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The National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay is gearing up for its Open Regatta this weekend. Sponsored by Davy Group, the annual club highlight will have over 160 boats racing across three courses. As part of the fleet, the NYC will again welcome the ever colourful Howth 17 class as well as some other travelling fleets. On Saturday, as previously reported by, a record Sigma 33 fleet are merging their Irish Championships with the Regatta on that day. 

Clean Coasts

This year the NYC is making a special effort to reduce the amount of plastic it uses during the regatta. Inspired by Annalise Murphy’s efforts on board “Turn The Tide on Plastic” the club wants to make a real difference to the local environment. Already, the club has registered in the Clean Regatta programme, which gives it specific aims for measures to put into effect.

With this in mind the day after the regatta Sunday the 24th June the club has organised marine area clean-up, which will hopefully coincide with “Turn The Tide on Plastic” safe arrival to The Hague on the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. All National YC members are being asked to volunteer to come down to the club at 1pm and help collect wayward plastic in the Club environs.

Published in Howth 17
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the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay – the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2018 –  is gearing up for its open Regatta which it hosts every second year. This year it will be held on Saturday 23rd June and and is sponsored by Davy Group. There will be over 160 boats racing across three courses competing for prizes in their category. The NYC will again welcome the ever colourful Howth 17 class and many other travelling fleets.

On the Saturday, they will also be joined by the Sigma 33 fleet who are merging their Irish Championships with the Regatta on that day. The club would especially encourage dinghy sailors to come along and compete in the PY classes.

Clean Coasts

This year the NYC is making a special effort to reduce the amount of plastic it uses with the ultimate aim of being plastic free. Inspired by Annalise Murphy’s efforts on board “Turn The Tide on Plastic” the club wants to make a real difference to the local environment. As part of the process, the club will aim to participate in the wider marine environmental area, and particularly in national and international campaigns such as #cleanseas, Clean Coasts and Sailors for the Sea, which provide guidance on green sailing and event organisation. Already, the club has registered in the latter’s Clean Regatta programme, which gives it specific aims for measures to put into effect.

With this in mind the day after the regatta Sunday the 24th June the club has organised harbour clean-up, which will hopefully coincide with Turn The Tide on Plastic safe arrival to The Hague on the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. All members are being asked to volunteer to come down to the club at 1pm and help collect floating plastic and other rubbish from around the harbour – “a tidy towns for the sea”.

Published in National YC
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The sailing community in Ireland is a tribe. And our many and various clubhouses are its temples writes W M Nixon. You get a real sense of this of this at the annual presentation of the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Cub of the Year” award. For although the winner is announced here on on the first Saturday morning of the New Year, it all only seems to be for real when the long-serving ship’s wheel trophy is finally and formally handed over to the winning club in its own clubhouse on the cusp of the new season.

The 2018 handover took place this week in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, winning for the fifth time in the informal competition’s 39 years of existence. The first time was back in 1981, under a previous sponsor. But since 1986, the enthusiastically supportive sponsor has been Mitsubishi Motors Ireland, and the presentation was made by their Managing Director Gerard Rice to NYC Commodore Ronan Beirne.

ronan susan martin2Winning Flag Officers – NYC Commodore Ronan Beirne (left) with Rear Commodore Susan Spain and Vice Commodore Martin McCarthy with the Ship’s Wheel trophy which the National YC has previously won in 1981, 1985, 1996 and 2012. Photo: Frank Burgess

Ronan fills his demanding role with such under-stated skill and charm that you could be forgiven for thinking he has been reared since birth to become the Commodore of the National Yacht Club. But then you have to be someone very special for this role, as the entertaining and eclectic attendance at the ceremony effectively represented a group of people who may share membership of this very special club, yet they are much involved in many other things in national and international sailing as well, in addition to being high achievers on the water.

In his opening remarks, Jack Roy, the President of Irish Sailing, talked of his 44 years of NYC membership. For although he’d started his sailing at Greystones, when his fellow juniors there wanted to move on into the Enterprise class, young Jack – always one to think for himself – reckoned that a boat with a spinnaker was the only way to go, and as there was word of a class of 420s developing up the coast at the National, he got himself involved. Thus the NYC has found a soft spot in his heart ever since, even if – as Irish Sailing President - he is in effect a full member of every recognised club in the country, while in practical terms he is a real member of several.

