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Displaying items by tag: ICRA

Last week's Cork Week regatta incorporated the Irish Cruiser Racer National Championships for 2022 and produced a list of National Champions that reads like a who's who of the Irish cruiser-racer scene.

As previously reported, in IRC 2, the immaculate scoreline of John Maybury's Joker II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was the week's top performance across the six IRC classes. It made the Dun Laoghaire yacht the overall ICRA champion for 2022.

Joker II's crew at Cork were: Bow: Adrian (Jack) Mulligan, Irene Sorohan, and Sarah O'Callaghan, Mast and Nav: Ronan Verling, Pit: Michelle Fitzgerald, Trim: Brian Phelan and Nick Kelly Main and Tactics: Stefano Cherin and Helm: John Maybury.

Joker II on her way to one of nine podium finishes at Cork Week 2022Joker II on her way to one of nine podium finishes at Cork Week 2022. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Joker II's 2022 season started with a bucket list trip to the Caribbean, and it proved a good warm-up for the season with strong winds and fairly big seas every day.

Initially, Maybury didn't have enough crew available to do Wave Regatta in Howth in early June, but the last-minute availability of a good crew from another boat that had to withdraw made for a last-minute entry. Joker II took some early wins off Ireland's Eye to lead overall after day one, but a non-discardable DSQ in the Lambay Race put paid to any chance of a podium there.

J/109 Joker makes a neat job of the Cruiser One start on Howth Wave’s opening day Photo: AfloatJ/109 Joker makes a neat job of the Cruiser One start on Howth Wave's opening day Photo: Afloat

Cork Week was on Maybury's agenda from the start of the season, and the week came together well for the Dublin Bay sailors. 16 IRC Two teams had windward-leeward and round the cans courses over the five days at Cork Week, and Joker II scored four race wins, and nine podium finishes in ten races.

ICRA Overall champions -The Joker II crew at Cork were Bow: Adrian (Jack) Mulligan, Irene Sorohan, and Sarah O’Callaghan, Mast and Nav: Ronan Verling, Pit: Michelle Fitzgerald Trim: Brian Phelan and Nick Kelly Main and Tactics: Stefano Cherin and Helm: John MayburyICRA Overall champions -The Joker II crew at Cork were Bow: Adrian (Jack) Mulligan, Irene Sorohan, and Sarah O'Callaghan, Mast and Nav: Ronan Verling, Pit: Michelle Fitzgerald, Trim: Brian Phelan and Nick Kelly Main and Tactics: Stefano Cherin and Helm: John Maybury Photo: Bob Bateman

The next big event for the Maybury crew is the defence of the J109 National Championship title in September; a crown Maybury has already won five times.

ICRA National Champions 2022 (at Cork Week)

ICRA National Championship Prizes laid out at CrosshavenICRA National Championship Prizes laid out at Crosshaven Photo: Bob Bateman

ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen addresses the National Championship and Volvo Cork Week prizegiving Photo: Bob BatemanICRA Commodore Dave Cullen addresses the National Championship and Volvo Cork Week prizegiving Photo: Bob Bateman

The complete list of ICRA National Champions for 2022 are: 

IRC:

  • Class 0 Samatom
  • Class 1 Journeymaker II
  • Class 2 Joker II
  • Class 3 Headcase
  • Non Spinnaker 1 Prince of Tides
  • Non Spinnaker 2 Shillelagh

Class 0 SamatomClass 0 Samatom

Class 1 Journeymaker IIClass 1 Journeymaker II

ICRA Overall champions -The Joker II crew at Cork were Bow: Adrian (Jack) Mulligan, Irene Sorohan, and Sarah O’Callaghan, Mast and Nav: Ronan Verling, Pit: Michelle Fitzgerald Trim: Brian Phelan and Nick Kelly Main and Tactics: Stefano Cherin and Helm: John MayburyClass 2 Joker II (and overall winner)

Class 3 HeadcaseClass 3 Headcase

Non Spinnaker 1 Prince of TidesNon Spinnaker 1 Prince of Tides

Non Spinnaker 2 ShillelaghNon Spinnaker 2 Shillelagh

Echo divisions:

  • Class 0 Alpaca
  • Class 1 Jellybaby
  • Class 2 Bateleur 88
  • Class 3 Illegal
  • NS1 Hansemer
  • NS 2 Shillelagh

Class 0 AlpacaClass 0 Alpaca 

Class 1 JellybabyClass 1 Jellybaby

Class 2 Bateleur 88Class 2 Bateleur 88

Class 3 IllegalClass 3 Illegal

NS1 HansemerNS1 Hansemer

Next year's ICRA National Championships are in Howth from the 1-3rd September.

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The announcement of the IRC class bands gives a first look at the various classes for next month's Volvo Cork Week Regatta. 

Class Zero will now benefit from the addition of the new Cape 31 class, which will have six boats and will also include the inaugural Cape 31 Irish National Championships. It is the first proper meeting of the Irish boats with Ant O'Leary's Antix also joining the Irish fleet fresh from Hamble.

Anthony O'Leary's redhulled Cape 31 Antix competing at the RORC IRC Nationals on the Solent Photo: Paul WyethAnthony O'Leary's red hulled Cape 31 Antix competing at the RORC IRC Nationals on the Solent

At the other end of the scale, the well-travelled and successful Pata Negra is the largest boat in the Class which will be joined by the latest WOW, an Extreme 37, and the well-rated Ker 39 La Response.

Andrew McIrvine's Ker 39 La Réponse Photo: Rick TomlinsonAndrew McIrvine's Ker 39 La Réponse Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The J121 Darkwood competing in the Round Ireland race is owned and campaigned by Dublin’s Mike O’Donnell who is UK based Photo: AfloatThe J121 Darkwood competing in the Round Ireland race is owned and campaigned by Dublin's Mike O'Donnell, who is UK-based Photo: Afloat

In Class 1, the highest rating boat Darkwood owned and campaigned by Dublin's Mike O'Donnell has had a great season to date and will be much fancied assuming they get over the gruelling Round Ireland Race.

the First 50 Checkmate XXThe First 50 Checkmate XX from Howth Photo: Afloat

New to the fleet is the First 50 Checkmate XX who were struck with COVID on the eve of the Round Ireland and could be worth watching. Zero II, the former Mariners Cove, is still highly competitive, whilst local boat Alpaca will also be worth watching.

Class 2 is a more mixed affair with a wide range of boats and performances. Boats fancied include the half tonners, particularly the highly successful Swuzzlebubble, which has been brought to Cork by the Dwyer family whilst Jeneral Lee had good form recently. The J109s are always serious contenders, and this year's runner-up in the Round Ireland, the Evans brother's J/99 Snapshot is clearly also on form.

cSwuzzlebubble, which has been brought to Cork by the Dwyer family Photo: Afloat

Class 3 should be a battle of the Quarter Tonners, but hopefully, the Under 25 teams in the J24s should hopefully give them a run for their money. If the breeze is up, the 2019 overall ICRA Champion, Dux, could shine again.

The 2019 overall ICRA Champion, Dux, an X332 from HowthThe 2019 overall ICRA Champion, Dux, an X332 from Howth Photo: Afloat

The Coastal Fleet is a mixed fleet with a strong Cork entry who may have the upper hand when it comes to local tides and wins. Boats to watch in this Class include the latest J122, local boat Jellybaby owned by the Jones Family, whilst visitors Searcher and Prima Forte may upset the locals here. Several other boats have serious potential, and wind strength will have a lot of influence on this fleet.

Pete Smyth's Sunfast 3600 Searcher was a class winner of the National Yacht Club RegattaPete Smyth's Sunfast 3600 Searcher was a class winner of the National Yacht Club Regatta Photo: Afloat

The J122 Jellybaby owned by the Jones Family of Cork Harbour Photo: AfloatThe J122 Jellybaby is owned by the Jones Family of Cork Harbour Photo: Afloat

The Non-Spinnaker Class varies in size from the GK29 Phaeton from RCYC to another local boat, the J122 Damacle. With 19 boats so far entered, this will be a most interesting class to track results during the week.

ICRA trophies will be awarded to each of these Classes, including Irish Sailing medals and potential places at the annual Irish Sailing All Ireland Sailing Championships.

The fleets will be racing to Cork in a race from Falmouth in the UK and the brand new K2Q Dun Laoghaire to Cork Harbour race

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Several feeder races are now in place for the ICRA National Championships which form part of July's Volvo Cork Week 2022.

The entry list for the championships continues to build with over 50 boats registered to compete in the IRC class and a further 14 boats registered for the coastal class.

Promising some top-class competitive racing, the idea behind the feeder races is to encourage boats from further afield to compete in the July 11-15th Cork Harbour-based championships.

Michael O'Donnell's UK based J/121 Darkwood from the RORC is entered for the ICRA Nationals in Cork Harbour Photo: Paul WyethMichael O'Donnell's UK based J/121 Darkwood from the RORC is entered for the ICRA Nationals in Cork Harbour

Kingstown to Queenstown Race

Organised in conjunction with ISORA, The 'Kingstown to Queenstown' (which formerly ran as the Fastnet 450 in 2020 during COVID) Race kicks off from Dun Laoghaire and consists of a  260-mile race, via the Fastnet Rock, ending in Cobh in Cork Harbour.

Falmouth to Cork Race

As Afloat reported earlier, The 180-mile Falmouth to Cork Race, most recently ran in the 1990s, sets off from Royal Falmouth Yacht Club on July 7th, and it is hoped that this race will encourage UK participants for Cork Week and the ICRA National Championships to attend.

The winner of the race will be the inaugural recipient of the Prince of Wales’s 300th Anniversary Trophy”. His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, is the Royal Patron of the Royal Falmouth Yacht Club.

"Hopefully, this weekend’s WAVE Regatta in Howth will enthuse more Dublin boats to travel to what is intended to be a fantastic regatta with the old Cork Week spirit!," ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen told Afloat

A full entry list for Cork Week and the ICRA National Championships is here with the entry form here

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With less than nine weeks to go, the countdown is on to the ICRA National Championships 2022 which forms part of Volvo Cork Week from July 11th -15th.

Hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in the world, the Irish cruiser-racer championships form part of its tricentennial celebrations, ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen says.

ICRA Commodore Dave CullenICRA Commodore Dave Cullen

Of the more modern IRC boats already entered, some high profile visitors include Hamble based Darkwood, the J121 owned by Dublin Mike O’Donnell who is London based and has been having great success in RORC racing over the last two years and is expected to be racing Round Ireland in June.

The Ker 40, Signal 8 skippered by Jamie McWilliamThe Ker 40, Signal 8 skippered by Jamie McWilliam Photo: Afloat

Cullen told Afloat that the UK based La Response, the Ker 39 will revisit Irish shores in July and is joined by the more recent Ker 40, Signal 8 owned by Jamie McWilliam, now based in Hong Kong, who promises an Irish crew reunion for this event.

Zero II, the Mills 39 also has a Cork Harbour heritage having been formerly owned by David Dwyer who campaigned her with great success as Mariners Cove and now as Zero II, still enjoys success in the Solent is also entered.

The 1720 fleet will be a star of the show at Cork Week in JulyThe 1720 fleet will be a star of the show at Cork Week in July Photo: Bob Bateman

With 36 boats entered so far, the 1720 fleet will be a homegrown success for the club that first launched the one design in 1994.

The brand new Cape 31 entries are starting to grow with an increasing interest from the Solent based class, so hopefully, they will provide the spectacle they regularly do off Cowes. As regular readers know the first Irish Cape 31s arrived in Ireland this month

Cork Week will be a launchpad for the brand new Irish Cape 31 fleetCork Week will be a launchpad for the brand new Irish Cape 31 fleet

With a current entry of 110 boats across all fleets, which is ahead of the same time two years ago, ICRA and Cork Week are shaping up to be a highlight of the 2022 Irish sailing season, according to Cullen. 

Entries can be made at the following link here

More information including info on accommodation, travel and previous results can be found on the event main website here 

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After a couple of years of remote communication through pandemic times, Saturday’s Irish Cruiser Racer Association AGM & Conference in the National YC had such an already-packed agenda - and in an inevitably socialising setup too - that getting the best value from having multiple majors winner Tom Kneen of Plymouth as star speaker seemed like a challenge too far.

Yet the affable Fastnet Race overall winner and RORC multiple champion was well up to optimising the time available. We asked a senior sailing administrator, who is also a successful offshore campaigner of more than three decades experience in trophy-winning to international level, to note his impressions. As he says himself, while he’d every intention of producing a simple list of bullet points, Tom’s performance was a swift-running story in itself, so bullet points disappeared in face of a smooth-flowing narrative. Our seasoned observer, who prefers to remain anonymous, takes up the tale:

Tom Kneen on the helm, with Sunrise closing in towards the win of a lifetime at the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021Tom Kneen on the helm, with Sunrise closing in towards the win of a lifetime at the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021

“Tom is quite a guy, and exudes a sparkle and smiling personality that I've not seen so completely anywhere before – he has charisma in spades. Not only a skilled skipper in every sense of the word, but a superb yet down-to-earth orator too, and he'll no doubt be in demand for after-dinner speaking once the word gets out.

I got the sense that he is a racing sailor only because he loves every second of it - this despite the occasional and normal discomfort of offshore sailing. He's 37 years old, lives in Plymouth, runs a green energy company called Ethical Power which is based in Exeter, and is a long time member of the Royal Western Yacht Club at his home port, having ignited his flame for the sport in Mirror dinghies.

And the fact that the Royal Western YC “lost” the Rolex Fastnet Race finish for the first time in 2021, with the fleet concluding the new-look race in Cherbourg, made it doubly sweet that a RWYC member should win it with such style.

174TH IN FIRST FASTNET RACE……..

With life focused on building his energy business which he founded in his twenties, his period of having the resources and the time to give some concentration to offshore racing has been relatively brief. He told us of his pre-race preparations for his first (2015) Fastnet Race in his Elan 360 (also called Sunrise), and how before starting the continuing campaign, he Googled 'Fastnet Rock' to discover where it was……he finished 174th.

He explained that in his ambition to improve, he had mixed experience when taking pro sailors on board, and concluded that it was better to sail with his mates - have fun, but race hard and be competitive. He bought a JPK10.80 and raced in the 2017 Fastnet, finishing in 11th place in Class 3 (two places behind Dun Laoghaire's Kenny Rumball in the J109 'Jedi').

Friends together and winning – the Sunrise crew are declared the Fastnet Race’s favourites to win as they cross the line – and they did win too. Having conserved their energy for the extra miles in the final stages of the new longer course, they swept through the fleet’s times to victory in the concluding legs to the finish.Friends together and winning – the Sunrise crew are declared the Fastnet Race’s favourites to win as they cross the line – and they did win too. Having conserved their energy for the extra miles in the final stages of the new longer course, they swept through the fleet’s times to victory in the concluding legs to the finish.

Everything seemed to 'click' in 2019 when he first started to figure significantly in the RORC results frame. and he mentioned that adding Kiwi sailor Dave Sweet to the team for the Rolex Middle Sea Race was a pivotal decision. Being Tom, he managed to enthuse the experienced pro to join the crew without paying him (at least initially), and explained how he fitted perfectly into the team without corrupting the friendship and 'fun' bond that Tom had obviously sought and skillfully crafted in his “crew of friends” up to that point.

Tom's plan and schedule centres around competing in the 'Grand Prix' offshore events – he’s clearly wanting to get his hands on a Rolex at every opportunity….. His team's experience and talent is honed during the busy RORC calendar and it was during one of the short offshore races in 2020 that they realised their limits when they lost the rig on their newest 'Sunrise', a JPK 11.80.

TEAMWORK OF STRATEGY AND RESERVING ENERGY

He explained that this was also a crucial discovery and taught the team a lesson in pacing and reserving for the long-haul. They don't hike the boat offshore. Non-active crew are instead sent below to rest and reserve energy - a tactic that he explained as being a powerful tool. They also use two navigators for the same reason, although it would strike me as being a risky strategy in a team that is anything other that completely trusting of each others’ talents while knowing their limitations. 

This was revealing and might be the secret ingredient in Sunrise's success - it is a proper team of exceptional mutual trust and understanding. This teamwork and strategy of reserving energy was to be the winning of the 2021 Fastnet Race, along with some skilled interpretation of the satcom weather data which kept them in the fresher conditions on the return leg and eventually finishing 140 miles ahead of many of their principal competitors.

Tom's humility in respect of his stratospheric rise to the top of Corinthian racing is another remarkable trait. He is quick to assert that the results follow his philosophy of 'having fun with your mates' but pushing as hard as they can. He seems motivated by a 'David and Goliath' attitude, and this was never more evident than after the finish of the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race, when victory was snatched from Sunrise by the supermaxi 'Comanche' after a less-than-glorious moment from the International Jury.

STEELY DETERMINATION CLOAKED BY ENGAGING GRIN 

While Tom was appreciative of the generous and consoling Mitch Booth (Comanche skipper), the decision to deny Sunrise the win clearly torments the cheerful Kneen, who told us that it's still a very raw subject with him. It was interesting to hear that from him, and gave me a glimpse of the steely determination and ambition that is cloaked by the cheerful grin that never seems to leave his face. He told us that he expects that most sailors will say that “the ultimate pleasure is small boats beating big boats” and that Sunrise is “comfortable as an underdog”. So perhaps that's unfinished business for him, but it's unlikely that his JPK11.80 team will be portrayed as 'underdogs' in future events, even against Goliathan opposition.

“Just a crew of friends out for a fun race……” The formidable Sunrise Team is now proven as one of the best in the world.“Just a crew of friends out for a fun race……” The formidable Sunrise Team is now proven as one of the best in the world

In fact, Tom Kneen with Sunrise and his shipmates – a regular mix of male and female - are now the team to beat, regardless of boat size. They’re world league, yet solidly locally-based. And what goes round comes round. During a chat over the mid-conference lunch in the National Yacht Club along with incoming ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen and fellow Half Tonner Class member Jonny Swan, Tom revealed that he had raced Ron Holland's classic Half Tonner 'Silver Shamrock' (World Champion 1976 at Trieste with Harold Cudmore) in her restored form, sailing double-handed with fellow West Country man Stuart Greenfield as part of his own steep offshore racing learning curve.

Silver Shamrock is now Howth-based, and owned as the family pet boat by Conor Fogerty, who is currently training in the Bay of Biscay with his Figaro 3 Raw. So it goes on. We could have comfortably shot the breeze on offshore topics and gossip all afternoon with Tom Kneen. But the conference business had to resume, while a plane was waiting for Tom at Weston to fly him back to Plymouth. He took his departure, leaving ICRA members with the glowing impression that with the right personality, attitude and skills set, all offshore racing goals are possible.”

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Howth Yacht Club sailor Dave Cullen has been elected ICRA Commodore at this morning's cruiser-racer AGM in Dun Laoghaire.

The top appointment was announced after the election of a new 11-member executive.

The 2018 Half Ton Classic Cup World Champion replaces the outgoing Commodore Richard Colwell, who held the post for four years. 

The 2022 ICRA Executive CommitteeThe 2021 ICRA Executive Committee was re-elected at the agm with Dave Cullen taking over as Commodore from outgoing Richard Colwell

Cullen, who competes in both inshore offshore cruiser disciplines, took the opportunity at the National Yacht Club hosted meeting to thank his HYC clubmate for his 'dedication and hard work' and described Colwell as a 'driving force' behind Irish cruiser-racer affairs. Colwell remains on the newly elected committee.

Cullen takes over the tiller at a time when recruitment of new sailors into the national fleet, including under-25 and female participation, is top of ICRA's agenda.

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Key Irish sailing regattas are shaking off the effects of COVID restrictions and preparing for a bumper 2022 season, the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) conference heard yesterday in a show of strength at Dun Laoghaire.

Sailors and regatta representatives gathered online and in person at the National Yacht Club to hear the latest regatta news from the East, South and Southwest coasts.

The positive vibe for '22 revealed how much clubs had achieved despite all the obstacles thrown up by COVID-19 over the past two years.

Director of Rating for IRC Jason Smithwick, who joined the meeting online, gave the numbers of Irish boats registered with IRC certification numbers of 374 between 2019 and 2022. 90% are below 12 metres.

In a packed morning schedule, incoming Commodore Dave Cullen welcomed representatives from Cork Week, ISORA, the Round Ireland Race and WIORA. Each gave updates on their regatta and race plans this summer.

Approximately 20 delegates attended the NYC, with another 30 joining online from the morning conference that ran from 10 am to 1 pm.

Cork Week

Royal Cork Yacht Club will host the ICRA National Championships as part of its July Cork Week Regatta. Organiser Ross Deasy detailed indicative rating bands for the regatta that will be a celebration of the club's 300th birthday in Cork Harbour

Indicative rating bands for Cork Week Regatta 2022Indicative rating bands for Cork Week Regatta 2022

ISORA

ISORA is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2022, and ISORA Chief Peter Ryan told the meeting that after two 'lousy years' with COVID, the association is 'reverting to type'. There will be a 16 race calendar with six offshores, five coastal races and five coastal races in Wales. Ryan also confirmed the courses are set for these races now, irrespective of weather on the day.

The ISORA calendar is busy early on, leading into the season's offshore highlights, the 700-mile Round Ireland Race in June and July's 270-miler Dun Laoghaire - Cork race. The association has teamed up with Kenny Rumball's Offshore Academy and will be delivering a series of lectures to help develop offshore skills through the season. 

ISORA's 2022 scheduleISORA's 2022 schedule

Wave Regatta

Brian Turvey from Howth Yacht Club told the meeting that Wave Regatta would major on ICRA's under 25 themes and encourage such participation with an under 25 team prize. There will be three race courses in operation catering for IRC and ECHO, non-spinnaker and one-designs. The club has secured deepwater berthing for boats in Howth Harbour for the duration of the event. Turvey explained the biennial fixture - including the famous Lambay Race - is a regatta wrapped inside a party, and the focus is also very much focussed on shoreside fun from June 3-5.

Round Ireland Race

Round Ireland Race organiser Kyran O'Grady described the 21st edition of the classic offshore race from Wicklow as the 'jewel in the crown' of Irish offshore sailing. The Irish circuit is on the ISORA, UNCL, RORC and Class 40 international calendars leading O'Grady to predict a strong fleet, but he nevertheless appealed to the ICRA crews to 'make this the year to do the race'. The Round Ireland got a boost at the conference when guest speaker Tom Kneen, the winner of the 2021 Fastnet Race, said he was 95% certain that he and his JPK11.80 crew would be doing the race.

WIORA

In June, Liam Lynch of Tralee Bay Sailing Club said the 2021 West of Ireland Offshore Sailing Association (WIORA) would host its annual championships at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary.

This year will see a change to the usual format as the event will run over three days, from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June inclusive, rather than the traditional four-day event, which typically runs from Wednesday to Saturday. The rationale for the change comes from feedback from sailors participating in the West Championships over the years, who feel that a three-day event may make it easier for crews to get time away from families and time off work. It is scheduled to run eight races for Spinnaker Class and six races for White Sails Class.

Commodore Cullen emphasised the need for owners to enter the various events as early as possible to allow voluntary regatta organisers to finalise plans. 

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One minute it’s winter, and a socially-constrained pandemic-plagued winter at that. And next thing you know, it’s summer, freedom is declared, and our clubs are switching into instant overdrive as sailors go crazy trying to compensate for two years of social purdah and covid clampdown.

Oh for sure, there was as much sailing going on as was possible to hit the limits of permitted activity as they changed from time to time. And the thanks of all of us are due to the photographers who grabbed any chance to record the best of it whether there was sunshine or not, for the greatest test of maritime camera skill is making a sunless sailing scene as eye-catching as one where the sun highlights every last vivid detail.

But it was all happening as though everybody had one arm tied behind their backs. You zapped as quickly and as isolated as possible from the home bubble down to the boat bubble, and you did your sailing thing while trying to work out if you were getting near the limit of two kilometres or five kilometres from home, or whatever was law at the time. And then, even as things eased, your après sailing was very constrained, as scrupulously-regarded social-distancing was very inimical to the popular sailing habit of ingesting performance-enhancing drugs after the event in a crowded setting.

Life goes on – the much-anticipated Royal Cork YC 300 may not have happened as planned in 2020, but the Tricentenary + 2 will make Cork Week 2022 something very special indeed. Photo: Robert BatemanLife goes on – the much-anticipated Royal Cork YC 300 may not have happened as planned in 2020, but the Tricentenary + 2 will make Cork Week 2022 something very special indeed. Photo: Robert Bateman

You may well wonder why we’re recording all this at a time when everybody is fed up with pandemics, knows everything of its life-limiting effects only too well, and wants to think only of the changed present, the promising future, and peace in our time if Vladimir RasPutin will just allow us and everyone else to get on with our lives.

AWARENESS OF SPANISH FLU TAKEN FOR GRANTED

But the fact is that, in looking back to reports of the sailing seasons of 1919, 1920, and 1921, we haven’t yet found a single reference to the adverse effects of the highly fatal Spanish flu pandemic of the time, and with every week there was less and less reference to the dreadful toll of the 1918-ended Great War, particularly among the young men who’d been the backbone of the top amateur racing crews pre-war.

The Strangford Lough River Class of 1921 were a necessary response to the realities of life after the Great War of 1914-18. Photo: W M NixonThe Strangford Lough River Class of 1921 were a necessary response to the realities of life after the Great War of 1914-18. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet the inescapable effects were there, even if you had to find evidence in private correspondence or in recollections of long-ago conversations. Thus last year, when the River Class of Strangford Lough celebrated their Centenary with all twelve boats in fine racing trim, in producing a handsome history to coincide with the Big One Hundred they moved heaven and earth to try to find a record of one of the stipulations for the new 28ft 6ins One Design from Alfred Mylne, which was to become the world’s first Bermudan-rigged OD.

The Rivers were Bermuda-rigged because it was seen as more easily-handled than classic gaff, and an early requirement mentioned was of the need for a boat “which could be raced by a man and his daughters”. This was no sudden arrival of feminism. On the contrary, it was a stark realization that many of the best young sailors had tragically disappeared in the mud of the Somme. But it’s a stipulation that now has to be accepted as only having been mentioned at some stage in preliminary exchanges, for it wasn’t in the specification provided by the new Class Association to the designer.

BELFAST LOUGH STARS REVERT TO SIMPLICITY

Another telling illustration in the north was provided by the Belfast Lough Star Class, 20ft LWL gunter-rigged Mylne-designed sloops which originated in 1899, and in some ways were the precursors of the Dublin Bay 21s of 1902. But while the DB21s in their original form majored in complexity of rig with a cutter fore-triangle and an enormous jackyard topsail, the Belfast Lough Stars were the essence of simplicity in being gunter-rigged sloops.

The Belfast Lough Star Class of 1899 was the essence of simplicity in her rig……..The Belfast Lough Star Class of 1899 was the essence of simplicity in her rig…

…….but around 1906, the Stars were persuaded to upgrade their rig with a jackyard topsail.…….but around 1906, the Stars were persuaded to upgrade their rig with a jackyard topsail.

Yet some time between 1899 and 1914, the Stars were persuaded that they ought to carry a jackyard topsail, and they changed their rigs accordingly. But when sailing resumed in 1919, there wasn’t the manpower available to handle the big topsails, and they reverted to their original simple gunter rigs, and raced under them until the class was replaced by the new Glen ODs in the late 1940s.

After the Great War, shortage of crew meant the Belfast Lough Stars had to revert to the simpler gunter rig, as seen here in the 1920s.After the Great War, shortage of crew meant the Belfast Lough Stars had to revert to the simpler gunter rig, as seen here in the 1920s.

That’s how it was in the north of the country. But a hundred years ago in the south, while the Civil War in the new Free State wasn’t exactly raging, nevertheless in those parts of the country directly affected, it was certainly very much the big thing in everyday life. Yet it was very far from the contemporary concept of total war, and though everyone was acutely aware it was going on, life of sorts went on elsewhere, with the new Shannon One Designs having their first races in August 1922 largely as intended.

FANCY CAPS MAKE FOR MARKED MEN

This was despite a pair of potential contenders, who were wearing traditional semi-formal yachting caps, being detained for a while on Lough Ree by the local Irregular Forces, who were under the impression that yachting caps constituted the uniform of the newly-formed Irish Free State Army.

Yacht designer George O’Brien Kennedy recalled a happy early 1920s childhood when north County Wicklow seemed remote from all thoughts of a Civil WarYacht designer George O’Brien Kennedy

Meanwhile on the other side of the country in north County Wicklow, yacht designer O’Brien Kennedy in his memoir Not All At Sea! recalls an early 1920s childhood in which most things proceeded as normal, with regular picnics into the Wicklow Hills in his father’s beloved car, interspersed with racing the family’s Dublin Bay Water Wag which Kennedy Snr had built himself. In doing so he was typical of the growing interests of the early 1920s, for the father dearly loved his workshop where he built boats and maintained the car and did anything else rather than go into dreary round in the offices of family’s large, long-established and successful solicitor’s practice in the city, an approach shared by his brother which resulted in them being known as “Dublin’s Most Invisible Solicitors”.

For in those variously-disturbed days of the early 1920s, everyone was so aware of disruptive background circumstances that contemporary journalists – producing “the first draft of history” – didn’t feel the need to mention them. So who knows, but maybe by mentioning this weekend of The Great Change, we’ll be doing future sailing historians a favour - that is, if any of us has a future, and there are subsequent historians to record it.

Yet now, we’re living in a reversal of a hundred years ago. In 1918, pandemic came as war ended. In 2022, war comes as pandemic ends. The uncertainty affects us all, and we were reminded yet again of the very unpleasant new reality by yesterday’s announcement from the up-coming St Maarten Heineken Regatta, which in normal times is perceived as the ultimate fun event when Caribbean sailing is at its very best, while at the same time signalling that Spring is starting to arrive in Europe. But for 2022, it makes for sombre reading:

ST. MAARTEN HEINEKEN REGATTA STATEMENT CONCERNING THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is an international sailing event that for over 40 years has welcomed sailors of all nations to share in friendly competition and celebration of the inclusivity of our great sport.

Due to the recent developments in Ukraine and hostilities on behalf of the Russian government, which our organization condemns, we cannot maintain the friendliness between all of our competitors without suspending the participation of teams registered as Russian and Belarusian. While we wish that sailing could be free from politics and we can all race together on the water, the current situation and feelings of the sailing community at large makes this impossible.

The St Maarten Heineken Regatta would have been though of as the ultimate away-from-it-all event, but this week’s announcement excluding Russian and Belarussian crews was a harsh encroachment of the new realityThe St Maarten Heineken Regatta would have been though of as the ultimate away-from-it-all event, but this week’s announcement excluding Russian and Belarussian crews was a harsh encroachment of the new reality

As a result, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will not be hosting Russian or Belarusian affiliated teams for this year's regatta. This decision is not meant to punish or ostracize any individuals, but rather uphold the integrity of all competitors and the event as a whole. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta stands in unison with the international sailing community and recommendations as per the official statements released by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Sailing.

We hope that by the 43rd edition of the event, the international situation will be positively resolved and we can once again welcome teams from all nations to sail together in peace. Until then, we must stand by World Sailing and endeavour to make the best decisions for the community as a whole.

It’s when a notably light-hearted event like this has to go all serious that we become acutely aware of the reality of the times we live in. But life goes on - it must go on. And as yesterday’s positive March Newsletter from Kinsale YC made clear, life is very much going on, and it’s getting up to sailing speed at clubs all over the country. Indeed, the pace is almost too hectic in Dublin. Apart from knowing that every-day clubhouse use is resuming everywhere, let’s look at four specials taking place ashore in addition to DBSC’s Spring Chicken Race tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

BUSY WEEKEND FOR CLUBHOUSE ACTIVITY

Last night saw the generous presentation in Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club of the €18,000 raised by December's All In A Row oar-boat festival on the Liffey in December, with the money shared between the Lifeboats and the Underwater Search & Retrieval Unit.

HYC Commodores Ian Byrne and Paddy Judge demonstrating social-distancing as regulations began to easeHYC Commodores Ian Byrne and Paddy Judge demonstrating social-distancing as regulations began to ease

At the same time out in Howth, HYC Commodore Paddy Judge was hosting a celebratory dinner to say thank you to the many volunteers who had quietly made the extra effort to comply with pandemic regulations while making possible the staging of as much racing and sailing as could be fitted in within the changing regulations. The pace in this was set by his predecessor Ian Byrne, who made it his business to analyse completely each new set of regulations as they came into force under the changing circumstances, thereby providing a service for the entire Irish sailing community.

No sunshine but plenty of photographic action – Howth racing with Kevin Darmody’s X302 Viking nipping across ahead of Stephen O’Flaherty’s Sprit 54 Soufriere. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyNo sunshine but plenty of photographic action – Howth racing with Kevin Darmody’s X302 Viking nipping across ahead of Stephen O’Flaherty’s Sprit 54 Soufriere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Today, the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is Irish Sailing Central, with the management team headed by Commodore Conor O’Regan (a global sailing circumnavigation veteran) welcoming the Annual Conference of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association this morning, while this evening there’s the first Centenary Dinner of the Shannon One Design Association.

TOP OWNER-SKIPPER

With multiple nominations for the Committee, ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell of Howth may well be contemplating some sort of election process, but the highlight of the gathering will be the presence of Tom Kneen of Plymouth, currently the world’s most successful offshore racing owner-skipper. His JPK 11.80 Sunshine was RORC Champion in 2020, Fastnet Race winner 2021 and Middle Sea Race winner as well by any standards of reasonable fairness. Either way, she was the highly-acclaimed RORC Boat of the Year in 2021, and already this year she has kept up the pace by winning her class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February.

Man of the Moment – Tom Kneen of Plymouth is currently the world’s top offshore racing owner-skipperMan of the Moment – Tom Kneen of Plymouth is currently the world’s top offshore racing owner-skipper

As for successful owner-skippers, they’ll be a dime-a-dozen at tonight’s First Centenary Dinner of the Shannon One Designs in the NYC. It has acquired the nickname of ‘First Centenary Dinner” because when the Centenary Year Programme was first being outlined by Class Chairman Philip Mayne and Honorary Secretary Naomi Algeo, they’d no idea what restriction would be in place as each major happening came up, so they pencilled in 5th March 2022 as “Centenary Dinner NYC”, as a Dublin venue makes sense early in the year, with so many SOD owners living in the Greater Dublin Area.

“Irish Sailing Central” – the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is hosting two major events today“Irish Sailing Central” – the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is hosting two major events today

But as they’d originally set a numbers limit at 110 to comply with the then-existing regulations, it was booked out within twelve hours. However, the National YC being renowned for its expandable feasts, apparently they’ve now been able to up the numbers while realising that some more Centenary Dinners will become necessary as the class reaches its traditional time of peak activity in August.

Hyper-sociability of times past……Shannon One Designs passing through Athlone Lock during their Long Distance Race down-Shannon from Lough Ree to Lough Derg.Hyper-sociability of times past……Shannon One Designs passing through Athlone Lock during their Long Distance Race down-Shannon from Lough Ree to Lough Derg.

And as for successful owner-skippers being a dime-a-dozen in any gathering of Shannon One Design owners, believe me you’re a successful owner-skipper if you can just manage to finish a race on Lough Derg or Lough Ree in a SOD when the big winds from the Atlantic are galloping in across Connacht…….

When the big winds come in from the Atlantic…….hairy sailing for Shannon One Designs on Lough DergWhen the big winds come in from the Atlantic…….hairy sailing for Shannon One Designs on Lough Derg

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 Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Commodore Richard Colwell has received 11 nominations from eight yacht clubs for the association's Executive Committee at this weekend's AGM at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Colwell is urging all members to attend the ICRA AGM, which can also be accessed via Zoom on the morning of Saturday, March 5th.

The AGM will be preceded by a National Conference with guest speakers and a sailors' forum. More details and registration links here

Updates of the activities undertaken during 2021 will be presented by committee members and will be followed by the vote for a new Executive Committee. 

The 11 nominations received by the closing date of February 28th 2021, are:

  • Richard Colwell, HYC
  • Denis Byrne, RCYC
  • David Cullen, HYC
  • Brian Raftery, SYC
  • John Leech, LDYC
  • Peter Ryan, NYC
  • Liam Lynch, TBSC
  • Ric Morris, RIYC
  • Mark Mills
  • Darragh Connelly, RCYC
  • Saoirse Reynolds, NYC
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2021 Fastnet Race winning skipper Thomas Kneen will be a guest speaker at this Saturday's ICRA National Conference and AGM.

As Afloat readers will recall, Kneen almost completed an offshore double but then just missed out on the Middle Sea Race in controversial circumstances. And last week, the JPK11.80 skipper was the class one winner of the Caribbean 600 race in Antigua.

As we come out of Covid restrictions, ICRA will hold its annual Conference and AGM as a hybrid event, welcoming those that can and wish to attend a face to face meeting to the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, while also retaining the option for those unable to attend in-person to register and log in to the conference online.

Thomas KneenThomas Kneen

Kneen and Jason Smithwick (Director of Rating, RORC) are keynote speakers at the 2022 Conference.

In order to manage both an online and offline audience, the conference will remain as a slightly shorter event than pre-Covid. It will take place on Saturday 5th March from 10:00 am to 13:00pm, with lunch and further discussion on offer for those in attendance at the National Yacht Club from 13:00pm onwards.

As well as the main speakers, the event will include the sailors' forum (where there is a chance to discuss and debate the big issues in cruiser-racing), updates from the major events planned in the year, an update of ICRA activities, and that will be followed by the AGM.

The 2022 Annual Conference will feature:

  • Thomas Kneen (Owner Sunrise) - we are delighted to have Thomas join ICRA to talk about his very successful and somewhat controversial 2021 sailing campaign in his yacht Sunrise, which won the Fastnet and just missed out on the Middle Sea race in controversial circumstances.
  • Jason Smithwick (Director of Rating, RORC) – a presentation from the Director of Rating at RORC, where he will give ICRA an update on IRC ratings, and answer all your questions!
  • Major Event Reps – giving you the low down on what to expect at the major cruiser racing coastal and offshore sailing events planned for 2022.
  • Sailors Forum – giving members a chance to ask questions of the event organisers to help them plan for the season ahead.
  • ICRA Updates – on the Under 25 Programme, the Central results database, ECHO rules, plans for the ICRA Nationals in 2022.
  • The full agenda for the conference is available on the conference webpage here.

The conference will start in the morning at 10:00 am, followed by the AGM and will close at 13:00 pm.

Please register for online here and in person here

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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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