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Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) has introduced a new cruiser Four Non-Spinnaker Open Class for the 2021 season.

"The new class is In response to the increasing demand for short-handed and non-spinnaker cruiser racing as reported in a number of recent articles in Afloat", according to DBSC Commodore Ann Kirwan.

This new class initiative is for those who want competitive performance racing without the use of Spinnakers, Gennakers and Bloopers. It will suit those who like sailing short-handed or even fully crewed and want the fun of racing without the need to handle spinnakers etc.

Significantly, furling headsails – often a bone of contention in white sails racing – will not be mandatory.

DBSC's existing Cruisers 5 class will continue to be a separate class racing under their White Sails Class rules that mandate furling headsails.

Boats with a valid ECHO handicap cert, and/or a non-spinnaker IRC TCF of .820 or above and who conform to the DBSC Cruisers 4 Non-Spinnaker class rules shall be eligible to apply for entry.

A final decision on entry will be under the direction of the DBSC Committee.

Boats for the new DBSC class four must be monohull, with a minimum of 2 sleeping bunks, internal seating accommodation for 4 persons. In addition, they must have an inboard engine, at least one head and a cooker.Boats for the new DBSC class four must be monohull, with a minimum of 2 sleeping bunks, internal seating accommodation for 4 persons. In addition, they must have an inboard engine, at least one head and a cooker

The rules for the new class are below. 

DBSC Cruisers 4 Non-Spinnaker Open Class:

  • Boats with a valid ECHO handicap cert, and/or a non-spinnaker IRC TCF of .820 or above and who conform to the DBSC Cruisers 4 Non-Spinnaker class rules shall be eligible to apply for entry. The final decision on entry will be under the direction of the DBSC Committee
  • Boats must be monohull, with a minimum of 2 sleeping bunks, internal seating accommodation for 4 persons. In addition, they must have an inboard engine, at least one head and a cooker.
  • Boats shall display the Numeral Pennant “4” on their backstay.
  • Boats who wish to race under ECHO and/or IRC handicap shall have a current valid certificate. New entrants to the class may be given an initial loading of up to 10% on their ECHO handicap.
  • Only a single headsail shall be used while racing.
  • Sail identification number on mainsail is required.
  • Spinnakers, Bloopers, Gennakers, Code Zero or similar sails are not allowed.
  • Whisker or spinnaker poles are allowed for headsails.
Published in DBSC

Welcome to Nautical Limbo Land. This weekend may see the annual start-of-season lift-ins – with masked-up socially-distanced protocols - at the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, the National YC, and the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. But as was discussed here a week ago, it will be somewhere around the 20th April before it's clear whether or not the inevitable behind-doors socialising of the Easter Weekend has led to a fresh peak in the currently almost-plateaued pandemic infection rate. And officially it's 26th April before limited activity will be permitted in specialised outdoor sports such as tennis, sailing and golf.

There are those – particularly lone sailors of every hue from paddleboarders to top Laser performers – who have been pushing their particular envelopes to the absolute limit afloat. But equally, there are those for whom sailing simply isn't worth resuming until it re-emerges – if it ever does – as the carefree sociable activity of yore, in which skills of seamanship and sailing techniques are as important as ever, but you no longer find your activities hampered at every turn by considerations of social distancing and bubble maintenance.

Out on his own - the lone kite-surfer in Dublin Bay is at much less risk of COVID infection than the passengers on the cross-channel ferryOut on his own - the lone kite-surfer in Dublin Bay is at much less risk of COVID infection than the passengers on the cross-channel ferry

A crisp email from a sociable skipper sums it up: "Whatever other crews may be doing, our lot aren't going racing again until we're all Pfull of Pfizer". Now that's telling it like it is. But the ultimate nationwide logistical challenges in fulfilling its demands scarcely bear thinking about.

Nevertheless "Get Pfull of Pfizer and Sail for Ireland" has quite a ring to it, and it makes for an inspiring aspiration. But as we've learned through the long and dreary unwinding of the Great Pandemic Experience, predictions of when and how we can resume specific activities are very difficult to make with any real accuracy, mainly because they involve the future. And it emerges that the supposedly smooth-running roll-out is neither smooth nor rolling, as yet another glitch emerges somewhere along the line in the supply chain and the supply train moving it.

There they are – gone…..Today (Saturday's) lift-in at the National YC is one of three similar club operations this weekend in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Afloat.ie   There they are – gone…..Today (Saturday's) lift-in at the National YC is one of three similar club operations this weekend in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Afloat.ie  

Time was when trains were a matter of romance and song, but this has all become so deadly serious that's it's just not on to envisage The Vacc-Supply Train as a topic for a hypnotically rhythmic railroad song on the lines of The City of New Orleans (Willie Nelson your only man), or the Rock Island Line, and even less so with The Orange Blossom Special.

So we keep the head down and plod on towards late April, sustained and encouraged by the knowledge that in the brief suspensions of Lockdowns last summer, Ireland was indisputably a world leader in providing local racing and offshore challenges which stayed within guidelines, and yet managed to keep our sport and many of our clubs alive and active, albeit in an often decidedly muted way.

Sister power…..the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo – with one of the sisters on the helm – cutting a dash in the first evening race of the truncated 2020 Royal Cork YC Club Programme on Thursday July 9th. In addition to club racing, Nieulargo won both the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale and the Fastnet 450 Races to be "Boat of the Year". Photo: Robert BatemanSister power…..the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo – with one of the sisters on the helm – cutting a dash in the first evening race of the truncated 2020 Royal Cork YC Club Programme on Thursday, July 9th. In addition to club racing, Nieulargo won both the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale and the Fastnet 450 Races to be "Boat of the Year". Photo: Robert Bateman

This was done through quiet and thorough behind-the-scenes planning and organisation in order to minimise the shore-crowd element of any event, sometimes to the point that a compliant event might be taking place afloat, but there wasn't a soul to be found ashore, with Dublin Bay SC setting the pace by moving their entire race administration activity aboard their Committee Boats.

Thus in the current febrile national sporting mood, with recreational control freaks ready to leap on anyone making plans for some sporting activity that starts to explore the limits of what's possible, we wouldn't dream at the moment of contacting those who successfully organised special events last year and will be expected to do the same this time round. And equally in the current fluid situation, now is not the time to challenge those who have flagged significant events for the early to mid part of the hoped-for season to confirm definitely whether or not those events will actually happen.

By moving their entire Race Administration operation aboard their Committee Boats, Dublin Bay SC succeeded in running a comprehensive COVID-compliant programme in 2020 which resulted in the club's acclamation as the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the YearBy moving their entire Race Administration operation aboard their Committee Boats, Dublin Bay SC succeeded in running a comprehensive COVID-compliant programme in 2020 which resulted in the club's acclamation as the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year

That said, from last year we have some knowledge of what can be made to work. Other things being equal, keep it local and keep it on the water – offshore if need be – and you're half way there. Beyond that, keep it young. We know that sailing is always reaching out to more senior age groups for introductory courses, but the fact is the potential infection rate tends to decline with a younger cohort, and young people have a greater need to be shown how to be doing something than older folk who, having reached a certain stage in life, should have sufficient reserves of character to think and act for themselves in a regulation-compliant way.

Even when a limited amount of post-race shoreside socializing was permitted last year, it was found that there were many who were more than satisfied to go quietly afloat, have their race, then stow the boat afloat or ashore, and simply go straight home again.

VOLVO DUN LAOGHAIRE REGATTA HITS THE SPOT

VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions   VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions

So in trying to move what's implicit in this behavioural pattern on to a larger scale, the clear message is that "local-ness" is the essence of it all, and the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – while having a significant international element in its eclectic entry list – must be unrivalled in the number of participants who live right beside or within easy distance of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

With the regatta being served by four club and forecourt complexes - three of which are notably spacious - together with the shore space at the marina, any crowd pinch-points can be easily controlled, and yet you're dealing with overall crowd numbers which would swamp many a smaller venue in a non-compliant way.

The Water Wags and other One-Designs will have their Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 2nd to 4thThe Water Wags and other One-Designs will have their Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 2nd to 4th

Beyond that, Chairman Don O'Dowd and his Organising Committee put themselves even further ahead of the curve more than a year ago, when they announced a pandemic-induced re-framing of the regatta format into two extended weekends, one devoted to One Designs (2-4th July) and the other to Cruiser-Racers (8th to 11th July).

In these difficult times, classes have leapt at the convenient opportunity to make the VDLR one of their regional championships, or even the national championship itself. Overall, entries are already running beyond the 300 mark, and with Early Bird Entry still available until April 16th, this has a refreshing air of certainty about it, a classic case of a problem situation being turned into an opportunity to create something exciting and new.

Cruiser-Racer action in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – this year, their Regatta will be the long weekend of July 8th to 11th. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien   Cruiser-Racer action in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – this year, their Regatta will be the long weekend of July 8th to 11th. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien  

Nevertheless we'd argue that in mid-April with some disturbing international pandemic statistics emerging, it is pointless and indeed irritating to constantly chivvy organisers of other proposed events as to whether or not their fixture is going to take place.

You'll know the events we mean. And we'd argue that any owner-skipper who – in the current exceptional circumstances – finds it beyond his or her capabilities to firm up a challenge crew at just three weeks notice (or perhaps even less time) may well be somewhat out of their depth in the first place. Meanwhile, others find their way as best they can through a changing sea of circumstances. 

Once upon a time…..in times past, as at the Kingstown Harbour Centenary VDLR Regatta in 2017, social distancing was unknown, but for 2021 things will have to be done differently. Photo: VDLROnce upon a time…..in times past, as at the Kingstown Harbour Centenary VDLR Regatta in 2017, social distancing was unknown, but for 2021 things will have to be done differently. Photo: VDLR

Published in W M Nixon
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Dublin Bay Sailing Club Commodore Ann Kirwan says the club aims to start its 2021 summer race series in mid-May despite the lack of clear guidance for the sport following last night's cautious easing of lockdown restrictions by the Government. 

This means the country's largest yacht racing club will start approximately three weeks later than its normal start date at the end of April.

As Afloat previously reported, DBSC has confirmed plans for the 2021 season despite its Winter and Spring racing hiatus and preparations are now well underway.

The club runs year-round racing for up to 300 yachts and dinghies in over 20 different classes.

Kirwan told Afloat, "Despite the lack of clarity in the Government announcement, DBSC is still hopeful that we may begin our season in some form before mid-May". 

Dublin Bay Sailing Club Commodore Ann KirwanDublin Bay Sailing Club Commodore Ann Kirwan

“A lot of work has to be done behind the scenes to provide the standard of racing everyone knows and expects,” Rear Commodore Jacqueline McStay says.

“The racing sub-committee is preparing the courses, whilst committee member Philip Ferguson with the help of Chris Moore is checking and working on the marks so they are ready to be deployed in the bay by mid-April.”

Entries for the country's biggest sailing league are materialising with Cruisers Five fleet receiving the biggest early entry for the AIB-sponsored Summer Series.

The Government has announced the phased easing of some Covid-19 restrictions during the month of April.

They plan to continue this cautious approach, gradually easing restrictions, while a substantial level of the population are vaccinated during April, May and June, after which, it should be safe to reopen society more widely.

The Taoiseach said from April 19 some additional high-performance training will be allowed, including senior inter-county GAA training to facilitate national league competitions starting in May.

He said training for high performing athletes approved by Sport Ireland will also be allowed. 

Mr Martin said from April 26 outdoor sports training for under 18s can begin again.

He said golf and outdoor tennis can be played and there will be a return to 'distanced sport' but it is still unclear as to what interpretation is being given to sailing.

Published in DBSC

Dublin Bay Sailing Club's Cruisers Five fleet has the biggest early entry for 2021’s AIB-sponsored Summer Series due to start next month. 

Entries for the country's biggest sailing league are materialising even though there is no clarity yet on the scheduled April 25th start date due to current lockdown restrictions.

Division Five also known as the 'White Sails' or the 'Non-Spinnaker' category have 12 entries received so far (from a possible 29 of previous years) for summer racing for prizes that include the Burford Trophy for the best performance on IRC on Thursday night racing, typically the biggest DBSC turnout of the week.

Popular J109s race in DBSC Cruisers One division Photo: AfloatPopular J109s race in DBSC Cruisers One division Photo: Afloat

The White Sails have the most entries of the IRC divisions so far with the hotly contested Cruisers One division with nine entries in.

In the one designs, Six Beneteau 211s are entered and five Flying Fifteens

Although it had a massive entry of 65 boats in 2020 and another big entry is expected again, so far there are only three single-handed Laser dinghies signed up.

All the entries can be viewed live on the DBSC site here

Glen keelboats are among DBSC's 20 classes preparing for the 2021 season Photo: AfloatGlen keelboats are among DBSC's 20 classes preparing for the 2021 season Photo: Afloat

DBSC has confirmed plans for the 2021 season despite its Winter and Spring racing hiatus with preparations well underway for April “A lot of work has to be done behind the scenes to provide the standard of racing everyone knows and expects,” Rear Commodore Jacqueline McStay says.

“The racing sub-committee is preparing the courses, whilst committee member Philip Ferguson with the help of Chris Moore is checking and working on the marks so they are ready to be deployed in the bay by mid-April.”

“We are working to ensure we are ready for the off!”, McStay says.

Published in DBSC

Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) has confirmed plans and preparations are well underway for 2021’s AIB-sponsored Summer Series.

“A lot of work has to be done behind the scenes to provide the standard of racing everyone knows and expects,” Rear Commodore Jacqueline McStay says.

“The racing sub-committee is preparing the courses, whilst committee member Philip Ferguson with the help of Chris Moore is checking and working on the marks so they are ready to be deployed in the bay by mid April.”

“We are working to ensure we are ready for the off!”

Published in DBSC
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Dublin Bay Sailing Club's (DBSC) 18-boat Cruiser Two fleet has elected a new Class Captain for its 2021 season following its online AGM this week.

The DBSC Cruiser 2/Sigma33 AGM was held via ViCo on 04.02.2021. The current Class Captain, Lindsay J. Casey, welcomed all attendees and gave a brief review of the DBSC 2020 Summer Season noting that the class had been fortunate to have Dublin Bay racing in the period July – September 2020.

The DBSC Cruisers Two fleet comprises a mix of popular yacht designs including Sigma 33s, Corby 26s, X99s, and J97s among others. 

Lindsay congratulated DBSC for the expertise and dedication of their volunteers in organising racing in such difficult and uncertain circumstances. Despite the relatively short season, it was enjoyed and appreciated by all who participated. He thanked the Race officers and all the volunteers on Mac Lir.

Windjammer J97The DBSC Cruisers Two (2597) Windjammer (Lindsay J. Casey/ Denis Power) from the RStGYC Photo: Afloat

Lindsay also advised that he was standing down as Class Captain. He welcomed the newly elected Class Captain, Frank Cleere, wishing him every success. Frank is a very keen yachtsman with approximately 20 year's sailing experience since he started sailing when he was 9 years old. He has had considerable experience racing in Cruisers 2 as a member of the J97 Windjammer team since 2017 and previously with Bendemeer from 2009. He also has experience in DBSC Cruisers 1; DBSC Sportboat fleet; 1720 campaigns; three very successful Round Ireland campaigns; and five consecutive years winning ISORA IRC Class 2.

Commenting on his election, Frank said “I am delighted and honoured to be elected the Cruiser 2/Sigma 33 Class Captain. I’d like to thank the outgoing Class Captain for maintaining a firm hand on the tiller. I’m looking forward to what will hopefully be an exciting, enjoyable, competitive and safe DBSC 2021 Summer Season with more time on the water when compared with the 2020 Season. Liaising with DBSC is an important aspect of a class captain’s brief and will continue with what has been a very successful dialogue to date.”

Published in DBSC

2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged. For the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part.

Lasers are proving to be a very versatile boat, especially in these turbulent times. Local active sailors range in age from teenagers as young as 13 right through to adults in their 50s and 60s. The fleet is also very well balanced between female and male sailors with both genders across the ages competing as equals, particularly in the Radial and 4.7 rigs.

"with the constant changes in COVID restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience"

Local class captain Brendan Hughes explained why there is an expectation of even bigger numbers in 2021; “We’ve seen interest in the fleet continue to grow especially amongst adults. Many of these already sail cruisers but with the constant changes in restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience. We’re the only large fleet that has been able to get out on the water in nearly all levels of lockdown.”

As a competitive single-hander, Hughes acknowledges that the Laser can be perceived by some as a challenging boat to sail. “In 20 knots, the Laser can be a challenge for sure! However, there has been a lot of effort put into training across Dun Laoghaire. Right throughout the year, there is coaching taking place for beginners and competitive sailors at both junior and adult level.” The increase in coaching availability over the past number of years is acknowledged by many new sailors as being critical in making this class more accessible.

Dublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan HughesDublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan Hughes

In addition, constant adjustments to racing formats have helped to ensure the Laser fleet remains vibrant. During 2020, the DBSC dinghy race officers introduced Saturday racing in addition to Tuesday evening racing for the Laser fleet. This proved to be extremely popular and the Laser fleet was eager to see this continued in 2021. The club has confirmed that the format will continue for the new season of the AIB DBSC Summer Series with the entry fee covering both Tuesdays and Saturdays for all sailors.

A number of headline events in 2021 taking place in Dublin Bay are expected to drive continued interest from new sailors. The Irish Laser Master Nationals event will be hosted in Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George Yacht Club from 12th -13th June. This event is open to all sailors over the age of 35 and the organisers expect to have 50+ boats from across the country participate.

A recent survey of local Laser sailors revealed that over 120 boats intend to participate in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta One Design Championship taking place 2nd - 4th July. “If even two-thirds of that number participate in this new format, it would be the largest one-design fleet on the water at this year’s event, which is very exciting.” says Hughes.

August sees the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4.7 World Championship coming to Dublin Bay. Local organisers are expecting several hundred youth sailors from across the globe to participate in this event. This event will be one of the biggest sailing events to take place in Ireland this year and is a great opportunity for our younger sailors to participate on the world stage.

Afloat also hears that planning has begun amongst the Masters fleet to send a delegation to Malta in November. EurILCA, the European Laser organisation is holding its Euro Masters Regatta at Royal Malta Yacht Club from 4th - 7th November.

With a mix of local, national and international Laser events taking place in Dublin Bay this summer, it sounds like another big year for the fleet. More information on Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire is available by emailing [email protected]

Published in DBSC
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The National Yacht Club has offered its congratulations to Dublin Bay Sailing Club on its recognition as Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year for 2021.

As our own WM Nixon wrote last week, it marks only the second time that the unique Dublin organisation — primarily comprising members of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs, the NYC included — has received the accolade.

“DBSC did a fantastic job in difficult circumstances in 2020 to get our members out sailing for most of the summer,” said National Yacht Club Commodore Martin McCarthy.

“The NYC is delighted that our member Ann Kirwan has taken on the role of Commodore of DBSC this year, with club stalwart Chris Moore being Hon Sec, and other NYC members also heavily involved on other fronts.

“Congratulations also to 2020 Commodore Jonathan Nicholson on his fine stewardship of the club.”

Published in National YC
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Two of 2021's early-season cruiser-racer sailing fixtures on Dublin Bay are up in the air due to January's lockdown restrictions. 

A new ISORA 'Early Season Series' originally planned for this month was to continue the offshore's body's successful 2020 coastal racing out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. However, the current lockdown has put paid to those plans, leaving ISORA boss Peter Ryan to reschedule.

"We had planned for January but that's not going to happen. So, rather than cancel, we will reschedule those races into a potentially tighter programme as soon as possible", Ryan told Afloat.

The 2020 ISORA Coastal Series attracted a dozen or more entries and typically involved a race using virtual marks along the County Dublin and Wicklow coasts.

Ryan's offshore enterprise won him an end of the year gong. The NYC sailor took an Afloat Sailor of the Month Award in December for his success in staging an ISORA series in lockdown in 2020.

DBSC Spring Chicken

Meanwhile, following the total abandonment of its popular Turkey Shoot pre-Christmas event, the hope is that Dublin Bay Sailing Club will be in a position to run its Spring Chicken Series that starts traditionally in the first week of February. 

The series of six races are held on Sunday mornings and organised by DBSC attracting as many as 40 boats.

However, as COVID lockdown restrictions are set to continue nationally until January 30th, fears are that there is now every chance that restrictions could also impact DBSC's spring fixture too.

The popular Spring Chicken format features short, sharp races typically of around one hour in duration.

In a new year announcement, DBSC was named as 2021 Sailing Club of the Year for its achievements in keeping sailing going on Dublin Bay during the lockdown in 2020.

Published in ISORA
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Dublin Bay Sailing Club's recognition today as the Mitsubishi Motors "Sailing Club of the Year" 2021 on the strength of achieving a remarkably full programme in 2020 when Pandemic Regulations permitted is well merited. Yet it's only the second time that the unique Dun Laoghaire umbrella organisation has received this supreme accolade. Not surprisingly, the Royal Cork Yacht Club – the world's premier club - has been the holder seven times: in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2015 and 2020. But the fact that this is only the second time that DBSC has won does not reflect the reality that the club is almost always on the shortlist. And the circumstance of its previous time as holder in 2007 well illustrate why DBSC has successfully been with us for so long through times good and bad. 

