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Displaying items by tag: Sailor of the Month

Ace navigator and tactician Ian Moore, originally of Carrickfergus but long based in Cowes, is first choice as navigator/tactician for any serious international offshore campaign. Last year, he guided the RP 63 Lucky for a stunning win in the Transatlantic Race, and was also calling the shots on the Maxi 72 overall Champion after playing a key role in Bella Mente’s domination of Cowes Week.

The only fly in the perfection of 2015’s ointment was losing the overall win in the Rolex Middle Sea Race with Vincenzo Onorato’s Cookson 50 Latino Mascalzone by just nine seconds. But all that was put right at the end of October 2016 in Valetta, when Latino Mascalzone was declared overall winner of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016 by a very handsome margin.

And it was a classic Moore success. Mascalzone Latino’s crew knew that at a crucial stage of the race, a 50 degree windshift was approaching. The Moore speciality is in placing the boat in the best possible position to maximize advantage from any new wind direction, and this year’s Middle Sea Race provided him with the opportunity to give a masterclass in hitting the change spot on.

In all, it was a great race for those old warhorses the Cookson 50s, as another one was tops in ORC. And Irish sailors had a good time of it too, with ex-Pat Barry Hurley of the RIYC and Kenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School crewing on the XP 44 Xp-Act, which came second in Class 4. But as the bubbles settle and the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2016 gets the full analysis from the number crunchers, it is Ian Mooore’s calling of the shots on Latino Mascalzone which clearly makes him the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for October.

ian moore2Ian Moore of Carrickfergus is among the top navigators in the world

 

Published in Sailor of the Month

In a year in which one of our 'Sailor of the Month' awards went to America’s irrepressible George David for his fabulous overall victory in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 in Rambler 88, we see no reason at all why we shouldn’t extend the same accolade to another overseas sailor who has not only achieved regular success in Irish waters during the past season, but over the years has contributed enormously to the pleasure everyone gets in sailing the Irish Sea.

You don’t get to win the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association Annual Championship without being a steady and regular competitor and a very capable skipper, and Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli has been all of those things for many years, rounding out a busy 2016 season by winning the ISORA Championship in the last race of all with his J/109 Sgrech.

He has done this with a crew drawn from both sides of the Irish Sea. Indeed, it is one of the most attractive features of ISORA that several boats are based on crew panels from the two sides of the channel. The Brotherhood of the Sea is alive and well in ISORA, and when the fleet is racing to or from Pwllheli, they are well aware that in a different shoreside guise, Stephen Tudor has played a key role in transforming the waterfront and marina facilities in that pleasant port on the Snowdon Riviera where he has been a member of the Pwllheli SC since the age of eight, helping to make him a very worthy Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month (Offshore)” for September 2016.

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The conditions for the KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dublin Bay could be tough. Not because the weather was severe, but because the wind kept taking off just when everyone hoped they’d settled into some good racing. Frustration takes it toll on competitors and Race Officers alike, and when it was reckoned that the only way to make a real series out of it was to start getting the fleet afloat at 0800 hrs on the final Saturday and put in three races while conditions suited, the pressure was stepped up even further.

In such situations, some get fussed, some stay cool, and some actually seem to thrive. Ewan MacMahon (17) of Howth fitted in somewhere between the latter two categories. While American Henry Marshall seemed assured of the Youth Gold, MacMahon was going so well that his most enthusiastic supporters felt he might sail straight up through the Silver and on into Gold.

That was expecting a bit much, but his winning of the Silver Medal was done in real style to emphatically confirm Ewan MacMahon as “Sailor of the Month (Racing)” for July.

Published in Sailor of the Month

It was a real light-bulb moment when the initial notion of the brilliant idea which became the Beaufort Cup first surfaced. The concept of a series-within-a-series, a special programme for offshore racers crewed at least 50% by members of the Defence Forces within the overall umbrella of Volvo Cork Week, had a lot going for it from Day One.

As it developed, it became better and better, with the net spreading wider to include the lifeboats and the coastguards and other emergency services with a maritime angle. Thus the success of the event – which started with a 140-miles offshore race from the Naval Base in Cork Harbour round the Fastnet Rock, and ashore included the highlight of a black-tie dinner in the Officer’s Mess on Haulbowline – seems so obvious in hindsight. Yet it was such a novel idea when initially launched with just six months to go that the organisers thought they’d do well to muster three or four boats.

But it captured the imagination of the sailing community such that 12 competitive boats became available. And once it was under way, it captured public imagination too – there was something specially attractive about men of war and people who usually deal with maritime emergencies going to sea for sport and fun.

As this unusual sailing competition unfolded within the ambit of Volvo Cork Week, we found it attracted special attention. It merits a Special Award. And as we have to put one name to the Afloat.ie Special Award for July 2016, it goes to Commandant Barry Byrne who skippered the J/109 Joker 2, first winner of the Beaufort Cup, crewed almost entirely by members of the Defence Forces. But in truth the Special Award goes to everyone who was involved in adding this visionary event to the Irish sailing calendar.

Published in Sailor of the Month

Finn Lynch (20) of County Carlow is the Afloat.ie Olympic “Sailor of the Month” for May, following his arduous and often lonely journey to succeed in taking over Ireland’s already-secured place in the International Laser Class in the 2016 Olympics Games, scheduled for August in Rio de Janeiro.

A year ago, few would have rated Lynch’s chances very highly. An extremely promising junior sailor, he had hit the “Cadet-level Ceiling” where virtually no funding is available for international competition and coaching for anyone caught between the highly-organised, parentally-supported junior level, and the early stages of the full-blown Olympic programme.

But having been “adopted” by the National Yacht Club, fund-raising was undertaken on Lynch’s behalf by an informal organisation set up by Carmel Winkelmann NYC and friends, and between April 2015 and June 2016, €40,000 has been raised to send Lynch to key events and coaching sessions.

Nevertheless the likelihood of Finn Lynch actually taking the Irish Olympic place originally secured by James Espey was only a distant possibility. The point of the campaign was to encourage the growth of Lynch’s talent as much as possible. Postponement in some sort of soul-destroying limbo was not an option. And Finn Lynch, with his soaring performance and extraordinary ability to focus on the task in hand, not only soared, but he took over Ireland’s Olympic place at the Laser Worlds in Mexico on Wednesday May 18th 2016.

It was an exceptional breakthrough, and it evoked a response of exemplary generosity and good sportsmanship from Belfast Lough sailor James Espey in a posting on Facebook:

“Pretty gutted that a tough week here at the World Championships means I won't be representing Ireland at the Olympic Games this time around. Nervous to give up the spot I earned in Santander, and the lead I had going into this week meant I was vulnerable on the race course in the early days and couldn't come back from it.
A fall at the last hurdle... but well done to Finn Lynch Sailing for taking up the spot and our flag at the Games.
It's been a real honour to race against Laser sailors from all over the world these past eight years, and what a blast it has been! I couldn't have made a better group of friends, both in this class and in the rest of the classes of our traveling circus, and for that I will be forever grateful (and hopefully will have people to visit around the world for life). Special thanks to my training partners and coaches over the years, you all know who you are and I hope you have as many great memories of our times as I do.
A limitless thanks to all of my supporters, my friends and family back home. I couldn't have done this without you, and the only consolation for not making the Games is that I'll get to be home with you all sooner to show my thanks in person.
I'm looking forward to all the great sailing I'm going to get to do in the future - may try out a couple more classes than just this hiking beast!
See you all on the race course,
 Bapsy”

Published in Sailor of the Month

Shane McCarthy of Greystones is the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month (non-Olympic) for April following his stunning overall win in the GP 14 Worlds in Barbados. McCarthy was already on a roll after winning the British Opens in August last year at Brixham in Devon, a victory which in turn followed on a previous success in winning the Irish title. But his success in early April in the Worlds in Barbados – a win in which he was crewed by England’s Andy “Taxi” Davies – takes the Greystones sailor onto a new level of performance.

And it is in turn yet another feather in the cap of Greytones Sailing Club, which is rapidly moving up the index of top dinghy sailing clubs in Ireland. For McCarthy, the logistical challenge of getting a worthwhile campaign to the Caribbean was something which would have discouraged many club sailors. But thanks to the strong International GP14 Class organisation with a contingent of 22 boats and its spirit of mutual help and support, the Greystones skipper emerged in Barbados in exactly the right frame of mind and physical fitness to put in a textbook campaign for Gold to make him a very worthy Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month for April 2016.

Published in Sailor of the Month

April has come upon us with so many podium positions suddenly taken by Irish sailors in major events that you could have been forgiven for thinking that our usual April 1st specials had been allowed to run on for a day or two extra writes W M Nixon. But before fully savouring the new successes, we must bid a final farewell to March, which had its moments of extreme excitement - and some taking of silverware too.

Nothing was more extreme than the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from March 25th to 27th, with the tail-end of the winter providing one final ferocious flick for a fleet which included several bats with Irish connections And within the series, nothing was more extreme than Black Sunday, March 27th, when hyper- black striker squalls of the kind that would make you wonder if the roof on the house was safe, let alone if you could carry extra downwind sails on the boat, were top of the agenda as they swept in at record speeds.

Yet Black Sunday was the best day for the Irish, with two wins being recorded in the final race. Until then, Anthony O’Leary’s Kery 40 Antix in the Fast40+ division had been had been out of the frame – albeit by a small margin – by what the owner had cheerfully admitted to be “silly mistakes”. But on that final day as mayhem was the experience of most of the fleet, Antix was beautifully in control at top performance, tearing up the Solent in a blaze of spray to take the final race win, though she wasn’t to finish first overall.

But in Class 2, Conor Phelan’s 2008-vintage Ker 36 Jump Juice had been lying second throughout the series, despite being up against some superbly-sailed boats which included America’s Cup sailors among their crews. Yet even the AC aces found themselves wiping out in spectacular style on Black Sunday, while Jump Juice streaked along in cool control to take the race win and the Class win overall to make Conor Phelan of Royal Cork YC the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for March 2016.

Published in Sailor of the Month

At February 19th’s AGM of the Irish Cruising Club, Alan Rountree of Wicklow was awarded two trophies of great distinction independently of each other. The ICC’s East Coast group nominated him for the Donegan Memorial Cup, which is for an outstanding contributor to cruising from their sector of the nationwide membership. It went to the Wicklow man in recognition of his 55,000 miles of very varied cruising since he first launched his own-built Legend 34 Tallulah in 1987, sailing on many coasts of Europe and going out to the Azores and north to the Faroes too.

And Hilary Keatinge, adjudicator of the ICC’s annual log competition in what was a particularly good year for outstanding cruising achievement - many to very remote places - nevertheless awarded the premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to Rountree for his 3,120 mile venture in 2015 to the Azores, where he cruised the islands in detail with different crews at different times, and then sailed home single-handed.

Talk to Alan Rountree about his life experience, and you find you’re contemplating a universe. Stainless steel is his speciality, but though he was MD of Newbridge Silverware & Cutlery at the age of 26 with nearly 500 employees beavering away in County Kildare, in the end he preferred to run his own smaller show with a production unit beside a house he’d built himself in the heart of the Wicklow Hills.

He came to sailing through the unusual route of building himself a currach, then cruising to and camping on any rock or island on Ireland’s west coast big enough for a tent with a beach or inlet which would shelter the boat. But one foggy summer’s morning at Clare Island with the currach, he saw a proper cruising yacht making herself ready for a Transatlantic passage, and decided cruising under sail was for him.

He started asking questions – “Just keep asking questions, and be really interested in the answers, and you’ll learn a lot” is his mantra - and decided that a van de Stadt Legend 34 from BJ Marine in Dublin would best meet his needs. But being Alan Rountree, he wanted to build her from scratch, as his “country complex” in Wicklow now included the necessary boatshed/workshop. So Bernard Gallagher of BJ Marine simply lent him the moulds with the throwaway line that once Alan had the hull finished, he’d find himself putting lots of business BJ Marine’s way for extra bits and pieces. They’ve been friends ever since.

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Nearing perfection. Tallulah as she’d become by 2007, seen here in Aldan in Galicia. But owner Alan Rountree continues to make improvements, and after losing his sprayhood in a Force 9-plus while returning from the Azores in August 2015, Tallulah will be launched at the end of this month fitted with a new own-built GRP sprayhood.

When Tallulah was launched in 1987 after five years work “off and on”, she set a standard which few DIY projects remotely match. And as for learning to sail, Alan had done a cruise in West Cork in the summer of 1986 on a charter boat with a professional skipper. It took place during the mayhem of Hurricane Charlie,and as Alan drily remarks: “I learnt a lot, and I kept asking questions when we weren’t totally busy with saving the boat”.

In his 29 years of cruising with Tallulah, he’s had a policy of making improvements every winter, and by the early noughties she was nearing perfection. He has now been out to Galicia ten times, one of his favourite areas, he’s been north to Norway and the Faroes, and he took in the Azores in 1991, though the boat was rolled through 360 degrees in a massive storm while homeward bound across the continental shelf, but she emerged relatively unscathed.

But even Alan Rountree finds the years are catching up with him, so for 2015 he signed on Greg McGarry (who’s more into horses, but is clearly a great cook) for another voyage out to the Azores while the going is still good. And though they’d expected to take the traditional approach of going first to northwest Spain and then cutting westward to the islands, they carried a fair nor’easter direct to the Azores all the way from Ireland. Out there, Tallulah cruised the islands with a variety of crew including Alan’s wife Angela. But then as anticipated, he planned the 1,100 mile passage home single-handed, but he expected this time to definitely take in northwest Spain as a staging post.

However, all the forecasts for the direct route were for sou’westers of not more than Force 6 and mostly less, so he went for it, and after near calms in the Azores (which he reports as having been notably hotter than in 1991), a breeze from the sou’west was more than welcome. But it just built and built as a localised low developed into a proper storm, and he’d Force 9 for three days.

Fortunately one of the winter mods had been asking sailmaker Philip Watson to put a fourth reef in the main, and it was under this very short sail and nothing else that Tallulah continued on her way, for Alan subscribes to Bernard Moitessier’s theory that in a storm you’re going to be bashed by rogue waves no matter what you do, so you might as well keep going.

His trusty Aries self-steering – which he has much reinforced – kept going, and though other damage was sustained such as losing most of the sprayhood, the home-made boat from the Wicklow Hills came through with flying colours. As for being single-handed, in typical style the skipper observes that as he’d to sleep as best he could on the relative safety of the cabin sole, there wasn’t room there for anyone else, and if anything needed doing in the cockpit, an extra hand would have only got in the way……..

So Alan Rountree is our February 2016 “Sailor of the Month (Cruising)” simply for being Alan Rountree as much as for receiving the ICC’s top award. The word from the heart of Wicklow is that, snug in her shed, Tallulah has already received her first coats of varnish in anticipation of launching as usual at the end of March. And she’ll also be sporting a new extra-strong glassfibre sprayhood, the latest product of Rountree Marine Industries. The Odyssey continues.

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Early days. A younger Alan Rountree testing the new Tallulah’s Aries self-steering gear in a breezy day off the Wicklow coast.

Published in Sailor of the Month

When Conor Fogerty’s beamy new Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 Bam first appeared on Howth Marina, most observers wanted to like her. After the grey years of the recession, BAM was like a breath of fresh air, a wonderful free-wheeling yet mainstream take on the all-conquering JPK range, with the same twin rudder configuration. Yet by being from Jeanneau, she had an air of accessibility, whereas you’ve to queue for a JPK.

Nevertheless it was clear that the short-leg courses of the racing in the greater Dublin region were scarcely going to allow her to spread her wings, and even in longer ISORA events, much of the time you’re unlikely to get a pronged period of the kind of conditions that allow BAM to fly, and sail up to and beyond her rating.

somfebr2
BAM in Dublin Bay. She looked great, but gave every indication of needing wide open spaces, plenty of breeze, and preferably a bit of sunshine to give of her best.

But with a mighty leap, our hero freed himself. BAM and her skipper and some mates took off in the Autumn, and scampered across the Atlantic in the ARC to line themselves up for the RORC Caribbean 600 at Antigua on Monday February 22nd.

In the race, BAM was never out of the frame, and other Irish-crewed boats doing well too. But while most of the other Irish personnel had crossed the Atlantic in comfortable big jetliner style, there was the little BAM racing her heart out after sailing every inch of the way from Howth just to get there. It was inspirational stuff, brought to a perfect conclusion with the IRC 3 overall win.

The story will go on, and BAM’s skipper has further projects to implement during his Atlantic circuit venture. But for now, Conor Fogerty is a very worthy “Sailor of the Month (Racing)” for February 2016.

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Wishing him well – Howth YC Commodore Brian Turvey with Conor Fogerty at a party in the clubhouse to send BAM on her way across the Atlantic last year. Brian Turvey later caught up with BAM and her crew in Antigua in late February, having jetted out to join the Howth crew on the First 40 Southern Child which finished third in IRC 2 in the RORC Caribbean 600 2016.

Published in Sailor of the Month

It’s that time of year again. Deciding on la crème de la crème is never easy. And in a vehicle sport like sailing where so many elements beyond athletic ability and the capacity for quick thinking are involved, it can be surprising and reassuring just how widely the net can be cast. W M Nixon takes a look over the runners and riders, all of whom have already been winners for one glorious month regardless of who becomes the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2015 at the Annual ISA Sailing Awards Ceremony in the RCSI on Thursday, February 4th 2016.

JANUARY – CONOR CLARKEClarke2

Conor Clarke, who cut his sailing teeth on Dublin Bay, was our Sailor of the Month for January after a dream debut at the Key West Regatta with his Melges 24 Embarr. In fact, “dream” is the theme of the story, as they made their debut in the kind of conditions you could only fantasise about in mid-January Dublin, with 18 knots of breeze in an air temperature of 25 degrees and sunshine sparkling on the bluest sea imaginable.

Cheerfully admitting that the Key West event had long been on his bucket list, Clarke had also brought out a dream team of all the talents with 470 Olympic hopefuls Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes as helmsman and tactician, while Maurice Prof O’Connell was there to knock them back into shape, particularly in the one race when things went pear-shaped, when the Prof did it to such good effect that that they went up through the fleet from the crab grass to battling for the lead against the Norwegian crew at the last gybe. They went on to win overall with one race to spare, but they raced that anyway.

FEBRUARY – NEIL HEGARTYsomfeb2

Neil Hegarty of Cork was awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s historic premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, as February drew to a close. A former dinghy sailor who was at the front of the fleet both as crew and helm in boats as diverse as IDRA 14s, Enterprises and 505s, Hegarty went on to campaign keelboats with the J/24 and Impala 28 fleets. He has since graduated with aplomb into long distance voyaging and detailed cruising in exotic locations with his 2003 Dufour 34 Shelduck.

His award-winning 2014 cruise was Transatlantic from Cascais in Portugal via the Canaries to the Caribbean, which was then cruised in detail including Cuba, followed by island and port-hopping along the East Coast USA until eventually the boat was laid up in advance of the hurricane season near the Chesapeake.
In the finest traditions of cruising, he not only kept an informative log, but at its conclusion he made a detailed analysis of all the special equipment which he had found particularly useful during this exemplary voyage.

MARCH – FIONN LYDEN

Fionn  Lyden

Fionn Lyden (19) of Baltimore became March’s winner by ushering in the new month with a stellar role in bringing University College Cork’s First Team to overall victory in the decidedly breezy Intervarsity Team Racing Nationals at Schull from February 27th to March 1st.

Of all forms of sailing, this is of course the most group-oriented. But Lyden’s achievement emerged above the efforts of his team mates with his additional acclamation as First Year Sailor of the Year from among the large turnout at the championship. Indeed, everyone – both participants and organisers alike – deserved an award at a series in which the highly-regarded Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre and a large team of volunteers skillfully dealt with deteriorating conditions to get a worthwhile result.

APRIL – ANTHONY O’LEARYolear1

'Afloat.ie Sailor of the Year 2014' Anthony O’Leary of Royal Cork YC started his 2015 season in winning style by book-ending April with a runaway overall victory in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from April 3rd to 5th as the new month got under way, and then rounding it out with a convincing win in the Brooks Macdonald Warsash Spring Championship, a twelve race series which concluded on Sunday April 26th.

O’Leary’s new Antix was the unmistakably Munster red state-of-the-art Ker 40 which was formerly Catapult, key member of Ireland’s winning 2014 Commodore’s Cup Team, in which she was also the top individual points scorer. Most of the crew were very new to the boat, but the results speak for themselves, and by the end of the month, the remarkable new Antix with her very dished stern was being sailed as though the crew had been with her for at least a year.

As for their skipper, he showed his versatility by retaining the All Ireland Helmsman’s Championship in October by a convincing margin racing the SailFleet J/80s.

MAY – ROB McCONNELL fools gold scotland

May 2015 was a good month for Dunmore East, with the confirmation that the long-awaited dredging of this pretty fishing/sailing port – a €6 million contract – would swing into action in June, and then from far-off Scotland came the news that one of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club’s most popular and enthusiastic skippers had emerged as overall winner of the Silvers Scottish Series 2015.

Rob McConnell is well-known at all Ireland’s main sailing centres, as he campaigns his A35 Fool’s Gold with targeted campaigns of skill - coupled with sheer joy in sailing - in any event which can be fitted into a busy schedule. Crewed by friends who may be from all parts of Ireland but undoubtedly have a Dunmore East emphasis, he can be relied on to be always in the frame on the leaderboard, and in line with this approach, The Scottish Series was regarded as unfinished business after Fool’s Gold finished second overall in 2014, and in 20215 they clinched it in style.

MAY INTERNATIONAL AWARD – SIDNEY GAVIGNETOman crew

When a round Ireland record has stood for nearly 22 years, clearly it is something very special, and the 44 hour time set by Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota in 1993 - a venture engineered by Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey who were in Lakota’s crew - had withstood several challenges, including three by top French skipper Sidney Gavignet.

And it was Ireland’s own Damian Foxall – a frequent shipmate of Gavignet – who first got Gavignet hooked on the challenge of the round Ireland record. So it was ironic that a mid-race call to Foxall to beef up one of the crews in the Volvo Ocean Race meant he was unavoidably absent on other business when Gavignet saw the opportunity developing for the MOD 70 Musandam-Oman to knock off the Ireland target at the beginning of May. That month of notably atrocious weather provided one of those rare but perfect record conditions where a deep low pressure area sat plumb over the country on May 4th.

Donegal proved to be obtuse, but Gavignet and his crew were soon making up lost time as they streaked down the Connacht coast in a strong nor’wester, and though they were well shy of taking the originally anticipated ten hours off Lakota’s time when they returned to the finish line at the Kish L/H off Dublin Bay, they’d got down to within shouting distance of 40 hours in rugged sailing.

JUNE – LIAM SHANAHANliam shanahanD2D

The comprehensive overall victory in the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race by Liam Shanahan in his family’s J/109 Ruth was the highlight of a busy month of Irish sailing in June, with Ruth emerging as winner in the last fifty miles of racing after a head-to-head all round the course on three coasts of Ireland with sister-ship Mojito.

When Ruth finally crossed the finish line at the entrance to Dingle Harbour at 1945hrs on the summery evening of Sunday June 14th, she and her crew had been racing at a high level of sustained intensity for forty-seven and three-quarter hours. Their reward was in knowing that on corrected time they’d beaten all four larger boats already in port, while their closest rival Mojito was a clear two miles astern. It was the duel between Ruth and Mojito which set them apart in every sense, and the heightened performance it provided made Liam Shanahan a very worthy Sailor of the Month.

JUNE INTERNATIONAL AWARD – JUSTIN SLATTERYJustin Slattery1

The clear win by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 was achieved by solid consistency in the classic “good series” style favoured by regular champion sailors. Except that, instead of being a pleasant five day championship regatta staged at some agreeable summer venue, the Volvo Ocean Race was made up of nine legs which took the fleet right round the world, getting them south of both Good Hope and Cape Horn, yet also back north again across the equator.

In such a challenge, a mixture of experience and exceptional sailing talent is at a premium, and Ireland’s Justin Slattery (40) has both in abundance. He was a key crew member aboard Abu Dhabi, which was well placed top of the leaderboard with a scoreline of 1,3,2,2,1 after the first five legs. But with four legs still to be raced, experience became the key ingredient, as the leading boat has to defend her position against a chasing fleet with three close contenders.

But the crew of Abu Dhabi kept their cool, they kept their boat intact too, and they sailed on to win overall by 24 points to the 29 of Team Brunel and the 33 of Dongfeng Race Team, making Justin Slattery the winner of an Afloat.ie International Award for June 2015.

JULY – RACING – GEORGE SISKWOW ICRA champion

George Sisk of Dun Laoghaire was Sailor of the Month (Racing) for July with his Farr 42 WOW already having a glorious season with victory at Kinsale in June two weeks before she was declared Top Boat at the conclusion of the often breezy four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July. To achieve this, WOW and her veteran crew (some of them very veteran indeed) had won three of the four demanding offshore races, further demonstrating that this is their preferred area of sailing - four weeks earlier they’d notched up a good Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in an event in which size benefits meant that the J/109s were ideal for the course and the conditions.

But if needs be, the gallant old codgers on WOW have shown they can cut the mustard in close-fought inshore contests, with the well-tested Farr 42 revelling in the fresh winds.

George Sisk has been making an exceptional contribution to Irish offshore racing since the late 1960s, and he has done it in a fascinating range of boats of several sizes, and many types. Yet through several boat changes, his longtime crewing panel has reflected his personal popularity and an admirable loyalty to old friends and shipmates. He sets an example which any sailing enthusiast could usefully follow, and his own quiet but steady and determined enthusiasm for our sport is inspiring.

JULY – CRUISING – NATHANIEL & FERGUS OGDENlugger round ireland

When the Ogden brothers (Nathaniel (23) and Fergus (16) sailed their 18ft Drascombe Lugger Lughnasa in to their home port of Baltimore to berth at the new in-harbour pontoon in the evening sunshine of Wednesday July 29th, a casual observer might well have thought that this was just another characterful Drascombe concluding a couple of hours of sailing in weather which had, albeit briefly, been much better than that experienced for most of July.

But Lughnasa was successfully completing an eight weeks voyage of clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland. Sailed as a fund-raiser for the RNLI, the voyage would have been quite something for a Drascombe Lugger in a reasonably normal summer. In the exceptionally bad weather of 2015, it was an extraordinary achievement.

On every coastline of Ireland, the brothers had to contend with adverse conditions at some stage, and often for long periods. Even when they finally reached the home stages of the final passages along the coast of West Cork, 2015’s weather demons hadn’t finished with them, as one of the roughest passages of the entire cruise involved getting round the Old Head of Kinsale from Kinsale itself, and battling on westward towards Baltimore and home.

AUGUST – OFFSHORE – RONAN O SIOCHRURONAN OSIOCHRU copy

The Rolex Fastnet Race offers an ideal “living lesson” for the increasing number of offshore sailing schools in Europe, providing as it does clear stipulations of the basic requirements for those hoping to take part. This means that a beginner to sailing in May of a Fastnet Race year can aspire to take part in the historic race in August if he or she has stayed with an offshore sailing school’s gruelling course of training and participation in distance races in the build–up to the start of the 608-mile marathon off Cowes.

Nevertheless when you get your Irish offshore sailing school boat down to the Solent, the Fastnet start will bring with it the realisation that not only are you up against the crème de la crème of international offshore racing, but there are many other offshore sailing schools also taking part, and some of them are sailing seriously modern heavy metal.

So when, with only an hour or so to go to the prize-giving of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in Plymouth on the evening of Friday August 21st, it emerged that the recently-finished Class 4 Jeanneau Sunfast 37 Desert Star of the Dun Laoghaire-based Irish Offshore Sailing was winner of the Roger Justice Trophy for the best-placed sailing school boat in the entire fleet which included 33 sailing school boats, and was additionally second overall of all the Irish entries, it was the stuff of dreams.

Desert Star’s crew were Louise Gray, David McDonnell, Rupert Barry, David Garforth, Symeon Charalabides and Sam Lamont, while the first mate was Kristian Aderman and the skipper/chief instructor was Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing.Ronan O Siochru, our Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for August.

For someone who was once a schoolboy who had to hitchike from the family home in Bishopstown in Cork down to Kinsale to pursue his dream of sailing, it was a great achievement.

AUGUST – INSHORE – SHANE McCARTHY & ANDY THOMPSONgp14 shane mcCarthy

2015 was very much the year for the GP14 dinghy at the top levels of the popularity polls in Irish dinghy sailing. And it has also been the year in which Greystones Sailing Club have been flexing their muscles both as a hotbed of dinghy racing, and as a popular addition to the list of centres for keelboat activity with the new marina bedding in.

These positive themes united in the Greystones GP 14 crew of Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson. Their sailing year started well with wins in the season’s early regional events, they had their skills further sharpened in the large GP14 fleet racing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and then their campaigning really started to sing with the British GP 14 Nationals at Brixham in Devon in the first week of August.

Although only a small contingent of Irish boats travelled to this big championship, McCarthy & Thompson led the charge to such good effect that they had the title won outright without having to sail the final race.

AUGUST – INTERNATIONAL – DAVE CULLENcheckmate half ton champion

Dave Cullen of Howth is well-known in sailing circles as an affable bloke whose amiable appearance disguises a very keen determination to win. And in Irish business life, his management style at Euro Car Parks is so highly regarded that the company regularly features in the frame in those annual competitions for “best place to work in Ireland”.

Both these aspects of the Cullen way of life came together when he and his team took his Classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV to the Worlds at Nieuwpoort in Belgium from 17th to 21st August. For sure he had some of the best sailors in Ireland in his crew. But then such people wouldn’t join any crew unless they were certain that their skipper was in Belgium on serious racing business, and not just in pursuit of fun.

It says everything about the Cullen style that not only did his carefully assembled campaign win the championship with a race to spare, but he personally was one of the most popular owner-skippers in the entire fleet, a friend to all and more than ready to give practical assistance to the opposition if required.

SEPTEMBER – DAVID GORMAN & CHRIS DOORLYgorman doorly All ireland

Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly of the National Yacht Club were our “Sailors of the Month” for September on the basis of a great half hour or so of sailing in Dublin Bay on the morning of Sunday 13th September.

Anyone who read Chris Doorly’s riveting account on Afloat.ie of the penultimate race of the Mitsubishi Motors Flying Fifteen Championship, and has raced a sailing boat at any level – whether local, regional, national or international – will have identified totally with this dedicated duo as they sailed their hearts out. And they did it all just to secure a third place, in order to put themselves in the happy position of knowing they were champions without having to sail the last race.

It would be quite something in a club race or a major regatta series. But this was the big one, the Irish Championship with visiting superstar Steve Goacher – three times World Champion – expected to sweep the board. And even if he was off form – which he wasn’t - the class in Dun Laoghaire is now in such vibrant condition, and growing, that the lively home fleet was putting up half a dozen crews who were in there with more than a shout.

But Chris and Dave did it. And being proper sportsmen, they still sailed the last race anyway, but the fact that they were able to discard the fourth place it provided shows the kind of form they’d been in throughout the championship.

It cannot be said too often that winning a series is more a matter of solid consistency than occasional flashes of total brilliance. In the end, though, it can all come down to something so mundane as securing a third place at just the right time. But as Dave and Chris had been lying sixth until they realized the need to up their game, and saw a way of doing so, what they achieved is something we can all identify with.

OCTOBER – DERMOT AND PADDY CRONINencore

Malahide father-and-son crew of Dermot (63) and Paddy (31) Cronin were tops in October after their clearcut win by almost two hours in the IRC Double-Handed Division in the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Sailing their keenly-campaigned First 40.7 Encore, Team Cronin tackled conditions and the opposition as though they were a fully-crewed boat. And though overall it proved to be a race which suited boats around the 50ft mark, the 40ft Encore was very much in contention in her open Class 6 against racers sailed by numerous experienced crews, placing sixth overall out of 18 boats.

This pattern of being a third of the way from the front was continued in the total fleet of 102 contenders, as they placed 37th in an impressive turnout which included all the best offshore racers in the Mediterranean, and such noted international stars as George David’s Rambler 88 (due in Ireland next June in the Round Ireland Race 2016) and the Maxi 72 Momo, which dominated the big boats in the Fastnet Race.

It says everything about the skill and dedication with which Dermot and Paddy raced that we find ourselves easily making comparisons with their showing against the fully-crewed boats, whereas the real story is that they won the Double-Handed Division with plenty of time in hand.

NOVEMBER – TIM GOODBODYgoodbody family

Veteran Royal Irish YC sailor Tim Goodbody became the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for November for his enormous contribution to Irish and international sailing over many decades, both as an active participants, as a race organiser, and as an administrator of leading sailing organisations.

By locating the award in November 2015, we highlighted the fact that at the Dublin Bay SC Annual Prize-Giving on November 15th in the Royal St George YC, three generations of the Goodbody family received major awards. Tim Goodbody’s own Sigma 33 White Mischief not only won overall in the season-long series in Dublin Bay, but also took second overall (by just two points) in Class 3 IRC at the Sovereigns/ICRA Nats at Kinsale.

The timing of the Nats at the end of June could just be fitted into Tim Goodbody’s busy schedule, for as Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 from July 9th to 12th, he was out of personal boat-racing for the next two weeks as the structures of the biggest sailing event in Ireland in many years swung successful into place, with the noted light-but-effective Goodbody management style keeping this very complex event moving smoothly forward to a happy conclusion.
The depth of Tim Goodbody’s commitment to every aspect of sailing is unrivalled. He has campaigned successfully to international level in the Dragon, the J/24 and the Sigma 33, and as well he was lead helm on Irish Independent, the Dubois 40 which was the backbone of Ireland’s 1987 Admirals Cup team - our most successful AC squad ever, they placed fourth out of thirteen teams, while Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall.

Ashore, Tim Goodbody has served as Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, the Royal Alfred YC, and Dublin Bay SC, and for the latter organisation he was the mastermind behind the rationalisation of the courses which enables an enormous fleet to race mostly in the southern half of Dublin Bay clear of the shipping lanes. His benefit to our sport is incalculable, but perhaps his greatest single contribution is the example he sets is in his own smoothly organised, quietly enthusiastic, very successful and highly enjoyable sailing.

DECEMBER

The December 2015 Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” is HERE

Published in W M Nixon
Page 3 of 9

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