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#MARINE WILDLIFE - The News & Star reports that four graduate students have joined an 11-month scheme run by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust to learn more about marine conservation in the Irish Sea.

The programme, which includes classes and on-the-job training, will see them work at the South Walney Nature Reserve near Barrow-in-Furness, which is designatied as a Site of Specific Scientific Intrest, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area.

“The graduates will play a pivotal role in helping people to understand and value the wildlife that exists in the Irish Sea and what role they can play in both protecting and enjoying it," said programme manager Emily Baxter.

Late last year, the find of a rare leatherback turtle washed up in Cumbria was taken as a sign that the Irish Sea is hiding an unknown bounty of marine wildlife, and reinforced calls for the region to be designanted as a Marine Conservation Zone.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#COASTAL NOTES - It's an alarming figure by any means - new research shows that the level of the Irish Sea will rise by almost half a metre by the end of the century, leading to much more severe flooding along the east coast and elsewhere.

The results of research published by the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, as reported by The Irish Times, show that sea level rises of up to 47cm are not out of the question.

They also indicate that sea surface temperatures will increase by nearly 2 degrees, which would have serious implications for marine wildlife and the fishing industry.

Dr Mike Hartnett of the Tyan Institute said the new research - from 3D model-based projections of the seas around Ireland - is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and confirms previous "tentative" studies in the area.

The news comes after national weather forecaster Met Éireann announced an incredible 0.75 degree rise in average temperature in Ireland - and a 5% increase in rainfall - over the past two decades alone.

And with recent flooding in Cork and Belfast causing millions of euro worth of damage, the real implications of such figures is coming closer to home.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Blackpool could have its own 'Great Barrier Reef' if proposals to set up Marine Conservations Zones in the Irish Sea get the green light, as the Blackpool Gazette reports.

Earlier this month the Lancashire Wildlife Trust launched a campaign to recruit ‘Friends of Marine Conservation Zones’, hoping to inspire locals to support marine wildlife habitats along England and Wales' Irish Sea coastlines, and push the British government to make a firm commitment on all 127 proposed marine conservation zones.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Westminster has postponed making a decision on the network of planned marine sanctuaries till at least next year, and some conservation groups are concerned that fewer than a quarter of the proposed zones will be enacted by law.

"Time is running out for us to save our fragile seas," said Sir David Attenborough, vice president of The Wildlife Trusts, who urged the British government "to designate the full list of 127 sites now, for day by day the wildlife in these sites is being destroyed and damaged."

The Blackpool Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#LIFEBOATS - IOM Today reports that the Isle of Man's Peel RNLI lifeboat crew went to the rescue of the pleasure craft Flying Fox, which suffered an engine room fire some 22 miles off the island's west coast.

Flying Fox was en route from Strangford to Holyhead with one person on board when the fire occurred early yesterday, leaving the 34-foot Nelson-type vessel stranded in the Irish Sea.

Relief lifeboat Bingo Lifeline - replacing the stations main lifeboat, Ruby Cleary, which is currently in Holyhead for a refit - was dispatched with a volunteer crew, who found the boat after a "difficult" search.

The vessel was taken in tow back to Peel in moderate seas. No injuries were reported.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

youthsailing – Schools from Ynys Môn (Isle of Anglesey) and Gwynedd have won praise from Welsh Government member Ieuan Wyn Jones for spearheading a revolutionary approach to education, which makes the marine environment a key part of learning.

At the Ysgol y Môr (School of the Sea) Race Day 2012, at the Plas Menai National Watersports Centre near Caernarfon, more than 200 children from 13 local schools demonstrated how they have developed their knowledge of subjects ranging from renewable energy technology to marine biology, as well as watersport skills, by taking part in the first initiative of its kind in the UK, being piloted over three years.

Mr Wyn Jones said: "I am very impressed with this pilot project. The schools have clearly got a great deal out of it and I want to work with the Ysgol y Môr team to see how we can develop it further."

Sponsored by nuclear power technology specialists EnergySolutions, who own Magnox Ltd, the day featured an inter-schools regatta of sailing, kayaking and windsurfing races: a marine renewables regatta, run by Engineering Your Future, showcasing pupils' work on solar powered boats, wind and water turbines, and fuel cell technology, culminating in a solar boat race; and a Classe de Mer (Classroom of the Sea) display, showcasing pupils' work on marine wildlife, conservation, maritime culture, history and landmarks on the Menai Strait, ocean sciences, coastal living and dune formation, art and literature.

The event also hosted an Ysgol y Môr Conference for 100 delegates, with Ieuan Wyn Jones AM as keynote speaker, a video about Nautisme en Finistere (Brittany's equivalent of Ysgol y Môr), and presentations by the region's head teachers and an independent assessor on the value of the programme.

Dave Callen, EnergySolutions' Engineering Manager at Magnox Wylfa Power Station, said: "Education is one of the keys to North West Wales' economic and cultural sustainability – and so are the region's marine resources, including energy. We are delighted to sponsor this inspiring event."

Hundreds of youngsters are learning subjects including renewable energy technologies and watersports.

Jon Philips, Director of Stakeholder Relations for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), one of the principal funders of the project, said: "The NDA is delighted to have supported this programme, which we hope will inspire future generations to consider the exciting employment and business opportunities associated with the coastal environment – creating an even more vibrant and exciting place to live and work."

Ysgol y Môr is the first initiative in the UK to use the marine environment as part of mainstream education.

It is modelled on a 30+ year educational programme in Brittany, which has been the driving force behind the growth of the region's highly successful marine industry. It has created major economic development and sustainable jobs, which have helped safeguard the Breton language and culture.

Ysgol y Môr is being piloted in the counties of Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. In the first phase, spanning three years, 1440 pupils from 16 schools are learning watersports skills. 1170 pupils are being taught a range of existing curriculum subjects in classes de mer ('classrooms of the sea'), across both counties.

The launch of Ysgol y Môr followed more than three years of development by North Wales Watersports and its partners. This included a fact finding mission for North Wales educationalists and local authority representatives in 2007 to Brittany, which has 20 dedicated 'classrooms of the sea' centres that have trained thousands of pupils.

The Ysgol y Môr programme is designed as a template for a new national approach to education, based on involving pupils more closely with their local environments, including mountains, forests and urban areas.

Published in Youth Sailing

#ISORA– Welsh yacht Sgrech (skippered by Richard Tudor) took its second victory in a fortnight on the Irish Sea yesterday when it won ISORA's third race from Conwy in North Wales to Howth in North Dublin a distance of some 100-miles.

The ISORA fleet is now berthed in Howth to coincide with the BMW ICRA Nationals starting this Friday. ICRA preview and entry list of the 110 boat fleet here.

An unfortunate clash with other sporting events is being blamed for the fact that only 12 boats came to the start line in Conwy.

The course was : Start; West Constable (P) ;  Archdeacon (P) ; Ethal (P) ; The Skerries (P) ; Finish in Howth.

The beat to Constable appeared to spread the fleet with “Sgrech” rounding first following closely by “Joker 2” and “Lancastrian” and “Adelie”. Close behind these were “Midnight Mojito” and “Madam Wen”. From Constable it was a direct course leaving Archdeacon, Ethal and The Skerries safely to Port.

The 90 mile leg to Howth was a run. Spinnaker reach and ending with a dead run into Howth. As forecast,  the winds got lighter approaching Howth and the usual tricky conditions that Howth finishes are famous for  appeared, light winds and strong tides.

“Sgrech” led the charge from Constable to the approach into Howth Sound, with a very strong following tide giving speeds over the ground of 15-16 knots at The Skerries. These conditions made short work of the long leg to Howth. The two “J” boats, “Sgrech” and “Joker 2” kept close together for the entire leg. Lancastrian and Midnight Mojito took a more southern route. “Adelie” and “Madam Wen” were just behind the leading group.

Four boats entered Howth Sound at the same time from slightly different directions. The J boats were too north and had to gybe to get into the Sound. During this manoeuvre and while the J boats were within several boat lengths of each other, “Joker 2” passed “Sgrech” but failed to monopolise on their position. Lancastrian was also caught and had to gybe in the very light conditions. However, Midnight Mojito got the course correct and stormed into the sound with wind and tide and shot over to take line
honours.

Despite the 100 mile course, the first four boats crossed the finish line in just over a minute!!! This would be difficult to achieve even in Bay Racing. The finish in Howth was provided by John Doran, Howth Yacht Club.

“Sgrech” won Class 1 and Overall. “Adeli” took Class 2 and 2nd Overall. “Lancastrian” won Class 1 Sliver Fleet while “Polished Manx” took Class 2 Silver Fleet.

The facilities in Conwy Marina and the Mulberry Bar & Restaurant were first class with a great evening had by all on Friday night. The Mulberry prepared a superb breakfast on the Saturday morning, getting everybody ready for the long race.

The next race is the 100– mile ISORA lynx metmAsts Pwllheli to Wicklow Race on the 2nd June.

Due to the generous sponsorship of lynx metmAsts, a complimentary Crew Bus will meet the 13.15 HSS from Dun Laoghaire and will bring crew from Holyhead to Pwllheli. There will also be a reception in Pwllheli Sailing Club on the Friday 1st June. This race will be the last qualifying race for those doing the Round Ireland race.

ISORA Race three results are avallable to download below.

Latest Irish Sea Offshore Sailing (ISORA) News

 

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

#COASTAL ROWING – During the May bank holiday weekend (4th-6th May), 12 men and women of St Michael's Rowing Club, Dun Laoghaire, participated in the biennial rowing race across the Irish Sea known as 'the Celtic Challenge'. It turned out to be what is widely regarded as the toughest crossing in the race's 19 year history, with just 12 of the 23 teams entered crossing the finish line unaided. St. Michael's finished 12th in the longest time ever taken for the 150km course – 27hrs, 18 mins, 21 seconds. The relay race is billed as the longest 'true' rowing race in the world and is listed as such in the Guinness Book of Records.

The run up to the event was challenging in itself with the team working tirelessly to secure a replacement support boat due to damage to the mast of the yacht that had already been confirmed. With just two days to departure, all the pieces of the puzzle were in place.

Pushing Hard with the Rib Keeping a Watchful Eye

Pushing hard with a safey RIB keeping a watchful eye

Due to poor weather conditions, the race was postponed a number of times and eventually set off from Arklow, Co. Wicklow on Saturday 5th May at 4pm. Very soon after the start, the team from Bray Rowing Club who were rowing the only other traditional east coast skiff in the race had pulled out due to damage to their support boat, meaning that St. Michael's were the only wooden boat left in the race.

Over the Line in Aberystwyth

Over the line in Aberystwyth

The format of the race is a relay. Each team has 3 crews of 4 rowers that rotate their time on the oar, resting and refuelling on an accompanying support boat. Generally 'one hour on, two hours off' is the rule of thumb, but conditions, strategies, injuries, and sickness may dictate otherwise. The first 6 hours were the toughest and most challenging physically, as the northeast wind and swells created extremely challenging conditions for the participating rowers. The start was choppy and the Arklow Bank lived up to its reputation of being an extremely tough obstacle, but St. Michaels' quarter-ton clinker built skiff was well suited to the conditions. The solid wood oars used are three times heavier than carbon fibre equivalents used by all other teams, requiring strength and a particular technique even in normal conditions.

Exhausted Bit Delighted

Exhausted but delighted

As the sun set, the crew knuckled down to what would be a tough, night-time row with changes of crew every hour. Their support yacht, the Helcia and the crew of the rib, the Wizard worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of the teams during the changeovers, both crewed by quite remarkable and extreme professionals, who gave freely of their time to the cause and to whom the club is eternally grateful. Working in two to three metre swells made rowing tough, and required 100% concentration and complete focus.

As the sun rose, it was clear the race was going to be a long one. Extreme conditions overnight meant teams hadn't travelled the distance they expected and knew they had to dig deep and work very closely as a unit to ensure spirits were kept high. As the changeovers continued and the hours flew by, the crew could see land, and somewhere in the distance was Aberystwyth. At this point, news of the night's retirements began to filter through on the VHF radio, with tales of other teams forced to pull out or turn back due to reasons including mechanical failure of support boats, sea sickness, damaged boats, lost rudders, and so on.

The final changeover was made at around 6.30pm on Sunday, and the pier could be clearly seen with cheering voices being carried on the wind. On the slip after the finish, the organisers and other crews were clearly impressed with the 30-year old 'Eileen' and her brave crew. At the awards ceremony the following day, St. Michael's became the first Irish team to be awarded the prestigious 'Spirit of the Celtic Challenge' trophy, which is given to the team which displays the greatest amount of endeavour when completing the course. This was a very proud moment for all the team as well as their friends, family, and all their clubmates back home in Dun Laoghaire.

First time Celtic Challenger was Wales born Gareth Whittington, now living in Dun Laoghaire told us, "I was told you never know what to expect as each Celtic Challenge is different because of the changing weather conditions, but I cannot and will not ever forget the way we pulled together as a team to ensure we got to Aberystwyth, an remarkable achievement".

Camaraderie between the Welsh and Irish clubs and teams involved is huge, but the team's thoughts that weekend were with the teams that did not make it, particularly their fellow Irish teams from Bray Rowing Club, Team Marie Keating, Ferrycarrig Rowing Club, and Airport Police and Fire Service Rowing Club. Congratulations are also due to the other Irish teams who crossed the finish line, Courtown, Foyle, and Arklow Rowing Clubs, the latter two of which won their respective categories.

Spirit of The Celtic Challenge Award

Spirit of the Celtic Challenge Award

St. Michael's participated in the Celtic Challenge to actively seek sponsorship, in a drive to raise funds towards new clubhouse facilities in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Currently, the club lacks space to store their three wooden boats, space for indoor training, and is without changing facilities for the men, women and children who row for the club. It is hoped that the money raised can be put towards achieving this long-standing goal and keep the club's traditions and the tradition of the Celtic Challenge alive.

St. Michaels 2012 CC Crew

St. Michael's 2012 Celtic Challenge crew

Published in Coastal Rowing

#ADVENTURE – This summer blind adventure-athlete Mark Pollock and local sailor Tiffany Brien aim to sail across the Irish Sea in order to raise funds for the Mark Pollock Trust and Belfast Lough Sailability.

Sailing across the relentless Irish Sea would be challenging enough for a regular sailor but 36-year-old Mark, who has been blind since 22, was also paralysed in a freak accident in 2010. That makes their crossing quite a significant challenge.

Luckily Mark is not shy of a challenge as during the last decade he has competed in the harshest environments on the planet. He survived sub-zero Antarctic temperatures to become the first blind person to reach the South Pole. He suffered in scorching heat, running six marathons in the Gobi Desert in one week. He has completed The North Pole marathon, raced through the desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley to the Dead Sea and competed at high-altitude in the Everest Marathon.

Mark has competed against professional explorers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Olympic gold medalists and Special Forces personnel; all able-bodied athletes. And he did so in a world of total darkness. After a life threatening fall two years ago, Mark is now competing against his spinal cord injury. Paralysed from the waist down, Mark's aim is to defy the odds to walk again.

The Mark Pollock Trust hopes to raise funds to assist with the capital and on-going costs specifically associated with Mark's spinal injury – including a team of care specialists, physiotherapy equipment, visits to Spinal Injury recovery centres and wheelchairs.

Mark states: "This will be my first big physical challenge since I was paralysed so I am really looking forward to giving it my best shot. I used to sail before my accident so I can't wait to get back out on the water."

The challenge is scheduled for the beginning of June and Mark and Tiffany will be sailing a specially-adapted SKUD yacht (the new Paralympic class) which Tiffany purchased for the Belfast Lough Sailability charity following her solo sailing challenge in 2007.

Tiffany comments: "Mark is a real inspiration so I am honoured to have the chance to participate in this challenge alongside him. His determination is infectious and I have no doubt we will achieve our goal of crossing the Irish Sea to raise valuable funds for the Mark Pollock Trust and Belfast Lough Sailability."

Belfast Lough Sailability helps people with disabilities learn new skills, enjoy the freedom of sailing, and potentially achieve their ultimate goal of reaching the Paralympic Games.

Sponsors of the Mark Pollock Irish Sea Challenge include, Belfast Harbour, BTWCairns, Priory Press, Navigator Blue Ltd and Eyekiller.

To support the Mark Pollock Irish Sea Challenge you can donate online at www.irishseachallenge.co.uk.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#MARINE WARNING - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises on cable laying operations in the Irish Sea commencing today 22 April.

Following preliminary work on the East-West Interconnector power cable earlier this month, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, cable laying works will be undertaken by AMC Connector (call sign LAKY7) for a duration of approximately 18 days, subject to weather delays.

Operations will involve deployment of cable and ROVs which will restrict the vessel’s ability to manoeuvre.

The vessel will operate on a 24-hour basis, displaying appropriate day shapes and lights during operations, and will transmit an AIS signal. The vessel will be keeping a listening watch on VHF Channel 16 at all times during the operations.

All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the AMC Connector a wide berth.

Complete details including co-ordinates of the work area are included in Marine Notice No 20 of 2012, a PDF of which is available to read and download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The famous dolphins of Cardigan Bay have been found to cross the Irish Sea to spend their winter holidays in the Isle of Man, WalesOnline reports.

New evidence uncovered by researchers at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) confirms that dolphins from the New Quay area on the Welsh coastline have been photographed over the winter hundreds of miles north by conservationists in Douglas.

As many as eight vacationing cetaceans have been identified by matching markings on their dorsal fins, with one being a regular visitor since 2005.

“We’re really excited about this because it confirms how far the Cardigan Bay dolphins roam in the winter months when we see fewer of them at New Quay – knowledge we need to have if we’re to protect them successfully," said CBMWC science officer Sarah Perry.

Cardigan Bay is home to Europe’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins and is one of the last remaining places in the UK where the species thrives.

WalesOnline has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 9 of 18

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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