A Team class - The Firefly

A Team class - The Firefly

The excitement of racing as a team all comes together in the One Design Firefly.

The next of our class heroes is the Firefly, the vehicle for team racing. Team racing is an idea that is widely believed to have been first proposed in the bar in Ireland’s very own Royal St. George Yacht Club, although we can’t verify this ! So as the schools and college team racing season kicks back into action, there seems no better time to look at this class. 

The appeal all lies in the team aspect of the Firefly, as six helms and six crews race in a three versus three format manouevring to get their team into a winning combination. 

Irish Sailing chose to invest in their very own fleet of Fireflies as team racing is a fun alternative to traditional fleet racing. Quick fire races with short turnaround times enables a great social atmosphere of both spectating and racing. For racers, it's a fantastic way of developing your boat handling which is perfect for medal race situations. For coaches it is a perfect way of developing your knowledge and adding to your coaching ability. For clubs it is the ideal way to reduce the attrition of sailors after they leave the structured environments of youth sailing. Irish Sailing believe we can use team racing to both attract and retain members of all ages in the sailing community. 

Many team racing enthusiasts have stated that the reason they love the sport is that "The discipline pushes all the core skills; winning requires clean starts, boat handling, boat speed, tactics, rules and teamwork"

School’s team racing is a great way to get both boys and girls sailing together, as it introduces many sailors to double handed dinghies, providing a more social outlet with team involvement. We know from data that teenage girls are more at risk of dropping out of sport at this age and this is our way of combating that. At third level it becomes a great way to make new friends and get out sailing without the large cost of club memberships for a student. This then bridges the gap of years where people usually tend to drop off from the sport. 

Additionally, team racing becomes a great way to get complete newcomers interested in the sport. In UCD this year the sailing club had around 180 sign ups at the start of term, with an average of 100-120 of them being complete beginners. Trinity Sailing (DUSC) similarly had 120, while UCC had around 70 and 110 in NUIG.  

This past weekend the Irish Sailing University Sailing Association (IUSA) held their first event in Mullaghmore Sailing Club, where over 150 sailors from eight different universities across the country travelled to compete. They completed 75 races over the weekend kicking off their highly competitive racing season. This October sees IUSA go up against BUSA the British universities equivalent in a universities challenge in Dun Laoghaire.

For Irish Sailing affiliated clubs, Irish Sailing runs team racing roadshows throughout the summer months, which sees the fleet leave their current home in the RCYC to travel to participating clubs. This year, the boats travelled to Glandore Harbour Yacht Club and Bray Sailing Club for roadshow clinics.  

Jack Hannon, who oversees Irish Sailing’s Team Racing said

“Over the two roadshow clinics, 24 participants took part in team racing, some for the first time. Both Clubs then had two teams at the Elmos, the annual U19 team racing event hosted by the Royal St George YC”. 

With fleets soon to be located across three regions (Malahide YC and Galway City SC), Irish Sailing intend to roll out their team racing roadshows nationwide. If your club is interested in getting involved you can contact Jack at jack@sailing.ie for more information.  

Upcoming Team Racing events:

  • Shanahan schools Cup: Wednesday 26th October @INSS
  • Dublin Bay Team Racing League (first weekend back 22nd Oct)
  • IUSA Northern Championships, Killaloe, 8-9th November
  • Irish Team Racing Nationals, Baltimore Sailing Club, 19th-20th November 
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