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Displaying items by tag: Dinghy

23rd February 2020

Adults Sail Dinghies Too

I learned my sailing crewing aboard a National 18 in Cork Harbour. That opportunity came through an adult sailing course because it was in my late 20s that I gained access to the sport.

Back then was not a time when getting into sailing was as easy as it is today. From crewing I bought a new Mirror dinghy and then a Vagabond, because it was the dominant dinghy fleet at the time in the club I joined - Monkstown Bay SC. At one stage there was a fleet of 30 of these 12ft. dinghies, which didn’t carry a spinnaker like the Mirror, but which was more attractive for me – because Vagabonds were raced by parents and their children. It was a great class. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, crewed for each other. The class had so many boats it qualified to have annual ‘national championships’ under then Irish Sailing Association regulations.

So adults sailed dinghies too!

But, gradually, ageing affected the Vagabond fleet, parents got older, younger and often better sailors took over in the natural evolution of things. The fleet continued to thrive until those youngsters moved on, getting jobs, moving away from the village and, gradually, the fleet died out.

Some of those young sailors went onto cruisers, others were lost to the sport, underlining a discussion which has followed my Podcast two weeks ago on the Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s Under 25 scheme, to encourage young sailors to get into cruisers as they come to an age when dinghies may no longer be their choice.

National 18 sailing Cork HarbourNational 18 dinghy sailing in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

But, of course, there are adults who sail dinghies too. The National 18 fleet, where I learned to sail, is thriving in Cork Harbour. There are adults crews and fleets of Mermaids. Dublin Bay and Foynes are places I’ve reported about them. There are adult-crewed and active fleets of Wayfarers, Albacores, Lasers and others at various clubs and even, as has been pointed out to me, adults sailing Mirrors. Then there are other ‘open’ and ‘keel’ boats, the 1720s and 505s, Squibs and others, that are not cruisers, so there are other opportunities for young sailors to stay active in the sport.

"My underlying point is that adults sail dinghies too – so this is also an avenue for youngsters to remain in the sport …"

I was discussing this with Brian Raftery of ICRA whom I interviewed about the Under 25 cruiser racing programme to keep young people in sailing which he is leading. Listen to Brian Raftery here. He is a member of Sligo Yacht Club which has a very active GP fleet, a boat in which adults also sail in several clubs. “There are twenty GP14s in the dinghy park, 10-12 racing each week making up less than half of the club’s adult sailors. Nationally the GP is the biggest adult dinghy fleet in the country with about 40 boats at its National Championships every year,” he told me and added that the GP's have been successful in getting younger sailors into their fleet.

He said that he would “love to see someone take on the Under 25 area within dinghies.”

That is a good point. Why not?

As dinghy classes tend to operate somewhat in isolation in the sense of the various clubs where they are active, rather than the wider ambience of national cruiser organisation, it may be harder to develop a national/cross/class dinghy U25 approach.

My underlying point this week is that adults sail dinghies too – so this is also an avenue for youngsters to remain in the sport …

The important thing is to – KEEP ON SAILING.

• More on the Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under
14th November 2018

Stuart Walker, 1923-2018

American dinghy racing legend Stuart Walker has passed away at the age of 95.

Dr Walker was a paediatric specialist by day, but outside the hospital was a key figure in Annapolis, Maryland’s sailing scene — co-founding in the mid 1950s the Severn Sailing Association which still produces many of America’s top dinghy sailors.

An Olympian who represented the US in the International 14 class throughout the 1960s, Dr Walker was also an accomplished sailing writer, with a longstanding column for what’s now Sailing World magazine and numerous books on sailboat racing to his credit.

“Certainly my name has spread through my writing, but my articles would not have credibility if there wasn’t success behind it,” he told Annapolis’ Capital Gazette at a party for his 90th birthday.

Scuttlebutt Sailing News has more HERE.

Published in Racing
Tagged under

The fifth round of the 2017/18 Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, saw two races held inside the harbour, a four lap trapezoid course to start proceedings followed by a three lap windward-leeward course which I am reliably informed is a first for the Frostbites, so kudos to Race Officer Brian Mulkeen writes Cormac Bradley. It also saw the best turnout of Fireballs, six and a healthy fleet of Lasers, fourteen. In addition to the six Fireballs the Fast PY Class included the 470 and Tom Murphy’s K1. In the Slow PY the fleet was made up of a Wayfarer, a Solo, a solitary KONA (Windsurfer), a Feva, 2 IDRAs, 2 Enterprises, 4 Laser Vago XDs and a Hartley 12.2.

The weather station in the harbour was recording 15.9knots with a gust of 21.8knots from 284˚ with an air temperature of 9˚. This meant that the “on-the-water” situation was pretty consistent with the XCWeather prediction for the afternoon. The afternoon started under partial blue skies but the skyline greyed as the afternoon progressed and there was a lit bit of drizzle later one. For the trapezoid course the weather mark had been set under the West Pier of the harbour at the location of the first “elbow” in the wall – where it changes direction. No.2 seemed to be a long way downwind of the first mark, almost disproportionately so, but during the race mark 1 – 2 was invariably tight. Mark 2 – 3 was an easier sail with some boats electing to gybe before reaching No.3 so as to set themselves up for a very tight 3 – 4 leg. Mark 3 was located off the HSS gantry and Mark 4 was of the order of 120m east of the mouth of the harbour.

In all three starts the fleet went left initially. In the slow PY, the Wayfarer was the weather-most boat and that set Monica Schaeffer and Miriam McCarthy up for the lead and the privilege of leading the Slow PY fleet around the first weather mark. However, they were kept in close company for the first lap by the Solo of Shane McCarthy before he was able to pull away from them. Both would fall victim on the water to the Kona Windsurfer of Robbie Walker who led for the majority of the race.

The Fireballs were stacked windward to leeward on a port tack coming out of the start towards the middle of the harbour. Using headgear and clothing combinations to identify boats it looked as though Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were the furthest boat to windward with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) furthest to leeward. In between were Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061), Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) and David and Michael Keegan (14676).

While the boats which came furthest left seemed to have got in to better wind, Butler & Barry, having tacked earlier were able to get around the weather mark first but it was close with Miller & Donnelly and Court & Syme. Colin & Casey were a short distance behind them while McKenna & O’Keeffe and Keegan & Keegan were a little off the pace.

Court & Syme powered over Miller & Donnelly on the tight reach between 1 and 2 and spent the rest of the race chasing Butler & Barry. On the subsequent beats, the addiction to going left was diluted somewhat with a preference to staying on the right-hand side as far as the harbour mouth, before tacking across to the middle of the harbour. The exception to that rule was Colin & Casey who tacked early every time to work the middle and left of the beat. On the third lap, Butler pulled away from Court and both boats put distance between themselves and the remainder of the fleet. By Mark 3 of the penultimate lap, Butler & Barry were the third boat on the water behind the Kona and the Solo and by the penultimate rounding of Mark 4 Court & Syme were ahead of everyone bar the Kona and the Solo. The tightness of the leg from 3 to 4 meant that in Round 3 Butler & Barry went for an Aussie drop two-thirds of the way down the leg while the all male combinations behind them, Court and Miller were able to hold the spinnaker all the way into the mark.

While Butler was comfortably ahead at the last windward mark, he nearly got caught by Court who was able to close in better wind with Syme on full trapeze between 1 and 2 while Barry was sitting inboard with a limp spinnaker. However, a late change in leader did not materialise and Butler & Barry won by 50 seconds with only he Kona ahead of them on the water. Court finished third on the water, getting ahead of the Solo just before the last weather mark. Colin & Casey put together a fast last lap, closing dramatically on Miller & Donnelly in the approach to Mark 4 for the last time, but Miller held on to finish third. In the slow PY fleet, the order on the water was Kona, Solo, Wayfarer, Feva, and Enterprise.

The ice was broken (figuratively) when a second race was set for the afternoon. Marks 2 and 3 were lifted and a windward-leeward was set with Marks 1 and 4 staying “as is”. Again, the majority view in all starts was to go left – there were no dissenters in the Slow PY start, 4 Lasers went right and while all the Fireballs started on port tack, two went right quite early on – McKenna and Keegan. Colin was furthest away from the committee boat at the start. At the top mark, Miller led the fleet around followed by Butler, Court and Colin. While the first three stayed on starboard tack, Colin gybed and sailed towards the harbour mouth. Behind these four, McKenna and Keegan had their own race. Miller held the lead down to 4 and stayed ahead up the next beat. In this regard he was helped by being on starboard with a Laser also being on starboard to force Butler to take evading action relative to both boats two-thirds of the way up the second beat. At the windward mark for the second time, Colin was still in fourth, but took a line that brought him down the right hand side of the run relative to the others who were all to his port-hand side. In this position he managed to sail through Court and close the gap on the first two, but Court nipped in again at the leeward mark to relegate him back to fourth again. McKenna and Keegan were also having a “ding-dong” battle on the downwind leg.

Up the final beat and Court stays right whereas the others come left. Butler gets through Miller and Colin is promoted to third as he, Miller and Butler come in on the starboard lay-line. Court’s race come to an early end when he gets caught up in a melee at the weather mark and decides that discretion is the better part of valour and retires home early. Butler and Miller dice again on the last downwind leg but Butler secures the inside berth on the approach to the leeward mark and has enough room to squeeze Miller out and to enough of a degree to make the short hitch to the finish a “safe bet”.

In the Fast PY fleets, the Fireballs all saved their time on the water in both races which means that the Frostbite Mugs for the day go to Alistair Court and Gordon Syme for the first race of the day and to Neil Colin and Margaret Casey for the second race.

DMYC Frostbites: Overall Fast PY Fleet









Noel Butler & Marie Barry

FB 15061








Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley/Grattan Donnelly









Neil Colin & Margaret Casey









Alistair Court & Gordon Syme








Published in DMYC

The 47th running of Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club’s Frostbite Series got underway yesterday in blue sky, sunny conditions and a brisk N-Westerly that reduced in strength as the afternoon wore on writes our special correspondent. Stalwart of the event, Olivier Prouveur, who announced at the conclusion of the 2016/17 Series that he would be taking a less prominent role in the managing of the event was in attendance, but in an observer role!

The Race Officer duty was undertaken by Frostbite RO debutant Cormac Bradley of the Fireball Class and for his first foray into the Frostbite Race Management the first decision was to decide if racing would take place. An early departure from DMYC with a suggestion that a postponement would be advised, if necessary, was vindicated when the assessment was that racing could proceed.

In a departure from previous formats, three starts were provided – Slow PY, (PY1), Lasers and Fast PY (PY2). And in a significant development, two windsurfers of the KONA Class joined in the racing.

Given the conditions and the “first day back” nature of the day, a single race was proposed and sailed with 5 laps of a trapezoid course used to wash away the cobwebs. Given that the keelboats, sailing their Turkey Shoot Series earlier in the morning, did not seem to be excessively hard pressed and taking into account the physical condition of the waters inside the harbour, the postponement wasn’t required and racing got underway on schedule, at 14:00.

shane mccarthySolo sailor Shane McCarthy (left), the Slow PY Class winner with DMYC's Neil Colin Photo: Frank Miller

As an experiment the two windsurfers were put in PY1, the argument being that if they were as fast as we thought they might be they would get away from the rest of the fleet and have less traffic to deal with on the race course. Their contemporaries on the first start were a Solo, an IDRA 14 and four Laser Vagos. One of the Konas led at the first weather mark, sitting about 60m inside the harbour mouth and closer to the end of the West Pier, but the Solo was not far behind. By the time they got to the end of the five laps, the windsurfer had a good lead on the Solo on the water, but was unable to save his time in handicap terms. In third place on the water was the IDRA of Pierre Long & John Parker. Marks 2 and 3 were in the vicinity of the approach to the marina and just east of the ferry terminal respectively and while spinnakers were a rarity on the top leg of the trapezoid, they were flown on the leg from 2 to 3. Again, only the asymmetrics had any real joy with spinnakers on the bottom leg of the course. Mark 4 was in the approximate location of the memorial on the East Pier.

The finishing order on the water was Kona, Solo, IDRA, but after handicap correction the win went to the Solo of Shane McCarthy with the windsurfer second and the IDRA third.
Ten Lasers answered the starter’s call, with three Radials in the bunch. And it was one of the Radials, helmed by Clare Gorman who set the pace for the first half of the course. Eventually she was reeled in by Gary O’Hare who went on to win on the water by 24 seconds, but after handicap correction, Gorman took the first Laser Frostbite Mug by a margin of 1:09. In third place was Richard Tate.

marie barry noel butlerFireballers Marie Barry and Noel Butler (right) the fast PY Class winners with DMYC's Neil Colin Photo: Frank Miller


