Known for its 'no nonsense' approach, the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) returns to where it all started, for the seventh ICRA conference in the Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny this Saturday. For an entirely voluntary organisation, it has achieved a lot for cruiser-racers here since it first set sail in November 2002.
More than anything else, it has become an essential link with regional asscociations such as SCORA, WIORA and ISORA and developed a comaraderie between these coastal organisations. It would be another step forward if, in 2010, it forged stronger links in the North. It is widely consulted by regatta organisers as an authority on rating bands and ICRA acts as ambassador for Irish Cruiser Racing abroad. It has quickly become the de facto authority for the largest component of the sport of sailing in Ireland.
Having established a very successful annual ICRA National Championship format, ICRA will stage its seventh event next May at the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, a turnout is expected to top 100 boats.
Given our smaller poplulation it is worth noting that the ICRA National Championship has exceeded an entry above that of its UK counterpart, the RORC UK IRC National Championships.
Like most sporting bodies these days ICRA is in the market for a title sponsor for this championship since Saab reluctantly withdrew in the current environment. They offer a good return and deserve support.
On Saturday Tralee Bay Sailing Club will present a report on its experience of hosting the National Championships for the first time in Tralee Bay. It is fair to say the ICRA event has firmly established the Kerry water as a preferred top class location for this event. The hospitality of TBSC and the efforts of Commodore Liam Lynch has contributed to this view emerging. TBSC has applied to host ICRA again in 2011.
The format for the conference is intended to be 'interactive' offering all sailors who attend the opportunity to raise constructive issues and influence policy going forward. All sailors are automatically members of ICRA (even without subscription). This is deliberate according to Commodore Barry Rose to reinforce the fact all are welcome to attend.
There has been a call from Wicklow Sailing Club for ICRA to embrace the Round Ireland race as one of its events. Several ICRA sailors already partake. Commodore Charlie Kavanagh has suggested that ICRA should put up a Trophy for their best performing boat and include entry in the race as part of its Annual event programme. Kavanagh believes it would be a positive step for Irish Sailing. Now that it has firmly established itself there is a certain amount of sense in ICRA looking offshore to further represent other forms of cruiser racing.
The conference will end around 4 PM with the presentation of ICRA Boat Of The Year Trophy which is awarded by ICRA Committee and is not decided until on the day. A recent poll on afloat.ie returned a vote heavily in favour of Dave Dwyer's Mariners Cove, the current UK and Irish IRC Champion.