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The wind was very light from a west southwest direction for the second race of Royal Cork's O’Leary Insurances Winter League that took place yesterday in Cork Harbour writes Bob Bateman.

The flooding tide was strong and this did not help a race with many calm spots on the course. Following a short postponement RO’s Clem and Wendy Mc Elligott set course seventy from Adrielle anchored off Corkbeg.

A beat to cage a run to thirteen passing seven to port on the way,a reach to nine and back to finish at Adrielle now located at cage. From a vantage point at Camden Fort Meagher it was interesting to listen to the spectators commenting on the various routes being followed as the fleet endeavored to reach the windward mark ! Racing continues next Sunday.

Published in Royal Cork YC

Dinghy and keelboat sailor Nicholas O'Leary introduces Cork Dinghy Fest to be staged in Cork Harbour in 2017

I’m delighted that the Royal Cork Yacht Club has given the green light to host the Cork Dinghy Festival 2017 on June 30th through to July 2nd.

It has been by the grace of God that I’ve grown up on the waters of the second largest natural harbour in the world which has been my playground for the last 25 years of sailing.

The huge expanse of water allows for such an event to happen with over 200 entries attending in its first edition. Of course, we need more than just great waters and the volunteers last time came up trumps making use of the array of facilities provided by the Royal Cork and surrounding harbour clubs. Monkstown Bay SC looked after the Optimist Fun Fleet which saw 20 kids between 5-8 years of age experiencing a major event for the first time, it brought back great memories seeing my old Opti “El Nino” being sailed in 2015.

The sole purpose of the event from my perspective is to get the variety of fleets together in one location, enjoying their competitive class racing ran by expert race officers and thereafter to socialise with friends of old onshore who they’d rarely see from one year to the next whilst competing within their own circuits. The four race courses of last year was a big undertaking but I was comfortable in the team of race officers, mark layers and safety teams afloat that it would be under control. As I am competitive sailor and personality, there will be changes from last time of course, it’s only natural to learn from previous lessons and thrive for better a performance next time round, on and off the water.

We have been in contact with various fleets for the next edition and all I can say is it’s going to be exciting to see foiling vessels flying across Cork Harbour. Until classes have drawn up their own calendar of events and finalised AGM notes we cannot announce our various classes just yet. Watch this space.


Nicholas O'Leary, Cork Dinghy Fest 2017


Published in Royal Cork YC

Racing for a new trophy in memory of former Royal Cork Yacht Club Admiral Archie O'Leary got underway today at the O'Leary Insurance's Winter League in Cork Harbour.

Photo gallery below by Bob Bateman.


Published in Royal Cork YC

The CH Marine Royal Cork Yacht Club Autumn league came to a light air climax on Sunday.

Racing both inside and outside the harbour, it was a relaxing way to finish the series!

You can view the last day's action here and see the prizewinners photographed with sponsor Nick Bendon of CH Marine by Bob Bateman in the gallery below.

Published in Royal Cork YC

A light south–easterly breeze, a holiday atmosphere in Royal Cork Yacht Club and a stillness in the air greeted competitors for the final days racing in the CH Marine Autumn Series writes Bob Bateman.

The trees on the way to Crosshaven mellowed with golden and brown colours following a month that has been mild for the most part and it is true some sailors would have liked a little more breeze but the good weather allowing sailing will certainly help to shorten the winter. Cork harbour was busy today, the CH Marine league was active both in the inner and outer harbour. The Optimists were on the Curlane Bank as were the Toppers.


The Lasers on a four day training stint and angling boats could be found anchored anywhere and large trawlers were outward bound heading for the fishing grounds. Into this mix came the tall ship “Roald Amundsen” from Cologne to it’s twinned sister city of Cork. Jack Palmer (17), an enthusiastic sailor from Cobh was one of those on board..

The Class three and four Cruisers and White Sail got in two races with David O’Brien as PRO and course for race one was to number three back to eight out again to three back to five and finish. Meanwhile classes one, two and 1720 were sailing windward leeward courses just east of Roche’s Point.

Published in Royal Cork YC

This year Royal Cork Yacht Club will present the 'Archie O Leary' perpetual trophy for the best boat of the series in class under IRC in its Winter League starting next month.

The new trophy commemorates the late Admiral Archie O'Leary who died in May.'s triubute is here

The O’Leary Insurance Group winter League is an open to all Keelboats.

All races will be run from a boat start in the vicinity of RCYC's grassy walk line. 

Schedule of races in the O’Leary Insurance winter league for Classes 1, 2, 3, 1720’s & WS: 

  • Sunday the 06th of November F.G. 12.25
  • Sunday the 13th of November F.G. 12.25 
  • Sunday the 20th of November F.G. 12.25 
  • Sunday the 27th of November F.G. 12.25 
  • Sunday the 04th of November F.G. 12.25
  • Sunday the 11th of December F.G. 12.25

See NoR as a download below




Published in Royal Cork YC

It will be a packed June for cruiser-racer fans on the south coast next year with two of the biggest sailing events of the season taking place within a fortnight.

Plans are well advanced for the 2017 ICRA Cruiser National Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club from the Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June 2017 June according to RCYC's ICRA event chairman Paul Tingle. TheCrosshaven club is working closely with Kinsale Yacht Club to facilitate sailors who plan on doing the ICRAs and KYC's Sovereigns Cup just ten days later.

Tingle reports that there will be free marina berthing in Crosshaven and Kinsale for those boats planning to compete in both.

Trailer storage is on offer at Royal Cork for the two weeks. A boat transfer operation facility is also on offer between Crosshaven and Kinsale for selected boats.

Discounted entry fee vouchers have been given out to the class winners at Howth YC Autumn Series last weekend. Similar vouchers are to be provided at the upcoming DBSC Turkey Shoot event in Dun Laoghaire. The first races of the 2017 Nationals are planned for Friday afternoon (FG. 14.00hrs) and a seven race programme is planned.

As well as the IRC and ECHO fleet national titles, the event will also host the Corinthian Cup and a new ICRA Coastal Cup. The event Notice of Race will be issued later in the year.

Published in ICRA
19th October 2016

Joe Fitzgerald 1922–2016

Joe Fitzgerald of Cork went from among us a month and more ago at the age of 94. That month provides us with an added perspective for a full appreciation of his well-lived life afloat and ashore. It enhances our understanding of just how completely land and sea can become happily intertwined in life around Cork Harbour and city.

When that way of life is being lived by someone with Joe’s quiet yet always enthusiastic appreciation of the opportunities for good times in the world of boats and sailing, we find we’re looking at a long life which was a gentle inspiration and encouragement to all who knew him.

He seemed to find the perfect balance between running a demanding yet fulfilling business in the fashionable heart of Cork city, and relaxing through sailing and the company of sailing folk. The family firm in which he succeeded his father was the iconic Fitzgerald menswear, a tailoring and clothing company and shop which Joe elevated to such a reputation for quality in all areas that it’s said the young Louis Copeland, that legend of men’s tailoring, readily travelled from Dublin in order to enhance his skills by working with Joe Fitzgerald, learning from his notable eye for fabric and finish.

All these skills were allied to an astute yet very proper business aptitude. Nevertheless a good week’s work would be celebrated at its conclusion in proper style with a host of such quiet charm that when you found yourself relaxing after business hours in Joe’s company in the heart of Cork city, the sense of being in the midst of true civilisation was central to the mood of the evening, and that mood of generous enjoyment would then be carried on to the weekend’s projects in and around boats and sailing.

Despite his small stature - it’s thought that it was his longtime friend Stanley Roche who first called him “The Tiny Tailor”, though others in Cork will claim it was a northern friend – Joe was a tower of strength around boats, and he first acquired his sailing skills through spending his boyhood summers with an uncle who had a Brixham trawler converted to a sailing cruiser, and based in Crosshaven.

Although during his working years his family home was in Blackrock, Crosshaven remained his sailing home for the rest of his long life, and for his final decade he was a resident of the apartments which had been developed in the former Grand Hotel just across the road from the side door to the Royal Cork Yacht Club, where he was wont to meet his special circle of friends.

This link to shore living in Crosshaven went back to the late 1930s when Joe and some young contemporaries rented a house in the village on a year-round basis. They became much involved with the local dinghy sailing scene through the Cork Harbour Sailing Club, where the inspiration was top international helm Jimmy Payne, who saw to it that the club had a fleet of International 12 sailing dinghies available for charter at 10 shillings for half a day at a time when The Emergency engendered by World War II might have made access to sailing difficult

International 12 dinghy cork harbourThe International 12s racing at Crosshaven in the 1940s. Photo courtesy RCYC
Soon, a core of useful dinghy sailing experience built up. But by 1943 the waters around neutral Ireland were less directly affected by the war, and the Irish Cruising Club organised a race from Crosshaven around the Fastnet. Lest this seem callous at a time when war was still being waged, it should be noted that several naval and military officers on active service with the Allied forces managed to arrange leave in order to participate.

Among the boats taking part was the famous Gull from Crosshaven, one of the seven participants in the first international Fastnet Race of 1925. Although her legendary skipper Harry Donegan had died in 1940, his son Harry Jnr continued the family ownership of Gull, and for that race of 1943, he included the young Joe Fitzgerald in the crew. As a result, Joe Fitzgerald was elected a member of the Irish Cruising Club in 1944 on the proposal of Harry Donegan Jnr, and today the Fitzgerald ICC membership of 72 years has the air of the eternal record to it.

Donegan yacht Gull cork harbourThe Donegan family’s Gull, a veteran of the first international Fastnet Race of 1925, aboard whch Joe Fitzerald qualified for Irish Cruising Club membership in 1944. Photo: Courtesy RCYC

Joe Fitzgerald was also busy in 1944 in other ways afloat, as he was continuing to play a key role in the dinghy sailing of the Cork Harbour Sailing Club, and 1944 saw the first races by CHSC in International 12s against Sutton Dinghy Club for “The Book”, the monumental volume in which each year’s racing is recorded by the winning team. It continues today with Sutton DC still in the picture, but it’s the mighty Royal Cork Yacht Club itself which now represents Cork Harbour, and has done so since 1970. Nevertheless it was a surprise for participants in 1988’s event in Crosshaven when Joe Fitzgerald was asked to speak at the dinner, and he gave his typically dry-humoured account of the racing in 1944 all of 44 years previously and waxed enthusiastic about the goodwill which The Book has generated ever since.

The Book team racing at Sutton Dinghy ClubThe teams racing for “The Book” at Sutton Dinghy Club in 1944. Joe Fitzgerald, on the Cork Harbour SC team, is third from the right of those seated at front. Photo courtesy SDC/RCYC

In addition to sailing for sport, Joe Fitzgerald in the 1940s joined the Maritime Inscription, continuing with the voluntary naval reserve which was re-formed as An Slua Muiri after the war. He recalled that his commissioning papers were signed by Eamonn de Valera himself, and his career with the force went on for 39 years. It’s said that he was within weeks of serving for forty years, but the stipulated retirement age was upon him. His many friends and colleagues hoped that the bureaucrats might stretch the rules just a tiny bit to allow him see out the forty years, but the bureaucracy was not for budging. Nevertheless Joe could retire from his many years of service knowing that he had been the youngest Commanding Officer of any region in Ireland.

Meanwhile he had long since been involved in sailing administration, having become Honorary Secretary of Cork Harbour Sailing Club in 1946 while also being an active member of the Royal Munster YC in Crosshaven. There was change in the air, and very suddenly in the late 1940s the International 12s, the backbone of Irish dinghy sailing for many years, found themselves being rapidly displaced by new boats such as the Fireflies and IDRA 14s in Dublin Bay, and the IDRA 14s and National 18s in Cork Harbour.

Joe opted for a George Bushe-built IDRA 14, and soon showed his mettle by winning the IDRA 14 Nationals at Dunmore East in 1951 in his new Mystery, crewed by Michael Donnelly. He was also crewing increasingly on larger craft, both for offshore racing and cruising. But when his father died suddenly at the age of 49 of a heart attack he had to re-direct energies into the family business.

It was a salutary lesson for him, as thereafter, while he was undoubtedly enjoying the good life with a high level of conviviality with a special coterie of close friends, he was way ahead of his time in keeping himself fit. His health regime - which he continued to the end of his days - included a cycling machine in a spare room in the house, and a programme of exercises which saw regular press-ups until well into his nineties.

Yet with a family on the way with his wife Maddie, he seemed the ordinary unfussed successful Cork businessman with a taste for sport and particularly sailing. In the 1960s, in addition to sailing on larger boats with top skippers such as Denis Doyle and Tom Crosbie, he got involved with the lively International Dragon Class which was growing at Crosshaven.

Almost all the boats in it were classic Scandinavian-built Dragons, but Joe decided he’d have his one built at Denis Doyle’s Crosshaven boatyard by the hugely-skilled George Bushe, who had already built his winning IDRA 14 Mystery.

George Bushe made a very good job of building the new Dragon class Melisande. In fact, he made too good a job of it. When the official measurer arrived over in Ireland to approve Melisande, he pointed out that as the Dragon was conceived as a basic economical boat, the frames were meant to have a simple rectangular section. Yet George in his love of providing a good finish had rounded off the exposed edges of the frames. The measurer was not for turning. Melisande would not be recognised as a true Dragon until the fancy rounded frames were replaced by crude hard-sectioned timbers. It was done. But it took a long time to obliterate the memory of having to do so.

Yet Joe’s time was successful in the Dragons, and he well-represented the Cork fleet in a major international event hosted at Crosshaven in 1962, coming third against the likes of winner Jock Workman from Belfast Lough and runner-up J L F Crean from the Solent.

 The International Dragon Series at CrosshavenA photo from the Cork Evening Echo in 1962. The International Dragon Series at Crosshaven, with Joe Fitzgerald sailing for Cork Harbour (foreground) getting the better of eventual overall winner Jock Workman of Belfast Lough at the start

1962 Dragon Open Series At the 1962 Dragon Open Series are skipper Joe Fitzgerald (left) with his crew of P J Kavanagh and Mick Sullivan

But increasingly he found most pleasure in cruiser-racers, and he teamed up with longtime friend Peter Cagney to order a new Cuthbertson & Cassian-designed Trapper 28, finished on a bare glassfibre hull by George Bushe at his new yard at Rochestown. It was now that Joe Fitzgerald really began to spread his wings, and every possible free moment was used for cruising, though their explorations were not without the occasional mishap.

Approaching Courtmacsherry long before it was a popular port of call, Peter was below and Joe was at the helm when they lightly clipped a rock. In response to the roar from below, the helmsman blithely replied: “Your half of the boat has just struck a rock, but it’s nothing serious……”

Building on experience over the years with his own boats and the larger vessels of friends, Joe Fitzgerald developed an entire philosophy of cruising in which he built up a complete matrix of friendly ports mostly on the Cork coast but also further afield and internationally too, and as well he showed how a place like Cork Harbour meant you could have a cruising weekend of some sort virtually regardless of what the weather might throw at you. And of course, if good conditions arrived, it was amazing what he could achieve by adding a day or two on to the beginning or the end of a favourable weekend.

To do this he maintained understanding friendships which provided lifelong bonds, and if other Cork sailors took to calling them “Dad’s Army”, Joe and his friends in turn showed a level of continuing love of boats and sailing which were inspirational to all. With such an approach, it was only natural that Joe Fitzgerald should be called upon to fill important roles in sailing administration, and while he could have his own way of doing things which was not always the way of other people, the very fact of his many sailing and cruising achievements often gave him carte blanche to continue the Fitzgerald administrative style, while his speeches at formal gatherings were gems to be treasured.

Thus having started at Honorary Secretary of Cork Harbour Sailing Club in 1946, he rose through many ranks, becoming Rear Commodore of the Royal Munster YC as long ago as 1949, and then when the Royal Munster and the Royal Cork merged during the late 1960s, the Royal Cork Quadrimillenial Celebrations of 1970 saw Joe in the key role of the still-extant position of Commodore which gave due recognition to the Royal Munster’s input, and then in 1975 he was RCYC Vice Admiral in support of George Kenefick as Admiral.

But it was in the Irish Cruising Club that the light-touch Fitzgerald management style proved most congenial. For many years he was on the Committee, by 1982 he was Vice Commodore, and he was then elected Commodore by acclamation from 1984 to 1986, heading the club with his calming presence at a time of rapid development.

Meanwhile his boat sizes had gently increased, and they reflected the reality of the needs of a sailor who continued in and around his boats afloat on a virtually year round basis. He moved up to a Moody 33 from the Trapper 28, and he was with that Moody 33 when we happened to drop into Youghal of a Saturday night in 1986 on our way to Cork Week in a 30-footer, and there was the Commodore ICC in fine form for a bit of a party, which duly took place.

By 1990 he’d moved on to a Moody Eclipse with its useful deckhouse, and we found ourselves in our little boat in Crosshaven waiting out a Sunday of filthy weather before better weather settled in to carry us south to Biscay. So Joe suggested that as he’d the deckhouse, we should go and spend the day with him on his boat over in East Ferry, and thus the bad weather was let go through without any interruption to the merriment, and next day we went on our way with a fair wind and sunshine, sustained by the entertaining memories of our thoughtful and imaginative clubmate back in Cork.

That’s the way it was with Joe Fitzgerald. He made the best of the hand that life dealt him. A widower since 1983, he still had 33 years to live, and he lived them with quiet enjoyment. He even decided he’d outgrown the Moody Eclipse, and bought himself a hefty Nauticat 33 which took on the Fitzgerald name of Mandalay, and provided an “all indoors” boat which enabled this most gallant senior sailor to continue his love affair with boats and the sea and boat people.

The Nauticat 33The “All Indoors” boat. The Nauticat 33 enabled Joe Fitzgerald to continue cruising until he’d become a very senior sailor.It is impossible to do full justice to Joe Fitzgerald in ordinary words. The world has been a much more interesting place for his having been in it. His view of life was unique. And his view of death was unusual. For his funeral service, he requested no more than a simple humanist ceremony. Yet we’re told one of the speakers with fond memories was a good old friend who was a former chaplain to the Naval Service at Haulbowline. In his quiet way, Joe Fitzgerald was beyond mere imagination, and he leaves family and friends with many cherished memories.


Published in Cruising

Defending champion Anthony O'Leary must win one of two repechage places to earn a place in tomorrow's final of the ISA All Ireland Sailing Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The six finalists confirmed for tomorrow are RS400 Sailor Alex Barry with crew Richard Leonard, National 18 Sailor Ewen Barry with crew Stanley Browne, 1720 Sailor Peter O Leary with crew Sandy Remmington, Laser Sailor Darragh O Sullivan with crew mark Hasset, IRC 2 Sailor John Swan with crew Ryan Glynn, Laser Radial Sailor Annalise Murphy with crew Seafra Guilfoyle.

Seeking two two repechage places tomorrow morning are 2015 Winner Anthony OLeary with crew John Durcan, IDRA14 Sailor Alan Henry with crew Simon Revill,  RS200 Sailor Neil Spain with crew John Downey J24 Sailor Cillian Dickson with crew Gordon Stirling, Flying Fifteen Sailor David Gorman with crew Stephen O’Shaughnessy, SB20 Sailor Stephen Hyde with crew Jerry Dowling, IRC3 Paul Gibbons with crew Killian Collins, SOD Sailor Mark McCormick with crew Nicky McCormick.

Published in All Irelands

It has been a golden if sometimes very thin thread running through Irish sailing continuously since 1947. Despite the vagaries of the Irish weather and the increasing complexity of our sailing programme, absolutely every season for sixty-nine years now we’ve managed – occasionally with some difficulty – to create a viable come-all-ye-class-champions national event which rotated the venues and the boat types used. It’s an event which brings together multiple talents from many classes to produce a Champion of Champions after a hectic weekend of racing, and 2016’s edition starts this morning at the Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven. W M Nixon attempts to grasp the will-of-the wisp which is the ideal that was the Irish Helmsman’s Championship and is now the ISA All Ireland Championship, and finds it’s in a bit of bother.

It’s ironic that while the publicity machine beats the drum ever-faster for the annual Endeavour Trophy, the Helmsmans Championship’s British equivalent which is being staged in England in a week’s time, here in Ireland publicity had seemed almost muted in the run-up to this weekend’s All Ireland until the news broke this week that two GP 14 sailors – including the World Champion – had declined an invitation to enter on the grounds that the event has become too out of line with other dinghy events for participation in terms of entry fee and other costs.

It’s ironic that the British Championship should be on a roll, while ours is getting the kind of publicity any iconic event could well do without, because the Irish event was introduced quite a few years in advance of the British one. And when the Endeavour Trophy was up and running properly, didn’t we send over one of our best Enterprise crews to take part, and didn’t they win it overall when Robin Hennessy and Robert Michael of Malahide won the Endeavour Trophy in 1968?

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club The other RCYC. The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club at Burnham-on-Crough in Essex is hosting the Endeavour Trophy in a week’s time with the lineup including two Olympic medallists, and an event fee of 130GBP includes food and accommodation for the weekend, and the entry fee. The Endeavour Trophy was won by Ireland’s Robin Hennessy and Robert Michael in 1968. Photo courtesy RCYC

These days, the organisers of the Endeavour Trophy lay down the red carpet all the way to the RCYC in Burnham-on-Crouch in order to entice the stars of many classes to come and give of their best in the Endeavour Trophy, and said stars are treated well in the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club with an event fee of £130GBP which includes all food and accommodation in addition to entry.

But in Ireland, the RCYC – aka the Royal Cork Yacht Club - has been left out on a limb in staging the ISA All Ireland Championship 2016, so they’ve had to charge the entrants an entry fee of €220 plus an extra €1000 waiver for insurance requirement.

Now admittedly €90 of that entry fee is to cover for three at the All Ireland Dinner in the RCYC tonight, which seems to me a perfectly justifiable way to ensure that everyone is truly involved in the event in its totality. But nevertheless a modest sponsorship package would take disagreeable financial challenges out of the equation at a time of the season when many amateur sailors are just about cleaned out in the resources department. And though as we’ll see in looking down the list of participants, there are some distinctly top-end sailors involved, the essence of the All Irelands is that it should be a celebration of Irish amateur sailing sport at every level of boat expense to include the less affluent.

There was sponsorship of the event until five years ago, but once that had gone with the recession, costs for participation gradually rose. And this summer with Irish sailing attention at every level increasingly focused on the Olympics and the wonder of Annalise’s Silver Medal, it may well be that insufficient attention was being given to the fact that the up-coming All Ireland is an event which offers a very attractive and compact sponsorship package, particularly with the 70th Anniversary coming up next year.

Annalise Murphy Rory FitzpatrickAnnalise Murphy and coach Rory Murphy immediately after winning the Olympic Silver Medal in August. Today she is testing herself in a very different environment – the bear-pit of the two-day ISA All Ireland Championship raced in the new National 18 Ultras at Crosshaven. Photo World Sailing

Let’s hope securing this particular sponsorship package is work in progress. Meanwhile, after a long and exhausting season of many events, your columnist found himself energised by the thought that the All Irelands 2016 are going to staged at Crosshaven in the new Ultra National 18s. This is the next stage in a success story which has its heart and soul in Cork Harbour, and the development of this remarkable class with affordable boats is a credit to all involved, not least the Royal Cork which came up with seed money just when it was needed to bring this new Phil Morrison creation to fruition.

We think we’ve become used to the look of the new National 18s, but the other day I came across this photo of Ewen Barry’s boat in light airs, and you see things you hadn’t noticed before. It’s a timely photo to use, as Ewen has been the tops in 2016, leading the charge to the outright win by a clear margin when nine of the new Cork boats went to the big championship at Findhorn in Scotland, so naturally he’s the National 18 representative in this morning’s all-Ireland lineup, sailing for Monkstown Bay SC.

Ultra National 18 They don’t have to pretend to be different. The new Phil Morrison-designed National 18s are very different . This is Ewen Barry’s champion D’Good, D’Bad and D’Blaster , and he is representing the class in this weekend’s All Ireland. Photo: Robert BatemanThus he must be a favourite. But National 18 favourites can be beaten when the All Ireland is sailed in the class at Crosshaven, as happened back in 1970 when the 17-year-old Robert Dix, crewed in a very positive manner by Richard Burrows, raced a National 18 to such good effect that he became the youngest-ever Helmsmans Champion, besting the likes of Somers Payne and Harold Cudmore to do so.

