August
In order to encourage greater participation by female sailors in the Irish J109 fleet, the class has voted to amend the crew weight limit to permit up to two female crew members to be excluded from the combined crew weight…
Kieran Dorgan from Cove Sailing Club leads at the Monksotwn Bay Laser League in Cork Harbour
At Monkstown Bay Sailing Club in Cork Harbour, where eleven races have been sailed in the club’s Winter Laser League, racing resumed on Saturday when Kieran Dorgan from Cove Sailing Club just around the corner at Whitepoint, continued to lead…
Squib racing at the Kinsale Yacht Club Frostbite Series 2023
Cinnamon Girl, the two-handed cruiser crew of Sam Hunt and Cian McCarthy, sailed the Squib, Breakaway, to first place in the first race of Sunday’s Custom Rigging Frostbite Series at Kinsale Yacht Club. This was the second day of racing,…
The Melges 15 won Sailing boat of the year in 2022 and has been Melges's best-selling design. With over 600 boats already built, they have quickly established strong fleets wherever they have been established
The Melges 15, a new double-handed dinghy, will launch in Europe this summer, with its first European fleet set for Dublin Bay. The drive for the new class is being led by John Sheehy of the Royal Saint George, who hosts a Zoom call…
GP14 dinghy racing off Skerries in County Dublin
A single-item agenda could see a new constitution for one of Ireland's strongest dinghy classes when the GP14 class votes at an Extraordinary General Meeting later this month.  Since September 13th, 1955, the GP14 Ireland Class Association has existed in…
Fireballs sailing on Tralee Bay in a still from recently digitised footage of the 1970 Fireball Worlds
Film footage of the 1970 Fireball World Championship hosted in Fenit by Tralee Bay Sailing Club has been digitised after more than 50 years and has been shared online by John Caig, who won the event with Jack Davies. According…
Noel Butler presented with his trophy at Dun Laoghaire Marina by the DBSC in 2021 for his RS Aero performance
Noel Butler of the National Yacht Club is Stateside this week for the 2023 Florida RS Aero Winter Series in Tampa. Davis Island Yacht Club — known for its steady winter winds ranging from 8-15 knots on any given day…
GP14 action from the 2022 World Championships hosted by Skerries Sailing Club in County Dublin
The 2023 Irish GP14  season gets underway with its first of seven events in April when Blessington Sailing Club hosts the O'Tiarnaigh Challenge. Coming off the back of an epic 2022 season, that saw 100 boats gather in Ireland for…
Quarter Ton Cup racing in Cowes
The Notice of Race for the upcoming Quarter Ton Cup in Crosshaven, County Cork, July (13–15, 2023) has been released by Royal Cork Yacht Club and marks the return of the Cup to Cork Harbour for the first time in…
With his first victory of 2023 already recorded, Anthony O’Leary has now been topping major leaderboards for fifty years and more
It says everything about Anthony O’Leary’s long and successful involvement with sailing to affirm that he puts even more back into the sport than he takes from it. Already a well-established national and international winner when he became the youngest-ever…
An initial order of 12 boats has been placed for 12 Melges 15s for Dublin Bay this summer
The Melges 15 dinghy, a new double-handed dinghy taking the US by storm, is due to launch in Europe this summer, with its first European fleet set for Dublin Bay. Leading the class launch is John Sheehy of the Royal Saint…
The Irish Jaguar Dragon team of Martin Byrne, John Simms and Adam Winkelmann were  third overall at the Coupe de l'Amitié at at the Yacht Club de Cannes in France
The Irish Jaguar Dragon team from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour took third overall at last weekend's Coupe de l'Amitié in France.  The keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, John Simms and Adam Winkelmann were in the…
Micheal O'Suillieabhain (left) and father, Michael O'Sullivan lead the Squib Class at the Kinsale Yacht Club Custom Rigging Frostbite Series
After three races sailed in the Squib Class at Kinsale Yacht Club's Custom Rigging Frostbite Series, a father and son duo sailing Mucky Duck lead the 12-boat fleet on seven points. The O'Sullivan's, Micheal and Michael take a four-point advantage over Colm…
Howth sailor Eve McMahon with head coach Rory Fitzpatrick at the handover of the new van for the Irish Olympic Sailing Team
Ireland’s Olympic sailing team has started the New Year with a fair wind in its sails, having welcomed a new addition to its fleet of commercial vehicles in the shape of a new Mercedes-Benz Vito van. The second of its…
RS Aeros go downwind in the first race of the INSS 2023 Super Series at Dun Laoghaire Harbour
Despite the gloomy day on Saturday, RS Aeros, 400s, Waszps and even two RS Neos took to Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the RS Super Series, which is organised by Irish National Sailing Club and sponsored by the distributors for…
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sailing again on Dublin Bay in 2021 after forty years ashore
Dublin Bay's Hal Sisk and Fionan De Barra talked at Galway Bay Sailing Club on the Dublin Bay 21 Class restoration project and the history of the World's oldest cruiser racing class (1903 - 2023). As regular Afloat readers know, thanks to Sisk…

Irish Sailing Classes and Association – There’s no shortage of one-design classes from which to choose and each gives its enthusiasts great competition, fun and camaraderie, writes Graham Smith in this review of the classes. 

One-design racing is where it all starts. It is, after all, where all the top sailors earned their stripes, battling away for line honours without a thought for a handicapper’s calculator wiping away a hard-fought victory!

Indeed, you could count on less than one hand the number of top Irish sailors who didn’t cut their teeth in a one-design dinghy! Just think of Cudmore, Barrington, Watson, Wilkins, Hennessy and Dix to name a few and you realise that they honed their skills in everything from Enterprises to Lasers and a lot in between.

At present count, there are a little over 30 one-design classes in Ireland, split almost evenly between dinghies and keelboats, a statistic which might raise a few eyebrows. They range from the long-established Mermaids, IDRA14s and Dragons to the newer additions like Fevas, Topaz and RS Elite. They all fill a particular need and give their owners and crews considerable enjoyment.

Many have attracted their World or European Championships to Irish waters over the years and while 2009 is notable for a lack of such events here, the following year will see the Etchells Worlds at Howth and perhaps a few other international regattas too.

In addition to the review, we asked each class to complete a questionnaire giving details of their fleet numbers, whether they were on a growth pattern or holding their own, so we could highlight those ‘on the up’ and those remaining static in terms of numbers. The older traditional designs, as you might imagine, fall into the latter category, although that’s not a negative!

CLASS REVIEW  The State of the Classes – League Table (as at February 2009)

S = Static; U = Up/growing

275     Optimist   U

200+   Laser   S

189     Mermaid   S

160     Flying Fifteen   S

130     RS Feva   U

115     Shannon One Design    U

100+   Mirror   S

100+   Topper   U

99       Topaz   U

94       Laser SB3   U

87       GP14   U

85       Squib   S

70       Fireball   S

70       Ruffian   S

60       J24   S

60       Shipman   S

52       Dragon   S

50       RS400/200   S

50       420    U

43       Multihulls    U

42       Dragon    S

40       Water Wags    U

40       Wayfarer    S

34       IDRA14    U

33       Puppeteer    U

28       Etchells    S

27       E-Boat    U

26       Glen    S

25       Enterprise    S

18       Sigma 33    S

18       Howth 17    U

13       RS Elite    U