#Mermaid - Following new Mermaid Sailing Association (MSA) president Des Deane's call for participation, over 40 members packed the downstairs bar of Skerries Sailing Club on Friday 27 November for an "extremely productive" AGM.
A focus on the quality of racing for the fleet was discussed in depth, the outcome being that the existing format of one long race per day for the Mermaid’s week-long Nationals was overruled with a new format of two shorter races per day.
If conditions are favourable, then this new racing format would mean 12 races for Mermaiders at their next Nationals at Mayo Sailing Club from 30 July to 5 August 2016.
An invitation from Skerries Sailing Club to host the 2017 Championship was accepted enthusiastically, and Commodore Kieran Branagan, who was present on the night, shared his appreciation on the decision.
Still on the topic of improving racing quality, it was proposed that one of the fleet’s own members, Ruairi Grimes, now a qualified naval architect, would carry out an analysis of the Mermaid rudder design from the point of view of improving performance and stability. This was strongly welcomed at the meeting and will be followed up in the New Year.
All boats were weighed at the 2015 Nationals, with only one found lighter than the minimum weight of 415kg. Emphasis on quality and equipment checks was also discussed and highlighted for the upcoming sailing season, the calendar or which was decided on the night.
Aside from filling all committee positions, a number of new ideas were discussed on the night, including putting focus back on the fleet’s main ‘home’ clubs as well as actively following up on boats that are not used as often anymore.
Indeed, fears of "terminal decline" of what was once one of Ireland's preeminent dinghy classes have been overstated, according to the association.
"While numbers at events have been down in the past few years we still get some of the highest turnouts compared to other classes," said Roisin McCormack, new captain of the MSA. "Twenty-two boats for a week-long Nationals event is nothing to be ashamed of, and more importantly we are actively trying to improve the class and participation levels."
The MSA also noted that a number of new young helms who have joined the classic fleet in the past few years were in attendance on the night – with three new boat owners from Foynes Yacht Club this year alone, all qualifying as youth helms.
Following the success of February's prizegiving dinner, which attracted 100 guests, it was unanimously decided to host a similar event at Rush Sailing Club early in 2016.
This event will allow all members – old, new and prospective – to meet to discuss the upcoming racing schedule and plans for the future in the class in a more informal social setting. Details on this will be available in the New Year.