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#WEATHER - The Irish Times reports on video of what appears to be an over-water tornado or 'seaspout' off the coast of Sligo last week.

The video above was captured at Rosses Point on the afternoon of Monday 7 May by Graeme Salter.

“I’ve been going to Rosses Point since I was a child and have seen some mad weather, but never anything like this,” he said.

Seaspouts or waterspouts are most often associated with dark, flat-bottomed cumulus cloud formations. They are not true tornados in the strictest sense, as they are not formed by the rotating updraft of a supercell thunderstorm.

The footage is the second occurrence of a waterspout in Ireland in recent weeks, following the mini-twister filmed at Bray Head last month as a massive thunder, lighting and hail storm hit the capital, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Weather

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has confirmed a new humpback whale sighting, this time in Northern Ireland.

According to the IWDG, this is the third consecutive year that a humpback whale has been spotted in Northern Irish waters, with this sighting being only the fourth ever validated record for the species in the North.

IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley described it as "an important development [that] highlights a trend towards increased sightings of this large baleen whale species in Irish waters."

He also remarked on the "unusual" location of the sighting in the fast-running waters of the Strangford Narrows at the Ards Peninsula.

The discovery comes just a week after confirmed sighting of two humpback whales at the opposite end of the island of Ireland, off Galley Head in West Cork, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#IRISH HARBOURS - "Draconian" new charges for harbour users could bring an end to boat trips to see Dingle's most famous resident, according to The Irish Times.

Fungie the dolphin has been a mainstay of Dingle harbour for almost 30 years, but boat trips to visit him could cease to operate "with immediate effect" if charges of up to €9,000 are imposed "in advance" of the season.

Currently operators in the Dingle Boatmen's Association pay around €2,500 to use the harbour at the end of each season.

Association chairman Jimmy Flannery called on anyone working in tourism in Ireland to make submissions to the public consultation before the deadline next Friday 20 April.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, yacht owners are also up in arms over the new charges proposed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney that could see their rates hiked by an incredible 800 per cent.

And the news comes not long after fellow Kerry harbour users protested proposed new bylaws to regulate their activities and impose new charges.

Published in Irish Harbours

#SURFING - A young surfer from Lahinch in Co Clare is in the running for the 'biggest wave' prize in the 2012 Billabong XXL contest for his monster ride at Mullaghmore Head, The Irish Times reports.

Ollie O'Flaherty, 24, is nominated along with Devon's Andrew Cotton for the massive surf they caught off Co Sligo on 8 March last.

It was the first visit to the world-class big wave spot by O'Flaherty, a science student at NUI Galway who is a veteran of the Co Clare scene.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, it was Cotton who tackled the biggest wave on that day - a giant 50-footer - as some of the world's top surfers took advantage of the Viking swell.

Also nominated for the $50,000 (€38,280) prize is Irish-American surfer Garrett McNamara, who last year rode what is being called the biggest wave ever surfed in the world, a 90-foot goliath off Nazaré in Portugal.

According to the Irish Independent, O'Flaherty has put out a call for sponsorship so he can attend the awards ceremony next month.

"It's a massive honor to be able to represent Ireland," he said, but added that he is "pretty much on the breadline from what I'm doing".

Should he win, the Lahinch native said he intends to "put every cent back into surfing" and replace his seven broken boards.

The winners will be announced at the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards in Anaheim, California on 4 May.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - Irish surf classifieds website Surfseekers.ie has compiled some stunning images from March's world-class surfing conditions.

From the biggest rollers in years off Mullaghmore Head in Co Sligo to the Cliffs of Moher and even as far south as Kerry, Ireland has seen some of its best surf in a long time - and things are certainly looking up for an exciting summer on the waves.

Published in Surfing

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Has the Groupama sailing team adopted a new simplified watch system, keeping just one man on deck to handle the vessel - as demonstrated by Ireland's Damian Foxall in the video above?

Don't worry - it's just a prank for April Fool's Day yesterday!

The yacht and its full compliment of crew have rounded Cape Horn and are currently in overall second place as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet heads to Itajaí in Brazil on the fifth leg and longest passage of the race.

Groupama and PUMA are currently battling for first place on the leg, with Telefónica hot on their heels after making up 180 miles in just 36 hours with speeds near double those of the frontrunners.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#SURFING - It may have been too late for the postponed Tow-In Surf Session, but the big waves at Mullaghmore Head finally picked up this week - and some of the world's top surfers were there to take advantage of the swell.

As The Irish Times reports, an extreme weather system nicknamed the 'Viking storm' helped produced monster rollers on Thursday that are the biggest the area has seen in 15 years.

Devon surfer Andrew 'Cotty' Cotton rode the biggest wave when he tackled a 50ft giant, assisted by his Irish tow-in partner Al Mennie, while Brit boarder Tom Butler recorded the biggest barrel.

Richie Fitzgerald described the scene as "very calculated madness", noting that a safety crew was on hand as the 16-strong group took on the "huge, unruly and very dangerous swell".

The Irish Times has much more on the story, while Surfer Today has more video of the last winter swell at Mullaghmore Head HERE.

Published in Surfing

#SURFING - Rip Curl has posted some stunning video of Irish-Australian surfing pro Mick Fanning and his teammates captured using a Matrix-style '30 camera array'.

The technique, described by Rip Curl as a "a technological world first", uses a line of GoPro HD video cameras shooting consistently as surfers ride towards and past it, capturing unique "frozen moments of time" that create a virtual 3D effect.

See more video of the Rip Curl team's 'Mirage Moments' on YouTube HERE.

Published in Surfing

#DIVING - Deep sea diver Sean McGahern is currently attempting the world record for cold water open sea diving in Malta.

The Times of Malta reports that McGahern - who was born in England but raised in Ireland before moving to Malta 17 years ago - entered the water at the Starfish Diving School before midnight last night, hoping to break the standing record of 11 hours and 46 minutes.

His previous attempt at the record was ended little more than an hour short of the record due to bad weather, but today's clear forecast has buoyed his confidence.

McGahern plans to pass the time by cleaning the seabed, assisted by a team of 16 safety divers, but he also intended to catch some sleep below the depths.

“I’ve slept underwater before," he said. "it’s not as difficult as you might think.”

McGahern, who previously held the warm water open sea dive record, is undertaking the challenge for Dar tal-Providenza, a home for the disabled on the Mediterranean island.

Published in Diving

#KITESURFING - Dublin kitesurfing pro Ross Harte takes our breath away with this video shot from the top of his 12-metre kite, via WorldIrish.

The 30 knot winds are clearly no problem for this daredevil as he catches some big air from the blue surf.

Published in Kitesurfing
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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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