Displaying items by tag: sailing
February 23rd: RORC Caribbean 600
April 9th-12th: ISA Topper Youth Championship (Royal Cork YC)
April 25th: ISORA Coastal Day Races @ Holyhead, and Dun Laoghaire to Arklow
May 7th – 10th : ISAF Nations Cup – Euro Final (Howth YC)
May 16th: Baily Bowl (Royal Alfred YC)
May 22nd - 25th: 40th Annual Scottish Series (Clyde Cr C, Gourock-Tarbert)
May 22nd - 24th: Baltimore Wooden Boat & Seafood Festival
May 22nd-24th: ISORA Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead-Isle of Man series.
May 31st – June 1st DBOGA Leinster Trophy and Dublin Riverfest (Poolbeg Y&BC)
June 6th Howth YC Lambay Races (inc Classics)
June 12th: Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race
June 13th: Royal Alfred YC Bloomsday Regatta (Royal StGYC)
June 24th - 28th: Kinsale: Sovereigns Regatta & ICRA Nats
June 19th – 21st Squib Irish Nats (Howth YC)
June 27th – July 3rd: Squib Inter-Nationals at Howth
July 2nd – July 5th: Tall Ships, Classics & Old Gaffers in Belfast
July 3rd RORC Lyver Trophy Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire (Royal Dee YC & ISORA)
July 9th-12th: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (inc Royal Dee YC Bicentenary Series)
July 18th – 24th: CH Marine Glandore Classics Regatta
July 22nd – 25th: WIORA Championship @ Galway Bay SC
July 31st to Aug. 2nd: Peel Traditional Boat Weekend (IOM)
Aug. 3rd: Baltimore Regatta
Aug. 4th – 7th: Calves Week (Schull)
Aug. 15th: Howth YC Double-Handed Race Challenge
Aug 15th: ISORA Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli
Aug. 16th: Rolex Fastnet Race (Cowes)
Aug 16th – 20th Optimist Irish Nationals (Lough Derg YC)
Aug. 21st – 23rd: Crosshaven Dinghy Mini-Week
Aug. 29th: ISORA Races from Pwllheli & Dun Laoghaire to Greystones
Aug. 30th: Taste of Greystones Keelboat Regatta
Sept. 5th – 6th: DBSC Cruiser Challenge
Sept. 12th: ISORA Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire
Sept. 12th - 13th: Helmsmans Championship
Oct. 17th : Rolex Middle Sea Race (Malta)
#irishsailingreview – 2014 has been the year in which Irish sailing regained its international confidence afloat by re-capturing the Commodore's Cup. Having won it in 2010, the national economic collapse prevented any defence in 2012, but in July 2014 the stain and shame of 2012's non-appearance was emphatically wiped from memory with a convincing team victory led by Anthony O'Leary.
Ashore meanwhile, it had taken longer in some quarters for the economic realities to become fully evident and accepted. But for the Irish Sailing Association, a grassroots revolution within the national authority and sailing in general in 2014 resulted in a root-and-branch analysis of the workings of the Association, which had been heading towards financial disaster through a combination of over-staffing, grandiose schemes of expansion and empire-building, and an emphasis on activities and programmes which were remote from the needs of ordinary sailors throughout Ireland.
It took six months to turn round the course of the Association. But on November 5th 2014 the new ISA President, David Lovegrove, was able to announce a far-reaching re-structuring which is already resulting in a leaner and fitter body, better able to provide a realistic service for clubs and the huge diversity of recreational activity on Ireland's seas and lakes.
While all this high profile activity and action has been taking place at international and national level, those Irish sailors who had managed to keep up their sport through the financial downturn – albeit in often very reduced circumstances – continued to sail their boats with the attitude that, while the economic situation was disastrous, it mustn't be allowed to become serious, and in some ways the best course out of the recession was to sail through it. W M Nixon casts an eye over the year's main activities.
In the Irish sailing year, Christmas Day is New Year's Eve. Next morning, on December 26th – St Stephen's Day or Boxing Day or whatever you're having yourself – the annual 628-mile Sydney-Hobart Race starts. It may be on the other side of the world, and it may still be in the very last days of the old year. But Irish interest at home and in Irish-Australia is always high, and in the sailing community it's seen as the start of the new season.
December 26th 2013 was in line with this, as we'd ex-Pat superstar Gordon Maguire – a previous Hobart race overall winner – very much in contention with Matt Allen's totally new Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban, we also had Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly YC skippering Derry/Londonderry in the warmly-welcomed Clipper Fleet of 70-footers designed by Tony Castro (formerly of Crosshaven) which were taking in the Hobart race as part of their global circumnavigating race, and we'd Barry Hurley and Kenny Rumball on the First 40 Breakthrough knowing that in the 2010 Hobart race, the new design's race debut, First 40s had taken first and second overall.
In a rugged race in which the wind got up to gale force and more towards the end, it was a much-loved hundred footer, Bob Oatley's continually-modified Wild Oats XI, which stole all the headlines with line honours, a course record, and a class win. Irish hopes were best met by Sean McCarter, who logged a very clear win in the Clippers. As for Ichi Ban, while she was third in IRC Div 1 and 8th overall, it wasn't quite a stellar performance, reinforcing the views of those of us who think the boat may be just a little too plump by today's lean and hungry standards. And aboard Breakthrough, they'd 8th in class and 29th overall, a useful performance perhaps, but Barry Hurley will be back on December 26th 2014, boosted by his first in class and second overall in October's Middle Sea Race.
Matt Allen's Ichi Ban in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race of 2013, with Gordon Maguire as sailing master. To some observers, the very new Carkeek 60 seemed distinctly plump in her hull form forward compared to her closest competitors
In late January 2014, attention focused on the Quantum Key West Regatta in the Florida Keys, where Irish Olympic sailor Peter O'Leary of Cork was on the strength of New York art dealer Marc Glimcher's completely new and very potent looking Ker 40 Catapult. The boat did the business afloat in Florida, but further business was done ashore, as Anthony O'Leary himself was in Key West to see if he could sign up Catapult to be the secret ingredient in Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, for which at that stage the only certainty was his own older Ker 39 Antix. There seemed to be agreement, but in the volatile world of international trading and snap decisions in which top modern sailing operates, there can be sudden reversals of fortune, and O'Leary later admitted that until Catapult was actually unloaded from a ship in Europe, he hadn't been a hundred per cent certain she'd show.
Key West had further Irish interest in that veteran skipper Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens – a former Round Ireland Race winner – was another star in the show, but much was to happen in Irish sailing before the Round Ireland 2014 got under way in Wicklow on June 28th.
With March slowly showing signs of Spring, university racing came centre stage, and it was University College Dublin which came through on top to qualify as Ireland's representatives in the Student Yachting Worlds in France in October, the team led by Philip Doran.
Another team was emerging as the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) announced that our Commodore's Cup squad would be Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix, Marc Glimcher's Catapult, and the Grand Soleil 43 Quokka chartered by Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling, with Anthony O'Leary as team captain. He in turn would be supported by the shore management team, for a very intense week of racing, of Barry Rose and Fintan Cairns, with Mike Broughton in what would prove to be the particularly onerous task of Team Meteorologist.
As 2014 was exactly midway between two Olympiads, top level international dinghy sailing to Olympic standards might have been expected to be on the back burner. But Ireland's Olympians were very much on track on the international scene, and busy with their own programmes which culminated in the ISAF Worlds in Santander where Olympic places in Rio de Janeiro for 2016 were secured by James Espey in the Laser, Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern in the 49er, and Annalise Murphy in the Women's Laser Radial. All were of course also seen in other boat types from time to time, with Annalise in particular bringing some glamour to the growing class of foiling Moths in Ireland.
Annalise on the foiling Moth
Other top international women sailors had descended on Ireland in early June with the ISAF Women's Match Race Worlds at Crosshaven. It's very much a specialist sailing interest, but aspiring Irish woman sailors attracted to this discipline found that this successful regatta provided some very useful networking contacts and future crewing possibilities, while the racing itself saw Sweden's Anna Kjellberg of the Royal Gothenburg YC become the new champion after defeating Camilla Ulrikkeholm of Denmark in the final.
In an entirely different area of sailing and life afloat, the traditional boat scene had come early to life with the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. In the Irish climate after a particularly damp Spring, it reflected great credit on those involved that there was such a good turnout, ranging from the Shannon Gandelows from Limerick recently returned from their historic visit to Venice, through the many restored classic yachts of the region, also including the lovely Shannon cutter Sally O'Keeffe from Kilrush, and going on into the restored traditional mackerel and lobster yawls which make West Cork their home.
Shortly after their historic visit to Venice, the Shannon gandelows built by the Ilen School took part in the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May. The gandelow here, rowed by Liam O'Donghue, Anthony Kenny and Robert Samlle, is headed across Baltimore Harbour towards the gaff ketch Sile a Do.
The pride of the Shannon Estuary - Sally O'Keeffe was built in a community effort in Querrin on the Loop Head peninsula.
The traditional lobster boat Saoirse Muireann (left, Cormac Levis) and the mackerel yawl An tiscaire (Uilliam O'Lorcain) are a familiar sight in the waters of West Cork. Photo: Brian Marten
They were to re-appear in even greater numbers at the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats in early August, a month during which the classic Galway Hookers of the West Coast were at their busiest on their home Atlantic waters, but the East Coast also had its moments with the Riverfest in Dublin's Liffey in early June seeing traditional and classic craft in a lively mix.
Sails in the City – two of the 1898 Howth Seventeens racing in the heart of Dublin in the Liffey Riverfest. Photo: W M Nixon
It could almost be Connemara, were it not for the Puppeteer 22s – the Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan in the new Classics & Traditional Division in Howth's annual Lambay Race, which was marking its 110th anniversary in 2014. Photo: W M Nixon
Indeed, so strong is the growing interest in classics and trads on the East Coast that to celebrate the centenary of the Lynch family's Howth 17 Echo (one of the newest of the class, the most senior ones were built in 1898) Howth YC provided a traditional Lambay Race course – simply up around Lambay and back to Howth Harbour – for the Seventeens and a new Classics Division, with the Howth 17s seeing the first two places taken by 1898 boats – Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) and Aura (Ian Malcolm) – while Old Gaffers Association International president Sean Walsh won the classics with his Heard 28 Tir na nOg from the Clondalkin team's Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan. As for the overall prize among the large fleet of more modern boats sailing their more complex course, that was won by Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet.
The countdown to the Commodore's Cup had continued with inspirational performances by Anthony O'Leary in the Easter Challenge in the Solent, where he won his class with Antix, and then in June he did the same again with the British IRC Championship. Back home, ICRA held their Nationals with the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire in mid-June, and out of a fleet of a hundred plus boats it was the vintage Marcus Hutchinson/Rob Humphreys designed Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt, RIYC) which was best overall scorer, a notably impressive performance also being put in by the Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) from Crosshaven.
The 27-year-old Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt) was overall winner in the ICRA Nats at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: David O'Brien
Downhill battle at the ICRA Nats with the Mills 36 Raptor (ex-Aztec) in foreground, while beyond is Peter Dunlop of Pwllheli's J/109 Mojito against the XP33 Bon Exemple (Colin Byrne, RIYC). Photo: Davd O'Brien
The Ker 36 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) dominated Class 0 at the ICRA Nats. Photo: David O'Brien
The end of June, and it was Round Ireland time. Thirty-six boats started from Wicklow, 33 finished in a race which was mostly on the slow side, with mid-size boats having their day. The winner was Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit from Scotland by just six minutes from the home favourite, Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth from the NYC in Dun Laoghaire. The French defending champion, Laurent Gouy's Ker 39 Inis Mor which sails in Ireland under the burgee of Clifden Boat Club, placed third while Frank Doyle of Cork, second generation round Ireland aristocracy as son of Denis of Moonduster fame, was fourth with his A35 Endgame.
The start of the Round Ireland Race 2014 well illustrates the eclectic nature of the fleet. In right foreground is Richard Harris's Sydney 36 Tanit which was overall winner by just six minutes from the J/109 Ruth (Liam Shanahan), just beyond with the black jib, while the Volvo 70 Monster Project (David Ryan) comes thundering through the fleet at the beginning of a performance whch would see her take line honours win and thd class win in the CK Div.. Photo: Kevin Tracey
The same weekend as the Round Ireland race started, Lough Foyle sent the Clipper Fleet on their way after a week's festivities in Derry/Londonderry, made even more festive by the fact that Sean McCarter and his crew with the home town's boat had crowned their win in the Sydney-Hobart race with victory in the Transatlantic leg to Derry.
Clipper fleet in Derry
Crosshaven fairly leaped to life with Cork Week in July, and after several hitches in various boat-shipping plans, it was notable as the first time the Irish Commodore's Cup Team 2014 were seen together, and mighty impressive they looked too, with Quokka proving best on the Cork Week leaderboard.
Michael Boyd (centre behind cup) and his Quokka crew, a member of Ireland's Commodore's Cup team, were overall winners of Cork week 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman
In the F18 Worlds at Ballyholme, Dutch skipper Gunnar Larssen (crewed by Ferdinand van West) is seen here putting in the smooth performance which saw him winning the worlds at his thirteenth attempt. Photo: W M Nixon
While all this excitement in racing boats with lids was building on the south coast in July, up north on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme the F18 Worlds were held for one of global sailing's most popular catamaran classes. Though the entry of 56 boats didn't match the 150-plus entries they get when the class has its worlds in its Mediterranean heartlands, the sailing was good and a popular winner emerged in longtime F18 sailor Gunnar Larsen, who is Dutch despite his Scandinavian name.
Dinghy attention was also very closely focused on Dublin Bay, with an enormous fleet of Optimists at the Europeans hosted by Royal St George YC from 12th to 20th July, and Dun Laoghaire really showing what it can do in being a major international regatta centre. France's Enzo Balanger was tops from Sweden's Kasper Nordenram, while best of the Irish in the Gold Division was Royal Cork's James McCann in tenth – not surprisingly, he was to go on to win the Nationals at his home club in August.
Nations from across Europe and beyond were at the Optimist Euros at Dun Laoghaire
Finn Lynch racing at Douarnenez in France where be became the new U19 Laser Standard world championPhoto: Trevor Millar/Sail Coach
On the broader international scene, former Opty stars Finn Lynch (National YC) and Seafra Guifoyle (Royal Cork) were to turn in outstanding results during 2014, with Guilfoyle firmly in the frame through the ISAF Youth Worlds in the Laser, eventually coming home from Tavira in Portugal with the Silver, while Finn Lynch was on top form to clinch the Gold in the Under 19 Laser Standard Worlds at Douarnenez in Brittany.
Back aboard the boats with lids, late July had brought the Commodore's Cup in the Solent, and if anyone out there doesn't know who won, we'd like to hear from them, as the state of total seclusion which this implies is surely something which could be packaged and marketed to our hyper-informed and over-crowded world. The comprehensive Irish victory just seems better and better with the passage of time, and for Anthony O'Leary it was the highlight of a fantastic season which in September was to see him win the Helmsman's Championship of Ireland (admittedly by just a whisker) in J/80s in Howth to set up a national double for Royal Cork, as young Harry Durcan of Crosshaven was winner of the Junior Helmsmans. O'Leary meanwhile went on to win the 1720 Nationals in Baltimore later that month, and then in November his beloved Antix was named RORC Yacht of the Year.
Antix in the Commodore's Cup, hanging in well coming to the weather mark to stay ahead of the newer Ker 40 Cutting Edge. Photo: Rick Tomlinson)
Even as Antix and her team mates were racing on towards glory in the Solent, in Clew Bay the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) were staging their annual championship at hospitable Mayo SC, and it saw a good spread of results, with the overall winner being Galway's Liam Burke with his Corby 25 Tribal, while the runner-up was the McGibneys' Dehler Optimum 101 Dis-a-Ray, which sails under the Foynes YC burgee, but her home port is Tarbert further west along the Shannon Estuary.
August was busy with events for enjoyment. Eighty boats raced in Calves Week in West Cork, which has now been compressed to a four day regatta which means, as one sage family man observed, that you can take a house in Schull for a week's holiday, and then just as the wife and kids are getting fed up with having the ould fella always about the place, doesn't he absolutely have to go off and spend the last four days of the holiday sailing with his mates? That one of the top boats was Colman Garvey's True Penance maybe says it all.
Calves Week 2014 entries were up 25% in 2014. Photo: Bob Bateman
The GP14 Worlds at East Down YC in Strangford Lough launched a hundred boats every day in smooth style. Photo: W M Nixon
The biggest dinghy event of all (other than the Laser Nationals, which as ever are in a league of their own) was the GP 14 Worlds in mid-August at East Down YC in Strangford Lough, which had its excitement in a sudden storm on the Monday, but it all turned out okay. Boats involved were just over the hundred mark, the best boats were built in Northern Ireland by Alistair Duffin, and winners were English crew of Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe from Burwain, while top Irish were John and Donal McGuinness of Moville in Donegal, they were sixth.
At the other end of the intensity scale, down in Howth they had their first cruiser-racer two-hander for the Aqua Restaurant Challenge. Despite very restrained pre-publicity, it attracted 34 boats for a race round Lambay and the Kish. Stephen O'Flaherty's elegant Spirit 54 Soufriere, fresh from a win in the Panerai Classics in Cowes and co-sailed by David Cagney, took line honours and almost won, but the vintage Humphreys Half Tonner Harmony (Peter Freyne and Jonny Swann) just pipped them at the end.
Sailed in summery weather, the new Howth two-handed was about as different as possible from another two-handed experience in August, that of Liam Coyne (NYC) and Brin Flahive (Wicklow) in the 1800 mile RORC Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland. They didn't have to be two-handed, there were fully crew boats involved including the 70ft–trimaran Musandam in which Ireland's Damian Foxall played a leading role in taking line honours in record time, but aboard the First 36.7 Lula Belle the Irish duo just toughed it out despite sailing the last 500 miles with virtually nothing functional, they simply decided to see it through, and to their amazement found they'd won Classes V & VI.
Lula Belle on her way out of the Solent with 1800 miles to race. Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Brian Flahive & Liam Coyne back in Dun Laoghaire on the morning of their return from the finish of the Round Britain & Ireland Race. Photo: W M Nixon
As for the Laser Nats, they were at the end of August and another Ballyholme event, with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork winning from Rory Fekkes of the home club, while the radials saw Annalise Murphy keep her hand in with a win from Cork's Cian Byrne.
After some rugged August weather, particularly on Ireland's East Coast, September was utterly blissful and it sweetly rounded out Dublin Bay Sailing Club's 130th season, the birthday being marked by a fairly epic dinner in the National YC. September also saw the conclusion of the slowly but steadily reviving Irish Sea Offshore Racing programme, with the end-of-season race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire seeing Liam Shanahan's J/109 Ruth confirmed as the overall winner of the series. Among locally campaigned dinghies, meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire's keen Fireball Class kept its annual programme in lively shape, and the season drew a close with Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella winning overall from Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.
ISORA Champion Ruth skippered by Liam Shanahan jnr from the National Yacht Club
Across country in Limerick, the CityOne dinghies and the traditional Shannon gandelows created in projects of the Ilen Boatbuilding School made their debut in the city centre on one of the last days of the Indian summer, and then they were put on display in a Naumachia in St Mary's Cathedral which was officially opened by Michael Noonan TD, and later formally visited by President Higgins.
The hopeful new spirit of Irish sailing in 2014 was evident in St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick, when the CityOne dinghies built by volunteers in an inner city revitalisation project went on display in a Naumachia in the Cathedral on September 26th, after their first regatta on the Shannon in the heart of Ireland's City of Culture 2014. With the boats in the cathedral were (left) Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey (Director, the Ilen School), Limerick's senior TD and Ireland's Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, and Gary MacMahon (right) Director of the Ilen School & Network for Wooden Boatbuilding. Photo: Press22
And then more vigorous winds returned in October, with the Freshwater Keelboat event on Lough Derg – originally just an exclusive Dragon thing – finding itself swamped with sixty and more boats from five classes and increasingly rugged conditions, such that only the Dragons and Squibs managed to get in any meaningful racing, with Neil Hegarty (RStGYC) winning the Dragons while James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale topped the Squibs.
Dragons in Autumn action on Lough Derg – Neil Hegarty (right) was overall winner from runner-up Richard Goodbody (left) Photo: Gareth Craig
Squibs on Lough Derg – it may look like perfect sailing, but the top came off the weather very soon afterwads. Photo: Gareth Craig
The Student Yachting Worlds in La Rochelle in October had some hiccups in UCD's campaign for Ireland, but while they very narrowly missed the podium in a truly international event, they stayed put at fourth overall. And round in the Mediterranean, a record fleet for the Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta saw entries soar through the 120 mark for the first time, and the 606 mile race had its first half in light breezes, but the second half was in pure Mistral, with people talking of "winds easing to 44 knots....." A Maltese-owned J/122 won, but second overall and first in her class was the Xp44 XpAct (Josef Schultheis) with a strong Irish emphasis in her crew including Barry Hurley, Andy Boyle, Kenny Rumball and Phillip Connor.
Soon afterwards, the Volvo World Race got under way with first stage from the Med to Cape Town, and Ireland's Justin Slattery on the winning boat on Leg 1. Back home, Autumn leagues had seen renewed enthusiasm as though people had suddenly re-discovered their sport, and the great sailing year of 2014 drew towards its close with the Lasers in Howth starting their 40th winter of annual frostbite racing. This means that HYC have now had a continuous sailing programme since April 1974, while across in Dun Laoghaire the DMYC Frostbite Series must be the most senior of all winter events. Winter Leagues attract more aficionados, with the popularity of the Dublin Bay Turkey Shoot in particular providing a forceful reminder that Dun Laoghaire is the principal sea access for a notably affluent and very large population in South Dublin. With the Turkey on its way, soon it's Christmas. And then the new Irish sailing season will begin on the blue waters of Sydney Harbour.
Justin Slattery on Volvo World Race 2014. Photo: Volvo Ocean Race
#islandnation – Heir Island, which is mistakenly called 'Hare Island' and in Irish is known as 'Inishodriscol' is one of "Carbery's Hundred Isles," that are "scattered," as some descriptions put it, throughout Roaringwater Bay on the West Cork coastline. It is two-and-a-half kilometres long, with spectacular flora and fauna.
Historically the island formed part of the O'Driscoll clan territory and was known as Inis Ui Drisceoil or Inis an Oidhre. The English version of the name has been traditionally misspelt as "Hare" ---- since 1694 at least, so the islanders claim.
It is also the location of Heir Island Sailing School, a Training Centre approved by the Irish Sailing Association and which for the past two weeks has been training future keelboat sailors amongst a coterie of interested youngsters.
Encouraging young people into sailing is very important for the future of the sport so it is good to hear positive reports about the innovation introduced on Heir Island in to teach young sailors the skills of keelboat racing.
"We can't take credit for the natural environment," John Moore who, with Patricia, runs Heir Island Sailing School, told me. "But what we can do is develop an interest in sailing as an active, enjoyable for sport for everyone and widen the interest of young people in aspects of the sport."
With residential accommodation available at the centre the Irish Cruiser Racing Association which has overseen the running of racing for keelboats, chose it as the base for a new initiative "Keel Boat Race Week." ICRA has the job of bringing together the various aspects of Irish handicap racing. Since its inaugural meeting in 2003 when sailors, primarily from Cork and Dublin, met in Waterford to establish the Association it has built a solid core of interest among cruiser racing enthusiasts. It has also led the successful Irish winning of the top UK international trophy, the Commodore's Cup.
With Heir Island Sailing School the initiative, open to all junior sailors in the country was launched, aimed at Transition Year students in particular, to run two week-long courses for young sailors keen to broaden their sailing and racing experience. The school year schedule for 'Transition' provided the way to do this and those committed to the future of the sport took the opportunity.
Twenty-five young sailors took part in the first of the two weeks and sixteen were involved on the second week, all keen to broaden their sailing and racing experience. A team of expert coaches, using six, matched, open keelboats taught them to develop skills associated with racing keelboats including handling the mainsail, headsail trim, bow work, helming, tactics and spinnaker handling. Ben Fusco, Head Coach at the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, a student yachting world champion, was chosen by ICRA to be involved in this project as well as Ben Lynch, an offshore sailor, who has raced aboard Volvo Open 70s and competed in some of the world's most challenging offshore races.
"At the end of the course they have gained familiarity with the various roles on keel boats as well as an appreciation of the tactics and strategy used throughout keel boat races," John said. The youth sailors came from areas around the coast. "They have also learned how to adapt the dinghy approach, in the boats they would have been sailing up to now, to bigger, more powerful boats".
There is a near-permanent difficulty in getting and keeping crews for cruiser racers, as I know from personal experience, so building up a reservoir of future sailors is important for the sport. One of the biggest problems has been the loss of young sailors after they leave dinghies. Many of them do not to remain in the sport.
Encouraging them to do so and developing the youth interest is important. In this regard Whitesail racing has provided an opportunity for families to race together. At the Friday evening racing in the RCYC in Crosshaven we adopted a youth policy aboard my own boat, a 33ft. Sigma and put our youngest crew member on the helm, a 10-year-old sailor from the Optimist bronze fleet. The training young sailors get in those little boats is impressive.
Conditions were mostly light enough during the three-race series for Oisin, my grandson, to helm our boat with tactical advice from the senior members of the crew. We won the series with a 1st and 2nd in a tie-breaker with the next boat, Micheál Lynch's, Lady T, both finishing on 9 points. Micheál deserves a lot of praise for his commitment to whitesail which has encouraged more people to take their boats out racing and enjoy the experience. It was good to see the way in which the RCYC sailors encouraged our young helm. The future of sailing will depend heavily on those who race for enjoyment. Without them, the highest competitive level of the sport will not have a foundation upon which to develop.
So let's give more encouragement to the youngsters. They will take over eventually, one way or the other (!) But helping them along will benefit the sport – and perhaps more boats and owners! When Oisin took over on the helm I went to where I have been on other boats - sitting on the rail. There is a different perspective there. It didn't lessen my overall concerns, because being owner I still have to sign the cheques when equipment and replacements are needed (!) but I did take a lot of satisfaction from seeing a youngster from the Optimist fleet handle the helm of a 33ft. cruiser effectively and I did learn – that we can all be replaced !
'COOLEST' SHIP IN THE NORTH SEA
There are not too many ships as brightly painted as the one pictured here, the new vessel launched for the Norwegian offshore supply shipping company Atlantic Offshore, Ocean Art PSV, in Stavanger. It was built at the Kleven shipyard in Myklebust, Norway and named during the ONS offshore energy conference in Stavanger, which coincided with the Nuart street art festival. A Polish street artist, Mariusz "M-City" Waras, painted the ship. It is the second of two VS 485 MKIII L designs ordered by Atlantic Offshore from Kleven and is to go on a six-year contract with Statoil in the North Sea. They claim it is the "coolest looking" ship in the North Sea! It certainly won't be un-noticed.
THE NAVY CALLS BACK!
John Hegarty, skipper of odd job at MBSC, his son Morgan and Lt. Cdr. Tony Geraghty, Commander of LE Samuel Beckett at the Naval base
I described, back in July in this blog how I was crewing aboard a yacht out of Monkstown Bay in Cork Harbour in that club's Thursday night cruiser league when the VHF came alive with the first radio call I had heard from the new Naval vessel, 'SAMUEL BECKETT' which had come up astern of us, returning from sea patrol. The Naval voice courteously requested if 'ODD JOB,' the yacht on which I was crewing, would alter course in the 'narrows' as the water area off Cobh and between Haulbowline Island is called by sailors, so that the State warship could make her approach to the Naval Base. Our Skipper, John Hegarty, acknowledged with equal courtesy and called a tack so 'ODD JOB' came about to go astern of 'L.E SAMUEL BECKETT' which then went into her berth at the Base. We brought 'ODD JOB' about again and returned to the racing fray, but the alteration cost us first place on handicap by two minutes and forty seconds. However, this incident showed the value of courtesy and good seamanship. The Navy showed equal courtesy in making contact after they read the story here on the Afloat website. We were invited to visit the ship and were shown over it by her commander, Lt.Cdr.Tony Geraghty. She is an impressive vessel. I recorded an interview with Lt.Cdr. Geraghty which will be transmitted on my THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme and which you can hear next week here on afloat.ie
As a Southern sailor, I have to admire the sight of all the sails in Dublin Bay out of Dun Laoghaire which I have seen over the past two Saturdays when my journeys took me along the seafront. It was very impressive, a great panorama of the sport and an indication of just how big the marine leisure sector is and its potential importance to the national economy. Congratulations to Dublin Bay Sailing Club which celebrated its 130th Anniversary at the weekend. The club has made a great contribution to the development of sailing since it was founded in 1884 and has co-ordinated racing in and out of Dun Laoghaire harbour. It has also influenced the development of yacht design through classes such as the Dublin Bay 25s, the Dublin Bay 21s, the Dublin Bay Mermaids and the Dublin Bay 24s. When marine correspondent with RTE I saw the efficiency of the DBSC in running sailing events. Long may it continue.
GETTING RID OF A SPY SHIP
November 5 should be an interesting day on the web. Rosatom which is a Russian State Corporation, will be holding an auction for bids to demolish the warship, SSV-33 Ural, that was launched in 1983. Nuclear-powered, it was regarded as a "spy" ship but hadn't a successful career. After less than two years in operation, there was a fire aboard and, with the fall of the USSR, there wasn't enough money for repairs, so she was taken out of service. The ship must be disposed of within the Bay of Bolshoy Kamen in the Primorsky region by November 30, 2017. Nuclear fuel was unloaded from the ship's reactor and removed for recycling in 2009. Parts of the ship are to be used to repair other nuclear-powered Russian naval vessels.
THIS ISLAND NATION EXPANDING
From next week my THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme is moving from monthly to fortnightly transmission. It will be broadcast here on the afloat website, so I hope you will tune in.
Until next week, the usual wish of .....
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Tom MacSweeney
#cullaun – Cullaun Sailing Club in East Clare held their Annual September Regatta last weekend which was the busiest they have ever experienced. They had an open regatta with 27 Boats on the water on Saturday and 21 on Sunday. It was a very good sailing and social weekend with Visitors from Killaloe Sailing Club, East Down Yacht Club, Greystones and Ramor Watersports in Cavan. There were perfect wind conditions for the sailors on Saturday and changing to very light conditions on Sunday.
There was no disputing the outright Winner being Monica Schaefer with 4 firsts out of Seven races. She was followed closely by Henry O Freill in second Place followed by Trevor Fisher in third. Margaret Hynes and Michael Hayes were the best Cullaun Club boat over the two days followed by Brian Parks and Chris Caher. They had a mixture of Wayfarers, Enterprises, RS 400, RS200, Lasers and not forgetting one solitary GP14.
Our Juniors Hugh Ward and Paddy Donlon sailed very well on the Saturday but seemed to slow down a little bit on Sunday letting Mike O Dea and Sean Hynes take the lead. They were the best Juniors and excluding Trevor Fisher they were the best in the RS Fleet. The best Improver without any doubt has to go Tommy Scott who's racing skills has improved no end over the last few months.
The number of Junior Sailors that have joined the club and partaken in Easter and Summer Camps have helped raise the profile for CSC with a large number now competing at our Junior and Senior Competitions. It is great to see a lot of the familiar faces travelling large distances to come and compete at our event and we are only delighted to host such events. Cullaun Sailing Club is situated in east Clare approx. 20 minutes from Limerick and Ennis and between the two villages of Kilkishen and Tulla.
For a list of their upcoming events then take a look at www.cullaunsailingclub.com or alternatively like their facebook page at www.facebook.com/Cullaunsailingclub
#sailing – I have been friends for a long number of years with Ireland's two top international sailors who set new speed records for sailing in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. I hear regularly from them and am proud to be in touch with them and, as much as I could, have publicised the progress of their careers over the years I have known them. I believe that giving coverage to successful achievements by Irish sailors at international level is good for the country and for the sport.
Damian Foxall from Kerry and Justin Slattery from Cork deserve to be household names as much as icons in other sports. But, like many sailors, they are not in my view, being given the level of coverage they deserve in the general national electronic and print media.
The progress of the Olympic Providence IRL team at overseas events should also be given more coverage. This week John Twomey from Kinsale YC and his crew have been competing at the world disabled sailing championships in Canada in the hopes of qualifying for his 11th consecutive Games, but this has got little coverage nationally.
Hurling, the Irish women's rugby team, the emergence of potential new stars in Irish athletics, all deserve strong reportage but do Irish sailors not deserve coverage also?
The media at sailing events when there are problems – the GP14 Worlds in Strangford Lough this month; Dun Laoghaire in 2007 are examples of a degree of sensationalised coverage which lacked balance. They were reported as "near disasters," but lacked the qualification that the majority of the sailors looked after themselves, as they are expected in sailing to be able to do. If you go out in a boat, I was told from my first days in sailing, you take the responsibility of getting yourself back in safely.
Sailing deserves better coverage in the national media. Is it being denied that by either ignorance or bias against sailing, or the seemingly ever-present perception of the sport as elitist?
There are sailing journalists who attempt to counterbalance the generally negative attitude towards the sport, but as I found myself when working within RTE, it is an uphill battle and, in an island nation, this is not fair to the sport.
Justin Slattery from Cork is Bowman and a leading member of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, skippered by Britain's Ian Walker, which crossed the finish line of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in an elapsed time of 4 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds. This broke the previous world and race record for a monohull set by Volvo 70 Groupama, in 2010, by 1 day, 8 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds.
It was the second world speed record in sailing broken during the Round Britain and Ireland Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and another Irishman was also involved in the first.
Record breaking Damian Foxall and Oman MOD 70
Ireland's Damian Foxall added the Round Britain and Ireland Speed record time to his impressive offshore sailing CV on board the Oman Sail MOD 70 catamaran. The crew of Musandam-Oman Sail, a MOD70 Trimaran crossed the finish line of the race at with an elapsed time of 3 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes, 36 seconds. This broke the previous world record for a multihull held by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011, by 16 minutes, 38 seconds.
"We hit a new top speed for the boat of 43 knots right at the start," said Damian, Co-skipper on the boat. "The hard thing about a race record, as opposed to a course record, is that with a course record you can wait until the weather is perfect and you just go. In a racing format you don't have that option. The only time we tacked in an 1800-mile circular course was after we had gone through the finish line!""
The MOD70 was skippered by Sidney Gavignet from France, one of the top sailors in the world and who is heading next for the tough Atlantic race, the single-handed Route du Rhum.
It was not all plain sailing for Abu Dhabi's Azzam. Two crew members were hurt during the race. Justin Slattery injured his ribs while trimmer Phil Harmer injured his hand.
And let's not forget the National Yacht Club duo that, despite very heavy weather and suffering major gear failure have persevered in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. The story of their sporting commitment deserves national coverage. Liam Coyne raced two-handed with Brian Flahive on their First 36.7, Lula Belle and they showed a level of spirit and determination that would bring pride to any sport when they won the two handed division.
NEW HELVICK LIFEBOAT
Helvick is a lovely spot on the South-East Coast. A fine little harbour, dominated by fishing boats, with a few dedicated leisure sailors also. I am not too sure about the location of visitor moorings outside the harbour, but at many parts around the coast those could be located in better, more sheltered spots. But that is beside the point of why I am writing about Helvick which is because it has got a new lifeboat through a strong contact with an English family. It is an Atlantic 85, built at a cost of €255,000. It has a number of improvements from the Atlantic 75, Helvick Head's former lifeboat, including a faster top speed of 35 knots; radar; provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors. It can operate safely in daylight in up to force 7 conditions and at night up to force 6. It also allows lifeboat crews to respond even faster in emergencies.
The new RNLB in Helvick and below the late Robert Armstrong after whom the new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85, is being launched in his name at Helvick Head lifeboat station
Its name is Robert Armstrong and it was funded by a legacy he left after his death in November of 2009. Born in 1936, he loved sailing, fishing and boats. His home was Blackheath but he had a holiday home in Potter Heigham on the Norfolk Broads, where he moored his own boat. There is a strong connection between the Armstrong family and Helvick. Robert Armstrong's aunt, Alice and her brother Charles, were the donors of Alice and Charles, Helvick Head RNLI's previous lifeboat and Robert had attended the naming ceremony there back in 2000 when he was given an RNLI jacket which he wore proudly.
CROW HEAD'S CABLE CAR
Paul O'Shea has written to me about an event at Crow Head:
"Hi Tom, I would like to promote an event on Crow Head on September 6. Lehanmore Community Coop want to replicate the first ever Cable Car crossing from there to the adjoining island. It will be a joint effort between Kerry Mountain Rescue and Castletownbere Coastguard Unit with the help of Castletownbere RNLI. All funds raised will be donated to KMRT."
HONOUR FOR JOHN TWOMEY
The decision to introduce a "President's Cup" event to honour John Twomey is well-deserved and recognises the achievements of Irish sailors, about which I have written earlier in this week's blog. Sailability Ireland, in conjunction with the ISA, has launched 'The Presidents Cup,' a new championship to encourage sailors with disabilities to compete in the classes sailed at Paralympic and international level.
'The Presidents Cup' has been named in honour of 10-time Paralympian and current President of the International Disabled Sailing Association, John Twomey from Kinsale Yacht Club. A team of 10 sailors from each of the four Irish provinces will compete in four different classes; the Hansa 303, SKUD 18, Squib and Sonar for this prestigious prize. Kinsale Yacht Club has kindly agreed to host this inaugural event which will be held on September 6 and 7. In 2013 the Club hosted the IFDS Disabled World Sailing Championships to incredible success and this event will form part of that legacy. Six races will be sailed and the team that has the best results in the four classes will be crowned champions. The event is being sponsored by Kingspan. A number of places are still available for both sailors with disabilities and volunteers who would like to participate in the championship. For more information Email: [email protected]
Sailability Ireland and the ISA are hoping that the event will encourage more sailors along the path to international competition. Supporting the availability of the sport to those with disabilities delivers on the commitment to sailing being a "sport for all". I remember the first time I reported on a disabled sailing event and how one lady competitor put me in my place when I asked her did she find it difficult to sail and she rightly responded: "Out on the water in a boat I am every bit as good as you!"
LOVE LIGHT AT A GREAT HEIGHT!
The tours of Ballycotton Lighthouse which began this Summer from the East Cork fishing village to the offshore island lighthouse have proved very popular, but now they are becoming a location for the lovelorn to commit their future!
A couple from Plymouth, Devon, became the first in history to announce their engagement at the top of the Llighthouse. During the scheduled noonday tour last Wednesday, 23-year-old Ryan Johnson proposed to 21-year-old Rebecca Daly on the lighthouse balcony and she accepted. They have a 5-month-old daughter, Lyra and were visiting friends in Ballycotton.
Happy couple back at ground level at Ballycotton lighthouse Ryan Johnson and Rebecca Daly on Ballycotton lighthouse
"Great to see romance is alive and well," said Derry Keogh, retired Ballycotton School Headmaster and local historian, who was the guide on their midday sailing trip to the island. "What a location to pop the question! When they heard about it, all the other tour visitors who were there gathered round and we sang 'Congratulations' - Phil Coulter maybe looking for royalties! This made it a double first for Ballycotton Island Lighthouse - the first ever sing song on the lookout tower!"
Since beginning in early July this year, the Ballycotton Island Lighthouse Tours have proved a great success with over 1,700 visitors hearing about the history of the lighthouse and seeing the view from the previously inaccessible lighthouse lantern balcony and island. This is an economic boost for the fishing village, both in profile and for local businesses.
Irish sailing photographer and cameraman Brian Carlin has been appointed the Onboard Reporter with Team Vestas Wind for this year's Volvo Race. He has worked with the biggest names in the sailing world and on some of the biggest races.
Chris Nicholson, the four-time race veteran, who skippered Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in the last edition of the race, will lead Team Vestas Wind, a campaign sponsored by Vestas, the Danish wind energy company. This is the seventh team in this year's Volvo round-the-world which begins with an In-Port Race on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.
And speaking about fishing and seafood which is increasing its attraction to consumers, retailers who sell fish are being urged to take part in a new scheme by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, the State agency with responsibility for developing the sea fishing and aquaculture industries. This is the
"BIM Green Seafood Business Programme," aimed at assisting seafood businesses to reduce their environmental impact and save on energy costs. ""Making seafood processes more sustainable can improve a business 'bottom line' by reducing costs and enhancing their environmental reputation," says BIM.
In conjunction with Green Business and SEAI, BIM I are hosting a series of FREE, half-day seminars to assist Seafood Retailers. They will be held in Dublin on Tuesday, October 14 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin Airport; and in Cork on Thursday October 16, at the Park Inn, Cork International Airport. Advance booking is required as places are limited. For more information and to book, contact Lorraine O'Byrne in BIM on 01 2144185 or email [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Tom MacSweeney, @AfloatMagazine
#strangfordlough – It's most encouraging to see such interest in the magic of Strangford Lough writes W M Nixon and if we missed out on some aspects of it in reviewing our time there (see blog and comments here), it was only because we had already so much material on the agenda of primarily dealing with the Rivers and the GP 14s.
I take Theo Rye's point that the Linton Hope-designed Dabchicks of 1895 were probably the world's earliest one design class with Bermudan rig, but would plead that I think I meant to describe the Rivers as the world's first one design keelboat class with Bermudan rig (well, he would say that, wouldn't he?).
As for William Jenkins pointing out that Glens were also racing that night of Wednesday August 13th, so too in a combined class were the RS Elites and Flying Fifteens. The Glens, like the Rivers, had good racing, but here too one boat was dominant, Glenlark sailed by Richard Aitken whose family have owned the boat from new, his crew including Irish Cruising Club Vice Commodore Alan Leonard.
Two RS Elites shaping up for their start (right) closely watched for pointers for their own start by the crew of Brian Law's River class Uladh (foreground). Photo: W M Nixon
The SLYC Glen Class racing with Richard Aitken's Glenlark (right) well positioned on the favoured west side during the beat. Photo: W M Nixon
The Strangford Lough Glens are on something of a roll these days, as this past weekend (August 16th & 17th) they had their annual team racing series against the Dun Laoghaire Glens, and though it was an away match for the Whiterock squad which was captained by SLYC Commodore Ian Gleadhill, they won overall in a series which was curtailed by Sunday's foul weather.
As for the quality of the courses and the race management at Whiterock on the night of Wednesday 13th August, the photos speak for themselves. Racing started in a brisk and sunlit nor'wester, the course provided two excellent long beats and lots of spinnaker work, and it was all neatly wrapped up after sunset but with every boat finishing the course despite the dying breeze and gathering darkness. It was club evening racing at its very best, and the banter at the tasty post-race supper in the clubhouse rounded out an excellent programme.
Evening racing timed to perfection. In the long-drawn-out northern sunset, Richard Aitken's Glenlark arrives in the lead at the weather mark. SLYC uses simple but clever ballasted plastic piping racemarks, and even when the tide is across them a displacement boat will find she has a very forgiving cushion of water between mark and boat when trying to shoot the turn. Photo: W M Nixon
The last of the sunshine plays on the fields of the Ards Peninsula to the east as Glenlark consolidates her lead down the final run. Richard Aitken had read the beats so well he was up among the tail-end River Class boats. Photo: W M Nixon
#sailingindustry – The 13th International Sailing Summit (ISS), taking place on 17 November at METS in Amsterdam, will prove revolutionary for the industry by demonstrating that to succeed in a global market companies must diversify and innovate, say organisers. 'Waking up the sailing industry – how sailing needs to modernise, diversify and develop to attract and retain participants' has been announced by British Sailing, an association of the British Marine Federation (BMF), as the theme of the 2014 Summit.
This worldwide forum, bringing together the best in the industry, aims to drive change and promote sailing on a global scale. Broken-down into three sessions, each will address a need for modernisation:
Speakers will identify the future target audiences which have evolved from today's global community , including amongst others Molly Winans, Spinsheet Magazine on "Changing Your Game Plan to Welcome Diverse Customers"
A unique chance to hear how experts within and outside of sailing have successfully driven participation in their sport. This will include observations from Terry Greenwood, British Cycling on "Learning from Another Industry – Growing Participation in Cycling"
Speakers will demonstrate how and why modernisation and creativity is central to future prosperity for the industry. This will include a great insight from Philippe Fourrier and Philippe Bru, Ilago Event, on an incredibly popular & growing event "Defi Wind & Defi Kite"
The annual ISS has proven itself a prominent event for the forerunners of the sailing industry. After last year's Summit between 90-100% of attendees anticipated their return or endorsement of future ISS's*. In consequence, the 13th ISS is an event not to be missed to ensure your business is part of its future.
As Fiona Pankhurst, President of the British Marine Federation and Head of Corporate Marketing & PR at Raymarine enthuses "The International Sailing Summit brings together some of the world's leading lights with the experience, ideas and innovations required to help sailing develop and grow. We will be hearing from other sports about how they have faced and overcome challenges in order to grow, and will be learning about new technologies to encourage participation. For any company involved in any aspect of sailing, this conference is vital as part of your company's development, to see how you can grow your market place and to start METS energised with new ideas and solutions from the exciting panel of presenters and high profile after-dinner speakers. It's a not to be missed opportunity to benefit your business."
#westcorksailing – Balitmore Maritime Centre (BMC) was formed in 2013, in order to continue the sailing activities of Les Glénans in Baltimore, West Cork which have ceased. Here BMC chairman Michael O'Meara outlines the work of the centre since it started activities earlier this year.
Both Baltimore and Collanmore sailing bases have been put on the market by Fáilte Ireland. We have been unable to secure a lease on the Baltimore property as Fáilte Ireland are not engaging in that type of business activity anymore. However, we are keeping a watching brief on the sale of Baltimore and there are moves afoot locally to secure funding to make an offer to purchase the base. There has been widespread support for Baltimore Maritime Centre/Glenua in Baltimore and Skibbereen and this is very encouraging looking towards the future. We have ongoing liaison with local businesses and other interests.
On a more practical level, BMC/Glenua, in conjunction with the local maritime heritage group has produced a comprehensive proposal for the development and use of the base. This proposal encompasses traditional boat building, maritime archaeology and a maritime heritage data base whilst ring-fencing and enhancing our Les Glénans style sailing activities. The Baltimore Maritime & Training Project document is reproduced in our newsletter, The Beacon, attached for your information.
We are using this proposal in our engagements with state agencies, politicians and funding agencies. If this proposal is successful, it will give BMC/Glenua security of tenure, enhance the total sailing experience, have the capability of using the base all year round and provide a greater economic unit to make the project sustainable for the long term.
Our fleet of 6 GL 570s were re-located to Heir Island in June in order to provide keel boat courses in a very successful joint venture with John Moore of Heir Island Sailing School. The boats are now back at anchor in Church Strand Bay, Baltimore. More courses will be available during August. We have just completed our July cruising courses running between Kinsale and Baltimore and again, more of these courses will be available during August.
A copy of the BMC newsletter, The Beacon is attached below.
#islandnation – The sea moulds the Irish coastline, it lubricates the nation's economy, its exploration is a resource for scientific investigation, it provides adventure and leisure.
The sea which surrounds us also has the potential to be a cradle for national resources, with the power to feed and provide energy.
A national strategy, "Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth," was launched in 2012, intended to position Ireland to gain advantages from the global marine market, particularly for seafood, tourism oil and gas, ocean energy, to a predicted value of €1.2 billion. The Naval Service has got a new ship, another is under construction. There is a National Maritime College and the Beaufort Centre of IMERC, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster, on the College Campus will "promote Ireland as a world-renowned research and development location, that will unlock Ireland's maritime and energy potential," according to its own description. These are some of the positive developments.
So has the Government overcome the "sea blindness" which has pervaded national policy for many previous years?
Benjamin Franklin wrote of a "little neglect" creating greater problems and, though his remarks were aimed at other than maritime affairs, they are apposite to quote in relation to marine matters.
Why is it that an island nation does not have a dedicated maritime department of government and that aspects of the marine sphere are spread around so many departments that the high level which marine affairs should be at has been so diffused? This, despite pre-election promises by Coalition parties, that maritime affairs would have the highest priority and all of them would be brought under one Department.
That would seem to indicate that pre-election promises are just political guff by those who "say anything, comment on anything," to get into power and stay there!
Over 95 per cent of all exports and imports to this island are moved by sea and every import and export has to cross the sea, even the small percentage carried by air. Nothing can enter or exit the country without crossing over the sea.
So why is the marine sphere not a primary focus of national policy?
The power to feed from the sea was given away by failures at the highest levels of political and civil service to realise how important the fishing industry should be to the future of the nation, when the vast wealth and resources of Ireland's waters in fishing were conceded to the power of the European Union.
Two natural gas finds, at Kinsale Head and the Corrib, have not and do not show signs of, producing wealth for the Irish people. From Kinsale, Ireland did get supplies of natural gas and a supply network, but the nation - the people of Ireland - paid for it while profits from the finds went to the exploration companies. The same looks like happening in the Corrib. The Government does appear to have changed its attitude, with new requirements announced for any future offshore discoveries of oil or gas, but it has come somewhat late to acceptance of the depth and breadth of Irish marine resources.
Raising public awareness about the maritime sphere in Ireland is crucial. This is relative to all aspects of the marine sphere from commercial, industrial, employment potential to leisure.
"Sea blindness" has pervaded political life for many years.
But it was not evident amongst early leaders of the nation. Arthur Griffith argued for a strong fishing industry and emphasised how vital it and the marine sphere would be to Ireland in the future. The Government during World War Two, realised the accuracy of that summation when, isolated despite being a neutral nation, it had to establish a national shipping company to supply vital needs. The liquidation of that company, the abandonment of seafarers, the disaster visited upon the fishing industry and coastal communities by the failures to realise its importance, neglect of ports and safety policy for many years were and in some cases remain as indicators of State neglect.
The fine weather has underlined the importance of the sea, as people went to the seaside; the problems of pollutants from landward into the sea and rivers has caused difficulties and perhaps given people some increased appreciation of the importance of the sea and protecting it.
Public awareness of the sea is crucial, to pressurise politicians, a group which, in the main, has failed to contribute positively in this regard. National media coverage of maritime affairs is abysmal, apart from tragedies and controversies.
There are Irish politicians who should be ashamed of themselves for their attitude to the marine sphere in past years. I cannot forget doing an interview with one of them, who came from a family with a long political heritage and who had just been appointed Minister for the Marine and who told me, as he thought in avuncular fashion and that it was a joke: "I'm the Minister for fish and ships, but we have to suffer a bit in political life to get on." When I asked if he would repeat that comment on the record, he got rather nasty and didn't like when I said that I respected seafarers and fishermen, but doubted his attitude, from what he had said about his department which seemed, to me like disrespect of the importance of maritime matters.
"Well, it's not the highest appointment I could have got," was the huffy reply.
I have attempted to make the case for an Irish Maritime Foundation, which would be founded to raise awareness of marine matters, encompassing all strands of interest, which would be a maritime platform, with public, private and State involvement.
Ireland's maritime resources, our maritime heritage, the island nation in which we live, deserve this.
There should be a dedicated Department of the Marine, encompassing all aspects of the marine sphere and the Minister of that Department should be regarded as a major posting in Government.
That would recognise that Ireland is "an island nation."
The public have a role as the guardians of Ireland's marine resources.
I wrote a few weeks ago about my interview with David Lovegrove, President of the Irish Sailing Association and the review of sailing and if the association which he is leading. He impressed me with his fresh, innovative thinking and determination. Sailing also needs higher public awareness.
I was in Carrigaline Library in County Cork when a man approached and told me how he very much wanted his son to go on an ISA Training Course, but he could not afford the club membership which would be necessary before his son wold be accepted and that, coupled with the cost of the course itself and, perhaps, a boat to use, it was all beyond his resources. His young lad, of 11, was with him. He had been at a football summer camp, which cost €80.00 and his father wondered why sailing clubs did not provide something similar and not just the courses which he considered expensive.
I did explain about courses at sailing schools and about the costs which clubs had to meet to run courses, but his experience does make a point. Is there any prospect of a 'summer camp" approach without high costs, for those who would like to be involved, but can't afford formal training courses in these present times?
A related point is for those who would like to crew on boats, but cannot afford club memberships and probably would not use a club facilities for other than on one night's racing a week.
These are aspects which could be looked at to address declining numbers.
As this man said to me: "You say that sailing is a sport for all, but I don't see that."
Affordability is an issue because other sports are cheaper to become involved in.
I hope that this will be addressed when the result of David Lovegrove's work is revealed later this summer. I gather that also discussed by the ISA board have been how sailing can be given a 'community involvement' aspect, preserving the 'lifelong sport' approach which, in my view, should be a major attractive point and sailing's unique capacity for family involvement; how to relate cruising and racing, the fragmentation of the sport into so many classes of boats; and how to relate club and local sailing with high performance.
There are a lot of issues, another of which of course is the media attitude towards the sport. It remains noticeable how little regular, concentrated attention, it is given by the national media.
FIRST WORLD ANGLING MEDAL FOR IRELAND
It is good to see another Irish marine success, a historic achievement for Irish coarse anglers. 125 anglers from 25 countries were in Coachford, County Cork, for the World Feeder Fishing Championships. Going into the competition the English team was the favourite. They had visited the venue a number of times in advance of the competition as part of their preparations! "The Irish finish was especially satisfying," Paul Bourke of Inland Fisheries Ireland told me, "as it is the first team medal in a world championships." Congratulations go to Francis McGoldrick, Richard Pratt, Tony Kersley, Paul Leese, Nigel Houldsworth, Ken Ince, Brenton Sweeney– Captain and Roger Baker– 2nd Captain.
Though I am more involved in being "on the water" rather than in it and prefer things that way, I appreciate the under-the-surface beauty of Irish waters and the sport of diving, amongst the fraternity of which I have many contacts. The deaths of six recreational underwater divers since June have been of deep concern. It is not an emerging trend of fatalities in the sport, according to the Irish Underwater Council which has urged diving enthusiasts to ensure that they are medically fit to dive and that their equipment is serviced at regular times and is in good working condition.
MARVELLING AT THE OPPIES
I remember one night at the RCYC when there was a discussion about whether it was a night to go sailing as the rain fell and it seemed the wind would be increasing.
I looked out from the clubhouse and there was the Optimist fleet, with the young sailors putting out for their racing/training. That ended the discussion and off we went! There are times when I look with appreciation and some awe at what conditions the Oppies can handle. Sometimes I wonder if they are being exposed to too much, as I did in the cold and wet at Baltimore in West Cork earlier this year in what seemed like mid-Winter days when there were Oppies from, it seemed, all over the country for a training session. But the Oppies seem to manage it all.
There is just over a week to go until the closing date for entry to the Optimist National Championships at the RCYC. Doug Howlett will officially open the CH Marine-sponsored event which will start on Thursday, August 14. Details on www.oppienationals.com or by emailing [email protected]
GREENPEACE FOLLOWING COSTA
Greenpeace has been following the towing of the Costa Concordia from Giglio to Genoa, because of its passage through what it has described as "one of Europe's largest marine sanctuaries."
"We're particularly concerned about impacts on the Pelagos sanctuary, which protects whales and other marine life in the area," said Greenpeace.
The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals is a protected area of 87,500 square kilometres in the north-western Mediterranean covering much of the towage course. The decision to tow the Costa Concordia to Genoa was approved by the Italian Government prior to the start of the re-floating operation and was based on that port's ability to perform the demolition work.
NEXT THIS ISLAND NATION RADIO PROGRAMME HERE ON AFLOAT: August 7.
#irishsailing – Ireland is having a busy sailing season through 2014, but there is concern about the decline in turnouts in some major events. W M Nixon suggests that, during the years we've been pre-occupied with weathering the economic storm, we may have missed the fact that the basic structure of sailing is changing.
We've lived through interesting times, these past few years. And with Ireland's particular woes during the global financial crisis, the general lack of money and resources, coupled with the decline in simple enthusiasm for living energetically and enjoying participant sport, has obscured the fact that sailing – like most sports – has been changing, with an increasing emphasis on focussing attention on a few big professional events, rather than celebrating the small and the local.
A clear case in point was the visit of the Clipper Race to Derry/Londonderry, which coincided precisely with the weekend at the end of June when the biennial Round Ireland Race was staged from Wicklow. Although there were many entries racing round Ireland which had varying levels of what we might call soft sponsorship, essentially it was an unsponsored race for amateurs run by amateurs, something to which the mass media will give little if any attention.
But the Clipper Race by contrast is now a firmly established commercial venture based on a sound business model. Robin Knox-Johnston has certainly earned the event's success with his dedicated promotion of the ideal over the years, and the main sponsors – whether they be major brands, cities, regions or even countries - feel very comfortable with it. This is a corporate affair where all the big decision makers can be confident that there'll be a highly professional output of good human interest news stories. And if a television company sends down a film crew with a reporter to cover the stopover, the Clipper Race's own people will know exactly what they need, and thereby maximise their expensive time to produce newsworthy results.
As for the non-professional paying crews taking part, they're fully aware that they've divvied up the kind of money which would buy them their own very useful little boat if they so wished, and have a bit of money left over to run it too. But they much prefer to pay up front for what they know will be the sailing experience of a lifetime, all neatly packaged and ready to go, and everything done and dusted at the and of it.
Derry/Londonderry/Doire arrives at the entrance to Lough Foyle to win the Clipper Race's Transatlantic leg.
Home to victory – DLD making knots up Lough Foyle past the coast of Donegal
When the various pay-up-front round the world races were establishing themselves several decades ago, one noted newspaper sports editor famously agreed that they were the sporting equivalent of a fleet of tour buses full of paying passengers racing down the road from Dublin to Killarney. My own feeling was that a tour bus race would actually be great fun, but I could see the point that it was remote indeed from the purest concepts of sport.
Nevertheless the round the world operators have been whittled down over the years until the Clipper Race not only survives but actually thrives mightily, and has an image to die for. Far from being a specialised oddity, it is becoming mainstream. In Australia, the annual Sydney-Hobart Race struggles each year to get its entries above the hundred mark, so when the Clipper organisers suggested they might make Sydney-Hobart 2013 a leg of their course, the organisers – the prestigious Cruising Yacht Club of Australia – leapt at the chance. And as far as we're concerned in Ireland, it was a great success, as the Irish boat Legenderry, skippered by Sean McCarter of Donegal, was the winner of the Clipper division, while it was noted with added satisfaction that his hefty big "tour bus" had by no means been beaten by all the fancy out-and-out racing machines sailed by Hobart race veterans.
Sean McCarter aboard DLD – his class victory in the Sydney-Hobart Race made him the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for January.
But even in the best of all possible worlds, there is only so much in the way of resources for such events, and public attention is very limited and fickle. Yet in the end, public attention is what motivates sponsorship. For sure, in a small, specialised and intensely personal sport like sailing, there will always be a willingness by some company bosses to give a bit of help to a friend organising a sailing event. But at the very least it has to be something which can in some way be justified on the balance sheet, and with the increasing dominance of the ubiquitous accountant, and his or her need in turn to justify aspects of the company's behaviour to the tax inspectors, the old "helping out a mate" approach to sailing sponsorship becomes increasingly difficult to justify.
Yet although almost all sailing enthusiasts will give a bit of their attention to events like the Clipper Race and the Sailing Olympics, while even the most hidebound traditionalist will occasionally take a furtive note of what's going on in the snakepit of the America's Cup, the fact is that for most of us, sailing is still primarily a matter of sailing our own boat, or crewing with old shipmates on someone else's craft, and taking part in club racing and local regattas which to us are the essence of the sport.
But in terms of outside attention, even in the town or village attached to our own home ports such beloved sporting activity scarcely registers at all in a world in which round-the-clock sporting highlights are available on the media or in a nearby stadium virtually all the time.
Most of Irish sailing is all about what Edmund Burke called "the little platoons". While Burke recognised the inevitable and growing power of the big battalions, he promoted the ideal of the vital function of the little platoons – basically the family unit, the extended family, and their circle of friends – in holding society together and preserving civilised life.
So instead of mindlessly banging the drum about Ireland being a great place to sail, and endlessly repeating the mantra about the Royal Cork being the world's first proper yacht club – true and all as both may be – perhaps it's time to be realistic about our sailing situation, cherish what we have, and thereby build it to a healthy state.
Admittedly if you go overboard on being realistic, you can quickly become pessimistic and reduce all home sailing activity in recognition of the fact that many people's sailing ideal is a warm and sunny fortnight in Croatia or the Greek Islands, sailing boats whose care and maintenance is someone else's responsibility, and sailing moreover on waters which won't give you hypothermia after an hour's immersion.
The legendary American offshore racer Carina rounding the Fastnet Rock in the race of 2011. Carina will be one of many contenders in the Fastnet Race of 2015, but like most of the large fleet, it's unlikely she'll enter any Irish port.
But the perception elsewhere is that Ireland is quite a rugged place to sail. In fact, for many who briefly sail in our waters every other year, the ruggedness of our waters is the USP of the Fastnet Race. The biennial Grand National of offshore racing is now the epitome of a "big battalions" event. With the added kudos of the 1979 disaster in its history, having a Fastnet Race in your sailing CV is a globally-recognised distinction. Thus we can be quite sure that next year's race will see the enormous but limited entry list filled almost instantly, and equally we can be sure that the Irish economy will scarcely benefit at all from a huge event which uses our most iconic rock as the main mark of the course, the very symbol of an entire vast international event, yet the race starts and finishes in the south of England.
As to the perception of Ireland's weather and our sailing conditions, ten days ago I was up at Ballyholme Bay on Belfast Lough for the annual F18 World Championship. The F18 is a hugely popular catamaran which thrives as a class where sailing waters are in easy reach of large populations. Thus its biggest fleets are along the north and northwest coasts of France, but it's big in Holland and Germany too, and in the south of France and Italy it prospers mightily.
Belfast Lough produced some fine Irish summer sailing weather for the F18 Worlds, and at the same time the F17 Worlds in the south of France were being disrupted by severe gales. Photo: W M Nixon
Whoops....it may have been a World Championship, yet there were some very human errors. But then, anyone accustomed to sailing a monohull could very easily forget you've a second hull to lee. Photo: W M Nixon
The 2013 Worlds in Italy attracted a fleet of 170 boats with thousands attending the opening festival. Then, as the well-run class has a policy of rotating the Worlds around countries which have a significant presence of F18s, the fact that it's the biggest catamaran class in Ireland saw the 2014 Worlds allocated to Ballyholme, Northern Ireland's premier dinghy club and a stronghold of F18 racing.
They knew that it would be wildly optimistic to expect a fleet to match Italy's lineup of 170 in 2013. But a target of a hundred boats seemed reasonable. Yet in the end they got 56. They'd great racing – much better than their smaller sisters the F17s which were being blown out of the water at the same time at their Worlds in the south of France. And with Gunnar Larssen of the Netherlands winning the title at his 13th attempt, there was a popular winner for a keen class of very pleasant people who were interesting and fun to be around.
The F18s can be powered up in light breezes if you can get the weather hull clear.........Photo: W M Nixon
....and as the breeze builds, the hope is to have both crew on the wires......Photo: W M Nixon
.....and then you're really cooking with gas. Photo: W M Nixon
It can be a knife edge. This may all look very relaxed, but it happened in jig time. Photo: W M Nixon
America's Cup rockstar Glenn Ashby of Australia was in the frame from time to time, but boat damage hindered his campaign. Photo: W M Nixon
Despite his Viking name, new F18 World Champion Gunnar Larssen is Dutch. Here he gives a masterclass in winning out on a dead run (yes folks, this IS a dead run, but F18 style). Photo: W M Nixon
It was as the fleet came ashore that you realised the international nature of the entry. And the weather was Mediterranean, while in the Med itself, it was blowing a gale.....Photo: W M Nixon
As for a fleet of 56, it's more than enough to provide good sport, and they certainly had it. But it was a chilling – in every sense – reminder of the fact that, ever since Roman times, Ireland has been seen by the rest of Europe as Hibernia, the Land of Eternal Winter, and thus for the modern sailing world in general, we're seen as a small and distant island where only the most rugged would dream of going upon the sea.
Perhaps the turnout in any international event here could be directly calculated in relation to the distance of the venue from Mediterranean sailing conditions, qualified by the distance from Europe's main population centres. And lest anyone think that this compact turnout at Ballyholme was essentially to do with the special circumstances of Northern Ireland, at exactly the same time Cork Week saw numbers hovering around the hundred mark. And this in an event which fifteen years ago used to soar above five hundred.
It's a forceful reminded of how our sailing times are changing. If something is going to be very big in every way, then it can take up a lot of time and energy. But the old days of private owners divvying up resources and chivvying up crews in order to do a distant medium size regatta with all its logistical challenges seem to be a thing of the past, as the Scottish Series has also been finding out.
Yet if you visit every corner of Ireland, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that on every coastline, any good anchorage is well filled with boats. After six years of economic stagnation, they may not be the newest boats around. But they're there in apparently greater numbers than ever, and they function happily in a strictly local environment.
Ireland's hidden fleet (1). While getting a snap of this splendid goat at Ballylongford on the Shannon Estuary, we found our photo included a Macwester sloop, part of the growing local fleet in this remote inlet. Photo: W M Nixon
Ireland's hidden fleet (2). The cruiser-racers at Foynes YC have steadily increased in number for several years. This group includes two Irish-built boats on the right: an O'Brien Kennedy-designed Kerry, and a Ron Holland-designed Shamrock. Photo: W M Nixon
Ireland's hidden fleet (3). Up and down the Shannon, everyone will know of Askeaton in County Limerick, and Cyril Ryan's busy boatyard there. But who in the big outside world knows that this muddy creek is home to a fine fleet? Photo: W M Nixon
Ireland's hidden fleet (4). Talk of sailing on the Shannon lakes, and most folk will think of Lough Ree YC or Lough Derg YC, plus Iniscealtra SC at Mountshannon, and that's about it. But the extended harbour at Garrykennedy in Tipperary also has a fine fleet which wouldn't look out of place in a seaport. Photo: W M Nixon
It's something which will never be a headline-hitting sporting sensation, this quiet sailing enthusiasm of the little platoons. But it's there nevertheless, and as economic recovery picks up, who knows but we might be able to build it up into a slightly busier and better-supported sailing programme based on a realistic appreciation of the fact that while we may be a reasonably-sized island – the 30th largest in the world, to be precise – we're sparsely populated, we're relatively remote from the very big places, and we sail in a climate which can be rugged enough.
But as things get moving again, let's be realistic. There are grants available for clubs which wish to expand or develop their facilities. However, the message is: Don't simply think up some wizard scheme just to be able to avail of a grant. Instead, be realistic about what your really club and its membership really needs, and then -further down the line - see if it may be eligible for a grant. Such an approach will be to the benefit of everyone, and will help to build sailing's true image as a participant sport for all who are genuinely interested.