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A successful new development in the national sailing programme will inevitably be something of a revolution. Yet if those managing the event handle it in the right way, the changeover can take place without people thinking that anything really revolutionary – in the sense of a sudden and complete change – has taken place. W M Nixon takes a look at the successful unveiling of the new-style Wave Regatta planned for his home port of Howth for next year’s June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Preparation is everything. Quiet work behind the scenes in trying to visualize every practical and administrative glitch which might arise, and how best to deal with it well before it becomes a problem, is essential. Getting key people – decision-makers and can-do people, local, regional and national – firmly on side, is absolutely essential.

Testing the waters of consumer opinion with trial announcements and proposals, and the occasional test run maybe disguised as something else, is also part of the process. Yet revealing too much of what is taking shape before it is really ready to go public can do more harm than good.

Thus when Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta 2018 was unveiled after a crisp and businesslike Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday night, not only was it a very complete and appealing concept in itself, but it emerged fully formed, and in a style well presented to an audience filled with fresh enthusiasm.

howth wave2Howth’s modern marina/clubhouse complex (above) is in stark contrast to the situation pre-1987 (below) when the ISORA racers and the fishing fleet had to share the same small space. The boat at centre is the famous S&S-designed Sunstone (Tom & Vicky Jackson) which in her racing days with ISORA was known as Dai Mouse III.

howth wave3

After all, Commodore Joe McPeake had just finished chairing an AGM whose mood was enthusiastic after the publication of a set of figures which showed that the huge extra voluntary effort and support which the club has received from many of its members during the past 18 months has paid real dividends. While the improving mood had become increasingly apparent as the season progressed, by Thursday night if you could somehow have linked it to the National Grid, you’d have lit the village with it.

Inevitably, Howth gets compared to the big southside clubs of Dun Laoghaire, and the way their huge reservoir of personnel resources - further augmented by the overall administration of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and with the large marina run as a commercial venture – frees up a enormous pool of talent to keep a high-powered show on the road. For when all is said and done, only Dun Laoghaire - with its unique selection of stately shoreside facilities - could stage an event like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

But in Howth, the one club has to do everything. So instead of trying to rival Dun Laoghaire, today’s Howth sailors see their strength in being themselves in their own special peninsular port, which is neither Dublin nor northside nor remotely southside. On the contrary, it’s emphatically part of Fingal. And it’s indisputably Eastside. On top of all that, as its basic geology is twice as old as anywhere nearby, it is Ireland which is the add-on to Howth, rather than the other way round.

However, that’s not in anyone’s mind in Howth at all this weekend, as we realize the leap of the imagination which has transformed some long-established Howth events by combining them with new concepts, and then steering the whole package into a significant gap in the market which had been hidden there in plain sight for all to see.

For the overall shape of the 2018 National Sailing Programme is unusual. The biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been shifted to the last weekend of June, presumably because its time-honoured slot right on the mid-summer weekend around June 23rd would have clashed with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself in The Hague at the same time.

So with the Volvo Round Ireland on June 30th, Volvo Cork Week in its turn was moved back to July 16th to 21st. And while those who seek a fun regatta with holiday overtones have Calves Week in Schull from August 7th to 10th, those in pursuit of racing with recognised national titles at the end of it have the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August.

What it meant to those in Howth was that there wasn’t a major cruiser-racer championship on Ireland’s East Coast for the entire season, and particularly not in June and early July when the heavies generally expect an event of this type. But that realisation came after they’d already set in motion a project to re-invigorate their traditional Lambay Race, which has been staged annually since at least 1904 and maybe earlier.

howth wave4The classic Lambay Race. Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing along the coastline of Ireland’s most unspoilt island. Photo John Deane

In times past, with smaller craft such as the 1898-established Howth 17s (happily still with us, and stronger as a class than ever), simply racing round the island of Lambay from Howth was enough for a long day’s race. But with newer and much bigger craft joining the mix, all sorts of ways had to be found to increase the length of the Lambay Race for the big boats, while retaining its character. Yet by this stage, the programme generally was becoming crowded, with the revival of ISORA posing new problems of rival events.

cruiser racers lambay5Cruiser-racers in the Lambay Race. Todays faster boats expect a longer race than the traditional 16-mile course

A partial solution was reached this year when the ever-obliging ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan agreed to incorporate the annual Lambay Race as the main section of an ISORA Race which would start with the Lambay fleet and sail through its course and finish line, but then race on to a finish in Dublin Bay to provide the kind of distance ISORA expects.

However, for 2018, the Lambay Race on Saturday June 2nd will be a fully-fledged ISORA event in its own right. But it will literally be a Lambay-Race-With-Knobs-On for the Cruiser-Racer classes, as the organisers are planning a morning start and probably taking in Rockabill and the Kish to provide a perfect miniature offshore course.

dave cullen6Dave Cullen, Director of Racing for the Wave Regatta, on the tiller of his classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Having the full ISORA imprimatur on this extended Lambay Race provides the new Wave Regatta with the massive corner-stone which enables the Organising Committee, chaired by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to build a full three-day programme around it, for they can be confident that local One Design Classes such as the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s will already be doing the Lambay Race in its traditional form. As well, Sportsboat Classes like the SB20s and the 1720s will also have the option of a start. And if the IRC Class divisions are made in the right way, we’ll have the J/109s, the J/80s and the J/24s racing as classes-within-classes to add that bit of extra zing.

As the possibilities became clearer, one extra bit of information encouraged the Howth group to go for it big time in promoting an event with three days of solid racing as a viable biennial alternative to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This was the news that, in future, in every even year the annual ICRA Nationals will be staged at a non-Dublin venue – August’s Galway venue is the start of this process.

This meant that the Howth team really had to get their skates on in order to have a realistic proposition and programme in place in time for an official unveiling at Thursday’s HYC AGM on December 14th. Even with test runs on various aspects of the main idea during the past couple of seasons, the actual countdown time was short enough, but by Thursday night such a complete package could be put on display that they were able to tell us that Fingal County Council were giving major support, there was every encouragement from the Harbour Authority, and HYC member Michael Wright had come on to the Committee to act as shoreside hospitality director, while also bringing in the support of his Wright Hospitality Group.

j80 howth sound7One of HYC’s club-owned J/80s in Howth Sound. With an additional club-owned flotilla from the Royal St George YC, the IRC-compliant J/80s will have a choice of options for Wave Regatta
In fact, these days with its proliferation of characterful restaurants and hospitality hotspots, Howth’s shoreside entertainment is soon in place. So it’s the programme afloat which has to match it, and here the organisers have hit the target by having Irish Sailing President Jack Roy take on the role as one of the senior Race Officers, another being former President David Lovegrove. Howth-based Race Officers such as David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher have long made a major input into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, so all these top men afloat are accustomed to working with each other in the most demanding situations.

