In his Irish Independent Sailing Column today WM Nixon says the new Tall Ships Race from Dublin will give an intense flavour of the world of Tall Ship sailing.
It's a novel way to get to a football match, but why not? A new Tall Ships Race has been added to this year's programme, and the course is Dublin to Liverpool. This sailing of the ancient sea route is planned to take place after the Tall Ships have made their major visit to Dublin in late August. With the new football season fully under way, fans might want to spice up their regular journeys across the water.
The new event is an add-on to the time-honoured annual programme, which will see the Tall Ships in all their glory conclude their established shared programme with a race from La Coruna in northwest Spain to Dublin, starting on August 13th, with the sea festival in full swing on the Liffey from 22nd August onwards.
Normally, the fleet would then go their various ways after August 26th, so all credit to those who have grasped this opportunity. Assembling a Tall Ships gathering of this calibre in the Irish Sea, with spectacular square riggers like the mighty Mir from Russia, is usually a major organisational challenge. But they'll all be here anyway, so a little jaunt across to Liverpool – they're calling it the Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta – is just the job, particularly as the Merseyside city and the entire northwest of England are planning to lay on the welcome big time.
It's a very manageable option, and we'd expect that many smaller craft will want to sail along with them. For anyone wishing to get an intense first flavour of the world of Tall Ships, it's ideal. Details of places on board are available from dublintallships.com, and irishsailtraning.ie has all the info on the complete programme, with supported berths on offer.
Meanwhile, for those with experience of boats and the sea, a recruiting drive is under way to muster 150 volunteers Ship Liaison Officers to help with the ships and their crews when they arrive in Dublin for that magic time between August 22nd and 26th. When the Tall Ships were last in the Fair City on this scale in 1998, the camaraderie and good will of the skilled waterborne volunteer corps, who had come from all over Ireland, was one of the most highly-praised aspects of the event. Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Ringsend became their lively HQ, and did it so successfully that it became "Club of the Year". Those with marine experience wishing to be part of this new officer group, who will be on the ships rather than in a RIB, are invited to contact dublintallships.ie/volunteers.
They say that if you don't break bits off a racing boat now and again, then she's built overweight. Maybe so, but the current litany of breakages throughout the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race as they plunge southeast from Auckland and round Cape Horn will surely result in a re-think on specifications.
Franck Cammas and Damian Foxall on Groupama sensibly had their breakage a hundred miles before getting to Auckland, and were able to make temporary repairs which maintained their lead in the leg from China. Repaired and reinforced in Auckland, they're now leading in the race round the Horn to Brazil, zooming into the South Atlantic yesterday, chased from 16 miles astern by Kenny Read in Puma. Overall leader Telefonica (Iker Martinez) has suffered bow damage while lying third, and will have to stop in Ushiai for repairs, as will Chris Nicholson's fourth-placed Camper in Chile, while Sanya's broken rudder proved unfixable afloat and they're returned to New Zealand, and the boat will rejoin the race in Miami courtesy of Maersk Shippin and DHL.
As for Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi, they took a midnight capsize in their stride. With all instruments down, they were caught aback in the pitch dark, and suddenly the canting keel was hauling them over rather than keeping them upright. Sea conditions were ferocious, but they managed to sort it – otherwise, it would only have been a matter of time before they sank. Since then, they've sorted hull delamination problems with through bolts and lots of sticky (looks like they've been raiding the hardware section in Woodie's) and they're sailing on, but still in the full power of the Southern Ocean, 1700 miles astern of the leading pair.
W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays