Displaying items by tag: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
Irishsailing – After the remarkable across-the-board success of the 2014 Irish sailing season, 2015 will have to be very special indeed to be remembered with such enthusiasm. But it's a special year in any case, as two major sailing Bicentenaries – one in the Irish Sea, the other in the Solent – will have added and poignant meaning, as the Centenaries a hundred years ago could not be celebrated because of the First World War.
As for Irish sailing generally, life moves on, there are new sailors on the water, successful young sailors are graduating to the next stage of their rapidly developing careers, and established stars continue to plan fresh campaigns, for sailing is indeed a sport for life.
Then too, new fixtures successfully introduced in 2014 will require nurturing, tuning and encouragement if they are to fulfil their potential in the coming year, while at the same time there's always extra effort needed to give proper support to established fixtures, which have to live with the reality that they might wilt through being taken for granted. Both new and longer-established boat classes will need continued enthusiastic involvement, and our well-loved classics and traditional craft must be cherished and sailed, for lack of use is the real enemy of boats, whether old or new.
As for the major administrative initiatives introduced in 2014, they will need constant monitoring, but deserve full support from the sailing and boating community at large, for it was in response to a grass-roots initiative that the radical and very necessary reforms of the Irish Sailing Association were undertaken. Those appointed to undertake the root-and-branch reform of the national authority have done so with commendable dispatch, so it is now the duty of the rest of us to support their continuing efforts. And we can best do that by enjoying our boats and our sailing and time afloat in its myriad of interests, while encouraging others to do the same. W M Nixon outlines on what the coming year may bring.
One thing at least is certain for the coming season afloat during 2015 in most of Europe. It will not mark any significant sailing Centenaries. Instead, we are immersed in four years of remembering the Great War of 1914-1918 a hundred years on, with all the added twists of that period's longer historical narrative in Ireland. In such a context, it may seem frivolous to point out that sports like yachting have no great Centenaries to mark at all in 2015. But this minor off-screen fact is a reminder of the all-involving horror and obscenity of total warfare on an industrial scale. It obliterated anything like normal life.
Yet as recreational sailing had been going on in some sort of organised form for hundreds of years – albeit in a fairly rudimentary way in its earliest years in the 16th Century – there may well have been several important dates to be marked during the time of the Great War itself, but they were allowed to pass as there was no sport afloat, while civilian life ashore was very subdued.
And in Ireland, with the Troubles persisting for four years after the end of the Great War until 1922, the Bicentenary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1920 was to be a muted affair – the official History of the Royal Cork Yacht Club (published 2005) tells us: "Plans for a special dinner to celebrate the club's bicentenary in 1920 had to be cancelled, probably because of the disturbed conditions in the country"
So the idea of celebrating the Centenary of the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in 1915 at the height of the international war - other than in a rather solemn shorebound way - would have been unthinkable. But that in turn fuels the celebrations when the peacefulgood times roll again. Thus the Royal Cork Yacht Club, having been unable to celebrate its Bicentenary in 1920, went on to have a fabulous two-year Quarter Millennium celebration in 1969-70. And as the RYS couldn't have a proper party in 1915, there's no doubt that the up-coming Bicentenary in 2015 will be the nucleus of international sailing's megafest-of-the-year.
There are of course several clubs which pre-dated the Squadron when it was founded in 1815. And there are many whose members outshine the small membership of the RYS in the breadth and energy of their sailing. But for 2015, let's just acknowledge that the prestigious Squadron has been at the heart of sailing history for a very long time, while their clubhouse's location right on the Solent at Cowes is so central that when any great Solent-related events are under way, the Squadron is in the middle of the story.
Thus it was on the Squadron lawn that in July that the Irish team celebrated their epic Commodore's Cup victory at the end of July 2014. And it will be towards the Squadron and its Bicentenary that the fleet will be racing in 2015's west-east Transatlantic Race. And then it will be the firing of the cannons from the historic Squadron battery which will signal the start of the 46th Fastnet Race on 16th August 2015.
Party time at the Royal Yacht Squadron – the Irish team and their management gather to celebrate victory in the Commodore's Cup at the Squadron Castle in Cowes on August 1st 2014
There'll be many Irish boats involved, and the best-placed of them at the finish will be the winner of the Gull Salver, currently held by Martin Breen's Reflex 38 Lynx from Galway Bay SC, which was skippered to success by Aodhan FitzGerald in 2013's race. It's a coveted trophy, instituted to honour the memory of Harry Donegan of Cork and his famous cutter Gull, which was one of seven boats which inaugurated the Fastnet Race in 1925, and placed third. Since then, Irish Fastneteers have frequently been in the great race's top places, and best of all was in 2007 when Ger O'Rourke's Cookson 50 Chieftain out of Kilrush, sailing under the burgee of the revived Royal Western of Ireland YC, came sweeping in to the finish line at Plymouth to win the Fastnet Race
One of the greatest moments in Irish sailing history – Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain sweeps towards the finish line to become the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2007. Photo: Rolex
Just the spot for a great Tricentenary celebration - the very complete sailing facilities provided jointly by the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Crosshaven will become a world focus in 2020 with the Club's 300th anniversary. Photo: Bob Bateman
The realisation that 2015 sees this significant RYS Bicentenary is a timely reminder that the Royal Cork's Tricentenary is only five years down the line. They're five years which will be gone in a flash, and already behind-the-scenes moves are afoot to ensure that the national sailing programme will properly facilitate the extraordinary anniversary being celebrated in Crosshaven in 2020.
But meanwhile other Irish sailing centres have their own regular programmes to operate in the intervening four years, and in terms of numbers and scale there's no doubt the top event in Ireland in 2015 will be the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 9th to 12th July.
Anyone – and there were many - who took part in this unique "suburban sailfest" in 2013 will know that the VDLR has come of age. It's an event which is comfortable with itself while at the same time being always in development and evolution mode. Each staging of this remarkable Dublin Bay happening sees lessons being learnt and implemented even while the multi-class racing is under way on several courses. And in the two year gap before the next staging, the experience gained is closely analysed and the programme refined to further improve the sport in every area.
You get some idea of the sheer depth of racing experience in Dun Laoghaire by noting that the Chairman of the 2015 Committee is Tim Goodbody, with Martin Byrne as Vice Chairman while the Race Director is Con Murphy. And those three sailing megastars are just the peak of a mountain of race administration experience which is being drawn in from all over Ireland to ensure that the fleet of 400-plus boats gets the best sport possible.
The first regatta in 1828 at the new harbour at Dun Laoghaire, which will be the setting for Ireland's biggest event in 2015, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 9th to 12th July.
While there'll be keenly participating boats from all over Ireland as well as Scotland, England and Wales, the setup of Dublin Bay being right on the city's doorstep means that it's the locals who would pose an administrative problem for a less experienced team. As the dates for the VDLR approached in 2013, the weather forecast steadily improved, and thanks to the Regatta's "extra long weekend" format, the sudden arrival of summer meant that a host of boats from the greater Dublin area came in as last minute entries, their owners and crews managing to scrape the extra day-and-a-half needed off work. It's a scenario which would put an overstretched administration off course, but the VDLR team took it calmly in their stride, and the result was a successful summer festival of sunlit sails and great sport, with maybe two thousand taking part.
This year there's a more structured cross-channel involvement, as the venerable Royal Dee YC in Cheshire has leapt to life to celebrate its Bicentenary. Founded as the Dee Yacht Club in 1815 with the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it didn't get the Royal seal until 1947, but nevertheless claims to be older than the RYS. With growing fleets in North Wales and the Mersey, it has put together a Bicentennial Royal Dee Irish Sea Offshore Championship linked closely to ISORA, which will bring the fleet across to Ireland to take in four offshore day races sailed as part of VDLR 2015.
Irish National Championships which will be part of the VDLR 2015 programme include the J/109s, the RS Elites, the Beneteau First 21s, and the Wayfarers, while the Leinster GP 14 Championship is also included as an integral part of the Regatta.
Party time in Dun Laoghaire – the Royal Irish YC during VDLR 2013. Photo: W M Nixon
As for Ireland's classic clinker-built vintage classes, one of the pleasantest surprises in VDLR 2013 was the large turnout of Mermaids, which had superb racing on the course area in the northwest corner of Dublin Bay. Despite having been born as the Dublin Bay SC Mermaid in 1932, this class of 17ft super-dinghies is no longer included in the regular DBSC programme owing to shortage of numbers for weekly turnouts. But it seems that as far as the VDLR is concerned, the Mermaid is now an event boat, and the fleets still thriving at other centres, together with some of the dormant Dublin Bay craft, bestirred themselves for the four days to enjoy good sailing for more than three dozen boats, something which is highly likely to be repeated in 2015.
The even more venerable Water Wags, founded 1887 with the current boats dating from 1903, continue to thrive in Dun Laoghaire, and the word is they expect to have at least twenty boats in action, while another wooden classic, the Mylne-designed 25ft Glen keelboat, is 50 years and more in Dun Laoghaire, and looks forward to having at least twelve boats racing in 2015.
All these specialized and historic classes are in addition to the numerous cruiser-racers which continue to be the backbone of Dublin Bay sailing. And while many of them will see the VDLR 2015 as a highlight of the year, in turning to consider the overall national programme, we find a sport which is shaking off economic recession to get on with an extraordinary plethora of local, national and international sailing events.
The problem is that most events of significance hope to locate themselves in the peak sailing period from late May to early September, so clashes are almost inevitable, and if you're interested in several different kinds of sailing, the overall choices can be bewildering in their complexity and logistical challenges.
The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival attracts an eclectic fleet – included here are a Shannon Gandelow, a West Cork Mackerel Yawl, the ketch Sile a Do, and an Heir Island Lobster Yawl (left).
For instance, the variety of events now available for the traditional and classic boats – usually but not necessarily under the Old Gaffer umbrella – would keep anyone busy for most of the summer. It starts with the Baltimore Wooden Boat & Seafood Festival from Friday 22nd May to Sunday 24th May, which you'd think very early
in the season for someone faced with fitting out an old wooden boat in Ireland's climate, but somehow they do it.
Then on the East Coast for the early summer Bank Holiday Weekend from May 29th to June 2nd, there's the Old Gaffer gathering in Dublin Bay at Poolbeg Y&BC with the annual race for the Leinster Trophy in the bay on Saturday May 30th, the event then morphs into the Dublin Port Riverfest in the Liffey on Sunday May 31st, and finally it all concludes with the race for the Asgard Trophy back in the bay on Monday June 1st.
The annual Lambay Race at Howth, a regular fixture since 1904, has seen its course becoming increasingly complex in modern times in order to satisfy the desire of modern racers for competition on every possible point of sailing. But in 2014, to celebrate the Centenary of the Lynch family's Echo, the venerable Howth Seventeens were sent on the traditional course north from Howth Harbour through the sound inside Ireland's Eye, then on round Lambay leaving it to port, and then back south inside Ireland's Eye again to the finish at Howth pierheads.
This was such an attractive proposition for Old Gaffers and Seventeens alike that on the day an extra Classics Division was added to cater for ancient craft, and it hit the spot. This option will be offered again for 2015's Lambay Race (it's on Saturday June 6th), and the word is that Dickie Gomes's 1912-built 36ft yawl Ainmara will be coming down from Strangford Lough to defend her title after 94 years. 94 years? Yes indeed - she won the Lambay Race in spectacular style in 1921 when still under the ownership of her designer-builder John B Kearney.
After 94 years, Dickie Gomes's 36ft 1912-built yawl Ainmara (seen here on her home waters of Strangford Lough) hopes to return to defend the title in Howth's Lambay Race, which Ainmara won in 1921 while still in the ownership of her designer-builder John B Kearney. Photo: W M Nixon
The Old Gaffers attention then swings north as the Tall Ships are coming to Belfast from Thursday 2nd July to Sunday 5th July. This is going to be a serious biggie with those ships already signed up including a significant turnout of Class A vessels, which are square riggers and others of more than 40 metres in length. Belfast Lough lends itself particularly well to the Parade of Sail which follows a Tall Ships gathering, and in 2009 when they were last in the port they put in in a virtuoso display with the Dutch ship Europa in particular going to the trouble of getting herself over towards Whiteabbey in the northwest corner of the lough to allow her time get every stitch of sail set before proceeding seawards down-lough in colossal style, a much more impressive display than we've become accustomed to in Dublin, where the shape of Dublin Bay is such that it doesn't really provide the space for square riggers to set all cloth before getting out to sea.
The Tall Ship Europa shows how it should be done in Belfast Lough in 2009, taking time out to set full sail before she starts to gather power to make the proper input into the Parade of Sail.
Like Dublin, Belfast has shown it can be hospitable to Old Gaffers, and it was a very welcoming main port during the OGA Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company in 2013, so for 2015 the OGA National President Sean Walsh hopes to up the ante by persuading his members from all round the Irish Sea to gather in Belfast, and to add spice to the mix, he hopes to persuade the Howth 17s to put in an appearance as well, to sail with local one designs like the 1903 Belfast Lough Waverley Class, which have been experiencing a revival in recent years.
Old Gaffers in Belfast for their Golden Jubilee in 2013. The Irish Sea classic and traditional fleet will return to the same venue for the Tall Ships gathering in July 2015. Photo: W M Nixon
The Belfast Lough Waverley Class Lilias (built 1903) sailing at the Titanic Centre in Belfast. In 2015, the Waverleys will be joined by some of the 117-year-old Howth 17s to participate in the visit of the Tall Ships. Photo: W M Nixon
The Seventeens have made long treks as a class before – in 1998, five of them were road-trailed to Carrickfergus to mark the class's Centenary, with the first five boats built by Hilditch of Carrickfergus. So though they'd trailed there, they then sailed the 90 miles back to Howth, just as the first boats had done a hundred years earlier. Then in July 2003, fifteen of the Seventeens took part in the Glandore Classics Regatta thanks to a brilliantly organised exercise in logistics using a flotilla of low loaders which could take three boats apiece.
For all of Ireland's classic and traditional boats in 2015, and an international fleet too, Glandore is very much up on the radar again, as a special effort is being made by a GHYC team led by Donal Lynch to encourage increased numbers in the CH Marine Glandore Classic Regatta from Saturday July 18th through Friday July 24th. It's a date which certainly allows Old Gaffers plenty of time to get down from Belfast, indeed some may even consider the option of making the voyage northabout to take in a round Ireland cruise while they're at it. And as that great magnet of the Irish Sea classic and traditional scene, the Peel Traditional Boat Weekend, isn't until Friday 31st July to Sunday 2nd August, it's just about possible to factor that in as well.
Everything happening at once – the famous Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise was the star of the Glandore Classics in 2013, and as it was her own Centenary she celebrated by sailing round the Fastnet Rock – she has been a successful Fastnet Race participant several times. Photo: Brian Carlin
The Glandore Classics attracts an international fleet, and 2013's regatta included a class of Fife One Designs from the Menai Straits, all of them keen to party and showing it. 2015's Glandore Classics is from July 18th to 24th. Photo: Cormac O'Carroll
All this is already happening for the oldies with August barely under way, yet for modern cruiser-racers the potential programme for any keenly-sailed Irish boat is equally complex, attractive and challenging. The season starts as usual with the Scottish Series from Friday 23rd May to Monday 26th May – there'll probably still be snow on the mountains of Arran. They've gone back to their roots by starting with a feeder race from Gourock to the main regatta centre at Tarbert on Loch Fyne. "Going back to the roots" is something of a theme for this year's staging of the Clyde Cruising Club's main racing event, as this is the 40th Scottish Series. Come to think of it, there are so many important 40th anniversaries happening in sailing these days that we have the admit that the decade which brought us the full horror of wide lapels and flared trousers also contributed some lasting elements of the international sailing scene, indeed it could be said that the modern era in sailing really began about forty years ago.
Back in Ireland, the ISORA programme will be well under way by June, while the Lambay Race on June 6th can be looked at with more interest by several boats, as the biennial National YC Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race doesn't start until Friday June 12th . Last time round, there was a total fixtures clash between the two events, but in times before that hyper-keen sailors such as the Tyrrells of Arklow with Aquelina have been able to fit in both, indeed one year they did it so well they won both too, and were rightly acclaimed as the Afloat "Sailors of the Month" for their success.
For 2015, defending champion in the Dingle Race is Brian O'Sullivan of Tralee with the veteran Oyster 37 Amazing Grace, which came good in the end in 2013 with a new breeze which knocked pending leader Antix (Anthony O'Leary) off the winning perch. But with the 2015 Dingle Race acting as a useful if rather indirect feeder for the Covestone Asset Management Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale from June 24th to 28th, there could be all sorts of sharp boats lining up to take the prize, for the Sovereigns Cup 2015 includes the all-singing all-dancing ICRA Nats 2015.
