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#dragon – The second day of the Irish Dragon nationals at Kinsale in County Cork has been scrubbed due to lack of wind. Racing is scheduled to start an hour earlier tomorrow  at 11am.

Published in Dragon
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#dragons – On driving to Kinsale yesterday to photograph the 2014 Irish Dragon Nationals it was a miserable outlook with the rain thundering down in quantities not experienced for some months writes Claire Bateman. Even while waiting around in Kinsale the rain was still incessant. However, some thirty minutes later it was as if a miracle had occurred, the rain ceased, the clouds disappeared and the sun shone gloriously. The wind filled in from a different direction going from south easterly of some 15 knots with a lumpy sea to west/south west 12 knots.

With the marks re-laid on the windward/leeward course Race Officer Alan Crosbie got the race underway for the twenty one boat fleet of which ten are Irish and the remainder of the fleet are visitors from outside the country.

In Race two leading the fleet was Neil Hegarty, David Williams and Peter Bowring from the RStGYC sailing Phantom and, trying to make amends for a poor 15th in the first race, did just that by taking the winning gun. From the Kinsale team, a consistent result in both races was achieved by Cameron Good, Simon Furney and Henry Kingston sailing 'Little Fella'. They had a second in the first race and third in the second race. This result has now placed them at the top of the leader board. Following 'Little Fella' and second on the leader board is the wily fox from the RStGYC, Andrew Craig, sailing with Brian Mathews and Mark Pettit counting a first and a sixth.

The fleet is very strong and includes two former Olympians Robin Hennessy. who sailed in the 1972 Olympics in Kiel, sailing Aphrodite with John Wolfe and John O"Connor, sailing under the burgee of the Royal Palma Yacht Club. Making a welcome return to Kinsale is the second Olympian and Round the World Sailor Lawrie Smith with Adam Bowers and Jack Wilson.

The seven race series will continue until Sunday.

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Published in Dragon
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#RNLI - Skerries RNLI launched on Monday afternoon 16 June to a swimmer in difficulty off nearby Red Island.

The volunteer crew launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson shortly after 4.30pm.

The lifeboat, helmed by Joe May with crew members Eoin Grimes and Stephen Denny on board, made their way directly to the springboards bathing area, from where Dublin Coast Guard had received reports of a swimmer in difficulty.

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat carried out an immediate search of the area. It was quickly discovered that a member of the public, with the aid of a life ring, had managed to assist the swimmer back to shore.

The man was taken on board the lifeboat where first aid was administered. He was then brought back to the station where he was handed over to paramedics.

Weather conditions at the time were calm with a Force 1 southerly wind.

Speaking after the call-out, Joe May, May said of the casualty: "He was a very lucky young man that the life ring was in working order and that someone acted quickly.

"We would advise people to swim close to shore and remember that there can be very strong tidal currents around our coast."

In other lifeboat news, volunteer crew and fundraisers turned out in force at Kinsale RNLI on Sunday 15 June to welcome the annual visit by Sally Anne Odell.

Affectionately known as 'the godmother' to Kinsale RNLI, Odell was accompanied by a group of family and friends and arrived on a cruise ship in Cobh early on Sunday 15 June, where she was met by Kinsale lifeboat operations manager John O’Gorman and other volunteer crew members.

Odell and her guests were brought to the lifeboat station where they spent several hours chatting with crew members and inspecting the lifeboat Miss Sally Anne Baggy before returning to Cobh to rejoin the cruise.

O’Gorman said: "It is always a privilege and a pleasure to welcome Sally Anne home to Kinsale. We can never thank her enough for her generosity in providing Kinsale with its own lifeboat and our magnificent station. 

"It is thanks to people like Sally Anne that the RNLI is able to maintain its role as the charity that saves lives at sea.  She keeps in touch with us between visits is very well informed about what we do here. That’s why she is affectionately known as 'the godmother'."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#islandnation – Entering Kinsale Harbour, east of the Bulman Buoy, is a prominent 200-foot cliff rising sharply above the sea. It is known as Hangman Point and was the location of a gibbet, a warning to everyone not to engage in piracy. Displayed there in 1675 was the head of one of six Irishmen who had murdered the Master and three crew aboard what was described as "a very rich ship," the St.Peter of Hamburg which had been bound for France. This gang sailed the vessel to the West Coast of Ireland where they were captured by the authorities led by Robert Southwell, Vice Admiral of Munster. Convicted and executed, their heads were displayed at different points along the coast, including one at Hangman Point.

The next time I am rounding the Bulman heading for Kinsale I'll take more note of Hangman Point about which I hadn't known a lot, though I did know of the roadside reminder out towards the Old Head of Kinsale of the female pirate Anne Bonney, another story of piracy from the locality. She was actually Anne Cormac, described as "a vivacious girl" who lived with her father, William, in a fine house on the edge of Bullen's Bay which was a haven for piracy on the south coast not far from Kinsale, providing a place to land stolen goods and get water and provisions.

She shared the maritime activities of the area, but her father was actually a successful Cork lawyer who emigrated from that area to the Carolinas in America where the doughty daughter was drawn to the sea, despite the best efforts of her father to steer her in other directions. This led her to falling for the charms of pirate and buccaneer 'Calico' Jack Rackham who was terrorising the coast of Bermuda.

 Anne took to the life of piracy, engaged in it by boarding ships and capturing and looting them and was regarded as a tough fighter. Despite pregnancies, she had her children fostered to continue her cutlass-bearing life. Captured eventually, both 'Calico' and Anne were sentenced to hang. Because she was again pregnant she was reprieved and her last words to 'Calico' before he faced the hangman, according to legend were: "If you had fought like a man, you would not now be hanged like a dog!"

I am not sure I would particularly like such a female type aboard, but out towards the Old Head of Kinsale there is a roadside plaque reminding passersby of Anne Bonney.

PIRATE MEMORIAL OLD HEAD OF KINSALE

The story is told by John Thullier, well-known in the maritime world and in sailing after a lifetime involvement with boats. He is the retired Director of Kinsale Further Education College and steeped in the maritime tradition of the town. The College evolved from projects designed to introduce the maritime environment to students and providing training in marine skills.

KINSALEBOOK

He has compiled the history of Kinsale Harbour and told me how, on walks around the seafront of the town with his grandfather who was a good boat builder timber needed would be spotted, with it all explained to him as a youngster about what a boat needed to be sturdy. John recalled to me how Sundays were the day of leisure, so the men would go sailing and, "in soft hat and with shirt and tie!" Those were times when there was a different approach to sailing clothing!

"Kinsale Harbour – A History," published by The Collins Press, was launched this week at Kinsale Yacht Club. In it John Thullier charts the history of a town now known best for its tourism and food, but which he says must retain its focus of being a port and a maritime location.

Nestling on the River Bandon as it sweeps to the sea, Kinsale emerged as a settlement in the 6th century and has seen many changes.

"Really there are three harbours here, the inner, the middle and the outer and Kinsale has changed over the years as it evolved to meet the many challenges," he said as we chatted overlooking the harbour from the front of the Trident Hotel where the statue of a fisherman, resting and thinking, reminds patrons that this too was once a big fishing port and still retains fishing boat activity.

FISHERMAN TRIDENT HOTEL KINSALE

"The harbour has always provided a safe anchorage and prospered during the golden age of sail, victualling shops bound for the American colonies, the West Indies and trading with English and Continental ports. Many people will remember it for the Battle of Kinsale, but there is much more to the town and the maritime tradition is its main reason for existence. There was a Naval base to restrict threats of foreign invasion, there were pirates and smugglers, it was a shipping port, it evolved when the size of ships changed, it was a big fishing industry centre, that changed too as the industry and stocks moved. It still retains some fishing and it became a sea angling centre which gave it a new life.

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Now it is still very active in the marine, as a sailing centre. There have been difficult times here in Kinsale, but the way a town like this survives is to focus on what it has best, that is the maritime role, its maritime resources and facilities."

Even where we sat talking about Kinsale, where the Trident Hotel stands, he told me was once a dockyard.

"My mother's family was involved in the fishing industry, on my father's side the family were boatbuilders, owners and members of various boards and public bodies engaged in the affairs of the harbour.

"The story of Kinsale is the history of its connection with the sea. Everything about Kinsale is of the sea and so it should remain," says John Thullier, whose book about this major sailing location is well worth reading.

And if you want to know what happened to Anne the pirate, John Thullier says:
"No precise information is available about her after Rackham's hanging. There are reports that she abandoned piracy, was reconciled with her father, remarried and had eight more children."

I like a happy ending!

Twitter: @TomMacSweeney

Published in Island Nation

#cruiserracing – As we start to emerge from seven years of recession, we find the world of sailing has undergone changes which may have not been noticed in the struggle for economic survival. To prosper today, it seems that sailing must hope to be family friendly, and accessible to spectators and would-be participants alike. W M Nixon reflects on how this is working out in the macho world of cruiser racing.

The ICRA Nationals 2015 will be combined with next year's biennial Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale in order to make the event more user-friendly, and comfortably exceed the required critical mass in terms of numbers participating. It is an utterly logical development. And it's scarcely sensational breaking news, as the dogs in the street have been aware of it for a while now, even if an official announcement has yet been made.

But for those who were rather taken by the original notion of the Irish Cruiser-Racing Association staging an annual stand-alone national championship event, rotated around maybe as many as half a dozen centres, this may seem like a retrograde step from the high-flown idealism of the founders. And their vision certainly worked when the streets were awash with money, and people continued to subscribe to the notion that it was acceptable for offshore racing types to devote virtually all their free time to their rather expensive sport, regardless of how anti-social it seemed to family and friends (if they had any of either).

Now, however, the money's gone, and if anything its absence has accelerated the move towards shared recreation. Whatever rugged traditional amateur offshore racing may have been in its heyday, it scarcely qualified as shared recreation. Its austere joys were confined to the direct participants, while the outcome of each contest was an arcane matter to be teased out and analysed only by a very small number of aficionados.

Yet the boats it developed proved popular, with one of the by-products being the acceptance and development of cruisers which sailed well and could, if wished, be realistically raced. In fact, in Ireland in particular, many of these boats with lids are never cruised at all, and no-one ever even overnights aboard them. So after you've had yet another samey day sail round the same familiar old bay, the idea of a spot of racing has appeal.

A boat regularly raced with a modicum of enthusiasm and skill will attract regular crewmembers who want to be sure of getting their fix of sailing once or twice a week, but who also have other things to do – they've other sports, hobbies and interests to take up the rest of their time in addition to the increasing demands of family and social expectations.

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Steady steering afloat, and flexible management ashore....Nobby Reilly of Howth, Commodore of ICRA, helming his Mills 36 Crazy Horse. Photo: Bob Bateman

Lord knows it's all a very long way from the hundred per cent totally rugged offshore racing dedication of international legends like John Illingworth, Dick Nye, Carleton Mitchell and Adlard Coles, but this is the way we sail today. As for really serious stuff, we now leave that to highly-sponsored professionals in sailing machines. And as to any temptation to take part in challenging events, we focus on major happenings like the Fastnet and the Round Ireland. But the rest of the time, we seem to prefer a semi-inshore programme, and home in time for tea.

The ICRA management are a savvy bunch, and they are keen to provide what the market demands. In fact one of their number is Richard Colwell of RedC Polls, the noted opinion poll and market research outfit. His company is a bit busy at the moment – something about European and Local Elections next week – but once that's tidied away, he's going to run an exercise on what cruiser-racer folk really want in their annual programme.

It's not nearly as easy as it seems. If your organisation is going to benefit from successfully going with the flow, then you have to be able to outline a reasonably creative questionnaire structure to indicate where the flow might most usefully go in the first place. Chickens and eggs and all that sort of thing maybe, but good management has to manifest itself in many wonderful ways in a mixture of guidance and productive acceptance of the results of research.

However, before we look at how next month's ICRA Nationals in Dun Laoghaire are shaping up, the Kinsale link-up decision should be considered in the light of its effects on events beyond 2015. ICRA brings any co-operating club an unrivalled database and a hugely experienced race management and administration team. Thus, a neat linkup with an established regatta will confer enormous mutual advantages.

Yet surely it is essential for the good of Irish sailing overall - and particularly for the good of sailing at significant centres which are not holders of major biennial regattas – that from time to time the ICRA Nats continue to be staged as a stand-alone event?

Once the linkup has been made to the Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale, you can see the slippery slope with linkups to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in Dun Laoghaire, and Cork Week itself. Carried to its logical conclusion, going with the flow to this extent would exclude other regatta-less centres on a permanent basis.

icra20143Crosshaven offers such a total package afloat and ashore, complete with a large ready-made home fleet, that smaller ports are at a disadvantage in competing to stage regattas. Photo: Bob Bateman

But that would be too totally at variance with ICRA's ethos of being a truly national body. And fortunately there is a let-out. Both the VLDR and Cork Week are held in July. The ICRA Nats have always been in either May or June. Thus although the Sovereigns Cup may be traditionally the last week of June, it's June nevertheless, and the basic integrity of the by-now traditional annual programme is maintained.

In the final analysis, it comes down the numbers game, and the Cork area and Dublin Bay start with an in-built advantage with their large fleets. In fact, Dun Laoghaire's enormous fleet puts it in a class of its own, and all sorts of special effects related to it being the harbour for a populous and burgeoning capital city come into play.


icra20144A brisk race, and back in time for tea – it's the way most cruiser-racers sail today. Photo: Bob Bateman

When everything falls into place, the numbers involved can be staggering. The increasing accuracy of weather forecasts plays a role in this. Last year, as the weather maps started looking a bit more healthy as the time for the four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire approached, boats which had scarcely been racing at all were given a top and tail, they chatted their way through the late entry process, and crews were soon brought together for a sun-filled summer campaign in a record fleet.

It may sound a very hit and miss way to plan you sport, but that's the way we live now. Anyone in the hospitality industry in the West of Ireland can tell you that if there's a good forecast for the weekend, the Dubliners who can now reach them in a couple of hours on the motorway will be in contact, cutting last-minute deals. And if the weather's bad, those same Dubliners will either spend the weekend at home on indoor pursuits, or else they'll hightail to the airport to take up a late bargain on a day or two in the sun.

When volatility like that becomes the norm, management will have to be flexible or it will fail. Even in times past, "Surely you knew we'd be coming?" was a frequent greeting as some late un-entered would-be participant turned up at an Irish regatta. That said, if you're half serious about your racing, you'll have had it all – boats and crew alike - in place months in advance. But the latecomers will happily claim that such punctiliousness makes it even more galling when some bunch of hastily-assembled pierhead jumpers goes out and gets a good result.

Entries for the ICRA Nationals 2014 at the Royal Irish YC from June 13th to 15th went through the hundred mark this week when Darragh McCormack's Foynes-based J/24 Maximus became officially registered, and almost immediately afterwards Converting Machine from Pwllheli in North Wales came aboard, so progress towards the desired 120 is looking good.

That may seem optimistic with just four weeks to go, but Fintan Cairns of ICRA, who is monitoring the list and liaising with the RIYC, is a realist. Remembering what happened with the VLDR in the final days of countdown last year, he's keeping one eye on the met maps, and another on the current low entry in classes like the Sigma 33s and the First 211s. A bit nearer the time, and a cheerful weather prospect for mid-June will see those numbers coming to life.

That said, up at the sharp end, the serious entries have been in place for weeks, and it's already a cracker of a fleet. And even the most rugged traditionalist offshore racer who claims to enjoy nothing more than a 90 mile slug to windward will allow himself (or herself) to enjoy a bit of sunshine sailing in the bay.

icra20145This sort of cruiser-racing is just the ticket for most crews – and they'd prefer not to be in an event which involves racing at night. Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in W M Nixon

#RNLI - Crew members from the training ship Astrid that sank on 24 July 2013 visited Kinsale RNLI lifeboat station to thank volunteer crew and support the RNLI’s Mayday campaign.

Some 30 young people were brought to safety by RNLI lifeboat Miss Sally Anne Baggy when the tall ship hit rocks between Oysterhaven and Kinsale.

Volunteer crew members Liam O’Connell, Nick Searls and Jim Grennan, who were on the Kinsale RNLI lifeboat on the day Astrid sank, were on hand to welcome the visitors and present them with iconic Yellow Welly key rings to mark the occasion.

Undeterred by their experience last summer, the youngsters were taking part on a training exercise on 70ft schooner Spirit of Oysterhaven, the flagship of The Oysterhaven Centre.

The Astrid rescue was just one of more than 40 rescue missions launched by Kinsale RNLI last year.

Voice of Ireland judge and former Westlife member Kian Egan has lent his support to the Mayday campaign which runs from this Thursday 1 till Monday 5 May, when the charity’s volunteers will be selling yellow welly pin badges and key rings for a €2 donation, in cities, towns and villages throughout Ireland.

And as previously reported on Afloat.ie, there will also be a number of welly-themed events held to raise funds for the lifesaving charity in Ireland. 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#kinsale – Kinsale's magnificent harbour provided the protection required to get the penultimate day of the MMD Spring Series underway as winds reached gale force along the souith coast. It proved to be the wildest day so far with several dramatic broaches on the race course. Fortunately all returned to shore safely with nothing more serious than a few ripped sails. The Committee boat remained inside the harbour for some shelter which was a wise decision as some competitors recorded gusts of 34 knots.

