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Displaying items by tag: Sailor of the Month

Arise, Schull, and take your place among the great sailing centres of the world. Move over Sydney. Newport stand aside. Cowes make room. The port in West Cork is punching way above its weight, and last weekend it hosted a superb National Junior Championship which saw a local boy as runaway winner against the best that Ireland can produce.

Fionn Lyden (17) is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" for September after nine wins in nine races in the Irish Sailing Association Junior All Ireland Sailing Championship, racing in a fleet of 21 of the top helming talents recruited nationwide.

But what we're celebrating here isn't just one special talent, rather it's the entire Schull spirit with a thriving Community College which has sailing and maritime studies at the heart of its curriculum. It's not something which has happened overnight. It has been built up by many dedicated enthusiasts over decades, and today's rich legacy of healthy involvement with boats and sailing invigorates the town and its part of West Cork, an enormous credit to those who have worked away in the background to make it happen, and keep it happening.

These days the leading organisational figure is David Harte. Lucky indeed is Schull, that this was the place this exceptionally talented sailor, teacher and boat builder always called home while he developed his early career at the sharp end of international sailing all over the world.

The racing last weekend under Harte's direction was in the boats of the Schull-developed TR 3.6 class, and as they're sailed two up it could be argued that this gave an advantage to those accustomed to double-handed dinghies. But that's the way it is in sailing, and as the programme of close racing in good condition in a steady easterly unfolded, it was clear that the local duo of Fionn Lyden and school colleague Anna O'Regan were in a league of their own.

Their closest challenger initially was Finn Lynch of the National YC in Dun Laoghaire, winner of the Laser Single-handed Silver Medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds in July (when he was Sailor of the Month). In the end with Lynch being tripped by a tenth in the final race, it was Lydens all the way, as Eoin Lyden made it first and second for Schull, with Lynch third, while Anna Keller of Lough Derg was first girl at 7th overall, Laura Gilmore of Strangford Lough taking second at 9th OA.

#sailor of the month – Annalise Murphy of the National YC in Dun Laoghaire is the Irish Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" for August following her outstanding performance in the London Olympics. The talented and dedicated 22-year-old had the entire country in thrall as she battled with the fierce challenge of being top of the Women's Laser Radial class, and her fourth place overall, shy of a medal by fractions of a second, is the best Irish Olympic Sailing Result for thirty years.

Merely to describe her result as fourth overall fails completely to capture the essence of Murphy's performance. For about half of the regatta, she was in the Gold Medal slot. Then having slipped down to bronze rankings, she regained the top place with only one race to sail.

At this level of sailing, being top leaves a helm open to all sorts of joint challenges by those nearest in rankings. Like it or not, this is the way it is in sailing. Because there are ten boats involved, and with the wind being the motive power, the opportunities to block off a clear breeze or create other distractions for those heading the points table are there for the taking. When a leader is slowed back by one boat, two or three others can climb up the rankings at the previous leader's expense.

With four of the world's top women sailors in contention for the Gold going into that final race, the pressure was unbelievable. And with the race being staged in the fluky breezes close in off the Nothe at Weymouth, tiny gains could suddenly become significant gaps through vagaries of the wind.

It tells us everything about the stratospheric level of sailing in the Olympics that despite conditions which would have seen club racers spread over a wide time band, the Women's Laser Radials were finishing in tight order. But within that order, it was the Irish girl who - after leading for most of the series - lost out in the final leg.

But despite the outcome, throughout Ireland - maybe for the first time - people fully appreciated what is involved. Through her achievements and popular appeal, Annalise Murphy did more to raise the profile of our sport than any other Irish sailor in this extraordinary year, or indeed for many years.

Born in 1996 to salute the achievements of Irish sailing stars the Afloat Sailor of the month awards nearly pre-date the internet!

From 2009 the monthly and annual awards are documented online here but for the moment the record of monthly award winners for 12 years from 1996 to 2008 are preserved only in print. They're proudly named in the back issues of Afloat magazine, Ireland's boating publication.

We are working towards publishing these years online too. Watch this space for our full roll of honour from 1996 onwards. Thanks for your interest!

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#sailorofthemonth – As we move into 2013 with The Gathering gaining strength, and the prospect of an Irish Diaspora Centre in Dun Laoghaire Harbour becoming a realistic prospect, it's appropriate that the first Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" in 2013 should be Gordon Maguire. He has successfully carried the best reputation of Irish sailing to every corner of the world, but although now based in Australia, he maintains strong links with home, with his many successes shared by Ireland's maritime community.

In the first week of January 2013, Gordon Maguire celebrated 53 straight weeks of exceptional achievement. The 63ft Reichel Pugh sloop Loki, aboard which he is sailing master, had been confirmed as overall champion in the Australian Blue Water Points Score. This has to be the ultimate test of offshore racing enthusiasm and dedication, as it's a seven race season-long series with no discards, culminating in the Sydney-Hobart Race.

While defending champion Loki may have had to concede the Hobart race win this time round to the 100ft Wild Oats XI, she was a very solid second, and well ahead of her nearest challenger in the Blue Water Series. As for conceding that one win to Wild Oats, it was the only time throughout the series that Loki had done so. In the second-longest race, the 384-mile Sydney to Gold Coast Race, Loki had been on top form for a convincing overall win. And of course her successful progress through the season of 2012 had been launched with her stunning victory in the tactically-demanding December 2011 Sydney-Hobart Race.

Gordon Maguire's four years of growing success with a mixed amateur-professional crew aboard Stephen Ainsworth's Loki speaks volumes for his exceptional talents as a helmsman, his inspiring ability as a leader, and his high qualities as a team member. Added to his record as a champion round the world racer and a winner in many other events, it is the latest chapter in a remarkable success story for Irish sailing.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Created in 1996, the Afloat Sailor of the Year Awards represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

This is a national award especially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing's elite.

Over nearly two decades the awards has developed in to a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

Since it began 17 years ago the awards have recognised over 200 monthly award winners in the pages of Ireland's sailing magazine Afloat and these have been made to both amateur and professional sailors.

The first ever sailor of the year was Dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle.

Now proudly in its 18th year we've already recognised sailors, ex-pat gordon Maguire from Howth for for his dramatic win in January's Sydney-Hobart race became the first monthly winner in 2013 and the account of his exploits are on this website.

As a sport we often grumble that sailing doesn't get the recognition it deserves but through these awards and the support of our sponsors past and present there is a bigger chance of presenting the remarkable achievements of Irish sailors that all too often do not get the media coverage that we all think they deserve.

An online readers poll plus a vote from a panel of sailing journalists and administrators select the annual winner.

Published in Landing Pages
31st December 2012

Irish Sailor of the Year 2012

Help us decide...

As in previous years, Afloat magazine is asking the public to help decide who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2012.

The overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to, Irish watersports during 2012.

This year voting will take place through www.afloat.ie from January the 1st.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ EACH ACHIEVEMENT AND VOTE FOR YOUR SAILOR AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS IN OUR COMMENT BOX BELOW TOO!

The boating public gets to nominate their top three through the online poll, Afloat.ie gets a vote too and the Sailor of the Year judges decide the final winner.

Cast your vote by midnight February 17, 2013. The awards are administered and judged by Afloat magazine and the Irish Independent. (UPDATE: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR YOUR VOTES!)

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Sophie Browne – Browne's an early riser

Sophie Browne of Tralee Bay and Royal Cork took the silver medal in the girls division in the Optimist Worlds in New Zealand. That's some going for the then 14-year-old, especially after a gold in the girls - and fourth overall - in Mallorca last December. But she's well aware of the sheer hard work and unglamourous dedication that goes into a podium place. For more: http://bit.ly/ZXpE8A

 

Fergus and Kay Quinlan – Quinlans repeat their feat

Lightning strikes twice for Fergus and Kay Quinlan, who repeated their Sailor of the Month award in February 2011 with the same accolade 12 months later. And again they lifted the Faulkner Cup - Ireland's most senior cruising trophy - for their ventures across the Pacific in their 38ft sloop Pylades, which they purpose-built themselves for the journey. They finally ended their circumnavigation in their home waters of Co Clare this past July, yet the impression of their achievements lives on. For more: http://bit.ly/xtk8Ft

 

Hal Sisk – Sisk celebrates the past

Boat enthusiast Hal Sisk is commendable for his work both in researching Ireland's seafaring history, making it accessible to less academic mariners, and in restoring ancient boats that provide an insight into the past. His work on the 1880s clipper Peggy Bawn in particular is a fascinating window into a time of rapid change in design, something he's also made the focus of his new company Peggy Bawn Press with a biography of Scottish boat designer George Lennox Watson. For more: http://bit.ly/UQ1HA6

