Cruiser racing’s dominant position in Irish sailing was reconfirmed when Limerick’s O’Rourke became the first sailor to lift the Cork Dry Gin Sailor of the Year trophy for two years in succession.
O’Rourke’s clear-cut victory in last August’s Fastnet Race was applauded atthe Morrison Hotel in Dublin where twenty three leading names from dinghy
and offshore circuits were in the running for the overall prize.
Abroad, Sarah Steyaert of France has won the 2008 Women’s Laser Radial World Championship after a sensational finish to the regatta when Lijia Xu of
China was disqualified from the final race ultimately costing her the world
The six day regatta concluded off Takapuna, Auckland on Thursday and with it
a place for Ireland on the start line of the women’s radial class in
Howth’s Ciara Peelo secured the final place available at the Olympic regatta
with a 29th overall in New Zealand after a poor start.
Selectors will now make a decision to send Peelo or rival Debbie Hanna of
Belfast Lough, who finished 52nd, to the Games.
At home, although a much talked about French armada was scheduled to drop
anchor off Ireland’s eye it has so far failed to materialise. But even if
the prospect of French attack at the Irish championships in May was just
sabre rattling Irish Cruiser chief Fintan Cairns is taking no chances.
He has sent out an alert for Géry Trentesaux’s team who plan to use several
regattas in these islands in the build up to their defence of June’s
Commodore’s Cup at Cowes.
Radio silence from across the channel has done nothing to dent preparations
for the SAAB sponsored Cruiser National championships that runs from May
9-16 at Howth with boats from O’Rourkes home port of Kilrush and the Royal
Western YC also expected to push the fleet over the 100-mark.
This year the emphasis is very much on all comers with racing provided for
classes zero, one, two and three. Although class zero may yet have
international participation it is certain to feature Ireland’s Commodore’s
cup entries but it will also be possible to race for championship honours
without an endorsed racing certificate under ECHO handicap. There are forty
entries to date and Cairns expects a rush before March 29th deadline for
skippers (even French ones) to avail of a 30 per cent discount on entries at
There will be at least three Irish boats at this weekend’s Red Funnel
regatta in Cowes and all sailing Jason Ker designed boats. Anthony O’Leary
on the 39 foot Antix Eile, Conor and Denise Phelan’s 37-foot Ker Jump Juice
and Eamon Crosbie’s 32-foot Voodoo Chile. The Spring regatta is seen as an
important start to preparations for the Commodore's cup in which Ireland
will have three teams.
Wicklow Sailing Club say Colm Barrington’s unbeaten 76 hour record in the
BMW Round Ireland race -set as far back as 1998 - will be challenged again
in June 21 and this time by Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard 3 who holds the
Fastnet race record.