Meridian (Tom & Ursula Roche ) is holding the lead in Class 0 Echo with Freya (Conor Doyle) taking the honours in IRC, Godot (Godkin & O'Donovan) currently lies second in both classes.

Fool's Gold ( Rob McConnell) has an outstanding result in Class 1 IRC with an unbeatable full stack of bullets, Justus ( Dan Buckley) is holding second place. Fool's Gold has also managed to be placed second overall in Class 1 Echo with KYC's Joker (Broderick & Gibbons ) leading by 2 points.

Results in Class 2 Echo and IRC are almost identical with Bad Company (Desmond, Ivers & Deasy ) leading in both followed by The Main Four (Salter & O'Regan)

Class 3 Echo is being hotly contested with Chameleon (Padraig O'Donovan), Gunsmoke (Sammy Cohen) and Powder Monkey (Liam Lynch) all tying on 13 points ! Chameleon is clinging to the lead with the best combination of placings. Bandit (Marron & O'Connell) still leads Class 2 IRC with another good day on the racecourse despite a spectacular broach.

Once again results are mirrored in both IRC & Echo in Class 4 with KYC's Sundancer (Alan Mulcahy) proving to be unbeatable. RCYC's Thistle (Peter Webster) lies second in both Classes.

The sponsor of today's prizes was Cheeky Cherubs Childcare, with the proprietor Michelle Akerlind presenting the prizes.

The Spring Series finishes on Saturday 26th with a prize giving dinner after racing in the Club House of Kinsale Yacht Club. Full results here

Published in Kinsale

#RNLI - Last Friday (11 April) was a busy night for the volunteer crew of Kinsale RNLI as they collected two West Cork community awards for bringing to safety the 30 crew members of the training ship Astrid that sank outside Kinsale harbour in July last year.

The first honour of the night was bestowed at the 25th anniversary awards ceremony in Bandon’s Munster Arms Hotel, organised by The Opinion magazine and sponsored by Bandon Co-op. 

Kinsale lifeboat Miss Sally Anne (Baggy) was first on the scene on 24 July 2013 when the Astrid ran aground. Volunteer crew members Liam O’Connell, Nick Searls and James Grennan worked in treacherous conditions to safely evacuate all 30 crew on board. 

They accepted The Opinion/Bandon Co-op Community Award on behalf on the RNLI, along with volunteers from Courtmacsherry RNLI who assisted the rescue.

Next stop was Acton's Hotel for the Kinsale District and Community Awards. Flanked by boat and shore crew and volunteers from the fundraising team, Liam, Nick and James accepted their second trophy of the night.

Lifeboat operations manager John O’Gorman said: “This is a great honour for all the volunteers of the RNLI who give freely of their time to save lives at sea.  As volunteers, our only reward is the satisfaction of a job well done and the respect of our community. We have received that in abundance tonight."

This brings to three the number of awards related to the Astrid. Earlier this year the Irish Cruising Club presented Kinsale RNLI with the Waterford Cup, a perpetual trophy dating back to 1953.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#kyc – Kinsale Yacht Club got the 2014 sailing season off to a dramatic start today for the first two races of its MMD Construction sponsored Spring Series for cruisers. It was John Godkin's Dufour 44 Godot that took advantage of the big seas and gusty south westerly winds to lead in IRC after two races in Class zero from Tom Roche's Salona 45, Meridian in a four–boat fleet writes Claire Bateman.

In a five boat fleet Dan Buckley's J109 Justus has the lead in IRC one from Diarmuid and Hilda Good's Exhale, an X362 Sport .

In Class One Rob McConnell's Fool's Gold leads in ECHO and is on equal points with the Broderick and Gibbons Joker

The 2014 Sailing Club of the Year Award winner has organised racing for four separate classes in the April series with today's racing sponsored by Des McWilliam of UK Sails. Class three has the marginally biggest fleet with six starters. Flyover, the well campaigned Sigma 33 ood skippered by David Marchant from Waterford holds the early lead in class three from Bandit, the modified Bolero of Kieran O'Connell and Graham Marron.

A mild day and a 15 to 20 knot breeze provided the spinnaker fleets with great racing with two races on windward/leeward courses and organised in such a way that classes Zero, One and Two sailed longer courses but were able to finish at approximately the same time as Classes Three and Four thus enabling the second race to get under way promptly. The White Sail fleet which started in off Charlelsfort blew away the cobwebs after the long winter recess. The fleet totalled thirty one boats, ten of which came from the Royal Cork Yacht Club, and three from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club.

Racing will continue next Sunday with FG 11.55a.m. for spinnaker fleets and 12.55 p.m for White Sail.

Full results by class here. More photos below.

 

Published in Kinsale

#cruising – Cruising is the hidden side of sailing, yet it's the choice for the majority of those going afloat. Whether it's day cruising, a longer venture in the annual holidays, or the dream cruise of a lifetime across oceans, this is our sport. Unlike racing, which generates its own narrative even if only through the recorded results, much of cruising would slip under the radar completely were it not for cruising awards. W M Nixon considers the latest annual batch from the Irish Cruising Club.

Cruising under sail seems to be the secret of eternal youth. Last night's Annual General Meeting of the Irish Cruising Club in Dun Laoghaire saw a distribution of awards to voyagers from all parts of Ireland who sailed successfully in many areas of the globe in boats mostly of modest size. Yet any outside analyst would soon have made the point that many of the achievers were of mature – sometimes very mature - years, and fulfilling a retirement dream.

But despite any ICC membership gathering these days being a sea of silver heads, age is the last thing they think about. This club of 550 members has become the mixture of an Active Retirement Association – very active indeed, as it happens – and a sort of seagoing extension of the Men's Shed movement.

If you were looking for an illustration of Ireland's changing demographics, and our very rapidly changing attitude as to what constitutes old age, you need look no further than the ICC. Time was when it was thought quite something when one of the club achieved the Golden Jubilee of their membership. But these days, it's no big deal to have been on the strength for fifty years, as the senior member is Joe FitzGerald of Crosshaven, who this year marks 70 years in the club, and he is closely followed by Douglas Mellon who joined in 1947 from Howth - he now lives on the Scottish Riviera in Kircudbright.

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Joe FitzGerald of Cork is the ICC's most senior member, having joined in 1944. He served as Commodore from 1984 to 1987.

All those years ago when they took up their membership, it was thought perfectly normal for young men – married or otherwise - to take off for at least a fortnight's cruising every year, regardless of family demands which these days would be regarded as the prior commitment. In fact, nowadays so much emphasis is placed on family life and families doing just about every last recreational thing together, that younger married sailing people either do extremely short-hop cruising of the type necessitated by catering for the needs of all the members of the family, or else they don't cruise at all in the traditional sense - "Fun For All The Family" effectively rules out proper cruising.

Then too, modern life has so many other distractions - not least of them work demands which involve 24/7 attention - that the old-style easygoing simply-wandering-along holiday cruising is very much a minority activity. This means that at first it seems young people are not taking up traditional cruising at all. But with its deep experience garnered since its foundation in 1929, the Irish Cruising Club has learned to take the long view. It is not unduly concerned by the steadily rising age profile of its membership, and certainly every year there is a significant group of sometimes quite senior yet nevertheless increasingly active cruising enthusiasts joining the club.

They're the embodiment of the slogan that Sailing is a Sport for Life, and it's only politeness which prevents them saying that the subtle pleasures of cruising are wasted on the young. So when you look at the lineup of achievement represented by last night's awards, it's natural to wonder what these people did in earlier life, that they can nowadays afford the time, resources and dedication necessary to complete voyages of this quality.

The adjudication was done by Dave Whitehead of Kinvara on Galway Bay, himself no stranger to the ways of the sea while making long voyages in small craft. He breaks new ground by awarding three trophies at once to Sam Davis of Strangford Lough, whose Cape Horn and Pacific ventures with his Rival 41 Suvretta have been quietly bubbling away in the background of ICC activity for the past three years.

Sam Davis first featured in Afloat magazine in March and April 1981 when we ran his two-part account of his first ocean voyage, an Atlantic circuit from Strangford Lough between 1976 and 1979 with the 34.5ft West Solent Class Suvretta, a former racing boat he'd found in a derelict state and restored to ocean-going condition.

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The 34ft West Solent class Suvretta in her offshore racing days in the 1950s when she was based in Belfast Lough. When Sam Davis did the Atlantic Circuit cruise with her in 1976-79, she carried a less loft mainmast, with masthead rig.

But even with Sam's improvements, she was still no more than a slip of a boat, so it says much for his grit and skill that he brought her through the Fastnet storm of 1979 as he sailed the final hundred miles back to Ireland. There was damage aloft, and he'd to get into Dunmore East unaided with jury rigging, but the job was done.

While in the Caribbean, he'd worked in charter yachts between times to make a shilling or two. But after he'd spent time back in Northern Ireland, he went abroad into serious seafaring in offshore service industries, working in places like The Gulf, the North Sea, the Amazon, the Red Sea and Malaysia, becoming a fully accredited Marine Consultant.

Yet if you ask him nowadays what he is and what he was, he'll say he's a farmer and former seaman, as his purchase some years ago of Conly Island in Strangford Lough (you can drive out to it when the tide is down) gives him the little bit of land, and an anchorage too, while "seaman" covers his many experiences in offshore work.

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Sam Davis with his newly-acquired Rival 41, re-named Suvretta, in 2009. Photo: W M Nixon

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Suvretta in the Beagle Channel in southern Chile. Photo: Sam Davis

Back in 2009 he bought a Rival 41, a hefty and able vessel, a sister-ship of Waxwing in which fellow ICC members Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire went round the world 14 years ago. Sam re-named his new boat Suvretta, spent the winter sorting her out, and in 2010 he was gone, sailing south single-handed to eventually round Cape Horn and then spend a long time on the coast of Chile. He was delayed there as a ship broke drift and damaged the boat, but it was well fixed, and he voyaged on into the Pacific to many islands, including Pitcairn and the Tahiti group.

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Restless anchorage. Suvretta in Bounty Bay on Pitcairn Island. Photo: Sam Davis

Eventually he fetched up for some time in Tonga, where he became enthused about the 73ft Vakas, the Pacific islanders' contemporary take on the classic Polynesian inter-island vessels (see Sailing on Saturday 11th January 2014). But by November 2012 it was time to head for home, so Suvretta sailed southeast for Cape Horn non-stop, and having rounded it, shaped her course for Port Stanley in the Falklands.

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Suvretta rounding Cape Horn for the second time, 21st January 2013. It was only when the Horn was well astern that the weather deteriorated rapidly to make for a challenging approach to Port Stanley. Photo: Sam Davis

However, while rounding the Horn had been simple enough, the passage onwards to Stanley became increasingly fraught, running before rising storm force winds. Conditions were such that it looked for a while as though the lone sailor was going to be swept right past the islands, but he made the cut into shelter to such a nicety that he is awarded the ICC's Rockabill Trophy for Seamanship.

And then when Port Stanley was reached, a very fine passage had been completed from Tonga, so last night for that he was additionally awarded the ICC's Atlantic Trophy for the best voyage with a non-stop leg of more than a thousand miles. And then finally, after they'd spent the mid part of 2013 working their way up the Atlantic with the lone skipper particularly enjoying himself at ports on the Irish coast, Suvretta and Sam returned after three years to Conly Island. And they'd now done more than enough to also be awarded a third trophy - the ICC's premier honour, the Faulkner Cup.

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Home again. Sam Davis back in Ireland, August 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

With such a high level of activity by many members, ICC adjudicators always find some final choices to be a very close call, so some years ago the Strangford Cup was inaugurated for the cruise which almost won the Faulkner Cup. This year it has gone to a fine cruise from Portugal to Madeira and through the Azores in detail before returning to Portugal.

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John Duggan with his MG CS40 Hecuba in Horta in the Azores

John Duggan originally hailed from Malahide where he sailed, and he also sailed with the college teams while at Trinity College in Dublin. He cruised and raced offshore mostly in the Irish Sea, but having qualified as an accountant he decided to spread his wings internationally, and he became one of those key people who turn up as partners in one of the big four accountancy firms worldwide.

Eventually his career brought him to the company's offices in Lisbon. Living in Portugal suited him fine, so he put down roots and in time bought himself an interesting cruiser. Hecuba is a 1989 Canadian-built Tony Castro-designed MG CS40, a handsome 12m craft with good performance enhanced by an effective wing keel.

During his final years in the day job he gradually improved the boat with a mind to some proper cruising once he retired at 60, something which he planned with all a high-powered accountant's meticulous attention to detail. He remembers the final day at the office, when a friend on the other side of the world sent him an email: "Even the worst day of your retirement will be better than the best day at work".

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Azorean whaleboat with Pico beyond seen during one of Hecuba's cruises from Portugal to the Azores. Photo: John Duggan

Maybe so, yet not everyone makes the changeover smoothly, but in John Duggan's case the challenge of planning and executing remarkably civilised yet challenging cruises has proven to be a complete new job in itself, but much more fun than number crunching. He goes to enormous trouble to make sure that his crews have as enjoyable and varied an experience as possible, yet all the time he is quietly keeping the project moving along while noting details and features of ports visited which might be of interest to fellow skippers, a habit which is the hallmark of the true cruising man.

