Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

afloat sailing header

Conor Fogerty Is Irish Sailor Of The Year 2017

9th February 2018
2597 Views
Conor Fogerty receiving the Volvo Irish Sailor of the Year Award for 2017 at the RDS tonight Conor Fogerty receiving the Volvo Irish Sailor of the Year Award for 2017 at the RDS tonight Photo: Afloat.ie

#SailorOfTheYear - Conor Fogerty has been named Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year for 2017 for his astonishing performance in the Single-Handed East-West Transatlantic Race last summer during what was a particularly strong year for Irish offshore sailing.

June’s Offshore Sailor of the Month was presented with his prize by Minister of State Mary Mitchell-O’Connor at the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards gala in Dublin’s RDS Concert Hall this evening (Friday 9 February).

The accolade comes nearly eight months after the corinthian sailor from Howth Yacht Club found himself in definitive trophy contention, when a storm ravaged the OSTAR and TWOSTAR fleets in the North Atlantic in early June.

Irish Sailing Awards 2018 FogertyConor Fogerty, Howth receiving the Overall Volvo Irish Sailor of the Year Award from (L/R) Jack Roy, President Irish Sailing, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education and Patricia Greene, Head of Communications Volvo Car Ireland at the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards 2018. Photo: Irish Sailing/David Branigan

With attentions immediately and understandably turned to the plight of those sailors and vessels worst affected by the extreme conditions, it was only in the aftermath that those not already on the Fogerty tip realised Ireland’s lone entry in the 2017 OSTAR was some ways west of the storm before it hit.

Make no mistake, this was no fluke. “[Fogerty] had been sailing his Sun Fast 3600 Bam! with such skill and determination that he had sailed beyond the worst of the weather,” Winkie Nixon writes.

That put Fogerty second only to clear race leader Andrea Mura’s Open 60 Venta di Sardegna in the OSTAR division, before the winds ruined the party behind them. What’s more, in the hours and days that followed, Fogerty was sailing Bam! in near-contact with TWOSTAR entry Rote 66, an Open 40 significantly larger than his own boat.

Indeed, even with a depleted fleet, it was remarkable that Fogerty was able to keep up with those bigger boats and take Bam! all the way to Rhode Island amid persistent tough conditions. As Winkie says: “His victory was no joyride.”

But a victory it certainly was. When Bam! crossed the line at Newport on 19 June to take that prize of prizes, the Gipsy Moth Trophy, Fogerty’s closest competition was 500 miles astern — and his only company in port were boats with far more muscle and speed potential. It was a prime example of a skipper making all the difference.

The hero’s welcome bestowed upon Fogerty on his return to Howth at the end of the month, as Winkie observes, was richly deserved.

Accepting his award this evening, Fogerty said it was great to see offshore sailing reaching new heights, and recognised the importance of having such a platform as the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards to share his and fellow ocean-crossers’ passion.

The Sailor of the Year for 2017 also extolled the virtues of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association as a learning ground.

“For anyone who wants to get involved in offshore sailing, I’d recommend ISORA to get their feet wet,” Fogerty added.

Fogerty bested a worthy field of nominees in 2017, among them such offshore luminaries as Vendée Globe stalwart Alex Thomson, his Fastnet Race partner Nin O’Leary, and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Damian Foxall.

The ‘Flying Irishman’ Tom Dolan flew the flag for Ireland in France and the Mini Transat series, while recently retired RORC Commodore Michael Boyd finished in the top 10 of the Fastnet Race.

In the wake of Annalise Murphy’s big award last year, younger sailors featured prominently in 2017.

Trinity sailing team captain Richard Roberts and his UCC counterpart Liam Manning; Youth Pathways champ Ewan McMahon; Finn class Olympic hopeful Fionn Lyden and fellow Tokyo 2020 challenger Finn Lynch in the Laser; super junior Michael O’Suillebhain; and Dun Laoghaire all-rounder Lorcan Tighe were all in contention.

Saskia Tidey found a fruitful new 49erFX partnership with Great Britain’s Charlotte Dobson; while Aoife Hopkins, winner of the European Women’s U21 Laser Radial title, sat her Leaving Cert just a month after that achievement and gained a whopping 605 points in a testament to her dedication.

Stewart Hosford (who shared with Thomson); Pacific voyager Daragh Nagle; tactician Ian Moore; Rush’s Kelly family; cruiser John Maybury; Safehaven Marine powerboat specialist Frank Kowalski; Michael O’Connor and his Sin Bin crew; offshore duo Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop; Rockabill VI campaigner Paul O’Higgins; Sydney-Hobart partners Gordon Maguire and Jim Cooney; and Clipper Race skipper Conall Morrison rounded out this year’s slate of Sailor of the Year nominees, with two notable exceptions.

The organisers flew in Santiago Alegre from Spain and Simon Hoffman from Australia to thank them for saving the life of Johnny Durcan, one of Ireland’s leading high performance sailors, who got into difficulty at the 29er World Championships in California last summer. The pair were special winners from Afloat last August for their efforts, and received the President’s Award tonight — as well as a standing ovation from the full house in attendance.

