Irish boats do not now have to choose between the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) national championships or IRC European championships thanks to an integration announced at last weekend’s ICRA conference. Details of this are contained in David O'Brien's Sailing report in today's Irish Times newspaper here.
The news has been welcomed by ICRA for a couple of reasons because Several Class 0 and 1 boats who are already equipped to Category 3 were keen not to be excluded from IRC Europeans given there were no upgrading costs for them.
The Irish Times quotes ICRA champion skipper John Maybury who happily endorses the move. "I had intended to do the ICRA nationals only, but this is now a fantastic opportunity to do the IRC Europeans as well", he says.
According to ICRA spokesman Dave Cullen, ICRA was happier to give participants the option of a shorter regatta as the five-day format is a break from the traditional three-day format. It was recognised that almost all boats would be in Cork for the entire week but the break during the week with regard to points harks back to the old Cork Weeks where Wednesday was a lay day. This new format gives participants the option to enjoy the party festival of Cork Week more and enjoy more casually, the Harbour Race on Wednesday which can be regarded as a more fun event and perhaps a cure for some sore heads. The reality that the Harbour Race can at times rely on luck ensures that the prestigious ICRA title comes from the more traditional windward-leeward and round the can format races.
Cullen says ICRA has said it is 'hugely committed' to growing participation of the ECHO fleet with the new format ECHO proving very attractive to participants. This new format should go further to improving the attractiveness of this year’s ICRA Championship for ECHO boats too.
The cruiser-racer body also says that when its national championships are part of another event, there is normally compromise but ICRA feels that 'the solution reached is highly beneficial for all ICRA Sailors and Cork Week participants alike'.