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Displaying items by tag: Annalise Murphy

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.

The Men's and Women's 470, Finn, Laser and Laser Radial will all sail an opening series which will be followed by a double point Medal Race.

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. 

Flashes facing StarboardAnnalise Murphy training on her beloved Dublin Bay Photo: Terry McDonagh

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.

Published in Tokyo 2020

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.

DBSC Racing Beneteau 31.7 2391Week in, week out, Dublin Bay Sailing Club provides a comprehensive programme of local racing from the end of April until the end of September, and it has been successfully doing so since 1884. Here the club's Beneteau 31.7s, one of DBSC's largest one design keelboat fleets negotiate a weather mark at the class championships Photo David O’Brien/Afloat

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.

moth worlds4Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy led the way in signalling a change of mood for 2017 after the seriousness of her 2016 campaign towards success in Rio. In the early part of the season, she concentrated on the International Foiling Moth, and in this 223-strong fleet at the Worlds on Lake Garda in May, she became the Women’s World Champion. She is currently on a completely different direction for ten months on the Volvo Ocean Race as a crewmember on the One-Design Volvo Ocean 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic

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

Mojito J109The hyper-busy J/109 Mojito managed a hard-fought overall win in the ISORA Championship, successful participation in the Rolex Rastnet Race, and a second place in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

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

lambay race51It could be a remote part of the West Coast, but Howth Yacht Club’s annual Lambay Race is a reminder that Ireland’s least-spoilt coastline is on an East Coast island. Photo courtesy HYC

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.

dark angel6Rob O’Leary racing the Dubois 36 Dark Angel from South Wales to class success in the ICRA Nats at Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

rockabill six7Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI shortly after the start of the very tough Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, which she won, while a sister-ship Bogatyr was also winner of the likewise rough 608-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race in late October. This photo goes some way to revealing the reason for the JPK 10.80’s success – she is only 35ft LOA, yet you’d think you’re looking at a significantly larger boat. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

June: National YC Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – serious

June: Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale – fun

1720s at Sovereigns8By maintaining its position as a standalone event, the Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale can invite non-IRC classes to compete, and the 1720s responded with this keen turnout. The overall winner across all classes was adjudged to be Rob McConnell’s A35 Fool’s Gold from Dunmore East. Photo: Robert Bateman

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

wiora nats9WIORA Nationals 2017 – and first time at the Aran Islands. Irish Sailing President Jack Roy (left) with WIORA organiser Cormac Mac Donncha. The popular Irish Sailing President seemed to have several doppelgangers, as that same evening he was present at the Opening Ceremony for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, in which he also served for the entire four days as a Race Officer.

icc rally10With more than sixty boats taking part, the Irish Cruising Club Rally in Northwest Spain was an outstanding success. This is Michael Holland’s 70ft 1993-built Dubois ketch Celtic Spirit – a veteran of Arctic and Antarctic cruising - making knots down the coast of Galicia. Photo: Trish Phelan
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

jedi fastnet11Fastnet Rock astern for Jedi, the Irish National Sailing School’s successful J/109, which won class IRC 3B in the Fastnet Race, and also the Roger Justice Trophy for the top-placed Sailing School boat. Jedi is one of the 15-plus class of hotly-raced J/109s in Dun Laoghaire, whose annual championship was won by the Kelly family’s Storm from Rush SC and Howth, while the most successful boat in other events was John Maybury’s Joker 2.
August: Calves Week from Schull – prides itself on being a neat balance between fun and “quite serious racing”, and succeeds in being so.

swuzzlebubble racing12Everybody likes her, even if she beats them all. The characterful Swuzzlebubble racing to success in the Half Ton Classics at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

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

crinnui na mbad13The annual Crinnui na mBad at Kinvara in August may not have been favoured with good weather, but it was as popular as ever. This is one of the winners, John Flaherty’s Galway hooker Naomh Cailin, going out to race. Photo: Pierce Purcell

August: Laser Nationals Royal Cork YC – serious

laser nationals14RCYC Admiral John Roche, 2017 National Champion Finn Lynch (NYC) and Mark Whisker of sponsors Volvo at the prize-giving for the Volvo Laser Nationals at Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

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.

SB20 YachtRoyal St. George's Michael O'Connor, Davy Taylor and Ed Cook – SB20 'Corinthian' World Champions and Irish Champions

 

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

tom dolan15Ireland’s Tom Dolan in the first leg of the Mini-Transat 2017, 1,400 miles from La Rochelle to Las Palmas. He finished this stage 12th in a class of 55 boats The second Transatlantic stage starts on 1st November

October: Junior All-Ireland at Schull – serious

junior champions16Junior All-Ireland winners on the podium. Kinsale YC’s champions Michael O'Suilleabhain and Michael Carroll, with second placed Rian Geraghty-McDonnell and Harry Durcan (RCYC) and Loghlen Rickard and Nathan Van Steenberge third. Photo: Robin Bateman

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.

lyden manning17Fionn Lyden of Baltimore, All-Ireland Champion 2017, at Mullingar with the famous silver salver with crewmate Liam Manning of Schull. Photo: David Branigan/Sailing Ireland

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.

slipway scene18Piling them in – the good-humoured yet busy atmosphere off the National YC slipway after another day of racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: W M Nixon

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.

myfanwy sailing19The sweetest boat in the fleet – Myfanwy from Wales - racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

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……

myfanwy crew15Before and after. Myfanwy’s crew celebrating “four days of the best sailing we’ve ever had” immediately after coming ashore at the conclusion of the final race in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. They are (left to right) Max Mason, his father Rob who restored Myfanwy, Andy Whitcher, and Gus Stott. The photo below shows them genuinely gobsmacked after finding they’d won the big trophy and its associated prizes. Photos W M Nixon and Gareth Craig/Fotosail

myfanwy crew21

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.

howth seventeens22Howth Seventeens racing in their annual championship with Ireland’s Eye beyond – the new boat Orla (no 21) is on the right. Photo: Neil Murphy

water wag23With a history going back to 1887, the Water Wags became an overnight success at the end of August when they finally managed a turnout of more than 30 boats. The clear winners were David & Sally MacFarlane with No 15 Mousmie, aged 107 years. Photo W M Nixon

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.

aoife hopkins24Sailing for all of us. Aoife Hopkins in devil-may-care style, on her way to winning the Laser Radial U-21 Euros at Douarnenez in July. Photo: Thomas Gautier

Published in W M Nixon

#VOR - Yesterday’s snug racing out of the gate in Alicante made for the most exciting Volvo Ocean Race start in recent memory.

But the near-misses weren’t only between the fleet as the jockeyed for position out of port, as they faced a slalom of spectator boats offshore.

In particular, Turn The Tide on Plastic — with Annalise Murphy on deck — narrowly avoided disaster just minutes into their race as some onlookers got a little too close for comfort.

Seen from on board the Dee Caffari-skippered boat, the squeeze looked even tighter — potentially a more dangerous situation than what they’re bound to face on the open ocean over the next few months.

As reported earlier this afternoon, the lead in Leg 1 is still held by Vestas 11th Hour Racing, which features Ireland’s Damian Foxall in a senior crew role.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - With the clock ticking to the start of the 2017–18 Volvo Ocean Race as the race village opens in Alicante later today (Wednesday 11 October), it’s time to take a closer look at the significant Irish presence in the world’s most challenging yacht race, as recently noted by our own WM Nixon.

The biggest name beyond sailing circles is surely Annalise Murphy, the hero of Rio 2016 who is swapping her Laser Radial for an entirely different challenge with the crew of Turn the Tide on Plastic, skippered by women’s offshore sailing pioneer Dee Caffari.

The Dubliner and National Yacht Club stalwart caused some concern over the summer when a knee injury sustained in the Moth Worlds forced her to pull out of the World Championships in her primary class.

But that break from competition might have been just what Annalise needed to get herself back into fighting fitness — not to mention prepared for a round-the-globe voyage that’s a world apart from her Tokyo 2020 ambitions.

The other big name among the VOR 65 crews is Damian Foxall, who returns for his sixth Volvo Ocean Race — this time with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the former Team Vestas Wind (whose senior project manager happens to be Madrid-based Irishman Thomas John McMaw).

What’s more, the Kerry offshore legend heads a strong contingent from The Kingdom in this latest VOR, with Brian Carlin leading the team of on-board reporters and marine biologist Lucy Hunt in charge of the race’s sustainability education programme.

Other Irish names of note behind the scenes include Bill O’Hara, a former Northern Irish Olympian and race officer in charge of the VOR’s 2012 climax in Galway who is part of the race committee for the 2017–18 race, and Johnny Donnelly, MD of VOR event contractor Arcana.

Two others previously unmentioned are Philip Johnston, a veteran cross-channel racer from Northern Ireland with a strong record in the Fastnet Race who brings his expertise on shore logistics to Turn the Tide on Plastic, and Cork sailor James O’Mahony, another Fastnet vet at the mainsheet and mast positions and well versed in what support his team will need as part of the shore crew for Team Vestas 11th Hour.

Afloat.ie will be keeping up with all of their exploits when the 13th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race gets under way on Sunday 22 October.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

In the days when sailing was a seasonal sport, a few main pillar events dominated the international programme. The Sailing Olympics. The America’s Cup. The Fastnet Race. The Dragon Gold Cup. The Sydney-Hobart Race. The Whitbread Round the World Race. And maybe a few others – we all had our favourites writes W M Nixon.

There weren’t many of those key events. Yet in a more leisurely era of primitive communication, they were enough to be going along with, and people became accustomed to the long intervals between them, intervals when we could concentrate obsessively on our own local and national sailing at events which were of little interest to anyone else.

But the advent of the Internet has changed sailing as it has changed everything else. Instant 24/7 communication demands a fast-running stream of narrative with images to match. In this new environment, the former pillar events find they are just part of an endless tapestry, and they have to take their chances with everything else to gain attention.

Time was when the fundamental changing of boat types in the America’s Cup would have been a matter of major interest, blowing every other sailing headline off page and screen in a big way, and for a long time.

But we’ve comfortably taken in our stride the recent gradually-released information that sailing’s peak event - the oldest international sporting challenge in the world - is reverting to mono-hulls, after three editions of supposedly setting the world a-fire with hyper-fast catamarans.

americas cup2So, farewell then, catamarans in the America’s Cup……Oracle unsuccessfully defended against Emirates New Zealand in Bermuda in June.

Here and there, devoted pot-stirrers found it difficult to provoke anyone to break sweat over the matter. Maybe in the core of the America’s Cup community – if there is such a thing – there was a weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. But among the rest of us, there was sublime indifference. We knew there’d be time enough to consider the new boats as the outlines of the next challenge became more clearly defined. And if there’s litigation in the meantime, that will be entertainment. Meanwhile, there’s a busy Autumn programme of major international events, several of which have a significant Irish interest, and that’s where our attention is focused.

Currently, the top story still has to be the confirmation of Annalise Murphy as a crewmember aboard the Volvo Ocean Racer Turn The Tide On Plastic. The sense of excitement when she was mentioned as a “probable” was tempered by the fact that she’d sustained that knee injury during a crazy capsize in the last race on her way to becoming the International Moth Women’s World Champion, and we’d to wait for total recovery from it before the Volvo World Race chapter in her life could properly begin.

annalise on foiling moth3Game for anything. Annalise Murphy giving her all on the foiling Moth, in which she is now Women’s World Champion.

Quite what her sports physio Mark McCabe had to say about the injury is probably unprintable, for a point made about her campaign towards the Olympic Silver Medal was that it was his guidance and skill which kept her injury-free at crucial stages in training and during the Olympic campaign.

We should all have a Mark McCabe for everyday life. But for now, the Olympics seem so yesterday in the Annalise story, for what she has undertaken may be sailing, but it certainly isn’t sailing as she has known it for so many years with a Laser Radial.

But despite that capsize, clearly she could hack it with the special demands of a foiling Moth, so now she is now re-shaping her enthusiasm, basic athleticism and special sailing skills to serve a team cause. And as of this morning, it has to be the most interesting single story in Irish sailing, particularly now that the Volvo 65s and their teams are gathered in Alicante, with the entire fleet being lifted out on Monday for the final meticulous checks.

There’s a special edge to it, for this year’s race - which starts on October 22nd - will see a much greater emphasis on the Southern Ocean. So as we move steadily towards the Centenary in 2023 of the beginning of Conor O’Brien’s pioneering of the global southern route for yachts with his Irish-built 42ft Saoirse, it’s more than appropriate that there’s a significant Irish presence in the developing Volvo setup, where the Alicante Volvo Race Village will open on 11th October, and the In-Port Race will be staged on Saturday October 14th.

conor obrien4Conor O’Brien, pioneer for yachts in the Southern Ocean on the Cape Horn route.

saoirse plans5A very different sort of boat from today’s Volvo 65. The traditonal-style 42ft gaff ketch Saoirse, built in Baltimore in 1922, proved remarkably successful at running fast yet safely in the Southern Ocean. Conor O’Brien designed a rig that relied on a squaresail on the mainmast, setting a triangular studding sail and topsail

King of it all for Ireland has to be Damian Foxall, who has raced or broken records round the world so often he has probably lost count, but this time he’s on the strength of Team Vestas. For Foxall, the link to Conor O’Brien is particularly special, as Damian hails from Derrynane in far southwest Kerry, and Derrynane was Conor O’Brien’s favourite port – you can see his signature in the Visitors’ Book in that superb watering hole so beloved of voyagers, Bridie Keating’s pub.

damian foxall6Damian Foxall in virtually unrivalled in his Volvo Ocean Race experience

derrynane harbour7Derrynane in Kerry – Conor O’Brien’s favourite anchorage, and Damian Foxall’s home port

But if Damian is King, Annalise is Queen, for even among the hugely talented Volvo crews, an Olympic Silver Medal – or any Olympic Medal for that matter - is rare enough. Indeed, it’s so rare that part of the fascination of the Annalise/Turn the Tide on Plastic linkup will be in how they work out together.

Annalise carries the flag for Ireland’s east coast in Alicante, while Justin Slattery will do it for the south if he turns up, as Damian Foxall expects. Others from Ireland include James O’Mahoney who’s also with Team Vestas, where Thomas John McMaw is Senior Project Manager to keep up the green jersey count, as too does VOR event contractor John Donnelly.

But as our colleague Tom MacSweeney pointed out on Afloat.ie on Monday, it is Kerry which packs the punch in Alicante, as Brian Carlin of Tralee leads the team of OBRs (On-Board Reporters) who will be embedded on each boat, while Lucy Hunt who runs the Sea Synergy Awareness Centre at Waterville (it’s just over the mountain pass from Derrynane) is Sustainability Education Manager for this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, and will co-ordinate a schools programme.

volvo village8A long way from Derrynane….the Volvo Village at Alicante

However, for those who like to be up to speed with all in the main international sailing stories with Irish interest, some time soon there’ll be the Student Yachting Worlds in Marseilles, where UCD led by Will Byrne will be challenging for a trophy which Ireland has won in times past. Originally we were told it would be in September, but when students are running the show themselves, there’s freeform organization and timing, and the most recent date we see is still Marseilles, but not until October 17th to 22nd.

So the top up-coming interest is in La Rochelle towards the end of September, with the fleet gathered for the two-stage 4050 mile Mini-Transat (there’s a stop in the Canaries), with the race starting on Sunday October 1st. Ireland’s Tom Dolan with IRL 910 is currently fourth in the world rankings in the Mini Transat Production Boat Class, so he’s in with a good shout for a podium place. And we’re all behind him, with Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and Ireland’s Sports and Cultural Attaché in France the Guests of Honour at Tom’s party in La Rochelle at noon on Saturday September 30th.

tom dolan boat9Ireland’s Tom Dolan, currently fourth in the world rankings. His supporters will be gathering in La Rochelle in the week leading up to Sunday October 1st to wish him well when he starts the Mini-Transat, with the main party on Saturday September 30th.

Then in October, in addition to the Volvo World Race start and the Student Yachting Worlds, there’s the Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta on Saturday October 21st, just the day before the Volvo gets going across in Spain. But there’s always lots of Irish interest in this annual Mediterranean classic, with the winning Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino last year being navigated by our own Ian Moore, while this year there’s added spice with the possible inclusion of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss with Alex Thomson and Nin O’Leary hoping they’ll find conditions better suited to their very specialised flying machine than they did in the Fastnet Race back in August.

mascalzone latino10The Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino being navigated by Ian Moore to overall victory in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016. Photo Rolex

For those who look on into November, the Transat Jacques Vabre gets going from Le Havre on November 5th with a preponderance of IMOCA 60s, but for operational reasons Hugo Boss is not expected be among them. However, what’s clear is that the international programme is now non-stop, for by November we’ll be getting advance info on the Sydney-Hobart Race on 26th December 2017, which is the saving of Christmas for many of us.

autumn league howth11When cruisers battle for it - racing the Autumn League at Howth. Photo: W M Nixon

Meanwhile this morning in Douarnenez in Brittany the Figaro Fastnet Solo gets under way, and Autumn Leagues start to flex their muscles in Ireland, with Howth’s series starting today and running for six weekends, so the topline action continues at home and abroad in an unending stream.

There’s an old Arab saying which goes: “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on”. It could reasonably be said of world sailing that there may indeed be dogs barking, but the purposeful rattling of camel harnesses is now virtually continuous.

Published in W M Nixon

#Annalise - Ireland’s Olympic hero Annalise Murphy tells her sailing story as she drives through Dublin in her Mercedes-Benz Vito Mixto to one of her daily training sessions at Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club.

More recently, the Rio 2016 silver medallist in the Laser Radial was flying the flag for Ireland alongside her Olympic coach Rory Fitzpatrick at the International Moth Worlds.

But first and foremost in her plans is a spot to represent her home country — and take gold — in Tokyo three years from now.

Speaking of her success in Brazil last summer, she says: “When all of my training and preparation came together and I stood on the podium at the end, it was an amazing feeling – and proof, that our master plan paid off!”

But as good as she was on Guanabara Bay, Sagami Bay should expect to see an even better Annalise.

“I know that I can improve,” she says. “I’m curious to see how much more I can get out of myself. Winning the gold medal would be a dream come true.”

Published in Annalise Murphy

A fine turnout of Irish Moth sailors were rewared yesterday with three gold fleet finishes at the high–calibre 220–boat Moth World Championshis on Lake Garda, Italy. Royal Cork's David Kenefick was top Irish with a 31st in the Gold fleet sailing his brand new boat (as Afloat.ie reported previously here). Kenefick was just one point outside the top thirty. 'I'm quite happy with that, lots to work on before the next worlds in may in Bermuda', the RCYC sailor told Afloat.ie.

Next was Irish Moth Champion Rory Fitzpatrick, sailing a County Wicklow design in 35th, the Dubliner was unfortunately forced out of the regatta early after a collision. Olympic Laser Radial Silver Medalist Annalise Murphy was top female in 51st place. 

Among other Irish results, Howth Yacht Club's stand–out youth performer Ewan McMahon had a 23rd and two behind him was the National Yacht Club's Neil O'Toole in 25th. Howth Yacht Club's Alistair Kissane was 56th and Royal St. George Yacht Club's Adam Hyland was 73rd. Another Royal St. George Yacht Club sailor Jim Devlin was a bronze fleet finisher.

Download the official results below at the bottom of this story.

Annalise murphy moth GardaAnnalise Murphy sailed one day with a broken rudder and capsized 'about 50 times'. 'I knew something was wrong but didn't know what! I was actually pretty lucky it didn't completely break off and sink!, the Olympic Silver Medalist told Afloat.ie. Photo: Martina Orsini

Paul Goodison (GBR) smashed it on the final day of racing at the 2017 McDougall + McConaghy Moth Worlds at Lake Garda against the hottest fleet of Moths ever assembled. Goody (to his friends), is the first foiling Moth sailor to win back to back world titles and the result is that much more special considering the high calibre of competition from the most recent top Americas Cup skippers and sailors with more Olympic medals round their necks than any other regatta with exception of the Olympic Games itself!

Moth Worlds GardaPart of the massive 220–boat Moth Worlds on Lake Garda – the largest fleet ever assembled. Photo: Martina Orsini

Going into the final day of racing Goodison begun the day with a 13 point cushion over Pete Burling (NZL) with Iain ‘Goobs’ Jensen with an outside chance of catching Burling.

The weather gods turned it on again for the final day of racing when a light ‘Ora’ started to build from the South around lunchtime and any fluffy little clouds dispersed to leave another fine sunny afternoon for racing.

The Gold fleet was sent out around 1330hrs to race on the South course to complete as many races as possible before the cut off time of 1600hrs. Race 9 of the championship started under the black flag in 12 – 14 knots of breeze with flat water. As usual, the aim was to charge to the Eastern shore and before hitting the rocks in front of the Fraglia Vela Malcesine clubhouse, tack and try to find a clean lane of pressure to get to the top of the course in good shape.

At the windward gates, the breeze was quite soft causing a number of boats to drop off the foils, especially if squeezing round the marks. On the first lap it was Scott Babbage (AUS) leading, followed by the young gun, Gian Ferrighi (ITA) with most of the big names in the top 10. The downwind leg proved a bit more shifty and the pack shuffled. It was Tom Slingsby (AUS) who stayed in the best pressure to take the win from Nathan Outteridge (AUS) with Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) third, Burling 5th and Jensen 6th.

PRO Tim Hancock did a good job of setting up for race 10 under the same conditions. Started under a black flag it was a similar story with slightly different players. The breeze shifted a bit right and begun to drop at the top end causing some competitors to drop off the foils.

At the bottom gate, the action started to unfold, Jensen got round just in front of Slingsby but Slingers dropped off the foils bang in front of Outteridge and Babbage allowing Goodison to slide past inside avoiding the low riders. Burling was also in trouble rounding the opposite gate and dropping off the foils. Greenhalgh was also in a world of pain.

Coming into the finish it was Jensen who crossed the line with a massive lead and a big smile on his face as he closed up the points to second placed Burling to one point. Second was Goodison to all but seal the title. Many competitors had fallen off the foils in the soft patches around the course. Singsby crossed third but Burling was deep in the pack.

With time running out and the breeze getting a bit weak, the PRO announced that the third race of the day, race 11 of the world championship would be the last. The last race would be victory laps for Paul Goodison but the chase for second and third would be decided on the last race between Burling and Jensen.

The last race started in the same light to moderate breeze, 11 – 13 knots from 215 degrees. Again the fleet used the clubhouse shoreline for a flyby in front of the grandstand of supporters. This time it was Tom Slingsby who looked like he had made the right foil choice leading the world champion elect with some of the usual suspects struggling with foil selection. Slingsby cruised across the finish line for a second win of the day with the victorious Goodison crossing in second.

A good third for West Australian, Steve Thomas, Babbage finished a consistent 4th and Jensen in 5th finishing comfortably ahead of his skipper of so many years, Nathan Outteridge. As Burling crossed in a lowly 17th, supporters scrambled for their calculators to do the maths.

 Agonisingly for Goobs Jensen he fell one point short of toppling the kiwi but was very happy with his third place overall. With Slingsby’s final day score of 1,3,1 he held on to 4th and Scott Babbage came back from the brink early in the regatta to snatch 5th off Nathan Outteridge.

The Youth category went down to the wire on the final day with a fine battle between the two Italian twins Gian Marie and Stefano Ferrighi. With an 8th in the final race on Saturday and a 9th today (Sunday), Stefano stole the title from his brother by 3 places. Stefano finished 23rd overall an excellent performance in a fleet of champions.

The Master’s category swung between Jason Belben (GBR) and Rob Gough (AUS) and a similar tussle played out. Rob Gough won this one finishing 25th overall to Jason Belben’s 28th.

First in the female category went to Irish Olympian Annalise Murphy who finished 51 in the Gold group.

The Silver group was won by John Clifton (GBR) and the Bronze group won by Maximilian Mage of Germany.

PRO Tim Hancock and his team did a great job getting through so many races for a fleet of 220 Moths, the biggest Moth regatta ever assembled.

Published in Moth

The fleet in the International Moth Worlds 2017 at Lake Garda have finally boiled down to “only” 220 boats after some early estimates reckoned they should be expecting between 240 and 250 writes W M Nixon.

But as it is, the 220 boats and the volatile weather of mid-Europe in high summer have seen one day lost with no wind at all since the championship proper got going on Tuesday morning, while other races have seen conditions fluctuating wildly with the occasional thunderstorm to add to the fun.

Out of it all has come the news that once the national representation gets over a certain size, it’s described as “a flutter of Moths”. And apparently the word is that the Irish squad have qualified as “a flutter”.

Come to that, you could take a useful flutter on Annalise Murphy becoming the new Women’s World Champion, as she’s currently showing well clear ahead. That said, anyone who claims to understand how all the different fleets are being given meaningful overall placings clearly hasn’t been studying the results at all….

As for the rest of the Irish flutter, Annalise’s Olympic coach Rory Fitzpatrick has also been showing well, with a first and second in there on his scorecard. But in a fleet of this size and complexity, all sorts of final results are possible when this totally international event eventually concludes.

Published in Moth

It’s not every day you get to fly on a jetliner named in your honour writes W M Nixon. But then, not everyone has won Ireland a Silver Medal in the Olympics. Even at that, today’s busy flight schedules are so hectic that the chances of happening to fly on your personally-named plane are still slim enough.

But this weekend, everything came right for Annalise Murphy as she boarded ASL Airlines B737 “Annalise Murphy” at Dublin Airport, heading for Verona and the Moth Worlds which start on Tuesday at Malcesine on Lake Garda.

annalise plane2For once, she wasn’t going to be at the helm. Annalise Murphy and “her” plane as Captain Demie Ryan of Blackrock, Co Dublin goes aboard to fly her to Verona. Photo: Con Murphy

With last month’s America’s Cup and its focus on racing with foils now analysed down to the finest details, the Worlds for the foiling Moths couldn’t be staged at a more appropriate time. Several of the rock stars from the big one in Bermuda will be very much in the action on Lake Garda, including winner Peter Burling of New Zealand, and Australia’s Nathan Otteridge of the highly-rated Swedish Artemis challenge.

There are many other Olympic stars taking part in addition to Annalise, and the Irish challenge in the fleet of 240 is further strengthened by the participation of five other Irish Moth sailors, including her coach Rory Fitzpatrick, who is certainly no slouch when it comes to his own performance in foiling Moths – he emerged as champion at the Cork Dinghyfest three weeks ago. The week’s racing starts tomorrow (Monday) with the non-championship “Banging the Corner” dash-for-cash event, then after that it’s down to the serious stuff.

Published in Annalise Murphy

As Annalise Murphy prepares her campaign for Gold at Tokyo 2020, the National Yacht Club Olympic Silver Medalist has shared a 'day in her life video' training around Dublin Bay.

Three hours on the water with boat handling, speed testing and race practice and video analysis, she follows it with a 63–km endurance bike ride in the afternoon. See video below.

Published in Annalise Murphy
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