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Last month AIB pulled the plug on sailing club fees for staff. Next month the Irish Sailing Association aims to rejig the annual fee it charges to clubs at an egm. They are signs that the necklace of over 70 yacht clubs around the coast and on inland waters are under financial pressure. No wonder as the cost of going sailing, as well as many other sports in Ireland, proves too much to bear for many families.

In his recent column (below) in the Evening Echo Marine Correspondent Tom MacSweeney highlighted the need for Sailing Clubs around the coast to do all they can to help struggling memberships. 

Membership is becoming an issue for sailing clubs to judge from what club officers around the coast have been telling me. It is a sign of the economic times. Families and individuals have to examine closely what to do with the money they have left after the government has raided their incomes.

I have been told that club members and particularly those holding family memberships are looking at how much they pay for an inclusive membership and reducing it to just one individual membership. Others have told me that they are faced with deferring payments or foregoing membership altogether.

Clubs are responding to the situation in different ways.

While the more realistic are taking steps to deal with the issue, there are indications that others are ignoring a situation that, it appears, could affect the popularity of the sport. This may be from an entrenched position or snobbish attitude where they don't want to admit difficulties in public. An inadvisable situation when income is being squeezed and the future challenged.

Payment systems such as monthly standing orders, direct debits, concessions for early payments, have been introduced by those clubs realistically dealing with the situation. Sailing is not the only sporting activity being affected, I hear of golf, rugby, soccer and other clubs feeling the pinch of reduced incomes, soaring taxes and charges levied on household incomes by the government. Something has to give because there is a limit to the amount of money people have. Government politicians seem incapable of understanding that people have not got enough money or sufficient disposable incomes because of the State raping their salaries.

Another aspect of the impact of deteriorating income levels appears to be the demand for marina spaces, with boat owners not as active as they had been in seeking berths and telling me frankly they cannot stretch incomes to afford prices during high season. Some boatyards are feeling the effects also around the country, as are yacht sales. A lot of boats are for sale and replacement plans by sailors who had planned to upgrade have been put on hold.

The oldest yacht club in the world, the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, has been responding to the challenging times. Last season it introduced a monthly membership scheme and a crew membership system as an innovative response to the challenge which the sport faces.

When he took over as the club's new Admiral at its annual general meeting last Monday night in the Crosshaven clubhouse, Peter Deasy acted immediately, announcing that the club would take further steps to address the issue.

He has taken office for a two-year period in succession to Paddy McGlade, a post which follows his successful leadership of the last Cork Week two years ago when he was Chairman. Cork Week will be held again this year, from July 7 to 13.

"There is a membership challenge, it is one facing all clubs in these times and it will be addressed by this club," he said. He stressed the importance of encouraging more people into sailing. The club is to carry out a review of its membership system, amongst other steps. On Monday night members approved an increase in subscription levels for those over 65, who pay a reduced rate as 'seniors,' as is the situation in many clubs.

The RCYC is taking a realistic, determined approach toward what is an issue born of these difficult national economic times. Peter Deasy also emphasised the importance of encouraging young sailors and keeping them within the sport.

This is a topic I have addressed before. Not every young sailor will reach the top competitively, but all are needed to remain in the sport in this island nation. When they emerge from dinghies there is a difficulty, experienced in many clubs around the coast, of maintaining their involvement.

 

Published in Island Nation
The wind was whistling in from the Shannon, kicking the estuary into a lively stretch of water where I wouldn't have liked to be hauling a spinnaker. That comparison sprang to mind while sitting under the canopy in the yard of the lifeboat station where I was about to name the new Kilrush Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

I have been at many naming and launching ceremonies but never before had the honour of being invited to perform a naming ceremony. The spirit of friendship, of commitment to helping others, which is the hallmark of the RNLI, made it a very pleasant occasion.

mcsweeneylifeboat

Kilrush has a strong maritime tradition, Steamers operated from there in the 19th century, towing lighters carrying cattle and other goods upriver to Limerick. A fleet of sailing boats, known as turf barges also carried various goods and vast amounts of turf to the Treaty City. Cappa, nearby, provided the pilot station for vessels entering the Shannon Estuary from the sea. The Royal Western Yacht Club was established in Kilrush in 1828.

The town is the base of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Whale and dolphin watching is one of the boating attractions of Kilrush.

In recent years a marina built at Kilrush caused major controversy when it over-ran its budget.

"The manner in which the marina project was carried out may have justified criticism, but there was a predictability about it, coming from the national media, from political circles, from urbanites in Dublin and elsewhere who have no understanding of coastal areas," one of the men who campaigned for and defended the marina project, told me. "There are people who don't want the coastal areas to be better than urban centres, who don't want the rural areas to be more attractive than the urban jungles. There are benefits from maritime development, the marina is justifying itself, the yacht club has been revived, young people are taking up water sports, the leisure sector brings money into the town, the boat trips attract tourists."

Kilrush lifeboat station was established in 1996 to provide additional cover on the west coast, particularly on the Shannon Estuary. The boathouse and launching slipway were built facing Scattery Island, with access to the deepwater channel, providing housing for the lifeboat and launching vehicle, a workshop, fuel store and crew facilities.

The new boat is named Edith Louise Eastwick, in memory of the mother of the late Baroness Marjorie Von Schlippenbach. It was built at a cost of €185,000 and has a number of improvements from the Atlantic 75, Kilrush's former lifeboat, including a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors. It can operate safely in daylight in up to force seven conditions and at night up to force six. There is no greater gift that anybody can give than that of saving life.

I was told once by a lifeboat man that the gift they get is to see somebody safely ashore after they have rescued them. Isn't it the greatest gift lifeboat people give, saving someone else's life?

Published in Island Nation
There is some confusion within the marine sector this week as to how fully civil servants are accepting the return of "marine" to the name of a Government Department. When Simon Coveney was appointed as "Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food" by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, some sections of the marine industry questioned how much this really changed the attitude of the Government towards maritime matters.

My view was that it was a substantial change and that the pre-Election pledge of Fine Gael to co-ordinate all maritime aspects under one Department was being delivered upon and I welcomed the appointment.

But this week it has been pointed out that, while the names of other Government Departments have already been changed to their new designations under the Ministerial appointments announced in the Dail, this has not been done where the marine is concerned. The Department of the Taoiseach's website lists Simon Coveney's Department as "Agriculture, Fisheries & Food" and the Department is so far retaining that title. Its press releases have describe Coveney as "Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine," not what the Taoiseach announced in the Dail.

This is not pedantic, but a reasonable issue to raise bearing in mind past marine experience. When Bertie Ahern abolished the Department of the Marine and assigned duties to the "Minister for Transport and Marine" in the last Government, top civil servants in that Department removed "marine" from its title. When I questioned that, I was told that a meeting of those officials had been held and that decision had been made.

So, I asked the Department of the Taoiseach this week, what exactly is the title of Simon Coveney's department. To the time of writing this column, no response has been received.

When he was Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny told me in a radio interview of his pride in the maritime connections of his family which had been involved in the lighthouse service.

I asked the Department of "Agriculture, Fisheries and Food" press office why "marine" was listed as third in the Minister's role rather than second, as described in the Dail. I was told that arrangements and decisions and an "SI" - "statutory instrument" - were awaited.

I will be interested to see how long that takes..

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
31st March 2011

Cheeky Chinese Challenge?

After their foray into the world of international sailing by joining with the Irish in the Green Dragon project for the last Volvo Ocean Race, China has announced it is going to attempt to win the historic America's Cup when it is next sailed for in San Francisco in 2013.

This is an interesting challenge to the present US holders, computer software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing team which decided to have the event hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, which prides itself as being "the oldest club West of the Mississippi in North America."

It will be the first time the America's Cup has been hosted in the United States since 1995 and it is interesting to speculate whether the Chinese are cheekily challenging the Americans who don't like the Cup going outside of the States.

Racing will be held on the iconic San Francisco City front and be visible from world-renowned tourist destinations such as the Golden Gate Bridge.

"My support for San Francisco hosting the America's Cup goes beyond the opportunity to see our team competing on home waters," said Russell Coutts, CEO, ORACLE Racing. "We are excited to sail for our sport's greatest trophy, on a stretch of water legendary among sailors worldwide."

The China Team has been given the backing of the Chinese Government and has already been designing a boat for the 34th Cup event which will be raced in 72-foot wing-powered catamaran multihulls.

"We have been working with some of the best worldwide designers for hulls and wings for a few months in partnership with top Chinese universities," the Team Leader, Wang Chao Yong, said. "This is an opportunity to showcase Chinese talents at the leading edge in hi-tech areas of both hydrodynamics and aeronautics. Our boat will be built in China."

The Chinese made an unsuccessful attempt on the 2007 America's Cup. While the intention is that most of the sailors on their America's Cup team will be Chinese there is to be, as in the 2007 attempt, a French influence. Thierry Barto has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and given the task of getting top sailors to coach the Chinese team.

It seemed initially that interest might be lacking in the 162-year-old event. However ten teams have signed up to take part in the 34th America's Cup.
Aside from the defender, Oracle, entries include Team New Zealand, Italian syndicate Mascalzone Latino - the official challenger of record - and Artemis of Sweden. Two French teams and the Chinese have also paid their entry fees. America's Cup Racing Management says two other unidentified teams, one of which is believed to be Italy's Venezia Challenge, will take part. Whether all of the existing entries make it to the start line of the challenger elimination series in July of 2013 will be interesting. There was major legal action before the event was re-scheduled for 2013. Oracle and Ellison declared their preference for a defence in San Francisco as the "home club".

Two of the three possible French challengers had talks with the Minister for Sport in Paris last Friday to discuss amalgamation and whether there would be French government support. There is also an "Argo Challenge" from a group of disabled sailors.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
Taking my grandson to school in Crosshaven he showed me a page of homework which his teacher had said they would be talking about in class. It demonstrated the effect of debris on the oceans and what can happen when litter is thrown into a river or stream or left on the beach.

It was very topical, because this week the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference is taking place in Hawaii, organised jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Nations Environment Programme. This is an attempt to deal with the increasing problem of debris in the oceans of the world.

A United Nations report revealed some pretty frightening facts to the conference. Just two kinds of rubbish make up more than half the marine debris in the world. One is predictable enough – the horror of plastic choking sea life. The other came as more of a shock. The second most abundant kind of marine litter is smoking-related. Cigarette butts and packing account for nearly half of all sea rubbish in some parts of the world, according to the UN.

About 40 per cent of the litter in the Mediterranean Sea comes from this source. In Ecuador, smoking-related refuse accounted for more than half of coastal rubbish.

Ocean debris is a severe threat to the marine eco system. It kills at least 1 million sea birds and 100, 000 mammals each year, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The general prognosis at the conference in Hawaii has been pretty grim. Things are getting worse and it is the fault of humans on land using the oceans as rubbish dumps.

As my grandson's homework showed, it takes two weeks for a bit of fruit thrown into a river or the sea to bio-degrade. It will be two months before a piece of cardboard breaks down, three months for a milk carton and matters get worse where a cigarette butt is concerned. That will take ten years to disintegrate, a Styrofoam coffee cup 50 years, a plastic bag over a hundred and the six-pack ring so often tossed overboard from boats 400 years, with the plastic bottle even worse at 450 years.

The threat and impact of marine debris have long been ignored. Perhaps it is the perceived vastness of the ocean and lack of visibility of marine debris, but the teachers in Crosshaven national school, on the edge of Cork Harbour deserve praise for making their young pupils aware of what throwing litter into a river or dumping it on a beach does.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
11th March 2011

Marine is Back

I was pleased to hear Simon Coveney tell a presenter on a Cork local radio station that he had not been appointed just Minister for Agriculture but was also Minister for the Marine. He went further to tell the programme interviewer that he had been in boats since he could stand and had a deep interest in and commitment to the marine sphere and followed his father, Hugh, a former Minister for the Marine.

It is a reminder which I hope that the media in general will note and that his tile of Marine will be used as often as agriculture is. The general media has been notorious, in my view, for disregarding the marine sector unless there is disaster, emergency or controversy involved.

The return of the title 'Marine' to a Government Department is, to put it bluntly, a kick-in-the-ass which civil servants needed. It was a betrayal of this island nation's heritage when those in charge of the former Department of Transport held a meeting which decided to remove the title marine from the Department's name, even though the then Minister had been assigned the role of Minister for Transport and Marine. The man in charge of that Department, Noel Dempsey, did not demonstrate a lot of interest in the marine, being more noted for trying to shut down the coastal radio stations at Valentia and Malin, where he was beaten off by public opposition, which also happened when he tried to remove 24-hour rescue helicopter service in the south-east and for his introduction of laws which criminalised fishermen.

Hopefully, the restoration of 'Marine' to a Department's name will be the harbinger of better things for the marine sphere.

I have heard some disappointment expressed that the marine is not a department on its own, but what the Fine Gael and subsequently Coalition Programme for Government agreed by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore said was: "Marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery."

They have been, though some of the finer detail remains to be seen, such as will the ports be moved away from Transport, to where port companies and commercial interests originally campaigned to have them moved? And how will the split of marine tourism work between Agriculture and Marine and the separate tourism department? A similar issue may arise in regard to sailing and sport, but it seems to me a positive step that the disregard which Fianna Fáil and the Greens showed for the marine sector is being changed.

It was also right to end a separate department for defence. With a small army and navy, smaller than the marine sector, it was nonsense that it should have been a department of its own.

Let us therefore, hope for the future and take a positive view of the change as being for the better.

Published in Island Nation

Is there no end to the achievements of Irish boaters against seemingly impossible odds?

The winter may have been a time of hibernation for some of us but as the stories in Afloat's March/April issue will bear out Irish sailors have been battling the elements all winter long.

James Carroll competed in January's Sydney-Hobart offshore race and, much closer to home, Paul A. Kay journeyed through snow and ice in December from Dun Laoghaire to a new marina on Valentia Island.
As if to prove a point that we're down but not out, a winter of results on foreign waters includes a win in the Mirror World Championships in Australia and a top Olympic result in Florida, USA.

They are gutsy performances from youth teams that shows, if nothing else, the next generation of Irish sailors is really up for a fight. All this plus lots, lots more on news-stands next week!

Selected contents from Ireland's only boating magazine include:

News

Surveyors Issue Boat Launch Warning, Buoyant Dinghies Buck the Market, Ice Diving in Ireland, German U-Boat Rediscovered in Cork Harbour, an Historic Trophy for South Pacific Dream Cruise, MGM open in Cork, Hugh Mockler joins Crosshaven Boatyard plus lots, lots more.

News Focus

A new masterplan for Dun Laoghaire harbour is badly needed but it needs buy in from all those that use it

Going Offshore

The tenth Dun Laoghaire to Dingle offshore race was launched in style

Marine Conference

Combating the downturn was the focus of a unique marine gathering on both sides of the Irish sea.

kit

Gear Review

New dinghy gear, a new Crosshaven boot from Dubarry, a new raincoat for girls and an upgrade for Musto's MPX.

islandnaton

This Island Nation

The decision to shut down the fog signals was based on a detailed risk assessment. Tom MacSweeney on the loss of fog horns

ol

Sailor of the Year

Anthony O'Leary of Cork is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Year" in celebration of his outstanding achievements afloat nationally and internationally.

Tall Ships

W M Nixon looks at the realities of national sail training in the 21st Century.

Screen-shot-2011-03-03-at-09.32.25

Tall Ship Conference

Ireland could yet have a tall ship to replace the Asgard II and the Lord Rank, if a new group formed to press for a replacement is successful

Racing update

Ulstermen's World Title, Topper worlds for Dun Laoghaire, Two Irish campaigns line up for Figaro Race, SB3 Sailors Cry Foul at Dun Laoghaire Parking Fees and an Irish entry in the Moth worlds in Australia, Irish Mini 6.50 Campaign in Prospect.

miamigrab

Youth Worlds preview

Results achieved abroad this Winter are the backbone for further Irish youth
success

figarobgrab

Figaro Preview

Two fledgling Irish La Solitaire du Figaro campaigns edged closer to the start line last month

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta has taken in 22 entries six months ahead of the first race of the biggest regatta in Irish sailing.

fireballgrab

Fireball Worlds preview

Dun Laoghaire's Noel Butler intends to continue his winning run in the Fireball class this season but the year ahead doesn't look so easy as the World Championships come to Sligo

Sovereigns cup preview

Up to 30 Quarter tonners will be at the Sovereigns Cup this year including one from New Zealand.

Shiver to deliver

A journey through snow and ice from Dun Laoghaire to Valentia Island

Sydney-Hobart Race

Outside of the Volvo Ocean Race, the Sydney Hobart is one of the world's most challenging offshore races. James Carroll Raced it in January.

Inland

As the cuts begin to bite, it may be time to look at the British direction for our waterways, writes Brian J Goggin

Dubarry Nautical Crossword

Soundings

A Google aerial photo proves useful navigating for Baldoyle Estuary

Published in News Update
18th February 2011

Now There is None

I remember the pride I felt when describing on television the Parade of the Tall Ships down the River Suir from Waterford in 2005. Three Irish tall ships led it. First was ASGARD II, Ireland's national tall ship; followed by the DUNBRODY from New Ross and then the JEANIE JOHNSTON from Kerry.

What a magnificent sight it was as the three Tall Ships, each flying the Tricolour, headed the fleet of the gracious ships of sail from all over the world.

How different it will be in July when the world's Tall Ships again parade down the Suir. There will be no Irish national sailing ship to lead the parade. A number of private Irish entries are expected at Waterford from June 30–July 3 amongst the 70 vessels from around the world when the city has the honour starting the race. In 2005 about half-a-million people visited the city while the Tall Ships were there.

The lack of a national tall ship is another example of governmental maritime neglect, directly due to the decision of former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea, T.D. After the sinking of ASGARD he publicly committed the Government to its replacement, but after receiving insurance compensation money for its loss, he put the money into coffers of the Department of Finance and closed down the national sail training programme. There was a big difference between what he promised and what he did, a disregard for the maritime sphere which it is hard to forgive. I also recall how former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did not visit Waterford during the 2005 race, when it was the biggest tourist event in the country. When I broadcast my report expressing astonishment at this snub government sources and Fianna Fail didn't like it. Truth in the news can be painful!

The organisers made contacts about the DUNBRODY, which continues to earn income at the New Ross quayside where it is moored as a tourist attraction and with the JEANIE JOHNSTON, moored at the Dublin Docklands.

However, neither will be taking part, the organisers have confirmed, tough they said that it was expected that about 100 young Irish trainees would sail aboard tall ships in the race, half of them with funding support from local authority, business and other sources. A group of Irish sailors have also indicated they are making arrangements to charter a UK-registered vessel the JOHANNA LUCRETIA for the event.

Once again the Irish Government has sunk to the bottom where maritime matters are concerned.

It was announced this week in Waterford that Fáilte Ireland has made a significant financial and marketing commitment to this year's event, though the financial figure was not disclosed .A free festival programme will feature street acts; comedy; international and home-grown artists, nightly fireworks, an artisan food village and an atmosphere which the organisers say "will thrill people of all ages and nationalities."

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
Over the past few seasons the use of lifejackets by crews on racing yachts has increased. There was a time when jackets were bulky, awkward and difficult to use in racing situations. The arrival of lighter, collar-type jackets, with built-in, automatic gas inflation bottles changed the situation.

The wearing of jackets is not compulsory, but a decision for the individual sailor, though Skipper can insist that crews use them while racing.

In the United States a debate is underway as to whether the wearing of jackets at all times on racing boats should be made compulsory by law. Regulations here require that everyone on board any boat of seven metres or less, approximately 22 feet, must wear lifejackets. They must be carried aboard for everyone on any vessel regardless of size. Every child less than 16 years of age must wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device at all times on deck while the craft is underway.

As owners prepare boats for racing this season, these regulations should be kept in mind. Enforcing the law, or even effectively checking its application remains patchy. Introducing laws is easier than implementing them, particularly in a yacht racing situation. Sailing clubs have their own enforcement arrangements and insist on buoyancy aids for dinghy racing.

Safety on the water is an issue for each individual, but skippers/owners would be well advised to protect themselves in this litigious nation by insisting on the wearing of lifejackets by crew members during racing. Accidents will happen. Preparation is best.

The national sailing association, the ISA, is to nominate teams for this year's Nations Cup match racing. The finals will be held at the USA Sailing Centre in Wisconsin from September 13-18.

The Irish Sailing Association this week sought expressions of interest from skippers who would like to represent Ireland, in the first instance at the European Regional Finals in Gydnia, Poland, from July 19-23.

Ireland is drawn in Europe Group II in the open and women's classes. Expressions of interest are needed to the ISA by next Tuesday, February 8. Selection will be based on performance in the ISA Match Race Championships last year and ISAF ranking positions.

2-handed class" racing in this year's Dun Laoghaire Week in early July. A number of skippers have already expressed interest and there may be UK boats. He wants to know if any South Coast sailors are interested. Contact Olivier who is Sailing Manager at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, phones 012801198 or 2805725 or by Email to Olivier at: [email protected]

Vinnie O'Shea of the RCYC has been elected Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA). Jackie Kenefick of Schull Harbour SC is Executive Officer and Michael Murphy of both the Schull and Crosshaven clubs remains as Treasurer and PRO. The Association is to discuss class bands and handicapping.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

More on lifejackets

http://www.afloat.ie/safety/lifeboats/item/13619-majority-of-lifejackets-fail-lifeboat-test/

Published in Island Nation
It was a sailor from Plymouth on the south-west coast of England, named Bob Salmon, who originally came up with the idea of a "mini" transAtlantic Yacht Race.

In the late 1970s he wanted to develop a "relatively affordable" solo offshore race in contrast to the trend towards bigger and more expensive boats in other trans-ocean races, such as the OSTAR.

With its strong maritime tradition it was appropriate that Plymouth should be at the forefront of the initiative. It was from there in 1620 that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for the New World and established settlements in what became the USA. And it was on Plymouth Hoe that Sir Francis Drake is said to have played a game of bowls before setting off to engage the Spanish Armada in battle in 1588.

From Bob Salmon's initiative the Mini Transat was developed, the yachts limited to 21-feet maximum.

It is the smallest Open Class trans-ocean race and has been a breeding ground for professional ocean racers. There is now a move to get Ireland involved. This reflects the growing interest in short-handed sailing here despite the attitude of the Government which has rules in place that are regarded as discouraging this type of racing.

The Irish Double and Solo Racing Group was launched last year to develop a vibrant community of Irish solo and double-handed sailors as well as establishing a regular sailing calendar here.

In the past two years Irish sailors achieved remarkable success in short-handed ocean racing. Damian Foxall won the double handed Barcelona World Race with French co-skipper Jean Pierre-Dick on their Open 60 PAPREC-VIRBAC. Cobh man Barry Hurley won his class and finished 4th overall in the OSTAR (Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race) in his JOD 35 DINAH. Besides these victories there has been a large increase in the number of Irish sailors participating in solo and double-handed sailing. Several are travelling to events in the UK and France where this type of sailing is firmly established.

Now Michael McKeon a member of the Double and Solo Group is the man spearheading interest in the Transat here.

He has 30 years' sailing experience and, following the success of a series of "Mini open days" which he ran in Dublin aboard his own boat, HYPOMENE, Michael wants to rally "interested parties" to help campaign it as the 'Irish Mini' during the 2011 season and create the Mini Transat Class in Ireland.
"The sailing level is from pure amateur up to professional," he says. "The Mini gathers an average of 500 subscribers, most of them competitors coming from all kind of professions, from the carpenter to the engineer, the nurse to the steward, the journalist to the professional skipper. Anyone interested in the Mini 6.50 class and in sampling short-handed racing the 'French way' is welcome."

More information is available from Michael at: Email: [email protected] or Mobile 086-8494924

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Check out our Solo sailing stories here

Published in Island Nation
Page 10 of 11

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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