They’re also accustomed to inter-acting with the “customers” after racing, and it was their reports of overseas visitors to the Dun Laoghaire Regatta expressing a wish to take part in some sort of major event in the Greater Dublin area every year which encouraged the Howth team to think that, with proper planning, they could provide an alternate biennial regatta which would be different from Dun Laoghaire, yet express the same mood of good but not too serious sport afloat, and high-powered entertainment ashore, with an emphasis on attracting younger participants.

jack roy8Irish Sailing President Jack Roy will be a Race Officer at Howth’s new event

Flexibility is the approach. For those who wish to do just the Lambay Race on the Saturday, that’s fine. But for those who want the Full Irish of a really good programme of sport, there’ll be three races on Friday 1st June, and three more on Sunday June 3rd, while the Bank Holiday Monday will be given over to a Family Day which was very popular in 2017, and will be further developed next year.

As with everything to do with sailing in Ireland, the weather factor will be considerable. But for those of us who have done more than a few Lambay Races, the good memories linger best, and they’re of an effortless regatta atmosphere with an element of local pride, for it’s the coast of Fingal we’ve been racing along, one of all Ireland’s finest islands we’ve been racing round, and it’s our own home port under the hill that we’ve raced home to.

Which makes it fine for those who live locally. But the Wave Regatta Committee, in which Dave Cullen plays a key role as one of the leading ideas experts while officially he’s called Director of Racing, realise that the fact of Howth being on a peninsula and the village being largely residential, with a shortage of hotel bedrooms, can provide a challenge for those who live elsewhere, but want to keep their boats race-ready rather than as floating caravans.

So HYC have hired 30 campervans which will be available for rent in the car-park beside the club, and as well local sailors have made it clear they’ll be more than hospitable in providing accommodation. As for the problem of the DART from Dun Laoghaire not starting until late on a Sunday morning, they’ve swung a deal with Dublin Bay Cruises whereby the familiar blue-hulled St Brigid will depart her berth in Dun Laoghaire at 08:15 Sunday morning, bound for Howth and the final day of racing.

st brigid9The Dublin Bay Cruise vessel St Brigid will run a ferry service from Dun Laoghaire to Howth on the Sunday morning

It’s that sort of off-the-wall yet actually very sound idea which gives us some idea of the thought which is going into this new Wave Regatta at Howth. You can do a lot of sailing in three days if everything is in place, and this team is determined that it will be.

Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the home squad, the new HYC Club Officers who were elected on Thursday night, and will have their agenda will filled throughout their time in office, as plans for 2018 include the establishment of a fully-fledged Sailing School within the club. They are: Commodore: Joe McPeake; Vice Commodore: Ian Byrne; Rear Commodore: Paddy Judge; Rear Commodore: Ian Malcolm; Hon. Secretary: Bernie Condy; Hon. Sailing Secretary: Caroline Koster; Honorary Treasurer: David Mulligan.

joe mcpeake10HYC Commodore Joe McPeake

Published in W M Nixon

The Annual General Meeting of the 2017 West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) took place at the Dromoland Inn in Co. Clare earlier this week. Among the items discussed on the night was the combined 2018 WIORA ICRA Championships which will be run in Galway Bay next August. In acknowledging that combining events can mean an increase in costs to boat owners and participants, and as a gesture of goodwill and thanks to its members for their continued support, WIORA have voted to suspend membership fees for 2018. The venue for the 2019 West Coast Championships was also decided at the AGM with Foynes Yacht Club being awarded the event.

After twelve years in his role as Honorary Secretary of the Association, Thomas Whelan from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland, stepped down at the AGM. WIORA Commodore, Simon McGibney, the WIORA committee and its members would like to sincerely thank Thomas for all his years of service and contribution to promoting cruiser racing along the west coast and wish him the very best of luck with his new found free time next year.

Published in WIORA

Connor Phelan's Jump juice will be among the winners saluted tonight at the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA) agm and prizegiving that will be held in the Royal Cork Yacht Club at 7.45pm writes Bob Bateman.

Cruiser–racer fortunes are on the up in Cork harbour according to SCORA Commodore Kieran O'Connell who gave a recent confident forecast that fleet numbers are on the 'way back'.

SCORA Yachts1 Tom McCarthy's Whistling Dixie was third in ECHO White Sails division. Photo: Bob Bateman

untitled 0733Conor Phelan's Jump juice is among the winners at SCORA tonight Photo: Bob Bateman

As well as Phelan's Class Zero and One victory, among tonight's other highlights is Tom Roche's first in ECHO in the same division with Kinsale Yacht Club entry Meridian.

RCYC entry Bad Company (Desmond, Ivers) was the IRC two winner with Waterford Harbour yacht Slack Alice skippered by Shane Statham second.

untitled 9Kinsale Yacht Club entry Meridian (Tom Roche) Photo: Bob Bateman

SCORA Yachts2Dan Buckley's Justus (yellow spinnaker) was third in IRC Zero Photo: Bob Bateman

A full list of prizewinners are below.

Among the matters for discussion at tonight' meeting will be the perennial question of Class Bands for handicapping. This is because the IRC certs change and consequently bands need updating on a regular basis.

SCORA Yachts5Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's Flyover, a Sigma 33, skippered by David Marchant was the IRC 3 winner Photo: Bob Bateman

Agenda

1. Finance
2. SCORA Leagues
3. Combine club league in Cork
4. Class handicap bands for 2018
5. ICRA Training Grants
6. ICRA Crew Point
7. AOB
8. Prize Giving

List of 2017 prizewinners: Scora league

Jump juice             Connor Phelan         1st IRC 0/1           2nd Echo

Meridian               Tom Roche               1st Echo 0/1        2rd Echo  

Justus                     Dan Buckley               3rd IRC 0/1           3rd Echo        

Slack Alice             Shane Statham         2nd IRC 2             3rd Echo

Bad Company     Desmond,Ivers           1st IRC 2             2nd Echo

Artful Dodger       Finbarr O Regan       1st Echo 2             3rd IRC

Cracker                 Denis Byrne               3rd Echo 3

Ye Gotta Wanna Dave Lane and Sinead Enright             3rd IRC 3

No Gnomes         Leonard Donnery       2nd IRC 3           2nd Echo

Flyover               David Marchant         1st IRC 3             1st Echo

Nieulargo            Denis Murphy          1st IRC W/S 1       2nd Echo

Indulgence           Aidan Heffernan       1st Echo W/S 1     2nd IRC

Magnet                 Kieran O Brien             3rd IRC W/S 1    3rd Echo

Prometheus         Paul Murray                 1st IRC W/S 2      

Bandit                   Richard Leonard         2nd IRC W/S 2    2nd Echo

Whistling Dixie   Tom Mc Carthy            3rd Echo W/S 2

Aramis                   Pat Vaughan              1st Echo W/S 2     2nd IRC

Scora Cork Harbour league

Alpacca                Paul Tingle                         1st all in IRC

No Gnomes         Leonard Donnery             1st all in Echo

Indulgance           Aidan   Heffernan             1st W/S IRC

Sea Dragon           Frank Caul                         1st W/S Echo

Published in SCORA

At least two different viewpoints may be taken on the remarkable and very long history of sailing in Ireland. Either you see it as a wonderful heritage, which should be celebrated with gala anniversaries, and whatever you’re having yourself, at every possible opportunity. Or else you might sadly admit that it’s a burden, a deadening load on all of us which stultifies development, restricts fresh thinking, and railroads the annual programme into a traditional pattern sailed in vintage boats which allows very little space for something with the instant appeal and intrinsic excitement of novelty.

But perhaps there’s a happy place somewhere in between, a thoughtful place among many events, where we can live comfortably with some astonishingly old throwbacks to the distant past, yet continue to modify the programme and our way of doing things in order to accommodate new ideas. And with any luck, we might somehow find space to come up with some bright ideas of our own to add to the rich and very varied tapestry of the world sailing scene. W M Nixon casts an eye over next season’s programme to see what it might bring to the party.

After the excitement of Annalise’s Silver Medal in Rio on August 2016, in 2017 there was a generally unstated but definite feeling that we were due a down-home year, a year when sailing in Ireland in all its quirkiness would be celebrated, and anything with a non-Olympic flavour would be given every encouragement to flourish.

Yet at the beginning of 2017, who could have predicted that as summer approached, it would be Annalise herself who would up-sticks from the pre-ordained Olympian way of doing things, and plunge into the maelstrom which is Volvo Ocean Racing?

annalise with parents2Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy with her parents Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy. As the establishers of a long-standing Round Ireland Record in 1993, Cathy and Con are well aware of what Annalise has faced in taking on a round-the-world crewing job in the Volvo 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic (below)

turn the tide3

Successful predicting doesn’t get any easier, even with detailed programes taking shape. Annalise’s progress in the rugged ocean racing world this will be continuing until the finish in June 2018, but thanks to the Volvo Race’s flexible approach to crewing arrangements, she will be able to opt out for long enough to get herself back into the Olympic Women’s Radial Laser mode from time to time to keep in touch for the big Tokyo 2020 Olympics countdown event in early August 2018, the two-week Hempel World Sailing Championship at Aarhus in Denmark.

There, with 40% of places up for grabs, many other Irish Olympic wannabees will be progressing after long and often lonely months and even years of doing the circuit. By then, several of them such as Aoife Hopkins will have thoroughly tested the waters in the Olympic Classes, starting with the Championships in Florida in January.

aoife hopkins4Aoife Hopkins of Howth and Trinity College will be starting her 2018 campaign towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Florida in January

February sees action at home and abroad with the growing enthusiasm for Team Racing in action with the Trinity Varsities up on the lake at Blessington on Friday 9th/Saturday 10th February, which will fit them neatly around the Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year 2017” awards ceremony back down in Dublin at the RDS on the evening of Friday February 9th, where an exceptionally eclectic group of maritime high-flyers will gather to receive well-deserved praise for many remarkable - indeed, in some cases astonishing - achievements.

But late February will also see serious international racing on the other side of the Atlantic with the increasingly popular annual RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua on Monday 19th February. There’ll be a strong Irish contingent, and we have form here, as Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire won the first Caribbean 600 in 2009, then Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth won her class in 2016, and in 2017 it was all back on top again, as the overall winner, Hap Fauth’s Maxi72 Belle Mente, was navigated by our own Ian Moore.

bella mente5Bella Mente on her way to winning the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2017, navigated by Ian Moore. There will be a strong Irish presence in 2018’s race, starting at Antigua on 19th February. Photo Tim Wright

However, February at home in Ireland for most sailors is conference time, and the ever-expanding annual Irish sailing Cruising Conference is scheduled for Saturday February 17th at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown in Dublin, the move to a Clayton Hotel’s conference facilities having started last year in Cork when bookings were so heavy they’d to change the venue from the original choice of the Port of Cork HQ Building.

Nevertheless those dedicated team racers in school and college are also maximising their use of February before exam countdowns take over everyone’s timetable, and there’s the Leinster Schools at RStGYC on February 17th, while the following weekend is the big one, the Irish Universities Championship. In 2017 they had Clifden as a very successful venue in an early weekend in March, in 2018 they’re pushing the early season envelope even further by using the weekend of 22nd-24th February, and the venue is again in the west, this time at Kilrush, County Clare.

students clifden6Springtime sunshine at Clifden in Connemara, March 2017, for the Irish Universities Championship. In 2018, the event will be even earlier – on February 24-25th at Kilrush in County Clare

Thus we reach the end of February with the season already well under way for some specialists, but mainstream sailors will still be in a different time-scale, and in March the first one for the diary is Irish Sailing’s AGM on Saturday 10th March, venue still to be confirmed. However for those who insist that sailing shouldn’t miss any month of the Irish year, the Royal Cork’s famous come-all-ye dinghy festival, the PY1000, is slated in for Sunday March 11th, and it’s quite something, in fact it’s fantastic.

It would be impossible to imagine contemporary Irish sailing without the Laser, that ageless wonder which has contributed so much to our sport since it first appeared here around 1970. Yes, 1970. To be completely accurate, the Laser will be having its Golden Jubilee in 2019, as the prototpypes and first production boats sailed in 1969, so when our first major Laser event of 2018 gets going, the Munsters at Baltimore on March 31st/April 1st, it will be part of a growing celebration which in 2018 will culminate in Ireland in the mega-fleet World Lasers Masters (we’re talking maybe 400 boats) in Dun Laoghaire in a joint NYC/RStGYC venture from 7th to 17th September 2018. That will be a joyous affair to bring Dun Laoghaire Harbour to an upbeat mood as the traditional sailing season draws to its close after a fascinating main programme in the central part of the 2018 summer, with various pillar events the highlights in a continuous and colourful tapestry which takes in every part of the country.

Laser 2848Lasers – it’s part of what we are. This classic dinghy is still as new as tomorrow, yet it’s now on the count-down to the Golden Jubilee in 2019-2020, and a significant part of that will be the World Laser Masters in Dun Laoghaire from 7th to 17th September 2018, with a huge fleet expected.

That “traditional season” will have seen solid regulars such as the annual programme of the steadily-expanding Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association into action by late April (first races are on April 21st), by which time the Irish Sailing’s Youth Pathway Nationals – 2017 was the biggest yet seen when it was at Ballyholme – will have been staged from 5th to 8th April at a venue yet to be confirmed. And Ireland’s long history of team racing will have been acknowledged yet again, this time with the 70th Anniversary of the senior of them all, the Royal St George series in Dun Laoghaire on April 22nd/23rd. Believe me, over those seventy years, just about everybody in Irish sailing seems to have been a participant in some way or other in this grandaddy of team events.

Into May, and the 12th to 18th sees the Asgard II Tall Ship Reunion Voyage in the Irish Sea on the Tall Ship Pelican, followed by a Gala Ball which will show that although the Asgard II was sadly lost ten years earlier in September 2008 when she sank, her spirit and those who sailed on her lives on, and an Irish tall Ship will sail again.

ship asgard8The much-lamented Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II was lost in September 2008, but the tenth anniversary of this sad event will see a renewal of the determination to find an appropriate replacement

In May the core pace of mainstream sailing is hotting up, though while you might get sunshine, pure heat is still in short supply in Scotland in the Springtime with snow sometimes still on the mountain-tops for the Scottish Series at Tarbert in late May. But this has long been a happy hunting ground for Irish cruiser-racer crews, and we’ve no doubt the tradition will be maintained.

Meanwhile there’s more chance of a first hint of summer warmth away, far away to the southwest at Baltimore in County Cork where the steadily-growing Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival sees 2018’s staging from 25th to 27th May, and the whisper is there might be some unexpected and interesting visitors making their Baltimore debut.

baltimore woodenboat9The Baltimore Woodenboat Festival in May definitely has something for everyone…

Back in the Irish Sea, the ingenious Peter Ryan of ISORA managed to devise a race in 2017 which somehow took in Howth YC’s time-honoured Lambay Race as the first part of the course. This will be repeated in 2018, helping to swell numbers in an event which, in the Bank Holiday Weekend of June 1st to 3rd 2018, will be part of Howth’s Regatta, the shoreside high point of which is a family day for the peninsula people which in 2017 was adjudged an outstanding success.

lambay race10Summer comes to the East Coast - the Lambay Race at Howth, first sailed in 1904. 2018’s will be part of a family-friendly regatta at June’s Bank Holiday weekend, with the Lambay Race itself once again including the successful combination of the first part of an ISORA Race

Because June’s Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been moved from the traditional mid-summer weekend start to the last weekend of the month (presumably to avoid clashing with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself at The Hague in The Netherlands where the stage is set from June 24th onwards), June is quite like old times with each Dun Laoghaire club staging its own Saturday regatta, while at national championship level the J/24s are descending on Foynes from June 8th to 10th, and the Sigma 33s are at the Royal St. George Yacht Club from June 22nd to 24th, while the National 18s in all their fascinating variations get in ahead of everyone with their Nationals at Baltimore on June 2nd/3rd.

Come the end of the month, and all eyes will be focused on Wicklow and the back-up port of Dun Laoghaire for the Volvo Round Ireland Race, counting 1.4 for the RORC points championship, and starting Saturday June 30th. It will be the 20th staging of this very special 704-mile Irish classic (it’s longer than either the Fastnet, the Middle Sea, the Bermuda, the Sydney-Hobart or the RORC Caribbean 600), but the 19th staging in 2016 was such a sensational event, with three MOD 70s and George David’s mighty Rambler 88 stealing the show, that 2018 is going to have to think of something different to make the proper impact.

In the end, its the steady, regular and frequent contenders who are the backbone of this race, and to emphasise this, the organisers are going to find which skipper has had the best accumulated result from the races of 2016, 2018, and 2020. Then at the prize giving after 2020’s race, that top scorer will be awarded a brand-new road-ready Volvo V40.

As to who will be doing the 2018 circuit, we do know already that the winner of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017, Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, has already signed up the formidable talents of Mark Mansfield of Cork who was on Dave Cullen’s chartered J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), which was the only Irish boat to win a class in the 2016 circuit.

round ireland 2016 start11Here she comes….! How on earth George David’s Rambler 88 managed to come cleanly through the crowded start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 is a matter of wonder, but she did it like a hot and very swift knife through butter. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

In July the emphasis moves emphatically to the south coast, and you can drive your new Volvo V40 there in expectation of a warm welcome, as the next big one up is Volvo Cork Week from July 16th to 21st. There’ll be an added sense of anticipation to this marvellous biennial sailfest, for it will be the last Cork Week before the big one in 2020, when the Royal Cork Yacht Club Tricentenary Cork Week will be just one of many major events celebrating 300 years of the world’s oldest yacht club.

Who knows, but maybe by 2020 they’ll be staging the Beaufort Cup as a major standalone event. What started as the germ of an idea in February 2016 for a sailing series among crews from the Defence Forces in the Volvo Cork Week of that July took off like a rocket, and 33 public agency crews in 12 mostly borrowed boats, representing just about every organisation and agency which is involved in serving the public, stretching its remit way beyond the defence forces.

Nevertheless it was a Defence Forces crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne racing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, which topped the leaderboard in a series which brilliantly captured genuine public interest. It was an astonishing success, and already entries are registered for 2018 with so much interest that you’d begin to worry whether there’ll be enough suitable boats available for loan to accommodate everyone.

Joker2 Cork weekThe Defence Forces’ crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne and racing the J/109 Joker 2, were first winners of the Beaufort Cup which will continue as a feature of Volvo Cork Week in 2018. Photo Robert Bateman

As it is, taking 12 highly competitive boats out of general competition impinged significantly on the mainstream Volvo Cork Week fleet in 2016, yet having the Beaufort Cup as part of Cork Week is something which adds to the allure of both events, so we sympathise with anyone who, in time, is going to have to square this particular circle. As it is, in 2018 the Beaufort Cup teams are going to be a fully-integrated part of Cork Week, racing the entire five days and savouring the unique Crosshaven Cork Week flavour, but nevertheless there are bound to be those who’ll wonder if extra mileage couldn’t be squeezed from having the Beaufort Cup as a standalone event.

As July veers into August, national sailing interest will swing two ways. Our potential Olympians will be shaping up for the intense contest at Aarhus in Dernmark, and at home in Ireland down in West Cork they’ll be shaping up for the allegedly non-intense Calves Week from Schull. In previewing the 2017 season, we described it as “a fun event with quite serious competitive undertones”, and this was then quoted with approval (and acknowledgement) by the Calves Week Chairman at a subsequent press launch, so if it ain’t broke, why try and fix it, Calves Week 2018 from 7th to 10th August (yes, four days, you’ll do more living in four days in West Cork than you will in a week elsewhere) definitely is a real fun event with quite serious competitive undertones.

west corkWest Cork sailing at its glorious best – Calves Week action in August will be top of the bill in Schull. Photo: Robert Bateman

Back on the East Coast, meanwhile, the 1898-vintage Howth 17s are putting out the welcome mat on the weekend of August 10th to 12th for a Classics One-Design Regatta. It has been successfully done before with the Mermaids contributing much to the festivities, but this time the Young Gaffers of Howth hope that others – the Glens and Water Wags of Dun Laoghaire spring to mind – might also be interested. Certainly one of the unexpected successes of 2017 was the inclusion of a Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as part of the Bicentenary Celebrations for Dun Laoghaire Harbour, an idea which proved so popular there’s talk of doing it again in 2019, but it’s quite a challenge – getting venerable wooden boats and their characterful crews together is about as easy as herding cats.

howth seventeens14The 1898-vintage Howth 17s will be welcoming other classic One Designs to their home port on August 10th to 12th.

Normally August in a non-Fastnet year is a laid-back time for cruiser-racers when it’s possible to slip in one or two well-supported distance races in the Irish Sea, but August 2018 is going to be unprecedented, as both the WIORA Championship and the ICRA Nationals are going to be staged at Galway City from the 15th to the 18th of August.