He’s still the youngest-ever winner, while the first woman winner was Laura Dillon way back in 1996. But in All Ireland Helmsmans Championship terms, 1996 is only the day before yesterday, for in a series going right back to 1947 when Douglas Heard won, the outstanding feature is the longevity of the winners. Senior of all those very happily still with us is Ted Crosbie who won in 1950, while doubly awarded and still playing around in boats is Neville Maguire, winner in 1952 and 1954. Between those two wins was the still active Johnny Hooper, then in 1955 and 1960 the winner was Clayton Love, who just three weeks ago played a starring role in the IDRA 14 Class’s 70th Anniversary.

Laura Dillon Howth Yacht ClubLaura Dillon was the first woman winner, in 1996

Ted CrosbieTed Crosbie is the senior Champion Helm – he won in 1950. He is seen here with the Boat of the Year award at the Royal Cork in 2015. Photo Bob Bateman

Clayton Love (right) with Jim Lambkin left) and Sean FloodClayton Love (right) with Jim Lambkin left) and Sean Flood at the recent IDRA 70th Anniversary regatta. Clayton won the Helmsmans Chmpionship in 1955 and 1960. Photo: W M Nixon

So the message is clear and simple. If you want to live long and live well, win the All Ireland Helmsman’s Championship. Here’s the lineup for this morning’s start:

Defending Champion: Anthony O’Leary RCYC; National 18: Ewen Barry Monkstown Bay Sailing Club/ RCYC; RS400: Alex Barry MBSC/RCYC; SB20: Stefan Hyde RCYC; Mermaid: Sam Shiels Skerries SC; Laser Standard: Darragh O’Sullivan Kinsale YC; IDRA14: Alan Henry Sutton Dinghy Club; Flying 15: David Gorman National YC; RS200: Neil Spain Howth YC; Shannon One-Design: Mark McCormick Lough Ree YC; ICRA Division 1: Colin Byrne Royal Irish YC; ICRA Division 2: Jonny Swan Howth YC; ICRA Divison 3: Paul Gibbons RCYC; 1720: Peter O’Leary RCYC; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy NYC; J24: Cillian Dickson HYC.

If the weather predictions prove correct there’ll be an easing northwest to north breeze today after some early morning rain, then a rising southerly tomorrow with generally good weather, with the event ending before the next lot of wet and windy weather comes in tomorrow night. It could be an ideal mixture of conditions for a remarkable mixture of abilities, as the lineup ranges all the way from helms for the Mermaid and Shannon One Design Classes - Sam Shiels of Skerries and Mark McCormick of Lough Ree respectively – through several former winners including of course the defending champion Anthony O’Leary who is trying to make it three in a row, and on up to the exalted heights of Olympic Medaldom with Annalise Murphy.

Frankly, it’s very courageous of Annalise to let her name go forward, as the begrudgers will be looking for any slip–ups. But we know she’s a genuine sportswoman as her relaxation sailing is buzzing about in a foiling Moth which offers endless opportunities for making a holy show of yourself. So taking herself out of her Olympic Laser Radial comfort zone into a bearpit like the All Ireland race in three-person National 18s undoubtedly has class.

Peter O'LearyPeter O’Leary representing the 1720 Class, is expected to be among the front runners this weekend
But whether her name will be heading for the famous salver on Sunday evening is another matter altogether. You’d be inclined to expect the name O’Leary to feature in the reckoning, but which particular O’Leary is anyone’s guess. Former winner Stefan Hyde is also a force to be reckoned with when he’s on form. In fact there are maybe seven in that list who are in with a real chance. And if it is someone outside our list who becomes the All Ireland Champion 2016, we’ll be happy to let you know and admit we got it wrong.

National 18 DinghyOdyssey, the prototype for the new Phil Morrison-designed National 18 Ultra. The use of these fascinating boats for the All Ireland Championship this weekend is the latest stage in a remarkable class development story in which the Royal Cork Yacht Club has played a key role. Photo courtesy National 18 Class

Published in W M Nixon
Page 10 of 20

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