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SB3 Worlds flourish, and tragedy off Bray Head

19th September 2008
SB3 Worlds flourish, and tragedy off Bray Head
Although a week of great highs is in prospect for Irish sailing over the
next two weeks, it has been preceded by tragedy after a coastal race turned
to disaster for a Poolbeg crew last Sunday.

In Dun Laoghaire, 136 SB3s have assembled at the National Yacht Club this
morning for Monday’s first race of the SB3 world championships. Billed as
the biggest one-design keelboat regatta ever held here, entries are still
being taken and some of the latest additions represent Ireland’s best hope
of success.

Just in is Olympic Star helmsman Peter O’Leary who has teamed up with Beijing team mate Tim Goodbody. Double Olympic race winner Ger Owens is also sailing.

The trio top off a 58-boat Irish fleet that is taking on an established UK
fleet of identical size. The balance of the fleet is made up of entries from
as far a field as Australia, United Arab Emirates and the Ukraine.

On the outskirts of Dublin bay, a 46-year-old Dublin yachtsman died last
Sunday morning following a man overboard accident on a coastal passage from Wicklow to Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club in Dublin city, the Coastguard has confirmed. Other details of the accident and rescue attempt are limited.

The yacht Alannah, a 30 footer, issued a Mayday off Bray Head stating there
was ‘a man in the water’ and a Coastguard helicopter was tasked.

Bray Sailing Club also heard the Mayday and responded with its fast rescue
craft. Conditions were choppy with a south-easterly breeze of 14 knots.

The Poolbeg Club was staging its annual 25-mile ‘Codling race’ to Wicklow at
the weekend. The return leg from Wicklow Sailing Club on Sunday morning was a race for the Sean Whiston Perpetual Cup.

According to the Coastguard, a vessel in the vicinity, the Galway hooker
Naomh Cronan, recovered the yachtsman from the water and he was transferred to Tallaght hospital by helicopter.

Bray Gardai later confirmed the fatality, the first in a yacht race here for
over 20 years and now the subject of Marine Casualty Investigation Board
(MCIB) enquiry.

Officially part Chinese and Dutch, the two Irish entries in the Volvo Ocean
race are making their presence felt in Alicante, just two weeks to the first
in port race.

Late entry Ger O’Rourke, after a six-day delivery from Cork, was barely off
the boat on Wednesday night before daring others to underestimate him. “We
wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we can win,” he said.

It’s big talk from the Limerick property developer with the Dutch sponsor
who is the eighth and final entry in the race. And why not? Ireland can
claim a quarter of the Volvo Ocean racing fleet. The Chinese-Irish Green
Dragon team is taking globalisation further still with a mix of crew and a
British skipper Ian Walker.
Finally, the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) has welcomed news that the
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is taking on the
responsibility of developing the marine leisure sector, but yesterday a
department spokesperson maintained the decision to take on this role had not
yet been confirmed.

The marine leisure section of the Department of the Marine sank without
trace six months ago when the Department of the Marine was split across five
government departments.

Six months later it has resurfaced (unofficially) in the bailiwick of
Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, TD. The news has received a guarded welcome across
the marine sphere.

At its annual boat show in Malahide last May, IMF chairman Brian O’Sullivan
was outspoken in his criticism about the move to drop marine from the
government agenda. In an interview with RTE’s Seascapes he said he could not understand how an island nation could disregard its coastline and called for its immediate reinstatement.

Yesterday a Federation spokesman said “the fact that marine leisure now has
a voice at the cabinet table is a significant shot in the arm for a sector
worth 700 million euro.”
Published in Editors Blog Team

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