When you live in Cascais with your boat based in the marina nearby, the Azores are the western isles which call you each summer. But unlike Scotland's Western Isles which are just a day's sail away across the Sea of the Hebrides, the Azores involve an immediate ocean voyage from Portugal of at least 500 miles. However, for 2013's cruise west, Hecuba made it a triangle, going first to Madeira before going on nor'west to the Azores which were cruised in detail before returning to Cascais after six weeks away, having logged 2390 miles, with the final tabulation being:
Hours spent close hauled: Zero.
Cross words exchanged: Zero.

Inevitably the two big awards dominate the scoresheet, but the ICC also has a host of trophies which reflect every level of club sailing activity. The Round Ireland Cup, for instance, is for the circuit which produces most information for the club's sailing directions, and in a year in which a goodly number went round, it was Donal Walsh of Dungarvan with his Moody 31 Lady Kate who best filled the bill.

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Donal Walsh's Lady Kate anchored at Inishmurray off the Sligo coast during his detailed round Ireland cruise. Photo: Donal Walsh

As the Faulkner Cup was first won in 1931 by the 28ft cutter Marie, the Marie Trophy is for the best cruise by a boat under 30ft, and Mick Delap from Valentia Island with his Tamarisk 24 gaff cutter North Star fits into the size requirement with six feet to spare. He made a fine job of completing a two-summer circuit of Ireland by returning from western Scotland via the Irish Sea and Ireland's south and southwest coasts.

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Mick Delap's Tamarisk 24 North Star from Valentia in Lowlandman's Bay in Jura in the Hebrides. Photo: Mick Delap

In all, the ICC has a dozen cruising trophies. But even so not everyone gets one in a typically busy year, so to encourage the newcomers they've the Perry Greer Trophy for first time log-writers, and it goes to Peter Mullan from the Quoile in Strangford Lough for his insightful account of a round Ireland cruise with the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey Sancerre.

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Peter Mullan's Sun Odyssey Sancerre in the little harbour at Tory Island with the Donegal highlands beyond. Photo: Peter Mullan

All the logs, including the winning ones, were featured in the ICC's 180-page Annual 2013, which Honorary Editor Ed Wheeler managed to get to the members in time for Christmas. All this is done by voluntary effort, yet the Annual would stand up to professional comparisons, as it includes informative accounts of cruises in just about every part of the world, plus a report on the ICC Cruise-in-Company to the Isles of Scilly which was an outstanding success despite coinciding with some uneven weather in June.

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The Irish Cruising Club flotilla in the Isles of Scilly during their successful Cruise-in-Company in June 2013.

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Everyone to his taste. ICC member Brian Black went to Greenland for the sixth time, crewing on Aurora. This is Kangertitiatsivaq Fjord in high summer. Photo: Brian Black

There's more to the Club than the Annual, as the ICC's programme of producing constantly up-dated Sailing Directions for the entire Irish coast in two volumes is a continuous progression, with the latest 12th Edition of the North & East Coast Book due next month from Honorary Editor Norman Kean, whose home port is Courtmacsherry.

Thus it's clear that Ireland's cruising club is a truly all-Ireland organisation, and this year it will be celebrating its 85th birthday with a Cruise-in-Company to Glengarriff where it was founded on July 13th 1929. Yet despite its obvious significance, this is a club without premises. In the final analysis, it's a club of the mind, made up of kindred spirits. Heading such a body is a mighty challenge, and the changing of the watch is always a charged moment.

Last night David Tucker of Kinsale stood down after serving his three years as Commodore, and he was succeeded by Peter Killen of Malahide. His experience in club administration is long-lived – he was Commodore of Malahide YC when it became "Club of the Year" in 1980. But it was his cruising CV which next went into overdrive, as in 1993 he voyaged north to Iceland, circled it, and then sailed back in near-record time in an S&S 30. He then moved up to a Sigma 36 which he cruised to Greenland among other places, following which he cruised even further with a Sweden 38, and then in 2004 he took on his dreamship, the Amel Maramu 54 Pure Magic.

Peter Killen seems to have cruised this very special boat just about everywhere. Not least was deep into Antarctica, where he made a memorable arrival in zero visibility with icy conditions into the natural harbour in the extinct volcanic crater on Deception Island. It was all a long way in time and distance from five boats gathered in Glengarrif in the hope of forming a little cruising organisation back in 1929. But that's the way it is with the Irish Cruising Club.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 9 of 25

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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