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  1. Joan Mulloy will be racing from the Bay of Biscay next week without a title sponsor

    Joan Mulloy’s 2019 Figaro bid gets a step closer to reality as the first race of the season, the Sardinha Cup, comes in just a few days’ time.

    Mulloy, who made her debut in the Figaro last year, has been juggling training with the sponsorship hunt for the last few months, and describes the prospect of her first race back as “a little intimidating”.

    But from early next week her focus will be squarely on her Beneteau Figaro 3, which she will be racing with experienced co-skipper Mike Golding.

    “Mike will bring a lot of experience to the team, with four Vendée Globes under his belt, but we will both be very much finding our feet for this race,” she says.

    Mulloy and Golding will be part of a “pretty intense” lineup that includes more than a few offshore legends — and fellow Irish in the combination of last season’s third overall rookie Tom Dolan and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Damian Foxall.

    “I’m very excited to be back on the circuit again this year, but it hasn’t been an easy winter in terms of finding sponsors,” Mulloy says, confirming that she will be starting this first race without a title sponsor.

    She adds: “I have some good news in the pipeline, but not quite enough to see me to the end of the Solitaire.”

    This year’s

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  2. Gregor McGuckin with his yacht Hanley Energy Endurance in Dun Laoghaire, months before drama unfolded in the Souther Ocean

    #HYC - Gregor McGuckin will be bringing his lecture on his experiences in the golden jubilee Golden Globe race to Howth Yacht Club this coming Thursday 28 March.

    Last month McGuckin talked Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club members through the eventful solo offshore race that became even more so when both he and fellow competitor Abhilash Tony were caught up in a violent Southern Ocean storm.

    Both vessels were rolled and lost their masts, and Tomy was left seriously injured in his boat.

    As rescuers made their way to Tomy’s position, McGuckin abandoned his race to join in the effort — no mean feat with a jury-rigged mast and a boat using 1960s-era technology.

    From 8pm this Thursday evening, Howth Yacht Club members (non-members are also welcome) will hear the whole story from McGuckin himself, from the rescue drama to the fate of McGuckin’s own abandoned yacht.

  3. Beneteau Unveils Its First Motor Foiling Yacht

    Groupe Beneteau has followed up its first foiling sailing yacht in the Figaro Beneteau 3 with a concept for a motorised version.

    Working with partners DEMS Sarrazin Design, Noval and SEAir, the “next generation flying boat” was created over a nine-month period, resulting in an “outstanding” design its makers say both improves performance while reducing fuel consumption.

    Key to its design are its pivoting foils, which enable the boat to be used with or without foils, without any loss of output on the water — while the boat takes up the same space in port as an equivalent without foils.

    The prototype took to the water for tests earlier this month at Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, with its results supporting the case for the use of foils with motor yachts.

    “Following the Figaro Beneteau 3 for sailing, Groupe Beneteau is once again demonstrating its capacity for innovation with this first motor foiler,” said Hervé Gastinel, Groupe Beneteau chief executive.

    BJ Marine are the Irish agents for Beneteau Boats, whose Barracuda range was recently displayed at the Ireland Angling show in Dublin.

  4. Smoothly away. The Defence Forces’ crew in the J/109 Joker II going well at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 at Wicklow. But in order to be there, they’d to use military principles to fit their preparations into a very tight time-frame. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

    It was while crossing the Atlantic on the Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II during a celestial navigation module of his Naval Service education in 1999 that Barry Byrne had something of an epiphany writes W M Nixon. He’d been introduced to sailing through the welcoming approach of Wicklow Sailing Club in his home town. This led on to joining the Naval Service after he left school.

    The thought of transferring to the Army had arisen. Yet it took a long voyage on Asgard II to make the decision for him. His enjoyment of it gave him back his love of sailing and he considered that maybe a career at sea might not be conducive to continuing sailing as a sport.

    Thus he changed course, transferring to the Army and a successful career in which he has specialized in technology and served with the UN in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, rising to the rank of Commandant.

    In sailing, Barry and his team in the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 won the Corinthian Class and placed second overall, and then went on to successfully defend the highly competitive Beaufort Cup in Cork Week just two weeks later.

    shea and barry byrne2Barry Byrne (right) with his father Shea at Wicklow Sailing Club’s celebration of becoming Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year” 2017. Barry’s captaining of the team which won the inaugural Beaufort Cup in 2016 played a key role in Wicklow SC’s year of achievement. Photo: Angela

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  5. Even with a damaged rig, Jean-Luc van den Heede’s Rustler 36 Malmut (aka “Little Snail”) now has a lead of more than 300 miles with just 700 miles to go to the finish of the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race.

    Veteran French skipper Jean-Luc van den Heede (73) has been giving a strategic sailing masterclass in the final 1500 miles of the Golden Jubilee Golden Globe Race writes W M Nixon. A week ago, after enduring flukey and unfavourable conditions all the way northward from the Equator, his distance from the finish was barely 50 miles less than that of second-placed Mark Slats, although the two boats out in mid-ocean were never within two hundred miles of each other.

    This was because van den Heede was making every effort to get himself northwest towards the slowly approaching more favourable winds. In the end he made so much westing that he passed through the western passage of the Azores, and soon found himself making excellent speeds in the right direction well north of the islands, despite his boat’s damaged rig.

    Meanwhile, it was Slats who was now drawing the short straw in terms of the developing wind situation. His position well to the southeast meant he was on the wrong side of the new weather setup which was favouring van den Heede, and in the end he passed the Azores to the eastward, hard on the wind.

    Van den Heede is only 700 miles from the finish, right on line for Les Sables d’Olonne in the Bay of Biscay on port tack in northwest to north winds, and making 6.8 knots in his “Little Snail”, as he has nick-named his Rustler 36 Malmut.

    But Slats in his sister-ship is close northeast of the Azores, hard on the wind at only 5 knots on starboard tack, and all of 1020 miles from the finish. It’s looking good for van den Heede. Yet we mustn’t forget that he’s racing with that roughly-repaired rig, even if - despite it - he was making 7.9 knots in the right direction north of the Azores.

    Race tracker here: https://goldengloberace.com/livetracker/