Moves to replace Asgard II

SAILING: IRELAND COULD yet have a tall ship to replace the Asgard II and the Lord Rank, if a new group formed to press for a…

SAILING:IRELAND COULD yet have a tall ship to replace the Asgard II and the Lord Rank, if a new group formed to press for a replacement is successful.

A reference group has come together to include tourism interests, commercial port interests, youth organisations, maritime organisations and education groups. The group also includes some of the former Asgard II and Lord Rank operators.

Ireland lost the Asgard II when it sank in 2008 off France, and last year the Lord Rank hit rocks and sank off the Antrim coast.

The new group is under the chairmanship of Lord Glentoran, supported by Dr Gerard O’Hare, David Beattie and Enda O’Coineen. It has organised a conference and workshop on March 26th, hosted by Dublin Port.

The group is seeking to engage with as many stakeholders as possible on March 26th and has pledged that the new vessel will be owned by the community in Ireland and the Irish diaspora.

Since the loss of the Asgard II and Lord Rank, Ireland has been left with no sail-training opportunities for young people, and likewise for maritime development, enterprise and tourism.

“The group believes the solution is the construction of an Ireland – North and South – training vessel, fulfilling several roles with a common mission,” says O’Coineen, who helped bring the Volvo Ocean Race to Ireland.

The conference will include for the first time Irish Tall Ship representatives from Belfast, Dublin, Waterford and Cork.

The Tall Ships Race visits Waterford in June, and this week Dublin City Council announced that, for the first time since 1998, Dublin will welcome back the International Tall Ships Races in 2012.

As final host port, the event will see up to 100 tall ships sail into Dublin for a four-day festival and celebration, from Thursday, August 23rd, to Sunday, August 26th, 2012.

The Tall Ships Race appeals to young and old alike as the romanticism behind the concept touches on history, social studies, legacy, family, travel, adventure and, most importantly, fun.

This week the fun has been in Dún Laoghaire for the launch of the Sovereign Ski Topper Dinghy World Championships, where up to 300 competitors are expected, many from Britain, to compete on Dublin Bay from August 15th-19th.

Carlow’s Finn Lynch (16), who is the reigning British and Irish champion, finished third at the World Championships at Lake Como, Italy.

In sports boat news, 10 Irish boats are among 120 entered so far in the 2011 SB3 World Championships in Torbay, the largest one-design keelboat event in Britain this season.

Tomorrow up to 300 delegates are expected at the Irish Sailing Association’s annual conference and agm at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire. There will be an awards dinner at the hotel that night.