Traditionalists will be ruffled by it being in August rather than June, and in the heart of the West Coast rather than at either end the old time-honoured basically Cork-Dublin axis. But ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney of Foynes and his team know that there is a strong core ownership of cruiser-racers along the length of the western seaboard (think of the 44 boats which turned out for the WIORA Championship in the Aran Islands at exactly the same time as the massive Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 was under way) and this fresh-look cruiser-racer gathering in Galway deserves every chance of success.

galway docks15Regatta base in the hart of a hospitable city – Galway will be the hosting port for the WIORA Championship/ICRA Nationals 2018 from August 15th to 18th

This preview of the cornucopia of events which 2018 has to offer is no more than a skimming of the peaks, with occasional in-depth glances at some curious corners of special interest. The sheer diversity of events, boats, locations and people involved is outlined in the detailed Irish Sailing schedule, and every sailor will find his or her favourite event there. But inevitably that detailed schedule is still far from complete. After all, in previewing 2016, even in January of that year we would not have been able to anticipate the huge success of the Beaufort Cup in July, for the then Minister for Defence Simon Coveney TD and his team didn’t have the inspired idea of the Beaufort Cup until late February.

SB20 1258The SB20 Europeans promises some lively action on Dublin from August 28th – September 1st, at the Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted event Photo: David O'Brien/Afloat.ie

Nevertheless some things have been part of our sailing lives for decades, and every year September brings an entirely new mood, with established summer programmes drawing to a close, Autumn Leagues getting themselves into gear, and All-Ireland Championships to be raced.

The Juniors will be in the last weekend of September, venue and boat type still to be confirmed, but the Seniors are firmly in place at Lough Ree Yacht Club on the weekend of 13th to 14th October, to be raced in SB 20s.

There’s something very pleasing about the fact that the core stream of Irish sailing at home should reach its time-honoured concluding Championship of Champions in the heart of the country at a hospitable club which can trace its history back to 1770, with the event itself being raced in boats of a modern international class which has special Irish links. 2018 Irish sailing at home does indeed give every sign of being another memorable year, with a stylish and upbeat concluding championship.

fionn lyden16Fionn Lyden of Baltimore Sailing Club (left), with Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and crewman Liam Manning of Schull, and the historic All-Ireland silver salver he won on Lough Owel at Mullingar in October 2017. He will be defending at the All Irelands at Lough Ree on October 13th-14th 2018. Photo Irish Sailing

2018 SAILING HIGHLIGHTS

January Florida USA (Ft Lauderdale & Miami) – Olympic Classes Regattas

February 19th Antigua – RORC 600

March 12th Royal Cork YC - PY 1000

April 5th – 8th Irish Youth Pathway Nationals

April 21st ISORA season starts

May 25th – 29th Scottish Series, Tarbert

June 1-3rd Howth Regatta & Lambay Races

June 30th Volvo Round Ireland Race

July 16th-21st Volvo Cork Week with Beaufort Cup 

July 30th – August 12th Hempel World Sailing Championship Aarhus, Denmark

August 7th-10th Calves Week, Schull

August 15th – 18th WIORA Championship & ICRA Nationals, Galway

August 28th – September 1st, SB20 Europeans, Royal Irish Yacht Club

September 7th – 15th September Laser Masters World Championships,  RStGYC &  NYC

September 29th-30th All Ireland Junior Championship (venue to be confirmed)

October 13th – 14th All Ireland Senior Championship, Lough Ree YC, sailed in SB20s

Published in W M Nixon

Interest in keelboat racing is increasing. Cruiser racing is on the way back! So says the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Rear Admiral for Keelboats, Kieran O’Connell, writes Tom MacSweeney.

Clubs around the coast have experienced a fall-off in racing numbers at cruiser events over the past few years. ‘Keelboats,’ a traditional Class description, have changed fundamentally in design as cruiser/racers have evolved since they were first labelled as ‘keelboat racing’.

“There was a decline, numbers have been down, but this season there has been an improvement and an upsurge in interest,” O’Connell told the prizewinning club racers (See Afloat's Gallery here) at the annual presentation of prizes when he pointed to the turn-out for the Autumn series/October League and what has been a surprisingly big entry for the November/December Winter League which is still underway at the club, in which an average 30 yachts are on the water.

OLI D2 8751Cruiser racing on the up – Cork Harbour has seen strong turnouts for its Winter sailing season. Photo: Bob Bateman

“This is encouraging and indicates that interest and participation in cruiser racing is on the up. It has turned around after a few difficult years.”

Kieran O’Connell is also Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA) which combines Southern clubs planning events for the annual sailing calendar.

To general applause, he told the RCYC cruiser racers that he intended to stay in office to steer ‘keelboat’ racing for a while yet. That is good news for the cruiser racing, as he has put a lot of work into orchestrating its revival.

More in the weekly Sailing Column in the Cork Evening Echo.

Published in ICRA

He was in the key role of Commodore when Dublin Bay Sailing Club was successful in implementing the changeover from pier to Committee Boat starts which involved the complete re-structuring of its course programme in the Bay, and many other novel features. And he was right there when the Irish Cruiser Racing Association came into being as a very successful pioneering project to represent and work on behalf of one of the largest segments of the Irish sailing community, a sector whose unique needs had never been directly addressed before.

Then when Ireland became a force to be reckoned with in the biennial International Commodore’s Cup series in the Solent, he was a member of the support team which contributed to the smooth running of campaigns which saw our sailors achieve the overall victory in 2010 and 2014. Yet at the same time he enjoys his own active and varied sailing career in a wide variety of boats at a remarkable range of locations. W M Nixon gets together with a man who has been central to fundamental and successful changes in Irish sailing during the past 25 years and more.

Back around 2001, it was a vigorous time for Irish sailing. The new marina in Dun Laoghaire had recently opened, sailors and boat numbers were increasing at all centres, and new systems in established administrations were being created to meet a soaring demand for better facilities and race management.

Dun Laoghaire had become a very happening place, so one Saturday morning early in the Spring before the new season was properly under way, we sailed our Howth-based cruiser across Dublin Bay to the newly in-marina Royal Irish YC to grab a spot of bar lunch, have a bit of banter with the locals, and inhale the atmosphere in what had become Irish sailing’s liveliest place.

mac lir2At the handing over of the new Dublin Bay SC Committee Boat Mas Lir, sponsored by Dublin Port. Commodore Fintan Cairns is fifth from right, with DBSC Honorary Secretary Donal O’Sullivan on his right and Captain Enda Connellan, CEO Dublin Port, on his left.

Berthed beside the club was the newest addition to the local fleet. It was Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s recently acquired Committee Boat, the catamaran Mac Lir sponsored by Dublin Port. This distinctive purpose-designed vessel was the symbol of the changeover to a much-greater emphasis on Committee Boat starts for all DBSC races, which in turn had required a radical re-design of DBSC courses.

For a club which had been central to Dun Laoghaire racing since 1884, it was a huge changeover in the way of doing things. But thanks to the quietly persuasive powers of DBSC Commodore Fintan Cairns, it had been achieved with skill and general approval, and this new way was going to be fully inaugurated the following week.