Irish Sailing Awards 2018 hoffmanSimon Hoffman, Australia with Santiago Alegre, Spain, Johnny Durcan, Crosshaven, Jack Roy, President Irish Sailing, Jay Stacy, Schull and Colin Byrne, Dun Laoghaire receiving the President's Award

Also recognised was Jay Stacy, who received the President’s Award for his actions that saved the life of one of his crew a rogue wave hit their boat off the Waterford/Wexford coast. Accidents like this are rare, but tonight was an opportunity for the sailing community to recognise their bravery and say thank you.

“IrishThe ‘fireside chat’ with lifesavers and President’s Award winners who received a standing ovation

In the night’s other prizes, the Senior Instructor Award went to Kate Caldwell of Mullaghmore Sailing Club, who recently left her role at the Co Sligo club after three years to study for a Master’s degree.

Training Centre of the Year for 2017 is Crookhaven Harbour Sailing Club, which since 1979 has specialised in training junior sailors in West Cork close to the sailing mecca of Schull.

Irish Sailing Awards 2018 8332Harry Hermon, CEO Irish Sailing presents Peter O'Leary, Commodore of Crookhaven Sailing Club with the overall Volvo Training Centre of the Year award with Patricia Greene

From the South West to the North Channel, Ballyholme/Donaghadee’s Dan McGaughey was named Youth Sailor of the Year for his incredible podium performance in the gold fleet at the Topper World Championships in Loctudy, France last August, where he finished third amid a top-class junior field.

Special recognition was made to Matt McGovern and his brother Russell for their storied performance careers, just days after Matt abandoned his Tokyo 2020 plans and announced his Olympic retirement.

The 34-year-old from Belfast Lough was one half of Ireland’s most successful skiff duo in the 49er dinghy with Carrickfergus helm Ryan Season, the pair competing at London 2012 and Rio 2016. McGovern was most recently mounting a new campaign with 2013 Laser youth champion Robbie Gilmore.

Irish Sailing Awards 2018 8346Carmel Winkelmann, Dun Laoghaire receives the President's Award from Jack Roy, President Irish Sailing

In his address earlier in the evening, Irish Sailing president Jack Roy emphasised that as much as high achievements in sailing have a place in the sport, “for most of us it’s about getting on the water, whatever your level of expertise.”

Citing the so-called ‘Annalise effect’, Roy noted “a bounce in the number of people sailing around the country last year.” In Irish Sailing’s Try Sailing initiative for 2017, half of those participating were women, and more than half were aged under 18 — showing the potential for growth is there.

Roy also took time to thank “the everyday heroes who don’t always get recognised by awards and trophies: the volunteers who dedicate so much time, energy and passion to our sport, and who share their knowledge and expertise with other sailors. Quite simply, our sport cannot function without them.”

Hosted once more by master of ceremonies Fiona Bolger, the night as always welcomed guests from Irish club and high performance sailing, including Irish Sailing's youth and Olympic squads, national champions at all levels, class captains, club commodores, previous Sailors of the Year, and world and Olympic competitors.

Among the hundreds of guests were Colm Barrington, vice chair of the Olympic Council of Ireland, and Robert Dix, chair of the Government’s national marine strategy.

Royal cork Sailing awardsRoyal Cork was well represented

There was a stron turnout from Royal Cork Yacht Club, now under new Admiral Pat Farnan. RCYC flag officers Colin Moorhead, Kieran O’Connell and Gavin Deane were in attendance, while Howth Yacht Club Commodore Joe McPeake was in attendance with Brian Turvey, chair of Howth’s New Wave Regatta.

Representing Dun Laoghaire’s waterfront was National Yacht Club Commodore Ronan Beirne with Vice Commodore Martin McCarthy and club archivist Frank Burgess, as well Alistair, Muriel and Kenneth Rumball of the INSS.

Nobby Reilly, formerly of ICRA; Peter Ryan of ISORA; Chris and Sandra Moore of the DBSC; and ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney were also in attendance, as was Irish Coast Guard chief Chris Reynolds following his return in 2017 from secondment to the Horn of Africa.

“IrishAnother successful year for the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards

Hosted by Irish Sailing with Afloat magazine, the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards aim to highlight the breadth of sailing across the country.

Afloat’s awards have been running since 1996, recognising over 500 Irish sailors in that time, says editor David O’Brien.

“[The awards] were originally formulated to bring a bigger profile to sailing achievements that do not get their fair share of the media coverage,” he adds. “Now these achievements are reaching a wider audience than ever before.”

Afloat.ie topped over 1.2 million visitors in 2017 — an audience the publication is eager to share with Ireland’s sailing community.

“Afloat.ie wants to work with every club and every class in the country,” says O’Brien. “Please get in touch.”

Published in News Update
MacDara Conroy

About The Author

MacDara Conroy

Email The Author

MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

How to sail, sailing clubs and sailing boats plus news on the wide range of sailing events on Irish waters forms the backbone of Afloat's sailing coverage.

We aim to encompass the widest range of activities undertaken on Irish lakes, rivers and coastal waters. This page describes those sailing activites in more detail and provides links and breakdowns of what you can expect from our sailing pages. We aim to bring jargon free reports separated in to popular categories to promote the sport of sailing in Ireland.

The packed 2013 sailing season sees the usual regular summer leagues and there are regular weekly race reports from Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Howth and Cork Harbour on Afloat.ie. This season and last also featured an array of top class events coming to these shores. Each year there is ICRA's Cruiser Nationals starts and every other year the Round Ireland Yacht Race starts and ends in Wicklow and all this action before July. Crosshaven's Cork Week kicks off on in early July every other year. in 2012 Ireland hosted some big international events too,  the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire and in August the Tall Ships Race sailed into Dublin on its final leg. In that year the Dragon Gold Cup set sail in Kinsale in too.

2013 is also packed with Kinsale hosting the IFDS diabled world sailing championships in Kinsale and the same port is also hosting the Sovereign's Cup. The action moves to the east coast in July with the staging of the country's biggest regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 11.

Our coverage though is not restricted to the Republic of Ireland but encompasses Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea area too. In this section you'll find information on the Irish Sailing Association and Irish sailors. There's sailing reports on regattas, racing, training, cruising, dinghies and keelboat classes, windsurfers, disabled sailing, sailing cruisers, Olympic sailing and Tall Ships sections plus youth sailing, match racing and team racing coverage too.

Sailing Club News

There is a network of over 70 sailing clubs in Ireland and we invite all clubs to submit details of their activities for inclusion in our daily website updates. There are dedicated sections given over to the big Irish clubs such as  the waterfront clubs in Dun Laoghaire; Dublin Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Saint George Yacht Club,  the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club. In Munster we regularly feature the work of Kinsale Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven.  Abroad Irish sailors compete in Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) racing in the UK and this club is covered too. Click here for Afloat's full list of sailing club information. We are keen to increase our coverage on the network of clubs from around the coast so if you would like to send us news and views of a local interest please let us have it by sending an email to [email protected]

Sailing Boats and Classes

Over 20 active dinghy and one design classes race in Irish waters and fleet sizes range from just a dozen or so right up to over 100 boats in the case of some of the biggest classes such as the Laser or Optimist dinghies for national and regional championships. Afloat has dedicated pages for each class: Dragons, Etchells, Fireball, Flying Fifteen, GP14, J24's, J80's, Laser, Sigma 33, RS Sailing, Star, Squibs, TopperMirror, Mermaids, National 18, Optimist, Puppeteers, SB3's, and Wayfarers. For more resources on Irish classes go to our dedicated sailing classes page.

The big boat scene represents up to 60% of the sail boat racing in these waters and Afloat carries updates from the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA), the body responsible for administering cruiser racing in Ireland and the popular annual ICRA National Championships. In 2010 an Irish team won the RORC Commodore's Cup putting Irish cruiser racing at an all time high. Popular cruiser fleets in Ireland are raced right around the coast but naturally the biggest fleets are in the biggest sailing centres in Cork Harbour and Dublin Bay. Cruisers race from a modest 20 feet or so right up to 50'. Racing is typically divided in to Cruisers Zero, Cruisers One, Cruisers Two, Cruisers Three and Cruisers Four. A current trend over the past few seasons has been the introduction of a White Sail division that is attracting big fleets.

Traditionally sailing in northern Europe and Ireland used to occur only in some months but now thanks to the advent of a network of marinas around the coast (and some would say milder winters) there are a number of popular winter leagues running right over the Christmas and winter periods.

Sailing Events

Punching well above its weight Irish sailing has staged some of the world's top events including the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover, Tall Ships visits as well as dozens of class world and European Championships including the Laser Worlds, the Fireball Worlds in both Dun Laoghaire and Sligo.

Some of these events are no longer pure sailing regattas and have become major public maritime festivals some are the biggest of all public staged events. In the past few seasons Ireland has hosted events such as La Solitaire du Figaro and the ISAF Dublin Bay 2012 Youth Worlds.

There is a lively domestic racing scene for both inshore and offshore sailing. A national sailing calendar of summer fixtures is published annually and it includes old favorites such as Sovereign's Cup, Calves Week, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, All Ireland Sailing Championships as well as new events with international appeal such as the Round Britain and Ireland Race and the Clipper Round the World Race, both of which have visited Ireland.

The bulk of the work on running events though is carried out by the network of sailing clubs around the coast and this is mostly a voluntary effort by people committed to the sport of sailing. For example Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland yacht race run in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been operating for over 30 years. Similarly the international Cork Week regatta has attracted over 500 boats in past editions and has also been running for over 30 years.  In recent years Dublin Bay has revived its own regatta called Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and can claim to be the country's biggest event with over 550 boats entered in 2009.

On the international stage Afloat carries news of Irish and UK interest on Olympics 2012, Sydney to Hobart, Volvo Ocean Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race.

We're always aiming to build on our sailing content. We're keen to build on areas such as online guides on learning to sail in Irish sailing schools, navigation and sailing holidays. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating