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Dublin Bay Sailing Club Fires the First Gun for 119th Season

20th April 2012
Dublin Bay Sailing Club Fires the First Gun for 119th Season

#DUBLIN BAY SAILING CLUB – There are a number of key changes to the 2012 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) racing programme this year that reflect the times we live in but recession isn't going to hold back this club. After all DBSC has survived two World Wars, the War of Independence, the Civll War and the Great Depression to boot!

Ten to 15-knot north westerly winds are expected for tomorrow's first race. 360 boats will be competing in 19 classes with over 3,000 sailors for the first gun at 2pm. Dublin Port Company is on board again as Club sponsor for the season.

There has been a merger of cruiser classes three and four and classes zero and one will start together this season. And in a further contraction of cruiser class activity the country's biggest yacht club has decided not to run its annual cruiser challenge for 2012 at least.

And in a further departure from the norm the club has introduced a coastal race this July, something it has not done for many years.

These changes might indicate a drop off in interest but on the contrary the club's honorary secretary Donal O'Sullivan reports no drop in numbers for the first race of the 2012 DBSC season tomorrow.

Instead the changes this season are much needed tweaks to a durable race programme that has 90 perpetual trophies as well as 509 pieces of glassware up for grabs for what is the club's 119th season.

Handicap Classes

Nineteen classes will be racing tomorrow representing a mix of cruiser, one design and dinghy fleets.

Colin Byrne, the winner of one of the top awards in 2011 becomes the class captain of Cruisers 1, now an 18 boat fleet that counts among its numbers at least one new arrival this season. Ruth, a J109 yacht from the National Yacht Club will be skippered by Liam Shanahan and it is one of five 109s racing in DBSC class one.

Byrne who skippers the X-34 Xtravagance won the Waterhouse Shield and also sailed to overall IRC handicap racing victory on Saturdays and Thursdays in 2011. Byrne also took the overall Thursday Echo trophy (although the Royal Irish entry failed to make a clean sweep by two points in Saturday Echo).

Last year's Irish Cruiser Racer annual conference in Dun Laoghaire tried to tackle long festering issues such handicapping and perhaps there is nowhere more pertinent than in Dublin Bay Sailing Club where some class changes are long overdue.

For example, is it equitable for modern designs such as J109s or A35s to be racing with older Sigma 38s or X-332s? A realignment of handicap bands across all fleets could bring about better racing and, as ICRA Commodore Barry Rose conceded last November, such reform is long overdue.

Handicapping is something that ICRA should be empowered to tackle rather than tinker with. 'It's time to flush this out and get it sorted', Rose has promised.

In a DBSC context, with the country's largest handicap fleets there is little doubt that more handicap tweaks remains to be done but in a Cruisers III context at least the solution to the quandry for 2012 has been to split the 43-boat fleet in to alpha and beta divisions for the first time.

supernova montage

Last year's Bay champion Supernova is back in action tomorrow racing in the new class III alpha division

The view of the Committee is that it will produce better racing because Cruisers 3, to which Cruiser 4 were joined last year has a very wide handicap band.

It is a big task where yachts ranging in length from 23–foot to 29–foot are competing together and with handicap bands stretching from .760 to .820.

The beta division is made up of the old class IV boats and Beneteau 211s plus some others who have been to join.

Combined and separate results will be provided. This will be true also of Cruiser 0 and Cruisers 1, who will start together, both on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Ensign class

Last season the 350-boat club tackled the long standing problem of crew shortages. Together with Dun Laoghaire's waterfront yacht clubs, DBSC introduced an 'Ensign Class' to extend the possibility of bay racing to a greater number of people, many of whom are novices.

Up to 1,500 sailors race each Thursday and Saturday during the Summer but typically cruiser classes which represent the bulk of the fleets always run short of a crew. A typical 30 foot boat can require a crew pool of 15 or more.

People with no experience are now being taken afloat in a cosseted fashion by the club and introduced to the rudiments of sailing.

The idea has proved so successful the National Yacht Club now operates a waiting list for its club 1720 sports boats, the Ensign class of choice.

The hope is that racing skippers, who rarely want complete novices onboard but who are nevertheless short of crew will be encouraged to pick from those graduating from the Ensign class.

ISAF Youth Worlds

There was some concern earlier that the ISAF Youth Worlds, which will be held in Dublin Bay in July, would seriously impact on DBSC racing. The event will certainly have an effect on dinghies, which will have to vacate the club forecourts for the best part of a fortnight. Keelboats, not so much or hardly it all.

Many of the DBSC committee boat personnel will be tied up with the ISAF event but the club intends to start races from the Hut and they plan to run a coastal/ distance race in the Sth Burford direction, something we have not done for some years. The SB3s will be racing on away events at this time and will not be affected.

Though boat entry numbers have been down a bit since they peaked in 2009, all indications for this year are that DBSC's unique attractions – regular, consistently well-managed racing in a splendid sailing area within easy reach of members' home or workplace - will continue to exercise their perennial appeal. This is after all the 119th DBSC season!


The cover of the new yearbook features Supernova

Other DBSC posts

DBSC 2011 Prizewinners list

Dublin Bay Sailing Club News and Results

Race Results

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Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) is one of Europe's biggest yacht racing clubs. It has almost sixteen hundred elected members. It presents more than 100 perpetual trophies each season some dating back to 1884. It provides weekly racing for upwards of 360 yachts, ranging from ocean-going forty footers to small dinghies for juniors.

Undaunted by austerity and encircling gloom, Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC), supported by an institutional memory of one hundred and twenty-nine years of racing and having survived two world wars, a civil war and not to mention the nineteen-thirties depression, it continues to present its racing programme year after year as a cherished Dublin sporting institution.

The DBSC formula that, over the years, has worked very well for Dun Laoghaire sailors. As ever DBSC start racing at the end of April and finish at the end of September. The current commodore is Eddie Totterdell of the National Yacht Club.

The character of racing remains broadly the same in recent times, with starts and finishes at Club's two committee boats, one of them DBSC's new flagship, the Freebird. The latter will also service dinghy racing on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Having more in the way of creature comfort than the John T. Biggs, it has enabled the dinghy sub-committee to attract a regular team to manage its races, very much as happened in the case of MacLir and more recently with the Spirit of the Irish. The expectation is that this will raise the quality of dinghy race management, which, operating as it did on a class quota system, had tended to suffer from a lack of continuity.