There’d been nobody aboard Mac Lir as we headed into the welcoming berth at the RIYC. But as we departed in good cheer, somebody was busy aboard, bent over at various jobs on the afterdeck. He straightened up as we headed seaward, and gave us a cheery wave and called a greeting. It was Commodore Fintan Cairns. And we thought it was altogether typical of the man, that he should be quietly checking out the club’s new boat and her systems himself, with no fuss or bother.

That’s the way it is with Fintan Cairns. He is a superb delegator and a quietly brilliant persuader. But when something that benefits best from personal attention comes up on the agenda, he’s ready and willing to look after it to his own satisfaction, and without fuss.

He does all this in such an affable and low key way, ready for everyone with a quiet greeting and his unflamboyant gift of friendship and genuine personal interest, that we all feel we know him well. At first glance, he seems a man of sombre demeanour. But his face lights up with good conversation and effective problem-solving discussion, and the real Fintan Cairns, bubbling with ideas and receptive to the notions of others, soon emerges.

So when the sunny images of the first race of the well-supported Turkey Shoot 2017 for the large DBSC fleet appeared a couple of weeks ago on Afloat.ie to blow away the November gloom in a splash of bright colour, it was recalled that this was yet another Fintan Cairns-inspired idea.

nich32 dbsc3A flash of very welcome brightness in November. Such is the enthusiasm for the Fintan Cairns-inspired annual Turkey Shoot series in Dublin Bay that even a vintage Nicholson 32 is enthusiastically involved. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat

And he was right there for 2017’s Turkey Shoot, on the newer DBSC Committee Boat Freebird, ensuring that the most interesting courses were being set, and seeing to it that everyone was finished by 1230pm in time for that precious focus of concentrated après-sailing socializing which knocks for six the dark prospect of encroaching winter.

It’s a good example of the continuing success of a Fintan Cairns vision for making the Irish sailing scene more interesting. But in contemplating this success, we suddenly realized we didn’t really know Fintan Cairns at all. When somebody becomes as quietly important in Irish sailing as this, albeit in a very low key way which is only appreciated by true sailors, it’s intriguing to find out a bit more about their back-story, and how it has brought them to our sport with such a fresh attitude, receptive to new ideas, and central to Irish sailing’s development.

Although his earliest childhood was in Kilmacanogue in County Wiclow, he’d soon become a south Dubliner through and through. His grandfather owned a furniture-making factory with a large retail outlet in the city, and had a boating interest with an early glassfibre motor-cruiser on the Shannon. Young Fintan was mildly enthusiastic about boats himself, and enjoyed using them on family holidays to the sun. But his main interest in boyhood and early manhood was in rugby, and he went on to play and coach with Palmerstown.

cairns carrick4First interest afloat – the grandfather’s early GRP motor-cruiser at Carrick-on-Shannon

cairns elba5Boy racer – a very young Fintan Cairns gets a taste for sport afloat on a family holiday in Elba in 1962

However, an acquaintanceship with Philip Smith blossomed into friendship with a sharing of Smith’s interest in sailing with his Dufour 27 Jasmin, and they became involved with Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. They gradually were drawn into Cruiser 3 racing with the big fleet with Dublin Bay SC, but a life-changing experience was a cruise with this little boat round Land’s End and up the English Channel as far as Cowes, before crossing the channel to Jersey and then returning to Dublin Bay, with more confidence in their sailing and seagoing ability accruing with every passing mile. Sailing was now definitely the Number One leisure interest.

Back home again, they involved themselves with Cruisers 3 racing with even more enthusiasm, and Fintan became the Jasmin representative on the Cruisers 3 Committee. As his administrative and negotiating abilities became evident, he was soon appointed Class 3 Captain, and that in turn involved membership of the DBSC Committee.

Meanwhile, in shore life he’d made it clear that the furniture business was not for him. Instead, he trained as an accountant, and in time he made his career as the financial controlling partner in a private yet substantial builder of houses. Having made this his working interest, it probably explains why he is willing to get into the running of almost any organisation in sailing provided it doesn’t involve the maintenance of bricks and mortar……

cairns jasmin6Getting a taste for proper sailing – the young Fintan Cairns on Philip Smith’s Dufour 27 Jasmin during their key cruise to Cowes and the Channel Islands

Shore life had settled down with a happy marriage to Hilary and two sons, while the Smith-Cairns sailing partnership with Jasmin prospered further with the quietly enthusiastic support of old friend Gay Moloney. But with his increasingly active participation in the DBSC Committee and broadening of his already wide range of sailing friends, other sailing and crewing opportunities for Fintan Cairns presented themselves, and for several decades he was extraordinarily active in a wide variety of craft ranging from the International Dragon to Class 1 offshore racers, which was to eventually include his organisation of several notable campaigns with chartered cruise-racers in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

At the top end of racing at home, he learned from the masters such as Tony O’Gorman in the Dragons, he went to the Dragon glamour events with folk like John Finnegan and his classic Jane, and he honed his offshore skills aboard Frank Elmes’ Marissa in major events like the Round Ireland Race, while Dublin Bay and Howth racing were also further experienced with Jack Kirwan in the Ruffian 23 and Tony Brown in the S&S 30 Sunshot. In another interesting twist, he became the de facto crew boss aboard the Tripp 40 Infinity jointly-owned by Nobby Reilly and Alan
Chambers.

cairns jane7Fintan Cairns crewing John Finnegan’s classic wooden Dragon Jane in the Regatta Royale in Cannes

cairns jane8Despite being a classic of a certain age, on a good day Jane could have more modern international competition tucked in neatly astern

While the boat was based in Howth – a port with which he’d many links – the two owners were so busy that at times there’d be a preponderance of DBSC people in the crew. But although Fintan had been a coach in rugby, he didn’t feel he yet had the experience and skills to do the same in sailing, so when it was decided that Infinity would aim for major events rather than longterm participation in club series, he called on the services of David Harte for the intensive coaching of Infinity’s crew, and has remained a David Harte enthusiast ever since.

Ashore, his progress up the administrative ladder saw him becoming Rear Commodore and then Vice Commodore of DBSC. As a DBSC Flag Officer he was entitled to Honorary Membership of all the waterfront clubs, and he increasingly found he was using the Royal Irish YC as a convenient base for sailing meetings. He felt comfortable there and they were comfortable with him, and he was soon to make the RIYC his home club.

cairns infinity9The Tripp 40 Infinity. Having become crew boss “by accident”, Fintan Cairns became enthusiastic about the special talent shown by David Harte in coaching the team

Inevitably one of the most demanding positions in Irish sailing - Commodore of Dublin Bay SC - was being seen by many as his next step. That was despite the fact that he’d quietly made it clear that once the marina was up and running, DBSC would have to modernize its functioning to match the growing new demand. But he got on well with long-serving DBSC Honorary Secretary Donal O’Sullivan, and he had good working relations with other major figures in Dublin Bay sailing administration. Well before the turn of the century it was clear that DBSC was going to embrace to the full the fresh possibilities which the 21st Century and Dun Laoghaire’s marina would offer, and Fintan Cairns was going to be the man keeping things cool in the hot seat of Commodore, while being fully appreciative and supportive of the long tradition of volunteering which keeps the enormous Dublin Bay SC machine up and running.

cairns commodore10Fintan Cairns during his years as Commodore of Dublin Bay SC

In addition to organising the funding of the new Committee Boat with sponsorship from Dublin Port, with whom DBSC was in any case in negotiations about the organisation of Dublin Bay traffic lanes and how their own sailing area could best accommodate the new reality of greatly increased shipping in and out of the port, Commodore Cairns and his Committee had to address how best to re-shape their courses to maximize the benefit of having the Committee Boat.