Six Fast PYs populated the last start of the day, four Fireballs, a K1 and an RS400. Noel Butler with new crew, Marie Barry (15061) led the fleet from start to finish and won with a 1:24 margin. They weren’t seriously troubled at any stage of the race and even tired spinnaker on the top reach but the blustery nature of the wind coming over the wall suggested that discretion was the better part of valour. Behind them, the battle was for second and third and was populated by Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775). While the former pair had the better start and led during the early part of the race, they were undone by an incident with a Laser at one of the leeward mark roundings. The Laser went the wrong side of the mark and got his mainsheet snagged on the mark. This cause him to go into a slow painful capsize with his mast and main snagging the trapeze wire of crew Ed Butler who subsequently went swimming. However, Miller & Butler recovered to take second place back from Colin & Casey. They cut it very fine though, only six seconds separating the two boats. The Fireballs, Butler & Barry, Miller & Butler, Colin & Casey and son and father combination, David & Michael Keegan (14676), were the first four boats home and on handicap. Tom Murphy (K1) only just beat the RS400, helmed by Stuart Harris, on the water, but beat them more comfortably on corrected time.

During the hour’s racing the wind eased as forecast and the blue sky conditions made for a good day out. Frostbites 2017/18 is up and running.

DMYC’s Frostbites 2017/18 – Day 1.
PY1 – Slow Handicap
1 Solo Shane McCarthy Coal Harbour 5302
2 Kona TBA 1969
3 IDRA Pierre Long & John Parker DMYC 161
4 Kona Des Gibney 2677
1 Radial Claire Gorman NYC 207800
2 Full Gary O’Hare RStGYC 201364
3 Full Richard Tate 186300
4 Full Gavan Murphy 173062
PY2 – Fast Handicap
1 Fireball Noel Butler & Marie Barry NYC 15061
2 Fireball Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713
3 Fireball Neil Colin & Margaret casey DMYC 14775
4 Fireball David & Michael Keegan RStGYC 14676
5 K1 Tom Murphy NYC 59

For a first day of the series, the entries were down on previous years, this was assumed to be a combination of the forecast, the preceding week’s mid-term break for schools and the usual need to get momentum developed. The organisers would welcome more entries in the forthcoming Sundays.

Published in Dublin Bay

As the debate rumbles on as to how we can engage more young people in the sport of sailing, the Royal Cork Yacht Club has witnessed 'tremendous growth' in junior dinghy sailing activity across every level over the last eighteen months writes RCYC Rear Admiral, Stephen O'Shaugnessy. 

The club currently boasts some of the largest active dinghy fleets in the country; The Optimist class for example, has in excess of seventy sailors right across an age range from 8 -15 years old. Equally, the club Laser and Topper fleets have also seen rapid growth in numbers participating on a consistent basis at both club and regional level.

In tandem to all this single–handed dinghy activity, there is a growing fleet of RS boats being purchased by members and this appears to be filling a gap to ensure that junior members in their late teenage years keep sailing. While this is very much work in progress, the signs are positive for further growth for two handed sailing across a number of classes, including a possible 29er class.

29er Royal CorkSigns are positive for further double–handed dinghy growth in classes such as the youth 29er skiff. Photo: Bob Bateman

The result of all this is an average of ninety dinghies currently taking to the water at weekends to take part in club league racing a coaching programmes.

So what is driving this growth? A very focused junior dinghy committee ensures that every base is covered when it comes to our junior activity in the club. Underlying all our activity is the fundamental belief that every junior member is a fantastic asset to the club, irrespective of their age, ability or ambition. All our club coaching programmes and courses are structured in such a manner that the sailors within each fleet feel a strong sense of identity of being part of a larger team even though they each may well have different goals or objectives in terms of competing at various levels or simply sailing for the love of sailing'.

The spin off from all this activity has also helped towards a substantial increase in those participating in their club summer sailing courses. This, coupled with the fact that a growing number of family members are encouraging their children to be more involved in healthy outdoor activity during the summer months has led to one of the largest summer programmes in the country this year with in excess of hundred and seventy participants.

Looking to the future, the hope is to further build on the philosophy that as a sport, sailing is a skill for life that can be enjoyed at any stage and at any age and whatever ability.

There is clearly a growing demand across Ireland for dinghy sailing at every level and the club looks forward to continued growth in the build up to its 300th anniversary in 2020.

Published in Royal Cork YC

‘The Final Fling is Flung’ commented one competitor as he painfully dragged his boat up the slipway in Dun Laoghaire. Strong north-easterly’s greeted the fleet on Sunday afternoon.

With a healthy entry of 22 boats, from four different dinghy fleets – the effects of the 'weather bom'b that was Storm Brian caused the postponement of racing by 24 hours. Three races with no discard were held in the Harbour.

In the Feva fleet – Elysia O’Leary and Lilly Dwyer took top spot in the testing conditions.

Laser Standard – Conor O’Leary sailed solidly to take first overall – with the rest of the fleet decimated by gear and body failure!

Toby hudson fowlerRoyal St. George's Toby Hudson Fowler, sporting the overall Final Fling prize!
Laser Radial first overall was decided on the last mark rounding of the last race with young gun Toby Hudson-Fowler getting the better of Dinghy Master Sean ‘Recently Radialised’ Craig. First Female was Shirley Gilmore.

Lsser sailing dun laoghaire

The Waspz fleet wisely stayed at home!

Final Fling 2017 showcased the competitive Dinghy racing is provided by DBSC each Tuesday evening during the summer – Overall regatta winner Toby commented that he will ‘definitely joining in next year and will be dragging along some of his young radial sailor mates’…

If any other Dinghy fleets want to get involved or make Tuesday evening dinghy racing part of their training plans for 2018 please let us know now!

Thanks to RO Michael Tyrell & Crew, DBSC for providing committee and patrol boats and host club Royal St George.

Final Fling 2018 – 29/9/18 – one for the diary!

Results here

Published in RStGYC

An end of Season race for all Dublin Bay Dinghies fleets is taking place on Saturday, 21st October. To be called the 'Final Fling 2017',  the new fixture is supported by DBSC and hosted by Royal St. George Yacht Club

The racing will showcase dinghy racing that takes place on Dublin Bay run by DBSC every Tuesday evening during the summer, according to organiser Ross O'Leary, a DBSC Laser helmsman.

With quick 1-2-3 starts, four sprint races lasting 30 to 35 minutes aim to guarantee some fun, competitive racing.

All fleets welcome. Entry €20 per boat on the day.

An Apres Sail will be held in the Royal St. George Yacht Club. 

Register your entry now: email [email protected] text/call/WhatsApp 087 6642297. Download the poster below.

Published in RStGYC

Another day of big breeze for the centreboard classes competing at Royal Cork's DinghyFest 2017 that has attracted over 100 dinghies from foiling Moths to RS 200s, 400s as well as National 18s and 420s.

Photographer Bob Bateman was afloat in Cork Harbour to capture all the action

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Published in Royal Cork YC

The 2017 Dinghy Fest opened today at Royal Cork Yacht Club. A delayed start due to high winds saw 420s and RS200s race at 3pm.

Bob Bateman captured the Cork Harbour action.

Racing continues tomorrow

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Published in Royal Cork YC

Cork Harbour's own Alex Barry will be out to retain his southern title in the RS400 class as part of Royal Cork's Dinghyfest that starts tomorrow. It's one of a number of championships being staged as part of the Crosshaven initiative to foster dinghy sailing. 

Barry, the current holder of the ISA's All Ireland Sailing title is also a keen National 18 sailor but campaigning his RS400 takes priority this weekend. The passionate centreboard sailor has spoken previously to about plans to keep dinghy sailing alive. 'Friendships Through RS Sailing is the key to future of dinghy classes', the All Ireland Champ told Afloat.

Running as part of the weekend – that looks certain to attract over 100 boats – is the RS 200 Euro Cup & Irish National Championships, the National 18 National Championships, the RS Feva and RS 400 Southern Championships plus a PY fleet and an Optimist fun Fleet.

In the RS400, Ballyholme's Gareth Flanigan leads the challengers with Baltimore's top Laser sailor Fionn Lyden also entered in the double–hander. 

There will be four course areas with two inside Roche’s Point at Cuskinny and the Curlane Banks while two more course areas will be in the outer harbour between Roche’s Point and Power Head.

The RS200 and the larger RS400 will sail together while the International 420s and the National 18s will be in the same group on an outer courses. The Irish 420 fleet is buoyed up by some international results scored last week at Kiel Regatta, Germany.

Prizes are provided by event sponsors CH Marine and their Zyck range of sailing gear.

Racing gets underway on Friday for the start of the national championships in the RS200 and 420 classes while the total DinghyFest will be afloat over the weekend including the foiling Moth class from 2.30pm on Saturday where John Chambers is also expected to debut his Waszp dinghy too.

Published in Royal Cork YC
Page 1 of 13

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.


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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