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Solo Round Ireland records end

3rd November 2005
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The National Yacht club is to draw a line under it's ratification of any further solo Round Ireland sailing record attempts following a warning from the Department of the marine advising yachtsmen that they must comply with the rules of the sea and that a proper lookout is to be maintained by sight and hearing at all times.

After a summer of intense activity that saw four attempts on the record and it falling twice in a month, the National Yacht Club acknowledged last night that Belgian pro-sailor, Michel Kleinjan's record, – set only last month in a time of 4 days, 1 hour and 52 minutes – would probably now live on in perpetuity.

Many solo sailors rely to some extent on electronically activated radar alarms to prevent collision with other objects and vessels on the water when they try to catch up on sleep.

The 704 mile record breaking attempts captured the public's imagination and attracted considerable publicity on each outing.

Air Corps Captain Mick Liddy's record run in September earned him the praise of President McAleese for breaking a record that had stood for a decade.

Sleep patterns during the challenges vary but Kleinjans is reported to have got 3-4 hours sleep per day, through half-hour cat naps.

The World speed sailing council's (WSSR) own rules state that "entries must comply with the appropriate safety standards laid down by international marine law and by their country of origin.”

The publicity surrounding the achievements, led to closer scrutiny of the safety of single handed sailing attempts by the authorities.

The impact for future Irish records as a result of the Departments warning was being assessed by the National Yacht club who have been the keeper of all such records.

"My conclusion is that this is the end of solo sailing attempts around this island." said Chris Moore, a former club commodore and the WSSR Irish ratifier of records.

But Solo sailors themselves reject the warning and the notion that they are bad seamen.

"We are all well trained and properly equipped, fishermen in small boats without life jackets pose more of a danger said one sailor who did not wish to be named.

"It did not mean the end of the circuit and the Department's warning was unenforcable" they added.

Solo sailing is growing in popularity and followers argue that further record attempts can still be made in international waters, 14 miles offshore.

Minister Noel Dempsey issued the notice "drawing the attention of all concerned" to the "Statutory Instruments" by which the Irish Authorities can prosecute infringements of the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions (IRPCS) at Sea in Irish waters. The notice goes on to say:

All the requirements of the [IRPCS] apply to solo sailors as they do to any other vessel. In avoiding collision situations solo sailors are required to observe fully the [IRPCS] and to manoeuvre their vessels as required.

The warning could have further knock on effects in other areas of the sport too such as the arrival of the French single-handed Figaro fleet into Crosshaven.

Already the National Yacht club are to ask windsurfing champion Oisin Van Gelderen to seek clearance from the Department before they will ratify his attempt to cross the Irish sea by windsurfer.
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