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Sorry Mate, You're History

30th June 2012
Sorry Mate, You're History

#VOR It's a cruel world. The Volvo 70 racers arrive in to Galway next week, and it's their last hurrah. A week today, around lunchtime, they'll become utterly obsolete after their final race of the current series, an in-port event off the City of the Tribes.

With that little sprint concluded, and the overall winners honoured in gala style, we'll all then be expected to hail the concept of the new Volvo 65s, a fleet of one designs which will start hitting the water a year hence, with a new boat being launched every seven weeks until there are eight of them, ready to roll in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014.

The idea is that it will bring costs within manageable limits. Or at least the limits can be more clearly defined. But they'll still be fairly crazy by everyday standards, even if not remotely comparable with the moolah required to keep a Formula 1 campaign on the road, or transfer your average footballer.

For wannabee contenders, it's welcome news. But for those who see the Volvo races as being the cutting edge of boat design development, it has to be a retrograde step, as having a box design (albeit within fairly severely restrained limits) did push the concepts down the road from fantasy to actuality, whereas one design should in theory make everyone equal, if unexcitingly the same.

Meanwhile, with questions being asked about just how Galway and Ireland will recoup the costs being incurred for the current jamboree, it arouses mixed feelings to learn that the financial challenge will be manageable in the future. We've enough financial challenges to deal with right now, thank you very much, before we can get worked up about getting more bang for our bucks going forward.

But we have to applaud the chutzpah of the international marine industry around the Solent area in the south of England for this turn of events. The new boats will all be built by Greene Marine of Lymington and Southampton. And we can be fairly sure that many key personnel involved, whether afloat or ashore, will be Solent-based, even if they originated from every corner of the planet.

Ironically (that's the politest word we can use of this situation), the Brits themselves don't have a boat in the current race. In fact, they haven't been seriously involved at national entry level for a long time. But their advanced marine industry has done very nicely, thank you, out of the Volvo Race over the years.

Here in Ireland, however, the supporters will have to do an awful lot of partying down Corrib way simply to keep the Irish Volvo Race show on the road. Happily, recent experience gained by fans in Poland, the Ukraine, and New Zealand will be invaluable.

With the final results being totted this weekend for the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, the predictions here last weekend that Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens or French skipper Laurent Gouy's Ker 39 Inismor (of Clifden, among other places) proved to be spot on.

Aspiring offshore racers would do well to study everything about the Tonnere and Inismor campaigns. In a race which eventually comes down to making fewer mistakes than anyone else, they seldom put a foot wrong. Sailing at this level is a pleasure to watch. But with the Irish weather in a cussed mood and fog plaguing much of our coastline, very few saw Tonnere de Breskens and Inismor going so beautifully and purposefully about their business.

W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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