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Displaying items by tag: Cork Week

At least two different viewpoints may be taken on the remarkable and very long history of sailing in Ireland. Either you see it as a wonderful heritage, which should be celebrated with gala anniversaries, and whatever you’re having yourself, at every possible opportunity. Or else you might sadly admit that it’s a burden, a deadening load on all of us which stultifies development, restricts fresh thinking, and railroads the annual programme into a traditional pattern sailed in vintage boats which allows very little space for something with the instant appeal and intrinsic excitement of novelty.

But perhaps there’s a happy place somewhere in between, a thoughtful place among many events, where we can live comfortably with some astonishingly old throwbacks to the distant past, yet continue to modify the programme and our way of doing things in order to accommodate new ideas. And with any luck, we might somehow find space to come up with some bright ideas of our own to add to the rich and very varied tapestry of the world sailing scene. W M Nixon casts an eye over next season’s programme to see what it might bring to the party.

After the excitement of Annalise’s Silver Medal in Rio on August 2016, in 2017 there was a generally unstated but definite feeling that we were due a down-home year, a year when sailing in Ireland in all its quirkiness would be celebrated, and anything with a non-Olympic flavour would be given every encouragement to flourish.

Yet at the beginning of 2017, who could have predicted that as summer approached, it would be Annalise herself who would up-sticks from the pre-ordained Olympian way of doing things, and plunge into the maelstrom which is Volvo Ocean Racing?

annalise with parents2Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy with her parents Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy. As the establishers of a long-standing Round Ireland Record in 1993, Cathy and Con are well aware of what Annalise has faced in taking on a round-the-world crewing job in the Volvo 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic (below)

turn the tide3

Successful predicting doesn’t get any easier, even with detailed programes taking shape. Annalise’s progress in the rugged ocean racing world this will be continuing until the finish in June 2018, but thanks to the Volvo Race’s flexible approach to crewing arrangements, she will be able to opt out for long enough to get herself back into the Olympic Women’s Radial Laser mode from time to time to keep in touch for the big Tokyo 2020 Olympics countdown event in early August 2018, the two-week Hempel World Sailing Championship at Aarhus in Denmark.

There, with 40% of places up for grabs, many other Irish Olympic wannabees will be progressing after long and often lonely months and even years of doing the circuit. By then, several of them such as Aoife Hopkins will have thoroughly tested the waters in the Olympic Classes, starting with the Championships in Florida in January.

aoife hopkins4Aoife Hopkins of Howth and Trinity College will be starting her 2018 campaign towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Florida in January

February sees action at home and abroad with the growing enthusiasm for Team Racing in action with the Trinity Varsities up on the lake at Blessington on Friday 9th/Saturday 10th February, which will fit them neatly around the Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year 2017” awards ceremony back down in Dublin at the RDS on the evening of Friday February 9th, where an exceptionally eclectic group of maritime high-flyers will gather to receive well-deserved praise for many remarkable - indeed, in some cases astonishing - achievements.

But late February will also see serious international racing on the other side of the Atlantic with the increasingly popular annual RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua on Monday 19th February. There’ll be a strong Irish contingent, and we have form here, as Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire won the first Caribbean 600 in 2009, then Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth won her class in 2016, and in 2017 it was all back on top again, as the overall winner, Hap Fauth’s Maxi72 Belle Mente, was navigated by our own Ian Moore.

bella mente5Bella Mente on her way to winning the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2017, navigated by Ian Moore. There will be a strong Irish presence in 2018’s race, starting at Antigua on 19th February. Photo Tim Wright

However, February at home in Ireland for most sailors is conference time, and the ever-expanding annual Irish sailing Cruising Conference is scheduled for Saturday February 17th at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown in Dublin, the move to a Clayton Hotel’s conference facilities having started last year in Cork when bookings were so heavy they’d to change the venue from the original choice of the Port of Cork HQ Building.

Nevertheless those dedicated team racers in school and college are also maximising their use of February before exam countdowns take over everyone’s timetable, and there’s the Leinster Schools at RStGYC on February 17th, while the following weekend is the big one, the Irish Universities Championship. In 2017 they had Clifden as a very successful venue in an early weekend in March, in 2018 they’re pushing the early season envelope even further by using the weekend of 22nd-24th February, and the venue is again in the west, this time at Kilrush, County Clare.

students clifden6Springtime sunshine at Clifden in Connemara, March 2017, for the Irish Universities Championship. In 2018, the event will be even earlier – on February 24-25th at Kilrush in County Clare

Thus we reach the end of February with the season already well under way for some specialists, but mainstream sailors will still be in a different time-scale, and in March the first one for the diary is Irish Sailing’s AGM on Saturday 10th March, venue still to be confirmed. However for those who insist that sailing shouldn’t miss any month of the Irish year, the Royal Cork’s famous come-all-ye dinghy festival, the PY1000, is slated in for Sunday March 11th, and it’s quite something, in fact it’s fantastic.

It would be impossible to imagine contemporary Irish sailing without the Laser, that ageless wonder which has contributed so much to our sport since it first appeared here around 1970. Yes, 1970. To be completely accurate, the Laser will be having its Golden Jubilee in 2019, as the prototpypes and first production boats sailed in 1969, so when our first major Laser event of 2018 gets going, the Munsters at Baltimore on March 31st/April 1st, it will be part of a growing celebration which in 2018 will culminate in Ireland in the mega-fleet World Lasers Masters (we’re talking maybe 400 boats) in Dun Laoghaire in a joint NYC/RStGYC venture from 7th to 17th September 2018. That will be a joyous affair to bring Dun Laoghaire Harbour to an upbeat mood as the traditional sailing season draws to its close after a fascinating main programme in the central part of the 2018 summer, with various pillar events the highlights in a continuous and colourful tapestry which takes in every part of the country.

Laser 2848Lasers – it’s part of what we are. This classic dinghy is still as new as tomorrow, yet it’s now on the count-down to the Golden Jubilee in 2019-2020, and a significant part of that will be the World Laser Masters in Dun Laoghaire from 7th to 17th September 2018, with a huge fleet expected.

That “traditional season” will have seen solid regulars such as the annual programme of the steadily-expanding Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association into action by late April (first races are on April 21st), by which time the Irish Sailing’s Youth Pathway Nationals – 2017 was the biggest yet seen when it was at Ballyholme – will have been staged from 5th to 8th April at a venue yet to be confirmed. And Ireland’s long history of team racing will have been acknowledged yet again, this time with the 70th Anniversary of the senior of them all, the Royal St George series in Dun Laoghaire on April 22nd/23rd. Believe me, over those seventy years, just about everybody in Irish sailing seems to have been a participant in some way or other in this grandaddy of team events.

Into May, and the 12th to 18th sees the Asgard II Tall Ship Reunion Voyage in the Irish Sea on the Tall Ship Pelican, followed by a Gala Ball which will show that although the Asgard II was sadly lost ten years earlier in September 2008 when she sank, her spirit and those who sailed on her lives on, and an Irish tall Ship will sail again.

ship asgard8The much-lamented Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II was lost in September 2008, but the tenth anniversary of this sad event will see a renewal of the determination to find an appropriate replacement

In May the core pace of mainstream sailing is hotting up, though while you might get sunshine, pure heat is still in short supply in Scotland in the Springtime with snow sometimes still on the mountain-tops for the Scottish Series at Tarbert in late May. But this has long been a happy hunting ground for Irish cruiser-racer crews, and we’ve no doubt the tradition will be maintained.

Meanwhile there’s more chance of a first hint of summer warmth away, far away to the southwest at Baltimore in County Cork where the steadily-growing Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival sees 2018’s staging from 25th to 27th May, and the whisper is there might be some unexpected and interesting visitors making their Baltimore debut.

baltimore woodenboat9The Baltimore Woodenboat Festival in May definitely has something for everyone…

Back in the Irish Sea, the ingenious Peter Ryan of ISORA managed to devise a race in 2017 which somehow took in Howth YC’s time-honoured Lambay Race as the first part of the course. This will be repeated in 2018, helping to swell numbers in an event which, in the Bank Holiday Weekend of June 1st to 3rd 2018, will be part of Howth’s Regatta, the shoreside high point of which is a family day for the peninsula people which in 2017 was adjudged an outstanding success.

lambay race10Summer comes to the East Coast - the Lambay Race at Howth, first sailed in 1904. 2018’s will be part of a family-friendly regatta at June’s Bank Holiday weekend, with the Lambay Race itself once again including the successful combination of the first part of an ISORA Race

Because June’s Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been moved from the traditional mid-summer weekend start to the last weekend of the month (presumably to avoid clashing with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself at The Hague in The Netherlands where the stage is set from June 24th onwards), June is quite like old times with each Dun Laoghaire club staging its own Saturday regatta, while at national championship level the J/24s are descending on Foynes from June 8th to 10th, and the Sigma 33s are at the Royal St. George Yacht Club from June 22nd to 24th, while the National 18s in all their fascinating variations get in ahead of everyone with their Nationals at Baltimore on June 2nd/3rd.

Come the end of the month, and all eyes will be focused on Wicklow and the back-up port of Dun Laoghaire for the Volvo Round Ireland Race, counting 1.4 for the RORC points championship, and starting Saturday June 30th. It will be the 20th staging of this very special 704-mile Irish classic (it’s longer than either the Fastnet, the Middle Sea, the Bermuda, the Sydney-Hobart or the RORC Caribbean 600), but the 19th staging in 2016 was such a sensational event, with three MOD 70s and George David’s mighty Rambler 88 stealing the show, that 2018 is going to have to think of something different to make the proper impact.

In the end, its the steady, regular and frequent contenders who are the backbone of this race, and to emphasise this, the organisers are going to find which skipper has had the best accumulated result from the races of 2016, 2018, and 2020. Then at the prize giving after 2020’s race, that top scorer will be awarded a brand-new road-ready Volvo V40.

As to who will be doing the 2018 circuit, we do know already that the winner of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017, Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, has already signed up the formidable talents of Mark Mansfield of Cork who was on Dave Cullen’s chartered J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), which was the only Irish boat to win a class in the 2016 circuit.

round ireland 2016 start11Here she comes….! How on earth George David’s Rambler 88 managed to come cleanly through the crowded start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 is a matter of wonder, but she did it like a hot and very swift knife through butter. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

In July the emphasis moves emphatically to the south coast, and you can drive your new Volvo V40 there in expectation of a warm welcome, as the next big one up is Volvo Cork Week from July 16th to 21st. There’ll be an added sense of anticipation to this marvellous biennial sailfest, for it will be the last Cork Week before the big one in 2020, when the Royal Cork Yacht Club Tricentenary Cork Week will be just one of many major events celebrating 300 years of the world’s oldest yacht club.

Who knows, but maybe by 2020 they’ll be staging the Beaufort Cup as a major standalone event. What started as the germ of an idea in February 2016 for a sailing series among crews from the Defence Forces in the Volvo Cork Week of that July took off like a rocket, and 33 public agency crews in 12 mostly borrowed boats, representing just about every organisation and agency which is involved in serving the public, stretching its remit way beyond the defence forces.

Nevertheless it was a Defence Forces crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne racing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, which topped the leaderboard in a series which brilliantly captured genuine public interest. It was an astonishing success, and already entries are registered for 2018 with so much interest that you’d begin to worry whether there’ll be enough suitable boats available for loan to accommodate everyone.

Joker2 Cork weekThe Defence Forces’ crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne and racing the J/109 Joker 2, were first winners of the Beaufort Cup which will continue as a feature of Volvo Cork Week in 2018. Photo Robert Bateman

As it is, taking 12 highly competitive boats out of general competition impinged significantly on the mainstream Volvo Cork Week fleet in 2016, yet having the Beaufort Cup as part of Cork Week is something which adds to the allure of both events, so we sympathise with anyone who, in time, is going to have to square this particular circle. As it is, in 2018 the Beaufort Cup teams are going to be a fully-integrated part of Cork Week, racing the entire five days and savouring the unique Crosshaven Cork Week flavour, but nevertheless there are bound to be those who’ll wonder if extra mileage couldn’t be squeezed from having the Beaufort Cup as a standalone event.

As July veers into August, national sailing interest will swing two ways. Our potential Olympians will be shaping up for the intense contest at Aarhus in Dernmark, and at home in Ireland down in West Cork they’ll be shaping up for the allegedly non-intense Calves Week from Schull. In previewing the 2017 season, we described it as “a fun event with quite serious competitive undertones”, and this was then quoted with approval (and acknowledgement) by the Calves Week Chairman at a subsequent press launch, so if it ain’t broke, why try and fix it, Calves Week 2018 from 7th to 10th August (yes, four days, you’ll do more living in four days in West Cork than you will in a week elsewhere) definitely is a real fun event with quite serious competitive undertones.

west corkWest Cork sailing at its glorious best – Calves Week action in August will be top of the bill in Schull. Photo: Robert Bateman

Back on the East Coast, meanwhile, the 1898-vintage Howth 17s are putting out the welcome mat on the weekend of August 10th to 12th for a Classics One-Design Regatta. It has been successfully done before with the Mermaids contributing much to the festivities, but this time the Young Gaffers of Howth hope that others – the Glens and Water Wags of Dun Laoghaire spring to mind – might also be interested. Certainly one of the unexpected successes of 2017 was the inclusion of a Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as part of the Bicentenary Celebrations for Dun Laoghaire Harbour, an idea which proved so popular there’s talk of doing it again in 2019, but it’s quite a challenge – getting venerable wooden boats and their characterful crews together is about as easy as herding cats.

howth seventeens14The 1898-vintage Howth 17s will be welcoming other classic One Designs to their home port on August 10th to 12th.

Normally August in a non-Fastnet year is a laid-back time for cruiser-racers when it’s possible to slip in one or two well-supported distance races in the Irish Sea, but August 2018 is going to be unprecedented, as both the WIORA Championship and the ICRA Nationals are going to be staged at Galway City from the 15th to the 18th of August.

Traditionalists will be ruffled by it being in August rather than June, and in the heart of the West Coast rather than at either end the old time-honoured basically Cork-Dublin axis. But ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney of Foynes and his team know that there is a strong core ownership of cruiser-racers along the length of the western seaboard (think of the 44 boats which turned out for the WIORA Championship in the Aran Islands at exactly the same time as the massive Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 was under way) and this fresh-look cruiser-racer gathering in Galway deserves every chance of success.

galway docks15Regatta base in the hart of a hospitable city – Galway will be the hosting port for the WIORA Championship/ICRA Nationals 2018 from August 15th to 18th

This preview of the cornucopia of events which 2018 has to offer is no more than a skimming of the peaks, with occasional in-depth glances at some curious corners of special interest. The sheer diversity of events, boats, locations and people involved is outlined in the detailed Irish Sailing schedule, and every sailor will find his or her favourite event there. But inevitably that detailed schedule is still far from complete. After all, in previewing 2016, even in January of that year we would not have been able to anticipate the huge success of the Beaufort Cup in July, for the then Minister for Defence Simon Coveney TD and his team didn’t have the inspired idea of the Beaufort Cup until late February.

SB20 1258The SB20 Europeans promises some lively action on Dublin from August 28th – September 1st, at the Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted event Photo: David O'Brien/Afloat.ie

Nevertheless some things have been part of our sailing lives for decades, and every year September brings an entirely new mood, with established summer programmes drawing to a close, Autumn Leagues getting themselves into gear, and All-Ireland Championships to be raced.

The Juniors will be in the last weekend of September, venue and boat type still to be confirmed, but the Seniors are firmly in place at Lough Ree Yacht Club on the weekend of 13th to 14th October, to be raced in SB 20s.

There’s something very pleasing about the fact that the core stream of Irish sailing at home should reach its time-honoured concluding Championship of Champions in the heart of the country at a hospitable club which can trace its history back to 1770, with the event itself being raced in boats of a modern international class which has special Irish links. 2018 Irish sailing at home does indeed give every sign of being another memorable year, with a stylish and upbeat concluding championship.

fionn lyden16Fionn Lyden of Baltimore Sailing Club (left), with Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and crewman Liam Manning of Schull, and the historic All-Ireland silver salver he won on Lough Owel at Mullingar in October 2017. He will be defending at the All Irelands at Lough Ree on October 13th-14th 2018. Photo Irish Sailing

2018 SAILING HIGHLIGHTS

January Florida USA (Ft Lauderdale & Miami) – Olympic Classes Regattas

February 19th Antigua – RORC 600

March 12th Royal Cork YC - PY 1000

April 5th – 8th Irish Youth Pathway Nationals

April 21st ISORA season starts

May 25th – 29th Scottish Series, Tarbert

June 1-3rd Howth Regatta & Lambay Races

June 30th Volvo Round Ireland Race

July 16th-21st Volvo Cork Week with Beaufort Cup 

July 30th – August 12th Hempel World Sailing Championship Aarhus, Denmark

August 7th-10th Calves Week, Schull

August 15th – 18th WIORA Championship & ICRA Nationals, Galway

August 28th – September 1st, SB20 Europeans, Royal Irish Yacht Club

September 7th – 15th September Laser Masters World Championships,  RStGYC &  NYC

September 29th-30th All Ireland Junior Championship (venue to be confirmed)

October 13th – 14th All Ireland Senior Championship, Lough Ree YC, sailed in SB20s

Published in W M Nixon

Interest in keelboat racing is increasing. Cruiser racing is on the way back! So says the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Rear Admiral for Keelboats, Kieran O’Connell, writes Tom MacSweeney.

Clubs around the coast have experienced a fall-off in racing numbers at cruiser events over the past few years. ‘Keelboats,’ a traditional Class description, have changed fundamentally in design as cruiser/racers have evolved since they were first labelled as ‘keelboat racing’.

“There was a decline, numbers have been down, but this season there has been an improvement and an upsurge in interest,” O’Connell told the prizewinning club racers (See Afloat's Gallery here) at the annual presentation of prizes when he pointed to the turn-out for the Autumn series/October League and what has been a surprisingly big entry for the November/December Winter League which is still underway at the club, in which an average 30 yachts are on the water.

OLI D2 8751Cruiser racing on the up – Cork Harbour has seen strong turnouts for its Winter sailing season. Photo: Bob Bateman

“This is encouraging and indicates that interest and participation in cruiser racing is on the up. It has turned around after a few difficult years.”

Kieran O’Connell is also Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA) which combines Southern clubs planning events for the annual sailing calendar.

To general applause, he told the RCYC cruiser racers that he intended to stay in office to steer ‘keelboat’ racing for a while yet. That is good news for the cruiser racing, as he has put a lot of work into orchestrating its revival.

More in the weekly Sailing Column in the Cork Evening Echo.

Published in ICRA

With nine confirmed entries already for the 2018 edition of the Beaufort Cup, Cork Week Chairman Kieran O'Connell of Royal Cork Yacht Club says it promises to be a great event. '2016 was the inaugural event and we saw 12 different services compete for the title. We are set to have a significant increase on that number in 2018,' O'Connell told Afloat.ie

The Beaufort Cup invites sailing teams from associated national services, 50% of each team must be active in the service they represent.

Racing will take place over five days in a mix of offshore and inshore racing.

Teams will get the chance to enjoy the 'renowned social experience' of Volvo Cork Week and the winning team will also have €10,000 donated to a nominated charity of their choice while the winner will also be eligible for the Volvo Cork Week Cup (Boat of the Week across the full 5 days) at Cork Week 2018.

Download the Notice of Race below.

Published in Cork Week

Only a week after the launch of a revamped Volvo Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club has been forced to change the date of next year's regatta by a week to July 16th – 21st.

'We have encountered a problem and have decided to change the date of VCW18', Cork Week Chairman Kieran O'Connell admitted. 

The Round Ireland Race (June 30th) and the Round The Island Race (July 7th) are already important fixtures in 2018 sailing calendars and as a result, we've taken the decision to move the dates to July 16th – 21st', O'Connell told Afloat.ie

Just a week ago, as Afloat.ie reported here, RCYC issued details of a brand–new format for the regatta offering cruiser–racers the option to choose from the multi–series format of the new event.

The new event will feature 12 competitive classes in IRC and ECHO handicaps. There is racing for the Volvo Cork Week Cup, Club Regatta Day, Inshore Races, the Beaufort Cup, plus a new 'Offshore and Wrecks' series. 

'We've been caught 'OCS' and are taking on board the feedback', O'Connell said. 

A full Notice of Race will be issued in the coming weeks, according to O'Connell.

Published in Cork Week
Tagged under

Royal Cork Yacht Club has shaken up the format of its 2018 Volvo Cork Week Regatta following an exit survey of competitors at the 2016 event.

A brand-new format for the regatta that runs from 9th – 14th July 2018 offers cruiser–racers the option to choose from the multi–series format of the new event.

The new event will feature 12 competitive classes in IRC and ECHO handicaps. There is racing for the Volvo Cork Week Cup, Club Regatta Day, Inshore Races, the Beaufort Cup, plus a new 'Offshore and Wrecks' series. 

rockabill Cork weekDublin Bay JPK10.80 Rockabill competing in 2016's Cork Week Harbour Race Photo: Bob Bateman

'We are always looking for new and exciting ways to make the regatta better for you the competitor. This year is no different, RCYC's Kieran O'Connell, the Cork Week Chairman, told Afloat.ie

'On receiving the results of the survey carried out after the regatta in 2016, one thing became very clear to us. Every individual competitor’s needs and wants are very different', O'Connell explained.

Using the survey as a guide, the Volvo Cork Week committee spent a lot of time looking at how best to offer a tailored experience to as many competitors as possible. We have always said that Volvo Cork Week is a regatta run by sailors for sailors, so we decided adhere to this mantra and create a regatta built by sailors.

O'Connell says some of the possibilities at the 2018 regatta are:

· If you as the competitor enjoy coming to Cork Week for 5 days of world class racing and great entertainment then that is on offer.
· If you as competitor enjoy coming to Cork Week but find it hard to get five days off, then we have a three-day series and that is on offer.
· If you enjoy just doing the longer offshore style racing both fully crewed or shorthanded, then that is also on offer.
· If you would like to hold your class championships finishing on the Saturday then, you said it, that is on offer too. 

Download the advance notice of race below

All Afloat.ie's Cork Week coverage in one handy link here

Published in Cork Week

The Irish Cruiser Racer Association must be applauded for providing a platform under the theme: 'we need to talk about cruiser racing' at tomorrow's conference in Limerick. Like an elephant in–the–room, the overcrowded Summer fixtures needs to be urgently addressed because it's not only the hosting clubs and competitors that suffer but the sport itself.

Between June 9 and July 9 Irish cruiser–racers have – in date order – the ICRA Nationals in Royal Cork YC (June 9–11), Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club, (June 21-24) Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay from (July 6-9) and Galway's WIORA on the Aran Islands from July 5–8.

On top of this, the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle offshore race sets sail from the National Yacht Club for a three–day race on June 14.

These major events are icons of Summer sailing but how much do we lose by having them all within one month?

With a total available racing fleet of say up to 150 keelboats in Ireland, very few boats will do all five events, not least because WIORA and Dun Laoghaire regatta dates clash.

For many skippers, getting enough crew to do even two of these events will be an achievement in itself.

And, in what is becoming a well identified problem at club level, the successive nature of these events will certainly have a knock–on effect in crew availability for local racing.

Already Dublin Bay Sailing Club has taken a pragmatic approach and scrubbed its own long standing DBSC Cruiser Challenge because of this congestion.

It may seem blindingly obvious but it needs to be said, the Irish keelboat sailing calendar has just too many events for the times that are in it.

Does such congestion best showcase our sport? Attract sponsors or discourage them? And most importantly does it suit the sailors?

It's not the first time Water Rat has mentioned it. He raised it back in 2013 when one senior organiser saw fit to deny the situation and gave poor Water Rat a good talking to into the bargain. Unfortunately, the officer subsequently added that his muscular comments were off–the–record.

Four years later, nothing it appears, has changed except that new ICRA commodore Simon McGibney has invited all to the Limerick gabfest to talk about the future of cruiser racing.

Everyone supports the notion of the ICRA National Championships because it is an extremely worthy event that has, since its inception, done so much to raise the profile of cruiser-racing, an aspect of the sport hitherto poorly represented.

But in the current environment could this event not be included within a Sovereigns Week/Dun Laoghaire Week/Cork Week scenario thus reducing:

  • crew demands
  • volunteer fatigue within clubs,
  • resources and logistics
  • costs

At the same time, such a rejig would give a much needed boost to the regatta that would now include a 'National Championships'.

ICRA National Championship Must Keep its Own Identity

Equally, in such a set–up, it is essential the ICRA championship keeps its own identity. After all, it is a national championships, and that's the formula that proves popular with competitors, so it is vital it is not subsumed by any regatta.

ICRA could consider four year cycles. All the events to run from, say, a Wednesday to Saturday to maximise club takings. If it started next year then it could go to Cork Week, Dun Laoghaire in 2019, Howth 2020, Sovereign's in 2021 or some other rotation of this. A review could take place in year three of four to see if other venues wanted a piece of the action. Belfast, anyone? Existing venues also might want to drop out or change dates to fit the recast schedule.

This would not mean the ICRA Nationals concept falls away. On the contrary, ICRA instead works with the existing regatta committees to deliver it's goal of providing quality racing for IRC and ECHO boats and to enable the growth of the sport and to maximise the numbers of people afloat. This all happens. ICRA are merely using existing regattas as their vehicle to deliver. ICRA becomes more overseer than organiser and the regattas benefit from the additional UK exposure that ICRA manages to attract.

ICRA should be applauded for bringing everyone together to discuss this subject. Lets see what overhaul comes out of round table discussions at Castletroy.

Water Rat

Published in Water Rat

It’s indicative of the pace of Irish sailing in 2016 that for anyone taking an overview, it takes a bit of an effort to remember what the weather was like for much of our spring, summer and autumn. Admittedly, here in Afloat.ie we may skew recollections, as we’ll always go for a sunny photo or video if at all possible. Yet the cascade of memories of success and memorable events at home and abroad has been at such a pace that even if the sun wasn’t shining or the wind wasn’t obliging, the recollections are good. W M Nixon tries to make sense of the highlights.

If 2016 wasn’t the greatest Irish sailing season ever, then we’ll be happy to take on board proposals arguing the case for other years. And in the fantastic golden year of 2016, the supreme moment was on the evening of Tuesday August 16th, when the entire nation at home – or at least the entire sailing nation – was glued to a television screen of one sort or another, following every twist and turn for Annalise Murphy in the brief but intense drama of the final Olympic Medal Race for the Women’s Laser Radials on the flukey yet undeniably glamorous waters off Rio de Janeiro.

As the weeks and months have passed since, we’ve forgotten that for Annalise to win the Silver Medal, it was a pilgrimage of sorts to put right the pain of missing out so closely on a medal at the 2012 Olympics. We’ve also forgotten that the tension was exacerbated by the fact that the Medals Race should have been held on Monday August 15th, but was blown out to cause an agonizing 24-hour postponement. And we’ve largely forgotten that only three months earlier, the prospects hadn’t seemed at all good for Ireland’s best hope, with a poor performance at the Worlds in Mexico.

Yet we remember just enough of that situation to put into perspective the ten weeks transformation that Annalise wrought within herself. With her dedicated support team, she ensured that she’d become a hugely improved sailor, a fitter athlete and psychologically in a very good place, as she took on the Olympic challenge on August 8th with a cool confidence which in due course received its proper reward.

Thanks to the close focus which was put on the outstanding Murphy medal, we are well aware of the breadth and depth of the backup team which helped to make it all possible. But in the end it was just one lone sailor entirely on her own who was trying to carve out the right route through extraordinarily difficult sailing conditions, racing against the very best in the world. So it is entirely right and proper that Irish sailing will remember 2016 primarily as the year of Annalise’s Silver Medal.

With a peak like this, a manageable review of the season can only re-visit the highlights, so if your favourite event doesn’t come up in the next thousand or so words, that’s the way it when the Olympics come up, which mercifully is only once every four years.

A year hence, we’ll be looking back at a more normal season in all its variety, but for now some further thoughts on the Rio experience fit the bill. For the fact is, the entire Irish sailing team put in a decent showing. Best of the rest of them were Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er. Had the chips fallen slightly differently, they might have come home with a medal themselves. But as it is, the fact that they had two race wins would have been a matter of added excitement in any previous year.

Seaton McGovern ISAF Worlds 2014 Day 8Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern in the 49er recorded two race wins in the Rio Olympics

As for Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49er FX, they had one of their best regattas, very much at the races for most of the time, while the very young Finn Lynch – youngest sailor racing the Olympics – may not have been on his best form in the Laser Men’s, but his snatching of the Irish place in this class as late as May 18th in Mexico was testament to his grit, as he still hadn’t fully recovered from an injury sustained in an accident while out on some training cycling.

In fact, if there’s one little lesson which really came home from Rio, it’s the need to keep your athletes in one piece all year round. Our young international-level sailors can be an exuberant bunch, sometimes training and post-event relaxation becomes horseplay, and it was notable that some significant longterm campaigns were knocked off course by silly injuries.

Thus in looking back at the way Annalise’s success was celebrated in the heart-warming welcome home party at the national Yacht Club on Thursday August 26th, a notable recollection is that in thanking all those who had helped her to the Medal, Annalise particularly mentioned the physiotherapist Mark McCabe. For it seems that whatever training and guidance Mark McCabe has been giving her over the years, she has never been hampered by any serious injury or temporary disability.

This may seem a slightly odd point to be making in an annual sailing review, but there’s a lesson for sailors at every level in this. So if 2016 also emerges as the year in which we all learned the benefits of keeping ourselves in good shape and following best practice in sailing fitness, then it will have been be a very good year indeed.

But as the Olympics didn’t take over the stage until the second week in August, an impressive amount of sailing had already been registered. Indeed, it went right back to January when Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan – who sail from Howth but Doug’s from Kilkenny and Colin is from Malahide – returned from Malaysia with the Bronze Medal from the 420 Worlds.

sailing 20163 A Bronze Medal for Ireland with Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan in the 420 Worlds in Malaysia

Then in February offshore racing came centre stage with the RORC Caribbean 600 seeing Conor Fogerty of Howth with his Sunfast 3600 Bam! continuing a remarkable programme of Transoceanic criss-crossing (some of it single-handed), the Caribbean 600 “diversion” producing a win in Class 3.

sailing 20164Conor Fogerty’s Bam! on the way to the class win in the RORC Caribbean 600 Race

Into April, and attention focused on the Irish GP 14 Association’s superb group effort in getting 22 boats to Barbados for the GP14 Worlds 2016. Merely to achieve that was quite something in itself, but then Shane McCarthy of Greystones, crewed by Andy Davis, emerged as the new World Champion. That provided extra impetus back home as the rapidly developing Greystones Sailing Club worked towards its new clubhouse, which came on stream in May with the hosting of the Cruising Association of Ireland’s Start-of-Season rally.

sailing 20165Shane McCarthy of Greystones wins the GP14Worlds in Barbados

With the proper season in Ireland under way, June’s highlight was clearly the Volvo Round Ireland race from Wicklow, but before that ICRA had to get in their three-day Nationals at Howth, and despite light winds the programme was completed, winners including John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II in Division 1, Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV in Div. 2, Ken Lawless and Siobhan McCormack’s Quarter Tonner Cartoon in Division 3, and Colm Bermingham’s Elan 333 Bite the Bullet in Division 4.

rambler wicklow headWith a hugely talented crew, George David’s Rambler 88 dominated the mono hull classes in the Volvo Round Ireland race

In the Volvo Round Ireland Race starting June 18th, for the leaders at any rate lack of wind was definitely not a problem. For those biggies, it was a cracker. And as an event, the Round Ireland is back and then some, with 63 entries including George David’s wonderful Rambler 88 and three MODs which sailed the entire course within close sight of each other, and records tumbling at every turn.

Rambler had a brilliant a crew of international talents, and they were able to take every last advantage of the fact that the weather Gods – or more properly the wind Gods – smiled on them. They took monohull line honours in a runaway record time, and then achieved what many would have thought almost impossible for a boat with a stratospheric rating - they won overall on IRC as well.

As for the MOD 70s, with Damian Foxall with Sidney Gavignet on record holder Oman Sailing, and Justin Slattery with Lloyd Thornburg on Phaedo III, there was added home interest, particularly as both Irish stars admitted they’d been so busy all over the world building their sailing careers that they were Round Ireland virgins……

And what a race the trio of trimarans served up for those virgins…... Within reach of the finish in the dark, Team Concise was in the lead in a fading breeze, but Oman Sailing went a little bit offshore and found a fresher air to come in on port tack at first light and nip into the win.

sailing 20167Oman Sailing and Phaedo 3 at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race. Oman snatched the multi-hull lead in the final mile of the race to win and overturn the record she already held.

euro car parksThe J/109 Euro Car parks (Dave Cullen), seen here with Mark Mansfield on the helm shortly after the start, was the only Irish boat to take a class win in the Volvo Round Ireland race

As for any all-Irish contenders, the best performance was put in by the J/109 Euro Car Parks (Dave Cullen), the only Irish class winner, a good marker early in the season, for at the beginning of October the temporary Euro Car parks, long since reverted to her proper name of Storm, won the Irish J/109 Nationals for Pat Kelly and his keen crew from Rush Sailing Club.

July had three major highlights – Volvo Cork Week at Crosshaven, the Topper Worlds at Ballyholme, and the KBC Laser Radial Worlds at Dun Laoghaire. While the numbers involved in the two dinghy events were stupendous, it was Volvo Cork Week which captured public imagination in an unexpected way with the inaugural Beaufort Cup series.

sailing 20169Joker II, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne, became the first winner of the Beaufort Cup.

Racing for the trophy named after the famous Irish admiral and maritime researcher, the Beaufort Cup started out to be an event with an international flavour between crews from national defence forces. But then its remit was broadened to include personnel from emergency and security services with maritime links, and in the end 32 owners generously made their boat available for something which perfectly captured the mood of the moment. The amount of goodwill generated was beyond measure, and the win by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II has given a visionary event an excellent inauguration.

The Topper Worlds at Ballyholme looked like providing an Irish win until the last day, when a fresh northerly swept in with real Belfast Lough vigour to make it a big boys’ game, but young Michael Carroll from Cork hung in gamely and finished fourth overall, while Sophie Crosbie from Crosshaven was first girl and 7th overall.

sailing 201610The Topper Worlds at Ballyholme had one of its most international fleets yet, including a large Irish contingent and a group from China.

With a total fleet pushing towards the 350 mark, the KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dun Laoghaire were almost beyond comprehension, but a pattern was discernible, and what was most encouraging was that at least five young Irish sailors were serious contenders at the very top level.

However, one was head and shoulders above the rest in every way, and this was Ewan MacMahon of Howth. He was right in there pitching for the Gold in some ferocious racing, and though he concluded the series with the Silver Medal, this was serious stuff and the world quite rightly sat up and took notice of a remarkable and developing talent.

sailing 201611Ewan MacMahon borne ashore after winning the Silver Medal in the KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dun Laoghaire.

sailing 201612The fleet of 76 boats in the 29er British Championship at Torbay saw the win going to Harry Durcan and Harry Whittaker of Cork.

Came August, and just two days before the Olympics took all attention, 29ers took to the seas off Torbay in Devon for the annual British Championship, 76 boats in all and just one of them Irish – Harry Durcan and Harry Whittaker of Royal Cork. They won overall by two good clear points, an achievement so brilliant that further comment is superfluous.

Then in August we had of course all sorts of local festivals such as Calves Week out of Schull, but everyone’s thoughts were on the Olympics, with normality only returning after an afternoon and night of celebration seemed to have just about the entire Irish sailing community – and many non-sailors too - gathered in Dun Laoghaire and around the National Yacht Club to welcome home Annalise and her medal.

Cruising being something undertaken at its own pace, reviews of what has been achieved are a matter for more leisurely contemplation in the depths of winter. But in late August a real text-book cruise drew to its close when Neil Hegarty of Cork sailed his Dufour 34 Shelduck into Baltimore after an efficient Atlantic crossing from Newfoundland, with Shelduck blithely coping with two mid-Atlantic gales, one of Force 8 and the other hitting Force 9. There have of course been many other Atlantic crossings during 2016 involving Irish boats, but this successful conclusion of a detailed Atlantic circuit cruise of several years duration really was a model of its kind, a cruise to be savoured.

sailing 201613Neil Hegarty’s Dufour 34 Shelduck during her Atlantic Circuit cruise

Other cruises and new additions to the fleet were to be savoured as the Cruising Association of Ireland held its end-of-season rally in Dublin’s River Liffey in mid-September, with a goodly fleet providing the annual entertainment of all the opening bridges being opened at the same time in a neatly choreographed exercise, which succeeded brilliantly in bringing a sense of the sea into the heart of the city.

sailing 201614“A sense of the sea into the heart of the city” – the Cruising Association of Ireland hold their Three Bridges Rally in Dublin’s River Liffey.

Meanwhile in nearby Clontarf the 70th Anniversary of the iconic Irish Dinghy Racing Association 14ft OD Dinghy was celebrated in style with a series of well-attended events driven on by the energy and enthusiasm of Ian Sargent, who saw his efforts well rewarded with a memorable Gala Dinner for the class in Dun Laoghaire at the Royal St George Yacht Club, where the concept of the IDRA 14 was first aired way back in 1946.

sailing 201615Living history. The newest IDRA 14 no. 166 (left) built 2016, and the newest Dragonfly sister-ship from Waldringfield in England, also built 2016, were the stars of the show at the IDRA 14th 70th Anniversary Regatta at Clontarf

As for those who like it offshore with a bit of competition, 2016 was a year of further growth for the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, with the season neatly rounded out by a points championship settled in the final race, the overall win going to Stephen Tudor’s J/109 Sgrech from Pwllhei.

The further we got into the Autumn, the better the weather became. So although the All-Ireland Junior Championship at Schull at the end of September raced in the Dave Harte-developed TR 3.6 dinghies was put through successfully despite some very mixed weather in the rest of the country, with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork the new champion, a week later in the first weekend of October the All-Ireland Seniors were sailed at Crosshaven with racing in the new Phil Morrison-designed Ultra variant of the National 18, and they had weather that was almost too summery on the second day.

sailing 201616Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork) became the new All-Ireland Junior Champion at Schull at the end of September.

sailing 201617The historic salver – 2016 All-Ireland Champion Alex Barry with ISA President David Lovegrove (left) and Royal Cork YC Admiral John Roche. The annual championship for the salver will be celebrating its 70th anniversary next year.
But a breeze filled in and it ended up as an absolute cliffhanger, with so many boats tied on points at the end that they’d to go through several permutations of countback to get a result, with RS 400 champion Alex Barry of Royal Cork and Monkstown Bay the Champion of Champions 2016.

October saw Irish interest swing towards the Mediterranean and the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta with extra Irish interest in three boats in the 107-strong fleet. Conor Fogerty’s ubiquitous Bam! appeared yet again, and though it wasn’t her most successful race, the points accumulated shunted her up to 3rd overall in the RORC Class 3 Points Championship 2016 despite doing only five RORC races, but the Caribbean 600, the Volvo Round Ireland, and the Rolex Middle Sea race all carry extra points weighting.

A better Middle Sea result was obtained by the XP 44 Xp-Act, which came second in Class 4 with her crew including the RIYC’s Barry Hurley and the Irish National Sailing School’s Kenneth Rumball. But our outstanding result was the clear overall win taken by Vincenzo Onorato’s Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino, navigated with pure genius by international star Ian Moore, who hails from Carrickfergus.

Mascalzone Latino Yet another major win for Ian Moore – and yet another major win for a Cookson 50. Mascalzone Latino on her way to overall victory in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016. Photo Rolex

This rounded out a remarkable year for the Moore family, as his mother Wendy was Commodore 2016 in Carrickfergus Sailing Clyb, where they were celebrating their 150th Anniversary (as was the Royal Ulster YC across Belfast Lough in Bangor) with events at Carrickfergus including a Hilditch Regatta for boats constructed by the legendary Carrickfergus boatbuilder. He created many vessels of distinction including the 1898 Howth 17s, who in turn arrived in Carrick to help celebrate a year which was to finish in such style in Malta.

Except it hasn’t quite finished yet. Even as we write this. Cork Institute of Technology are in the top three in the 36th Student Yachting World Cup which concludes today in Las Rochelle. And then tomorrow the irrepressible Enda O’Coineen with Kilcullen Voyager will be one of 29 starters along the French Biscay coast off Les Sables d’Olonne, where the Vendee Globe gets under way before a crowd of tens of thousands. Irish sailing in 2016 is truly a complex and endless tapestry………

Howth 17Homecoming……the Howth 17s Aura, Leila and Zaida return to Carrickfergus to join in the celebrations of Carrickfergus SC’s 150th Anniversary. The first five Howth 17s were built in Carrickfergus by John Hilditch in 1898. Photo Trish Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

Commandant Barry Byrne tells his story of how the Irish military assembled a winning crew in a matter of months for the inaugural international inter-service sailing contest

On 15 January I was called to a special meeting in the Carrigaline Court Hotel. Our then Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney; Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett; and key personnel from the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Kinsale Yacht Club – headed by Kieran O’Connell, chair of Volvo Cork Week 2016 – had assembled to plan a new event to be called the Beaufort Cup, named in honour of Sir Francis Beaufort, creator of the Beaufort wind force scale.

I would learn at that meeting of the goal to assemble 10 yachts, with military or emergency service crews, to compete in this new multi-race event for Cork Week. However, many present felt that given the relatively short notice – only six months – we would be doing well enough to recruit three boats to constitute a class.

One of the first teams to commit to the event were the Royal Engineers, and I will be forever grateful to them for their support at such a formative stage of the cup’s development. They gave momentum to our cause, as by the time of the event we had 12 top-class teams competing for the newly commissioned Waterford Crystal Beaufort Cup.

Joker_2_Defences_Forces_CupThe crew of Joker 2 pictured in Crosshaven

Training challenge

Assembling and training our own Defence Forces team from scratch? That was our first challenge. Many were beginners, plus we had to source the necessary boats. Through the generosity of John Maybury (Joker 2), Tom Roche (Meridian) and Dan Buckley (Justus), we secured three boats to compete in. The Defence Forces contingent increased to four when we were joined by Another Adventure, an A35 skippered for the event by Stefan Hyde. Joker 2, the national champion J109, would be our main effort at winning the cup, and I must thank our fantastic bowman, Flight Sgt Adrian Mulligan, for helping to secure the use of that vessel.

IMG 8289Training with the Navy at Haulbowline

Next came the team trials to select our four competition crews. That meant training in fitness, sailing, sea survival and medical training to ensure all boats and their crews complied with the same Cat 3 regulations as the annual Fastnet Race.

We schooled the beginners on our team in sail and race training with the help of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School (INSS), while the Joker crew were put through their paces in manoeuvres with the help of professional coach Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell. Simon Johnson kindly assisted in training up our pit and bow team, and my brother Bryan Byrne also came along to share some knowledge.

As the event grew closer, I was to learn that both national and international champions were competing in our class. It was dawning on me that our newly assembled team were going to the home of yacht racing in Ireland, and the oldest yacht club in the world, to try and win a major trophy and €10,000 prize money for a charity of one’s choosing, and the competition would be fierce.

Military principles

We got Joker 2 to Cork early and, her competition pedigree notwithstanding, we spent three full days going through every single element of the boat, stem to stern, keel to windex. We replaced ropes, end-to-ended halyards, scrubbed, dehumidified, welded – you name it, we did it. If I’d quoted ‘Mr America’s Cup’ Dennis Conner’s book No Excuse to Lose to my crew one more time, I think they would have killed me.

IMG 8291Scrubbing Joker 2 in Crosshaven

During this time, we also had a hugely important rig settings technical session with Mark Mansfield. This was to prove invaluable for the event. I wanted no ambiguity about what setting we were on for what wind condition, and I would work closely with my sole designated rig adjustor on this. Military principles in practice: one man, one job, own your job. We brought some other military principles to our sailing, too, as we had well-rehearsed standard operating procedures and clear communications, and it stood to us throughout the week.

Fastnet racing

On the morning of the start, Monday 11 July, the popping of SCUBA bubbles hitting the hull from our hardworking crew member Lt Wietse Buwalda as he scrubbed the outside provided the soundtrack as I observed our navigator reviewing the laminated, underlined and highlighted sailing instructions, and I felt like we had done everything we could to prepare for the first day – the daunting 24-hour race around Fastnet Rock.

I have been offshore racing for 20 years and I can honestly say that the short Fastnet run of the Beaufort Cup is one of the most enjoyable I have ever raced. It is the perfect length, and the race down to the famous rock is both stunningly scenic and hugely tactical, with tidal and wind influences to test the very best – not to mention the abundance of wildlife along the way, with whales and dolphins regularly spotted at this time of year. I think the race has the potential to be one of the great lures of Cork Week for international teams in future years.

After ten hours of racing, eight boats in our fleet rounded Fastnet Rock at twilight right beside one another. It was spectacular – or as Prof would say, ‘tremendous’.

Winning that race possibly came down to a single decision by our navigator, Comdt Ian Travers, to gybe out of Glandore Bay when becalmed. We gybed to get better pressure as we had no other options. That said, I do believe two factors came into play here. One, our crew had a hot meal of high-energy army ration packs inside us at one in the morning when we made that manoeuvre, so I feel we were firing on all cylinders as a crew; gybes were good, and kite peels at night went seamlessly. And two, our navigator had run seven weather routing predictions, all but one of which told him to go offshore on the way back from the rock, so he knew what he was doing, even if I didn’t.

We were awarded the impressive Sans Souci Cup at that evening’s black tie gala dinner overlooking the sea from the Naval Service base on Haulbowline. But honourable mention must go to the Royal Engineers, who were unlucky to be becalmed and, in the true spirt of military grit and determination, hung in there to finish the offshore race seven hours behind us, within two minutes of the deadline – and then, with no rest, donned their mess dress uniforms to be the life and soul of the party that night.

The Fastnet race was only the beginning of the Beaufort Cup, of course. The next day saw tighter inshore racing, but we had good starts and produced two firsts and a second, with a solid performance from everyone on the team.

Thursday was the harbour race – and as luck would have it, we dropped our course card over the side six minutes before the start. In the commotion, we ended up dead last on the start. But I have to say, what followed was one of the most tense but also most enjoyable races of my life, as our navigator Capt Mick Liddy – who had replaced Comdt Travers after the offshore – and tactician Peter Bayly picked clear lanes through the fleet and had us in the right air the entire way as we sailed from almost last to first and beat every other J109 in the fleet.

Trust your team

That harbour race, which was to become the last of the event due to fog on the final day, confirmed everything I have always believed about yacht racing: put a team around you that you trust, and then trust them. Let them do their job. I had one policy for that light-winds race, and really it was a policy for the event in general: watch the tell-tales, keep the boat moving fast, and turn the wheel as little as possible. I trusted the team to do everything else.

At the final prizegiving I announced that we would be donating the majority of our winnings to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin – but in addition, as a mark of respect to the fantastic competition put up by the RNLI crew led by Nicholas O’Leary on True Penance, we would also donate €1,000 to the RNLI. That team performed mightily, with only seconds between us in most races.

Commenting on our victory, Commodore of the Defence Forces Sailing Club, Colonel Peter Richardson, said: “Judging by the success of this inaugural effort, I believe the Beaufort Cup can and will grow to be the top services regatta in the world, attracting hundreds of international competitors, strengthening international and national bonds, and showcasing the fantastic sailing grounds that Cork has to offer.

"Every military in the world recognises the benefits of offshore sailing for leadership and teambuilding; there are no places to hide on a boat in bad weather. As an island nation, we must embrace this resource. Congratulations to the Joker 2 crew on their wonderful achievement.”

I would like to thank the entire Defence Forces team for their efforts in our Beaufort Cup challenge. Thanks also to Kieran O’Connell and the Volvo Cork Week race office for a great event; and our sponsors Axiom Private Clients, Spanish Point Technologies, Helly Hansen and CH Marine. Thank you as well to everyone in the Department of Defence and Defence Forces who helped make this happen.

As I write, services teams from France, Italy, Spain and the US have already committed to challenge for the Beaufort Cup in 2018, and the Irish Defence Forces will be there to defend it.

The crew of the Joker 2 was:
Comdt Barry Byrne
Lt Marcus Ryan
Peter Bayly
Capt Michael Liddy
Brian Phelan
Armn Gary Phelan
Sgt Patrick McGrath
Lt Wietse Buwalda
Flt Sgt Adrian Mulligan
Comdt Ian Travers

Defence forces sailing clubDefence forces Sailing Club: Back row: Comdt Eoin O'Sullivan, Lt Eugene Mohan, Lt Marcus Ryan, Flt Sgt Adrian Mulligan, Pte Stephen Leddy, Lt Cdr Brian Mathews, Comdt Brian Sweeney Middle Row: Cpl John Ferns, Capt Catherine Lundon, Capt Oisin Branagan, Comdt Shane Keogh, Col Peter Richardson, Comdt Mark Donnelly, Sgt Patrick McGrath, Lt Col Oisin Cahill. Front Row: Capt Tom Quigley, Sgt Dave Sliney, Armn Gary Phelan, Comdt Barry Byrne, CS John O'Rielly, Lt Wietse Buwalda.

Published in Cork Week

#CorkWeek - For the inaugural IRC European Championship at this year's Volvo Cork Week, the top three boats all came from different IRC classes and the result was incredibly close.

And after the final day's results, it turns out the antique silver IRC European Champion Trophy, presented by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, will not be going far – as Royal Cork YC's Paul Gibbons, racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, emerged the winner.

“This has been such a fantastic regatta, Volvo Cork Week is very competitive, and we had a real fight on our hands to win our class, let alone the IRC European Championship," said Gibbons from the winners' podium. "I would like to thank my crew, without a good team we would never have achieved the success. We will definitely be back to defend our win in Marseille next year.”

Shrouded in sea fog, the final day of racing at Volvo Cork Week was curtailed to just one race for some classes. However, as the mist cleared, class winners appeared and the inaugural IRC European Championship went to the wire.

Located outside Cork Harbour, the visibility was just too bad for safe racing for IRC Zero, One and Two and the results remained unchanged from the previous day.

The final prizegiving was held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, established in 1720, and the antique silverware presented includes some of the world oldest and famous trophies.

But the two biggest awards of Volvo Cork Week are brand new this year.

John Swan's Howth team, racing Half Tonner Harmony, was second, winning the Royal Cork Perpetual Salver. Tony Ackland's Swansea YC team, racing Dubois 37 Dark Angel, was third and was awarded the prestigious prize of the Kinsale Kettle for Boat of the Week.

“This is the best Cork Week we have ever done and to be awarded Boat of the Week is a big honour. We will be toasting our friends tonight and when we get back to Swansea. Congratulations to all the winners, it has been great to be a part of this regatta,” said Ackland.

The Waterford Crystal Beaufort Cup, commissioned by former Marine Minister Simon Coveney, was won by Defence Forces B racing Joker 2, skippered by Cmdt Barry Byrne, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Baltimore RNLI racing True Penance, skippered by Nicholas O'Leary, was second while the PSNI racing Freya, skippered by Conor Doyle, came third.

Defence Force B Team have nominated Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Dublin for the €10,000 award. But the winning team have also donated €1,000 to Baltimore RNLI as a show of sportsmanship.

“To have so many teams and top quality racing in the first year of the Beaufort Cup is amazing,” said Cmdt Byrne. “The offshore race around the Fastnet is one of the most enjoyable races I have ever done. We saw dolphins and whales literally the whole way round and eight boats rounded the Fastnet Rock within sight of each other.

"We already have confirmed interest from USA, France, Canada and Spain for 2018. The goal is to make the Beaufort Cup the biggest emergency and military services regatta in the world and I would like to applaud Minister Simon Coveney and Vice Admiral Mark Mellett for their continued support for the initiative and all of the teams that participated.”

Gladiator-in-Harbour-Race-Ingrid-AberyTony Langley's TP52 Gladiator leads the fleet in the Harbour Race Photo: Ingrid Abery

Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40 Antix from the Royal Cork YC are the IRC Zero champions, beating strong opposition from Tony Langley's British TP52 Gladiator and Eric De Turckiem's French A13 Teasing Machine.

The class was fiercely contested with both Antix and Gladiator taking three wins a piece in the seven race series. Antix won the class by just one point.

Tony Ackland's team from Swansea YC, racing Dubois 37 Dark Angel, dominated IRC One. Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks from East Down YC in Northern Ireland was second in class and Royal Cork's Conor Phelan, racing Ker 37 Jump Juice was third, fending off a strong challenge from Charlie Frize's Scottish team, racing Mills 36 Prime Suspect.

The team from Clyde CC were the winners of the Hugh Coveney Trophy, for the best team under IRC in the Harbour Race.

Paul O'Higgins Royal Irish YC team, racing JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, corrected out to win IRC Two by four points from Robert McConnell's A35 Fools Gold. A terrific battle for third place was won by Richard Goodbody's Royal Irish team, racing J/109 White Mischief. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, racing Irish JPK 10.80 Audrey was fourth and William Wester's Dutch team, racing Grand Soleil 37 Antilope was close behind in fifth.

In IRC Three, John Swan's Howth YC team, racing Half Tonner Harmony, was the runaway winner, scoring five bullets at Volvo Cork Week. Patrick Farcy's French JPK 9.60 Cavok won the last race of the championship to snatch second by a single point from Paul & Deirdre Tingle's Royal Cork team, racing X-34 Alpaca.

Simon Henning's Guernsey YC team, racing 1720 Alice, was the runaway winner of the Mixed Sportsboats Class. George Sisk's Farr 42 WoW won a close encounter in IRC Coastal Class 1. Nick Ogden's Ulula and Sheila & James Tyrrel's J/112e Aquelina was just a point behind the winner.

Martin Breen's Port of Galway Team won IRC Coastal Class 2, winning three of the four race series. Jimmy Nyhan's Out Rigger was the winner of the Club Regatta Fleet, with three straight bullets. Tom McNeice's Sigma 33 Minx III was the winner in the non-spinnaker class, which was only decided on the last race of the seven race series.

The non-spinnaker class is growing at Volvo Cork Week and proving extremely competitive. Of the 12 entries this year, six teams made the podium during the regatta. Kieran McCarthy's Voxpro team won the Try Sailing Challenge, the initiative has received much acclaim and interest with 120 people applying to join the initiative across Ireland.

VIPs for the final award ceremony were Adrian Yeates, managing director of Volvo Cars Ireland, Naval Service Vice Admiral Mark Mellett and Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Michael Boyd.

Published in Cork Week

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon won’t divulge when he first sailed into Cork Harbour, but he claims to have taken part in an early version of Cork Week as long ago as 1970. And he also claims that, at the Week of 1992, when ashore he never went beyond the RCYC’s Regatta Compound. He was overnighting aboard his boat which was a competitor, and after racing the whole sailing world and all facilities were to be found right there in the compound. There was no need to go any further. Here, he casts an eye over Volvo Cork Week 2016, and reflects on the extraordinary story of the hosting club.

There was a time when most histories of sailing were based on the idea that yachting as we know it didn’t really begin until 1815, when the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo provided peaceful seas off Europe to allow recreational sailing to develop into what ultimately became many forms, involving boats and rigs of all types.

It’s a process which continues today. But while the change in circumstances in 1815 was undoubtedly a major force in accelerating the development of the sport, anyone in Cork will be only too happy to tell you that by the time of Waterloo, the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork had been in existence for all of 95 years.

The yachts of the 1720 Water Club The great pioneers. The yachts of the 1720 Water Club of the Harbour of Cork, as recorded by Peter Monamy in 1738. Courtesy RCYC

And up Athlone way, they’ll determinedly assert that Lough Ree YC came into being in some form or other in 1770, so it was looking at 45 years by the time of Waterloo. But on Lough Ree, you could be reasonably confident that your day’s sailing wouldn’t be spoilt with an attack by French privateers. Yet the Privateer threat was a fact of life in the seas off Cork in the turbulent times as the 1700s drew to a close, and the cheekier ones even came right into Cork Harbour itself.

Nevertheless although the 1720-founded Water Club had a tenuous-enough existence at times, as soon as peace broke out it reasserted itself, a notable instance being in 1802 after the Peace of Amiens, and again in 1806 when the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 had greatly reduced the French threat at sea.

