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Displaying items by tag: Kerry

#teamracing – The chances in Ireland of snowfall on St Patrick's Day are statistically better than the chances of the white stuff coming down on Christmas Day. The reason we haven't really got our heads round this notion is that in mid-March, it just disappears like....well, like snow off a ditch.

But spare a thought for the suffering citizens of southeast England. They effectively enjoy a Continental climate, which means their average chances of snowfall at Easter are higher than at Christmas, even allowing for Easters in late April.

Not so in Ireland. But nevertheless if you want to get the best of what's available in sailing over the Patrick's Day holiday, and reckon that the sea at its coldest is quite enough to be going along without rain falling as snow showers too, then head southwest pronto.

Twenty-eight university sailing teams have done that very thing, heading for Kerry and converging on Fenit in Tralee Bay where University of Limerick are the organisers of the annual Irish Intervarsities, team racing in Fireflies, with Tralee Sailing Club providing the facilities for the opening event of what promises to be a very busy season, as they have both the WIORA and ICRA championships down there in June.

fireflies

It may be 68 years since Uffa Fox designed the Firefly 12ft dinghy for mass production in hot-moulded multi-skin timber - "cooked life a waffle" - but it is still a favourite for the special demands of team racing, and more durable these days with GRP construction

The TSC season explodes into life this weekend, as the three-day Intervarsities zapped into action promptly at 1000hrs yesterday, with 72 races scheduled each day. Then today both the Tralee Marathon and Half Marathon come trotting through Fenit. And tonight, the club throws its traditional Launch Party, one of the more boisterous events of the year. As Commodore Pat Daly commented earlier this week, after a winter of slumber the members don't know what's going to hit them, but they'll enjoy it anyway.

For sure, they have the place to do it. The rest of Ireland tends to think of northwest Kerry as a wild and woolly place. But in fact Fenit is a snug little spot, with a sheltered south-facing coastline between it and Spa in towards Tralee town, while sailing in the impossibly beautiful bay has been transformed by the top class marina out at the harbour on Great Samphire Island. Yet it's less than an hour's sail across the bay to the Maharees, which is pure Atlantic Ireland, a place apart where they create the finest racing naomhogs on the west coast.

racingnaomhog1

Do not adjust your set....we have inverted this photo, taken July 2012, in order to better show the highly-refined racing naomhog Corty Herbst at the Maharees in Kerry. Corty Herbst (1924-2000) was an American who settled in the Maharees with his wife Joan in 1969, and became much involved with the local racing currachs, playing a key role for many years in organising the Maharees Regatta. Photo: W M Nixon

fenitmarina

Fenit's 130-berth marina is a friendly place, and the harbour is a fine example of practical co-existence between fishing boats, recreational sailors, and commercial shipping. Photo: W M Nixon

The harbour on Samphire Island is reached along a 0.75 km causeway and bridge which is always well lined with sea anglers, who live in a world of their own. If you arrive in aboard a cruising boat, you'll find it takes exactly seven minutes to walk that bridgeway to the nearest pub, and another couple of minutes to get up to the club. But as the Intervarsities are dinghy focused, everything will rotate around the fine clubhouse in its prominent position above its own launching slip and an excellent sailing area which is ideal for an intense event like this, as it offers several options to cope with changing wind directions.

traleebaysc

Tralee SC is at the heart of a boat-orientated complex which includes a busy sailing school

Having a major event so early in the season is always a bit of a gamble, but the pattern of the university year dictates the timing. This weekend's series is emphatically the Team Racing championship, which automatically secures the winners a place in the massive British University Team Opens at the end of April. But during April, the Irish colleges will also be in pursuit of a place in the Student Yachting Worlds in France at the end of October, very high on the agenda as UCD won it in 2012, so they already have a place as of right.

Thus there'll be an extra place up for grabs by whoever can top the Irish Worlds trials in April, which will be raced in the SailFleet J/80s. They're based in Howth this year, and the college trials will have racing on April 6th, 13th and 20th. It's all of more than academic interest, as the Student Yachting Worlds will also be raced in J/80s, which provides the prospect of the good old one two for Irish university teams at world level. Dream on.....

As for this weekend, it's the gallant Fireflies which are the workhorses for the three-boat teams. The logistics are mind-boggling, and UL's Robert O'Leary – best known in recent seasons as the helm out of Crosshaven on the family's cruiserfied 1720 Antix Beg – has stood back from being on the team in order to concentrate on the Sisyphean task of keeping things on schedule, or maybe even a bit ahead of the sched, as the winds might be pushing towards gale force northerlies later tomorrow afternoon.

With Irish women being way ahead of their male counterparts these days in success in international sports such as rugby, boxing and sailing, it's no surprise to find several of the leading teams in the Intervarsities on Tralee Bay have women captains, with University of Limerick – very much the pace-setters in college team racing build-ups earlier this year – headed by Lauren Joslin, while the international stars of UCD are captained by Zoe Flood.

Yesterday saw the first day of racing blessed with much better weather than was being been anticipated at mid-week, with Tralee Bay enjoying its own favourable micro-climate while massive clouds passed to north and south in a 12 to 16 knot westerly which was enlivened by only a couple of rainsqualls on the bay. That said, a "small hailstorm" was a reminder that winter has barely released its grip, but there was plenty of sunshine and spring was in the air.

University of Limerick lived up to the promise of earlier events this year with wins in all their races, while UCD were next with five wins out of six, followed by TCD. Today should see the programme moving along with northerlies and clearing skies, and there's an improving chance that the northerly gales being mentioned for tomorrow will be far enough west to allow the programme's smooth conclusion.

GATHERING THE GAFFERS

Trying to assemble a fleet of boats and then get them moving in any sort of co-ordinated way is about as easy as herding cats at a crossroads. It's a good explanation for the appeal of racing – put up a prize and start firing the guns in the starting sequence, and there's just a chance some sort of order might prevail.

Another technique is finding some anniversary of recognisable significance, and building an event around it. The word is that the Irish Cruising Club are going to have a Octogintaquinquessimal Cruise-in-Company in southwest Ireland next year to celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the founding of the club in Glengarriff on July 14th 1929. Anyone suggesting that if they could just hang on for another fifteen years, then they could have a real mega-celebration for the Centenary, is sharply reminded that the club has a very significant membership cohort of extremely senior seniors in a hurry, and they want to Do It Now.

Meanwhile, it seems the notion of a Golden Jubilee cruise this summer for the Old Gaffers Association in the form of a rolling circuit of Britain with two stopovers in Ireland, and boats joining and leaving as they please, is proving popular. Sign-ups for the Dublin visit from May 31st to June 4th have already gone through the fifty mark, with the style being set by some fine big cutters such as Brandaen from the Netherlands, Annabel J from the Solent, and Adrian 'Stu' Spence's 1875-vintage Pilot Cutter Madcap from Strangford Lough.

brandaen

The impressive Dutch cutter Brandaen has signed up for the Old Gaffers Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company, which comes to Dublin Bay from 31st May to 4th June.

It's all a long way from the first assembly in Ireland of boats intent on celebrating the special joys of gaff rig, which attracted precisely three craft to Dunmore East in 1955. For a long time there'd been amiable arguments as to which was the faster boat between the Cork Harbour One Design of 1895, and the similarly-sized Dublin Bay 21 of 1902. With Dinghy Week 1955 being staged in hospitable Dunmore East, a midway port of sorts, two Dublin Bay 21s and two Cork Harbour ODs set out from their respective harbours to meet for the first time ever in Dunmore for a deciding contest which would have the benefit of being witnessed by racing experts.

The weather decided otherwise. Not through gales, but because of an enormous flat calm. In Cork, the two CHODs were towed out of the mirror-like harbour mouth, but the tide brought them back in again, so one of them – Cygnet - moored to a navigation buoy. When the tide turned again to offer the chance of a second attempt at departure, in the hassle of releasing themselves a crewman was left behind on the buoy (I'm not making this up), and the sluicing ebb meant they couldn't return to collect him.

Fortunately George Radley's Querida was further back, and she was able to collect the stranded crewman in passing, so to speak. They made it to Ballycotton that night, and then to Dunmore East the following day. But only one of the Dublin Bay 21s made it over the longer distance from Dublin Bay. This was Naneen owned by Michael 'Styx' O'Herlihy, who the following year sailed to America on the Kearney 6-ton yawl Evora, and made his fortune in the US as producer of the successful TV series Hawaii Five-O. His crew was the youthful Cass Smullen, and it took the pair of them fifty hours to get to Dunmore East, which made Dyko Morris, who retired from the voyage at an early stage with his DB21 Geraldine, even more convinced he'd done the right thing.

With an element of exhaustion and over-exuberant celebration at getting to Dunmore East at all, the actual races don't seem to have been totally conclusive, in fact there were only a couple of contests with one day lost through gales. Honours were fairly even – the Dublin Bay 21 had the edge in lighter breezes when her topsail could be set, but when it piped up the Cork Harbour OD, with her high-peaked gaff main and never carrying a topsail, seemed to have the best of it.

corkharbourod

Cork Harbour OD in classic style, with high-peaked gaff mainsail, but no tops'l, romping seaward from Cork Harbour. The restored boats will be having special races at Cobh Traditional Sail Regatta from June 28th to 30th. Photo: Tom Barker

dublinbay21

When the Dublin Bay 21 could carry her topsail, she seemed to have the edge on the Cork Harbour OD, but the Cork boat seemed faster in strong winds.

Years later, Styx O'Herlihy and George The Rad used to wax nostalgic about this unique event, for in hindsight it was a sort of last hurrah. In 1963 the Dublin Bay 21s decided to change to Bermudan rig, and at much the same time the Cork Harbour One Designs were being turned into Bermuda rigged cruisers, for which they did very well. They'd heftier hulls than the Dublin Bay 21s, and thus could provide more accommodation, and at a time before bare hulls in fibreglass for home completion as cruisers had become available, it was a useful option for an economy cruiser.

The story takes an odd turn, for although the Dublin Bay 21s stayed together as a racing class, they ceased to function after the damage in Dun Laoghaire harbour by the remnants of Hurricane Charlie in 1986. But the Cork Harbour One Designs found new life as Bermuda-rigged cruisers, and thus survived in order for several of them to be converted back to their original gaff rigged racing setup as the interest in classic yachts grew. Particularly notable was Jap, which was found in a hidden creek of Falmouth Harbour and brought magnificently back to life for Clayton Love Jnr by Fairlie Classics. He notched many classic regatta successes with her before selling her on to David Sheriff, who last year skippered Jap to top boat overall in the Classics Regatta at Cowes in July.

corkharbourodbermudan

With their conversion to Bermuda-rigged cruisers as seen here in 1981, the Cork Harbour One Designs survived to avail of the classics revival, which has seen several of them restored to original form. Photo: W M Nixon

This year there'll be a chance to see the restored local fleet of Cork Harbour One Designs in action at the Cobh Traditional Sail Regatta from June 28th to 30th. Whether or not we'll see any of them making the scene for the first time ever in Dublin Bay with the Old Gaffer events four weeks earlier is probably mostly a matter of logistics. But if they're heading for the east coast, they can rest assured there's no requirement to leave a crewman behind on a navigational buoy on the way.

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Published in W M Nixon

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has described as "very unusual" a mass stranding of common dolphins on Achill Island last week - which was followed this week by the remains of cetaceans washed up in Kerry.

At least eight common dolphins were found dead on Keel Beach, Keem Beach and Dookinella on the Co Mayo island at the end of January.

And The Irish Times reports that two pilot whales and an "otherwise healthy" dolphin were found washed up at Cuas Croom near Cahirciveen in the last few days.

Commenting on the former incident, IWDG stranding officer Mick O'Connell said: "While there are occasionally live strandings involving groups of dolphins, it is very unusual in this country to see this number of dead dolphins washed ashore over a 10km area."

Strandings of deceased dolphins have also been reported in Donegal, and the IWDG's Simon Berrow suggests that the recent severe weather experienced around Ireland's coast may be a factor.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - RTÉ News reports on the discovery of two dead white-tailed sea eagles in Kerry and West Cork.

The bird found washed up near Glengariff in West Cork two weeks ago was confirmed as poisoned after a post-mortem at the State Laboratory in Celbridge.

According to its electronic tag, the female sea eagle was released in Kerry more than two years ago.

Meanwhile a second bird found in south Kerry earlier this week is also believed to have been died as a result of eating poisoned carrion - an illegal method sometimes employed to control crows and foxes preying on lambs.

A protected species under Irish law, some 100 while-tailed sea eagles were reintroduced to the wild in Killarney National Park from 2007 to 2011. Since that time more than a quarter have been found dead, with 12 of those cases confirmed as poisonings.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Windsurfing - Due to 2012's calm storm season, organisers of the Red Bull Storm Chase recently extended the competition into this year - and competitors are currently racing to Ireland for the first mission of the contest.

Brandon Bay in Kerry was decided as the spot early this morning, and the competition is scheduled to begin just after sunrise tomorrow (Monday 28 January) when stormy weather conditions are expected to be at their peak.

The Red Bull Storm Chase website has live updates from competitors making their way to Kerry from as far away as the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Ten windsurfers chosen by community vote will take part in the first mission, with the top six going on to the second mission some time before 22 March at any one of seven possible destinations around the world, most of which have not before taken centre stage on the windsurfing scene.

Sadly no Irish windsurfers will be competing this time round, but names the likes of Timo Mullen and Dan Gardner on the shortlist will surely be keeping an eye on the competition as they get set to chase the ride of their lives.

Published in Surfing

#Angling - Anglers on the River Feale in Kerry and Limerick have been assured by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that it supports their concerns over the proposed deep-sea fish farm in Galway Bay, as the Limerick Leader reports.

Local anglers are among those throughout the region who have rallied in opposition to plans for the Aran Islands fish farm project, over fears that it would lead to “an explosion” in parasitic sea lice which would prey on wild inland salmon from Irish rivers feeding in the North Atlantic.

IFI reiterated its statement issued last month in which its board said it does not believe "that the corpus of peer reviewed international scientific literature which recognises the negative impacts of sea lice on salmonids have been adequately dealt with" in the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) as part of the public consultation process.

A spokesperson for IFI told the Limerick Leader that the authority has "major concerns about the location and scale [of the farm], as well as its potential impact on sea life. [IFI] is not supporting it in its current form.”

Earlier this month the National Inland Fisheries Forum also criticised as "flawed" the consent process regarding the 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm planned off Inis Oirr, which would be the largest of its kind in Europe.

If approved, the operation could more than double Ireland's current production rate of farmed salmon.

The Limerick Leader has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#Surfing - Check out this beautifully shot video from ONITmedia of intrepid winter surfers catching the breaks at Brandon Bay, Co Kerry.

The waves might not be the biggest that Ireland has to offer at this time of year - for those the wet-suited warriors head to Mullaghmore - but the stunning scenery, not to mention the surprise appearances by local cetaceans, more than make up for it.

Published in Surfing

#FUNGIE - He was the subject of rumours of his demise earlier this week - but the people of Dingle say their most famous resident, Fungie the dolphin, is alive and flipping.

A spokeswoman for Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours confirmed to The Daily Edge that Fungie is "definitely alive", and that no dolphin remains had washed up on the beach, as had been claimed on Twitter last Monday morning.

The Co Kerry fishing village is celebrating 30 years of the bottlenose dolphin's residency in its harbour. It's unclear exactly how old Fungie is, but it's presumed he was born in the mid 1970s.

Irish Central has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#KERRY OIL - Oil exploration firm Petrel Resources has announced it has found as much as one billion barrels of oil off the coast of Co Kerry.

The Irish Independent reports on the findings by the Dublin-based company which show enormous reserves of oil in the Porcupine Basin off the south-west coast.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the company said in September that it has identified a number of targets across the more than 1,400 sq km area of the Atlantic Ocean west of Dursey Island.

Technical studies conducted then on blocks in the northern and eastern parts of the basin for reservoir sands were described as "encouraging".

Now Petrel says that computer analysis shows several oil fields stacked in layers that could be tapped by a smaller number of oil wells.

The distance from shore - approximately 200km - plus the location of the oil reserves beneath 1km of water and a further 3km of rock present some difficulties, but new techniques in the oil industry are allowing previously undrillable resources to be extracted.

Petrel Resources is seeking a partner to invest in drilling for oil, and is preparing its application to the Government for a licence.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#FUNGIE - A new video posted to YouTube celebrates 30 years of Fungie the dolphin in Dingle.

The male bottlenose dolphin appeared from out of nowhere in the Co Kerry fishing village in 1983 and soon made it his home, quickly becoming an integral part of the local community.

Since his arrival Fungie has made friends and warmed hearts with people both local and across the world, such as Dutch couple Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schamhart who have been meeting him for more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, locals hope that new measures for harbour users proposed earlier this year won't bring an end to boat trips to meet Dingle's most famous resident.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#IRISH HARBOURS - Protesters took to the water off Kerry's piers last month in an organised swim drawing attention to proposed harbour bylaws designed to regulate the activities of water users.

“We need to make the public aware they have to make submissions,” Denise Collins told The Irish Times from Kells, which hosted one of the largest swims. “Traditional activities such as swimming will be over-regulated, we fear.”

The proposed bylaws would give Kerry County Council greater control over 16 of the county's 57 harbours and piers, including Kells, Kenmare, Portmagee, Brandon and Ventry.

Under the new bylaws, strict regulations would be placed on the use of loudhailers, landing and unloading passengers and freight, waste and even movement around the harbour.

"Draconian" charges are also set to be imposed on fishermen and other harbour users, while campaingers also feel that a ban on swimming and diving could also be added to the list.

The proposed bylaws already suffered a set-back earlier this year when Kerry County Councillors decided to restart the consultation process to allow the fishing industry, tourism operators and other interests more time to make submissions.

According to the Irish Examiner, only two submissions had been received by the council as of its January monthly meeting, despite senior council officials working for months on the draft proposals.

Cllr Toiréasa Ferris commented that the proposed charges in particular "would have huge implications for fishermen, some of whom might currently be earning only between €40 and €50 for a 14-hour day."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, charges may also soon be hiked on yachts berthing at Ireland's main fishing harbours, a list that includes Dingle in Co Kerry.

Irish Marine Federation chairman David O'Brien expressed concern at the potential for such charges to damage "the good tourism dividend for coastal towns", noting that for every euro spent on a harbour berth, €10 was normally spent in the locality.

Published in Irish Harbours
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