Displaying items by tag: Annalise Murphy
Olympic Silver medalist, Annalise Murphy may well be on board fifth placed 'Turn the Tide on Plastic' as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet hurtles towards the finish line in Cardiff but her recently announced Olympic 49er FX campaign is gaining momentum in her absence, as Afloat.ie's photo from the National Yacht Club reveals today.
Sporting the sail number IRL1372, Murphy's coach Rory Fitzpatrick was out on Dublin Bay in the 49erFX dinghy, training in anticipation of the return of the Rio superstar, now teamed up with Katie Tingle of Royal Cork in the double-handed women's class.
Murphy's full-on Tokyo 2020 campaign commences as soon as she gets free of VOR duties and it certainly looks like she wants to waste no time in ensuring her new campaign is up to speed.
The skiff is currently based at her NYC club but will shortly transfer to Irish Sailing's new 'Performance HQ' elsewhere in the harbour, where work started on a new floating dock last Friday.
The news is revealed in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column here and it follows Murphy's two year hiatus from the class since Rio that had left everyone wondering, including team management, what the former European Radial Champion, would do next.
Ireland's most successful Olympic sailor, famously fourth in London and second in Rio, is currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race as a crew member on Dee Caffari's Turn the Tide on Plastic, placed last in the seven boat fleet.
During this time Murphy (28) missed two important Radial World Championships, one through injury and more recently in April when she clarified why she would not attend this year's Danish Worlds in August, claiming she wanted more time following the end of the VOR to prepare for a 'return to the Radial'.
“If I was to go to Aarhus [Denmark] I wouldn’t have sailed the boat for almost a full year. I know how much work is needed to prepare for an event like that – I’m not stupid – you have to work hard and prepare, and I want to be winning events and in the hunt for medals rather than just making up the numbers.”
Regardless of her supreme achievements in the single–handed Radial spanning some 15–years, this short campaign will inevitably mean she will have to be content 'to be making up the numbers', at least at the beginning of the 49erFX bid, in a fleet where international competition in the class has been building steadily since Rio.
Murphy previously hinted at some switch when she said last month she was determined to complete her VOR commitment before deciding the 'best route' back to the Olympics.
Whichever way it is viewed, the switch is a big one for the National Yacht Club sailor who vowed to win Gold for Ireland during her homecoming celebrations in September 2016.
While details of the fledgling campaign are still scant, what is known is that Murphy must get up to competition speed in a new twin–trapezing skiff and negotiate sailing with a new partner as opposed to single–handed sailing; all this within a 24–month time–frame.
She intends to train every day with new team–mate Katie Tingle of Royal Cork Yacht Club, when the pair commence in July.
Murphy is not the only Dun Laoghaire sailor racing the 49erFX for Tokyo. She will be competing against former Rio team mate, Saskia Tidey who now sails for Team GB for 2020, on the circuit.
The 49er FX dinghy is a true high performance skiff, demanding athleticism, balance, skill and daring. The FX was developed to show to the world how spectacular sailing as a sport is and what 'amazing athletes' women sailors are.
Murphy now follows a path chosen by Brazilian Robert Scheidt, who has two Olympic gold Laser medals to his name, and who chose to campaign a mens 49er skiff for Tokyo, albeit late in his career. Sheidt was no stranger to sailing in Two Person fleets having taking Olympic silver and bronze medals in the Star, but the High Performance Skiff presented the 44–year–old champion with a different challenge that turned out to be short–lived one as he announced his retirement in 2017.
Much more in the Irish Times here
As Independent.ie reports, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Patrick O’Reilly struck Frank Shannon with the weapon after he was jeered for his support of “minority sports” at Tallaght’s Kiltipper Inn on 6 August 2016.
Defending barrister Gaby Dean BL told the court that her client “saw red” at the ridicule and left the pub to retrieve the bat, which which he assaulted Shannon.
Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.
Caffari’s crew – including Ireland's own Annalise Murphy – set themselves up as the most easterly boat as the seven-strong fleet climb up the coast of Brazil, bound for the finish in Newport, USA some 4,000 miles away.
Caffari and Turn the Tide on Plastic navigator Nico Lunven gambled that being furthest east would yield results, with better breeze giving them a boost on their rivals.
And as Leg 8 approached its sixth day, their tactics seemed to have paid off as they edged out a lead of more than 11 miles on former leg leaders Vestas 11th Hour Racing.
Despite their gains, it has been anything but plain sailing for Turn the Tide on Plastic as they try to dodge the huge South Atlantic clouds threatening to slow their progress north.
“We have reached the point where we can ease the sheets and sail faster, however the clouds have a different idea,” Caffari said.
“Last night we spent about eight hours under a cloud with the pressure changing all the time, the wind direction shifting all the time and it constantly raining.
“Endless sail changes relied on the crew being up for most of it and so there was very little sleep to be had. Even now we have cleared the monster clouds we have constant clouds rolling through.