Water Club Nathanael GroganThe quiet years. A lone yacht of the Water Club shown in a panting by Nathanael Grogan in the upper harbour of Cork at Tivoli in the late 18th century

With each revival, names of “Old Members” would be added to the lists of new people who wished to keep the club going. And though there may have been times when Annual General Meetings weren’t held – a requirement for any club’s continuing validity today – the old Water Club always seems to have been part of the warp and weft of the great fabric of Cork Harbour, where they’d a much more relaxed attitude to the necessity for an AGM in the dim and distant past.

It became the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1830 when sailing was being re-structured at national level, and it was always enumerated as Club No 1 in the official listings, even if the Royal Yacht Squadron tended to be listed above it. Yet if you were at the opening party of Volvo Cork Week at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven last Sunday evening, you could have been forgiven for thinking that this was a happening being organised by the newest club on the block.

The fact is the Royal Cork is not merely ageless – it is eternally young. In this era of outdoor festivals, at events like Sunday’s opening party they showed themselves ahead of the curve in having world-standard sound systems which provide a welcome and easily-audible intimacy for speakers, enabling them to put through an informative programme of crisp speeches in comfortable time as the party buzz built steadily among the gathered multitude, whose friendly attention was duly rewarded by the arrival of a sunny evening.

The atmosphere was of one great big happy family gathering. And if this seemed to be a family with many members holding high military rank with decorations to match, it’s because the occasion was taken to launch the Beaufort Cup in all its official glory, and there were more naval and other military attaches present than you’ll see at many a National Day parade.

Royal Navy Supply ShipNaval presence. The successful staging of the first Beaufort Cup series within Volvo Cork Week 2016 saw increased naval activity in Cork Harbour, including this Royal Navy Supply Ship. A highlight of the Beaufort Series was a black-tie dinner for all competing crews in the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island on Tuesday night. Photo: Bob Bateman

But far from parading military might, the Beaufort Cup is all about comradely sailing competition, providing sport afloat for people who normally look on being at sea in a very different light. And it was not just between people in the armed forces, but between agencies of all kinds – life-saving, fisheries supervision, port inspection or whatever – where I suppose the only common denominator is that at some stage the people involved might wear a uniform.

The trophy commemorates Meath-born Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) whose achievements in hydrography and marine science were many. The idea of commemorating him in this way certainly captured the Volvo Cork Week imagination, with people readily making their boats available to agency crews who did not have access to craft of their own.

The spirit of it all was exemplified by the first boat and crew to the Fastnet Rock in the Beaufort’s long opening race. It was Conor Doyle of Kinsale’s X442 Freya, crewed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. And then the overall winner of this special Fastnet race on corrected time was John Maybury of Dun Laoghaire’s champion J/109 Joker 2, sailed by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne.

Barry Byrne and his crew on Joker 2 continued their success through the week as the varied fleet was put through a programme of equal variety, and it was singularly ironic that Class 0 in the Combined Fleets Harbour Race for the Hugh Coveney Trophy – surely the ultimate combination of a sailing come-all-ye and a festival of local knowledge – should be won by Eric de Turckheim’s A13 Teasing Machine, which is rightly recognised as one of the greatest offshore racers currently active on the planet, but arguably not a boat the smart money would have backed to win her class in a crowded race in the winding waters of Cork Harbour.

Teasing Machine Teasing Machine revelling in a breeze at the start of the week. Yet she won Class 0 in lighter airs in the Harbour Race. Photo: Tim Wright

And as for the alleged benefits of local knowledge, perhaps the Cork sailors were being just too clever in using their supposed experience in the weird ways of the tides and winds within this historic natural harbour, for the overall winner of the Harbour Race was Charlie Frieze’s Mills 36 Prime Suspect from Scotland, which made a good start in clear air, and continued to build on it.

In a sense, it was a double victory, as the breeze freshening towards the end naturally favoured the smaller boats over those already finished, despite Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator having zapped round the course in less than two hours. But although Prime Suspect was clearly mid-fleet in size, she put in such a neat showing she stayed ahead of Quarter Tonners and the like to take the prize.

TP 52 GladiatorTony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator took line honours in the Harbour Race. Photo: Bob Bateman

In fact, the view that smaller boats would be favoured by the freshening breeze doesn’t really stand up to examination, as second overall was taken by Richard Matthews’ new H39 Oystercatcher XXXI, a notably handsome boat in a very distinctive shade of blue. And as for assertions that an excess of local knowledge can sometimes be a drawback, Oystercatcher XXXI proved otherwise, as her crew included Eddie English who probably knows more of the sailing ways and wiles of Cork Harbour than anyone else on the planet.

Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXI A bit of local knowledge didn’t go amiss…..with Eddie English of Cobh on board, Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXI took second overall in the Harbour Race. Photo: Bob Bateman

Irish National Sailing School of Dun Laoghaire’s Reflex 38 LynxAn unrivalled learning environment – the Irish National Sailing School of Dun Laoghaire’s Reflex 38 Lynx in action in Cork. Photo: Bob BatemanThird slot overall went to John Swan’s Half Tonner Harmony from Howth, continuing her dominance of Class 3 where she’d already logged six bullets in eight races by the time they took on the points-free harbour melee.

Whether sailing for fun in the Harbour Race, or competing with a real edge for points gains in races included in the European IRC Championship, there can be absolutely no doubt that this Volvo Cork Week is all about high-pitched racing, and as such is light years away from the Admiral Sailing in formation which was at the core of the sea-going activities of the Water Club in its early days.

Or is it? At mid-week I’d a very amiable discussion with Royal Cork YC archivist Dermot Burns as to whether or not the original Club of 1720 included racing in its activities. He reckons a form of competitive sailing - beyond that of showing your ability to maintain station relative to the Admiral while moving along in formation - is suggested in the Sailing Orders which were re-published in 1765 after the club had gone through one of its regenerations in 1760, though it does involve assuming that the Orders of 1765 reflected the original orders of 1720.

The many orders are un-numbered, but down around what would be number 17 we find:

“WHEN the Admiral will have the whole Fleet to Chace, he will hoist Dutch colours under his Flag, and fire a Gun from each Quarter; if a single boat, he will hoist a Pendant, and fire as many guns from the side as the Boat is distanced from him. WHEN he would have the Chace given over, he will hawl in his Flag and fire a Gun”.

Dermot’s very reasonable contention is that “Chace” is in the same sense as Steeplechasing for horses, and that these are straightforward orders for either fleet races or a match race, the start simply being made by piling on the speed from whatever position you’re in when the Admiral gives his signals.

It’s a long way from today’s precisely-laid committee boat starting lines. And it boggles the mind to think of your average modern crew trying to decide what Mr Big means when he starts firing guns from every quarter and sending all manner of flags aloft. But it’s part of the joy of studying the long history of the Royal Cork Yacht Club that such gems for interpretation come our way.

Anthony O’Leary racing top contender AntixAdmiral’s orders? Former RCYC Admiral Anthony O’Leary racing top contender Antix off the Cobh waterfront. Photo: Bob Bateman
And who knows, but with further tangential study it may still be possible to find out who actually won those earliest races. For though we soon find notices of a up-coming races of the Water Club being advertised in the local press, accounts of what actually happened, if they appear at all, can be confused in the extreme as the reporter is often too giddy with listing the names of the great and the good who are present, and how fashionable the gathering is, to give us the hard facts of yacht race results.

Meanwhile, Dermot was also able to put me right on the notice advertising the forthcoming Water Club Race of 1787 as entitling the winner to an Anchor. Far from being a complex right to decide where the fleet should anchor, the word is that an Anchor is a substantial measure of brandy. I should have known that.

Some histories can evoke happy memories combined with entertaining and friendly debates among friends. Such is the story of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. And with the prospect of the RCYC 300th Anniversary in 2020 coming steadily down the line, the good news is that there was across-the-board political representation at a very high level at the Crosshaven events on Sunday July 10th. So much so, indeed, that it’s reasonable to expect that whatever government is in power in 2020, there’ll be proper official support for the celebration of this unique Tricentenary for an ever-young club which could only have been founded in Ireland, and only in Cork at that.

cork week 2016 At last! The summer comes in from the sea at Volvo Cork Week 2016. Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in W M Nixon
Page 5 of 15
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