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The many months of Lockdown in its various forms have prevented the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association from physically holding their regular monthly winter meetings at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Dublin Port. Each of these friendly gatherings – with specialist speakers on a wide variety of maritime topics - traditionally raised substantial sums for Howth Lifeboat through the simple and relatively painless expedient of the attendees on arrival dropping a minimum of €5 into an RNLI yellow welly on a table by the door.

The pandemic shutdowns might have stopped this intensely personal programme in any form, were some ordinary body involved. But the DBOGSA are made of sterner stuff. And as we've commented before on Afloat.ie, the more die-hard of a traditionalist any sailing enthusiast might be, the more he or she seems to be comfortably on top of modern communications.

Thus with tech whizzes like Mark Sweetnam and the current DBOGA Hon Sec/Treas Darryl Hughes on the job, the DBOGA smoothly transformed its monthly winter gatherings into an eclectic series of online Zoom talk/discussions – many of them previewed in Afloat.ie - which continued the lifeboat fund-raising as part of the online process, and provided the bonus of an edited version of the monthly show appearing on YouTube, usually within 24 hours.

A long-established and friendly relationship: the Howth 17s come to visit the Old Gaffers Association during their Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Poolbeg Y & BC in 2013. Photo: W M Nixon   A long-established and friendly relationship: the Howth 17s come to visit the Old Gaffers Association during their Golden Jubilee Celebrations at the Poolbeg Y & BC in 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

Now that the light of lockdown-lifting is on the horizon, it is time to take stock, and Johnny Wedick, President of the DBOGA, has received an appreciative letter from Rose Michael, leader of the Howth RNLI Fund Raising Crew, with the news that the DBOGA "Lockdown Lolly" has reached €7,571, and there's probably more in the pipeline.

As it is, it's a tidy sum. So when the DBOGA hold their annual Cruise-in-Company to Howth in August - by which time it's hoped proper freedom of movement will have arrived – there'll be one of those slightly wacky ceremonies where the Old Gaffers hand the Howth RNLI an enormous cardboard cheque with the final amount inscribed thereon. Upon which, everyone will doubtless then spring to the mainbrace, and great will be the splicing thereof.

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers raise €7,571 online for Howth Lifebo
Published in Dublin Bay Old Gaffers

DBSC Thursday night training is cancelled for all fleets this evening on Dublin Bay due to current weather conditions and the forecast for further strong southerly winds.

Three training fleets were in operation as over 90 boats from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour waterfront clubs turned out for the first training session last Saturday, as Afloat reported here.

DBSC is running the mini-series this month in order for crews and DBSC race management teams to train and to get ready for the racing season on June 7 as sailing is now considered a safe, non-contact sport with no material difference between training and competition re COVID-19.

Published in DBSC
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"Brilliant to be back!" was the verdict from Dublin Bay Sailing Club sailors who returned to the water yesterday as part of a training minmi series, the first DBSC  on the water event since the cancellation of its Turkey Shoot Series last November.

Three training fleets were in operation as over 90 boats from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour waterfront clubs and marina headed out onto the bay yesterday afternoon in a light to medium easterly breeze.

DBSC is running the mini-series this month in order for crews and DBSC race management teams to train and to get ready for the racing season as sailing is now considered a safe, non-contact sport with no material difference between training and competition.

DBSC Committee Vessel MacLirDBSC Committee Vessel MacLir

DBSC Commodore Ann Kirwan and Eddie Totterdell (as DBSC PRO) held a briefing for the ROs and volunteers to outline the training guidelines as well as the Covid protocols before the fleet left the marina.

On the water, Race Officer Suzanne McGarry was in charge of DBSC dinghies inside the harbour with approximately 30 boats over three starts comprising mainly of Lasers that are again reporting big numbers this season.

The series is running on the regular DBSC Race nights of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Saturdays at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Race Officer Eddie Totterdell was aboard Committee Vessel MacLir on DBSC's Blue/Red Fleet course. Totterdell ran boats six starts for approximately 31 boats with Cr1x7, Cr2x6, Cr3x3, Cr4 & 5 x 7, 31.7s x 5 and Shipmans x3.

No results for the training races are being published in line with DBSC's training series regulations.

RO Barry O’Neill on board Committee Vessel Freebird for the DBSC Green fleet with approx 30 boats over five starts and two training sessions for SB20s, FFs x 14, Mixed Sportsboats & Dragons, Ruffians x6, and B211s x9.

Overall, the club is reporting good feedback from the first day afloat from both sailors and volunteers. The training series coinciding with the publication of the club's 2021 yearbook now online.

Larry Martin tribute

There was a tribute to Larry Martin by the Green Fleet Team Lead by Therese Tyrrell and RO Barry O’Neill aboard Freebird before leaving the marina. Larry, who died in April, was on the Green fleet Race Management team for the last race of last season.

Published in DBSC
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The standby safety vessel the Arctic Ocean that is undertaking a series of geophysical surveys for the Codling Wind Park was back in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this Saturday morning. 

The red hulled Danish flagged vessel is operating on a 24-hour basis between 14 April to 26 May undertaking geophysical operations to 'characterise the export cable sites' for the new east coast wind farm. 

The 45-year-old ship was accompanied this morning at Dun Laoghaire Harbour by a Dublin Port Pilot boat.  She is working in tandem with other work boats Fastnet Pelican based out of the marina and Jackup Jill.

During its work, Arctic Ocean will be towing survey equipment, and requires large turning circles and will be restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

All vessels operating within this area are requested to keep their distance, maintaining at least the 500m safety zone around the survey vessel, and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

More details about the operation are contained in the Department of Transport Marine Notice 21 of 2021 available here

The Séan O’Casey Community Centre in Dublin’s East Wall officially opened its new garden for seniors to the public this week, featuring a new marquee and planting sponsored by Dublin Port Company. Under current Covid-19 restrictions, the redesigned garden will be able to accommodate up to 15 seniors per day for activities such as bingo, knitting, pool, snooker, draughts, wellness talks and live music and dancing.

The Centre, which first opened in 2009, is an important resource to the people of East Wall and prior to the pandemic, offered a Senior Citizen Daycare service, providing four-course meals for 85 seniors, with mental wellbeing and physical activities for up to 100 seniors, five days a week. Throughout Covid-19 it has continued to provide a Meals on Wheels service for East Wall’s senior citizens, but opportunities for older members of the community to come together and socialise have been severely curtailed. It is hoped the garden will offer a safe space for familiar faces to be reacquainted this summer.

Commenting on the opening of the Garden, the Centre’s Chairperson Willie Dwyer said; “The older people in the community of East Wall are very special and have sacrificed so much in the last year. When Covid happened, we put our heads together to see what we could do for them and we came up with this garden. It is important to give them a safe space to get out of the house a few times a week. We have not seen a lot of our senior community in the last year and we want to encourage as many of them as possible to come back. We want to get the word out to older people in our community that the Centre is open again, and that everyone is welcome.

“It has been a tough year but occasions like this give us optimism for the future. We are all looking forward to getting back to offering a full range of services to the community of East Wall again. None of this would have been possible without our sponsors who have worked tremendously well together to get this garden up and running for our senior citizens, so I would like to thank Dublin Port Company, Collen Construction, the Inner-City Trust Fund and Dublin City Council for making this happen.”

Dublin Port Company has had a long-standing relationship with the Centre and the Port’s Heritage Director, Lar Joye, and Edel Currie, Community Engagement Manager, were in attendance to cut the ribbon as the garden welcomed its first visitors.

Lar Joye said; “Dublin Port Company is delighted to be involved in creating a dedicated garden for older citizens in our community as part of our long-running commitment to the Seán O’Casey Community Centre and the people of East Wall. We hope that this new facility provides an outlet for seniors who have been isolated for the last year to come and socialise with each other again. It’s a hub for conversation, story-telling, activity and entertainment that we hope older people will enjoy for many more years to come.

“Well done to Willie and all the staff at the Séan O’Casey Community Centre who have driven this project from an idea through to completion. We all look forward to seeing it used to its full potential when the circumstances allow.”

Published in Dublin Port
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The welcome announcement that the National Yacht Club's biennial 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2021 will be going ahead on Wednesday, June 9th, is encouraging. But it should not be seen as a clarion call to get the 2021 sailing season into full boisterous swing with all the traditionally noisy bells and whistles, and lively post-racing shoreside celebrations.

On the contrary, it was launched this week by Chairman Adam Winkelmann with a decidedly muffled trumpet, for at the time of his announcement on Thursday confirming all systems go for June 9th, competitive sport afloat will only have been officially permitted since Monday, June 7th, just two days ahead of the D2D start. And for some undefined time thereafter – possibly not until August or even September - it will have to take place without any significant free-movement onshore gatherings.

But even as boat programmes and crew arrangements are being firmed up in the light of that June 7th break-out, yesterday (Friday) the latest Golf Ireland protocols confirmed that from next Monday 10th May, golfers will be allowed (1): Casual-play rounds for handicap purposes for members and visitors, with no restrictions on numbers of household per group, and (2): Club competitions for members.

Thus those members of the sailing community mad keen to get club racing underway just as soon as possible, and who understood that for restriction purposes, sailing was lumped in with golf and alfresco sex and tennis and other comparable sports, well, such folk will understandably feel we're being hard done by with no "All Clear" until June 7th when Golfers Are Go from Monday.

Peter Ryan of the National YC, Chairman of ISORA. He played a key role in maximizing 2020's restricted seasonPeter Ryan of the National YC, Chairman of ISORA. He played a key role in maximizing 2020's restricted season.

That said, here at Sailing on Saturday we should be feeling a certain satisfaction about the Dingle Race going ahead, as we predicted on 19th December and again on 16th January that it would be the D2D which would prove to be the pillar event that launched our sailing in 2021 at full blast.

But "full blast" it definitely is not, and it is only the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race's unique configuration – coupled with the experience gained by the National Yacht Club and ISORA's Peter Ryan in starting last year's season-saver, the Fastnet 450 – which means that the Club and organising committee can confidently undertake the staging of a major yet regulations-compliant offshore event, which next time round in 2023 will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary.

Offshore stars Peter Wilson and Paul O'Higgins – the former was helm on the winning boat in the first Dingle Race of 1993, Richard Burrows' Sigma 36 Black Pepper, while the latter will be defending champion with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI when the 2021 Race gets underway on June 9th. Photo: W M NixonOffshore stars Peter Wilson and Paul O'Higgins – the former was helm on the winning boat in the first Dingle Race of 1993, Richard Burrows' Sigma 36 Black Pepper, while the latter will be defending champion with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI when the 2021 Race gets underway on June 9th. Photo: W M Nixon

However, despite the muted tone for 2021, at the core of this low key affair, there is still the one and only Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, a great race by any standards, and defending champion Paul O'Higgins of the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) – which also won in 2017 – confirmed on Thursday he is definitely going, and will also take in the ISORA training session next weekend.

Start of the 2019 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, with overall winner Rockabill VI being overtaken by line honours record-setter, the SouthWind 95 Windfall (Mick Cotter). Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'BrienStart of the 2019 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, with overall winner Rockabill VI being overtaken by line honours record-setter, the SouthWind 95 Windfall (Mick Cotter). Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

SADNESS OVER VDLR CANCELLATION

Meanwhile, in Dun Laoghaire, the cancellation a week ago of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, scheduled for the first two weekends of July as an already-split event, is still very much a cause of sadness.

"Indeed", says Pat Shannon, Commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in comments which were echoed by other waterfront yacht club officers, "you could say we're in a state of mourning. There is nothing like the VDLR for bringing Dun Laoghaire Harbour collectively to life, and in order to achieve this with such success, the Organising Committee is a continuously functioning body, with the group looking after one Regatta moving almost seamlessly and without a break into becoming the Committee organising the next one".

Pat Shannon, former Commodore and prize winner with Dublin Bay SC, is currently Commodore of the Royal Irish YCPat Shannon, former Commodore and prize winner with Dublin Bay SC, is currently Commodore of the Royal Irish YC

"In such a setup, some people are bound to give longer and more extensive service than others. But in what has always been a very talented group since the Regatta's foundation in 2005, there are few if any who could match the 2021 Chairman Don O'Dowd's commitment, vision, length of service and ability to get things done".

"It says everything about the way in which Don had strengthened the VDLR brand that when the cancellation was announced, the sense of shock in Dun Laoghaire and in Ireland and internationally was palpable. Thus those of us who are directly involved in the running of the clubs are holding back for a few days out of respect before we start confirming possible smaller events and perhaps club regattas which will comply with regulations, even if they won't match the total magic which the VDLR generates".

Dan O'Dowd, tireless voluntary worker on behalf of Dublin Bay sailing.   Dan O'Dowd, tireless voluntary worker on behalf of Dublin Bay sailing

But Commodore Shannon (who also served as Dublin Bay SC Commodore in times past) and his fellow flag officers in the Dun Laoghaire Combined Clubs Committee chaired by Barry MacNeaney need not concern themselves too much that their sailors will be dismissive of the abbreviated season which is now going to be served up in the aftermath of the VDLR cancellation.

For, of all sporting groups, it is the sailing community which has most readily complied with the different Levels of Lockdown, and it is a fact that no-one can think of a single COVID-19 hotspot or outbreak in Ireland which can be traced to a sailing event or yacht club.

And as they're in a sport which for many involves the continuous analysis of data, they can read the pandemic statistics at least as well as any other group of laypeople, with alert sailors well aware that some of the official analyses of the current state of affairs have bordered on the marginally over-optimistic, but as of the last 48 hours, things really do seem to be going the right way.

Thus sailors will be compliant. But where the lines have been drawn and sanctioned, their enthusiasm will be such that they'll push the envelope as far as possible in order to maximize their sport, while being keenly appreciative that, in the event of a sudden deterioration in the situation, everyone may have to return to barracks.

For now, however, it looks as though the news season will arrive in like a steadily rising tide, rather than a sudden giant wave. Junior training and other teaching courses are already underway, but in both Dun Laoghaire and Howth as of now, it looks as though the evening of Tuesday, June 8th will see proper club racing underway for the first time for One Designs. Then on Wednesday, June 9th, the dash to Dingle gets going outside Dun Laoghaire Harbour while in-harbour, the Water Wags start their season with two races, and across in Howth the cruiser classes are in action. Following that, on Thursday, June 10th DBSC, gets fully into its stride with the Cruiser-racer mid-week fixtures which – even in last year's limited season - made Thursday an "almost-regatta" evening afloat.

Peter Bowring, having recently retired as Commodore Royal St George YC, is now giving his full attention to the International Dragon Class.   Peter Bowring, having recently retired as Commodore Royal St George YC, is now giving his full attention to the International Dragon Class 

The feeling among the flag officers is that the staging of any special events will rely heavily on the effectiveness of the different class structures to provide the basis of manageable national and regional championships, this to be done by providing disciplined numbers with which the individual club set-ups can comfortably cope.

Recently-retired Royal St George YC Commodore Peter Bowring is now able to devote full attention to his other passion, the International Dragon Class, which he sees as playing a key role in helping Irish sailing make the best of the 2021 season. They're a compact and cohesive group with a considerable esprit de corps, and with their proposed programme including a South Coast Championship and an East Coast Championship, they offer clubs a very manageable proposition that brings an event of instant style.

The International Dragon Phantom, in which Peter Bowring is one of three owners, is one of the most successful in the Irish fleet.   The International Dragon Phantom, in which Peter Bowring is one of three owners, is one of the most successful in the Irish fleet.  

That said, the fact is that the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta had been scheduled as constituting a major class championship for no less than 16 different One Design Classes suggests there'll be a lot of classes scurrying around looking for welcoming venues as the season's possibilities become more clarified, not least being the IDRA 14s, who are heading into their 75th Anniversary Year and had been seeing the VDLR as central to its celebration.

ANCIENT PANDEMIC-SURVIVING CLASSES

Certainly, it was the strong local One Design classes that provided much of the backbone for 2020's short but very sweet season, and it's fascinating to note that it was two classes so ancient that they have a collective memory of surviving the 1919-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic which provided some of the best sport afloat in 2020, the Dun Laoghaire Water Wags of 1887 and 1900, and the Howth 17s of 1898.

The venerable Water Wags in the thick of their "two-races-on-Wednesdays" programme in Dun Laoghaire. Despite the pandemic restrictions, they were managing turnouts of 25 boats in 2020. Photo: Con MurphyThe venerable Water Wags in the thick of their "two-races-on-Wednesdays" programme in Dun Laoghaire. Despite the pandemic restrictions, they were managing turnouts of 25 boats in 2020. Photo: Con Murphy

Something like 51 Water Wags – some of them very new indeed, but others extremely ancient – currently have registered sail numbers, but their best turnout in 2020 was 25 boats. This reflected the general attitude of the sailing community, where some went sailing just as soon as it was permitted in however limited a form, but others decided there were so many unknown unknowns in the pandemic that they'd simply sit it out ashore as safely as possible until a distinct all-clear sounded, even if it didn't come until 2021.

HOWTH YACHT CLUB MAY NOW HAVE LAMBAY RACE ON JUNE 12TH

In Howth meantime, they seem to think that being on a peninsula gives them extra pandemic protection, as there are around 20 Howth 17s, and at the peak of the brief 2020 season, they were mustering 13 boats - for those who like things decimalised, it's a very healthy 65%. This was in a season in which the class returned to its roots, with at least two races around Lambay which gave everyone such a buzz that they want more.

In fact, when that Monday, June 7th "go sailing" signal was given, most folk could only admire the sheer cunning of the powers-that-be. For of course Monday, June 7th is a Bank Holiday, and Howth normally use that weekend for their all-comers Lambay Race. It would usually be staged on the Saturday, then there might be a shorter race or two on the Sunday, but the holiday Monday is traditionally set aside for recovery and quality family time.

Thus by allowing only the Monday to be used for proper sailing, our Dear Leaders have in effect blanked off the holiday weekend almost entirely. But the indomitable Howth 17s – on confirming that Monday, June 7th is all-clear day – immediately started suggesting that it should be used for the Lambay Race regardless of affronts against tradition, only to be told by HYCs powers-that-be to catch themselves on, as the Lambay Race was already very conservatively pencilled in as a double bill for the first Saturday of Howth's Autumn League in mid-September.

But as of lunchtime yesterday (Friday), the fresh new mood of optimism had seen some lateral thinking in the HYC Sailing Committee, and they're now suggesting a proper Lambay Race for Saturday, June 12th, when the tides are perfect. And though that new out-of-the-blue date still awaits approval at the General Committee meeting on Monday, it could well be a runner.

Lambay bound. The Howth 17s Leila and Anita set off from Howth to race around Lambay in the brief 2020 season. The 123-year-old class's plans to race around Lambay on Monday, June 7th to celebrate the ending of sailing lockdown may now become a full-blown Howth YC Lambay Race on Saturday, June 12th. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyLambay bound. The Howth 17s Leila and Anita set off from Howth to race around Lambay in the brief 2020 season. The 123-year-old class's plans to race around Lambay on Monday, June 7th to celebrate the ending of sailing lockdown may now become a full-blown Howth YC Lambay Race on Saturday, June 12th. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

But meanwhile, unless sailing's restrictions-lifting date is brought forward in light of the golf allowances - thereby providing a whole raft of earlier club racing possibilities – it's natural to conclude that several other clubs and classes might decide to celebrate sailing's proper return with a special race on Monday, June 7th.

Other than complying with the rules and with safety regulations, a Freedom Day Special Race on Monday, June 7th, needn't be too serious. Just let it happen. And let the prizes be distributed by ballot, as they used to do at Cape Clear Regatta. Let there be light…..

Published in W M Nixon
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Dublin harbours are set to receive over €8.4m in funding for harbours in Fingal (Loughshinny Harbour, Skerries and Balbriggan Harbours) with Howth Harbour receiving €8.2m for specific improvements and two harbours in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (Dún Laoghaire Harbour and Coliemore).

As Afloat reported earlier, the allocation of €38.3 million by Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD is to repair, maintain and upgrade Ireland's publicly owned harbour network has been warmly welcomed.

Welcoming the announcement, Fianna Fáil Dublin Spokesperson Cormac Devlin TD (Dún Laoghaire) noted that funding of €75,000 for Coliemore Harbour in Dalkey and an allocation of €63,750 to install a pontoon in the Coal Harbour and upgrade facilities for local fishermen at Trader's Wharf in Dún Laoghaire Harbour were especially welcome.

Commenting, Deputy Devlin said "Coliemore Harbour is one of Ireland's oldest harbours dating back to the 13th century, when it was the leading port on the East Coast. The harbour has been in continuous use for hundreds of years, but was damaged by a rockfall in August 2020 and has been partially closed since. This funding will enable Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council to carry out the estimated €100,000 works to repair and reopen the harbour."

Local Fianna Fáil councillor for Dalkey Justin Moylan commented "I am extremely grateful to my Party colleagues; Minister Charlie McConalogue and Deputy Cormac Devlin for their support for this important funding. Unfortunately having part of our harbour closed hampered the activities of local boatman, Ken The Ferryman as well as our award-winning Dalkey Rowing Club. Hopefully now with this funding they can all resume their activities for summer 2021"

The funding formed part of overall funding of €38.3m announced by Minister McConalogue who said, “This capital investment package in our 79 Local Authority owned piers and harbours around our coast which underlines the importance this Government places on the contribution of the wider seafood sector to Ireland’s economy and to rural coastal communities in particular.”

The Local Authority programme forms part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marines’ 2021 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, whereby the Department co-funds up to 75% of the total cost of approved projects with the Local Authority providing the balance.

In regard to the Local Authority scheme, the Minister stated, “It was important to me to place added importance on the Local Authority scheme this year and I am pleased to be to in a position to announce an enhanced €4.2 million programme in 2021 to assist Coastal Local Authorities in the repair and development of fishery and aquaculture linked marine infrastructures under their ownership. This year I have redirected savings due to Covid limitations on other projects to increase the monies available to the Local Authorities resulting in a 35% increase in 2020 allocations. Together with funding from Local Authorities, the total amount to be invested in local piers and harbours in 2021 under this scheme comes to €5.6 million.”

Published in Dublin Bay

Entries for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR) are beyond expectations for July's event giving organisers the opportunity to close the entry system at the end of April to review the 320 boats received so far.

Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay is planning to facilitate social distancing with its cautious approach to fleet sizes and by implementing a new regatta format that splits the fleets over two weekends.

"We've now 221 boats entered for the One Design weekend and 94 entries for the Cruiser weekend, so it may be the case that we will need to restrict entries, with priority being given to classes holding a championship or those with an excess of 10 entries", VDLR chairman Don O'Dowd told Afloat.

VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions   VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with pandemic conditions  

As Afloat previously reported, the 2021 event comprise a One Design Championship (2nd – 4th July 2021) tailored explicitly for sailors in the one-design keelboat and dinghy classes. This is to be followed by an Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) catering for the full range of Cruiser Handicap classes, including an offshore class.

Finalising entries will also allow Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay coursesFinalising entries early will allow Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay courses

It is estimated that 700 sailors will compete each weekend.

O'Dowd is confident that they will reach the overall target set back in January, and with 11 championships currently running as part of the event, it's not hard to see how that will happen with 70 days still to go before the first gun.

There is a buoyant SB20 entry for Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay this July Photo: AfloatThere is a buoyant SB20 entry for Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay this July Photo: Afloat

The plan now – subject to a Government Covid announcement to be issued in early May – is that entry to VDLR 2021 will be 'temporarily closed' on April 30 to allow the committee to 'take stock' of entries received across all classes.

Because it's unclear what the COVID-19 situation will be by mid-summer, organisers are anxious to get plans laid out early and work out early who's actually coming to the regatta. 

Ironically, it's not the numbers afloat that could be problematic but arrangements ashore as it is likely there will be no movement between yacht clubs due to ongoing restrictions.

By mid-June, the hope is that under Government guidelines, inter-county travel will return, and by that stage, too, hotels will have reopened. Outdoor restaurant dining recommenced to allow some regatta social activity.

"The Covid restrictions to be revised by the Government will clarify shoreside capacity permitted across the four venues for both parts of VDLR21, but in the meantime, we are continuing to make our plans' O'Dowd said.

Final call for all VDLR classes

"There has been a strong uptake in entries in some of the 22 predicted classes, but it has been patchy in some of the others", O'Dowd admitted.

He would particularly like to see entries from some regular classes that have been slow off the mark to enter this year. "If classes could enter by April 30, it would help us a lot. We want to finalise what classes will be based in what club, as there will likely be restrictions ashore".

Currently only nine Flying fifteens are entered into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta but the local fleet has over 20 that is typically one of the biggest one design keelboats of the entire regattaCurrently, only nine Flying fifteens are entered into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta but the local fleet has over 20 that is typically one of the biggest one-design keelboats of the entire regatta Photo: Afloat

In particular, VDLR is now seeking firm indications from classes such as the Shipmans and other popular Dublin Bay one designs such as the Flying Fifteens and J80s.

In the dinghy divisions, the RS, Mermaids, and the vintage IDRA 14s, celebrating their 75th anniversary, are also requested to make their entries by April 30.

Shipman sailing on Dublin Bay. VDLR is keen to see a bigger entry from this keelboat class Photo: AfloatShipman sailing on Dublin Bay. VDLR is keen to see a bigger entry from this local keelboat class Photo: Afloat

Reduced mixing of boats and crews at VDLR

Finalising entries will also allow Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay courses. 'If we get an early commitment, we can facilitate class starts; otherwise, we may have to combine classes on the one line line', Murphy told Afloat.

In anticipation of restrictions, racing times will be staggered between classes. Murphy said the VDLR fleet is preparing to take extra steps for two sets of racing times per day, one at 10.30 am and the other at 1.30 pm, to further reduce the mixing of boats and crews ashore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

11 Fireball dinghies are already entered for VDLR 2021 that will also double as the class Leinster Championships Photo: Afloat11 Fireball dinghies are already entered for VDLR 2021 that will also double as the class Leinster Championships Photo: Afloat

Meeting COVID-19's sailing challenges in 2021

Dun Laoghaire is unique in being able to operate in the pandemic because of the extensive area within the harbour site and facilities provided by the waterfront clubs and organisations.

The regatta will utilise the full infrastructure of the Harbour venue to the best advantage and bring certainty to a calendar that has been hugely dictated by Covid-19 and the constraints imposed due to social distancing.

VDLR organisers are keen to see more Mermaid dinghies enter the July Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatVDLR organisers are keen to see more Mermaid dinghies enter the July Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Ireland's biggest sailing event

Growing over the last 16 years, the regatta is now one of Northern Europe's greatest shows on the water, eclipsed only by the UK's Cowes Week Regatta, one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world.

Since it first set sail in 2005, Dun Laoghaire Regatta has grown biennially and showcases the very best of Irish sailing action on the water. A regatta of this size also brings a lot of shoreside summer colour and significant economic benefit to the town of Dun Laoghaire.

The last edition in 2019 comprised over 300 sailing races across 30 classes and 2,500 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors drawn from both Ireland and overseas.

In the unlikely event of a cancellation of the regatta due to Covid-19, a full refund of entry fees will apply, the organisers say.

Published in Volvo Regatta

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association invites you to join their next Zoom session on Dublin Bay Nature, which will be given by Richard Nairn on Thursday, 22nd April at 20:00 hrs.

Dublin Bay is one of the most intensively studied coastal areas in Ireland, and much is known about its marine life, birds and mammals, their numerous presence made all the more remarkable as it is an integral part of the life and environment of a busy city port.

The tide fills the bay twice a day, refreshing the shore and bringing seawater into contact with fresh water from the land. Some of the best examples of sand flats, dunes, saltmarsh, rocky shores, cliffs, islands and offshore sandbanks - all special European habitats - are found in Dublin Bay.

The North Bull Island is among the best surviving sand dune-saltmarsh systems in the country. This illustrated talk will highlight the most interesting areas, and summarise some recent research on nature in the Bay.

DBOGA Fundraising for Howth RNLI

Pre-Covid, we listened to talks together at Poolbeg while passing the Yellow Welly around for your €5 donaCon. In Zoom Land we can't
 do that but the RNLI urgently needs funds. Please click on: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/DBOGAHowthLifeboat to dob your €5 in. We are now well on the way to our target of €5,000. Thank you!

Richard Nairn

Richard Nairn is an ecologist and writer who has published five books and was a joint author of Dublin Bay: Nature and History (Collins 2017). He has done extensive monitoring of birds in the Bay and has provided environmental services to Dublin Port Company for over a decade. He has swum, fished, sailed and walked throughout Dublin Bay since the 1960s.

The details of this Zoom meeting are:

  • Topic: Richard Nairn Talk
  • 
Time: April 22nd 2021, at 20.00hrs
  • Link to join the meeCng: hcps://us02web.zoom.us/j/87869651645
  • Meeting ID: 878 6965 1645

Richard Nairn – Dublin Bay devotee and Irish national ecological guide and guardianRichard Nairn – Dublin Bay devotee and Irish national ecological guide and guardian

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

The environmental action group, SOS Dublin Bay, has today launched a detailed policy document entitled - “The water quality crisis in Dublin Bay - what is happening and actions needed to protect the public”.

Download the full documents and survey below.

The Group is calling for urgent steps to better inform the general public of the extent of the problem which it describes as serious and a more significant risk to swimmers than previously thought. It is also calling for urgent action by the government and Irish Water to clean up the Bay, which was declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve in 2015 in recognition of its unique ecological and cultural status. 

The Group has conducted extensive research into data provided by Irish Water and the four local authorities in Dublin which reveals that in the 4 year period 2017 to 2020, a total of 8.875 million cubic metres [1] of untreated sewage and storm waters has been discharged into Dublin Bay from overflow tanks located at the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. This figure does not include other significant discharges from the 410 Storm Water Overflows in the Dublin region which are not measured but are thought to exceed the discharges from the plant. 

This equates to 3,550 full-size Olympic 50 metre pools over the four year period and averages out at 74 Olympic pools full of untreated wastewater each month. These discharges of untreated sewer wastewater usually occur during storm periods where the current Dublin Wastewater Treatment Facility (DWwTF) reaches maximum capacity and cannot cope with the loadings being received.

The scene at Sandycove Harbour in the South of Dublin Bay where sea swimming in the harbour and nearby Foot Foot is a year round pursuit Photo: AfloatThe scene at Sandycove Harbour in the South of Dublin Bay where sea swimming in the harbour and nearby Foot Foot is a year round pursuit Photo: Afloat

In an online survey of over 1200 people conducted in March, more than one in 5 (21.77%) declared that they had been ill or suffered adverse health effects as a result of recreational activity they had recently undertaken in Dublin Bay.

Chairman of SOS Dublin Bay Gerard Jones said the Group were taken aback by how much wastewater is being illegally dumped into Dublin Bay – “Our research has revealed clear evidence of a significant ecological problem of which the public is unaware which is clearly having a negative impact on the health of bathers in particular. We have seen a major increase in year-round bathing in the Bay. People need to be informed about bathing conditions and periods of poor water quality. Dublin Bay is our city’s most treasured public amenity, but it is heavily polluted and causing illness. There a duty of care to protect public health and that obligation is not being met .”

SOS Dublin Bay is calling for a series of short and medium-term actions to be implemented

Short Term Measures Proposed

Systematic year-round survey of Dublin Bay bathing waters incorporating daily sampling and testing over a 24 month period - 365 days a year at 10 separate locations around the Bay. This should commence immediately, continue and conclude in May 2023. Information gained will inform the users of Dublin Bay when it is safe to use the bay for activities such as swimming, kayaking, etc.

The information to be disseminated to the public via real time electronic signage at established bathing locations and through information channels such as local authority information websites and social media channels.

The data to be used or planning and ensure investment in infrastructure is properly targeted at the root causes of the pollution of Dublin Bay.

The Dublin Waste Water Treatment Facility Plant in Ringsend has an Ultra Violet (UV) treatment facility which reduces the microbiological load of effluent from the Plant to Dublin Bay. This UV plant operates only during the Bathing Season (1 June - 15 September) each year. This plant should operate continuously throughout the year. This will result in an immediate improvement of the bathing water quality..

Medium and Longer Term Measures Proposed

More investment is immediately needed in the water infrastructure for the Greater Dublin Region. This will protect public health, achieve compliance with EU Directives meet the duty of care obligation of the State and ensure that Dublin Bay can retain its status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

These measures are :

Expediting the delivery of the new Clonshaugh wastewater treatment plant; this facility is urgently needed. Its future is in question following a decision of the High Court in 2020. The judicial review process is leading to a breakdown in the development of critical public infrastructure investment.

Accelerating the current upgrade at the Ringsend plant. This is due for completion by 2025; we believe the deadline is optimistic and unlikely to be achieved. Current contracts with the existing contractors for the Ringsend Plant upgrade, should be reviewed to determine how delivery can be brought forward.

Implement real-time testing using next-generation buoy based sensors which can test many times each day and transmit results via 5G telecommunications networks.

"There is a crisis in Dublin Bay which has led to the permanent closing of the Merrion beach as a bathing facility. Unless action is taken the bathing water is going to deteriorate further and could lead to more permanent closures of other Dublin beaches and popular bathing areas around the Bay; this is now a major public health issue and requires immediate action by Local Authorities, the Department of the Environment and the EPA" concluded Mr Jones.

Published in Dublin Bay
Page 3 of 97

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