“Some big some small, all with a wind pressure change, all with a slight wind shift and some with some precipitation. We have made a sail plan choice that allows us to make good progress when we are in real wind and able to adjust to the changes when we are facing yet another cloud.
“We now just need to keep trying to go fast in the right direction. Not always easy when yet another cloud is trying to make you wait for the others to overtake.”
Challenges aside, the mood onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic remains high.
“We’re leading right now which is fantastic,” Italian crew member Francesca Clapcich said. “We’re sailing a really solid leg – we just have to keep doing what we’re doing for another two weeks!”
The frontrunners aren’t the only ones suffering in the unstable weather brought about by the cloud activity.
With winds rocketing from less than 10 knots to 30 in a matter of minutes the chasing pack are just as susceptible to being caught out.
“There’s a lot of hot air where we are, and a lot of energy being created,” said Rob Greenhalgh, helmsman on sixth-placed MAPFRE. “These clouds pop up all over the place and they’re massive.
“Hopefully we’re through the worst of it now. The forecast for the next 48 hours is for lifting breeze and slightly faster angles.”
At 1300 UTC, MAPFRE were trailing Turn the Tide on Plastic by 48 miles but were the fastest boat in the fleet, making 16.2 knots.
“We’re in not too bad a shape but Turn the Tide are pushing forward and will continue to do so,” Greenhalgh added. “Hopefully things then change a bit and we can start getting back into them.”
Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag were today paying the price for being the most westerly boat, slipping to almost 50 miles behind the frontrunners.
The race tracker is currently live and will remain so for another 24 hours, allowing race fans to live out the battle for Leg 8 in real time.
Leg 8 Position Report, Friday 27 April (Day 6) at 4.20pm Irish time/3.20pm UTC:
- Turn The Tide on Plastic - DTF 4,003.7 nautical miles
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing +11.1 nautical miles
- Dongfeng Race Team +21.6
- Team Brunel +29.3
- Team AkzoNobel +30.5
- MAPFRE +49.8
- Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +56.7
Following the news that Annalise Murphy will not contest this year’s Sailing World Championships in the Laser Radial class, the Olympic Silver medallist has expanded on the reason behind her decision not to race in Denmark and confirmed her Olympic ambition for Tokyo 2020 Gold in this morning's Irish Times.
Earlier on Afloat.ie, Olympic Team Manager James O'Callaghan confirmed Aoife Hopkins as the automatic replacement for Murphy who is currently on Volvo Ocean Race duty with the Turn the Tide on Plastics Campaign.
O'Callaghan said that the National Yacht Club ace opted not to take the place as 'she decided she would not have enough time between finishing her VOR commitments and delivering a result she would be proud of'.
The Rathfarnham sailor points to the intensity of training needed to compete in a world championship. “If I was to go to Aarhus [Denmark] I wouldn’t have sailed the boat for almost a full year. I know how much work is needed to prepare for an event like that – I’m not stupid – you have to work hard and prepare, and I want to be winning events and in the hunt for medals rather than just making up the numbers.”
The Irish sailing superstar will be well aware that a host of new talent plus some of her arch international rivals for Tokyo 2020 Gold are already ratcheting up their Radial campaigns, including Rio gold medalist Marit Boumeester of Holland. For example, at last week's Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta, Denmark's Anne-Marie Rindom, Britain's Alison Young and Boumeester, all Rio competitors, were consistently placed in the top five of the World Cup regatta.
Murphy tells the newspaper that her 'Olympic ambition definitely remains, and all options to continue campaigning will be examined, but I’m determined to complete the Volvo Ocean Race commitment before deciding the best route'.
Read much more in the Irish Times here
Ireland's Olympic Silver medalist Annalise Murphy (28) will not contest August's World Sailing Championships in Denmark where 40% of Tokyo Olympic places are up for grabs.
According to the Olympic Team Manager James O'Callaghan, the National Yacht Club ace has opted not to take the place as she decided she would not have enough time between finishing her Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) commitments and delivering 'a result she would be proud of'.
Murphy withdrew from the 2017 Radial World championships citing a knee injury sustained while sailing in Italy. She also withdrew from the Test Event in Aarhus in 2017 as a result of the same injury.
The Irish team for Aarhus is Finn Lynch in the Laser Standard, Hopkins in the Radial, and Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in the 49er. O'Callaghan expects Ireland could secure at least two Tokyo berths.
Subsequent to World Sailing's original allocation of nation places, Ireland applied for and has received extra places based on World Ranking points. Three further 49er skiff places have been granted and now there are places too both for Aisling Keller and Liam Glynn in the Laser classes.
Details of Ireland's Tokyo 2020 prospects are discussed in an Afloat.ie podcast with the team manager here.
With every great win comes a ripple effect. Annalise Murphy’s silver medal in sailing at the Rio Olympics in 2016 was good news for the country, for sport, and the sailing community in general. But how has the bounce been felt one year on?
President of Irish Sailing, Jack Roy commented “it’s interesting to look at the figures to see what impact, if any, Annalise’s medal has had on increasing awareness of sailing or attracting new people to our sport. We know that Olympic medals increase people’s enthusiasm for trying out a new sport, boxing and rowing being prime examples and it appears from our figures at the end of 2017 that there certainly has been a very positive effect that can be attributed to Annalise’s success in Rio”
More people sailing
As you’d expect, there’s been a bounce in the number of people sailing around the country. The Irish Sailing’s “Try Sailing” programme which encourages clubs and training centres to create opportunities and events for new sailors, saw a distinct rise this summer, with 5,816 people attending events. That’s a 61% increase on the 2016 numbers. Interestingly half of the sailors were female, and 57% were under 18. There’s an anticipated boost to club membership too of about 5%, but these figures won’t be concrete until the end of 2018.
But there are other ways in which the Annalise effect can be seen.
Annalise has played an ambassador role for sailing since her win. She’s been out and about, visiting her old schools, Grand Marshalling the St Patrick’s Day parade, appearing on TV, radio and podcasts, and working with Irish Sailing and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council visiting school children. All of which raise the profile of sailing and encourage a non-traditional audience to get out onto the water.
Third level recognise high-performance sailors
Some of the main universities, as a direct result of the Olympic medal and the corresponding increased awareness of sailing, have reassessed the way they view high performance athletes, and are allowing them to lengthen their degree programmes and award scholarships. For the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway athletes, this is a huge boost. By extending degree programmes, athletes can dedicate more time to their sporting careers whilst balancing that with the need to accomplish other life and career goals. UCD recently awarded Liam Glynn an Ad Astra scholarship. UCC have given three scholarships to Fionn Lyden, Seafra Guilfoyle and Mark Hassett. UCC also support Johnny Durcan on a pre-university programme which offers access to sports services and facilities. Aisling Keller, Aoife Hopkins and Sean Donnelly received sports scholarships from Trinity College Dublin this week.
Young women in sailing given a boost
And what about the young women who are competing competitively in sailing – what effect did Annalise’s win have on them ? Annalise has been very open in saying that she felt she had limited natural talent, putting her success down to hard work and determination.
For Hannah Leonard, a Transition Year student who sails Optimists out of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin, Annalise’s achievement had a big impact. “I’ve often thought about giving up [sailing], but Annalise wasn’t good in an Optimist and it gives me hope that I could be better in a different boat like the Laser”.
For Ella May, a Laser sailor aged 16, the win has given her a boost: “when you see how close it is to home, it becomes real. When you see someone who trains where you train and come up through the ranks like you do, and experiencing what you do, I feel there’s more hope”.
For Michele Halpany who runs the 420 Class and also the junior sailors at the National Yacht Club in Dublin, Annalise is a great role model for the girls. “She’s friendly and down to earth, and it gives them a boost when they see her and chat to her. For her, the win “reinforces that girls can do just as well [in sailing]. It’s a level playing field”.
A career in sailing
So if she is responsible for a bounce in people trying sailing this year, Annalise isn’t standing still. Her switch to off-shore sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race shows there’s life beyond the Olympics and that a career in sailing is possible.
If you’re interested in getting out onto the water but don’t know where to start, check out trysailing.ie
At least two different viewpoints may be taken on the remarkable and very long history of sailing in Ireland. Either you see it as a wonderful heritage, which should be celebrated with gala anniversaries, and whatever you’re having yourself, at every possible opportunity. Or else you might sadly admit that it’s a burden, a deadening load on all of us which stultifies development, restricts fresh thinking, and railroads the annual programme into a traditional pattern sailed in vintage boats which allows very little space for something with the instant appeal and intrinsic excitement of novelty.
But perhaps there’s a happy place somewhere in between, a thoughtful place among many events, where we can live comfortably with some astonishingly old throwbacks to the distant past, yet continue to modify the programme and our way of doing things in order to accommodate new ideas. And with any luck, we might somehow find space to come up with some bright ideas of our own to add to the rich and very varied tapestry of the world sailing scene. W M Nixon casts an eye over next season’s programme to see what it might bring to the party.
After the excitement of Annalise’s Silver Medal in Rio on August 2016, in 2017 there was a generally unstated but definite feeling that we were due a down-home year, a year when sailing in Ireland in all its quirkiness would be celebrated, and anything with a non-Olympic flavour would be given every encouragement to flourish.
Yet at the beginning of 2017, who could have predicted that as summer approached, it would be Annalise herself who would up-sticks from the pre-ordained Olympian way of doing things, and plunge into the maelstrom which is Volvo Ocean Racing?
Successful predicting doesn’t get any easier, even with detailed programes taking shape. Annalise’s progress in the rugged ocean racing world this will be continuing until the finish in June 2018, but thanks to the Volvo Race’s flexible approach to crewing arrangements, she will be able to opt out for long enough to get herself back into the Olympic Women’s Radial Laser mode from time to time to keep in touch for the big Tokyo 2020 Olympics countdown event in early August 2018, the two-week Hempel World Sailing Championship at Aarhus in Denmark.
There, with 40% of places up for grabs, many other Irish Olympic wannabees will be progressing after long and often lonely months and even years of doing the circuit. By then, several of them such as Aoife Hopkins will have thoroughly tested the waters in the Olympic Classes, starting with the Championships in Florida in January.
February sees action at home and abroad with the growing enthusiasm for Team Racing in action with the Trinity Varsities up on the lake at Blessington on Friday 9th/Saturday 10th February, which will fit them neatly around the Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year 2017” awards ceremony back down in Dublin at the RDS on the evening of Friday February 9th, where an exceptionally eclectic group of maritime high-flyers will gather to receive well-deserved praise for many remarkable - indeed, in some cases astonishing - achievements.
But late February will also see serious international racing on the other side of the Atlantic with the increasingly popular annual RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua on Monday 19th February. There’ll be a strong Irish contingent, and we have form here, as Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire won the first Caribbean 600 in 2009, then Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth won her class in 2016, and in 2017 it was all back on top again, as the overall winner, Hap Fauth’s Maxi72 Belle Mente, was navigated by our own Ian Moore.
However, February at home in Ireland for most sailors is conference time, and the ever-expanding annual Irish sailing Cruising Conference is scheduled for Saturday February 17th at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown in Dublin, the move to a Clayton Hotel’s conference facilities having started last year in Cork when bookings were so heavy they’d to change the venue from the original choice of the Port of Cork HQ Building.
Nevertheless those dedicated team racers in school and college are also maximising their use of February before exam countdowns take over everyone’s timetable, and there’s the Leinster Schools at RStGYC on February 17th, while the following weekend is the big one, the Irish Universities Championship. In 2017 they had Clifden as a very successful venue in an early weekend in March, in 2018 they’re pushing the early season envelope even further by using the weekend of 22nd-24th February, and the venue is again in the west, this time at Kilrush, County Clare.
Thus we reach the end of February with the season already well under way for some specialists, but mainstream sailors will still be in a different time-scale, and in March the first one for the diary is Irish Sailing’s AGM on Saturday 10th March, venue still to be confirmed. However for those who insist that sailing shouldn’t miss any month of the Irish year, the Royal Cork’s famous come-all-ye dinghy festival, the PY1000, is slated in for Sunday March 11th, and it’s quite something, in fact it’s fantastic.
It would be impossible to imagine contemporary Irish sailing without the Laser, that ageless wonder which has contributed so much to our sport since it first appeared here around 1970. Yes, 1970. To be completely accurate, the Laser will be having its Golden Jubilee in 2019, as the prototpypes and first production boats sailed in 1969, so when our first major Laser event of 2018 gets going, the Munsters at Baltimore on March 31st/April 1st, it will be part of a growing celebration which in 2018 will culminate in Ireland in the mega-fleet World Lasers Masters (we’re talking maybe 400 boats) in Dun Laoghaire in a joint NYC/RStGYC venture from 7th to 17th September 2018. That will be a joyous affair to bring Dun Laoghaire Harbour to an upbeat mood as the traditional sailing season draws to its close after a fascinating main programme in the central part of the 2018 summer, with various pillar events the highlights in a continuous and colourful tapestry which takes in every part of the country.
That “traditional season” will have seen solid regulars such as the annual programme of the steadily-expanding Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association into action by late April (first races are on April 21st), by which time the Irish Sailing’s Youth Pathway Nationals – 2017 was the biggest yet seen when it was at Ballyholme – will have been staged from 5th to 8th April at a venue yet to be confirmed. And Ireland’s long history of team racing will have been acknowledged yet again, this time with the 70th Anniversary of the senior of them all, the Royal St George series in Dun Laoghaire on April 22nd/23rd. Believe me, over those seventy years, just about everybody in Irish sailing seems to have been a participant in some way or other in this grandaddy of team events.
Into May, and the 12th to 18th sees the Asgard II Tall Ship Reunion Voyage in the Irish Sea on the Tall Ship Pelican, followed by a Gala Ball which will show that although the Asgard II was sadly lost ten years earlier in September 2008 when she sank, her spirit and those who sailed on her lives on, and an Irish tall Ship will sail again.
In May the core pace of mainstream sailing is hotting up, though while you might get sunshine, pure heat is still in short supply in Scotland in the Springtime with snow sometimes still on the mountain-tops for the Scottish Series at Tarbert in late May. But this has long been a happy hunting ground for Irish cruiser-racer crews, and we’ve no doubt the tradition will be maintained.
Meanwhile there’s more chance of a first hint of summer warmth away, far away to the southwest at Baltimore in County Cork where the steadily-growing Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival sees 2018’s staging from 25th to 27th May, and the whisper is there might be some unexpected and interesting visitors making their Baltimore debut.
Back in the Irish Sea, the ingenious Peter Ryan of ISORA managed to devise a race in 2017 which somehow took in Howth YC’s time-honoured Lambay Race as the first part of the course. This will be repeated in 2018, helping to swell numbers in an event which, in the Bank Holiday Weekend of June 1st to 3rd 2018, will be part of Howth’s Regatta, the shoreside high point of which is a family day for the peninsula people which in 2017 was adjudged an outstanding success.
Because June’s Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been moved from the traditional mid-summer weekend start to the last weekend of the month (presumably to avoid clashing with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself at The Hague in The Netherlands where the stage is set from June 24th onwards), June is quite like old times with each Dun Laoghaire club staging its own Saturday regatta, while at national championship level the J/24s are descending on Foynes from June 8th to 10th, and the Sigma 33s are at the Royal St. George Yacht Club from June 22nd to 24th, while the National 18s in all their fascinating variations get in ahead of everyone with their Nationals at Baltimore on June 2nd/3rd.
Come the end of the month, and all eyes will be focused on Wicklow and the back-up port of Dun Laoghaire for the Volvo Round Ireland Race, counting 1.4 for the RORC points championship, and starting Saturday June 30th. It will be the 20th staging of this very special 704-mile Irish classic (it’s longer than either the Fastnet, the Middle Sea, the Bermuda, the Sydney-Hobart or the RORC Caribbean 600), but the 19th staging in 2016 was such a sensational event, with three MOD 70s and George David’s mighty Rambler 88 stealing the show, that 2018 is going to have to think of something different to make the proper impact.
In the end, its the steady, regular and frequent contenders who are the backbone of this race, and to emphasise this, the organisers are going to find which skipper has had the best accumulated result from the races of 2016, 2018, and 2020. Then at the prize giving after 2020’s race, that top scorer will be awarded a brand-new road-ready Volvo V40.
As to who will be doing the 2018 circuit, we do know already that the winner of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017, Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, has already signed up the formidable talents of Mark Mansfield of Cork who was on Dave Cullen’s chartered J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), which was the only Irish boat to win a class in the 2016 circuit.
In July the emphasis moves emphatically to the south coast, and you can drive your new Volvo V40 there in expectation of a warm welcome, as the next big one up is Volvo Cork Week from July 16th to 21st. There’ll be an added sense of anticipation to this marvellous biennial sailfest, for it will be the last Cork Week before the big one in 2020, when the Royal Cork Yacht Club Tricentenary Cork Week will be just one of many major events celebrating 300 years of the world’s oldest yacht club.
Who knows, but maybe by 2020 they’ll be staging the Beaufort Cup as a major standalone event. What started as the germ of an idea in February 2016 for a sailing series among crews from the Defence Forces in the Volvo Cork Week of that July took off like a rocket, and 33 public agency crews in 12 mostly borrowed boats, representing just about every organisation and agency which is involved in serving the public, stretching its remit way beyond the defence forces.
Nevertheless it was a Defence Forces crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne racing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, which topped the leaderboard in a series which brilliantly captured genuine public interest. It was an astonishing success, and already entries are registered for 2018 with so much interest that you’d begin to worry whether there’ll be enough suitable boats available for loan to accommodate everyone.
As it is, taking 12 highly competitive boats out of general competition impinged significantly on the mainstream Volvo Cork Week fleet in 2016, yet having the Beaufort Cup as part of Cork Week is something which adds to the allure of both events, so we sympathise with anyone who, in time, is going to have to square this particular circle. As it is, in 2018 the Beaufort Cup teams are going to be a fully-integrated part of Cork Week, racing the entire five days and savouring the unique Crosshaven Cork Week flavour, but nevertheless there are bound to be those who’ll wonder if extra mileage couldn’t be squeezed from having the Beaufort Cup as a standalone event.
As July veers into August, national sailing interest will swing two ways. Our potential Olympians will be shaping up for the intense contest at Aarhus in Dernmark, and at home in Ireland down in West Cork they’ll be shaping up for the allegedly non-intense Calves Week from Schull. In previewing the 2017 season, we described it as “a fun event with quite serious competitive undertones”, and this was then quoted with approval (and acknowledgement) by the Calves Week Chairman at a subsequent press launch, so if it ain’t broke, why try and fix it, Calves Week 2018 from 7th to 10th August (yes, four days, you’ll do more living in four days in West Cork than you will in a week elsewhere) definitely is a real fun event with quite serious competitive undertones.
Back on the East Coast, meanwhile, the 1898-vintage Howth 17s are putting out the welcome mat on the weekend of August 10th to 12th for a Classics One-Design Regatta. It has been successfully done before with the Mermaids contributing much to the festivities, but this time the Young Gaffers of Howth hope that others – the Glens and Water Wags of Dun Laoghaire spring to mind – might also be interested. Certainly one of the unexpected successes of 2017 was the inclusion of a Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as part of the Bicentenary Celebrations for Dun Laoghaire Harbour, an idea which proved so popular there’s talk of doing it again in 2019, but it’s quite a challenge – getting venerable wooden boats and their characterful crews together is about as easy as herding cats.
Normally August in a non-Fastnet year is a laid-back time for cruiser-racers when it’s possible to slip in one or two well-supported distance races in the Irish Sea, but August 2018 is going to be unprecedented, as both the WIORA Championship and the ICRA Nationals are going to be staged at Galway City from the 15th to the 18th of August.
Traditionalists will be ruffled by it being in August rather than June, and in the heart of the West Coast rather than at either end the old time-honoured basically Cork-Dublin axis. But ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney of Foynes and his team know that there is a strong core ownership of cruiser-racers along the length of the western seaboard (think of the 44 boats which turned out for the WIORA Championship in the Aran Islands at exactly the same time as the massive Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 was under way) and this fresh-look cruiser-racer gathering in Galway deserves every chance of success.
This preview of the cornucopia of events which 2018 has to offer is no more than a skimming of the peaks, with occasional in-depth glances at some curious corners of special interest. The sheer diversity of events, boats, locations and people involved is outlined in the detailed Irish Sailing schedule, and every sailor will find his or her favourite event there. But inevitably that detailed schedule is still far from complete. After all, in previewing 2016, even in January of that year we would not have been able to anticipate the huge success of the Beaufort Cup in July, for the then Minister for Defence Simon Coveney TD and his team didn’t have the inspired idea of the Beaufort Cup until late February.
Nevertheless some things have been part of our sailing lives for decades, and every year September brings an entirely new mood, with established summer programmes drawing to a close, Autumn Leagues getting themselves into gear, and All-Ireland Championships to be raced.
The Juniors will be in the last weekend of September, venue and boat type still to be confirmed, but the Seniors are firmly in place at Lough Ree Yacht Club on the weekend of 13th to 14th October, to be raced in SB 20s.
There’s something very pleasing about the fact that the core stream of Irish sailing at home should reach its time-honoured concluding Championship of Champions in the heart of the country at a hospitable club which can trace its history back to 1770, with the event itself being raced in boats of a modern international class which has special Irish links. 2018 Irish sailing at home does indeed give every sign of being another memorable year, with a stylish and upbeat concluding championship.
2018 SAILING HIGHLIGHTS
January Florida USA (Ft Lauderdale & Miami) – Olympic Classes Regattas
February 19th Antigua – RORC 600
March 12th Royal Cork YC - PY 1000
April 5th – 8th Irish Youth Pathway Nationals
April 21st ISORA season starts
May 25th – 29th Scottish Series, Tarbert
June 1-3rd Howth Regatta & Lambay Races
June 30th Volvo Round Ireland Race
July 16th-21st Volvo Cork Week with Beaufort Cup
July 30th – August 12th Hempel World Sailing Championship Aarhus, Denmark
August 7th-10th Calves Week, Schull
August 15th – 18th WIORA Championship & ICRA Nationals, Galway
August 28th – September 1st, SB20 Europeans, Royal Irish Yacht Club
September 7th – 15th September Laser Masters World Championships, RStGYC & NYC
September 29th-30th All Ireland Junior Championship (venue to be confirmed)
October 13th – 14th All Ireland Senior Championship, Lough Ree YC, sailed in SB20s
The racing format for Annalise Murphy's bid for an Olympic Gold medal has been settled at last week's World Sailing Conference in Mexico.
It will almost certainly see Ireland's Olympic Slver Medalist from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire break from her Volvo Ocean Race campaign next May to win a place for Ireland on the Laser Radial Tokyo startline at the 2018 Sailing World Championships, the principal Olympic Sailing qualification event.
As well as Murphy, at least three other Irish Radial Sailors will seek Tokyo selection, including top performing Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club. Also campaigning is Aisling Keller of Lough Derg and Sally Bell of Belfast Lough. In the Mens Laser division, Rio rep Finn Lynch is likely to face a challenge for the single Tokyo berth by Belfast's Liam Glynn, Howth's Ewan McMahon and Royal Cork's Johnny Durcan.
Men's and Women's RS:X sailors will also sail an opening series and a double point Medal Race, however when the wind conditions suit planing, they will have a reaching start and finish.
World Sailing's Council had a discussion and debate on the 49er and 49erFX Medal Race format. The Events Committee proposed that three single point races on the final day shall be sailed with the use of boundaries at the discretion of the Race Committee. Ireland currently has up to five 49er campaigns vying for a single Tokyo slot.
Council voted against the proposal and the 49er and 49erFX fleets will now sail an opening series and a single double points Medal Race.
The Council also noted that the Nacra 17 format had not been fully tested but it's expected they will retain their current opening series and a single double points Medal Race.
Olympic Qualification System for the Tokyo 2020 Sailing Regatta
The qualification system for Tokyo 2020 was also approved by World Sailing's Council. The Aarhus 2018 Sailing World Championships will be the principal qualification event.
Places will be available at the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 Pan-Am Games and 2019 World Championships. Further places will be available at continental events.
The qualification system will now be reviewed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and all International Federation qualification systems will be approved by the IOC Executive Board in February 2018.
While sailing is now a year-round interest, and for many a year-round activity too, the notion of a traditional season is natural for anyone who lives in Ireland. Admittedly, there are times when we seem to be experiencing the four annual climatic seasons in just one day. But this sense of a seasonal change, and the appropriate alterations in activity which accompany it, are in our genetic makeup. And though marinas and the Autumn Leagues which they facilitate have pushed the season’s end back to the October Bank Holiday Weekend, for many, that’s it. It’s finally time for boats to be rested and energies deployed in other ways. W M Nixon reflects on highlights of the year.
These times we live in, they tend to emphasise big events – celebrity happenings you might call them – and our perceptions of a season past may be skewed by how the major fixtures played through. But your true Irish sailing season has at its core the classic club programme from April to October, with its plethora of weekend and weekday evening events. If you want to sense the beating heart of our sailing, you have to take the pulse of this local and club scene.
We know it’s not for everyone. Some dinghy crews only emerge for major regional and national championships. But week in, week out, it’s the regular local sailing, from the smallest club right up to the majestic programme of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, which sets the tone for the majority of sailors.
And for those who sailed regularly all through the time-honoured season, it has to be admitted that weatherwise, we experienced a very mixed bag. As we shall see, there were brief periods of good weather which blessed some events. But in any case, one dyed-in-the-wool cub sailor firmly told us that as far as he was concerned, it was a very good season.
“For sure, there was rain and wind,” he said. “But we need wind for sailing. If you get a long period of rain-free weather, the evenings are likely to be wind-free as well. Frankly I’d rather get a good race in rain than sit becalmed on a perfect summer’s evening. But as we’re an east coast club, we often get that east coast effect of Atlantic weather without Atlantic rain, which is ideal for club racing. By and large, it has been a good sailing season, and race management seems to be improving all the time. So 2017 is going to go down as a good year for club sailing, but only a very average year for sunshine”.
As for Irish sailing’s national structure, inevitably there’s a clashing of events. There is only a finite number of weekends available at peak season when different big ticket regattas and championships hope to be staged, but as well, each club and area quite rightly expect to bring prestigious fleets to its part of Ireland.
However, in 2017 there was increasing emphasis at official club level on making sailing fun again. We’d begun to take it too seriously, something reinforced by the grim years of the recession, and then the winning in 2016 of Annalise Murphy’s Silver Medal at the Olympics in Rio.
Of course the winning of Annalise’s medal was a matter for fun-filled celebration once it had happened, but the buildup to it was deadly serious, and that affected the tone of the national sailing mood in every area. But with the Medal in the bag, 2017 could reasonably expect to have a lighter mood, and this in turn helped us to adjust to an over-crowded programme, as crews could plan on a series of campaigns which balanced between serious events which provided proper championship results of national significance, and events which officially claimed to be providing everyone with a good time, even if some crews raced with deadly seriousness.
Either way, so much was going on that a review like this can only hope to give an impression of the season rather than a detailed analysis, but we’ll try to give it a comprehensible shape by listing the main events of Irish interest at home and abroad under either the “serious” or “fun” categorisations:
March/April: Intervarsity Championships – serious, UCD selected to represent Ireland
April: Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Nationals, Ballyholme - serious (and impressive), Ewan McMahon the star, Rush SC prominent in success
April: Season-long ISORA Championship get under way, several venues – inevitably serious. In due course, J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) has very close overall win – despite taking time out to do the Fastnet
May: Scottish Series at Tarbert– serious, Pat Kelly’s J/109 Storm and Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules top their classes.
June: Howth Lambay Weekend – Fun
June: ICRA Nationals Royal Cork – probably the most serious of them all. John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2 RIYC), Ross MacDonald’s X332 Equinox (HYC), and Paul Gibbons’ Anchor Challenge (RCYC) win the three main classes.
June: National YC Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – serious
June: Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale – fun
June: Dinghyfest at Royal Cork – brilliantly balanced mixture of serious & fun
July: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – superb, and fun
July: WIORA Championship at Aran Islands – unique
July: Irish Cruising Club Rally in Northwest Spain – seriously well organised, great fun to take part
July: Glandore Classics – fun, yet serious too
August: Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes – serious
August: Calves Week from Schull – prides itself on being a neat balance between fun and “quite serious racing”, and succeeds in being so.
August: Half Ton World Classics at Kinsale: Supposedly serious, but in the ultimate lotus-eating venue and with such an extraordinary selection of boats, it couldn’t help but be fun. And everyone likes the slightly eccentric overall winner, the legendary Swuzzlebubble
August: Crinnui na mBad, Kinvara – traditional and fun
August: Laser Nationals Royal Cork YC – serious
September: Autumn League at Howth – fun event, but run with such serious efficiency that they’d a full programme completed after six weekends despite losing two days of racing to the late season’s poor weather.
September: The SB 20 Nationals, incorporated into the first weekend of the Howth Autumn league as a three-day separate championship, had extra interest as it included recently-crowned SB 20 Corinthian World Champions Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Edward Cook of Royal St George YC, who had won in the Worlds at Cowes. They added the Irish title to their 2017 trophy list.
October: Autumn League at Royal Cork - fun
October: Mini-Transat at La Rochelle – serious
October: Junior All-Ireland at Schull – serious
October: Senior All-Ireland Sailing Championship at Mullingar – serious and historic, as it is staged at one of the smallest, most rural clubs in the country, and raced in GP 14s.
October: Student Yachting Worlds in Marseilles in France – serious. Ireland – a winner in times past –places fifth this time round.
October: Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta – serious
October: Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante – serious
This fun/serious differentiation seems to have been supported by our wayward climate, which often managed to come up with good weather just when it was needed for the fun events, yet it achieved this in the midst of a generally very unsettled and often plain inclement summer.
The photos are all that is needed to show how this was so during 2017’s premier event, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th. It wasn’t a sun-blasted regatta, but it wasn’t a wind-blasted one either – it was just a brief period of exceptionally pleasant warm weather with enough breeze for good racing , yet not too much wind to make it difficult to provide the in-harbour finishes which were introduced in special acknowledgement of the fact that they were also celebrating the Bicentenary of the massive work starting on the construction of this truly monumental and architecturally magnificent artificial port.
With 34 classes racing and boat numbers pushing towards the 500 mark, obviously it would have been totally inappropriate to try to include the ICRA Nats within it, as some have suggested. But even with such good conditions in its relaxed form, it could easily have got out of hand. However, with Organising Committee Chairman Tim Goodbody apparently yet always very quietly here, there and everywhere to ensure that all was running smoothly with a skillfully delegated team, it ran like clockwork to round out his two year stint in the top role with considerable style and success.
One noted visiting crew enthused that it was the best four days of sailing they’d ever had, and that was before they became aware that they’d won the ultimate trophy, the Kingstown 200 Cup, complete with a hundred guinea purse and a framed picture of the first regatta ever staged in what is now Dun Laoghaire, the Kingtown Regatta of 1828.
That was Rob Mason and his shipmates from Milford Haven with the classic 37ft Alexander Richardson-designed 1897-built gaff cutter Myfanwy, which Rob restored himself and sailed to Dun Laoghaire for the newly-introduced Classics Division, which was supposedly a one-off gesture to the Bicentenary.
But it worked so well that there’s talk of repeating it in 2019. Be that as it may, after the last race I was commiserating with the the Myfanwy team on their final placing, as I thought they’d sailed well enough to be comfortably on the podium, but Performance Echo decided others. Maybe they sailed too well. Yet far from being disappointed, they were on top of the world, and then when they went along to the huge prize-giving at the Royal St George, it was to hear to their complete surprise that the much-admired Myfanwy had been awarded the Kingstown 200 Cup and the prize purse and the historic picture……
This classics success reflected a good year for the classic boats in Ireland, as six of the Howth Seventeens (1898) and a dozen of the Water Wags (1887 & 1900) made their way to the famous Sailing Week in the Morbihan in southern Brittany in May. Then at the end of July, the newest Howth 17s, Orla built in France for Ian Malcolm by the famous Skol ar Mor, arrived home, and in an epic effort in late August, in honour of Class President Hal Sisk, the continually reviving Water Wags managed their first turnout of more than thirty boats for their traditional Wednesday evening racing.
This has inevitably only been a skim across the events of 2017. An extraordinary season. Many hoped at the beginning of the year that it would see some relaxation after the intensity of the Olympic year, and while that may have been the overall mood, the achievements recorded above show that some sailors continued to take their own sailing very seriously indeed.
That is as it should be. But if I had to select a photo which captures the mood of 2017, the determination to make the best of it whatever the weather, then the Thomas Gautier image of Aoife Hopkins in devil-may-care mood, flying over a big sea off Douarnenez in Brittany on her way to winning the Laser Radial Under 21 European Championship, would undoubtedly be it. At that moment, Aoife was sailing for all of us.