Displaying items by tag: Sailor of the Month
#sailorofthemonth – The French sailing scene is noted for its continuing national and international programme of encouraging young sailors in their early twenties into the top level of offshore competition. But even by the demanding Gallic standards of youthful participation against hardened veterans in events like the Figaro Solo, Corkman David Kenefick stood out as youngest of them all. He was just 21 when he qualified to become a Figaro 'rookie' mentored by Marcus Hutchinson, and though he turned 22 during June as the 2013 programme accelerated through a demanding season, he continued as the youngest in a schedule which saw him complete almost 7,000 offshore miles, nearly all of them single-handed.
As the busy season drew on he also began to acquire a useful smattering of French. And though there were some some big races whose results were eminently forgettable, in October's 1600 mile three stage Generali Solo, the Mediterranean's equivalent of the Figaro Solo itself, he was very much in contention to move towards the coveted "Rookie of the Year" slot.
The Generali Solo reached a climax after its three offshore stages, with three inshore races in perfect yet sometimes quite demanding conditions of 15 to 22 knots of wind. Kenefick's tally of 13,10, and 9th much improved his position on the leaderboard, and he moved into a commanding 12th overall. With the next rookie back in 16th slot, his place was secure, and becoming Figaro Solo Rookie of the Year 2013 makes David Kenefick the Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month for October 2013.
#sailorofthemonth – The adjudicators in the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" award for September have been in the happy position of having a proliferation of major achievements to choose from, and they have the bonus of being able to draw on the "Previous Award" clause.
Like everyone else, we agree that Annalise Murphy's comprehensive sweeping of the board at the Laser Europeans & Worlds at her home club of the National in Dun Laoghaire was in a league of its own. But we've already been on the case with the Murphy performance this year, as she was SoM in May after taking two gold medals in major European regattas.
So when the award for Sailor of the Year 2013 is up for consideration, that May success will be rated as a double win. But thanks to this bit of prestidigitation, we still have September's gong to give out, and that goes to young Finn Lynch of County Carlow. He also counts the National YC as his home club, even if he did start his sailing at the lakeside club of Blessington up in the Wicklow hills.
When Lynch won the Silver at last year's ISAF Youth Worlds in Dublin Bay, it was the maturity of the 16-year-old's approach which drew the most favourable comment. And this September, at the ripe old age of 17, he was even more emphatically Irish sailing's Captain Cool. He took Gold in the U21 division, Silver in the Europeans, and Bronze in the Worlds. A phenomenal achievement, and a worthy September Sailor of the Month.
#sailorofthemonth – The summer of 2013 has been the season in which world sailing has come to Ireland. In addition to two World Championships, events such as the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale have brought sailing visitors to our shores. Then too, being a Rolex Fastnet Race year, 2013 saw a fleet of record-breaking size rounding our most famous rock, an event in which a dozen Irish boats took part.
The events which were staged from Irish ports involved an enormous amount of voluntary effort from our own communities, large and small. And skilled effort at that. Well-meaning willing helpers can be a mixed blessing. But when experienced administrators build up their chosen team of specialists as the allotted time of each major event approaches, the effective administrative machinery - virtually guaranteed when Ireland is hosting a big event - slips smoothly into place.
After such a summer of so much success in event management, there are many volunteers whose efforts deserve to be highlighted. So in making John Twomey of Kinsale the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for August, we hope that other organisers will realise that we are applauding their efforts too.
But amongst the elite of organisers, John is the crème de la crème.
An active participant himself to Olympic level, his election last November as President of the International Association For Disabled Sailing was a well-earned indication of the high regard in which he is held in global sailing. And in bringing the Worlds to his home port and ensuring that it was a success which was popular with the general public too, John Twomey played a unique role, deserving of national recognition and celebration.
#sailorofthemonth – Ballyholme YC teenage helm Liam Glynn is the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for July after his comprehensive victory in a fleet of 102 boats at the Topper International Worlds at Loctudy in France in an intense week of racing at the Brittany venue from July 22nd to 26th.
Glynn arrived at the championship on top form with Silver already notched at the Youth Nationals earlier this season and a win at the Topper Nationals in Donaghdee in July. But he showed his quality in depth by turning in an even better performance in France, despite very different conditions. The Championship had been raced on the tide-free freshwater location of Lough Derg, but the Worlds were sailed in notably tidal salt water with often flukey breezes, and a sometimes lumpy sea state which was not always warranted by the wind strength.
Yet despite the huge fleet, the young Belfast Lough sailor put in the sort of consistent performance which is the ideal of any top skipper, senior or junior. His first four races were all top three placings, including two straight wins, which meant that as the series progressed he was building towards a comfortable cushion of 13 points over the next boat as the final day's racing arrived.
As it turned out, his work was done. The final day of racing was lost to calm, and Ireland has a new World Champion.
From time to time, we honour sailors from other countries who have achieved outstanding success in Irish waters. But never has our International Award been for anything so extraordinary as French kitesurfer Bruno Sroka's 240 nautical miles voyage on Friday July 19th from L'Aber Wrach in northwest Brittany to Cork Harbour.
In a period of mostly light winds, Sroka was favoured by a beam reach 16 knot nor'easter which he carried with him almost all the way across the mouth of the English Channel, past the Isles of Scilly, and on across the Celtic Sea to a rapturous welcome in to Cork, the feat completed within his aimed time scale of 17 hours, the exact time being 16 hours and 37 minutes, an average of 14.45 knots.
The wind was fading as he neared the Irish coast, but there was just enough bite left in it to bring him to Roche's Point at sunset. A professional kitesurfer, he has already conquered the English Channel, and with his longterm ambition of being the first to get to Ireland from France fulfilled, he is now thinking in terms of the ultimate goal – New York to Brest in 2015.
The O'Learys of Crosshaven have taken the Sailor of the Month title several times over the years with the remarkable achievements of father Anthony, and sons Peter and Nicholas. But the season of 2013 has clearly demonstrated that there's a new O'Leary on the stage - younger brother Robert, who played a key role in Irish university sailing through March and April.
Previously in the baby brother position as the successful skipper of the family's "cruiserfied" 1720 Antix Beg, young O'Leary is currently making the scene in that hotbed of college development, the University of Limerick. This admired institution's success is doing more to change public perceptions of the sometimes troubled Shannonside city than a whole raft of government inner city initiatives. But even so, when UL came into being in 1989, it would have aroused incredulity to suggest that, by 2013, it would be the clear pace-setter in the highly competitive and long established world of Irish college sailing.
Yet such is the case. And what a pace they've been setting. Despite the coldest Irish spring in years, it was the Limerick college sailors who kicked the new season into action by hosting the three day Intervarsity Team Racing National Opens over the St Patrick's weekend in March. Run in Kerry in conjunction with the hospitable Tralee Bay SC, and sailed in Fireflies, the series attracted 26 teams. The logistical demands were such that Robert O'Leary stayed ashore as overall event manager, but UL was on a roll and they won the main title too, captained by Ross Murray.
Then in April O'Leary was very much afloat, skippering the UL crew in the Student Yachting Worlds Irish selection trials raced over three successive Saturdays in April in the SailFleet J/80s, currently based in Howth. The format was demanding, as it involved getting your crew on site three times over a two week period, and then coping with very different conditions on three separate occasions. But it was an ideal selection method, as the Worlds in France at the end of October – to be sailed in J/80s –will make a considerable demand on resources and organisational ability, so those who could cope with the special challenges of the Howth series are clearly made of the right stuff.
On top of that, with no discards, consistency afloat was vital. The great Robert Scheidt of Brazil, probably world sailing's best-liked superstar, remarked very recently that in the final analysis, modern sailing is a consistency sport. Before he'd said it, the Limerick college sailors showed they were well aware of this reality. On each of the three Saturdays, Rob O'Leary sailed them to a first and second. Three firsts and three seconds is "quite a consistent scoreboard". Coupled with his achievements in March in ensuring the success of the staging of the team racing championship, Robert O'Leary is a very worthy Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month for April 2013.
#sailorsfofthemonth – Fergus and Kay Quinlan's three year voyage around the world in their own-built 12m steel cutter Pylades has been an inspiration to Ireland's sailing community. And now it has received international acclamation from the premier global voyaging organisation, the Ocean Cruising Club, which has given the County Clare couple – who sail from Kinvara on Galway Bay – the special OCC Award for those "who have done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft and the practice of seamanship and navigation in all branches".
The magical cruise of the Pylades has already been awarded the Irish Cruising Club's senior trophy, the Faulkner Cup (which dates from 1931), for an unprecedented three years in a row. And for the many in Ireland who have been following the cruise, it comes as no surprise that the experienced adjudicators in the Ocean Cr C have also found the cruise of the Quinlans to be both an informative entertainment, and a realistic encouragement to those who would hope to do something similar.
Realism and the realisation of the ocean voyaging dream were the themes of their achievement. It began prosaically enough. Once they'd decided to do it, Fergus went off and took a welding course so that they could build the boat themselves from scratch. They built her very well – the van de Stadt-designed Pylades looks good, and she has come through everything the oceans of the world could throw at her in a 40,486 mile voyage.
Two sailors ashore, high in the mountains – Fergus and Kay Quinlan in the midst some hill climbing on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.
At the Irish Cruising Club's Annual Dinner in Galway on March 9th, Fergus was the main speaker, and his entertaining musings were purest gold on the enduring attraction of ocean cruising "when we find ourselves on the back of a vast surging ocean entering a dream world, a dream world of boundless horizons. In daylight, we scan the sky for those elusive small white puffy clouds that might indicate the trades. At night, we are transfixed with the shifting rhythms that play on sea and sail, our furrowing of the deep disturbs a billion luminescent swimmers who stream away from our stern in sheets of fading phosphorescence".
Truly inspirational, the cruise of the Pylades has quietly and movingly set a standard to which the rest of us can only aspire.
#sailorofthemonth – Simon and Nancy de Pietro of Kinsale Yacht Club are the Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month for February after their convincing win in Class 1 in the RORC Caribbean 600 Race. With strong family links to North Cork and Sligo, they fly the burgee of the popular club on the south coast of Ireland for their successful international sailing programme.
Although their 76ft Philippe Briand-designed Lilla is a much-loved 20-year-old veteran, the high standard of maintenance which is lavished by this enthusiastic sailing couple on their hard-working charter boat shows itself in the consistency of the boat's racing performance in a competitive programme which is fitted around a regular working life on the Caribbean cruise circuit.
The quiet season in the Caribbean is in the summer, and last year saw Lilla avail of summer's opportunity to come north in June and race in the famous biennial Newport-Bermuda Race, which was first sailed in 2006. With Simon as skipper and Nancy as navigator, they won overall in the cruising division. Lilla clearly likes racing to Bermuda, as she has also won overall in another contest to the "onion patch", the annual race from Marion in Massachusetts.
For the start of 2013, Lilla's charter programme was put on hold for a while as she geared up for the new sunshine classic, the RORC Caribbean 600. Although she has relatively shallow draft in order to maximize her cruising choices, she is raced so skillfully that the expected limitations on her windward performance simply don't seem to materialize.
Looking every inch a winner, Lilla comes rocketing out of the start of the Caribbean 600 on Monday February 18th. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright
She came rocketing out of the breezy windward start of the Caribbean 600 off Antigua with a real flourish, and built on success to clinch the Class 1 win and place 8th overall in a very competitive fleet. In a race in which several distinguished competitors dropped out because of weather damage, their result reflects great credit on our new Sailors of the Month.
With sheets slightly eased after weathering Antigua, Lilla starts to power along towards her win. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright
She may be "just a very nice cruising boat", but this is the view most racing competitors get of Lilla. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright
#sailorofthemonth – As we look back over the extraordinary mixture of memories stirred up by the Irish sailing season of 2012, one exceptionally good deed stands out in a sometimes slightly wicked world.
Questions were asked about some major events in Ireland and abroad during 2012, while in others, distasteful rows blew up which could have been much more competently handled. But over and above it all, and glowing with increasing strength as the passing of time enhances the recollections, is the happy memory of the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire in July.
With 63 nations involved, it was the most international sailing event ever seen in Ireland. It involved the active input of an army of volunteers ashore, and a navy of volunteers afloat. With so many people taking part at some level or other, the scope for friction – at the very least – was incalcuable.
Yet the ISAF Youth Worlds seemed to effortlessly achieve that true spirit of local, national and international goodwill to which to many comparable events aspire, but not all realize. It made a lasting impact, and was lavishly and deservedly praised by outgoing ISAF President Goran Petersson at the ISAF Conference in November.
Only with a very exceptional administrator and delegator leading an inevitably complex organization can such a satisfactory outcome be achieved. Irish sailing in general, and Dublin Bay in particular, is fortunate in being able to call on the services of Brian Craig to lead the administration in events as demanding as the ISAF Worlds. Not only did he put in the long hours necessary to ensure its smooth running, but long beforehand he gave generously of his time to ensure that Dublin Bay's claim to stage this event was internationally acknowledged and approved. Brian Craig is the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for December in celebration of his unrivalled contribution to the sailing season of 2012.
#ucd – Never before have we had ten Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailors of the Month" in the one month. But with Christmas approaching it's time for gifting all round, and the adjudicators have agreed the entire UCD team that clinched the Student Yachting Worlds in France four weeks ago are Sailors of the Month for November.
UCD Sailing Club Captain Cathal Leigh-Doyle made best use of the extensive resources of talent available in Ireland's largest university by taking along a squad of ten, even though the boats used are actually raced by eight.
Ever since they won the right to represent Ireland by taking the national college title in Dun Laoghaire in March, the UCD club's key officers had been keeping an intensive training programme on track. They'd also copped on to the significant fact that you're allowed to deploy substitutes, massively important when the high-scoring overnight offshore race followed immediately after a day of intense inshore contests.
With the points table at a crucial phase, sailing skipper Aidan MacLaverty and tactician Barry McCartin were able to bring on board the fresh energy of the highly experienced Ben Fusco and Ellen Cahill for the marathon overnight contest, and this made for the key contribution to the massive points lead with which the Irish team clinched the world title.
The complete team were Cathal Leigh-Doyle, Aidan McLaverty, Barry McCartin, Ben Fusco, Ellen Cahill, Simon Doran, Bella Moorehead, Alyson Rumball, Theo Murphy and David Fitzgerald, and they did us proud.