Displaying items by tag: Offshore
It’s highly likely that a trial Olympic offshore racing event will be run in tandem with the 2020 Sailing Olympiad in Tokyo in 2020, and one proposal which seems to have traction is that a boat similar to the Figaro will be used, and raced two-handed by a mixed male-female crew writes W M Nixon.
Whatever shape the future Olympic offshore format takes, such a development is bound to move parts of the current world offshore racing scene towards a more formalized training structure for young sailors. And for offshore racing high-flying hopefuls of limited resources, it may ultimately offer the seemingly attractive prospect of funding becoming available though official sources.
Yet equally it will require commitment and a defined career path which could be a whole world away from the current varied scene in Ireland where young people – some of them surprisingly young – find a genuine enthusiasm for offshore racing happily fulfilled by crewing aboard a sailing school or family boat, or racing with skippers who know that a dedicated and talented young offshore sailor, recruited through the always busy sailing grapevine, can be a real asset, often with true skipper potential.
But how far does such talent want to go in pursuing offshore sport? When 20-year-old Erwan le Draoulec won the 2017 Minitransat by a significant margin last November, while his win wasn’t unexpected (even if it gave further proof that you don’t have to be through your mid-20s to have super-human stamina), his reaction was something of a surprise. He’d sailed the very wet little boat to the absolute limit, he’d done the job very well indeed, yet he’d no hesitation afterwards in saying that it was a very stressful and definitely not enjoyable way to cross the Atlantic, and that in the future some time, he would hope to make the crossing in a more thoughtful style which fully appreciated the very special qualities of the great ocean.
Such an outcome, reflecting one result of the uniquely French approach to dedicated offshore programmes with a high-powered training structure though classes such as the Mini-Transat and the Figaro, tell us why Irish solo sailors such as Tom Dolan from Meath, and Joan Mulloy from Mayo, have concluded that the only way to advance their careers is to commit to the French system, and both now sail in the Figaro network through which Damian Foxall and David Kenefick also progressed.
But there’s an all-or-nothing element to that dedicated Gallic approach which inevitably involves living in France, and is at variance with the underlying Corinthian ethos in Irish sailing, with its wholesome friendly atmosphere, and the fact that we enjoy sailing with family and friends, and being based here.
It can be argued, of course, that if we’re going to produce sailors in any discipline who are going to achieve top level international success to Olympic level, then we have to produce athletes who are as tough-minded and self-reliant as they are talented and physically able, and have to accept that they should be prepared to go anywhere and everywhere to pursue their goals.
But not everyone necessarily aims that high, and it would be a very unhealthy state of affairs if they did. Certainly they wish to do well in their chosen branch of the sport, but it’s at a civilized level, and for these junior offshore racing aspirants, Ireland is a happy hunting ground.
Yet by the very nature of the offshore sport, you cannot have children’s and youth boats which would be the offshore equivalent of the Optimist or the International 420 - anyone who thinks the Mini Transats are kids’ boats clearly has never sailed one.
So in a variety of ways, active berths have to be found for younger people on grown-up boats, and some of these younger people are very young indeed. One of the stars of 2017 may have been 17-year-old Lorcan Tighe of Dun Laoghaire, who played a key role in the Irish National Sailing School’s class win with the J/109 Jedi in the Rolex Fastnet Race, for which he was made Sailor of the Month for September 2017. But he was already building on past experience – at the age of 16, he’d been bowman on Peter Hall’s Beneteau 34.7 Adelie in the Volvo Round Ireland 2016 from Wicklow.
And as a result of highlighting his achievement, we were quickly informed that several younger sailors had done the round Ireland, with a name quickly mentioned being that of Susan Shanahan of the National YC who was actively offshore racing as crew for her father Liam – stalwart of ISORA, the Round Ireland and the Dingle race - from the age of 12, for in these races there’s no lower age limit, although full Parental or Guardian permission is of course required for those under 18.
At the other side of the country, the legendary Dillons – father and son Derek and Conor from Foynes – were and are a formidable force offshore in double-handed racing with their Dehler 34 The Big Deal, and Conor was making an impact at the age of 14, while another Shannon Estuary sailing family, the McGibneys of Tarbert – were introducing youth sailors to the offshore game from an early age.
In fact, the extraordinary range of family crews bringing “cradle sailors” along to take part in offshore races from a very young age put us into new territory. For at what age does a child aboard an offshore racer start graduating into an active crew member? It’s when you try to put a figure on it that you realise that mere chronological age is a very crude measure. Every young sailor is different, and someone who is already a natural at 14 can be a much more useful crew than an able-bodied but less experienced 20-year-old.
It’s probably in Cork that they know more about when cradle sailors develop into real offshore crew members and skipper material, with family sailing and racing being so much part of the fabric of life that it’s seen as something so natural that it’s scarcely worth any special comment. But for sailors from elsewhere, it really is impressive when you see a mighty sailing clan like the O’Learys of two or more generations putting in a campaign where seniority is no matter of natural respect on board – it’s how much of a useful input you make into the boat’s successful functioning that counts.
One noted skipper who brings a special dedication and insight to family involvement in offshore racing is Liam Coyne of Dun Laoghaire, who with Brian Flahive won the two-handed division and several classes in the Round Britain & Ireland Race of 2014 in the First 36.7 Lula Belle.
That was one mega-rugged 1,800 mile event for the two men. Yet in home waters, Liam’s approach is strongly family-oriented, and over the years he has used the ISORA programme to introduce his three kids – Billy now 13, Katie who is 11, and Isabel 8 – to offshore sailing, firstly through taking them along on delivery trips when very young indeed, and then in actual races.
Thus young Billy won the Douglas Award aged 11 for being the youngest competitor in the ISORA trio of races focused on the Isle of Man, and then last year at 12 he was the youngest competitor in the decidedly tough Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, and saw it through to the finish.
Being at mid-fleet, by the time they reached the Fastnet the weather was easing, and that gave them a sunlit father, son and Fastnet photo to cherish. But the best was yet to come, as the weather now changed completely for the better. For a ten-day return cruise to Dun Laoghaire from Dingle, the racing crew took off home overland, and Liam and Billy were joined on board by Katie and Isobel for the four of them to have a sunlit port-hopping idyll back home along an Irish coast looking it best.
Another seasoned and thoughtful observer of the way young people move up through Ireland’s offshore racing structures is Noel Butler. Originally a man of the west, his sports were surfing, rock-climbing and fishing, but there was so little surf around in the good summer of 1995 that he returned to sailing which he’d briefly tried a few times before at the Outdoor Centre at Killaloe on Lough Derg.
This time he was hooked, and in classic Butler style he went at it 100%, so much so that when the two-man Laser 2 was all the rage around the turn of the Millennium, he took it up with such dedication that he won the Laser 2 Worlds in 2003, making him Ireland’s Sailor of the Year 2003.
That in turn gave him such a good reputation as a helmsman that he is never lacking in offers of berths at the driving end of all sorts of boats, and offshore racing has become his passion. He brings an analytical mind to it - after all, he works with the company in Dublin which designed the micro-chips which are at the heart of the Yellowbrick trackers – and his comments on racing offshore with younger people who have proven themselves in dinghies, but find much great fulfillment offshore on open water, are illuminating:
“Having watched them take the boat by the scruff of the neck and “send it” in big breeze and big seas off Donegal, I for one appreciate the skills they are developing. I didn’t come up through the official “junior sailing world” myself, and am starting to experience it now with my own two kids (aged 7 and 9) sailing Optimists in the programme at the National YC. That’s ultimately aimed towards inshore racing, moving up in boat size. But with that for my family, and with my own experience of seeing more senior juniors such as Lorcan Tighe, Alexander Rumball, Jemima Owens and Oisin Cullen move into the keelboat and offshore game, I see the pluses and minuses of the varied experience of different types of sailing.”
This “varied experience” is regularly available in Ireland thanks to our tradition of family sailing, while organisations such as WIORA, SCORA and ICRA provide direction for young people looking to test the keelboat experience. But for full introduction to the genuine offshore scene, the Irish National Sailing School and Irish Offshore Sailing in Dun Laoghaire make a formidable contribution, while ISORA is in a league of its own.
The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association is guided by Peter Ryan of Dun Laoghaire with such patient skill and success that it could be a template of how to do such things. His own modest approach to it is surely part of it all. Far from claiming to be an offshore racer from boyhood, he quips: “I was an old man of 20-22 when Liam Shanahan Senr dragged me out of the snooker room in the National YC to go offshore racing on his DB2s Lightning – Liam was his own unique and very effective press gang. I’ve been well and truly hooked on offshore racing ever since, and it’s a great encouragement to me that so many young people – some of them very young – are getting a taste for racing offshore thanks to ISORA”.
So there is a sort of informal junior training programme within contemporary offshore racing. It’s just not highly visible because there’s no such thing as a junior offshore racing boat. But doubtless as the years go on, the “programme” will become more developed, as it already is with the sailing schools.
That said, the present setup has considerable charm. It’s intensely personal, it’s friendship and family-based. But if offshore racing is brought within the Olympic circus, then a high profile part of it will acquire an entirely different status. It will become official. It will become easy for governments to recognise its existence. It will become inevitable that, for some sections of the sport, a strict training and qualification and grading system will come into being, making it ultimately a section of sailing developing for a new elite.
Irish offshore sailors will view that with mixed feelings. For there really is something special about the way the system – such as it is nowadays – works quietly and so well in its unobtrusively effective way.
Less than a fortnight after he’d been declared the Afloat.ie/Irish Sailing/Volvo Sailor of the Year 2017 in Dublin, Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club was back on the podium in Antigua, having been declared runaway winner of Class 3 in the RORC Caribbean 600 2018.
Fogerty had experienced exceptionally heavy weather when he achieved his outstanding solo success of 2017 in winning the Gipsy Month Trophy in the OSTAR with his Sunfast 3600 Bam!. But far from being sunlit therapy to counteract memories of that experience, the 2018 sailing of the RORC Caribbean 600 was the toughest yet in all its ten years. However, Fogerty and his crew of Howth clubmates battled on to a huge class win and an exceptionally good overall placing for the second-smallest boat in the fleet in what was undoubtedly a big-boat race.
George David’s magnificent Rambler 88 has added further lustre to a career of remarkable success by taking line honours and setting the new course record for the RORC Caribbean 600 by a margin of more than two hours this morning writes W M Nixon.
In 2011, when he was racing Rambler 100, David had set the previous record of 1 day 16 hours 20 minutes and 2 seconds in what seemed like wellnigh perfect conditions. But continuous and often vigorous northeast tradewind conditions this year gave Rambler 88 the edge, and she finished at Antigua at 01:21:45 local time in the small hours of this morning to set a new record of 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds.
Unlike their Volvo Round Ireland Record in 2016, when there were no mono-hulls of comparable size chasing the winner, Rambler’s crew will not have to wait too long to see if she continues to hold the IRC Championship lead. She gives time to the American-owned Volvo 70 Volvo Warrior, which is just 28 miles from the finish and sailing to windward on the final leg at a VMG of 14.5 knots, though with barely enough time available to challenge Rambler 88.
The overnight IRC leader, Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, has now slipped to fourth overall as the German 56-footer Varuna has moved ahead to third in what is still very much a big boat race.
Thus the larger of the two Howth entries, the Michael Wright-chartered IRC 46 Pata Negra, has continued to improve through the night, and now lies 10th overall and second in Class 1. Kevin McLaughlin’s J/44 Spice, with NYC crewmen Will Byrne and Chris Raymond, is third in Class 1 and 12th overall.
Conor Fogerty’s 36ft Bam! (HYC) the smallest boat in the race, is punching above her weight at 13th overall, and leads Class 3 by an hour. But she still has 289 miles to race, facing the challenge of just how long this record-making nor’east breeze will last.
Race tracker here
George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 crossed the finish line in Antigua on Wednesday 21st February at 01:21:45 AST in an elapsed time of 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds, setting a new monohull race record.
Meanwhile, Paradox, Peter Aschenbrenner's American 63' Trimaran crossed the finish line in Antigua at: 00:55:16 AST on Wednesday 21st February 2018 in an elapsed time of 1 day, 13 hours 5 minutes and 16 seconds taking Multihull Line Honours in the 10th edition of the race.
In 150 days, Gregor will set sail from Les Sables D’Olonne, France in what is one of sailing’s most extreme races. Competitors are restricted to 1960s technology meaning no GPS, no FaceTime, no iPod and no Kindle.
As one of the youngest competitors, Gregor will compete against 24 other sailors using just a compass, the moon and stars to guide him around the world.
“To be the first Irish person to sail around the world solo non-stop will be an amazing achievement, but I wholly believe that I have skill and determination to win the entire race,” said McGuckin.
Only 200 people have successfully sailed solo around Cape Horn, but for Gregor the biggest challenge will be surviving 270 days alone at sea and making sure that his boat can withstand the treacherous conditions.
Certainly, McGuckian, if he can complete the voyage, will join the ranks of few Irishmen to complete the solo circumnavigation – with stops and without – as Afloat.ie has previously reported here.
“The greatest challenge will not only be surviving without seeing another human being for nine months but finding the funding to make sure my boat is competitive as possible and can withstand the most extreme of storms.”
Gregor will have to carry all his food for nine months and find ways to catch rainwater to drink. He’ll have a sealed box with GPS in case of emergencies, but if he opens it he’ll be instantly disqualified.
There will be no communication with the outside world, only occasional communications with boats within radio distance and a weekly check in with the race centre.
2018 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Golden Globe Race, and only the second time in history that such a race has been attempted.
The new Colin Firth movie 'The Mercy' (released next week) is based on the original Golden Globe Race and follows the tragic tale of Donald Crowhurst. See a trailer for the movie here.
Golden Globe Race
The Golden Globe Race is a solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world sailing race via the three Great Capes of the Southern Ocean.
2018 marks the 50-year anniversary and the second running of the Golden Globe Race when Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.
This once-off event is unique as race entrants are restricted to using boats and equipment similar to that which was available for the original race in 1968.
During the race Gregor will navigate 30,000 miles solo non-stop without any GPS or other electronic instrumentation and will spend approximately 270 days at sea.
On completion, Gregor will become the first Irish person to complete a non-stop, solo circumnavigation of the world.
Raised in Goatstown, Gregor began sailing when studying Colaiste Dhulaigh. Originally a passionate windsurfer, Gregor moved to Mayo to pursue a career teaching watersports to children.
In 2013, Gregor moved to the south coast of the UK to train as a commercially endorsed Ocean Yachtmaster.
He’s logged approximately 50,000 miles as a yacht delivery skipper crossing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans many times.
At 31, he will be one of the youngest participants in the Race and will be one of only 200 people who have sailed solo around Cape Horn.
Gregor’s boat is a Biscay 36 ketch, which is one of the most competitive models permitted.
Currently, it is in Malahide Marina, Dublin and is being put through rigorous preparation and trials to ensure it is prepared for the journey ahead.
The Atlantic Anniversary Regatta is the first ever regatta series with two Atlantic Ocean races in both directions. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV), based in Hamburg, Germany. The first part of this extraordinary series was completed in December 2017 with the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada. The final part of the race series will see the fleet race 3500 nautical miles from Bermuda to Hamburg, starting on 8th July 2018 and it looks like top two sailors in the 2016 Round Ireland Race are favourties in the Anniversary Race too.
For the Bermuda to Hamburg race, George David's American Maxi Rambler 88, is the hot favourite for line honours but his Wicklow challenger from two years ago, Eric de Turckheim in a new 54ft Teasing Machine will also be in contention.
“The great attraction is to be racing on the ocean for so many days, and we have had good results rewarding our efforts, including two records and three fleet firsts.” Commented George David. “The NRV was the host club for Rambler 90s first transatlantic in 2007, and the club set a high bar for organization and hospitality, and we are confident of the same in 2018. The big challenge is keeping the boat together while still going fast. The best advice I can give newcomers to the race; be totally prepared for anything that may happen and sail safely.”
In three different yachts, all called Rambler, George David has raced west to east across the Atlantic on three occasions. In 2007, Rambler 90 took line honours in the HSH Nordbank Transatlantic (11d 16h 13m 59s). In 2011, Rambler 100 took line honours in the Transatlantic Race, establishing a race record (6d 22h 08m 2s). In 2015 Rambler 88 completed the Transatlantic Race winning IRC One (7d 16h 54m 46s). This will be George David's sixth transatlantic race in both directions.
Over 30 teams have expressed their interest to race from Bermuda to Hamburg, competing for Line Honours and under the IRC, ORC and ORCsy rating systems as well as one design Classes like IMOCA and Class 40. Confirmed entries include top performers from the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race: Overall winner, Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine. Winner of the ORC Division, Outsider skippered by Dr. Harald Brüning. Winner of IRC One, Hamburgische Verein Seefahrt's Broader View Hamburg, and winner of the Class40 Division, Mathias Müller von Blumencron's Red.
On Thursday January 25th, at 19:30hrs, Mayo Sailing Club will be hosting a public presentation in the Westport Coast Hotel’s Atlantic Suite by Mini-Transat sailor Tom Dolan, and the admission of just €2 includes tea, coffee and biscuits.
Originating on a farm near Kells, Co Meath, Tom Dolan had no background in sailing. He was never part of a yacht club, never went on sailing holidays and didn't get lessons as a child. When his father spotted an old wooden dinghy in Buy & Sell, the two of them set about fixing it up, and he first set sail on the local lake at the age of 10.
Since then, Tom has built up a very impressive Sailing CV. He has French, Irish and British qualifications and made his first crossing of the Atlantic at just 21 years of age. In 2016, he won the Mini en Mai and the Trophée MAP, becoming the first Irish person to win a race in France. In June, Tom podiumed at the Mini-Fastnet Race, despite having been fouled by a fishing net. That same month, he was second in the 500 Mini-en-Mai Race.
His latest achievement was coming in 6th in the Mini Transat 2017, Ireland’s best ever result in the race. This is a 4,000 mile race across the Atlantic where participants spend almost two months at sea, alone on a 21ft boat. The Mini Transat is considered by many to be one of the most extreme events in sailing considering the distance covered and the small size of the boats.
It promises to be an exciting as well as entertaining and informative evening as Tom talks about his entry into the sailing world, how the Mini Transat went, and provides an insight into his future adventures.
With 365 days to go until the start of the fourth edition of the Barcelona World Race (12th January 2019), Barcelona’s round the world event has issued the official document containing details of the key rules of the regatta.
This Notice of Race for the Barcelona World Race 2018/19 has been eagerly anticipated. Changes to racing dates, the competition format, which now has two legs and an option to change co-skipper in the second leg, are new features which mean the IMOCA calendar’s double-handed round the world event has a brand-new look.
- The Race Management team has unveiled the regatta’s key document, where the official rules for the fourth edition of the race are laid out.
- Two legs: Barcelona – Sydney – Barcelona and the option to change co-skipper for the second leg are the main changes in this new format for the double-handed, round the world regatta
- The winner will be decided based on points accumulated across the two legs.
- There will be a maximum of one technical stopover permitted on each leg of a minimum of 12 hours in length and a maximum of 48 hours.
The most significant changes set out in the document are as follows:
1. The deadline for registrations is the 30th September 2018.
2. The start will be given in Barcelona on the 12th January 2019, at 13:00 (GMT+1).
3. The official press conference will take place on the 10th January 2019 at 12:00 (GMT+1).
4. The start in Sydney of the second leg will be on the 9th March 2019.
5. All boats must start the second leg of the regatta no later than 48 hours after the official start of the leg is given.
6. A single technical stopover for repairs or medical assistance is permitted on each leg.
7. Final overall rankings for the Barcelona World Race 2018/19 will be calculated based on the sum of points gained across both legs.
2017 was the best season for Irish Sea offshore racing (ISORA) in many years with 68 boats taking part in the 15-race series writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan. In 2016, 54 boats took part. To put these numbers in context, in 1978, when ISORA was in its “hey-day”, 70 boats raced with an average race entry of 32 boats. We are very close to this again and I am confident that those numbers will be exceeded in 2018.
The ethos of ISORA is to provide challenging and satisfying offshore and coastal races for its members and, just as importantly, provide a convivial social scene for those skippers and crews who take part. What is unique about the boats who participate in ISORA is that while they are extremely competitive during races the camaraderie that exists between all skippers and crew, ensures that assistance and encouragement is offered to competing boats at all times. Safety within the fleet is paramount.
A 15 race schedule is planned for 2018 that will include 7 offshore races, a 4-race coastal series on the Irish side and a 4-race coastal series on the UK side. The Round Ireland, although the offshore racing apex of the season, is not included in the overall ISORA Offshore Series but ISORA will be presenting prizes and trophies to ISORA boats taking part in this epic race.
The race schedule has been compiled to minimise clashes with other events and to work with these events where possible. To this end ISORA will be working with Liverpool and Tranmere Yacht Clubs on the Midnight Race, Howth Yacht Club on the Lambay Race and Wicklow Sailing Club on the Round Ireland. There is also a delivery race to the Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championship
ISORA will be running an offshore weekend on the 8th-10th June that, together with deliveries, will allow a boat and crew to qualify for the Round Ireland in one weekend. This weekend consists of the Midnight Race from Liverpool to Douglas on the Friday evening and a race from Douglas on the Sunday morning.
The full schedule advertised in the Afloat Irish Sailing Annual is downloadable below.
ISORA will be organising a pre-season coastal race on the 14th April from and back to Dun Laoghaire. Although not part of the ISORA Series, prizes will be presented after the race. It is hoped that this introductory race will attract new boats that have not yet taken part in ISORA. A party will be organised in the NYC after the race for all participants and members.
Anyone interested in entering ISORA or considering crewing on an offshore boats can contact Peter Ryan at [email protected]
“I’m that bad nobody would come with me….”
That’s what Enda O Coineen told me when he confirmed that he will be completing his round-the-world voyage which he started as part of the Vendee Globe Race, alone to complete the round-the-world solo voyage.
“Round the world with just one stop, forced upon me, not by choice, but I’m going to complete it. Maybe 50 days at sea when I leave New Zealand after circumnavigating it from Dunedin, but it’s a solo voyage and that’s my aim,” he said when we discussed the completion of his round-the-world sail.
It will be a year since his yacht, KIilcullen Voyage was dismasted during the Vendee Globe Race off New Zealand on New Year’s Day. The 61-year-old sailor spent five days of January getting the damaged yacht 240 miles with a temporary ‘jury rig’ towards safety off Dunedin from where he will restart.
“It will be challenging because there will be no race back-up this time, nor other boats in the racing fleet.”
I asked him why he was going to complete it alone. Listen to his response on my Podcast.
• Listen to ENDA O COINEEN on my weekly Podcast below