Only one fifth of life-jackets free of faults, warns RNLI

Lifeboat service issues safety warning as main sailing season gets under way

Winning quarter-tonner ‘Diamond’, skippered by James Matthews, surfs to victory in the last race of the Kinsale Yacht Club Spring Series. Photograph: Bob Bateman

Winning quarter-tonner ‘Diamond’, skippered by James Matthews, surfs to victory in the last race of the Kinsale Yacht Club Spring Series. Photograph: Bob Bateman

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has issued a timely warning about life-jackets at the start of the main sailing season after tests this month revealed only 21 per cent of jackets were free of faults.

The RNLI said life-jacket owners needed to ensure the appropriate safety checks were carried out after the “extremely worrying” results from the free advice clinic in Dún Laoghaire. Of the 131 jackets checked only half had the recommended crotch straps fitted.

Stephen Wynne, Dún Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “The fault rate is extremely worrying when you think that anyone taking to the water needs and relies on a life-jacket should they get into trouble.”

The advice comes after a busy week for the lifeboat service rescuing yachtsmen on the east coast.

Rosslare Harbour lifeboat assisted a dismasted yacht at the Tuskar Rock. The lifeboat also took three crew off a classic yacht stuck on a sand bank off Wexford. The same lifeboat also assisted a yacht with engine difficulties off Wicklow.

Howth Lifeboat Station towed a stranded yacht with steering difficulties at Malahide last Monday and on Wednesday evening Arklow RNLI responded to three consecutive callouts bringing three yachts, with eight on board, to shore.

South coast

On the south coast, winds gusting up to 30-knots brought Kinsale Yacht Club’s Spring Series to a close on Saturday. In the IRC big boat class Jump, skippered by Conor Phelan, came from behind to win; hitting a top speed of 17.9 knots in the surfing conditions.

There are early indications KYC will have a buoyant entry for its Sovereign’s Cup in June. Ten J 109’s are now planning on doing the three-day event. Up to 15 1720s and 10 half-tonners are also heading for Kinsale.

There was a solid turnout for the opening of the newly refurbished Waterford Harbour Sailing Club (WHSC) in Dunmore East. The makeover came as a result of a capital grant from Sport Ireland. Waterford Olympic medallist and Irish Sports Council chief executive, John Treacy cut the ribbon last weekend alongside WHSC Club Commodore, Rene Wubben.

A total of 74 different sailing clubs from across Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland and Isle of Man will compete at this July’s Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta. The country’s biggest regatta hit 400 entries this week as the early bird discount closed. The biennial event could have more than 500 entries for the harbour’s bicentenary regatta on July 6th. About 2,500 sailors are expected to race across 22 classes.

University College Dublin, led by captain Will Byrne, won the national selection trials for the Student Yachting World Cup at Howth Yacht Club last weekend. Trinity College were runners-up and NUI Galway placed third overall. UCD will represent Ireland in the 37th annual event, to be staged in the autumn at Marseilles and raced in J/80s.

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