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Cracklin Rose gets yacht of year award

22nd November 1996
IN A season remembered partly for disputes over professional eligibility, the Royal Alfred Yacht Club made a fitting confirmation of its allegiance to amateur sailors when it named Cracklin' Rosie as yacht of the year for its 1996 performances over a wide spectrum of events. The RAYC whose amateurs only rule dates back to 1857 chose Cracklin Rosie and perennial skipper Roy Dickson ahead of Cormac Twomey's class champion Sarah J. Other contenders for the overall honours were Class Two champion Aztec (Peter Beamish) and the successful Shipman one design, Malindi, sailed by the National Yacht Club's Malachy and Eithne Muldoon. Club commodore Richard Lovegrove said the RAYC selected the Corby 40 design from the four other nominations, partly because of the "Corinthian approach" to their campaign that began with Dickson just missing overall honours at the Scottish Rover series last May by three quarters of a point and finished with second overall in class at the Nissan league just over a month ago.
The question of the eligibility of paid hands has been a creeping question in 1996. In July, at Ford Cork week Dublin class zero, yacht, Sarah J, retired in protest from the Cork regatta following, her tactician's disqualification under the RCYC's eligibility ruling. Sarah J went on to become the 1996 RAYC Carlsberg Superleague champion. Unphased by the growing threat of professionals, Dickson acknowledges there is little doubt that professionals improve the performance of a yacht, but in a career spanning 50 years as a racing helmsman, he has seen many developments within the sport and remains confident in his own amateur approach: "I do it for fun, I only sail with people I like and we prefer to race against the pros because it makes us try harder," says the Howth sailor who first went afloat in Sutton creek in 1939. From a total racing crew of 10, Dickson relies on a nucleus of six regulars: Jim Bardon (mainsheet), Arthur O'Kelly (halyards/electronics), Declan Byrne (tactician), Brian Moran (foredeck), Trevor Smith (mastman) and David Nixon (genoa trimmer). There have been few seasons as successful as 1996 for Dickson (64) when he consistently finished in the frame. At the RAYC's own Carlsberg superleague he was second overall on CHS and a winner on ECHO. There were many who thought the Cork Dry Gin Round Ireland title was Dickson's but again he had to be content with first in class, but second overall. Like most sailors of his generation Dickson began in dinghies' and raced Snipes and Hornets in the 1950s with his brother Derek. He became Irish Hornet champion at dinghy week in 1953 and then changed classes. His boatbuilding skills leaned him towards home construction and in the early 1960s Dickson began a love affair with the Fireball, a 17 foot international dinghy that he built and introduced to Ireland and in which he had his finest international success, a third overall in the 1969 World championships.
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