 

Stephen Hyde – Like son, like father

Usually it's children who follow in their parents' footsteps, but for Crosshaven's Stephen Hyde it's the other way round, matching his son Stefan's Sailor of the Month award in 2006 with his own honour this April. It's a well deserved one, too, in light Stephen and his wife Aileen's recently completed global voyage, joining ocean-crossing events stage by stage around the world, and even winning their class in this year's Oyster Caribbean Regatta. For more: http://bit.ly/SYye1b

 

Team Toy Yacht – Smallest boat, biggest prize

Testing their part-time sailing skills and their self-restored vintage Julian Everitt design Evolution 22 to the limit, Team Toy Yot swept Class 4 IRC in the record-breaking BMW ICRA Nationals at Howth this May. But considering three of the four – Stephen Mullany, rigger Gavin Lavery, mechanic Dave Carroll and student Gavin Pitcher - work in the hands-on end of the marine industry keeping boats running throughout the season, this strong performance should really be little surprise. For more: http://bit.ly/QpbNGL

 

Peter O'Leary & David Burrows – Star pair's stellar year

It was a stellar year for the Star class pair of Peter O'Leary and David Burrows, as they followed their strong performance in June's Skandia Sail for Gold with a 10th place finish in the medal race at the London 2012 Olympics. Giving established duos such as Percy and Simpson of Great Britain and Scheidt and Prado of Brazil a run for their money, O'Leary and Burrows' results marked a new high for Irish sailing. For more: http://bit.ly/LEouq2

 

Bernard Guoy – Guoy's one of our own

Bernard Guoy's enthusiasm for the West of Ireland even extends to the name of his Ker 39, Inis Mor, in which he and his family won the latest edition of the Round Ireland Yacht Race. But the Frenchman is no invader, as his kin have strong and lasting connections to sailing in the region, racing regularly for Clifden Boat Club. Their exemplary performance in the race was seen as a fine win by one of our own. For more: http://bit.ly/LEouq2

 

Finn Lynch – Carlow's Captain Cool

Just 16 years of age, Carlow's Finn Lynch can already claim a silver medal at the 2012 Youth Worlds to his name. His style of winning - staying calm and finishing in control of the race - is something that many older sailors could learn from.

Racing Toppers from the age of eight, Lynch is now a world class talent in the Laser Radial for the National Yacht Club, the same that produced Olympic heroine Annalise Murphy. For more: http://bit.ly/UOOiCE

 

Annalise Murphy – Annalise is outstanding

It's a well deserved honour for Annalise Murphy following her outstanding performance in the Laser Radial at the London Olympic this summer. She produced Ireland's best Olympic result in 30 years in any class, only narrowly missing out on the bronze in the medal race - and raised the profile of the sport in Ireland immeasurably. Meanwhile, considering the NYC sailor and UCD student is still only 22, there's still so much sailing success awaiting in her future. For more: http://bit.ly/POjgxT

 

Fionn Lyden – Lyden's runaway victory

Local boy Fionn Lyden was runaway winner against the best Ireland can produce at the Junior All-Ireland Nationals in Schull this September. The 17-year-old's nine wins fromnine races in the 21-strong fleet of the country's top helms marks him as a talent to watch among a rising crop of young sailors from the West Cork town. Lyden's success is a credit to those who have worked in the background to make it happen.

For more: http://bit.ly/XVhr5p

 

Barry Hurley – All down to Hurley

Barry Hurley's victory in the two-handed division in the Rolex Middle Sea Race off Malta earns him his second Sailor of the Month award since June 2009. As the race judges themselves declared, Hurley's dedication and determination ensured his JOD 35 Dinah was in full racing trim and ready to go in the record fleet in this year's Mediterranean marathon - an experience he described as "the most intense" race he has ever sailed. For more: http://bit.ly/Qhtwj1

 

UCD Sailing Team – Top of the Class

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. More here.

 

Brian Craig – Super Organisation Brings Home the Goods for Dun Laoghaire

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. More here.

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE!

Published in Sailor of the Year

#sailorofthemonth – Barry Hurley is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent October "Sailor of the Month" to mark his victory last weekend in the two-handed division in the 606-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race out of Malta with his JOD 35 Dinah.

Hurley (32), originally from Cobh, had a very capable shipmate with him in the form of Andrew Boyle, who has raced several times on major events as the No 2 on Dinah. But the adjudicators felt that as it was Barry Hurley's dedication and determination which ensured that Dinah was in full racing trim and ready to go in the record fleet in this year's Mediterranean marathon, the success was primarily his personal achievement.

He has been Sailor of the Month before, back in June 2009 when he won his class with the same boat in the Single-Handed Transatlantic Race. In fact, single handed racing is very much his thing – back in June this year, when the Irish sailing community was mainly focused on the Round Ireland Race, three boats raced out of Galway on the inaugural 750-mile Round Rockall Race, and Dinah with Hurley won the two boat solo division from Jamie Young of Mayo in the Frers 49 Killary Flyer.

For most sailors, battling out round Rockall would be enough for any one season. But Dinah's owner-skipper has shown his determination by getting his boat out to the Med and ready to race in what is now firmly established as Malta's primary annual maritime event. Indeed, at the prize giving, Malta's Tourism Minister Mario de Marco described it as Malta's most prestigious international event full stop.

This time round, 83 boats crossed the starting line, and after a race plagued by light winds, but with a mighty thunderstorm which provided more than enough wind for one section of the fleet, the overall winner was the Welbourn 46 Hi Fidelity (Eddie de Villiers, South Africa).

The five boats in the two-handed division went right down to the wire, as the race has a seven day time limit, and though Hurley and Boyle knew they were in with a shout for their class win as they came towards the finish line last Saturday, in the end they only had 25 minutes to spare before time ran out.

For Hurley, it was "the most intense" race he has ever sailed. The Irish ambassador to Malta, Jim Hennessy, was there with supporters to welcome them in to an emotional finish as they beat the clock by that crucial 25 minutes, which enabled them to take a clear corrected time win of six hours in the two-handed division.

#sailor of the month  – Annalise Murphy of the National YC in Dun Laoghaire is the Irish Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" for August following her outstanding performance in the London Olympics. The talented and dedicated 22-year-old had the entire country in thrall as she battled with the fierce challenge of being top of the Women's Laser Radial class, and her fourth place overall, shy of a medal by fractions of a second, is the best Irish Olympic Sailing Result for thirty years.

Merely to describe her result as fourth overall fails completely to capture the essence of Murphy's performance. For about half of the regatta, she was in the Gold Medal slot. Then having slipped down to bronze rankings, she regained the top place with only one race to sail.

At this level of sailing, being top leaves a helm open to all sorts of joint challenges by those nearest in rankings. Like it or not, this is the way it is in sailing. Because there are ten boats involved, and with the wind being the motive power, the opportunities to block off a clear breeze or create other distractions for those heading the points table are there for the taking. When a leader is slowed back by one boat, two or three others can climb up the rankings at the previous leader's expense.

With four of the world's top women sailors in contention for the Gold going into that final race, the pressure was unbelievable. And with the race being staged in the fluky breezes close in off the Nothe at Weymouth, tiny gains could suddenly become significant gaps through vagaries of the wind.

It tells us everything about the stratospheric level of sailing in the Olympics that despite conditions which would have seen club racers spread over a wide time band, the Women's Laser Radials were finishing in tight order. But within that order, it was the Irish girl who - after leading for most of the series - lost out in the final leg.

But despite the outcome, throughout Ireland - maybe for the first time - people fully appreciated what is involved. Through her achievements and popular appeal, Annalise Murphy did more to raise the profile of our sport than any other Irish sailor in this extraordinary year, or indeed for many years.

DUBLIN BAY SPEED SAILING SUPERSHOW NEXT WEEK

The National Yacht Club, current Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year, is setting a hectic pace throughout 2012, and tomorrow sees the international sailing focus swinging towards the club in its hospitable corner of Dun Laoghaire harbour as the European Tour of the five new MOD 70 class boats gets going from Kiel on Germany's Baltic coast, racing north round Scotland and on towards Ireland and the NYC in Dun Laoghaire.

Back in July, these 70ft trimarans leapt into prominence with their first major race, the Krys Transatlantic from New York to Brest. Not only did they see two of the boats average better than 25 knots across the pond to establish a new Transatlantic record, but they arrived in good order nicely on time for Bastille Day, and just after Groupama had won the Volvo Race for France. For the French sailing community, it was as good a Bastille Day as anyone could remember.

Since then, other nations have been making the global sailing headlines with the Olympics, and more recently the acceleration of the America's Cup programme in San Francisco. But as of tomorrow, France and the mighty MOD 70s will be top of the bill. They'll be in and around Dublin Bay from 5th to 9th September. After the rather sedate Parade of Sail which concluded the visit of the Tall Ships last weekend, next week we're going to have the opportunity to see sailing in which "sedate" will most emphatically not be the mot juste.

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A Centenarian on the silver sea – Ainmara has been stepping out in style for her hundredth birthday. Photo: W M Nixon

SPRITELY CENTENARIAN GOES ISLAND-HOPPING

We took a break from last weekend's posting to go off with Dickie Gomes for the Centenary Cruise of his 1912-built 36ft yawl Ainmara. Those who knew Tiger Gomes in his glory days as a round Ireland record-maker and ace skipper of some notable top end offshore racers may not be aware that, since 1966, he has also been the owner of Ainmara, the first yacht designed and built in Ringsend by John B Kearney.

Admittedly the demands on the Gomes sailing talent were such that Ainmara spent many years as the sleeping princess in a shed at the Gomes farm. But with the Centenary coming up, her prince bestirred himself, she was put afloat for the first time in 28 years last year, and for this season a Centenary Cruise to familiar stomping grounds in the Hebrides was mooted.

It was back in 1960 that I made my first charter cruise in Ainmara to the Scottish west coast. She seemed quite an old boat then, at the age of 48, so getting the head round the fact that she's now a hundred takes a bit of doing. Although these days she carries a Bermudan rig with three headsails on an alloy mast which Dickie built himself back in the 1960s, her hull is still almost totally original, and even her rather brutal coachroof (you get used to the look of it) is simply built on top of the original cabin – this was a tasty little low profile effort, but it provided zilch in the way of headroom.

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Dickie Gomes, Round Ireland Record Holder 1986-1993, relaxing aboard his beloved hundred year old Kearney yawl Ainmara in the Sound of Mull, August 2012.

I joined Dickie and his shipmate Denis Fusco (son of legendary sailor the late Victor Fusco) in Ballycastle on Tuesday August 7th. Ballycastle with its much-improved harbour is to Ireland's northeast corner as Kilmore Quay is to the southeast – a mighty-handy point of departure. I'd hopped on the DART that morning in Howth, yet that evening we were comfortably ensconced in the Ardview Inn at Port Ellen on Islay, starting to meet a continuous line of intriguing characters which continued throughout the Hebrides – with so many samey looking boats around these days, when you arrive in with a eccentric-looking Centenarian like Ainmara, it's a very effective calling card.

By going to the Hebrides, we got into the good weather which the areas well north of the jetstream have been enjoying for much of the summer. There's actually a water shortage in the isles. Inevitably with such weather the wind was lacking at times, hut we'd some marvellous sails, memorably trundling up the sea of the Hebrides with the jib tops'l and mizzen staysail added to the basic four sails.

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Summertime for an old boat and an even older castle – the Centenarian Ainmara wafts about a visitor's mooring off Kissimul Castle, the ancient stronghold of the MacNeils, at Castlebay in Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Photo: W M Nixon

In all, the spritely Centenarian got to twelve islands in twelve days, our furthest north being Harris where we treated ourselves to a centenary dinner in Donald MacDonald's hospitable inn beside the enchanting little anchorage of Rodel. When that bit of filthy weather swept through Ireland on Wednesday August 15th, we were far enough north to be roaring along towards the Kyle of Lochalsh in a sunny easterly which gave us a smooth water speed burst of 7.8 knots, yet without trailing a roaring quarter wave behind us – John Kearney surely knew how to create a sweet hull.

Even Dickie Gomes is not as young as he used to be, but until this cruise he'd disdained the old man's rig of mizzen and headsails only, with the main kept neatly furled. But with a brisk westerly as we came down down the Sound of Mull, and just the two of us aboard as Denis the Gentle Giant had left ship as planned at Mallaig, he gave the OMR a try, and Ainmara obliged by effortlessly notching 6.7 knots as a squall came off the dark Mull hills.

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Grand breeze – Ainmara sails in style up Loch Carron in Wester Ross

A new crew joined at Oban on Monday while I returned to Howth via Donegal (that's another story), and Ainmara is now back at her moorings at Ballydorn off the Down Cruising Club's lightship headquarters in Strangford Lough. The lightship is also celebrating her centenary this year – she was built on the north side of the Liffey in 1912 when Ainmara was being completed at Ringsend on the south side. A Centenary Party will be staged this month, and beyond that cruising plans for 2013 are already taking shape – cruising a boat aged 101 will probably be even more entertaining than cruising an ordinary Centenarian.

Published in W M Nixon

#sailorofthemonth – The latest Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" awards reflect the hectic pace of sailing at all levels this year, with the Monthly Award going to gold medallists in Olympic campaigning, while the International Award is for a French sailing family with strong connections to Ireland's west coast.

Fortunately, although the overall result in the Volvo Race at Galway is already clearcut with Groupama unbeatable on the leaderboard, today's in-port race will mark the proper conclusion of an event which has confirmed its position as the world's premier offshore contest. So the Volvo racers are July's men, and we can pause for a moment to salute the stars of June.

The Olympics next month will mark the conclusion of a rugged buildup, a continuing story which becomes ever more challenging as the main event nears. But the performance by Peter O'Leary and David Burrows in the preliminary regatta, the Skandia Sail for Gold in June, was outstanding in itself.

In terms of winning, they were always there or thereabouts. And most importantly, they were perfectly poised to make the win move when the opportunity arose. It was a stellar performance, and their Gold Medal, snatched from competition of the calibre of Percy & Simpson of Britain and Scheidt & Prado of Brazil, marked a new high for Irish sailing.

For the first time since its inception in 1980, the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow saw overseas competitors outnumber Irish boats, a reflection of the race's growing international importance. The invasion aroused mixed feelings, with its increased likelihood of a foreign winner. But in the end, the deserved victory by the French-owned Ker 39 Inis Mor was seen as a fine win by one of our own.

With his boat named after the largest of the Aran islands, Bernard Gouy proclaims his enthusiasm for the west of Ireland. The family has a holiday place in Connemara, and race for Clifden Boat Club. But they're also regular performers at the front of the fleet in RORC events in the English Channel, and Inis Mor will be expected to turn out for France in the Commodore's Cup at the end of this month.

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Bernard Gouy's Round Ireland winner Inismor,  the winner of Afloat's International Sailor of the month award. Photo: Bob Bateman

However, their commitment to the Round Ireland race is nothing new. Before commissioning the present Inis Mor from designer Jason Ker, they campaigned a standard 40ft Jeanneau cruiser-racer and got into the frame. Their Round Ireland victory last weekend was the result of exemplary sailing and tactics throughout a very challenging race. It was textbook stuff, and we salute our International Award winners for showing the way.

#SAILOR OF THE MONTHSailing being a very strong family sport, it's not unknown for sons and daughters to repeat their parents' achievement in being the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month". Sometimes the accolades can occur close together, despite the span of the generations. But it's very unusual for the younger generation to become SoM before their seniors have taken the prize. And for a son to win it all of six years before the old fellow gets a place on the podium is unprecedented.

Stefan Hyde of Crosshaven was "Sailor of the Month" back in 2006 when he was 24. And he became the Helmsman's Champion of Ireland the following year. At that time, his father Stephen was providing his newly-acquired Oyster 56 for Race Officer duties off Cork Harbour. But the word was that when he soon retired from a busy life as an architect, he and his wife Aileen would begin a round the world voyage with the new boat, with friends joining them as crew at different stages.

This was not going to be some sort of global vagrancy. It was quietly but efficiently organised. Where possible, the plan was to take part in ocean crossing fleet events, such as the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. This takes the hassle out of arriving in remote ports, it also provides companionship with other boats because the ocean can often seem a very large and empty place, particularly with piracy on the increase, and fleet participation provides the occasional race which, in the case of the Hyde boat, saw many notable successes.

Last summer, they completed their global circuit of 36,395 miles, of which 30,775 were totally under sail. Then they cruised on up the east coast of America instead of returning to Ireland. This year, they're heading home to Cork, but first they went back down to the Caribbean, and with a strong crew which son Stefan brought from Cork, they won their class in the Oyster Regatta in mid-April. It's an event which is gently glitzy on the surface, but the racing is very much for real. There'll be a great welcome when the boat – she's called A Lady – returns to Crosshaven this summer. But meanwhile, Stephen Hyde is "Sailor of the Month" for April.

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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]

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