The welcoming port – Kinsale is one of Ireland's most popular destinations, and in 2015 its hosts the combined Sovereigns /ICRA Nationals from June 24th to 28th.
Perfect sailing – racing in the Sovereigns at Kinsale in June 2013. Photo: Bob Bateman
Yet the timing of the combined Sovereigns/ICRA Nats is such that there's still plenty of time and space to get back to the Irish Sea for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, a reminder that much of the cruiser-racer programme for 2015 is in a neatly balanced and user-friendly timescale for everyone except perhaps those who wish to do either the entire ISORA or SCORA programme as well, so the problem mostly is going to be getting time off work.
And for the hyper-keen cruiser-racers, particularly those whose boats are small enough to be conveniently trailerable, further temptation looms in 2015 with the WIORA Championship at Galway Bay Sailing Club from July 22nd to 25th. For the fleets in the Shannon, on Tralee Bay, and in Clew Bay, it's a bit more than a day's sail away, but they'll be there to challenge Liam Byrne of the home club who won it in 2014 with his Corby 25 Tribal at Mayo SC in Clew Bay, while some top boats from more distant centres are expecting to trail to Galway Bay to spice up the competition.
By this stage of the season a more relaxed pace might be welcome, but the lively turnout of 80 boats in 2014 for the new-style four day Cork Dry Gin Calves Week out of Schull in early August (Tuesday 4th to Friday 7th August in 2015) suggests that for racing sailors, the best relaxation is more racing, but in a holiday setting. And yes, it has been noted that a true West Corkian sailing nut could indeed do all of Calves Week 2015, and still be on the Squadron line for the start of the Fasnet Race nine days later.
For dinghies in 2015, the big story is the debut of the newest version of the National 18, and just how popular will the Bray-bult foiling Moths become, while established classes will frame their programmes to accommodate sailors whose time is limited, also having to fit in with a national scene where the number of Race Officers with the necessary skills is inevitably a finite amount.
The big stories in Irish dinghy racing in 2015 will be the arrival of the new National 18s at Crosshaven, and the revival of Dinghy Week there in late August. Here, in the Autumn of 2013, To Dwyer and Nin O'Leary test sail the prototype of the new 18 on Cork Harbour. Photo: Bob Bateman
The new Third Generation (or maybe it's fourth or fifth generation) National 18 may have been designed in England by Phil Morrison, and is being built there too. But it was the very active Crosshaven fleet with the Royal Cork Yacht Club which led the charge towards a new boat, and when it came to stepping up to the plate to pay twelve substantial new boat deposits to move it all along after the prototype had been rigorously tested in Cork harbour last Autumn, it was the Crosshaven fleet that provided eight out of those twelve cheques.
So it's entirely appropriate that in August 2015, the dinghy focus will swing big time towards Crosshaven and a short form "Dinghy Week" from August 21st to 23rd. The old style Irish Dinghy Weeks – the last one was in 1970 – became victims of their own success, they just got too large. But the different classes became over-optimistic about their continuing individual growth prospects. Then the pendulum swung too far the other way, and dinghy classes were alone and their events shrinking. But a resurgence of club and championship dinghy sailing in Crosshaven during 2014, and a growing realization that over-reliance on single-handed dinghy classes does not necessarily produce a socially-adjusted national squad of junior sailors, resulted in some clear and creative thinking about developing two-handed boats, and reviving some old classes such as the Mirrors.
The form of this new Dinghy Week is still in the melting pot, but at least eight classes have responded with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the National 18s in Crosshaven will be such a focus of interest during 2015 with the first of the new boats making their debut that we'll have a season-long dinghy narrative developing on Cork Harbour, and the revived Dinghy Week will be just part of it.
As for inshore keelboats, the big one in terms of number is the combined British and Irish Championship Squib Championship at Howth from 27th June to 3rd July. The handy little Squibs are something of an oddity, as they serve so well as a cherished local class in so many Irish sailing centres that many owners see them as that, and nothing more – handy little club sailors to be raced on home waters a couple of times a week.
This means that when a major regional or national event is held, the number taking part will often only be a fraction of the total Irish Squib fleet. But for those who do make the trek, the competition is fierce and the racing great – in Howth, the high point was in 1996, when this "Nationals" event attracted a fleet of exactly a hundred boats, and on one never-to-be-forgotten morning, there they were, every last one of them on the starting line.
A hundred Squibs all in a row at Howth on Tuesday July 25th 1996. Photo: Mandy Murnane
The most recent Squib event of national stature was the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer on Lough Derg on the weekend of October 18th-19th, and the battle for the top places was between the Kinsale and Belfast Lough fleets, with James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale rounding out their year in style with a good win.
But with the Squibs in England undergoing a revival – they were the second-biggest One Design fleet in Cowes Week 2014, bested only by the legendary XODs – there's no doubt there's a strong challenge coming across channel, and any Irish boat getting into the top ten will be doing well.
As for that annual Autumn Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer, while it may have been much hampered by the spinoff from some ferocious weather out in the Atlantic with frustration for some of the sixty boats hoping to take part, it's an event of enormous potential, and the many who wish it well and have enjoyed it in the past will be ready and willing to do their part to make 2015's regatta a success.
The Squibs enjoying a lull in the strong winds during the Lough Derg Freshwater Regatta 2014. Overall winner was Mucky Duck (no 51, James Matthews & Rob Jacob, Kinsale YC). Photo: Gareth Craig
All these specialised and localized events planned for 2015 will be the continuing background music to the usual events of national sailing focus, everything from the selection of the Irish team for the Student Yachting Worlds to the Helmsmans Championships to the steady increase in pace while 2015 develops as the pre-Olympic year. As the year rolls along, other stories will develop too. So perhaps it's appropriate that we exit this review as we entered it. Just pause to remember now and again that, a hundred years ago, you simply couldn't have gone freely afloat like this for sport and recreation at all.
But we can't close on such a solemn note. Seasoned Solent sailors may have noted our header photo from Guido Cantini at the Panerai Classics Regatta was looking just slightly odd, for some reason difficult to pin down. Well, as it happens, the photo was sent to us back in September just as we were contemplating the excellent cleanup up done by Jason Hurley of Jason Hurley Design on the Mercedes-sponsored billboard photo of Howth 17s on the end wall of Howth Yacht Club. As with many photos taken over the RYS starting cannons, the Cantini pic included an obtrusive part of the Fawley Oil Refinery across on what Isle of Wight people call "the north island". Though Fawley has been there for yonks, it still has the look of a temporary structure. So we got Jason to treat as just that. But here for your edification is the true picture. You could get a taste for this sort of thing. What about brushing out Whitegate, lads? And as for Milford Haven.........
The unvarnished truth. In real life, the view from the RYS battery at Cowes can be slightly marred by the clutter of Fawley Refinery across the Solent on "the north island". Photo: Guido Cantini/Panerai
Read also: 2015 Irish Sailing Fixtures List (provisional)
#cruiserracing – The three day ICRA Nationals begin next Friday (June 13th) at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire. The entry of one hundred and eleven boats from all parts of Ireland will inevitably see the numbers emphasis on the large home fleet, but W M Nixon reckons this will make the visiting rock stars try even harder.
The Spirit 54 Soufriere would attract admiring attention in any fleet. And under Stephen O'Flaherty's enthusiastic ownership, she has frequently made the scene - often with racing success – in classic yacht events. Nevertheless, to take this long and shapely beauty into the cut and thrust of Ireland's top national cruiser-racer championship is a truly sporting gesture. But as a star in a James Bond movie, Soufriere is accustomed to mixing the rough with the smooth.
It was in Casino Royale (2006) that Soufriere made her debut on the Tinseltown stage, sailing serenely into Venice with Daniel Craig as 007 taking the helm from co-star Eva Green. But it's far from the sheltered waters of the Serenissima that Soufriere will be competing in six day's time, yet her crew and the hundreds of other sailors who are shaping up for the ICRA Nationals 2014 on Dublin Bay will be hoping for a happy mix of good weather and decent sailing breezes to put away some high quality sport.
With six days to go, forecasters are reluctant to firm up their opinions on the expected state of the fickle Irish weather, particularly as it operates in the peculiar climatic laboratory which is Dublin Bay. But the folk who put their faith in anticipated Polar Jetstream movements are encouraged by fairly clearcut suggestions that this indicator and activator of our meteorology may finally be moving northwards towards its proper summer position by next weekend. But whether or not it does so in time to significantly benefit the ICRA Nationals is currently a moot point.
Whatever, the most recent charts we've seen have been showing a marked tendency towards southwest to northwest winds six days hence. You might well think that would provide a steady breeze coming down the Liffey Valley and out across the bay for splendid sailing on relatively smooth water. But as dear old Dublin town heats up with the summer temperatures building towards Bloomsday on June 16th, all sorts of quirks can be introduced into the weather, with afternoon sea breezes with varying touches of east in them playing havoc across the underlying gradient.
As for the Jetstream, the least we can hope for is that it won't be lying across Ireland. Ideally, its underlying path will be swirling away northwards. But if it has settled down unseasonably far south to make life disagreeable in northwest Spain or even across France, then we might just get lucky, as Scotland was in 2012, when they'd superb weather while Ireland had an unpleasant summer with the Jetstream like a nasty girdle across Munster.
Either way, we can do nothing about it. But as last summer's late-forecast arrival of good weather in time for the four day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta showed, "Here Comes Summer!" is sailing's greatest recruiting slogan. Fleet numbers soared in a last minute rush, and boats which had spent the early part of the season with a shortage of hands found themselves almost embarassed by the arrival on board of willing crewpersons seeking any escape from the heat of the city.
ICRA boats being an altogether more serious proposition than casual local classes, it's likely that the total is pretty well fixed at this stage. But for those who batter around the high seas in weather good and bad from season's start in April, they surely deserve a reward in good sailing after a mix of 2014 weather which, so far, could most kindly be described as "interesting".
The ICRA Nationals 2014 are being hosted by the Royal Irish YC from their wellnigh perfect location within Dun Laoghaire marina, where their fine neo-classical building of 1851 vintage (it's the world's oldest complete purpose-designed yacht club premises) is conveniently positioned beside totally sheltered modern waterfront facilities, yet within easy reach of the open sailing waters of Dublin Bay.
The Royal Irish YC's prime location and historic clubhouse within Dun Laoghaire Marina's sheltered water provides a perfect location for hosting major keelboat events. Photo: W M Nixon
The club in turn have brought in sponsorship for the ICRA Nats from Teng Tools, a company whose management have been long involved in offshore racing success, with Alan Crosbie of TT sailing in this event aboard the vintage Mills-designed Quarter Tonner Quest, a boat of contemporary relevance whose history includes association with such luminaries of Irish sailing as Marcus Hutchinson and Gordon Maguire.
Thanks to Dublin Bay's time-honoured tradition of enthusiastically racing boats which in most other sailing areas would be seen only as cruisers, the entry list includes the usual mix of modern performance craft from builders such as X Yachts of Denmark, J Boats of America, Elan of Slovenia, Beneteau and Jeanneau of France, and Hanse and Bavaria of Germany, and they'll be lining up with venerable cruisers such as the vintage Nich 31 Saki and others such as Soufriere for whom success is a bonus to be treasured in the simple pleasure of sailing a comfortable much-loved boat.
The Nich 31 Saki is regularly raced in Dublin Bay, and for the ICRA Nationals she'll be competing in Class 4 against the likes of First 211s and a Hunter Sonata. Photo: David O'Brien
For those who are looking for razor-sharp virtually boat-for-boat racing, Class 1 is surely the place to be, where the active fleet of Dublin Bay J/109s, rating around the 1.015 to 1.017 mark, find themselves head to head with last year's ICRA Nats star performer, Philip Byrne's XP 33 Bon Exemple from the host club, whose helming lineup includes current Irish Champion Ben Duncan.
However, inter-area rivalry is a great spur to success, and the pride of Fingal, Pat Kelly's J/109 Storm from Rush SC, has several years of ICRA success under her belt, including the Boat of the Year title. Another 'out of Bay' challenger in the J/109s is Ian Nagle's Jelly Baby from the Royal Cork, so it will be wall-to-wall J/109s in Division 1, a formidable prospect for one of the smallest boat in the class, Denis Hewitt and partners' Mills 30CR Raptor, whose personnel includes top ICRA mover and shaker Fintan Cairns.
The J/109 has proven an ideal size for Dublin Bay and Irish Sea racing. Photo: David O'Brien
Father and son team of Neil and George Kenefick from Crosshaven will be campaigning their Quarter Tonner Tiger as Nathan Kirwan Trust during the ICRA Nats. Photo: Bob Bateman
The Dun Laoghaire emphasis in the fleet is an added peformance incentive for any visitors, and great things are expected in Division 3 from the Kenefick family's hot Quarter Tonner Tiger from Cork, which races this series as Nathan Kirwan Trust with former champion helm George Kenefick on the helm. Another visitor which has been making waves in the Irish Sea this year is the Shannon Estuary-based Dehler 34 Big Deal (Derek Dillon, Foynes YC), which has been scoring success in ISORA racing as part of the buildup to participation in the Round Ireland Race in three weeks time. The Dehler 34 has been around since 1980 or so, but this well-engineered cruiser-racer has deservedly proven an enduring success in Irish waters.
Further down the size scale, there's an impressive turnout of Corby 25s racing against Big Deal in Division 2 where winning will be an impressive notch in the bedpost as the lineup includes Anthony Gore-Grimes' regularly successful X 302 Dux from Howth, while Division 3 sees the continuing friendly (well, fairly friendly) war between vintage Quarter Tonners and J/24s such as Flor O'Driscoll's Hard on Port.
Anthony Gore-Grimes' X 302 Dux has been a regular and successful participant in ICRA events for many years. Photo: Bob Bateman
As for the Corinthians sailing non-spinnaker in Divisions 5 & 6, Eastsiders are pinning their hopes on the two extra-keen Howth boats. David Sargent's Elan 33 Indulgence, and the veteran Club Shamrock Demelza aboard which Windsor Laudan and Steffi Ennis have turned white-sail racing into an art, and a very successful one at that.
Transparency is all. George Sisk and his seasoned crew aboard the Farr 42 WOW will be racing with the second-highest rating in the fleet. Photo: W M Nixon
Up among the biggies in Division 0, Soufriere at 54ft is longest of all, and the highest rated at 1.135, but close astern is George Sisk's Farr 42 WOW, which rates 1.124. This provides a challenge for her senior crew, though we're assured that WOW doesn't stand for "We Ould Wans". Quite. There's a good outside challenge here with Denise Phelan's potent Mills 36 Jump Juice from Cork, the XP38i Roxstar (Findlay & Anderson) from the Clyde, the Corby 40 Converting Machine (Dave Cummaford) from Pwllheli, the pride of Arklow which is the Tyrell family's J/122 Aquelina, ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly's Mills 36 Crazy Horse from Howth, and Lynx, Martin Breen's Reflex 38 which sails thousands of sea miles, many of them with racing success, for the honour of Galway Bay SC.
The Tyrrell family's J/122 Aquelina from Artklow is an active contender throughout the season. Photo: W M Nixon
The main man. Nobby Reilly of Howth, Commodore of ICRA, at the helm of his Mills 36 Crazy Horse. Photo: Bob Bateman
Martin Breen's Reflex 38 Lynx from Galway, seen here racing round Ireland, will be hoping to add ICRA success to her established offshore achievements.
Thus the lineup is what you'd expect of a sailing community emerging from several years of economic recession. There are few if any brand new boats, only a small group are travelling any significant distance to take part, and within the local fleet, as with the visitors, there's a marked emphasis on well-loved boats which have been with their owners for quite some time, but are continuing to give excellent value and great sport for the day that's in it.
And finally, if you don't believe a word about Soufriere being in a James Bond movie, here's the clip from Casino Royale. Soufriere was already being built when the request for her use in the film came through. But who could decline such a thing? It's even better than having a genuine Beken photograph of your boat.
Once upon a time, back in 1990, I sailed into Venice and motored right up the crowded Grand Canal as far as the Rialto Bridge with the late great Brian Hegarty on the Hallberg Rassy 42 ketch Safari of Howth. We'd a better time of it than poor old James Bond. We didn't have to waste time with the distraction of writing resignation letters on the laptop. For we were on our holliers, and believe me, arriving in Venice in the morning sunshine on a fine cruising yacht merits your full attention. It is one of life's great and magical experiences.
Meanwhile, back in Dublin Bay, first gun in ICRA Nats 2014 is at 1055hrs Friday June 13th, racing continues through Sunday May 15th, right hand side of the boat continues to be starboard, and the wind being on it usually confers right of way.
ICRA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP 2014, 13th to 15th June 2014 ENTRIES (AS AT 6/6/14)
|Division||Sail No||Boat||Type of Boat||Club||IRC|
|0||IRL9852||Crazy Horse||Mills 36||HYC||1.084|
|0||IRL5718||Loose Change||IMX 40||RIYC||1.073|
|0||IRL1644||Lively Lady||First 44.7||RIYC||1.107|
|0||IRL2007||Jump Juice||Ker 37||RCYC||1.103|
|0||GBR6940R||Converting Machine||Corby 40||Pwllheli SC||1.095|
|0||GBR4041R||First Forty licks||First 40||East Down YC||1.080|
|0||GBR8038R||Roxstar||XP 38i||Clyde CC||1.077|
|1||EI1906||ZURI||Hanse 37||Carlingford SC||#N/A|
|1||IRL638||State O’ Chassis||Sigma 38||RIYC||#N/A|
|1||IRL3307||Rockabill V||Corby 33||RIYC||1.041|
|1||GBR8933R||Bon Exemple||XP 33||RIYC||1.016|
|1||IRL1129||Jump The Gun||J109||RIYC||1.014|
|1||GBR2620L||Fox in Sox||X 34||RIYC||1.003|
|1||IRL3471||Black Velvet||First 34.7||RIYC||1.001|
|2||IRL1310||After You Too||Beneteau 31.7||RStGYC||#N/A|
|2||GBR8747T||Movistar Bleu||Elan 333||Killyleagh YC||0.967|
|2||IRL7284||Red Rhum||Dehler DB1||RStGYC||0.967|
|2||IRL1188||Utopia||X 3/4 Ton||DL Marina||0.956|
|2||IRL8094||King One||Half Tonner||HYC||0.953|
|2||IRL6909||Extreme Reality||Beneteau 31.7||RIYC||0.952|
|2||IRL993||Prima Nocte||Beneteau 31.7||RIYC||0.950|
|2||IRL4170||SLACK ALICE||GK Westerly 34||WHSC||0.949|
|2||GBR66R||Checkmate XV||Humphreys Half Tonner||RStGYC||0.943|
|2||IRL5522||The Big Picture||Mg30||HYC||0.942|
|2||IRL3492||Big Deal||Dehler 34||Foynes YC||0.929|
|2||IRL521||Bendemeer||Beneteau First 325||RStGYC||0.925|
|3||GBR8148||Squawk||Sigma 33 ood||BYC/RUYC||#N/A|
|3||IRL4384||Django||J24||Lough Ree YC||#N/A|
|3||IRL5795||Black Sheep||Mustang 30||NYC||0.919|
|3||IRL4464||Springer||Sigma 33 ood||RStGYC||0.912|
|3||IRL4536||Elandra||Sigma 33||DL Marina||0.912|
|3||IRL4633||White Mischief||Sigma 33 ood||RIYC||0.911|
|3||IRL34218||Lady Rowena||Sadler 34||RStGYC||0.911|
|3||IRL999999||Nathan Kirwan Trust||1/4 ton||RCYC||0.907|
|3||IRL8188||Alliance II||Laser 28||HYC||0.896|
|3||IRL4533||Crazy Horse||J24||Sligo SC||0.887|
|3||IRL680||Euro Car Parks Kilcullen||J24||HYC||0.887|
|3||IRL4794||Hard on Port||J24||RStGYC||0.887|
|3||IRL9508||Huggy Bear||Impala 28ood||NYC||0.884|
|4||IRL1208||Capilano||Beneteau First 211||RIYC||#N/A|
|4||IRL2121||Chinook||Beneteau First 211||RIYC||#N/A|
|4||IRL2111||Syzrgy||Beneteau First 211||RStGYC||#N/A|
|4||IRL1689||Chouskikou||First 28||DL Marina||0.870|
|4||8245N||Asterix||Hunter Sonata||DL Marina||0.823|
|Non-spinnaker Corinthian Cup|
|5||IRL607||Effex II||First 35||RIYC||#N/A|
|5||IRL532||Orna||Grand Soleil 40||NYC||1.021|
|5||IRL3506||Just Jasmin||Bavaria Match 35||RIYC/DMYC||0.995|
|5||IRL1357||Humdinger||Sunfast 37||Carlingford SC||0.972|
|5||IRL1333||White Lotus||Elan 333||DL Marina||0.957|
|5||IRL3400||Brazen Hussy||Dufour 34||HYC||0.950|
|5||IRL5687||To Infinity and Beyond||Dehler 37 CR||RStGYC||0.949|
|6||IRL1217||The Great Escape||Bavaria 33||RIYC||#N/A|
|6||IRL1309||Syledis in blue||Beneteau oceanis clipper 323 LK||Bray SC||#N/A|
|6||IRL5013||Sweet Martini||She 31||RStGYC||#N/A|
|6||IRL966||More Mischief||Beneteau First 310||DL Marina||#N/A|
|6||IRL2860||Pure Magic||Feeling 286 Special||Bray SC||#N/A|
|6||IRL1166||Edenpark||Jeanneau Sun Odyssey||RIYC||0.977|
|6||IRL5643||Calypso||Beneteau Oceanis 361||RStGYC||0.928|
A PDF version of this entry list (with owners names) is available to download below
#VDLR2013 – Dun Laoghaire regatta prizewinners proudly showed off their just desserts at the Royal Irish Yacht Club yesterday evening following the conclusion of Ireland's biggest sailing event, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta on Dublin Bay.
In spite of an influx of over 120 visiting boats, key trophies are staying in the waterfront clubs.
- Royal St. George YC had success in seven classes, Royal Irish sailors won six, including IRC classes 1 and 3, and the National YC won four one design divisions. Howth picked up two wins in IRC non–spinnaker divisions.
Trophies were awarded in each of the 25 competing classes plus several premier awards.
The top overall prize, for the Volvo Trophy, went to the Class II IRC winner Checkmate XV, a 1985 vintage half tonner that has been extensively refitted.
Photos of VDLR 2013 prizewinners by Gareth Craig below and class results below:
A breakdown of overall results is below:
VDLR 2013 – OVERALL
IRC CLASS 0 1. Grand Cru II (J McGarry) 2. Zephyr (S Cowie) 3. Dark Angel (A Ackland)
IRC CLASS 1 Bon Exemple (X Yachts GB) 2. Now or Never 3 (N Sandford) 3. Rockabill V (P O'Higgins)
IRC CLASS 2 1. Checkmate XV (N Biggs) 2. Scenario Encore (S&J Fitton) 3. Tribal (L Burke)
IRC CLASS 3 1. Quest (Cunningham & Skerritt) 2. Kilcullen Euro Car Parks (Howth YC K25 Team) 3. Nyah (S Hyde)
J109 1. Joker II (J Maybury) 2. Storm II (P Kelly) 3. Jalapeno (Barrington/ Burke/ Phillips)
SIGMA 33 1. White Mischief (T Goodbody) 2. Leaky Roof (A Harper/ E&K Robertson) 3. Rupert (R&P Lovegrove)
BENETEAU 31.7 1. Levana (J Mitton) 2. Prospect (C Johnston) 3. Levante (M Leahy/ J Power)
IRC Coastal 1. Aquelina (S&J Tyrell) 2. Wow (G Sisk) 3. Mermaid IV (S Fitzpatrick)
NON-SPINNAKER 1 1. Bite the Bullet ( C Bermingham) 2. White Lotus (P Tully) 3. Orna (P Dilworth)
NON- SPINNAKER 2 1. Demelza (S Ennis) 2. Vespucci (S&K O'Regan) 3. Nauti-Gal (J&J Crawford)
Ruffian 23 1. Diane 2 (A Claffey/ C Helme) 2. Ruff Nuff (D Mitchell) 3. Bandit (Kirwan/ Cullen/ Brown)
Shipman 1. Curaglas (J Masterson) 2. Gusto (C Heath/ G Mills) 3. Whiterock (H Robinson)
SB20 1. Should Be? (M O'Connor) 2. BomChickaWahWah (J O' Driscoll) 3. Seriously Bonkers 3 (M Cuppage/ P Lee)
RS ELITE 1. Storm (J Gunning/ S Polly/ D Kelso) 2. Momentary Laps... (J Patterson) 3. Toucan (G&M Vaughan)
BENETEAU FIRST 21 1. Chinook (A Bradley/ P Morgan) 2. Yikes (J Conway) 3. Carna (S Spence)
DRAGON 1. Phantom (P Bowring/ D Williams) 2. Jaguar (M Byrne) 3. Diva (R&R Johnson/ R Goodbody)
Flying Fifteen 1. The Gruffalo (I Matthews) 2. Melliffluence (B Mulligan) 3. The Big Bow Wow (N Meagher/ N Matthews)
GLEN 1. Glenluce (R&D O'Connor) 2. Glendun (B Denham) 3. Glenariff (A Lee)
HOWTH 17 1. Isobel (B&C Turvey) 2. Oona (P Courtney) 3. Pauline (S O' Doherty/ E Ryan)
Fireball 1. Let's Get Messy (B Byrne) 2. Tipsey McStagger (C&J Clancy) 3. Goodness Gracious (L McKenna/ F Rowan)
IDRA 14 1. Starfish (A Carr/ D Kilroy) 2. Delos ii (P O'Neill) 3. Slipstream (J Ascoop/ H Keenan)
MERMAID 1. Tiller Girl (J O'Rourke) 2. Jill (P Smith/ P Mangan) 3. Endeavour (R Bannon)
SQUIB 1. Why not (D Jago) 2. Iola (F Whelan) 3. Perfection (J Fleming)
WATER WAG 1. Mollie (C MacAleavey) 2. Swift (G Kilroy) 3. Pansy (V Delaney)
Sail Fleet J80 Bay Challenge 1. More Mischief (E Doyle) 2. Katie (T Dunne/ F Fahy/ C McGuinness/ D Grace) 3. Xerxes (D O'Neill)
PY 1. IRL 171 426 (F Devlin) 2. IRL Return of the Milky Bar Kid (H Sheehy) 3. UG (R O'Leary)
#VDLR2013 – Light winds brought changes to the leaderboard in the penultimate day of Ireland's biggest sailing event, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta on Dublin Bay today.
A contender for tomorrow's (Sunday) top prize of the Volvo Boat of the Regatta trophy is Checkmate XV, the Nigel Biggs skippered vintage half–tonner that has a perfect score–line of five wins from five races in IRC class two.
A promising 6 to 8 knots of winds got racing for all 393 boats in 25 classes off to a solid start this morning and the hope was that the breeze – like the sunshine – would build during the day, but instead the wind had died across most of the eight courses by lunchtime.
Racing in one of the regatta's biggest fleets, Checkmate mastered some of the trickiest conditions of the event so far to take the 26-boat Volvo class 2 title with a race to spare.
'The winds have been light but reasonable steady on the race track. I think race officials have done very well to get races away', said Biggs, who gives the regatta a big thumbs up.
The Class 2 Irish National Champion from the Royal St. George Yacht Club finishes on 4 points with another Humphrey's design, the Welsh three quarter–tonner Scenario Encore (Stuart/Julie Fitton) five points adrift.
Class 2 has one race left to sail tomorrow morning on the Killiney course.
In Class one, one Royal Irish entry replaces another at the top of the leaderboard as Paul O'Higgin's Rockabill V scored two firsts this afternoon to unseat the recently crowned national champion, Bon Exemple, an Xp33, skippered by Colin Byrne. Rockabill goes into the final race tomorrow in Killiney with a two point cushion.
In the J109 class, Rush Sailing Club's Storm II has overhauled John Maybury's Joker II for the first time in the series. With one race left to sail tomorrow and both boats on 11 nett points, the Volvo and Irish title will be decided on Killiney Bay.
Scottish entry Zephyr (Steven Cowie) replaced Crazy Horse as overall leader in class zero, the latter having withdrawn following a collision on Friday afternoon. The First 40.7 Grand Cru II skippered by Jamie McGarry is on one point behind their Clyde club mates. Pre–regatta favourite Impetuous is fourth overall.
In the one design divisions, four wins out of five races is good enough for Tim Goodbody to lift the Sigma 33 cup. Second is Cove Sailing Club's Leaky Roof 2 (A.Harper/E.Robertson).
In what must be an indicator of form for next month's national championships at the same venue, the Royal St. George's Jean Mitton keeps her lead in the Beneteau 31.7s but is still under pressure from Isle of Man entry Eauvation.
In general, winds were lightest on the southside in Scotsman's Bay today and strongest on the Northside on the Sutton and Howth courses.
It meant a big gap between races for some but most classes completed their two race programmes, a notable exception being the SB20s, Dragons, Elites and Beneteau 21s who waited an hour for a second race only for it to be abandoned late in the afternoon.
Others, like the Fireball dinghies in Seapoint Bay, got all three races finished even if it meant a fair amount of course rotation as the wind tracked left. Leading the Fireballs is Brian Byrne and Steven Campion.
Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy together with her coach Rory Fitzpatrick are racing in the fast PY class of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta, the first time the foiling craft have raced in the biennial event.
Selected results only from VDLR Day Three:
IRC CLASS 0 1. Zephyr (S Cowie) 2. Grand Cru II (J McGarry) 3. Dark Angel (A Ackland)
IRC CLASS 1 1. Rockabill V (P O'Higgins) 2. Bon Exemple (X Yachts GB) 3. Now or Never 3 (N Sandford)
IRC CLASS 2 1. Checkmate XV (N Biggs) 2. Scenario Encore (S&J Fitton) 3. Tribal (L Burke)
IRC CLASS 3 1. Kilcullen Euro Car Parks (Howth YC K25 Team) 2. Quest (Cunningham & Skerritt) 3. Nyah (S Hyde)
J109 1. Storm II (P Kelly) 2. Joker II (J Maybury) 3. Jalapeno (Barrington/ Burke/ Phillips)
SIGMA 33 1. White Mischief (T Goodbody) 2. Leaky Roof (A Harper/ E&K Robertson) 3. Rupert (R&P Lovegrove)
BENETEAU 31.7 1. Levanna (J Mitton) 2. Euavation (J&D Corlett) 3. Prospect (C Johnston)
NON- SPINNAKER 2 1. Demelza (S Ennis) 2. Vespucci (S&K O'Regan) 3. Nauti-Gal (J&J Crawford)
SB20 1. Should Be? (M O' Connor) 2. BomChickaWahWah (J O' Driscoll) 3. Seriously Bonkers 3 (M Cuppage/ P Lee)
RS ELITE 1. Storm (J Gunning/ S Polly/ D Kelso) 2. Momentary Laps... (J Patterson) 3. Toucan (G&M Vaughan)
BENETEAU FIRST 21 1. Chinook (A Bradley/ P Morgan) 2. Small Wonder (H Kelly) 3. Yikes! (J Conway)
DRAGON 1. Phantom (P Bowring/ D Williams) 2. Jaguar (M Byrne) 3. Diva (R&R Johnson/ R Goodbody)
GLEN 1. Glenluce (R&D O'Connor) 2. Glendun (B Denham) 3. Glenshesk (G Walker/ L Faulkner/ A Henderson/ M Reid)
HOWTH 17 1. Pauline (S O' Doherty/ E Ryan) 2. Isobel (B&C Turvey) 3. Oona (P Courtney)
MERMAID 1. Tiller Girl (J O'Rourke) 2. Jill (P Smith/ P Mangan) 3. Gentoo (B McNally)
SQUIB 1. Iola (F Whelan) 2. Kerfuffle (J&H Craig) 3. Contender (D Todd)
WATER WAG 1. Swift (G Kilroy) 2. Pansy (V Delany) 3. Mollie (C Mac Aleavey)
PY 1. IRL 171 426 (F Devlin) 2. IRL Return of the Milky Bar Kid (H Sheehy) 3. UG (R O'Leary)
#vdlr2013 – Competitors from Dublin's Northside got some wry satisfaction in yesterday's racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta when several classes were brought north round the Baily to avail of the superior racing waters between Ireland's Eye and Lambay writes WM Nixon.There, well out of Dublin Bay's flukey breezes and nine clear miles north of the Dun Laoghaire pierheads, they found perfect sailing conditions with southeast breezes building to 15 knots as the day made on.
So in this happy fleet, how could you tell the top Northside boats from the Southside visitors? Easy, really. They T-bone each other, just when the going is at its best. It's as simple as that.
In the second race, beating out past the Stack on the northeast corner of Ireland's Eye with a fine beat in prospect with the ebb all the way back to Dun Laoghaire, ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly on the Mills 36 Crazy Horse (co-owned with Alan Chambers), was powering along on starboard, revelling in his own home waters off Howth. Things were looking good, the racing was great, condition were perfect, and Crazy Horse was contending for overall leader in Class 0 with a first in Thursday's race in Dublin Bay, and a fourth in Friday morning's race off the Fingal coast.
When things seem to good to be true, they usually are. Another Northside star - Pat Kelly's top J/109 Storm from Rush - came sweeping in on port, and was too late in taking avoiding action. She T-boned Crazy Horse on the port side, taking out the stanchions and guardrails, and inflicting enough hull damage to mark the end of the Horse's regatta.
Thankfully, no-one was injured, though it was too close for comfort for Crazy Horses's cockpit crew. But the shock for all involved will take some recovery. Our commiserations to everyone caught up in this crash.
#VDLR2013 – There is disappointment in class zero this morning following the withdrawal of the overall leader, Crazy Horse after a collision forced the Howth Yacht Club entry out of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta at the halfway stage. No one was hurt in the collision with J109 clubmate, Storm. Both boats were doing seven knots at the time of the incident.
It was a straight port and starboard collision, according to Crazy Horse skipper, Norbert Reilly.
The J109 fleet and the Class Zero fleet shared the same Howth course on day two of the event, the collision occurring in yesterday afternoon's second race.
'Storm was bearing off to duck us but hit us two feet from the transom, said Reilly, the current Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA).
The damage took off the pushpit, pulpit , rails and stanchions on the port side. Fortunately there was no waterline damage but the Mills 36 yacht has been withdrawn from the regatta and is now back at base in Howth marina, awaiting repairs.
Meanwhile, Stephen Cowie's Scottish entry Zephyr now takes over the lead in the 12–boat class.
#vdlr2013 – Racing sailors can be divided every which way. And one particular chasm emerges when you enthuse about the special pleasures to be derived from racing close along coastlines, and round rocks and islands, preferably with a bit of tide thrown in. Those of us who enjoy it find we're totally at variance with the sterile brigade on the other side of the great divide. These are people who are likely to be found in the ranks of Olympic sailing fans. They aspire to race on waters which are as current-free as possible, and well away from any wind deviation caused by bays and headlands.
They want clearly defined legs to prescribed formulae, and virtually unpolluted by the interaction of sea and land. But this interaction between sea and land is something which the rest of us find fascinating, and we feel it adds to the quality of the sport. Particularly so when the winds are light and summer is upon us. The Olympian idealists will want us to get out to sea, and remain pure if windless. But we coast crawlers, we lovers of local knowledge, have an often justified feeling that only by using the interaction of sea and land, and the tide too, will you be able to find enough breeze to provide for a spot of racing on a summer's day.
So it was that on Thursday's first day of racing for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, we had some sailing that was as enjoyable as any I can remember. Yet it didn't look promising. The breezes were light in the extreme. And I'd secured a berth aboard the First 44.7 Lively Lady, which is owned by Derek Martin and raced by his sons Rodney and Keith with a crew of friends.
It didn't look promising because the Lady is a true cruiser-racer, complete with all the comforts, and chiming in at a hefty 9 tons even in racing trim. And though Rod and Keith had elected to race in the IRC Coastal Class which avoided the short-legged events in the bay which are a pain in any boat over 40 feet, they found they'd been joined in their choice to go coastal by the likes of George Sisk with his Farr 42 WOW, James & Sheila Tyrrell's J/133 Aquelina, Vincent Farrell with the First 40.7 Tsunami, and Liam Coyne with the First 36.7 Lula Belle, racing boats which could expect to outperform Lively Lady in light conditions. As for bigger boats, they included Stephen O'Flaherty's classic Spirit 54 Soufriere, which once upon a time starred in a James Bond movie, and Seamus Fitzpatrick's impressive Mermaid IV, one of the stylish new Beneteau 50s which, for old salts like us, look for all the world like a giant Firefly dinghy.
The First 44.7, introduced by Beneteau in 2004, is a notably comfortable cruiser-racer
Stephen O'Flaherty's Soufriere is a "modern classic" Spirit 54 Photo: W M Nixon
So far from having a nice little jolly along the coast in leisurely style and back in time for tea, we were lined up against a good turnout of 16 boats, every last one of which was convinced this was her day. The course was a start out off Sandycove, then round the Muglins, south to the Killiney outfall buoy, then north to a race mark a mile or so west of the South Burford, then finally the Forty Foot race mark left to starboard, and finish back more or less to where we'd started. It was quite a big ask of 15.72 miles with a light southeast breeze and the tide just starting to ebb with vigour. But the breeze did seem to be building nicely as it curved round the headland at Bulloch, so Rodney set to his work punching it all into the keyboard.
Get it into the machine – with high hopes, the skipper keys the course into the plotter
Photo: W M Nixon
Crowded action before the start Photo: W M Nixon
Things were looking very sweet just after the start Photo W M Nixon
We liked the start so much we did it twice. First time was nicely away, comfortably on starboard with the fleet neatly tucked in to lee. But then after the prescribed interval, the VHF squawked we'd been over the line. I didn't hear one bad word said about this, which makes Lively Lady a most unusual boat. And as for getting himself out of it, despite the boats from the next class milling about back on the start line, Keith on the helm somehow managed to get this suddenly enormous 44 footer back across against the tide, and then deftly hardened up on port tack and cleared the committee boat by a whisker (she was the catamaran, Spirit of the Irish, and came within an ace of becoming two monohulls) and started making knots on port tack towards the Sandycove Martello tower.
Close racing with the Forty Foot at Sandycove Photo: W M Nixon
In racing in Dun Laoghaire regattas of yore, I'd always been told that when the wind is southeast, regardless of the tide if beating down towards Dalkey, you "go for the wall". Usually it would be in one of those grim rain-bearing sou'easterlies. But this was fun, sweeping in past little angling boats in the bright sunshine and close by the crowded Forty Foot at top of the tide. It was the way we'd meant to go once we'd settled onto the race. But with the recall, there was now real urgency to it, while the rest of the fleet, sluicing seaward on starboard tack with the ebb, somehow let us away with it for long enough to get Lively Lady back in the hunt.
Lively Lady is at her best when the breeze gets above 15 knots, but it never got anyowhere near that on the first day of the VDLR Photo: David O'Brien
In twenty-five minutes, she went from Zero to Hero. Let's face it, at our second start we were dog last. But there was just enough breeze to bring her to life. I'm told she really comes into her own when the breeze climbs above 15 knots, but along the shore we found just enough bite to get her moving well, and by keeping inshore of just about everyone else we could pick our way along the coast in clear wind, going great guns.
Going to the wall – by holding close along the shore in a private breeze, we got back in the hunt Photo: W M Nixon
It was a very neat calculation as to when to take the final tack right inshore to zap out on starboard along the northeast rocks off Dalkey Island for the turn at the Muglins. We were carrying private breeze by this stage, and closed in to the Muglins with only WOW and Soufriere still ahead. This is where an interesting bit of sailing became utterly fascinating. WOW was still quite well clear, but Soufriere only just got across on port, yet she seemed to be going well and was clearing the Muglins comfortably to shape her course on into Killiney Bay.
WOW is clear ahead of Soufriere south of the Muglins heading towards Killiney Bay Photo: W M Nixon
But in those tidal conditions, there were distinct tidal shadows south of both the Muglins and Dalkey Island. Normally their relative effects would be small, but in that light breeze, tide was everything. We'd tacked to keep ourselves well clear of Soufriere and out of WOW's lee. Soufriere looked to be doing the business, but then got into the tidal shadow downstream of the Muglins. Relatively speaking, she came to a halt, and soon was joined in her parking place by the First 40.7 Tsunami.
The tidal shadows to the south of the Muglins and Dalkey Island during the ebb play a significant role in racing in the area.
By the time Soufriere had got back into the south-going tide between the Muglins and Dalkey Island, we were abeam of her and quite well south. But then she found a stronger run of tide as she neared Dalkey Island, and seemed to be making hay. Alas, then she hit the much larger tidal shadow south of Dalkey Island, and its stopping effects were exacerbated by the local wind cushion. In other words, they were in both the tidal lee, and the localised calm usually found to weather of a steep coast. That was the end of Soufriere's race.
Meanwhile, with the wind lightening, other boats were coming along towards the Killiney turn with the help of the tide, which lessened the nearer you got to the mark, while the wind as usual was dying in Killiney Bay. But let's get this straight. The authorities don't like it being called the Killiney Outfall Buoy. It must be bad for property values in this elite area, or something like that. So they prefer it to be called the Shanganagh Buoy. That's what is says on the tin. And we can vouch for it, as we spent some time studying it.
We spent quite some time confirming that it is officially called the Shanganagh Buoy. Photo: W M Nixon
Transparent foredeck work on WOW. Photo; W M Nixon
Aquelina was the first to catch the short-lived new breze. Photo: W M Nixon
In fact, we anchored beside it the better to view it in detail, and so did several others as the tide, coupled with the total absence of wind, wanted to carry us down to the next outfall buoy of Bray. You can have too many outfall buoys in one day, so we kedged. But the water authorities will be delighted to hear that, despite the clearly advertised proximity of the outfall, several crews from most boats went for a swim. Their shipmates meanwhile struggled to harness every zephyr, and when Aquelina's gossamer-like gennaker started doing the business, she headed purposefully for the next though distant mark close aboard WOW, with Lively Lady struggling to stay in the game setting a plain bog standard spinnaker which has sailed many miles since Des McWilliam made it a very long time ago.
The veteran spinnaker did its best to keep us in the hunt Photo: W M Nixon
The new Beneteau 50 looked to old salts like a giant Firefly as she glided along in Killiney Bay Photo: W M Nixon
By this stage it was all a matter of sportsmanlike gestures, for although the committee boat had been re-stationed to finish a shortened course at the race buoy out towards the South Burford, there was no way anyone in our class was going to get there within the 1900 hrs time limit. Truly, the Curse of Killiney was upon us. For, way beyond the Muglins of happy memories, we could see hundreds of sails flitting hither and thither as the other fleets enjoyed a sailable wind in the bay, and they managed a complete programme despite the light breezes.
As for ourselves, we were later asked to furnish our times at the Killiney Shanganagh whatever buoy. Rodney being a righteous and devoted adherent to the Code of the Martins, he had taken the time we'd actually rounded the buoy. That was maybe all of an hour after our bow had actually passed it when heading south. Had that earlier time been taken by a RIB thoughtfully placed at Shanganagh to provide a finish line (ain't hindsight a wonderful thing), who knows, but we might even have won.
But better a moment as an eagle than a day as a sheep. We'd had our glorious 25 minutes between our second start and the turn at the Muglins, and we'd been very much in the hunt at Shanganagh. We returned to a harbour resplendent in summer style, with rowing skiffs in action (do all the women crews have male cox'ns?) and for the first time ever, I saw the historic Waverley 18 footer Durward – the smallest keelboat ever to sail round Ireland – sailing in the harbour instead of lying to her moorings as usual off the George. It was truly summertime, something in itself to be celebrated.
Dun Laoghaire on a summer evening. Do the female skiff crews only allow themselves to be shouted at by male coxes? Photo: W M Nixon
Heroine of the high seas – the Ireland-girdling 18-footer Durward out for a summer sail Photo: W M Nixon
End of an intriguing day afloat – and "still talking to each other". Brothers Keith and Rod Martin with Lively Lady. Photo: W M Nixon
Lively Lady's home club is the Irish, and we got there to find the place heaving. As well it might - they'd every right to party, as RIYC boats had won in half a dozen classes. Despite their own success, some kindly souls were even prepared to listen to an abridged account of how Lively lady went from Zero to Hero in 25 minutes flat.. We in turn listened to thoughtfully detailed accounts of their own wonderful achievements afloat. And everybody was having a lovely time.
"The joint was heaving". Party time at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire on the first evening of the VDLR. Nobby Reilly & Alan Chambers Crazy Horse (foreground) had won Class 0 racing in the bay. Photo: W M Nixon
#vdlr2013 – Ireland's largest sailing event reaches the half way stage tomorrow (Saturday) and already a number of potential champions are emerging in cruiser, one design and dinghy classes in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta on Dublin Bay.
With all classes aiming for either two or three races today, results in the 390-boat fleet were still being computed in some classes at 7pm last night.
It is clear, however, that Nigel Bigg's Humphrey's half tonner Checkmate XV had made short work of today's windward–leeward course to be the clear leader in the 26-boat IRC2 division, counting a 1,2,1.
The Royal St. George national champion is followed by Rob Humphrey's design, the Welsh three quarter tonner, Scenario Encore (Stuart and Julie Fitton).
There was relief this morning for organisers and competitors alike in this four day event that the strong inversion that has been partly responsible for the lack of sea breezes has moved away, allowing for seven to 12–knot southerly wind.
It meant that despite a flukey start, so far the regatta has completed the bulk of the schedule for all its 25 classes on eight separate Dublin Bay courses but as any sailor in contention will testify there is still a long way to go in this biennial event.
In Class zero, a collision has cost early leader Crazy Horse from Howth dearly with the Mills 36 design being withdrawn.
In Class 1, the X-yachts works boat Bon Exemple - the Irish National Champion – was leading Now or Never III, a visiting Mat 1010 from Scotland in a fleet of 16 after two races sailed.
Likewise, after two races in the J109 class, racing today on the Howth course, John Maybury still leads but Howth entry Storm (Pat Kelly) took a well earned race win this morning. As well as VDLR honours, the J109 crews are also racing for the Irish title.
Jean Mitton's Beneteau 31.7 has moved in to the lead with two race wins today in the 17-boat fleet that includes Isle of Man champion entry, Eauvation, skippered by Jason Corlett of Douglas Bay.
Three wins from five races gives Ian Mathews and Chris Russell of the National Yacht Club the lead by 4 nett points in the 19-boat Flying Fifteen class from club mates Niall Meagher and Nicki Matthews.
Racing as a class for the first time, the Beneteau 21s (coined the new Dublin Bay 21 in WM Nixon's recent blog) sailed three races today on the North course in the vicinity of New Ross buoy. The 14-boat fleet is led by Royal Irish yacht Chinook (Andrew Bradley and Paul Morgan) who have a margin of three points over clubmate Joe Conway in Yikes.
In the dinghy fleets, the Fireballs enjoyed two close races and a third race which was more spread out. After five races sailed Clancy Brothers have broken the tie for first place but only by a point from Brian Byrne and Stephen Campion.
Accoding to forecasters, it now looks like the high pressure will slowly slide off to the south west over the weekend it will allow for slightly stronger thermal breezes to develop for racing tomorrow and the final races on Sunday morning.
Disappointingly for a new division, after two days of racing there were still no results posted for the IRC coastal class by 7pm this evening.
There are reported glitches too in the computation of the PY results.
#vdlr2013 – As all Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta competitors know only too well, the centre of this high pressure is bang over the top of Dublin Bay today, but fortunately it looks like it will slowly slide off to the south west over the weekend allowing for slightly stronger thermal breezes to develop. That's according to top UK forecaster Mike Broughton this lunch time.
Overall, the good news is that the front that looked like it was going to impinge on our lovely summer in Dublin in the early part of next week now looks like it won't ever make it and the high looks set to move east again giving us yet more sunshine.
According to Broughton, who runs the specialist sailing forecast website winningwind.com, a strong inversion has been partly responsible for the lack of sea breezes, but hopefully we should see 7-12 knot south east winds today and tomorrow.
#vdlr2013 – Dun Laoghaire regatta organisers will take a fresh look at the coastal course today in view of this morning's light wind forecast and the fact yesterday's finishers in this new 16-boat division did not get back to harbour until well after 7.30pm, an hour or more after the rest of the 393-boat fleet. 'Even the race office had gone home!', joked one competitor last night.
The coastal series accommodate those offshore sailors and larger cruisers who prefer to take part in races where the distances between marks are greater.
Last night, all times taken were declarations recorded by the competitors themselves at the last mark on the course, a feature of some offshore courses such as the ISORA series.
The first course: Muglins, Killiney, the Volvo Regatta mark, XC60, and the 40 foot mark, off Sandycove point was modest enough but proved a leg too far.
Due to the light conditions the fleet, with a handicap rating span of 15 minutes in the hour, all ended up rafted together, waiting for the time limit to arrive so that times rounding Killiney mark would apply.
This morning, there are moves afoot to have the regatta's Sailing Instructions changed so any boat retiring would be recorded to their last mark.
The new division is designed to facilitate a large number of standard cruiser designs not suited to prevailing tight inshore courses and who cannot compete on handicap with some of the out and out racing machines but yesterday the longer course just ran out of wind.