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There is no surprise that sailing superstar Annalise Murphy is the front runner for tonight's top prize at the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards in Dublin. This month, the Olympic Silver Medalist topped the public online vote for the award but the overall winner cannot be confirmed until the judges decision is announced tonight at the RDS Concert Hall in Dublin from 6.30pm.

As reported in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column here, twenty-two sailors and pairings are shortlisted for the top prize at the ISA hosted event at the RDS. Among these achievements, a GP14 world title was won by Shane MacCarthy in Barbados, Ireland entered the Vendee Globe thanks to Enda O’Coineen and mono and multihull round Ireland speed records were set.

This year marks two decades since Afloat Magazine inaugurated the Sailor of the Month awards, with their peak achievement of the Sailor of the Year accolade – the latest of which will be presented tonight at the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Awards ceremony at the RDS in Dublin.

Celebrating 20 Years of Ireland's Premier Sailing Awards

Created in 1996 – with the first prize going to dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the Sailor of the Year award represents all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

The national award is especially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing elite, whether amateur or professional. After two decades, the awards has developed into a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

In the last 20 years the scheme has honoured over 340 sports sailors of every kind, of many ages, and from all parts of Ireland – occasionally adding special monthly awards for cruising, or international achievement, to name a few.

In 2017, as in previous years, the overall national award will be presented to one of the monthly winners from 2016 who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in – or made the most significant contribution to – Irish sailing during the year.

And while the judges retain their right to make the ultimate decision, once again the boating public and maritime community had their say who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2016 via an online poll on Afloat.ie

The ceremony also includes awards for club, youth sailor and sailing school of the year.

To view a preview of Afloat Sailor of the Year nominees by WM Nixon click here

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Who gets your vote as Afloat Sailor of the Year 2016? The past year, in the view of Winkie Nixon, was quite possibly the greatest ever season for Irish watersports, and over the past 12 months we have picked out 22 individual sailors and pairings who have excelled in their respective disciplines, be it offshore, dinghy, cruise or powerboating. On Friday, January 27 our judging panel will announce the Sailor of the Year at the RDS Library in Dublin — and you can have your say by voting in our poll on any page of the Afloat website

The overall award will be announced at a ceremony which will also see each Sailor of the Month individually honoured.

As in previous years, the boating public and maritime community can have their say to help guide judges in deciding who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2016 by using our online poll (below). The judges welcome the traditional huge level of public interest in helping them make their decision, but firmly retain their right to make the ultimate decision for the final choice while taking voting trends into account.

Please note: One vote per person. Your vote DOES NOT necessarily determine the overall winner.

The national award is especially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing's elite. After two decades the awards has developed in to a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

As in previous years, the overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to, Irish sailing during 2016. You can read more from Afloat's WM Nixon here.

By supporting your favourite nominee you are creating additional awareness of their nomination and highlighting their success.

Voting online is open to public view from today until Monday, January 23rd.

CLICK THE LINK ON EACH SAILORS' NAME TO READ THEIR ACHIEVEMENT FROM 2016 AND VOTE FOR YOUR SAILOR ON THE AFLOAT.ie HOME PAGE in the right hand column.

Created in 1996, the Afloat Sailor of the Year Awards represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

Since it began 20 years ago the awards have recognised over 320 monthly award winners in the pages of Ireland's sailing magazine Afloat and these have been made to both amateur and professional sailors. The first ever sailor of the year was Dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

VOTING IS NOW CLOSED

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Liam Shanahan was named the 2015 Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year at the Irish Sailing Awards in Dublin. Drawn from a star-studded shortlist, which included Volvo Ocean race winner Justin Slattery; round-Ireland record-setting Sidney Gavignet; and 11-time Paralympian John Twomey amongst others, Shanahan had a remarkable year, including victory in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race in June on his boat Ruth.

Kilkenny’s Doug Elmes and Malahide’s Colin O’Sullivan jointly took home the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Youth Sailor of the Year award. The Howth Yacht Club sailors were hotly tipped following their recent Bronze medal success at the 2015 Youth World Championships in Malaysia, where they took Ireland’s first doublehanded youth worlds medal in 19 years. The shortlist for this tightly contested award included Tipperary’s Aisling Keller; Howth’s Aoife Hopkins and Ewan McMahon; and Waterford’s Geoff Power.

The Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year award was presented to the Royal Irish Yacht Club in honour of their success at local, national and international level. The award also takes into account satisfaction of club members; the club's impact in sailing development and training; the relationship with the local community, and relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level.

Mullingar Sailing Club took home the ISA Training Centre of the Year award, having been nominated as winners of the western-region Training Centre of the Year. Dun Laoghaire’s Royal Irish Yacht Club (eastern region winners), and Limerick’s Foynes Yacht Club (southern region winners) were also shortlisted.

Published in Sailor of the Year

#SailorOfTheYear – Liam Shanahan has been named Afloat.ie Irish Sailor of the Year for 2015.

The Irish Sea yachtsman and June's Sailor of the Month was presented his award by Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy at the Irish Sailing Awards gala in Dublin's Royal College of Surgeons this afternoon (Thursday 4 February).

Shanahan was recognised for his comprehensive victory in the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race at the helm of Ruth, his family's J/109, marking the highlight of a busy June in Irish sailing.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Shanahan – and his dependable crew, especially so since they're family – would go on to retain the James Eadie Trophy in the ISORA Offshore Championship, fending off the strong challenge of Andrew Hall's J/125 Jackknife and Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox's J/109 Mojito in the season's final race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire in September.

And what's more, Shanahan was the clear choice of both the judging panel and Afloat.ie readers alike from the field of 17 individual and joint nominees, garnering 1,359 votes out of nearly 6,500 cast.

In accepting his prize, Shanahan said it was "an award for Corinthian and family sailing", which he regards as the heart and future of the Irish sailing scene.

Hosted by entrepreneur Bobby Kerr along with Afloat.ie's WM Nixon and Irish Sailing Association (ISA) president David Lovegrove, the Irish Sailing Awards also recognised the ISA Youth Sailor of the Year and Training Centre of the Year, as well as the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year.

Guests at the event included members of the ISA's Olympic and youth sailing squads, national senior and youth champions, class captains and club commodores, and a number of past Sailor of the Year awardees, such as 2012's winner George Kenefick.

Published in Sailor of the Year

This afternoon marks two decades since Afloat Magazine inaugurated the Sailor of the Month awards, with their peak achievement of the Sailor of the Year accolade – the latest of which will be presented at the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Awards Ceremony in Dublin's Royal College of Surgeons at 2pm.

Created in 1996 – with the first prize going to dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the Sailor of the Year award represents all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

The national award is especially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing elite, whether amateur or professional. After two decades, the awards has developed into a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

In the last 20 years the scheme has honoured over 320 sports sailors of every kind, of many ages, and from all parts of Ireland – occasionally adding special monthly awards for cruising, or international achievement, to name a few.

In 2016, as in previous years, the overall national award will be presented to one of the monthly winners from 2015 who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in – or made the most significant contribution to – Irish sailing during the year.

And while the judges retain their right to make the ultimate decision, once again the boating public and maritime community can have their say to help guide the panel in making their choice for who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2015 via an online poll that closed on Monday 1 February.

The Irish Sailing Association hosted ceremony starts at 1pm and also includes awards for: club, youth sailor and sailing school of the year.

The Sailor of the Year nominees:

January - Conor Clarke

Conor Clarke made a dream debut at the Key West Regatta with his Melges 24 Embarr, employing some dab Olympic-calibre hands – including Maurice 'Prof' O'Donnell – to claim overall victory with a race in hand.

February - Neil Hegarty

Cork's Neil Hegarty was awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s historic Faulkner Cup for his epic transatlantic cruise from Portugal to the Caribbean and the Eastern US – one he meticulously logged along the way.

March - Fionn Lyden

Fionn Lyden played a stellar role in bringing University College Cork’s First Team to overall victory in the Intervarsity Team Nationals at Schull – and was recognised as First Year Sailor of the Year for his efforts.

April - Anthony O'Leary

Our Sailor of the Year for 2014, Anthony O’Leary book-ended April with a runaway overall victory in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent and a convincing win in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship.

May - Rob McConnell

One of Waterford Harbour's most popular and enthusiastic skippers, Rob McConnell emerged as overall winner of the Silvers Scottish Series – setting some unfinished business after his second-place finish in 2014.

May (International) - Sidney Gavignet

It was forth time a charm for Sidney Gavignet when he helmed the Musandam-Oman MOD 70 trimaran like a rocked around Ireland to smash Steve Fossett's 1993 record by almost four hours.

June - Liam Shanahan

The comprehensive overall victory in the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race by Liam Shanahan in his family’s J/109 Ruth was the highlight of a busy June in Irish sailing.

June International - Justin Slattery

In the Volvo Ocean Race, experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium – and Ireland’s Justin Slattery, a key crew member on the race winning Abu Dhabi boat, has both in abundance.

July Racing - George Sisk

'Gallant old codgers' they may be, but George Sisk and crew on WOW, his Farr 42, can still cut the mustard, as shown by their winning three demanding offshore races at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to claim the Top Boat title.

July Cruising - Nathaniel & Fergus Ogden

Adverse conditions weren't enough to prevent the Ogden brothers competing their exceptional eight-week circumnavigation of Ireland in their 18ft Drascombe Lugger, Lughnasa, to raise funds for the RNLI.

August Offshore - Ronan O'Siochru

Not only skippering Desert Star to the Roger Justice Trophy in the Rolex Fastnet Race, but also finishing as the second best Irish boat in the whole fleet, Ronan O Siochru of the Irish Offshore Sailing school made dreams come true in August.

August Inshore - Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson

Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson flew the flag for both the GP14 dinghy in Ireland and their home club of Greystones SC at the British Nationals, following a skill-sharpening Irish season with a big title win before the final race.

August International - Dave Cullen

Howth's Dave Cullen did Irish sailing proud when he took his Checkmate XV to the Half Ton Classics Cup in Nieuwpoort, Belgium last August, winning both the admiration of his international peers – and the championship with a race to spare.

September - David Gorman & Chris Doorly

Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly's sporting performance in the Mitsubishi Motors Flying Fifteen Nationals – after taking the title in the penultimate race – was all it took to garner them September's award.

October - Dermot & Paddy Cronin

Sailing their keenly campaigned First 40.7 Encore, Malahide father-and-son crew Dermot and Paddy Cronin celebrated a clearcut win by almost two hours in the IRC Double-Handed Division of the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

November - Tim Goodbody

Tim Goodbody's enormous contributions to Irish and international sailing span many decades as an active participant (particularly as of late in the Sigma 33), race organiser and administrator of leading sailing bodies.

December - John Twomey

Sonar sailor – and former Kindle Yacht Club commodore – John Twomey qualified for an incredible 11th Paralympic Games after his and his crew's extraordinary performance at the Melbourne trials in December.

Read each sailor of the month's full citation here and WM Nixon's Who will win sailor of the year 2015 blog here

Published in Sailor of the Month

#sailoroftheyear – The Afloat.ie Irish Sailor of the Year 2015 award will be announced at the Sailing Awards celebration in Dublin on the afternoon of Thursday, February 4th at a ceremony which will also see each Sailor of the Month individually honoured, the ISA Youth Sailor of the Year awarded, the ISA Training Centre of the Year honoured, and the ISA/Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year announced.

As in previous years, the boating public and maritime community can have their say to help guide judges in deciding who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2015 by using our online poll. The judges welcome the traditional huge level of public interest in helping them make their decision, but firmly retain their right to make the ultimate decision for the final choice while taking voting trends into account. 

SOM 2015 1

Please note: One vote per person. Your vote DOES NOT necessarily determine the overall winner.

The national award is especially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing's elite. After two decades the awards has developed in to a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

As in previous years, the overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to, Irish sailing during 2015.

By supporting your favourite nominee you are creating additional awareness of their nomination and highlighting their success.

Voting online is open to public view from today until Monday, February 1.

CLICK HERE TO READ EACH ACHIEVEMENT FROM 2015 AND VOTE FOR YOUR SAILOR ON THE AFLOAT.ie HOME PAGE in the right hand column.

Created in 1996, the Afloat Sailor of the Year Awards represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

Since it began 20 years ago the awards have recognised over 320 monthly award winners in the pages of Ireland's sailing magazine Afloat and these have been made to both amateur and professional sailors. The first ever sailor of the year was Dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Published in Sailor of the Year

It’s that time of year again. Deciding on la crème de la crème is never easy. And in a vehicle sport like sailing where so many elements beyond athletic ability and the capacity for quick thinking are involved, it can be surprising and reassuring just how widely the net can be cast. W M Nixon takes a look over the runners and riders, all of whom have already been winners for one glorious month regardless of who becomes the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2015 at the Annual ISA Sailing Awards Ceremony in the RCSI on Thursday, February 4th 2016.

JANUARY – CONOR CLARKEClarke2

Conor Clarke, who cut his sailing teeth on Dublin Bay, was our Sailor of the Month for January after a dream debut at the Key West Regatta with his Melges 24 Embarr. In fact, “dream” is the theme of the story, as they made their debut in the kind of conditions you could only fantasise about in mid-January Dublin, with 18 knots of breeze in an air temperature of 25 degrees and sunshine sparkling on the bluest sea imaginable.

Cheerfully admitting that the Key West event had long been on his bucket list, Clarke had also brought out a dream team of all the talents with 470 Olympic hopefuls Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes as helmsman and tactician, while Maurice Prof O’Connell was there to knock them back into shape, particularly in the one race when things went pear-shaped, when the Prof did it to such good effect that that they went up through the fleet from the crab grass to battling for the lead against the Norwegian crew at the last gybe. They went on to win overall with one race to spare, but they raced that anyway.

FEBRUARY – NEIL HEGARTYsomfeb2

Neil Hegarty of Cork was awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s historic premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, as February drew to a close. A former dinghy sailor who was at the front of the fleet both as crew and helm in boats as diverse as IDRA 14s, Enterprises and 505s, Hegarty went on to campaign keelboats with the J/24 and Impala 28 fleets. He has since graduated with aplomb into long distance voyaging and detailed cruising in exotic locations with his 2003 Dufour 34 Shelduck.

His award-winning 2014 cruise was Transatlantic from Cascais in Portugal via the Canaries to the Caribbean, which was then cruised in detail including Cuba, followed by island and port-hopping along the East Coast USA until eventually the boat was laid up in advance of the hurricane season near the Chesapeake.
In the finest traditions of cruising, he not only kept an informative log, but at its conclusion he made a detailed analysis of all the special equipment which he had found particularly useful during this exemplary voyage.

MARCH – FIONN LYDEN

Fionn  Lyden

Fionn Lyden (19) of Baltimore became March’s winner by ushering in the new month with a stellar role in bringing University College Cork’s First Team to overall victory in the decidedly breezy Intervarsity Team Racing Nationals at Schull from February 27th to March 1st.

Of all forms of sailing, this is of course the most group-oriented. But Lyden’s achievement emerged above the efforts of his team mates with his additional acclamation as First Year Sailor of the Year from among the large turnout at the championship. Indeed, everyone – both participants and organisers alike – deserved an award at a series in which the highly-regarded Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre and a large team of volunteers skillfully dealt with deteriorating conditions to get a worthwhile result.

APRIL – ANTHONY O’LEARYolear1

'Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2014' Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork YC started his 2015 season in winning style by book-ending April with a runaway overall victory in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from April 3rd to 5th as the new month got under way, and then rounding it out with a convincing win in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship, a twelve race series which concluded on Sunday April 26th.

O’Leary’s new Antix was the unmistakably Munster red state-of-the-art Ker 40 which was formerly Catapult, key member of Ireland’s winning 2014 Commodore’s Cup Team, in which she was also the top individual points scorer. Most of the crew were very new to the boat, but the results speak for themselves, and by the end of the month, the remarkable new Antix with her very dished stern was being sailed as though the crew had been with her for at least a year.

As for their skipper, he showed his versatility by retaining the All Ireland Helmsman’s Championship in October by a convincing margin racing the SailFleet J/80s.

MAY – ROB McCONNELL fools gold scotland

May 2015 was a good month for Dunmore East, with the confirmation that the long-awaited dredging of this pretty fishing/sailing port – a €6 million contract – would swing into action in June, and then from far-off Scotland came the news that one of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club’s most popular and enthusiastic skippers had emerged as overall winner of the Silvers Scottish Series 2015.

Rob McConnell is well-known at all Ireland’s main sailing centres, as he campaigns his A35 Fool’s Gold with targeted campaigns of skill - coupled with sheer joy in sailing - in any event which can be fitted into a busy schedule. Crewed by friends who may be from all parts of Ireland but undoubtedly have a Dunmore East emphasis, he can be relied on to be always in the frame on the leaderboard, and in line with this approach, The Scottish Series was regarded as unfinished business after Fool’s Gold finished second overall in 2014, and in 20215 they clinched it in style.

MAY INTERNATIONAL AWARD – SIDNEY GAVIGNETOman crew

When a round Ireland record has stood for nearly 22 years, clearly it is something very special, and the 44 hour time set by Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota in 1993 - a venture engineered by Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey who were in Lakota’s crew - had withstood several challenges, including three by top French skipper Sidney Gavignet.

And it was Ireland’s own Damian Foxall – a frequent shipmate of Gavignet – who first got Gavignet hooked on the challenge of the round Ireland record. So it was ironic that a mid-race call to Foxall to beef up one of the crews in the Volvo Ocean Race meant he was unavoidably absent on other business when Gavignet saw the opportunity developing for the MOD 70 Musandam-Oman to knock off the Ireland target at the beginning of May. That month of notably atrocious weather provided one of those rare but perfect record conditions where a deep low pressure area sat plumb over the country on May 4th.

Donegal proved to be obtuse, but Gavignet and his crew were soon making up lost time as they streaked down the Connacht coast in a strong nor’wester, and though they were well shy of taking the originally anticipated ten hours off Lakota’s time when they returned to the finish line at the Kish L/H off Dublin Bay, they’d got down to within shouting distance of 40 hours in rugged sailing.

JUNE – LIAM SHANAHANliam shanahanD2D

The comprehensive overall victory in the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race by Liam Shanahan in his family’s J/109 Ruth was the highlight of a busy month of Irish sailing in June, with Ruth emerging as winner in the last fifty miles of racing after a head-to-head all round the course on three coasts of Ireland with sister-ship Mojito.

When Ruth finally crossed the finish line at the entrance to Dingle Harbour at 1945hrs on the summery evening of Sunday June 14th, she and her crew had been racing at a high level of sustained intensity for forty-seven and three-quarter hours. Their reward was in knowing that on corrected time they’d beaten all four larger boats already in port, while their closest rival Mojito was a clear two miles astern. It was the duel between Ruth and Mojito which set them apart in every sense, and the heightened performance it provided made Liam Shanahan a very worthy Sailor of the Month.

JUNE INTERNATIONAL AWARD – JUSTIN SLATTERYJustin Slattery1

The clear win by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 was achieved by solid consistency in the classic “good series” style favoured by regular champion sailors. Except that, instead of being a pleasant five day championship regatta staged at some agreeable summer venue, the Volvo Ocean Race was made up of nine legs which took the fleet right round the world, getting them south of both Good Hope and Cape Horn, yet also back north again across the equator.

In such a challenge, a mixture of experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium, and Ireland’s Justin Slattery (40) has both in abundance. He was a key crew member aboard Abu Dhabi, which was well placed top of the leaderboard with a scoreline of 1,3,2,2,1 after the first five legs. But with four legs still to be raced, experience became the key ingredient, as the leading boat has to defend her position against a chasing fleet with three close contenders.

But the crew of Abu Dhabi kept their cool, they kept their boat intact too, and they sailed on to win overall by 24 points to the 29 of Team Brunel and the 33 of Dongfeng Race Team, making Justin Slattery the winner of an Afloat.ie International Award for June 2015.

JULY – RACING – GEORGE SISKWOW ICRA champion

George Sisk of Dun Laoghaire was Sailor of the Month (Racing) for July with his Farr 42 WOW already having a glorious season with victory at Kinsale in June two weeks before she was declared Top Boat at the conclusion of the often breezy four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. To achieve this, WOW and her veteran crew (some of them very veteran indeed) had won three of the four demanding offshore races, further demonstrating that this is their preferred area of sailing - four weeks earlier they’d notched up a good Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in an event in which size benefits meant that the J/109s were ideal for the course and the conditions.

But if needs be, the gallant old codgers on WOW have shown they can cut the mustard in close-fought inshore contests, with the well-tested Farr 42 revelling in the fresh winds.

George Sisk has been making an exceptional contribution to Irish offshore racing since the late 1960s, and he has done it in a fascinating range of boats of several sizes, and many types. Yet through several boat changes, his longtime crewing panel has reflected his personal popularity and an admirable loyalty to old friends and shipmates. He sets an example which any sailing enthusiast could usefully follow, and his own quiet but steady and determined enthusiasm for our sport is inspiring.

JULY – CRUISING – NATHANIEL & FERGUS OGDENlugger round ireland

When the Ogden brothers (Nathaniel (23) and Fergus (16) sailed their 18ft Drascombe Lugger Lughnasa in to their home port of Baltimore to berth at the new in-harbour pontoon in the evening sunshine of Wednesday July 29th, a casual observer might well have thought that this was just another characterful Drascombe concluding a couple of hours of sailing in weather which had, albeit briefly, been much better than that experienced for most of July.

But Lughnasa was successfully completing an eight weeks voyage of clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland. Sailed as a fund-raiser for the RNLI, the voyage would have been quite something for a Drascombe Lugger in a reasonably normal summer. In the exceptionally bad weather of 2015, it was an extraordinary achievement.

On every coastline of Ireland, the brothers had to contend with adverse conditions at some stage, and often for long periods. Even when they finally reached the home stages of the final passages along the coast of West Cork, 2015’s weather demons hadn’t finished with them, as one of the roughest passages of the entire cruise involved getting round the Old Head of Kinsale from Kinsale itself, and battling on westward towards Baltimore and home.

AUGUST – OFFSHORE – RONAN O SIOCHRURONAN OSIOCHRU copy

The Rolex Fastnet Race offers an ideal “living lesson” for the increasing number of offshore sailing schools in Europe, providing as it does clear stipulations of the basic requirements for those hoping to take part. This means that a beginner to sailing in May of a Fastnet Race year can aspire to take part in the historic race in August if he or she has stayed with an offshore sailing school’s gruelling course of training and participation in distance races in the build–up to the start of the 608-mile marathon off Cowes.

Nevertheless when you get your Irish offshore sailing school boat down to the Solent, the Fastnet start will bring with it the realisation that not only are you up against the crème de la crème of international offshore racing, but there are many other offshore sailing schools also taking part, and some of them are sailing seriously modern heavy metal.

So when, with only an hour or so to go to the prize-giving of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in Plymouth on the evening of Friday August 21st, it emerged that the recently-finished Class 4 Jeanneau Sunfast 37 Desert Star of the Dun Laoghaire-based Irish Offshore Sailing was winner of the Roger Justice Trophy for the best-placed sailing school boat in the entire fleet which included 33 sailing school boats, and was additionally second overall of all the Irish entries, it was the stuff of dreams.

Desert Star’s crew were Louise Gray, David McDonnell, Rupert Barry, David Garforth, Symeon Charalabides and Sam Lamont, while the first mate was Kristian Aderman and the skipper/chief instructor was Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing.Ronan O Siochru, our Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for August.

For someone who was once a schoolboy who had to hitchike from the family home in Bishopstown in Cork down to Kinsale to pursue his dream of sailing, it was a great achievement.

AUGUST – INSHORE – SHANE McCARTHY & ANDY THOMPSONgp14 shane mcCarthy

2015 was very much the year for the GP14 dinghy at the top levels of the popularity polls in Irish dinghy sailing. And it has also been the year in which Greystones Sailing Club have been flexing their muscles both as a hotbed of dinghy racing, and as a popular addition to the list of centres for keelboat activity with the new marina bedding in.

These positive themes united in the Greystones GP 14 crew of Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson. Their sailing year started well with wins in the season’s early regional events, they had their skills further sharpened in the large GP14 fleet racing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and then their campaigning really started to sing with the British GP 14 Nationals at Brixham in Devon in the first week of August.

Although only a small contingent of Irish boats travelled to this big championship, McCarthy & Thompson led the charge to such good effect that they had the title won outright without having to sail the final race.

AUGUST – INTERNATIONAL – DAVE CULLENcheckmate half ton champion

Dave Cullen of Howth is well-known in sailing circles as an affable bloke whose amiable appearance disguises a very keen determination to win. And in Irish business life, his management style at Euro Car Parks is so highly regarded that the company regularly features in the frame in those annual competitions for “best place to work in Ireland”.

Both these aspects of the Cullen way of life came together when he and his team took his Classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV to the Worlds at Nieuwpoort in Belgium from 17th to 21st August. For sure he had some of the best sailors in Ireland in his crew. But then such people wouldn’t join any crew unless they were certain that their skipper was in Belgium on serious racing business, and not just in pursuit of fun.

It says everything about the Cullen style that not only did his carefully assembled campaign win the championship with a race to spare, but he personally was one of the most popular owner-skippers in the entire fleet, a friend to all and more than ready to give practical assistance to the opposition if required.

SEPTEMBER – DAVID GORMAN & CHRIS DOORLYgorman doorly All ireland

Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly of the National Yacht Club were our “Sailors of the Month” for September on the basis of a great half hour or so of sailing in Dublin Bay on the morning of Sunday 13th September.

Anyone who read Chris Doorly’s riveting account on Afloat.ie of the penultimate race of the Mitsubishi Motors Flying Fifteen Championship, and has raced a sailing boat at any level – whether local, regional, national or international – will have identified totally with this dedicated duo as they sailed their hearts out. And they did it all just to secure a third place, in order to put themselves in the happy position of knowing they were champions without having to sail the last race.

It would be quite something in a club race or a major regatta series. But this was the big one, the Irish Championship with visiting superstar Steve Goacher – three times World Champion – expected to sweep the board. And even if he was off form – which he wasn’t - the class in Dun Laoghaire is now in such vibrant condition, and growing, that the lively home fleet was putting up half a dozen crews who were in there with more than a shout.

But Chris and Dave did it. And being proper sportsmen, they still sailed the last race anyway, but the fact that they were able to discard the fourth place it provided shows the kind of form they’d been in throughout the championship.

It cannot be said too often that winning a series is more a matter of solid consistency than occasional flashes of total brilliance. In the end, though, it can all come down to something so mundane as securing a third place at just the right time. But as Dave and Chris had been lying sixth until they realized the need to up their game, and saw a way of doing so, what they achieved is something we can all identify with.

OCTOBER – DERMOT AND PADDY CRONINencore

Malahide father-and-son crew of Dermot (63) and Paddy (31) Cronin were tops in October after their clearcut win by almost two hours in the IRC Double-Handed Division in the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Sailing their keenly-campaigned First 40.7 Encore, Team Cronin tackled conditions and the opposition as though they were a fully-crewed boat. And though overall it proved to be a race which suited boats around the 50ft mark, the 40ft Encore was very much in contention in her open Class 6 against racers sailed by numerous experienced crews, placing sixth overall out of 18 boats.

This pattern of being a third of the way from the front was continued in the total fleet of 102 contenders, as they placed 37th in an impressive turnout which included all the best offshore racers in the Mediterranean, and such noted international stars as George David’s Rambler 88 (due in Ireland next June in the Round Ireland Race 2016) and the Maxi 72 Momo, which dominated the big boats in the Fastnet Race.

It says everything about the skill and dedication with which Dermot and Paddy raced that we find ourselves easily making comparisons with their showing against the fully-crewed boats, whereas the real story is that they won the Double-Handed Division with plenty of time in hand.

NOVEMBER – TIM GOODBODYgoodbody family

Veteran Royal Irish YC sailor Tim Goodbody became the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for November for his enormous contribution to Irish and international sailing over many decades, both as an active participants, as a race organiser, and as an administrator of leading sailing organisations.

By locating the award in November 2015, we highlighted the fact that at the Dublin Bay SC Annual Prize-Giving on November 15th in the Royal St George YC, three generations of the Goodbody family received major awards. Tim Goodbody’s own Sigma 33 White Mischief not only won overall in the season-long series in Dublin Bay, but also took second overall (by just two points) in Class 3 IRC at the Sovereigns/ICRA Nats at Kinsale.

The timing of the Nats at the end of June could just be fitted into Tim Goodbody’s busy schedule, for as Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, he was out of personal boat-racing for the next two weeks as the structures of the biggest sailing event in Ireland in many years swung successful into place, with the noted light-but-effective Goodbody management style keeping this very complex event moving smoothly forward to a happy conclusion.
The depth of Tim Goodbody’s commitment to every aspect of sailing is unrivalled. He has campaigned successfully to international level in the Dragon, the J/24 and the Sigma 33, and as well he was lead helm on Irish Independent, the Dubois 40 which was the backbone of Ireland’s 1987 Admirals Cup team - our most successful AC squad ever, they placed fourth out of thirteen teams, while Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall.

Ashore, Tim Goodbody has served as Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, the Royal Alfred YC, and Dublin Bay SC, and for the latter organisation he was the mastermind behind the rationalisation of the courses which enables an enormous fleet to race mostly in the southern half of Dublin Bay clear of the shipping lanes. His benefit to our sport is incalculable, but perhaps his greatest single contribution is the example he sets is in his own smoothly organised, quietly enthusiastic, very successful and highly enjoyable sailing.

DECEMBER

The December 2015 Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” is HERE

Published in W M Nixon

Things are on the move again. There’s a buzz in the air. W M Nixon anticipates the sailing possibilities for 2016 in a fixtures list so diverse that he reckons that anyone who thinks they know everything that’s going on clearly doesn’t.

If you want anything done, then ask a busy man to do it. And the busier people are ashore, the keener they are to get afloat when they can. There was nothing more sluggish than the sailing and boating scene during the recession years. There was less zest for going sailing when you’d all the time in the world to do it because there was nothing to do ashore. And anyway, as a vehicle sport, sailing was a very identifiable expense which could be reduced or even discarded as the recession rumbled on.

Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that. Anyone with businesses to run knew they’d to keep a very close eye on things all the time if they were to survive at all. Thus we became experts at the short sailing break. The four day regatta became all the rage, and even if the good times roll again as never before, it seems likely the four day regatta is going to stay popular.

It’s indicative of amazingly changed times. Today, it’s beyond imagination to realise that at the height of Scotland’s industrial pomp around Glasgow for eighty years into the 1960s, there used to be a Clyde Fortnight. Two whole weeks of sailing on the trot. Except for Sundays of course, when the church services became yachting events. But even with that spiritual input, it was conspicuous consumption gone mad to be able to show you’d the resources and free time to go off yacht racing for a clear fortnight, knowing your employees – or rather, your inherited company’s employees – would keep those profits and dividends rolling in while you swanned about on the bonnie waters of the Firth.

It took special stamina, too. But times and tastes have changed in any case. There are so many other sports, entertainments and interests vying for our attention these days that sailing has to keep re-inventing itself to make its mark. Yet beneath it all there’s still that elementally simple appeal so eloquently expressed by the folksy Floridian Clark Mills, who in 1947 created the Optimist dinghy:

“A boat, by God, it’s just a gleamin’ beautiful creation. And when you pull the sail up on a boat, you’ve got a little bit of really somethin’ God-given. Man, it goes bleetin’ off like a bird’s wing, you know, and there’s nothin’ else like it”.

It’s still as simple as that. So apart from the usual frostbite races and leagues, it’s more than appropriate that the first major sailing event in Ireland in 2016 is the legendary Optimist Training Week at Baltimore during the half term break in February. Yes folks, February. For sure, we know that in the old Irish calendar, February 1st is St Brigid’s Day, and officially the first day of Spring. But for many sailors, St Patrick’s Day on March 17th is about as early as we want to get. And for most of us, Easter is quite soon enough, thank you.

162
A harvest of Optys – Optimists racing at the Cork Dinghyfest 2015 in conditions rather different from those they’ll be expecting at Baltimore in February. Photo: Robert Bateman

Nevertheless we salute the keen Opty kids who in February drag their families along with them down to Baltimore – even unto the family dog – in a caravanserai which tells us much about Irish sailing. But what we also know is that Irish sailing is universal, and from times past we’re well aware that our new season is reckoned to start with the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race on December 26th in the dying days of the old year. So the up-coming dash to Hobart is when our new year begins, and back in December 2012 when Gordon Maguire won it overall - his second overall win in this great Australian annual classic - he was undisputed Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for January 2013.

As we’re on the cruiser-racer theme, we’ll stay with it for now through to the August fixtures, and anyone totally into dinghies and nothing else is invited to scroll down a dozen paragraphs to where we emerge from the world of truck-racing for a consideration of the Olympics, the inshore racing classes, and the dinghies.

But for now staying with cruiser-racers, in recent months Gordon Maguire has been making the Mediterranean scene with success aboard the Mark Mills-designed Max 72 Caol Ila (ex-Alegre), but as the Australian season currently swings back into top gear, he’s in the Matt Allen camp aboard the Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban. However, another Irish line of interest continues with Wicklow-based designer Mark Mills, whose newest 45ft footer Concubine – fresh built in Dubai – is going to an Adelaide owner who will have her at optimum trim for her first big outing in the Hobart race.

163Flying machine. The new Mark Mills-designed 45ft Concubine arrives in Australia on November 22nd

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the Optimists gearing up for their February Sailfest in Baltimore, things at home really start on Friday February 4th when the Irish sailing focus closes in on the august yet friendly premises of the Royal College of Surgeons on Stephens Green in the heart of Dublin for the annual ISA/Afloat.ie National Sailing Awards. Sailors of the Month, Sailor of the Year, Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year and many other well-earned awards will be swept through in a festival of mutual congratulation and camaraderie which perfectly captures the spirit of a sport which has a longer history in Ireland than anywhere else.

164Can they do it again? The Royal Cork Yacht Club – with Marine Minister Simon Coveney – at the ISA/Afloat.ie Sailing Awards 2014 ceremony in the RCSI in Dublin on Friday 6th March 2015, when they swept the board and took the Mitsubishi Motors “Club of the Year” award for good measure. The 2015 awards will be presented at the same venue on Friday, February 4th 2016.

University sailing also comes top of the bill in the Springtime, with the Irish championship seeing titleholders UCD defend a position which also saw them representing Ireland at the Student Yachting Worlds in France in October, when they placed third overall. It sounds reasonable enough, but Ireland has won the Worlds a couple of times in the recent past, so there’s work to be done here.

Another area where work is being done is in the growing interest for Under 25 Squads in doing great things with revitalised J/24s. Cillian Dickson of Howth led his Under 25 group to success both in J/24 and open racing in 2015 with the J/24 Kilcullen, and the word is that 2016 will see at least three similar teams making the scene at national and local events.

But for boats with a lid, the top item on the agenda has to be the fact that this is a biennial Commodores’ Cup year, and we’re the defenders. In 2014, thanks to the single-minded determination of Anthony O’Leary, a competitive three boat team was somehow assembled from some very disparate parts, and the title - won in 2010 but undefended in 2012 in the depths of the recession - was re-taken in very positive style after a week of ferocious racing in late July in the Solent.

165Ireland nicely placed at the start of the Round the Island Race in the Commodore’s Cup 2014, with two British boats neatly sandwiched between Catapult (red hull) and Antix (silver hull). Catapult is now Antix, while the former Antix has been sold to Sweden.

The RORC Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup 2016 will be raced from Cowes from 23rd to 30th July 2016, and far from having to scrape around to assemble a team, the word is that ICRA may be mounting a two team defence/challenge on our behalf, as the RORC event has seen the rating band lowered to 1,000 to make it attractive to boats like J/109s. These super boats are finally taking off in Ireland as a premier class. It has taken some time, but as we’ve been saying for years, the J/109 might have been designed with the Irish context in mind, and they’re going to be a major part of our sailing for many years to come.

166They might have been designed precisely with Irish requirements in mind…….the J/109 class is finally beginning to take off at all main centres.

Through the season, cruiser-racer events swing into action at every level, both at home and nearby abroad, with the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent (Antix defending for Ireland here), the Silver’s Marine Scottish Series at Tarbert from May 27-30 (Rob McConnell’s A35 Fool’s Gold from Dunmore East is the defender) and then the big home one, the ICRA Nats at Howth from June 10th to 12th, staged just a week after Howth’s at-home major, the Lambay Races on June 4th.

167ICRA racing at its best – Liam Burke’s Corby 25 Tribal from Galway making knots at Kinsale in the ICRA Nats 2015. The ICRA Nats 2016 are at Howth from June 10th to 12th. Photo: ICRA

Meanwhile the re-vitalised ISORA programme (defending champion is Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth from the National YC) will have swung into action in the Irish Sea with a stated commitment to impinge adversely as little as possible – if at all – on long-established events, but for serious old salts the real story in June will be the countdown to the Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on Saturday June 18th.

Volvo Cars Ireland are in for the long haul on this one. So their first outing with the classic biennial circuit will be run fairly conservatively in the knowledge that legislation is going through the Dail to re-organise the administration of Wicklow Harbour (among other ports). Thus it’s on the cards that in the future, Wicklow Sailing Club and their supportive new sponsor will find they have a harbour much-improved to host visiting boats. But for 2016, the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire will be providing support berths for larger craft, as too will Greystones Marina in between.

168
International participation in the biennial Round Ireland Race – Piet Vroon’s famous Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens making away from the Wicklow starting line on a perect summer’s day. In 2016, Volvo Cars Ireland will be starting a longterm sponsorship of the race.

But even with the current facilities, it’s going to be quite a happening with serious multi-hulls involved for the first time, and Grand Prix racers of the calibre of George David’s Rambler 88 stepping up to the plate, while in the body of the fleet the Shanahan’s Ruth has unfinished business – in 2014 they missed the win by seven minutes to Richard Harris’s Tanit from Scotland.

Until this late-June stage of the season, the south coast will have been fairly quiet in terms of events with an international flavour, but all that changes between 10th and 15th July when the Royal Cork’s Volvo Cork Week swings into action with the added interest (to put it mildly) of the IRC European Championship. This completely new event – a joint venture between the RORC and the RCYC – is still at the developmental stage, but with some far-thinking organisers behind it such as Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork and Michael Boyd of RORC, it has all the makings of something very special indeed, and will blend in well with July’s expanding European programme as teams work on their performance with the Commodores’ Cup at the end of July providing the Grand Finale.

But of course not everyone seeks the international limelight. There are plenty of local events to keep cruiser-racers busy, and the WIORA Championship 2016 will be from June 29th to July 02nd, hosted by the very venerable Royal Western of Ireland Yacht at Kilrush, which is itself a place re-born since the marina and harbour were taken over by leading harbour engineers L & M Keating.

Inevitably with the August Bank Holiday Monday being precisely on August 1st, traditional events in 2016 will find themselves being compressed into that first week of August, but if you were really keen it might be just be possible to finish the WIORA at Kilrush and then hare round to Schull for Calves Week from Tuesday August 2nd to Friday August 5th, but there are probably too many temptations on the way as you progress along Ireland’s top cruising coast.

However, if you’re not into total relax mode by the time August arrives, then there’s the Olympics in Rio to gather you up in its crazy five ring circus with the sailing events in a continuous tapestry from 5th August 21st August. The Irish challenge for the 2016 Olympiad is still in something of a state of flux as three places have been secured with other possibilities, but the whole thing is total melting-pot stuff, so it’s too early yet to make predictions.

But you don’t have to look to Rio for stellar performance in 2016 as we’ve top level dinghy racing coming to Ireland with the Laser Radial Youth World Championship being hosted in a joint venture by Dun Laoghaire Harbour and the Royal St George YC from Saturday July 23rd to Saturday July 30th, yet another event which has relevance in a different context as the administration of Dun Laoghaire Harbour could well be in a new context in the near future.

Any overview of the dinghy and inshore keelboat scene soon reminds you of the exasperation some observers feel at a global sport which boasts something like 143 recognised World Championships in its annual international programme. And that’s only counting World Championships. Add in Europeans, and numbers increase exponentially, but we have a Europeans in Ireland in 2016 with the Mirrors gathering from 7th to 12th August for racing with one of the most interesting little boats afloat at the RCYC in Crosshaven.

169Yet another new boat design. But the new Phil Morrison-designed National 18 has been making a very good impression in Cork Harbour. Photo: Robert Bateman

For their owners, all boats are interesting - that’s the way it is with boats. Indeed, for many participants, it’s not so much the sport as the vehicles themselves which are the raison d’etre of the whole business. And thus we find that in Ireland as elsewhere, traditional, classic and vintage boats are moving ever higher up the agenda with each season’s programme-making.

It could be argued that there’s nowhere better in the world to find such intriguing and individual boats playing an accepted and natural role in the sailing scene than in the Greater Dublin region. 2016 may also be witnessing the centenary of the Easter Rising and the Irish Revolution. But despite the turmoil of a hundred years ago, we’re basically a very settled and civilised society, and when we find a boat type we like, we tend to stay with her. And equally as a reasonable society we will happily accept the restrictions of one design racing in order to provide affordable sport.

Thus around Dublin we can find the Water Wags whose class organisation dates back to 1886, even if the boats themselves are the new-fangled version from around 1902 or thereabouts. Equally part of the scene are the Howth 17s, undiluted since 1898. And even boats which we think of as new – such as the International Dragons – are now vintage and some of their best racing in 2016 will be in Glandore where the presiding genius is Don Street and Gypsy, numbering 167 years between them, though it’s rude to ask which way the division falls.

1610
Back to her birthplace. Ian Malcolm’s Howth 17 Aura at Carrickfergus, where she was built by John Hilditch in 1898. Several vintage Hilditch-built boats plan to join the 150th Anniversary celebrations of Carrickfergus Sailing Club and the Royal Ulster yacht Club on Belfast Lough next June. Photo: Damian Cronin

Part of the traditional and classic boat scene in Dublin is the annual Leinster Trophy Race of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association at the June Bank Holiday, and newly-elected DBOGA President denis Aylmer with his Cornish Crabber Mona is defending champion. But this year the classic focus shifts to Belfast Lough at the end of June, as both Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Royal Ulster Yacht Club are celebrating their 150th Anniveraries.

They’ll have many separate events, but as Carrickfergus was also the location of the famous Hilditch boat-building yard where many famous wooden one designs were built between 1892 and 1914, there’ll be a Hilditch Regatta at Carrickfergus morphing into a RUYC Classic Yacht Festival across Belfast Lough at Bangor between Wednesday June 22nd and Monday June 27th, with vintage fleets eligible including Strangford Lough Rivers, the Glens, Howth 17s, Belfast Lough Waverleys, Ballyholme Bays and indeed any classics willing to travel such as Water Wags and vintage Dragons.

1611
Senior Hilditch boat. The Mylne-designed Belfast Lough Island Class yawl Trasnagh, seen here under her new Bermudan rig in 1933, is expected to join the 150th Anniversary celebrations in Belfast Lough in the summer of 2016. Photo courtesy RNIYC

1612As she was, so she is again. Tern – seen here in 1898 – has been so faithfully restored in 2015 that she even has replicated the inverted 2 for her sail number 7. They couldn’t find a 7 in the sailmakers loft when the boats were being commissioned in a hurry in May 1897. Photo courtesy RUYC

There may even be an appearance by two of the Hilditch daddies of them all, the Fife-designed Belfast Lough Class I 25ft LWL OD Tern of 1897 vintage which has re-emerged in the Mediterranean so effectively restored that she won her class at Les Voiles de St Tropez in September 2015, and the Mylne-designed 39ft LOA Island Class yawl Trasnagh, built in 1913 to join her sisters at Cultra anchorage to make up a fleet of the worlds first true cruiser-racer one designs.

At the other end of the size scale, one of the best new events of 2015 was the Dinghyfest at Royal Cork in August, which was such a success straight out of the box that they’re going to run it again in 2016 on much the same format, and the word is that classes are already queuing to take part in something which could well be a very welcome distraction from Olympic angst.

MAIN 2016 SAILING EVENTS OF IRISH INTEREST 

February 4th ISA/Afloat.ie Annual Awards RCSI, Dublin

May 27th to 30th Silver’s Scottish Series Tarbert, Loch Fyne

June 10th to 12th ICRA Nats Howth

June 18th Volvo Round Ireland Race Wicklow

June 22nd to 27th Belfast Lough Classics Carrickfergus & Bangor

July 10th to 15th Volvo Cork Week & IRC Europeans Royal Cork YC

July 23rd to 30th Laser Youth Radial Worlds RStGYC

July 23rd to 30th Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup Cowes

August 5th to 21st Sailing Olympics 2016 Rio de Janeiro

August 7th to 12th Mirror Europeans Royal Cork YC

October 1st to 2nd All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championship

October Student Yachting World Cup France

October 22nd Rolex Middle Sea Race Malta

2016 ISA FIXTURE LIST

StartEndNameBoat ClassVenue
06/02/16 07/02/16 IUSA Westerns Fireflies Killaloe SC
25/02/16 28/02/16 IUSA Varsities Fireflies Kenmare
26/03/16 27/03/16 Munster Championships Laser Baltimore Sailing Club
10/04/16 10/04/16 Traveller 1 Topper East Down YC
23/04/16 24/04/16 Mirror Westerns Mirror Sligo YC
23/04/16 24/04/16 Ulster Championships Laser Coounty Antrim Yacht Club
23/04/16 24/04/16 RS400 Easterns RS Royal St George YC
23/04/16 24/04/16 RS200 Easterns RS Royal St George YC
24/04/16 24/04/16 Traveller 2 Topper Lough Derg YC
08/05/16 08/05/16 Traveller 3 Topper Wexford Harbour B&TC
14/05/16 16/05/16 Leinster Optimist Championships Optimist Royal St George YC
14/05/16 15/05/16 Optimist Leinsters Optimist Royal St George YC
21/05/16 22/05/16 Ulster Championships Topper Donaghadee SC
21/05/16 22/05/16 GP14 OT & Purcell GP14 Swords Sailing & BC
21/05/16 22/05/16 J/24 Northerrns J/24 Sligo YC
21/05/16 22/05/16 RS400 Northerns RS Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club
27/05/16 29/05/16 Sportsboat Cup 2016 Various Howth YC
27/05/16 29/05/16 Dragon East Coast Championship Dragon Royal Irish YC
28/05/16 29/05/16 Squib Northern Championship Squib Killyleagh SC
04/06/16 04/06/16 Lambay Races 2016 All Classes Howth YC
10/06/16 12/06/16 ICRA National Championships 2016 Cruisers Howth YC
10/06/16 12/06/16 Wayfarer National Championship Wayfarer Ramor Watersports Club
11/06/16 12/06/16 Optimist Connaughts Optimist Foynes YC
18/06/16   Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race Cruisers Wicklow SC
18/06/16 18/06/16 Royal Alfred Bloomsday Regatta All Classes National YC
18/06/16 19/06/16 Leinster Championships Topper Skerries SC
25/06/16 26/06/16 GP14 Ulsters GP14 East Down YC
25/06/16 26/06/16 RS400 Westerns RS Sligo YC
25/06/16 26/06/16 RS200 Westerns RS Sligo YC
01/07/16 01/07/16 Optimist VP Team Racing Cup Optimist Malahide YC
01/07/16 03/07/16 White Sails and Non Spinnaker Team Challenge Cruisers Royal St George YC
01/07/16 03/07/16 Dingy West 2016 - Sailing the Wild Atlantic All Dinghies Galway Bay Sailing Club
02/07/16 03/07/16 Connaught Championships Laser Lough Derg YC
02/07/16 03/07/16 Optimist Ulsters Optimist Malahide YC
02/07/16 03/07/16 J/24 Southerns J/24 Royal Cork YC
02/07/16 03/07/16 Fireball Leinsters Fireball Wexford Harbour B&TC
02/07/16 04/07/16 Irish Nationals Topper Royal Cork YC
10/07/16 15/07/16 Volvo Cork Week & IRC European Championships Various Royal Cork YC
15/07/16 17/07/16 Ruffian 23 National Championship Ruffian 23 Dun Laoghaire MYC
16/07/16 17/07/16 Optimist Crosbie Cup Optimist Lough Ree YC
16/07/16 17/07/16 Leinster Championships Laser National YC
17/07/16 17/07/16 Traveller 4 Topper Carrickfergus SC
22/07/16 24/07/16 Mirror National Championships Mirror Sutton Dinghy Club
23/07/16 30/07/16 Laser Radial World Championships (Men's & Youth's) Laser Royal St George YC
23/07/16 24/07/16 GP14 Leinsters GP14 Sutton Dinghy Club
23/07/16 24/07/16 RS400 Southerns RS Lough Ree YC
23/07/16 24/07/16 RS200 Southerns RS Lough Ree YC
23/07/16 29/07/16 World Championships Topper Ballyholme YC
29/06/16 02/07/16 WIORA 2016 Cruisers Royal Western YC
30/07/16 01/08/16 Arklow Maritime Festival All Classes Arklow SC
06/08/16 07/08/16 J/24 Westerns J/24 Lough Ree YC
07/08/16 07/08/16 Sutton Dinghy Regatta All Classes Sutton Dinghy Club
07/08/16 12/08/16 Mirror Europeans 2016 Mirror Royal Cork YC
09/08/16 11/08/16 420 Nationals 420 Howth YC
12/08/16 13/08/16 Sailability President's Cup Various Kinsale YC
12/08/16 14/08/16 Fireball Nationals Fireball Howth YC
15/08/16 19/08/16 Optimist Irish Nationals Optimist Lough Derg YC
19/08/16 21/08/16 Squib Irish National Championship Squib Kinsale YC
20/08/16 23/08/16 National Championships Laser Galway Bay Sailing Club
26/08/16 28/08/16 RS400 Irish Nationals RS Schull Harbour SC
26/08/16 28/08/16 RS400 Irish Nationals RS Schull Harbour SC
27/08/16 29/08/16 GP14 Irish & Masters GP14 Skerries SC
27/08/16 28/08/16 Munster Championships Topper Kinsale YC
27/08/16 28/08/16 Mirror Northerns Mirror Royal North Of Ireland YC
27/08/16 28/08/16 Topper Munster Championship Topper Kinsale YC
28/08/16 28/08/16 Taste of Greystones Cruiser Regatta Cruisers Greystones SC
31/08/16 04/09/16 Dragon Irish Championship Dragon Kinsale YC
02/09/16 04/09/16 J/24 Nationals J/24 Royal St George YC
03/09/16 04/09/16 Wayfarer Inland Championship Wayfarer Callaun SC
10/09/16 11/09/16 Optimist Munsters Optimist Royal Cork YC
10/09/16 11/09/16 Fireball Munsters Fireball Killaloe SC
11/09/16 11/09/16 Traveller 5 Topper Killyleagh SC
17/09/16 18/09/16 All Ireland Inter-Schools Championship All Classes Sutton Dinghy Club
24/09/16 25/09/16 GP14 Autumn & Youth GP14 Sligo YC
24/09/16 25/09/16 ISA All Ireland Youth Championships TBC TBC
01/10/16 02/10/16 ISA All Ireland Senior Championships J80 TBC
15/10/16 16/10/16 Squib Inland Championship/Freshwater Regatta Squib Lough Derg YC
Published in W M Nixon

#springafloat – Spring Afloat hits the newsstands with all the latest news and views on the Irish sailing and boating scene. To celebrate the arrival of the Tall Ships to Belfast in July, the German sailing ship Alexander von Humboldt graces Afloat's front cover as plans for a new Irish Tall Ship gather pace. There's pages of news with updates on; the ISA's new Olympic fund; Lifejacket safety issues; Old Gaffers' cruise; Belfast launches Tall Ships; National sailing league, anyone?; Anthony O'Leary & Commodore's Cup Team take 'Sailor of the Year' accolade; Ilen uniting community; Council wants DL control; New Baltimore pontoon; Greystones club houses; Stena leaves Dun Laoghaire and lots lots more

Scroll down for more details of the content inside this issue. Buy your copy now!

Maritime web awards

Who's making waves online?

Visit Derry

Sail Ireland's North West and discover Donegal's rugged coastline

A Tall Ship for Ireland

The Tall Ships return to Ireland in style this summer with a major fleet assembly in Belfast.

Racing Round–up Autumn league

A brand new dinghy week, a decision to modernise the Squib, UCC success in Schull plus moves to re–ignite dinghy sailing on the capital's waters

Astrid - The Mayday Call

Sailor John Leahy tells how he alerted the rescue services

Inland Waters 

Ulster canal restoration underway

Brokerage

The latest boats and equipment in Ireland's marine marketplace

Classifieds

A selection of Afloat.ie's online classified adverts

Dubarry Nautical Crossword

A nautical crossword with a great boating prize of Dubarry deck shoes

Soundings

An assembly worthy of Rembrandt at the Royal College of Surgeons

Published in News Update

#soy – Yesterday's Afloat.ie/Irish Sailing Association annual sailing awards ceremony saw a remarkable gathering of talented boat people and their supporters and friends at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin to honour the Best of the Best in company with Minster for the Marine Simon Coveney. The Sailor of the Year title went to Anthony O'Leary of Cork and our all-conquering Commodore's Cup team, while the Youth Sailor of the Year is Laser Gold Medallist Finn Lynch of County Carlow, who currently sails from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, but started his stellar sailing career with the lakeside Blessington Sailing Club up in the Wicklow Hills.

In addition, Mayo Sailing Club was chosen from upwards of 80 training centres – both clubs and commercial ventures – as the Training Centre of the Year, while the venerable Royal Cork Yacht Club, currently led by Admiral Pat Lyons, assumes the mantle of ISA/Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2015 in continuation of an informal pioneering inter-club contest - dating back to 1979 - which will resume its long-established tradition of a proper handover ceremony for the coveted ship's wheel trophy in the winner's Crosshaven clubhouse as the new season gets fully under way.

Meanwhile, Afloat's W M Nixon performed as MC in yesterday's ceremony, and in doing so he was assisted by the discovery that the venue had unexpected historic links with some of the great figures in Irish sailing history, as he now explains.

The fine building of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland adds a bit of real class to the west side of St Stephen's Green, and it's almost exactly at the point which most of us think of as the absolute centre of Dublin, the very heart of the city where Grafton Street winds away from the Green's northwest corner.

Yesterday afternoon it became the heart of Irish sailing too, and we struck purest gold after reflecting that the only President of the RCSI of whom we had any knowledge of a strong sailing connection was Sir Thomas Myles.

Thomas Myles (1857-1937) was one of those larger-than-life characters who completely upset our perceptions of the Victorians as self-effacing and quiet people of an overly religious disposition. A Limerick Protestant who wore his faith lightly, he was a Home Rule supporter from an early age, and while studying medicine at Trinity College in Dublin he became a university boxing champion of such continuing power that at the age of thirty he went three rounds with the legendary prize fighter John L Sullivan.

Sailing was among his many sports, and as his reputation and income grew with his success as a surgeon, so too did the size of the yachts which he sailed from the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay. By the 1890s he was one of the most eminent surgeons in the city, and in a contest at the turn of the century he stood as firm favourite for the election to be the President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for the period 1900 to 1902.

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Thomas Myles around the time he was President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

But his opponent, one Dr Henry FitzGibbon, refused to accept the situation on the grounds that Myles' public involvement with the United Irish League would bring disrepute upon the college, and he went to court to argue his case that Myles shouldn't be allowed to stand for election in the first place .

Now it so happened that another keen sailing man, Walter Boyd of Howth (his son was to design the Howth 17s), was the judge who heard the case. Boyd is best known for his twelve years as a bankruptcy judge which resulted in the phrase "breaking Boyd's heart" becoming Dublinese to describe profligacy as referenced in Joyce's Ulysses. But in 1897 he had returned to more general cases, thus it was Boyd who heard the FitzGibbon/Myles case, and he threw out the plaintiff's arguments with such vigour that FitzGibbon was obliged to publish apologies and withdraw his candidature.

So when Thomas Myles became the president of the RCSI in 1900, it was an elevation which received much more than the usual attention around town. And in a style typical of the man, he set in motion the process whereby the College started to build itself the Grand Banqueting and Examination Hall, which is where the great and the good of Irish sailing were assembled yesterday.

The impressive new hall wasn't fully finished until 1904, but by that time its instigator had become Sir Thomas Myles Bt, as was the custom with retiring Presidents of the RCSI. Having seen the new building works under way, his retirement from office - though not from working as a surgeon - meant he'd more time on his hands, so he bought himself a great big ketch, the 121-ton Dorothy, which he cruised on the coasts of Europe.

But by 1910 or perhaps even earlier, he had downsized to the more workmanlike and manageable 60ft Chotah, which had been built in Brixham in Devon in the 1890s and was apparently not unlike a Brixham trawler, for the ever busy Wally McGuirk of Howth has discovered that she ended her days as an Arklow fishing boat.

The reason Wally and others are so interested in Chotah is that she is the missing link in the 1914 Howth and Kilcoole gun-runnings. We know all about the "flagship" of that event, Erskine and Molly Childers' Asgard, we know too about Conor O'Brien's ancient ketch Kelpie and have photos of her as well, and we even know a little bit about the Nugget, the McLaughlin family's boat which was the first fishing boat in Howth to be fitted with an engine.

But of the Chotah we know very little at the moment, but hope that the newfound Arklow connection will discover a photo. What is known is that when the gun-running committee sought to find a suitable vessel with auxiliary power to take over the cargo of 600 guns from Conor O'Brien's engineless Kelpie in order to land them on the beach at Kilcoole in County Wicklow, that pillar of society Sir Thomas Myles willingly agreed to bring Chotah in on the action. He and his crew took aboard the guns off St Tudwal's Island just south of Abersoch on the Welsh coast, and brought them across Channel to land at Kilcoole a few days after Asgard had made her much more high profile landing at Howth.

If you find all this insurgency activity by significant figures in Irish society a bit bewildering to comprehend in all its complexity, you ain't heard nothing yet. The Great War broke out just a few days later, and in a general mobilization Sir Thomas Myles Bt was soon appointed to being a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army in order that he could head up a large Royal Army Medical Corps medical and surgery unit in his hospitals and in the field.

Then in November 1914 – barely three months after he had been personally involved in smuggling guns into Ireland while evading the surveillance of His Majesty's Armed Services – Sir Thomas Myles was appointed Honorary Surgeon to King George V. Yet it's said that when the 1916 Easter Rising took place, he readily found the facilities to treat any wounded rebels, and even managed to hide those on the run in the rabbit warrens of hundreds of rooms which were to be found in the great Dublin hospitals under his supervision.

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Pillar of society. Sir Thomas Myles sailing with family and friends aboard his cutter Faith in the 1920s. Photo courtesy RIYC

So if you happened to notice me looking around in some wonderment at the stately and ordered design of the Banquetting Hall in the Royal College of Surgeons yesterday afternoon while I reflected on the man who had caused this very fine room and the handsome edifice about it to be built, now maybe you'll understand why. Yet such is the complexity of Irish sailing in its myriad of forms that it's arguably all of a piece with the extraordinary lifepath of people like Sir Thomas Myles, and the ISA President's speech captured some of the problems people face in trying to administer this weird sport of ours.

The new Sailor of the Year Anthony O'Leary wasn't present for the awards as he is currently in the midst of a long-planned sailing campaign in Florida. But for the actual handover, his place was well taken by his son Robert and RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, who was co-skipper of Quokka in the successful Commodore's Cup team.

Things could have become completely surreal as the President himself, David Lovergove, wasn't at the event as his flight home from America the day before had been cancelled because of exceptionally heavy snowfalls on the US East Coast. But ISA Board Member David O'Brien of Cork of gallantly stepped up to the plate to fulfill the Presidential role, and made a fine job of delivering a speech which well encapsulates what the day was all about:

"Flag Officers, distinguished guests and fellow sailors, you are all very welcome here this afternoon. In looking out over this friendly assembly - some of whom I know very well, many of whom I know quite well, and some of whom I don't know at all but am looking forward very much to meeting – it is clearly obvious that the sailing and boating community in Ireland is one of enormous diversity.

In fact, in thinking of the sheer range and varying levels of activities afloat which we in the ISA try to represent, I am reminded of President de Gaulle's exasperated comment about the difficulties inherent in trying to govern France: "How can you administer a country" demanded the frustrated General "which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?"

Our fellow members of the Irish sailing and boating community may well think that we on the Board of the Irish Sailing Association tend to see ourselves as the big cheeses among the many varieties. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. Like yourselves, we could be described as the small artisan cheeses of sailing, with a strong local flavour. But it happens that it has fallen to us on the Board at this time, to undertake the task of re-shaping the Irish Sailing Association as it emerges rather bruised from the economic recession, and we need your help.

So I would ask you to be sympathetic to us in the administration of the Irish Sailing Association as we work to re-form our structures and implement our new Strategic Plan 2015-2020. It has been most encouraging the way that the Public Consultation Meetings in Dun Laoghaire, Cork and Galway in recent weeks have been so well attended, and from them we have gained very useful insights to work with you towards a productive, worthwhile and groundbreaking ISA Annual General Meeting on March 28th.

But that's another day's work. This afternoon, we are here for a celebration to honour Irish sailing and its many successes both individually and in team efforts through 2014. This function began as a thought in my mind when, during last summer, we were getting reports of fantastic results being achieved by Irish sailors and I felt that we, as the Board of the ISA, should recognize these achievements in some way. A reception was considered, then as Summer progressed and incredible achievements continued to roll in, I realized that such receptions would almost need to be held on a weekly basis.

So it was decided to wait until year end and combine the celebration of Irish sailing achievements with the presenting of the awards. Yet even that is a cause of concern. You see, in looking over the extraordinary listings for 2014, for the life of me I don't see how 2015 can even begin to match it. But as with 2014, doubtless this year will also produce some very welcome good news stories, and we look forward to the new season very much indeed, with the confidence that Ireland will continue to punch well above its weight in the world of sailing.

The structure of this afternoon's awards ceremony will help you to form a comprehensive picture of the entire Irish sailing and boating scene. Most appropriately, we will begin with the award for the ISA Training Centre of the Year, which we reckon to have been the best in 2014 from a lineup which includes an impressive 80 training facilities, run both in clubs, and as commercial ventures.

It's also worth noting that there are now 24 secondary schools in Ireland, which include sailing as a sports option in their curriculum. A while ago, I visited Schull Sailing School and was bowled over by the fact that the children in the local school select sailing as their sport of first choice, ahead of rugby, soccer, Gaelic football, hurling, hockey etc. Now that is some achievement. This is clearly a step in the right direction, and it leads us to the next part of our ceremony, the award for the ISA Youth Sailor of the Year.

Having laid the foundations, so to speak, we then move on to the announcement of the ISA/Mitsubishi Motors "Sailing Club of the Year" award. The demographics and population spread of Ireland are such that our sailing clubs play the key role in most of our sailing development, and as we had the world's first sailing club in 1720, our clubs are literally world class.

We not only invented sailing clubs, but back in 1979 we became the first sailing country in the world to have an informal "Club of the Year" competition. Since 1986, it has been sponsored by our very good friends of Irish sailing at Mitsubishi Motors.

We feel that today's national gathering is the appropriate time to announce the winner, which will be known as the Sailing Club of the Year 2015. But in time-honoured tradition, as the new season gathers pace, there will be another ceremony in the winning clubhouse for the full and final handover of the historic ship's wheel trophy, when the members can share in the successes obtained by their top competitors and administrators.

With this framework of Irish sailing clearly in place, we then conclude with the peak of achievement, the ISA/Afloat "Sailor of the Year 2014". Afloat's ownership of this award – based on Sailor of the Month winners - has a long history, going back to 1996, and it successfully highlights achievement in every area of sailing.

One month, you might get an exceptional voyage honoured, while the next month it might be a major international dinghy championship victory. The diversity is total. And just occasionally, to emphasise that we are a community, which functions afloat and ashore, the monthly award might go to someone who has given selflessly of their time for sailing administration.

The overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to Irish sailing during 2014.

The boating public has had a chance to nominate their top three through an online poll, Afloat.ie got a vote too and the Sailor of the Year judges have decided the final winner.

I cannot conclude without acknowledging our sponsors. In addition to those mentioned here today – Dublin Port, Parasol and Mitsubishi Motors - I also want to thank Providence Resources for their contribution to the high performance squad. However, it is the incredible support that we receive from the Irish Sports Council that allows us to function and without whose support we would not have nearly as much to celebrate today as we have. Year after year the Sports Council continues to support sailing and behalf of Irish sailors, I thank you most sincerely".

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The men who raced the open ocean. At the reception in the RCSI were (left to right) Dickie Gomes (Sailor of the Month for May 2014), Caroline Coyne, and her husband Liam Coyne (Sailor of the Month for August 2014). Both Dickie and Liam have sailed short-handed Round Britain and Ireland Races with success, the former in 1982 and the latter in 2014. Liam Coyne topped the Afloat.ie online poll for 2014. Photo: W M Nixon

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Josephine Keller, Aisling Keller, Ann Carroll, Nicole Hemeryck and Oisine Hemeryck 

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Conor Quinn and Adam D'Arcy

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Pat O'Neill and Charles Seargent

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Matt McGovern, Ryan Seaton and Saskia Tidey

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 Charles Sargent, Brian Craig and Paddy O'Neill

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Jack Roy, David Vinnell, and Ron Hutchieson

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John D'Arcy, Kate D'Arcy, Imelda D'Arcy and Adam D'Arcy

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Hal Bleakley and Padraic O Brolchain

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Ian Dickson, Andy Johnston, Jim Lampkin  and Jane Johnston

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Isabella Morehead, Claire Burke and Muireann Guifoyle

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Tony O'Driscoll and David Metcalfe

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Sandra Wynne and Edwin Fay

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Brian Craig and Kieran Mulvey, Chairman, Irish Sports Council

Published in W M Nixon
Page 2 of 4

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