The President took the opportunity to highlight again the extraordinary contribution for more than fifty years made to sailing – and particularly sail training and the encouragement of young sailors – by Carmel Winkelmann, whose presence at the reception this week was as ever the making of the party.

carmel and friends3Carmel Winkelmann and friends – front row Georgina Campbell, Carmel Winkelmann and Michelle Halpenny, back row Sandra Moore, Helen Cooney, Fiona Staunton and Kerri Cullen. Photo: Frank Burgess

Mitsubishi Motors MD Gerard Rice spoke particularly of the way that the adjudicators seek much more than a club which has certain star members who ratchet up national and international sailing success. As it happens, the National does that in style, with Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy currently the peak achiever in a formidable array of successful sailors. But the key to a properly balanced club is one which provides thoughtfully and effectively for members at every level of sailing, in addition to interacting dynamically with the community in which it is set, and that is something the National YC does particularly well.

rice and harvey4Gerard Rice, MD of Mitsubishi Motors Ireland (left) with Joe Harvey of Grace & Harvey, Mitsubishi Motors agents for Dublin. Photo: Frank Burgess

Commodore Ronan Beirne’s acceptance speech – delivered off the cuff in a smooth flow of informative eloquence – said everything about the club and why this experienced sailor fills his key role in such a reassuringly comfortable style. He interwove anecdotes from the fascinating history of the club – which will be celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2020 – with a realistic appraisal of the club’s special and harmonious position within the community immediately about it in the southeast corner of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, coupled with its role as a player of national and international significance in the sailing scene. All of this makes it so busy in the clubhouse, on the waterfront, and out on the sea, that it provides employment for 45 people, many of them fulltime.

The Commodore gave us a fresh insight into why the National Yacht Club thrives as an oasis of tranquility in its special location. When Dun Laoghaire Marina officially opened on St Patrick’s Day 2001, many thought that the National YC – being the furthest from the entrance to this new world-standard facility – would inevitably suffer. But the Cub’s officers refused to see a problem – instead, they saw an opportunity to establish themselves as a welcoming place which is slightly apart, a complete facility which has extra shelter through being in its own corner of the harbour, and is able to provide all waterfront facilities right on site for its own members and visitors.

dun laoghaire air corps5This recent aerial photo of Dun Laoghaire Harbour with the National YC right foreground shows how the Club’s distance from the Marine Entrance can be used to emphasise its individual character. Photo courtesy Air Corps

Ever since, the club has developed these previously hidden strengths, and our header photo shows very well how every square inch of waterfront space, and the surrounds of the clubhouse, have been utilised to provide a comprehensive service to meet the needs of members and visitors alike, such that the National – with its hospitality team headed by the very effective manager Tim O’Brien – is often the destination for which visiting boats in the ISORA fleet will head directly after finishing a cross-channel race.

ronan and billy6Commodore Ronan Beirne and Billy Riordan, Chairman of Mitsubishi Motors. Photo: Frank Burgess

One of the reasons the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association’s boats from across channel head for the National at race’s end is that ISORA has been revived to its current healthy state largely through the determination and enthusiasm of its Chairman Peter Ryan, one of many former NYC Commodores who has gone on to ably fill other significant roles in sailing. His energy in re-developing ISORA has been such that many of the Welsh crews have become NYC members, and it was remarked at this week’s reception that Peter Ryan could teach international negotiators a thing or two, as he has ensured that any border down the middle of the Irish Sea is entirely frictionless……

Another former NYC Commodore who has been lured into a new administrative job is Chris Moore, current Commodore of the ultimate umbrella body, Dublin Bay Sailing Club, whose Honorary Secretary Donal O’Sullivan is likewise very NYC - in fact, he is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his membership of the National this year, having joined in 1968, and at the party he was planning to mark the big Five-O by having his first race of the season on Thursday.

jack roy donal osullivan7Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and Dublin Bay SC Honorary Secretary Donal O’Sullivan – their combined membership of the National Yacht Club totals 94 years. Photo: Frank Burgess

martin roseita kelly8NYC Vice Commodore Martin McCarthy with Roseita Burke and Kelly Berkeley of Mitsubishi Motors. Photo: Frank Burgess

Chris Moore meanwhile is Commissioner for the Round Ireland record, which meant he was a very busy man in 2016 when new mono-hull and multi-hulls records were established. But it remains to be seen whether they stand as long as the 1993 record set by someone who later became NYC Commodore, Con Murphy and his wife Cathy Mac Aleavey, as their record stood until 2016.

These days, in addition to being parents of Olympic Medallist Annalise, they’re into many other aspects of sailing with Con being a leading promoter of the International Moth, and they’re into classic boats too, particularly the Dublin Bay Water Wags which Cathy was telling me are planning other exotic outings in addition to their regular Wednesday night racing in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, with an expedition up the River Boyne in prospect during June.

cathy annalise con9Magic moment. Annalise Murphy with her parents Cathy and Con and that Olympic Medal

Another area of Irish sailing in which the National is prominent is cruising, and former ICC Commodore Cormac McHenry was among those present this week, as he is in a key role in the National, being one of the Trustees. And for those who would think only of Ronan Beirne as being a leading figure in the NYC’s administration, let it be recalled that quite some time ago Ronan was probably the youngest-ever Honorary Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Annual – not a task for the faint-hearted.

Before cruising and serious racing, there’s the matter of learning to sail, and it was a special pleasure to meet Fiona Staunton, the NYC’s enthusiastic Junior Training Officer, who oversees what is arguably the most important section in the club. With the news that the NYC’s Ferguson sisters had just won the 420 Leinsters, clearly the throughput of new talent continues unabated to follow in the path set by the likes of Annalise Murphy, Finn Lynch, and many other before them.

flying fifteens dublin bay10The National YC’s Flying Fifteen fleet is the biggest keelboat group in Dublin Bay SC – in fact, it’s one of the biggest classes of all, and the NYC will be hosting its Worlds in 2019. Photo:

Yet while stars need to shine, the organisation of attractive events and classes is key to the success of a winning club, and the National Yacht Club has several jewels in its crown, jewels which will shine with extra lustre in the coming years. The thriving Flying Fifteen class at the NYC is one of the biggest in Dublin Bay, and it will have a numbers boost with the Flying Fifteen 2019 Worlds being hosted by the club.

cavatina 2017d2d11Close start. Ian Hickey’s veteran Cavatina from Cork – a former Round Ireland Race overall winner – getting the best of the start in the NYC’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017. Photo: W M Nixon

And as for the wonderful biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, founded in 1993 by the late Martin Crotty and by Peter Cullen who was very happily with us in splendid form this week, administration of that has passed on to Adam Winkelmann – sailing administration runs in families – and this week he was confident that 2019’s staging of this popular classic will see a bigger fleet than ever.

The pace is hectic. The National Yacht Club thrives afloat and ashore. It is a very worthy Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2018.

wmn brian keane ronan12W M Nixon (adjudicators), Brian Keane (Mitsubishi Motors director) and Commodore Ronan Beirne. Photo: Frank Burgess

Published in W M Nixon
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A 'blessing of the boat' ceremony for Dublin yachtsman Liam Shanahan's new Oyster 625 Ruth II took place this afternoon at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.  

Family and friends gathered onboard the new Rob Humphries design that recently arrived in to Dun Laoghaire on her maiden sail from Ipswich in the UK.

The magnificent 65–foot cutter–rigged vessel was moored off the East Pier during the short ceremony. 

The Shanahans, who regularly sail together as a family crew, have some long term ambitions for the boat that include transatlantic voyages.

Ruth IIRuth II's 'blessing of the boat' ceremony off the NYC in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon 

As previously reported, the sailing plan for Ruth II's first season, however, is to sail initially from Cork to Galicia, according to Shanahan, a former Irish Sailor of the Year. Once the Leaving Certificate exams are finished, the rest of the Shanahan family will join the boat in Spain for a week or two.

The intention then is to sail down the Iberian peninsula, stopping in Cascais and then possibly around to near Barcelona, and on to the Balearics by September for a 'very relaxed regatta' and some island exploration.

Published in National YC
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Dun Laoghaire's National Yacht Club hosted a welcome dinner for visiting officers of the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona, Galicia, North West Spain with whom the National Yacht Club, the Irish sailing club of the year, has a reciprocal relationship.

The Vice Commodore of the Monte Real Club de Yates Genoveva Pereiro was accompanied by Cesar Casquiero Honorary Secretary and Óscar Caleiro General Manager. Distinguished guests included the Ambassador of Spain José Maria Rodrigoez-Coso, the Councellor of Tourism at the Spanish Embassy Ms Teresa Gancedo, Vice Commodore Tom Fitzpatrick of the Irish Cruising Club and Joe Woodward a long time Galicia cruising yachtsman.

Photos below by Michael Chester

National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4NYC Manager Tim O'Brien welcomes Óscar Calero Escobar Manager of Monte Real Club de Yates

National Yacht Club Commodore Ronan Beirne welcomed the guests, members and friends stating that the purpose of hosting the “Taste of Galicia” dinner was to celebrate a reciprocal relationship with the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona and the National Yacht Club.

National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4H.E.D. José Maria Rodriguez Coso Ambassador of Spain to Ireland, Teresa Gancedo Nieto (Spanish Tourist Office Dublin) and Ronan Beirne NYC CommodoreNational Yacht Club Galacia dinner4NYC Commodore Ronan Bierne and Vice Commodore Genoveva Pereiro of the Monte Real Club de Yates

National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4The National Yacht Club dining room

National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4

National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4National Yacht Club Galacia dinner4NYC Commodore Ronan Beirne welcomes the guestsNational Yacht Club Galacia dinner4César Casqueiro (Secretary), Ronan Beirne (NYC Commodore) and Genoveva Pereiro (Vice Commadore Monte Real Club de Yates) Óscar Calero Escobar Manager of Monte Real Club de YatesNational Yacht Club Galacia dinner4 Ronan Beirne and Vice Commodore Genoveva Pereiro of the Monte Real Yacht Club exchange burgees

The theme of the evening was “A Taste of Galicia” with the club dining room full to capacity with 140 members and guests. Master of Ceremonies Vice Commodore Martin McCarthy introduced Óscar Caleiro who thanked the National Yacht Club for the invitation to visit and the opportunity to present the coast of Galicia. Óscar’s presentation was supported by a video demonstrated the wonderful beauty of the coast and the excellent yacht berthing facilities. After an excellent “Galician” dinner prepared by Head Chef Cormac Healy, National Yacht Club members Peter & Kerri Cullen presented a most informative talk of their experience with their yacht Zig Zag now based in Galicia.

After dinner Vice Commodore Genoveva Pereiro presented the National Yacht Club with a commemorative plaque and Commodore Ronan Beirne presented a framed burgee to the visitors from Bayona to commemorate the occasion.

A video on the coast (below) was presented by Óscar Caleiro

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The weather in recent weeks has been variable and has curtailed a number of 420 training weekends around the country but three Irish boats travelled to the UK Spring Championships on the 10th and 11th March at Royal Torbay Yacht Club in the hope of some good sailing. Torbay on the south coast of England brands itself as the 'English Riviera' but the Irish boats arrived to sail in testing conditions. On the Saturday after an initial delay to the sailing whilst the race officer waited for the wind to swing round and the visibility to improve, racing kicked off in 20+ knots and rolling waves.

Link to 420 video from Torbay showing the testing conditions here

There were numerous capsizes, some before the start of race one and a number of DNS/DNC’s appearing across the fleet as sailors struggled with the occasional gust of up to 32 knots recorded on the committee boat. Sunday morning was a lot more promising, the wind had dropped slightly to around 15+ knots and swung round to the east. The bad news was there were now some very larger rollers heading into Torbay. For most sailors it was slightly easier, fewer gusts, and a more consistent wind. Of the top 10 boats, 3 were all girl boats and only 2 were all boys. The other 5 boats all being mixed crews of which 4 of the boats had girls helming, interesting statistics for the sailing community in general. Irish boats finished as follows, 10th overall and 3rd girls were Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher of Malahide Yacht Club, 15th Michael O’Suilleabhain and Michael Carroll of Kinsale Yacht Club, and 24th Nicola and Fiona Ferguson of the National Yacht Club.

The second spring event scheduled in the UK was to be the Inland Championships at Rutland Sailing Club on the 17th and 18th March, however the Beast from the East II put paid to this event with strong winds and freezing temperatures. The Irish boats made it back across the Irish Sea before the worst of the weather arrived and in good time for the upcoming 420 Class Open training weekend to be held on the 1st and 2nd April at the National Yacht Club.

The training weekend provides an important warm up to the Volvo Irish Sailing Youth Pathway National Championships 2018 being jointly hosted by the National and Royal St. George Yacht Clubs.

Published in 420

Eleven accolades for outstanding achievement by its members were presented at the National Yacht Club’s annual Sailing Awards Dinner on Saturday.

In a packed club house on the East Pier, Commodore Ronan Beirne saluted the top achievements across a range of sailing endeavours that he said contributed to the NYC itself winning the prestigious Irish Sailing Club of the Year trophy last month. 

The Commodore said the sell–out evening was a reflection of the club's enthusiasm across the full spectrum of the sport; 'embracing camaraderie, volunteerism, age and ability that contributed greatly to making the NYC the vibrant club that it is today'. 

Ronan BeirneCommodore Ronan Beirne opens the packed prizegiving on Saturday evening. In his opening address the Commodore said the 'camaraderie, volunteerism, age and ability' of NYC members across the broad spectrum of sailing contributed greatly to the club's Mitsubishi Sailing Club of the Year award last month. Photo: Michael Chester

Among those recognised on the evening were Anne and Michael Madsen, who previously won the Township Cup in 2016 for an epic voyage to Norway.

The new Martin Crotty Cup (donated by Peter Cullen) was presented on the night by the NYC's Mal Nolan to Ben Shanahan. This new award is for a young member who has shown exceptional sailing endeavour. Shanahan skippered a young crew in a very windy edition of this year's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (as pictured below).

Ruth J109 Ben shanahanBen Shanahan at the wheel of the family J109, Ruth. Photo:

Roberto Sastre was presented with the storied Boyne Regatta Cup for his offshore racing exploits, while Peter and Kerri Cullen received the Muglins Cup for the most interesting family cruise of 2017.

In addition to the presentation of trophies, five members were recognised for their sailing excellence with Commodore's commendation certificates.

Scroll down for a selection of Michael Chester's photos of the awards evening. 

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863Commodore Ronan Beirne presents the NYC's  “Township Cup”  to Anne and Michael Madsen for their four month cruse of the 78th Parallel (further North than the Franklin Expedition) to Svalbard Photo: Michael Chester 

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863The Boyne Regatta Cup, was awarded to Roberto Sastre, (left) who finished fifth in class two in the D2D race. It was an excellent result for one of the smaller boats on its first distance race where many of the fleet retired due to severe weather conditions. The presentation was made by the NYC's Peter Murphy Photo: Michael Chester

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863The O’Leary Cup presented by Peter Murphy (centre), was won by Noel Butler (right) and Stephen Oram (left), for their Fireball dinghy grand slam Photo: Michael Chester

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863The “John Byrne Memorial Trophy” (1989) was jointly won by Adam Winkelmann (left) and the Late Martin Crotty, the trophy was presented to Sabina Saar, his partner. The trophy was presented by the late John Byrne's son, Martin. Photo: Michael ChesterNYC Prizegiving 2018 863The Winkelmann Trophy (2003) was presented by Carmel Winkelmann to cadet member Sally Bell for her Laser Radial youth achivements. The award was accepted for Sally by Hugh Perret Photo: Michael Chester

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863The Greystones 1891 Regatta Cup for the best team contribution to the Club was awarded to Rory Fitzpatrick and was collected by John Chambers. The trophy was presented by Rear Commodore Susan Spain

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863The Paul Murphy Cup was presented to Eddie Totterdell, by Paul’s widow Ruth, for all Eddie's voluntary work as Race Officer on board the DBSC vessel Mac Lir Photo: Michael Chester

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863NYC's Mal Nolan presents the new Martin Crotty Cup (donated by Peter Cullen) to Ben Shanahan. This new award is for a young member who has shown exceptional sailing endeavour. Photo: Michael Chester

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863NYC Commodore Ronan Beirne presents a Commodore's Commendation award to Lorcan Tighe for his participation as watch leader in the Fastnet Race and D2D races on the INSS J109  "Jedi"

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863Commodore Ronan Beirne presented Commendation Certificates to John Chambers (left) and Jemima Owens and Cian Mollen below

NYC Prizegiving 2018 863

Published in National YC
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Tom Dolan, who last November became the highest-placed Irish sailor ever in the gruelling Mini-Transat, will be giving club talks in Dublin and Dun Laoghaire next week of his adventures writes W M Nixon. It’s quite a story, the remarkable tale of how a farm boy from County Meath, with no sailing background, found himself competing successfully at the highest international level offshore in a particularly demanding class.

He will be talking not just about the 2017 Mini Transat, but of his equally important plans for 2018 and beyond. He has now moved up to the Figaro 2 class, and this week he won his first Figaro race in a training session at Lorient in Brittany

The details of the talks are:

National Yacht Club

4,000 miles Solo from La Rochelle to Martinique; The Story of the Mini-Transat 2017

Tuesday 13th February at NYC at 2000hrs.

No charge and donation of €5 per person to RNLI.

Booking needed at NYC ( 01 280-5725 or email [email protected] ), and details on

Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club

4,000 miles Solo from La Rochelle to Martinique; The Story of the Mini-Transat 2017

Thursday 15th February at PYBC at 2000hrs.

No charge and donation of €5 per person to RNLI.

No Booking needed at PY& BC, details at

Published in Tom Dolan

#NYC - The National Yacht Club’s clubhouse dining events calendar for 2018 begins next Tuesday 9 January with the first ladies’ lunch, with guest speaker and clubhouse restaurant head chef Cormac Healy.

That’s followed later in the month by the first Preston Ball on Friday 19 January, and Peter Caviston’s Games Night on Saturday 20 January.

The popular wine suppers return twice monthly in January, February and March, with the first of these taking place on Wednesday 17h January.

A complete schedule of dining events at the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2018 running up to the Regatta dinner on Saturday 23 June is available from the NYC website HERE.

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The National Yacht Club of Dun Laoghaire – founded in 1870 – has long been one of Ireland’s leading sailing clubs in sporting competition inshore and offshore, while at the same time retaining a friendly, hospitable and “can-do” attitude to other sailors, and to the broader community with which it interacts ashore writes W M Nixon.

Yet even by its own high standards, the Club is currently on a wave of success, building on member Annalise Murphy’s Olympic Silver Medal of 2016 such that in 2017, under the engaging leadership of Commodore Ronan Beirne, the National has progressed through a golden year.

There is every indication that this encouraging state of affairs is going to continue through and beyond the NYC’s 150th Anniversary – its Sesquicentennial – in 2020, with the Flying Fifteen Worlds lined up for 2019. This is very much in line with the ethos of the “Sailing Club of the Year” contest, with the title being held by the winning club for the year following the one in which success was achieved, as the adjudicators like to feel that the year in consideration at the winning club is part of a steady and continuous progress, rather than a flash in the pan.

annalise ronan niall chris1aHealthy club life is a continuous tapestry. Annalise Murphy, NYC Commodore Ronan Beirne, Event Chairman Niall Meagher, and Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland President Chris Doorly at the preliminary announcement in September of the Flying Fifteen Worlds at the NYC in 2019.

Mitsubishi Motors are Irish sailing’s most committed longterm sponsors, as they have supported the “Sailing Club of the Year” accolade for 32 years. This unique and informal competition was first inaugurated in 1979 and initially only covered Leinster, but after Mitsubishi Motors had become the enthusiastic sponsors in 1986, it went nationwide and the title of “Irish Sailing Club of the Year” became one of real prestige, based on a rigorous set of standards.


An underlying purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled quality of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs, and the dedication of their members. In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international levels, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training.

The effort and encouragement put into junior training is naturally a prime consideration, but the adjudicators also seek clear evidence of introducing newcomers from all age groups to sailing, and encouraging them to share the friendly ambience that a healthy club provides.

try sailing2The active encouragement of young people interested in going sailing is central to the NYC’s policy – this is a group from a Try Sailing Course. Photo courtesy NYC

The successful staging of events, whether local, national or international, is also a factor in making the assessment. The importance of a dynamic and fruitful interaction with the local community is emphasised, and also with the relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level.

The adjudicators expect to find a genuine sense of continuity in club life and administration. Over the years, the assessment system has been continually refined in order to be able to make realistic comparisons between clubs of varying types and size. With the competition's expansion in 1993 to include class associations and specialist national watersports bodies, the "Sailing Club of the Year" competition continues to keep pace with developing trends, while at the same time reflecting the fact that Ireland's leading sailing clubs are themselves national and global pace-setters.

Sailing Club of the Year Logo 2018

While Ireland’s best-known clubs have featured prominently over the years in the winners list, with the Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven heading the leaderboard with five wins, the Mitsubishi Motors Awards Ceremony has seen the famous ship’s wheel trophy being handed over at convivial gatherings in smaller ogranisations such as Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in the heart of Dublin, Lough Ree YC on the Shannon, and Wicklow Sailing Club on the East Coast, while “homeless” organisations such as the Shannon One Design Association, the Irish Cruising Club, and the Irish Cruiser Racing Association have also had their Year of Honour.

carmel and jack3In 2017, the NYC celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its Junior Training Programme, and at the 50th Anniversary Dinner in May, the 1967 programme founder Carmel Winkelmann is seen chatting with Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, who was himself to join the National YC as a young sailor because it provided racing for the 420, his boat of choice at the time. Photo: Rosemary Roy
This year’s winner has been the “Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year” four times previously, the most recent being six years ago in 2012. Now, with five wins, they are second only to the Royal Cork on the leaderboard.

The National YC’s pre-eminence during 2017 resulted from a remarkable combination of events and anniversaries which resulted in the club going through the year on top of its game. It was the Golden Jubilee of its Junior Training Programme, which dated back to 1967 when a key figure was Carmel Winkelmann, co-ordinating the efforts of parents encouraged by Olympian Johnny Hooper, with the late Paddy Kirwan playing a leading role to create Ireland’s first fleet of Optimist sailing dinghies.

first nyc optimists4The first fleet of Junior Training Optimist dinghies in 1967 had to make do with much more primitive and crowded waterfront facilities than today’s NYC sailors, but the programme developed steadily over the years, and in 2017 more juniors took part than ever before

paul and paddy5Participants in the first Junior Programme of 1967 were invited to take part in a Golden Jubilee Race – still in Optimists – in 2017. Paddy Boyd (right) has managed to get himself squeezed into a proper racing position, but Paul Kirwan (left) has simply become too tall

That particular Golden Jubilee was properly celebrated at various events at the Club in May 2017, with Carmel Winkelmann still much involved. And meanwhile the Junior Programme itself was more active than ever during the 2017 season, with a record number of participants guided by the Junior Captain role shared by Michelle Halpenny and Fiona Staunton.

In this strongly family-oriented club, having junior sailing as a central pillar of activity has long been the way of things. Though facilities may have been basic back in 1967, the developments since then have somehow managed to retain the character of the NYC’s attractive clubhouse while greatly expanding its boat-use space, and enhancing the utilisation of every corner of the building itself. Yet at the same time, the club complex is kept at a manageable and well-maintained size which makes the entire place attractively busy.

This steady development of amenities meant, for instance, that many years ago when keen NYC juniors wanted to move into trapeze-using 420 dinghies, the club could lead the way and encouraged others to join them. This drew in people like Cathy MacAleavey – who was from a non-sailing background – and another promising young sailor, Jack Roy from Greystones. His home club was promoting a class of Enterprises, but Jack was adventurous and inclined to take the 420 route, and the National YC welcomed him on board.

Down the years, this outward-looking and welcoming approach has greatly enriched a membership talent already strong in keen juniors from families long associated with the club, and through 2017 we saw many successful results of this attitude.

In due course, in addition to a successful sailing career of her own, Cathy MacAleavey and husband Con Murphy had not only established a Round Ireland sailing Record in 1993 which stood for very many years, but they’ve since gone on to make a major impact in many other areas of sailing, while their daughter Annalise Murphy is Ireland’s leading sailing figure today, an Olympic Silver Medallist who is currently contesting the Volvo Ocean Race.

Cathy and Con6Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy have made an enormous contribution to National YC life over the years, with Con at one stage serving as Commodore. Photo: W M Nixon

Jack Roy meanwhile was also to become totally immersed in the National YC sailing scene, going on from 420s to several seasons campaigning a Flying Fifteen. But he also proved to have the ideal skills and enthusiasm to become a leading Race Officer, and in 2017 that administrative talent saw him becoming the President of Irish Sailing, while his sailing affiliations are now spread over several clubs.

This input into sailing organisations of national and international significance is exceptionally high in the Natonal YC membership. The current Commodore of Dublin Bay SC - arguably the world’s busiest local yacht racing organisation - is former National YC Commodore Chris Moore, a J/109 owner-skipper, while the longterm DBSC Honorary Secretary Donal O’Sullivan is likewise an NYC stalwart.

In recent years, the remarkable revival of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association has been - from the Irish side - almost entirely a National YC-guided phenomenon, quietly but very persuasively headed by former NYC Commodore Peter Ryan. Somehow, he finds the time not only to be Chairman and general organiser of ISORA, but is almost invariably a keen participant himself, and when he’s not actually on the winning boat, he’ll be aboard one in close competiton.

peter ryan7Former NYC Commodore Peter Ryan, who has played a key role in the revival of ISORA. Photo: Michael Chester

This special link between the NYC and ISORA was very effectively demonstrated back in November, with the club hosting the ISORA Annual Dinner and Prize Giving. When the numbers wishing to attend from both sides of the Irish Sea soared above the 200 mark, the club’s renowned professional hospitality staff – manager Tim O’Brien and chef Cormac Healy – rose spectacularly to the challenge, extending the dining room onto the veranda and feeding 234 hearty matelots – all of whom had cleaned up a treat – to a splendid meal, the Guest of Honour being Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore and 2017 Champion Michael Boyd, who himself started his sailing at the National, as his father was a noted Dublin Bay 21 owner-skipper.

michael boyd and vicky cox8RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and ISORA Champion 2017 Vicky Cox at the ISORA Awards Dinner in the NYC in November. Although Vicky sails her J/109 Mojito (co-owned with Peter Dunlop) from Pwllheli in Wales, when in Ireland the National is her home club

This sense of history linked through the present is part of the NYC story. An awareness of it was much in evidence at a small but significant meeting in the National YC almost exactly a year ago, when ways and means were being explored of making Classic and Traditional boats a central element in the up-coming Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, in which the golden oldies would be given their place of respect and proper participation in order to mark the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

In the friendly atmosphere of a mid-winter bar lunch in the National YC, all things seems possible when discussed by Old Gaffers National President Sean Walsh and Dublin Bay OGA President Dennis Aylmer, together with Regatta Racing Director Con Murphy, and classic boat enthusiasts Cathy MacAleavey of the Water Wags and Shannon One Designs and Ian Malcolm of the Howth 17s and Water Wags.

gaffers pontoon9A “bowsprit-friendly pontoon” was moored off the NYC to accommodate Classics and Gaffers in the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bicentenary Class in Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. Photo: W M Nixon

The upshot of it all was that, for the regatta in July, a long bowsprit-friendly pontoon was moored off the National for the exclusive use of Classics and Traditionals. The word had meanwhile been spread among owners and crews of vintage craft from near and far, and the vintage fleet became the highlight of the most successful Dun Laoghaire regatta ever. The winner of the very special Kingstown Cup was the 1897-built 37ft Myfanwy from Wales, one of whose crew, Max Mason, was the furthest-travelled to be at the regatta – he’d come home from Australia to join his father Rob and shipmates on the supreme classic yacht.

tim obrien10NYC Manager Tim O’Brien – on the night of Friday July 7th at the height of the Dun Laoghaire Regatta, he and his staff had to cope with two large yet separate official dinners and at least three other decidedly lively events at the same time, yet everything ran smoothly. Photo courtesy NYC

The way in which the National YC hosted the shoreside needs of these special visitors made the Classics aspect such a success that although it was intended as a one-off to mark the Bicentenary, the word is that it will be repeated in future biennial Dun Laoghaire Regattas. Yet in the midst of all this hosting of events and visitors, the club continues to send forth sailors who achieve major prizes, and racing success was the way with the NYC membership right to the end of the year, with Olympic contender Finn Lynch winning silver in the Lasers in the Olympic Classes Championship in the Canaries in mid-December.

finn lynch sailing11The NYC’s Finn Lynch took silver in the Laser at the Olympic Classes Championship in the Canaries in mid-December

But such high-profile success is only the tip of an iceberg of sailing at every level for the club’s membership, which saw a net increase of upwards of 80 members during the year, with a round total of 1,100 members when all sections are included. Family membership is particularly strong, and it’s interesting that either spouse can be the nominated holder of the position. But then, gender equality has long been the National’s strong suit – the club’s first woman Commodore was Ida Kiernan, back in 2002-2005.

In the day-to-day running of the club, the ability to recognize the crucial stage where professional ability has to support and best utilise voluntary enthusiasm is one of the reasons for the National’s current success, and on the waterfront the club has a full-time sailing manager, Olivier Prouveur, who learned his skills in France and has deployed them since 2011 to back up the enormous NYC voluntary input, with Rear Commodore Susan Spain heading the team which encourages adult newcomers – they’ve a flotilla of club-owned Wayfarers to learn with, and 2017 saw 21 of these adult beginners receive their full competency certificates.

The sailing world to which they’re being introduced is all-encompassing, as Susan is the daughter of Cormac McHenry, the veteran of a solo Transatlantic voyage who is a former Commodore Irish Cruising Club, and currently a Trustee of the NYC. Long distance cruising seems to be something of a club administrators tradition – Honorary Treasurer Conor O’Regan successfully completed a three year round the world voyage with his wife Henrietta in their Rival 38 Panima before returning to the everyday life of sailing from Dublin Bay.

Another NYC couple currently setting the cruising pace are Michael and Anne Madsden with their Starlight 35 Gabelle, who have just been awarded the ICC’s Rockabill Trophy for 2017 in recognition of their seamanship and navigation in cruising to Svalbard, which everyone used to know as Spitzbergen, but whichever way you know it, it’s a very long way north and a world away from the considerable comforts of the National YC.

gabelle svalbard12Michael and Anne Madsden’s Sadler Starlight 35 Gabelle (NYC) in Svalbard during the cruise to the high Arctic which has won them the Irish Cruising Club’s Rockabill Trophy for 2017.

Perhaps it’s to create a contrast with those comforts that the club is so enthusiastic about offshore racing, because in addition to sending forth round Ireland winners such as Eamon Crosbie and also providing much of the impetus behind the ISORA revival, they also run the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, which dates from 1993, the brainchild of Peter Cullen and the late Martin Crotty, and now run by Adam Winkelmann.

martin crotty13The late Martin Crotty, co-founder with Peter Cullen in 1993 of the NYC’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race

adam winkelmann14Adam Winkelmann has taken over the running of the Dingle Race. His late father Franz was a Commodore of the NYC, while his mother Carmel played a key role in the development of the Junior Programme, and continues to take a close interest in the club. Photo: Michael Chester

The sprint to Dingle attracted a record fleet in 2017, but although the NYC’s Shanahan family with their J/109 Ruth dominated it in 2015, in 2017 it was Paul O’Higgins of the RIYC with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI who took the honours.

However, the NYC has such a record of success among its members that they know the Dingle trophy will return to them in due course. As it is, two of the club’s most noted offshore performers during 2017 were Tom Dolan, who at sixth overall in a class of 54 boats was the best-placed Irish entrant ever in the Mini-Transat, and 17-year-old Cadet Member Lorcan Tighe. Lorcan may be best known for his links to the INSS’s J/109 Jedi which won Class 3B and the Roger Justice Trophy in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017, but he started his J/109 experience with the NYC’s Paul Barrington and partners in the J/109 Jalapeno, something which trained him towards his first Round Ireland Race in 2016, aged just 16.

tom dolan sailing15Tom Dolan in his element – his sixth in the Mini-Transat 2017 was the highest placing ever obtained by an Irish entrant.

j109 jalapeno16Junior offshore star Lorcan Tighe took his first steps in bigger boats with Paul Barrington and partners on the J/109 Jalapeno. Photo:

Meanwhile, with a Commodore whose experience ranges from cruising round Ireland and out to St Kilda with a Ruffian 23, campaigning for years with a vintage Mermaid, and currently taking things at the sharp end in the cut and thrust of Flying Fifteen racing where Dave Gorman and Alan Green are pace-setters, Ronan Beirne is someone whose entire life seems to have been a preparation for heading the National Yacht Club with skill and style.

In this he is very well supported by Vice Commodore Michael McCarthy, another enthusiast steeped in the lore of the club, and by Honorary Secretary Peter Sherry and Honorary Sailing Secretary Peter Murphy, together with the large number of boathouse volunteers with the Meldon family – father Ian, son Killian – at the heart of multiple boat-handling activities in which the commodore himself is likely to be personally involved.

This enthusiasm to get people participating so impressed the powers-that-be that in the most recent round of Sports Capital Grants, the National YC was in receipt of one of the biggest grants to any sailing club, €142,375 to further develop the club’s programme for getting women and teenagers even more involved in sailing.

turn the tide17NYC’s Annalise Murphy is currently racing the Volvo OD Turn the Tide on Plastics in the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Her mother Cathy MacAleavey, herself a former Olympic sailor, helmed the boat in the Pro-Am In-Port Race during the Capetown stopover – and won.

It all sounds like the functioning of a well-organised machine, but Ronan Beirne realised that the workings of the club may not be so well understood by ordinary members as it is by those directly involved at the coal-face. So a sort of weekly “Members’ Clinic” has been established, whereby any member with an enquiry, complaint or whatever will know that on a Saturday morning between 11am and noon in the clubhouse, there’ll be a member of the General Committee available to take note and answer questions on whatever concerns them.

It may seem a small thing, a matter of administrative detail. But when you think of it, it’s the small thoughtful details which combine to make for a club which work for its members, and they in turn will work devotedly for a club which has made itself such a pleasant place to be that it has a non-sailing House Membership of upwards of 60 locals who reckon that if you want to enjoy the true flavour of classic Dun Laoghaire at comfort with itself, then the National Yacht Club is the place to be.

And all that combined with success at sea makes the National Yacht Club a very worthy Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2018.

Published in W M Nixon
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