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Eleven SB20s braved a moderate northerly wind and Baltic conditions for the second and final day of the Key Capital Private sponsored Spring Warmer Series in Howth Yacht Club. Due to the loss of the second race last weekend, the Race Committee signalled their intention to have three races on Day 2 to complete the four race series.

Race 1 saw a much more competitive fleet challenging for position on the line (looks like the training with Mark Rhodes is paying off already!) with Lia (Dave, Ollie and Patrick) having a peach of a start hitting the pin end at speed and leading the fleet out towards the favoured left hand side of the course. At the weather mark, the tide was causing havoc pushing boats below the starboard tack layline and forcing one or two to bail out and try again. First around was Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and John) followed closely by Two Men and a Monkey (Daragh, Shane and John) and Lia in third. At this stage, the wind was gusting in the teens which was sufficient to get the boats planing so the fleet took off and happily careered down the run towards the leeward mark. Two Men and a Monkey called the leeward mark layline to perfection and snuck inside Sin Bin and Lia.

Up the next beat, it was critical to get the shifts right and the biggest gains were made by VenuesWorld.com (Ger, Chris, Rory and Maeve) who picked their way beautifully up the beat, catching a nice little right hander at the end to lead around the second weather mark. However, being in front is never an easy place to be in an SB20 going downwind in planing conditions and both Two Men and a Monkey and Sin Bin were gunning for the lead. The three lead boats rounded the leeward mark within 4 boatlengths of each other, Two Men and a Monkey once again showing a great turn of speed to lead at the leeward mark from Sin Bin and Venuesworld.com in third. With only a short beat to finish, Sin Bin peeled off left straight after the leeward mark and was covered immediately by Two Men and a Monkey while VenuesWorld.com continued on out right. The left was paying at this stage and it was clear that Venuesworld.com would have to be content with third. Two Men and a Monkey tacked for the line (as it turned out) a little early while Sin Bin held out a boatlength more before tacking. The boats charged for the line on port with Sin Bin hitching into a little more pressure to squeeze over the line at the pin with about a foot to spare over Two Men and a Monkey in second. Lia came in fourth with Bango (James, Jerry and Jimmy) rounding off the top five. In sixth place were SB20 newbees Diana Kissane and Clara Hynes with the old (SB) head of Ronan Downing overseeing proceedings on Manamana. They showed some very impressive turns of speed and we hope to see a lot more of them over the coming season.

Race 2 saw the breeze abate slightly and become increasingly shifty. The tide was almost slack meaning pressure and shifts were the top priority. A good competitive start by the fleet once more meant that it was neck and neck going up the first beat. A massive left hander half way up the first beat that refused to go back again left those on the right including Bango, Lia and Sin Bin way out the back of the fleet with much work to do. At the first weather mark Venuesworld.com along with Project Mayhem (Davey Taylor et al), Seriously Bonkers (Peter Lee et al), Two Men and a Monkey, Manamana and Martin Reilly Motors (Colin Galavan, Chris Arrowsmith et al) were all battling it out for the lead. The decrease in pressure and massive left hander meant the second run was all about soaking down to the leeward mark on a long starboard gybe. With the boats ahead going higher to protect their breeze, this gave the boats behind to catch up and the fleet compressed towards the leeward mark once more.

The second beat was, in a word, brutal. Massive unforgiving shifts meant either huge gains or massive losses. The two rockstars of the second beat were Bango (James, Jerry and Jimmy) and Lia (Dave, Ollie and Patrick) (so good we’ve named them twice!). Bango went from last place at the leeward mark to 4th at the weather while Lia went from 9th to 2nd on the second beat and we still have no clue quite how they both managed it! By the second weather mark, the wind had now swung around to the right meaning a long soak on port gybe this time down to the leeward mark. Some boats tried unsuccessfully to “heat it up” and get on the plane but those that soaked seemed to fare better in the end with the least distance sailed.

Venuesworld.com won handsomely for their maiden win in their shiny new tub followed by Lia and Two Men and a Monkey in third. Behind the first three places, the fleet behind were compressing at the leeward mark with six boats in fourth to ninth places within approximately six boatlengths of each other rounding the last mark for the short beat to finish. Right in the mix was Monkey, helmed for the first time in a series by Mikey with SB20 regular Morrough Kavanagh keeping him focused. In the end it was all about getting a lane with some clear air on the short beat to finish. With so many boats in such a small area, going out right after the leeward mark paid dividends as these boats had starboard tack advantage coming in to the finish line. Bango crossed the line in fourth just ahead of Sin Bin in fifth with Seriously Bonkers, Project Mayhem, Monkey and Corona Extra all finishing within approximately 2 boatlengths of each other.

The Race Committee were anxious to try and get a third race in (and fourth for the series) to allow the discard to kick in and they gave the wind every opportunity to settle. However by now the wind had dropped further and at one stage was down to three knots and shifting through 40 degrees. When a hailstorm went through, pelting the competitors, the Race Committee obviously took this as an omen that it was just not meant to be and they called the fleet ashore. With three races and no discard, the win went to Sin Bin on 8 points by the slenderest of margins from Two Men and a Monkey on 9 points. In third was Venuesworld on 11 points and Lia pipped Bango for the fourth place tiebreaker on 12 points.

After racing, Mark Rhodes debriefed the fleet and used some video footage to good effect to demonstrate bailing out techniques at the start, faster gybing techniques in a blow and tactical considerations both upwind and downwind. The fleet already has shown remarkable progress after dusting off the cobwebs last weekend and the next event is expected to be a lively affair.

Next up for the class is the Northern Championships in Carlingford Lough on 23rd/24th April. We hope to see a strong fleet there for an exciting new venue for the class. Word has it that Venuesworld.com will no longer be the newest kid on the block with Jerry and Jimmy taking delivery of their new hull this week. Exciting times ahead for the SB20

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The 2016 Spring Warmer series came to a conclusion at Howth Yacht Club on Saturday. The event was once again sponsored by Key Capital Private. The final Saturday felt more like a Frostbite morning with temperatures at about 2 degrees and snow visible on the Dublin mountains. However, the crews did have a nice breeze of about 16 knots and glorious sunshine to start the day and get the first race under way. The race committee under Richard Kissane’s and Rupert Jeffares experienced eyes were hoping to get three races in to make up for the race lost the previous Saturday.

In the Cruiser Class, Stephen Quinn’s Lambay Rules took the honours on countback by virtue of their one race win from Paddy Gregory and Don Breen’s Flashback. In third place was D. Kelly’s King One looking absolutely fantastic after a “rebranding” and a Winter of hard work.

The J24 racing was dominated by Howth’s K25 team with a clean sweep of three first places. It was great to see two other youth teams out on Brian McDowell’s Scandal and the Johnny Bravo Howth team who came in second and third places respectively.

 

The SB20 fleet was the largest fleet with 11 boats and they also ran a coaching session around the event under the watchful eye of top coach Mark Rhodes. Michael O’Connor took the win for the third year running from Shane Murphy on the newly named Two Men and their Monkey. In third spot was Ger Dempsey and Chris Nolan on Venuesworld. In fourth was Dave Barry’s Lia.

The prize giving took place with Vice Commodore Emmet Dalton on hand to present the prizes. Shane Gill of Key Capital Private was unable to attend but expressed Key Capital’s delight at being able to support Howth Yacht Club and Irish sailing.

Published in Howth YC
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Eleven SB20s came out of winter hibernation early this year for the Key Capital Private sponsored Spring Warmer Series in Howth Yacht Club. There has been a shake-up in the event format this year and instead of the traditional six races there are four races planned over two weekends – more of a sprint than a marathon this year. It is very encouraging to see so many SBs out this early in the season and the fact that the SBs made up more than 50% of the total fleet augers well for the year ahead. It was great to see the maiden sails of Project Mayhem (Davey Taylor’s renovated tub on steroids) and VenuesWorld.com (Ger Dempsey and Chris Nolan’s brand new tub).

The day started with a very shifty 8-10 knot southerly (ish!) breeze that was oscillating through approximately 30 degrees, making setting a fair course and a decent start line “challenging” to say the least. The OOD did however get the fleet away at the first time of asking but a combination of rustiness, a large right handed shift a minute before the start and the end of the flood tide pushing competitors up the line towards the committee boat meant that a lot of crews were left blushing as they were caught to weather of the committee boat and had to wait for the procession of boats to leeward of them to start before they could get going in earnest. The large right hand shift just before the start meant that boats were laying the weather mark from the start line so the OOD rightly abandoned the race a few minutes after the start and called the fleet back to try again.

After a short wait, the SBs were off again, this time from a heavily pin biased line. 2 Men and their Monkey (ex Dinghy Supplies, Daragh, Shane and John) and Corona Extra (ex Manamana, Graham, Ronan et al) were a little eager to get going and tipped over the line at the pin a few moments early. 2 Men and their Monkey returned but Corona Extra continued on and only learned their fate at the finish. Although the line was heavily pin biased, the best pressure was out to the middle-right hand side of the course and those boats that bailed out early fared best. At the weather mark, Project Mayhem led comfortably from Animal Origami (ex Yachtsman Marine, ex Boatmec, ex McCready Sailboats… Seriously lads, this has to stop… make up your minds!!! with Chris Chapman et al) with VenuesWorld.com sneaking around in third inside Lia (Dave, John et al.). The run was a really tense affair with plenty of shifts and pressure differentials across the course. In the end, those that picked their way down the middle and kept going in breeze fared best with the fleet compressing again at the leeward mark. Project Mayhem still led from Animal Origami but their lead over the rest of the fleet had been cut considerably and now Dinghy Supplies in third, Sin Bin in fourth (Michael, Owen and Ted) and Bango in fifth (James, Jerry and Jimmy) were in hot pursuit only a few boatlengths back.

Up the second beat, it was all about finding the pressure and keeping the boat moving as the wind continued to oscillate and die. Project Mayhem made the decision to go left up the second beat and at one stage was looking like they were storming away with it until the wind died completely on them. Also cruelly caught out on the left hand side of the course were VenuesWorld who were also looking pretty for so long up the second beat. Towards the end of the second beat, the wind favoured the middle and right hand side of the course and the main beneficiaries were Animal Origami, Sin Bin and Bango. A shortened course was signalled at the weather mark and Animal Origami claimed the win by three lengths from Sin Bin in second with Bango a further three boatlengths back in third. 2 Men and their Monkey claimed fourth and Project Mayhem crept back up to fifth. Full results on the HYC website here

After a short postponement, the wind continued to die and the OOD called a halt to proceedings. The fleet retired to the junior room in HYC where coach Mark Rhodes discussed the days racing and went through the thought processes that each boat should have been going through before and during the race including an informative discussion on starting strategies. Some videos of the days racing from John Malone’s (Lia) headcam are available on the Facebook page. Next week, the plan is to try to get three races in and complete the series.

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The latest half tonner in to Howth Yacht Club a Corby design called Kodachi will debut at the North Dublin Club's Key Capital Private Spring Warmer Series this Saturday. The traditional season opener is being run over two Saturdays this year, with four windward /leeward races There will be starts for Cruisers 1, 2 & 3, SB20s, J24s, Puppeteers, Squibs and J80s. 
 
As well as the Corby HYC Captain of Class 2 Paddy Kyne's Maximus is also entered. As last year, there will be particularly strong competition in class two.
 

The SB20s will also be looking to use the event as a 'shake down' and to get in some quality racing time on the water before their Northern Championships which are being held in Carlingford Lough on the weekend immediately after the Spring Warmer Series.The winner for the last two years, Michael O'Connor on Sin Bin, and new Class chairman Peter Lee on Seriously Bonkers are among the line up.

 

Published in Howth YC
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An opportunity to clarify your sailing decisions will be provided by the Irish SB20 class association when it stages a racing strategy clinic run in conjunction with the Howth Yacht Club Spring Warmer Series in April.

The sportsboat class has also launched a new website for the 2016 season. Click here to see the new site.

The new coaching initiative from 9-16th April will take place during HYC racing and outside assistance will be permitted in the series to facilitate coaching.

SB20 sailor Jimmy Dowling says it is a 'great opportunity to hone decision making skills under the guidance of world renowned coach, Mark Rhodes'.

Areas covered include:

● The three segments of the first beat (The Law of Before)

● Creating a starting priority list = creation of strategy = start

● 5 key areas to position at the start (with additional one extra)

● Double tacking – How, why, when

● Fleet / boat control – How, why, when, where

The cost per boat is €100

The annual SB20 class dinner will be held upstairs in the dining room of the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Friday 4th March (19:30hrs for 20:00hrs). The 3 course dinner is €35pp.

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Sailors from over 10 countries in a fleet of 22 boats – including Ireland – are gathering in Singapore for the inaugural Asian Grand Slam for the SB20 class, and this year’s Asia Pacific Championships.

Now in their third year, the Asia Pacific Championships are hosted by the ONE°15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove, Singapore. For this year the regatta also includes the first ever Asian Grand Slam for the international keelboat class, which has four Grand Slam events throughout the year.

Racing begins today, January 29, 2016, with three days of competition scheduled. The regatta is sanctioned by the Singapore Sailing Federation, who will run nine races. There is also a packed social programme, including a pool party with live music, welcome cocktails and post-sailing drinks, and daily prizegivings.

Entries from as far afield as Australia, France, Belgium, Ireland and Great Britain have joined the active Singaporean fleet and visitors from Thailand, with over 20 teams taking part. Paul O'Malley is the sole Irish entry in the 22-boat fleet. Download the PDF of the entries below.

The high calibre fleet includes local champions Johannes Babendererde and his team on ‘Wermer’, who are the current Singapore SB20 National Champions. French America’s Cup sailor Gilles Favennec will be one of the hot favourites, along with French National Champion Ed Russo and his team on ‘Black Magic’. British sailors taking part include former SB20 World Champion Jerry Hill, of class distributors Sportsboat World, and the 2015 British Grand Slam winner Adrian Peach.

Edward Russo of France, Chairman of the SB20 World Council, commented: “After sailing a couple of weekends in France in December and January with full foul weather gear, you can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to sailing the SB20 Asian Grand Slam & Asia Pacific Championships in Singapore. But it’s not only the weather we’re coming for, the Singapore SB20 fleet is impressively active with top local sailing talent and this event will give us the opportunity to thank the Singaporean teams that came to the French Grand Slam in Hyeres in May 2015.”

Dr. Benedict Tan, President of the Singapore Sailing Federation, added, “This landmark event brings our sailing friends from all over the Asia Pacific region and the world to Singapore, and SingaporeSailing is proud to be a part of it.”

Local SB20 sailor Nils Razmilovic, Chairman of the Singapore SB20 Class Association added, “The SB20 Grand Slam and Asia Pacific Championships is now one of Asia's premier one design sailing regattas with top international competition, excellent organisation and a great social program, making it an event not to be missed!”

The seasonal North East Monsoon winds are reported to have arrived in Singapore in full force this week, bringing sunshine and steady winds of 20-25 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. Together with Singapore’s tropical temperatures these conditions may produce some stunning sailing conditions for the international fleet.

The SB20 class is a one-design keelboat with active racing fleets in 13 countries, including the UAE, Russia and the Ukraine, as well as across Europe. Other Grand Slam events in 2016 will be held at Cannes in the South of France in April, Holland in May, and Cowes, on the Isle of Wight in the UK in August. This year’s World Championships will take place in Cascais, Portugal from August 27-September 3, with future World Championships taking place at the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, UK in 2017, and the stunning Australian venue of Hobart, Tasmania in 2018.

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The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and Derwent Sailing Squadron in Australia are to jointly host the SB20 World Championships in January 2018.

Between 80 and 100 of the high-performance SB20 sportsboats are expected to contest the Worlds, which will be preceded by the Australian National Championship. The event is to be jointly conducted by the two Sandy Bay-based clubs, on Australia's island State, Tasmania, offering competitors idyllic Southern Hemisphere conditions.

The SB20 class is an international class, with over 13 active fleets around the world including the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Dubai, Singapore and Australia. Hobart has the largest SB20 fleet in Australia, having grown rapidly over the previous four seasons.

Commodore Matthew Johnston of the RYCT and Commodore Stephen Chau of the DSS announced the allocation of the SB20 Worlds to Hobart in 2018, after a tendering process. The Hobart event will follow World Championship regattas for the SB20s at two other famous yachting venues, Cascais in Portugal in 2016, organised by the Club Navale de Cascais, and Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 2017, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron.

“We listened to the feedback offered following our previous bid and we have worked very hard as a team to present a comprehensive and professional bid to the world organisation," they said in a joint statement.

“In fact, we told them we will be able to provide an SB20 Worlds that will be comparable to, or better than, any previous event.

“We are campaigning hard to attract a fleet of 80 to 100 boats, with 35 to 40 being ‘local boats’ from Tasmania."

Commodore Johnston added that when he competed at the 2015 SB20 World Championships on Italy’s Lake Garda, he recognised the need for organisers to offer a ‘one stop shop’ for freight and logistics to attract visiting sailors. “We have tackled this issue so it will be a door to door service for overseas competitors,” he said.

The SB20 Australian and World Championships 2018 will be the only major yachting event on the Derwent in early January, allowing full flexibility for the race management team.

Class President Ed Russo commented: “The SB20 class is fortunate to have an extremely active fleet in Hobart with 25 boats, as well as another 20 boats on the mainland. The commodore of the RYCT, Matthew Johnston is an avid SB20 sailor and, along with DSS, they put together a very attractive event package. There is not another spot in the world that makes people dream more than sailing in Tasmania and there was overwhelming support throughout the SB20 world fleets for this spot.”

The one-design sportsboat offers level, ‘first past the post’ racing for three or four-man crews, whose maximum weight must not exceed 270kg, with a mixture of professional and amateur sailors competing on an equal footing. The class regularly attracts entries of over 100 boats for international events, and the boats are easily transportable.

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Congratulations to Graeme Grant of Howth who has been named SB20 'Champion of Championships' for 2016. Second overall is national champion Michael O'Connor of the Royal St. George Yacht Club followed by his Dun Laoghaire clubmate Aidan O'Connell.

The attached spread sheet below lists all 30 SB20 skippers. Download it to find the rankings for this year and last year.

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This weekend’s two-day All-Ireland Sailing Championship at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, racing boats of the ISA J/80 SailFleet flotilla, is an easy target for facile criticism. Perhaps because it tries to do so much in the space of only two days racing, with just one type of boat and an entry of 15 class championship-winning helms, inevitably this means it will be seen by some as falling short of its high aspiration of providing a true Champion of Champions.

Yet it seldom fails to produce an absolute cracker of a final. Last year, current defending champion Anthony O’Leary of Cork, racing the J/80s in Howth and representing both ICRA Class 0 and the 1720 Sportsboats, snatched a last gasp win from 2013 title-holder Ben Duncan of the SB20s, thereby rounding out an utterly exceptional personal season for O’Leary which saw him go on to be very deservedly declared the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year” 2014.

So this year, with a host of younger challengers drawn from a remarkable variety of sailing backgrounds, the ever-youthful Anthony O’Leary might well see himself in the position of the Senior Stag defending his territory against half a dozen young bucks who will seem to attack him from several directions. And with winds forecast to increase in strength as the weekend progresses, differing talents and varying levels of athletic ability will hope to experience their preferred conditions at some stage, thereby getting that extra bit of confidence to bring success within their reach. It’s a fascinating scenario, and W M Nixon tries to set this unique event in perspective.

When the founding fathers of modern dinghy racing in Ireland set up the Irish Dinghy Racing Association (now the ISA) in 1946, they would have been reasonably confident that the immediate success of their new pillar event, the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland, gave hope that a contest of this stature would still be healthily in being, and still run on a keenly-followed annual basis, nearly seventy years later.

They might even have been able to envisage that it would have been re-named the All-Ireland Championship, even if their original title of Helmsman’s Championship had a totally unique and clearly recognisable quality, for they’d have accepted its fairly harmless gender bias was going to create increasing friction with the Politically Correct brigade.

anthony OLeary2The Stag at Bay? Anthony O’leary sniffs the breeze last weekend, in charge of racing in the CH Marine Autumn league. This weekend he defends his All-Ireland title in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Robert Bateman

ai3Sailing should be fun, and run with courtesy – invitation to enjoyable racing, as displayed last weekend in Cork on Anthony O’Leary’s Committee Boat. Photo: Robert Bateman

But what those pioneering performance dinghy racers in 1946 can scarcely have imagined was that, 69 years later, no less than a quarter of the coveted places in the All-Ireland Championship lineup of 16 sailing stars would be going to helms who have qualified through winning their classes within the Annual National Championship of a thirteen-year-old all-Ireland body known as the Irish Cruiser-Racing Association.

And if you then further informed those great men and women of 1946 that those titles were all won in an absolute humdinger of a four-day big-fleet national championship staged in the thriving sailing centre and Irish gourmet capital of Kinsale, they’d have doubted your sanity. For in the late 1940s, Kinsale had slipped almost totally under the national sailing radar, while the town generally was showing such signs of terminal decline that there was little enough in the way of resources to put any food on any table, let alone think in terms of destination restaurants.

So in tracing the history of this uniquely Irish championship (for it long pre-dates the Endeavour Trophy in England), we have a convenient structure to hold together a manageable narrative of the story of Irish sailboat racing since the end of World War II. Add in the listings of the Irish Cruising Club trophies since the first one was instituted in 1931, then cross-reference this info with such records as the winners of the Round Ireland race and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, beef it all up with the winners of the national championship of the largest dinghy and inshore keelboat classes, and a comprehensible narrative of our national sailing history emerges.

ai4The veteran X332 Equinox (Ross McDonald) continues to be a force in Irish cruiser-racing, and by winning her class in the ICRA Nationals in Kinsale at the end of June, Equinox is represented in the All Irelands this weekend by helmsman Simon Rattigan. Photo: W M Nixon

It’s far from perfect, but it’s a defining picture nevertheless, even if it lacks the inside story of the clubs. Be that as it may, in looking at it properly, we get a greater realization that the All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championship (or whatever you’re having yourself) is something very important, something to be cherished and nurtured from year to year.

Of course I’m not suggesting that we should all be out in Dublin Bay today and tomorrow on spectator boats, avidly watching every twist and turn as eight identical boats race their hearts out with a variety of helms calling the shots. Unless you’re in a particular helmsperson’s fan club, it’s really rather boring to watch from end to end, or at least until the conclusion of each stage and then the final races.

This is very much a sport for the “edited highlights”. The reality is that no matter how they try to jazz it up, sailing is primarily of interest only to those actively taking part, or directly engaged in staging each event. When great efforts are made to make it exciting for casual spectators, it costs several mints and results in rich people and highly-resourced teams engaged in costly and often unseemly battles to which genuine sporting sailors cannot really relate at all.

But with its exclusion of Olympic and some High Performance squad members, the All-Ireland in its current form is the quintessence of Irish local and national sailing. It’s almost compulsive for its participants, it provides an extra interest for their supportive clubmates, and in its pleasantly low key way it’s a genuine expression of real Irish sailing, the sailing of L’Irlande profonde.

So of course we agree that it might be more interesting for the bright young people if it was raced in something more trendy like the RS400s if they could find sufficient owners to risk their boats in this particular bear pit. And yes indeed, the ISA Discussion Paper and Helmsmans Guidelines of 2012 did indeed hope that within three years, the All Ireland would be staged in dinghies.

But we have to live in the real world. Sailing really is a sport for life, and some of our best sailors are truly seniors who would be disadvantaged if it was raced in a boat making too many demands on sheer athleticism, for which the unattainable Olympic Finn would be the only true answer.

But in any case, if you watch J/80s racing in a breeze, there’s no doubting the advantage a bit of athletic ability confers, yet the cunning seniors can overcome their lack of suppleness and agility with sheer sailing genius.

ai5While they may be keelboats, in a breeze the J/80s will sail better with some athleticism, as displayed here by Ben Duncan (second left) as he sweeps toward the finish and victory in the 2013 All Irelands at Howth. Photo: Aidan Tarbett

ai6Yet a spot of sailing genius can offset the adverse effects of advancing years – Anthony O’Leary (right) with Dylan Gannon (left) and Dan O’Grady after snatching victory at the last minute in 2014. Photo: Jonathan Wormald.

But another reality we have to accept is that Ireland is only just crawling out of the Great Recession. And in that recession, it was the enduring competitiveness of ageing cruiser-racers and the sporting attitude of their owners which kept the national sailing show on the road. Your dyed-in-the-wool dinghy sailor may sneer at the constrictions of seaborn truck-racing. But young sailors who were realists very quickly grasped that if they wanted to get regular sailing with good competition as the Irish economy went into free fall, then they had to hone their skills in making boats with lids, crewed by tough old birds most emphatically not in the first flush of youth, sail very well indeed.

Thus in providing a way for impecunious young people to keep sailing through the recession, ICRA performs a great service for Irish sailing. And the productive interaction between young and old in the ICRA fleets, further enlivened by their different sailing backgrounds, has resulted in a vibrant new type of sailing community where it is regarded as healthily normal to be able to move between dinghies and keelboats and back again.

The final lineup of entries is a remarkable overview of the current Irish racing scene, and if you wonder why the winner of the GP14 British Opens 2015, Shane McCarthy of Greystones, is not representing the GP 14s, the word is he’s unavailable, so his place is taken by Niall Henry of Sligo.

2014 Champion Anthony O'Leary, RCYC
RS400 Alex Barry, Monkstown Bay SC
GP14 Niall Henry ,Sligo Yacht Club
Shannon OD Frank Browne, Lough Ree YC
Flying Fifteen David Gorman, National YC
Squib Fergus O'Kelly, Howth YC
ICRA 1 Roy Darrer, Waterford Sailing Club
Mermaid Patrick, Dillon Rush SC
Laser Std Ronan Cull, Howth YC
SB20 Michael O'Connor, Royal St.George YC
IDRA14 Alan Henry, Sutton DC
RS200 Frank O'Rourke, Greystones SC
ICRA 2 Simon Rattigan, Howth YC
ICRA 4 Cillian Dickson, Howth YC
Ruffian Chris Helme, Royal St.George YC

As a three-person boat with a semi-sportsboat performance, the J/80 is a reasonable compromise between dinghies and keelboats, and the class has the reputation of being fun to sail, which is exactly what’s needed here.

The Sailing Olympics and the ISAF Worlds may be terribly important events for sailing in the international context, but nobody would claim they’re fun events. Equally, though, you wouldn’t dream of suggesting the All-Ireland is no more than a fun event. But it strikes that neat balance between tough sport and sailing enjoyment to make it quite a good expression of the true Irish amateur sailing scene.

Inevitably from time to time it produces a champion whose sailing abilities are so exceptional that it would amount to a betrayal of their personal potential for them not to go professional in some way or other. But fortunately sailing is such a diverse world that two of the outstanding winners of the Helmsman’s Championships of Ireland have managed to make their fulfilled careers as top level professional sailors without losing that magic sense of fun and enjoyment, even though in both cases it has involved leaving Ireland.

Their wins were gained in the classic early Irish Yachting Association scenario of a one design class which functioned on a local basis being able to provide enough reasonably-matched boats to be used for the Helmsman’s, and the three I best remember were when Gordon Maguire won in 1982 on Lough Derg racing Shannon One Designs, then in the 1970s Harold Cudmore won on Lough Neagh racing Flying Fifteens, and in 1970 itself, a very young Robert Dix was winner racing National 18s at Crosshaven.

Gordon Maguire was the classic case of a talented sailor having to get out of Ireland to fulfill himself. His win in 1982 in breezy conditions at Dromineer in Shannon One Designs, with Dave Cummins of Sutton on the mainsheet, was sport at its best, though I doubt that some of the old SODs were ever the better again after the hard driving they received.

ai7Driving force. Gordon Maguire going indecently fast for a Shannon One Design, on his way to winning the Helmsmans Championship of Ireland at Dromineer in 1982. Photo: W M Nixon

Then Gordon spread his wings, and won the Irish Windsurfer Nationals in 1984 - a great year for the Maguires, as his father Neville (himself a winner of the Helmsmans Championship five times) won the ISORA Championship with his Club Shamrock Demelza the same weekend.

But Gordon needed a larger canvas to demonstrate his talents, and in 1991 he was a member of the Irish Southern Cross team in Australia, a series which culminated in the Sydney-Hobart Race. The boat which Maguire was sailing was knocked out in a collision with another boat (it was the other boat’s fault), but Maguire found a new berth as lead helm on the boat Harold Cudmore was skippering for the Hobart Race, and they won that overall.

gordon maguire8A man fulfilled, Gordon Maguire at the beginning of his hugely successful linkup with Stephen Ainsworth’s RP 63 Loki

And Gordon Magure realized that for his talents, Australia was the place to be. More than twenty years later, he was to get his second Hobart Race overall win in command of Stephen Ainsworth’s RP 63 Loki, and here indeed was a man fulfilled, revelling in a chosen career which would have been unimaginable in Ireland.

Harold Cudmore had gone professional as best he could in 1974, but it was often a lonely and frustrating road in Europe. However, his win of the Half Ton Worlds in Trieste in the Ron Holland-designed, Killian Bushe-built Silver Shamrock in 1976 put his name up in lights, and he has been there ever since, renowned for his ability to make any boat perform to her best. It has been said of him when racing the 19 Metre Mariquita in the lightest conditions, that you could feel him getting an extra ounce of speed out of this big and demanding gaff-rigged classic seemingly by sheer silent will power.

ai9
The restored 19 Metre Mariquita is a demanding beast to sail in any conditions…

ai10
...but in light airs, Harold Cudmore (standing centre) seems to be able to get her to outsail larger craft by sheer will-power.

ai11A different scene altogether, but still great sport – Harold Cudmore racing the classic Sydney Harbour 18-footer Yendys

But as for Robert Dix’s fabulous win in 1970, while he went on to represent Ireland in the 1976 Olympics in Canada, he has remained a top amateur sailor who is also resolutely grounded in Irish business life (albeit at a rather stratospheric level). But then it could be argued that nothing could ever be better than winning the Helmsmans Championship of Ireland against the cream of Irish sailng when you’re just 17 years old, and doing it all at the mother club, the Royal Cork, as it celebrated its Quarter Millenium.

It was exactly 44 years ago, the weekend of October 3rd-4th 1970, and for Robert Dix it was a family thing, as his brother-in-law Richard Burrows was Number 2 in the three-man setup. They were on a roll, and how. The manner in which things were going their way was shown in an early race when they were in a tacking duel with Harold Cudmore. Coming to the weather mark, Cudmore crossed them on port, but the Dix team had read it to such perfection that by the time he had tacked, they’d shot through the gap with inches to spare and Cudmore couldn’t catch them thereafter.

ai12
Decisive moment in the 1970 Helmsman’s Championship. At the weather mark, Harold Cudmore on port is just able to cross Robert Dix on starboard………Photo W M Nixon

ai13……but Dix is able to shoot through the gap as Cudmore tacks…..Photo: W M Nixon

ai14…..and is on his way to a win which will count well towards his overall victory over Cudmore by 0.4 points. Photo: W M Nixon

Admittedly both Harold Cudmore and the equally-renowned Somers Payne had gear problems, but even allowing for that, the 17-year-old Robert Dix from Malahide was the star of the show, and the final points of Robert Dix 9.5 and Harold Cudmore 9.9 for the 1970 Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland says it all, and it says it as clearly now as it did then.

ai15
The six finalists in the 1970 Helmsman’s Championship were (left to right) Michael O’Rahilly Dun Laoghaire), Somers Payne (Cork), Harold Cudmore (Cork), Owen Delany (Dun Laoghaire), Maurice Butler (Ballyholme, champion 1969) and Robert Dix (Malahide), at 17 the youngest title holder ever. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

Skipper Andy Oddie, and his crew of Gareth Edwards and Rob Greenhalgh, are the 2015 SB20 National Champions, after winning three of the six-race series at the Royal Southern YC in Hamble on ‘Underground Toys'.

The Stormforce Coaching UK National Championships were held from Saturday September 5th to Sunday 6th, 2015 in a mix of conditions that included overcast and shifty winds on the first day, and a building sea breeze with sunshine on Day 2. Unfortunately the Indian summer temperatures and sunshine on Monday 7th also brought zephyr-light conditions which led to racing being cancelled for the day, but six good races had been completed for the 25-boat nationals fleet.

Andy Oddie and team laid down an impressive challenge from the outset, winning the first three races in a row. Second place honours were shared by Class President Ed Russo on ‘Black Magic’, who was runner-up in the first and third races, and Pieter Heyn on ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ in the second.

In Race 4 ‘Black Magic’ took the win from ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’, while ‘Underground Toys’ slipped to eighth in the variable winds and highly tidal conditions. ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ then finished strongly to take the next two race wins, but ‘Underground Toys’ posted two more solid results with a third and second to hold on to take the overall win by two points from ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’. Third overall went to ‘Black Magic’, while Adrian Peach, the UK Class Chairman on ‘Uber’, followed up his Cowes Grand Slam win with a strong fourth place.

For Andy Oddie and Gareth Edwards the National Championships were a chance to revisit unfinished business – the pair nearly won the UK Nationals back in 2010, only losing the title on the final race.

Tactician and trimmer Rob Greenhalgh is no stranger to the SB20 class either. Rob won the first ever National Championships back in 2002, crewing for Mike Budd, and has scored podium finishes at many UK Nationals and World Championships. This latest title adds to another successful season for the pro sailor, which included winning the European Championship in the foiling Moth class just a week previously, having spent much of the previous year circumnavigating the globe in the Volvo Ocean Race, as Watch Captain on ‘Mapfre’.

Preceding the Nationals, the Sportsboat World/Spinlock Sprint Series was held on Friday, September 4th, with six back-to-back quick-fire races held over a windward-leeward course. Joe Llewellyn with ‘Forelle Estates’ won two races and counted all top three places to win, two points ahead of Tom Clay’s ‘Whyaduck’ who also won two races. Pieter Heyn's ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ won the remaining two races to finish third overall.

There was a special prize, sponsored by Harken, awarded to the top Youth team at the Nationals, which went to ‘Striptease’, skippered by Rebecca Anthony. The Masters prize, sponsored by Hyde Sails, was awarded to Tich Summers and the ‘Chill Pill’ team. The fleet also welcomed some new faces, including two boats from Poole Harbour where a new fleet is gaining momentum.

For many teams the 2015 Nationals gave a taste of what to expect for the 2017 SB20 World Championships, which will be hosted by the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes with racing on the Solent.

Ed Russo, President of the UK World Council, commented: “The Nationals saw tough competition with leading competitors including the top British boat at this year’s Worlds (‘Forelle Estates’), and Rob Greenhalgh calling the shots on 'Underground Toys’.

“The well known tidal flow puzzle of the Solent, coupled with particularly shifty northerly breezes, confirmed that sailing here requires crews to keep their heads! The 2017 Worlds, run by the RYS, will mark the SB20 class's 15th anniversary and it is a perfect time to come back to the founding waters of the class for some enjoyable and challenging racing."

Results:

Stormforce Coaching 2015 SB20 UK National Championships

1st ‘Underground Toys’ Andy Oddie GBR 3366 Itchenor S.C. 8.0

2nd ‘F5 Synthesis Team Gul’ Pieter Heyn 3047 Warsash 10.0

3rd ‘Black Magic’ Ed Russo FRA 3706 Club Nautique Valeriquais 13.0

4th ‘Uber’ Adrian Peach GBR 3720 Royal Torbay YC 21.0

5th Forelle Estates Joe Llewellyn GBR 3732 Wessex Exiles 27.0

Youth Category, sponsored by Harken

1st 'Striptease' Rebecca Anthony 3075 RSrnYC 104.0

Masters Category, sponsored by Hyde Sails

1st 'Chill Pill+' Tich Summers GBR 3710 Royal Tay Yacht Club 29.0

Published in SB20
Tagged under
Page 10 of 22

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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