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For in 2006 – the year for which it actually last won the trophy - DBSC had a real problem of success. Sailing numbers in Dublin Bay were expanding at an unprecedented rate with the new Dun Laoghaire marina in place, while the Celtic Tiger was roaring with economic growth. Under Commodore Tim Costello and Honorary Secretary Donal O'Sullivan, DBSC had to upgrade its services while stream-lining its functioning in a massive voluntary effort, and it did so with such success that the "Club of the Year" accolade made for the perfect fit, helped by the fact that the Commodore's Mills 40 Tiamat, with an all-Dun Laoghaire crew including Brendan Foley on the helm, had won the British Open IRC Championship in Cowes.

At the presentation of the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2007 award to Dublin Bay Sailing Club in Dublin Port Centre were (left to right, Enda Connellan (CEO Dublin Port, sponsors of the DBSC programme), Tim Costello (Commodore, DBSC), and Frank Keane, Chairman of Mitsubishi MotorsAt the presentation of the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2007 award to Dublin Bay Sailing Club in Dublin Port Centre were (left to right, Enda Connellan (CEO Dublin Port, sponsors of the DBSC programme), Tim Costello (Commodore, DBSC), and Frank Keane, Chairman of Mitsubishi Motors

Having dealt successfully with the hazards of the exceptionally good times back in 2006, fourteen years later DBSC has handled exceptionally bad times with the same calm competence. For the Club has had to deal with the circumstances afloat and ashore in 2020 which - in 2006 - would have been laughed out of court if they had been proposed as the nightmare scenario for some sort of very sick future fantasy horror drama.

Yet it has come to pass. But the club has braced itself, re-thought its functioning, and implemented emergency measures such that Dun Laoghaire has come out of 2020 with a sense that, within the inevitable pandemic boundaries, Dublin Bay SC provided its members and service-users with as much sailing as was reasonably possible in pandemic circumstances

The background to the club gives us some idea of how it finds a hidden strength when the need arises. Although DBSC at its foundation 137 years ago in 1884 was undoubtedly what would now be called a disruptor start-up, today it is effectively the quietly powerful sailing government for the vast majority of the competitive sailors in the most numerous fleet based in one place in Ireland.

In an exceptionally difficult year for all sports, the performance of Dublin Bay Sailing Club in providing a viable racing programme in 2020 for a large and varied fleet pf 22 classes drawn from all four of Dun Laoghaire Harbour's bricks-and-mortar Yacht Clubs is a remarkable achievement. DBSC's emergence with a complete set of end-of-season results – albeit after a pandemic-truncated season – was an outstanding performance by any standards, and they are clear ahead in being acclaimed as the 2021 holders of the Mitsubishi Motors "Sailing Club of the Year" trophy.

DBSC's only "premises" consist of the Race Management Hut on the West Pier, but in 2020's special circumstances, it was kept in store and not commissioned……….DBSC's only "premises" consist of the Race Management Hut on the West Pier, but in 2020's special circumstances, it was kept in store and not commissioned……….

……while all racing was started and finished from Committee Boats whose crews had been isolated in pods.  Photo: Afloat.ie……while all racing was started and finished from Committee Boats whose crews had been isolated in pods. Photo: Afloat.ie

Mitsubishi Motors are Irish sailing's most committed longterm sponsors, as they've supported the "Sailing Club of the Year" accolade for 35 years. This unique and informal competition was first inaugurated in 1979 and initially only covered Leinster, but after Mitsubishi Motors had become the enthusiastic sponsors in 1986, it went nationwide and the title of "Irish Sailing Club of the
Year" became one of real prestige, based on a rigorous set of standards.

An underlying purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled quality of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs, and the dedication of their members.

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In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international levels, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training at all ages.

In the four decades through which this informal comparison between sailing clubs has been running, the basic expectations have been continually refined to reflect a changing sailing world in changing national and global circumstances, a developing adjudication situation to which the Commodores of the winning clubs have made a really worthwhile contribution over the years, with thoughtful acceptance speeches in which they've outlined their visions for their clubs, and their role in the local community and in all aspects of sailing.

DBSC's racing programme is so accessible and popular that it attracts regular participation by boats which would be seen elsewhere purely as cruisers, such as the Nich 31 Saki.  Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'BrienDBSC's racing programme is so accessible and popular that it attracts regular participation by boats which would be seen elsewhere purely as cruisers, such as the Nich 31 Saki. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

Few other clubs have a sense of communal interaction as strong as DBSC. The change from disruptor to central body had come about as early as the mid 1890s, when it was realised that if an impartial unaligned organisation such as DBSC didn't already exist to administer the routine Dublin Bay sailing summer season, then they'd have to go through all the hassle of inventing something very like it.

For sure, with Dun Laoghaire Harbour providing the nautical focal point for a large, generally affluent, and often innovation-providing community, new ideas tend to arise on a regular basis as to how sailing in general, and racing in particular, might be re-configured for the sport's improvement.

But equally, that same south Dublin population is notably settled in its outlook, and for many, the continuation of the proven ways, with only carefully moderated change from time to time, is the only method for maintainable progress.

Thus Dublin Bay and Howth to the northeast provide the boat-minded communities and sailing waters where One-Design classes thrive as active fleets for much longer than anywhere else, so much so that the world's first One-Design class - the Dublin Bay Water Wags of 1887 – now prospers more than ever, with new-built boats regularly joining the fleet.

The Dublin Bay Water Wags were achieving the best One-design turnouts in 2020's shortened season.  Photo: Con MurphyThe Dublin Bay Water Wags were achieving the best local One-design turnouts in 2020’s shortened season. The Lasers were the most numerous class, with 91 entered, of which 53 were Laser Radials. Photo: Con Murphy

In such circumstances, getting a now instinctively conservative behemoth such as DBSC – with its racing for 22 classes - to implement a rapid and significant adjustment to its way of doing things is – as current DBSC Honorary Secretary and former Commodore Chris Moore has remarked – not unlike expecting a sudden change of course in a supertanker, where in normal circumstances any alteration of the rudder setting needs six miles of continued straight line progress before any change of course becomes perceptible.

DBSC Honorary Secretary Chris Moore on his J/109 Powder Monkey. In addition to his current role, he has served as Commodore of DBSC, and also as Commodore of the National YC.DBSC Honorary Secretary Chris Moore on his J/109 Powder Monkey. In addition to his current role, he has served as Commodore of DBSC, and also as Commodore of the National YC.

But like any alert organisation, back in the early days of 2020 while DBSC Commodore Jonathan Nicholson and his team were looking forward to the proper celebration of a new sponsorship deal with AIB, they were also prudently noting that as the pandemic developed, the most switched-on organisations such as the big tech companies in Dublin were talking of limiting office access until the summer of 2021, which was way beyond official predictions. Another factor which reinforced their realisation of the severity of the approaching shutdown was the postponement of the launching of the latest James Bond movie

These may seem off-the-wall indicators in the running of a sailing club, but DBSC's intensely urban location meant that every piece of possible useful information had to be taken into account while working out just when it was possible they might get a realistic programme under way, and how best it might be done.

Jonathan Nicholson, DBSC Commodore 2019-2020, found himself in one of the hottest seats in Irish sailing. Jonathan Nicholson, DBSC Commodore 2019-2020, found himself in one of the hottest seats in Irish sailing.

It was soon realised that the seasonal installation of the Race Officer's hut on the West Pier – used mainly for finishing races – was out of bounds as it's a gregarious focal point, and so the only way forward was the creation of pods to crew the club's Committee Boats, which would now both start and finish all races.

Thus an even greater effort and commitment was required from Committee Boat Volunteers, and in our feature about Ann Kirwan succeeding Jonathan Nicholson as Commodore on December 7th, the names of the leading volunteers who made this possible were listed.

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Yet all the time the developing situation had to be monitored in order to maximize sailing and minimise risk while at the same time instilling an awareness in sailors that when the inevitable second save began to show on the horizon, the sailors would have to accept a sudden stop to their activities with good grace.

Newly-elected DBSC Commodore Ann Kirwan at the helm of the Ruffian 23 bandit, which she shares with Brian Cullen and Ciara BrownNewly-elected DBSC Commodore Ann Kirwan at the helm of the Ruffian 23 bandit, which she shares with Brian Cullen and Ciara Brown

It was good while it lasted, with best turnouts pushing towards the 150 boat mark, while the Water Wags were the best One-Designs with 23 boats, reflecting the fact that although some people were determined to get racing if at all possible, equally they'd to respect those who felt the best way to see the pandemic out was to give sailing a miss for 2020.

Those who did go sailing found their enjoyment enhanced through the DBSC programme, and the mood of it was best captured aboard Jimmy Fischer's Billy Whizz in the Beneteau 211 Class, which swept the board in the trophy department with their haul including the supreme award, the George Arthur Newsom Cup.

Small boats, big prize haul – the increasingly popular Beneteau 211s saw their champion, Jimmy Fischer's Billy Whizz, take DBSC's supreme prize in 2020.   Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien    Small boats, big prize haul – the increasingly popular Beneteau 211s saw their champion, Jimmy Fischer's Billy Whizz, take DBSC's supreme prize in 2020. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

The Cup is awarded to the boat which performs best compared to all One Design classes in Dublin Bay, and the way Billy Whizz is organised well illustrates the strong attraction of DBSC sailing, for although most of the participants are from the immediate South Dublin area, there are boats like Billy Whizz which find they can successfully cast the net wider.

Their unrivalled trophy haul included:

  • The George Arthur Newsom Cup - for the most successful boat in one-design racing
  • The Facet Jewellers Cup - for Thursdays scratch overall
  • The Beneteau 21 Tray - for Thursdays ECHO overall
  • The Beneteau Cup - for Saturdays scratch overall

The feat was achieved by Jimmy with two different crews, one on Thursdays comprising Joe Smyth, Annette Ni Murchu and her brother Brian Murphy. Not only did they win Thursdays on scratch, but they managed the rare feat of winning Thursdays on ECHO also. Joe, Annette and Brian are all longterm members of Blessington Sailing Club.

Sailing with Jimmy on Saturdays, Peter Duggan and Les Richards won the series on scratch. Peter is another graduate of Blessington Sailing Club, and has foredeck experience on the J/109 Jalapeño with Paul Barrington et al from the National YC, while Les is a partner in a Trapper 501 in Bray Sailing Club.

In all, a diverse crew lineup which shows that, fourteen years after getting the recipe exactly right to provide the best of sailing in exceptionally good times, Dublin Bay Sailing Club has been equally adept in getting the recipe exactly right to provide the best of sailing in exceptionally bad times, providing us with a worthy new addition to the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year listings:

  • 1979 Wicklow SC
  • 1980 Malahide YC
  • 198l National YC
  • 1982 Howth YC
  • 1983 Royal St George YC
  • 1984 Dundalk SC
  • 1985 National YC
  • (Sponsorship by Mitsubishi Motors began in 1985-86)
  • 1986 Howth YC
  • 1987 Royal Cork YC
  • 1988 Dublin University SC
  • 1989 Irish Cr. C
  • 1990 Glenans Irish SC
  • 1991 Galway Bay SC
  • 1992 Royal Cork YC
  • 1993 Cumann Badoiri Naomh Bhreannain (Dingle) & National YC
  • (after 1993, year indicated is one in which trophy is held)
  • 1995 Howth Yacht Club
  • 1996 National Yacht Club
  • 1997 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 1998 Kinsale Yacht Club
  • 1999 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club
  • 2000 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • (in 2000, competition extended to include class associations and specialist organisations)
  • 2001 Howth Sailing Club Seventeen Footer Association
  • 2002 Galway Bay Sailing Club
  • 2003 Coiste an Asgard
  • 2004 Royal St George Yacht Club
  • 2005 Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • 2006 Royal Cork Yacht Club (Water Club of the Harbour of Cork)
  • 2007 Dublin Bay Sailing Club
  • 2008 Lough Ree YC & Shannon One Design Assoc.
  • 2009 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2010 Royal St George YC
  • 2011 Irish Cruiser Racing Association
  • 2012 National Yacht Club
  • 2013 Royal St George YC
  • 2014 Kinsale YC
  • 2015 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2016 Royal Irish Yacht Club
  • 2017 Wicklow Sailing Club
  • 2018 National Yacht Club
  • 2019 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2020 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2021 Dublin Bay Sailing Club

Click the link to read more on the Mitsubishi Motors 'Sailing Club of the Year' Award on Afloat's dedicated page 

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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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