#genuineprospects – If you're contemplating a gentle summer holiday in the south of England in August, forget it. Unless, that is, you see wind and rain of the kind experienced there during the past fortnight as being an essential part of the vacation experience.
With the green and pleasant land becoming grey and soggy and wind-battered last week, Irish teams felt at home and made hay in the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at Weymouth. It's the final main event in the countdown to the Olympics at the same venue in August, and went so well for our sailors that by Saturday night the Irish squad were in dazed contemplation of a new store of precious metals.
A Gold Medal for Peter O'Leary and David Burrows in the Star, and Bronze for Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial. As a bonus, the 49er crew, northerners Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern, won their fleet and placed seventh overall - their best yet – in the main division.
If this is the kind of scoreline which can be obtained when the going is very bad weatherwise, then let's have more of it. Let's have medals galore even if horrible weather is a key ingredient. Certainly, some of the Irish sailing and Olympic community are praying for such weather in August on a daily basis. And if that fouls up your beachtime in Bognor – tough.
But we should be careful what we wish for. It wasn't wall-to-wall bad weather. The final section last Saturday, the all-important Medal Races, saw the English Channel in classic lively good humour. A sunny breezy day with a good sou'west breeze, 15 knots in the morning, pushing to a brisk and gear-breaking 23 knots after noon, a testing buildup.
The O'Leary-Burrows leap from third into Gold was achieved partly by the duel between the overnight leaders. Britain's Ian Percy and Bart Simpson had been one point ahead of Brazil's Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. Then the Brazilians uncharacteristically got themselves into a knot, and had to throw a penalty turn. But Percy and Simpson stayed with them for covering purposes so closely that the Irish team were able to build on a correct tactical decision in the first beat, emerging as deservedly clear and triumphant winners.
Annalise Murphy showed her power in a breeze, and she moved onto the podium, while the Seaton-McGovern progression continued on its merry upward trajectory through the 49er class.
A less happy 49er sailor is Iker Martinez, whose perfect 2012 programme would have been to clinch his early lead in the Volvo Ocean Race at its Galways finish at the end of June, and then go on to race for Spain in the Olympics in the 49er in August.
It was all going along as planned, with Martinez in Telefonica flying the flag with steady success in the first half of the Volvo stages. But in the final stages his campaign has gone wobbled. Most embarrassingly for an Olympian, the inshore racing has been his Achilles heel. Last weekend in Lisbon was excruciating with his rattled crew dropping a sail over the side, and the boat placing last to drop more points, points hard won over thousands of miles of ocean.
Race leaders Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, with Kerry's Damian Foxall onboard lead the fleet at full speed, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race Photo: Paul Todd
Franck Cammas and Damian Foxall with Groupama have gone from strength to strength and top the leaderboard with 189 points to Telefonica's 181. But now with the fleet racing back from rounding the Azores and on towards Lorient, Telefonica is once more in charge, but placings are mighty close in very rugged conditions.
The 2012 ITC Lambay Race at Howth, with a fleet of more than a hundred, saw overall victory for Dun Laoghaire, the Lambay Lady Trophy going to the First 31.7 Blue Fin 2 (Bernie Bryson and Mia Delaney, National YC) after a race so fast the sunshine only caught up with the fleet at the finish.
W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays