Ireland’s current “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club has a mind-bogglingly busy programme to fulfil during 2018 writes WM Nixon. But the intrepid class winner of the 2017 OSTAR is well able for it. He has a good-humoured yet strong personality which enables him to keep cool when under pressure - whether it be of tight-knit schedules, a closely-fought fleet race, or severely challenging oceanic sailing conditions - and his fitness and stamina are legendary.
Then too, for this summer he is able to spread his talents and time-demands across at least three different boats. For although his beloved Bam! arrives back into Southampton aboard a Transatlantic ship this morning after a successful Caribbean season - in which the highlight was successfully defending his 2016 Class 4 victory in the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 - Fogerty doesn’t have to face the daunting logistics challenge of getting her race-prepared and crew-trained for the 2018 Volvo Round Ireland Race on June 30th.
That’s because he has already signed up for the 704-mile circuit to be co-skipper on noted offshore campaigner Susan Glenny’s First 40.7 Olympic Tigress. Glenny is – like Fogerty - mega-busy in several directions, as she has recently been named to skipper the veteran global racer Maiden, formerly of Tracey Edwards campaigns.
But for now, attention remains with Olympic Tigress in Class 2 in the Round Ireland. This actively-sailed boat is well-known to the Howth international offshore brotherhood, as the likes of the Wright brothers Michael & Darren, together with Kieran Jameson and others, have raced her in major events in the past.
However, the Wright-Jameson focus had moved to the 45ft Pata Negra, which they raced to second in Class 2 in the Caribbean 600 2018, when Susan Glenny lit on Conor Fogerty in his post-victory euphoria in Antigua, and signed him on for the Round Ireland.
It was a blessing in disguise, as his main interest in getting Bam! back to Europe was the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2018 in August. Ireland has successful form in this four-yearly 1800 mile marathon, as the previous staging in 2014 saw the two–handed division and three classes won by the First 36.7 Lula Belle, campaigned through ferocious conditions by Liam Coyne of the National Yacht Club, and Brian Flahive of Wicklow.
This year’s SRB&I is set for Sunday August 12th from the Solent, and with four Sunfast 3600s already in the lineup, the pressure is on Conor Fogerty big-time. But in one area at least he is in a good place, as fellow Howth sailor Simon Knowles, longtime shipmate in many Bam! successes including the two Caribbean 600 wins, has signed on as co-skipper.
With such a compatible yet competitive duo, Bam! will go into the start of the big one on 12th August well-rated in expectations. But as anyone who followed the 2014 race will be well aware, if August comes in unsettled, conditions throughout this varied race – and particularly in its northern sections at the Shetland Islands – can be challenging in the extreme.
Meanwhile, just to keep himself busy, Conor Fogerty has also been racing his much-loved and decidedly veteran “home boat”, the Ron Holland-designed 30ft Silver Shamrock which won the Half Ton Worlds in 1976 – with a measure of success and much enjoyment in Dublin Bay and Irish Sea events.
This weekend, however, Silver Shamrock and Conor Fogerty set off for Cork on a very special and decidedly historic mission. More on that here in Afloat.ie on Saturday.