It was now that we saw the genius of his talent for delegation, for instead of looking within his own team, together with them he turned to Tim Goodbody, one of DBSC keenest and most successful racers, but one whose own administrative talents had been absorbed by being Commodore of the Royal Alfred YC when it was at a particularly active stage, and then Commodore of the RIYC.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Despite his long and trophy-winning sailing career in Dublin Bay as it had been, Tim Goodbody brought to the setting of the new courses an incisively fresh approach which reflected his successful national and international experiences.

In putting all this in train, Fintan Cairns is refreshingly frank about his readiness to learn from the experiences of other sailing areas. “Why reinvent the wheel?” is his attitude, and it was his observing of the success of catamarans as committee boats at major events in France which led to their introduction in Dublin Bay, while the style of the clear new colour-printed waterproof DBSC Race Programme based on Tim Goodbody’s work drew its finished appearance to some extent from the programme at Howth YC. There, they’d had to move to Committee Boat Starts well clear of the harbour after it had been re-developed in the 1980s as a sailing/fishing port complete with separate marina at one side and fish dock at the other, with specialist areas of activity clearly defined.

cairns at tiller11From being crew boss, Fintan Cairns has long since graduated to being a helmsman

The new course setup got fully on stream in Dublin Bay through 2001’s regular programme. It was well able to cope with increasing boat numbers, though at the height of the economic boom years seven or so years later, sage heads such as Donal O’Sullivan reckoned they’d just about reached optimum numbers, of which cruiser-racers were far and away the largest group.

This fact of sailing life was being replicated in sailing centres throughout Ireland, and in 2002, when he had barely had time to get used to having finally retired as DBSC Commodore, Fintan Cairns found himself being approached from Cork by Denis Kiely of Kinsale and Jim Donegan of Crosshaven. Thoughtful sailors who already ran the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, they reckoned that the very specific needs of the rapidly-growing cruiser-racer fleets in Ireland required their own dedicated national association which would defend their interests with other sailing bodies and the national authority, and would hope to organise a national championship to provide recognised national titles of real status for this very significant sector of the sailing population.

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny. While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

icra nats12ICRA Nats 2017 at Crosshaven. First raced in 2003, this championship has become a major annual fixture. Photo Robert Bateman

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years.

With championships every year at different venues, they sometimes shared the event with established regattas. But increasingly this important national championship was seen purely as a stand-alone happening, and a strong element of continuity was required in the administration, so the first Commodore was expected to serve for a demanding six years.

After six years of growth and consolidation, with the hotly-contested national championship successfully staged at a range of venues, Fintan Cairns was able to hand over the Commodore’s role to Barry Rose of Cork in 2009. But the Dublin Bay man found his activities with ICRA were far from over, as the Association had for some years additionally taken on the management of the Irish team in the biennial international Commodore’s Cup. The quiet Fintan Cairns managerial style provided the ideally serene background to the sometimes very heated action on the water, where Ireland at the height of the economic boom years was putting out the boat big time.

Nevertheless Fintan Cairns is quick to point out that without the determined and generous owners and hyper-keen crews – however challengingly colourful they might be – these remarkable campaigns simply wouldn’t have taken place, and it was the duty of the management team to provide the essential background support and every other quietly-provided service they could think of, while high-lighting and encouraging the primary role of the owners and sailors.

Ireland finally won the Commodore’s Cup in 2010 after being within an ace of it in 2006. The win in 2010 was achieved in heavy weather conditions in which the young Irish crews handled their boats exceptionally well in the severe conditions, a matter of special pride to Fintan Cairns. And in the rapidly deteriorating economic circumstances of the time, ICRA’s very successful implementation of their programme at home and internationally had been a beacon of hope for all Irish sailing in 2010, and they became the acclaimed Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year”.

But with the economy fallen off a cliff in 2011, a defence in 2012 simply wasn’t viable. However, in 2014 a challenge was assembled primarily under the leadership of Anthony O’Leary of Cork, but Fintan Cairns was again there to provide Team Manager Barry Rose with support, and they secured the services of noted tactical expert/met guru Mike Broughton as on-site adviser. The daily team briefings and de-briefings in Cowes in John Corby’s offices played their role in the re-taking of the Commodore’s Cup by a very convincing margin in that memorable 2014 series.

commodores cup team13The hyper-successful Commodore’s Cup team of 2014, captained by Anthony O’Leary, celebrate on the lawns of the Royal yacht Squadron

But while this was a highlight of Fintan Cairns’ international involvement, he’d remained active with Dublin Bay SC back home, and before standing down as Commodore he’d put in place a regular winter series, The Turkey Shoot, which he unashamedly based on the Brass Monkey series in Howth which had been running for years, and in which he had frequently competed.

However, while the Howth series has moved on a little from its light-hearted early approach – “anyone making a protest will not be eligible for a prize - with the current inclusion of serious IRC classes, the Turkey Shoot over which Cairns continues to maintain a direct personal interest is determinedly user-friendly, and of course with Dun Laoghaire’s huge home fleet, it effortlessly achieves significant numbers on Sunday mornings in the run-up to Christmas.

dbsc freebird14DBSC’s Freebird – Fintan Cairns and his team put to sea, November 2017. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat

But although he gives time to personally running it from the Committee Boat, for the past six years Fintan Cairns’ own sailing has taken a new turn, as he has finally become a yacht owner. Admittedy it is with four other regular shipmates in a five-way syndicate including longtime sailing friends such as Denis Hewitt and Paul Bradley, all of whom bring special skills to the maintenance and running of the boat. But then, this is one very special boat, as she is Raptor, originally Aztec, one of Mark Mills’ earliest designs, and built in 1996 in Malahide by David Harte and Garrett Connolly.

With such talents involved at a key period in their individual careers, Raptor is arguably a modern classic. She’s a big-hearted boat, and though a smidgin under 32ft in overall length, she seems much bigger, and certainly has a challenging rating. But then her loving owners have lavished all sorts of goodies on her such as a carbon mast, while sailmaker Des McWilliam has provided special attention for a team with which he empathises well, and there’s always original builder David Harte generous with helpful advice when it’s needed too.

Thus with the annual DBSC Turkey Shoot the only event in which Fintan Cairns is now administratively involved, he has stood well back from the hurly-burly of the year round commitment which was required with Dublin Bay SC – where Commodore Chris Moore presides over the annual Prize-Giving, a mega event - while ICRA is now several changes down the line since the hectic times of rapid growth when he was Commodore from 2003 to 2009.

His successor Barry Rose of Crosshaven having been succeeded by Nobby Reilly of Howth who in turn was succeeded by Simon McGibney of Foynes, it’s the successful Foynes skipper who will preside next year over the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August in a linkup with the WIORA Nationals 2018, a combination which was last seen at Tralee in 2013.

It offers a potentially extremely busy season for a very active younger crew, but for the senior sailors with Raptor, user-friendly rather than heads-on hyper-competitive events is what they now seek. The boat operates in a manageable setup, as Fintan Cairns – having retired from business two years ago – has moved from his south Dublin suburban home, and he and Hilary have settled comfortably into a fourth floor apartment overlooking Dun Laoghaire Harbour where Raptor is within easy reach. Fintan is expected to co-ordinate the running of the boat, as his fellow syndicators have designated him the team’s desk jockey while they get on with their various specialist tasks in her maintenance.

cairns raptor15jpgRaptor – a modern classic, much-loved by her syndicate of five owners. Originally Aztec, she was designed by Mark Mills and built by David Harte and Garrett Connolly in 1996 for Peter Beamish

They’ll continue to do the Dublin Bay SC Thursday night racing, but as far as the big events are concerned, there’s a real change of pace in recent years which will be emphasised in 2018, as they’ll be doing Volvo Cork Week in July, but with new enthusiasm in the Coastal Division for the first time, and with old friend Barry Rose aboard with them. And then, as there’s just a chance that their hero Davy Harte might join them if they can get to Schull, Calves Week at the beginning of August - that perfect mixture of sport, holiday and a lovely rural setting - could well come up on the agenda.

For a young-hearted crew with decidedly senior sailors, it’s an ideal easily-implemented programme. And with his many (and continuing) quietly-made yet very effective contributions to the development of Irish sailing for more than three decades, it’s a rich fabric of sailing enjoyment which Fintan Cairns and his wide circle of friends and shipmates will very deservedly enjoy.

Published in W M Nixon

The 2018 ICRA Cruiser National and WIORA West Coast Championships have been launched at the Port of Galway offices.

The national cruiser championships will be organised by Galway Bay Sailing Club and will combine both the Irish Cruiser Racing top event and the West Coast Championships between the 15th and 18th of August, a later date than normal for the annual event and the first time for Galway Bay.

Captain Brian Sheridan from Port of Galway has arranged free cranage and berthage for the duration of the event.

The organising committee for the championships have already launched several very keenly priced entry packages starting with a super early bird from now until the first of February 2018.

Announcing the launch of the super early bird packages, which start at €175, the event chairperson, Martin Breen said: “We are looking forwarding to welcoming boats from far and wide to Galway for ICRA Cruiser Nationals and WIORA West Coast Championships 2018."

"Galway is one of the country’s most vibrant spots during the summer and we are confident that the arrival of a large fleet to Galway for the event will add an exciting extra dimension to the city.” said Mr. Breen. With regard to entering the championships he also said, “We would strongly encourage skippers to avail of the extremely good value entry fees now available and also to book their accommodation early”.

ICRA/WIORA Commodore Simon McGibney said “We are very excited that the ICRA Nationals are coming to Galway for the first time. Galway has a reputation for organising great events and the organising committee is working hard to bring the Galway seal of greatness to our event."

He also added that: "the event also brings forward an opportunity for the Cruiser Racing fleet to contribute to the development of top level racing in areas of the country that are often in need of that extra kick to attract more people to top level racing competition. We expect that these championships will be supported by our fleet and this will contribute to the national effort to promote sailing in Ireland'.

The committee is already very well advanced in their planning and looking forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks.

The Notice of Race is now available for download below.

Published in ICRA

The Irish Team Racing Association (ITRA) has been one of the first organisations to congratulate two new IRL International Judges appointed at the recent World Sailing Conference in Mexico.

Both successful candidates have close links with team racing.

Cxema Pico is a leading Irish team racing umpire and current Treasurer of the Irish Team Racing Association. He is also well known for his activities with ICRA. Cxema is based in Greater Dublin.

Chris Lindsay, from Carrickfergus, is a leading umpire in the UK, where he is doing research for his PhD. He is currently Hon. Treasurer of BUSA.

Both Cxema and Chris are actively involved in the training of new umpires and judges.

This brings the number of Irish International Judges to five.

The process of qualification is long and involves attending an international seminar, passing a rigourous exam and being favourably evaluated by other judges at a number of international events, both here and abroad.

The sport of team racing, in which several teams of 2, 3 or 4 boats, compete in a series of team on team races, is preparing to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of its invention, which took place in Dun Laoghaire as a result of an Irish Dinghy Racing Association initiative.

Umpires play a key role in ensuring racing is fair. The depth of rule knowledge, and the speed with which umpires apply the rules seems to be a useful basis for the development and maintenance of many of the skills required by judges. All of the Irish IJs are actively involved in various forms of umpired racing - team, match, fleet or radio-controlled sailing at national and international.

Published in Team Racing

There was another super race in the O'Leary Insurances sponsored Winter Sailing League at Royal Cork Yacht Club today writes Bob Bateman.

Sunny (most of the time) with wind 20 to 25 knots from north north west was a scenario where some skippers felt better sailing without spinnakers.

Course was 65 on RCYC course card. Following a Boat start the course was no 13s, no 11s, no10p, Corkbeg s, cage p, w4 s, finish at cage.

The Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo skippered by Denis Murphy led the fleet and looked majestic upwind but had difficulty holding off the Durcan/O'Shea 1720 sportsboat off the wind but neverthelss won today's all-in IRC race.

Tom Crosbie in No Excuses again got a good start was very steady and did enought to finish second and hold the overall IRC lead. 

Coracle Kieran Collins with son Mel on helm put in a virtuoso performance (full on) enough to finish third in the all in IRC division.

Given the number of white sail boats competing there are now two White Sail classes in the all-in start.

Scroll down for photo gallery of today's race.

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Published in Royal Cork YC

Royal Cork Yacht Club had a great turnout for the opening race of its O'Leary Insurances Winter League for sailing cruisers in Cork Harbour today writes Bob Bateman.

Race officers Clem and Wendy Mc Elligott got the 32 boats – up 50% up on last year– away in W/NW winds from 11 to 14 knots but only at the second attempt at a start and also under an X flag.

The boats sailed were to sail a full course of: Corkbeg no10p, E2s, 8s, 5s, Cage p, E4s and a Cage finish but the course was shortened at Cage mark after the first round.

Coracle skipperd by Kieran Collins led at the weather mark but lost lead to three 1720s sportsboats on the run downwind. The J109 Jelly Baby helmed by Brian Jones also broke through.

The cruisers returned to RCYC marina with Laser and Topper Leagues also starting today, providing a great winter sailing spectacle.

Royal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork SailingRoyal Cork Sailing

Published in Royal Cork YC
Page 5 of 34

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