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17th December 2009

Cork Week: The Word on the Week

The word on the week...

We put our ear to the ground – online, in print and elsewhere – to hear what the hordes had to say about sailing in this Year's Cork Week...

Kawalski – Sailing Anarchy – If you don’t want to spend your entire paycheck, it’s a good idea to revisit your student days and stockpile drinks on your boat and make timely trips back and forth to the marina.

Anne Hogan – – We are definitely coming back in two years. The quality of the racing, the variety of the courses and, of course, the partying is unparalleled.

Mayo Advertiser – The one constant was dry, warm weather; a true sailor’s delight.

Jen  – I didn’t like ‘98/2000 so much because that was around the peak number of boats (the Bigger, Better, Faster, More period). Since then there have been fewer boats and hence fewer people, and it’s been a lot more pleasant not having to fight your way through hoards of pissed sailors to get anywhere on the site.

Thiepval – Sailing Anarchy – After 2000, I vowed I’d never do another. It’s just too big, too drink centered, too much of a scrum... the Scottish Series is much better fun... Even Cowes week is more fun than Cork now, as long as you do it in the right way.











Wrapping it up

Cork Week has come and gone, but already the shape of the 2010 event is coming together. RCYC Admiral Mike McCarthy gives us his view on a few key points

On the week in general – “It was a tremendous event from a competitor’s point of view and a club point of view. We’re absolutely delighted.  On the last day we had a going away present for all the boats, maybe 250 of them, and I shook hands with everyone – and got positive feedback from every last one.”

On the pricing issue – “It is an expensive event, but then we believe we give good value to the competitor at the end of the day. The quality of the racing is superb, and that costs a lot to run. And also the quality of the social activities on site are tremendous – unfortunately that costs a lot of money to set up. To be fair, one or two of them did comment on prices, but any holiday is expensive. They’re here for a full seven days, there’s no way that’s going to be cheap. But positive reactions from everyone, we are delighted.”

On Cork Week 2010 – “We’re already planning the 2010 event. There were comments positive and negative and we have to try to constantly address all of those issues. The most important thing is to continue to make the event as professionally run as possible. We’re considering tweaks to the race course, and trying to make life a bit more fun on site during the week of the event itself.

“There are a number of things that we are considering and if price is one of those things, then so be it.  The important thing is to make sure that it’s fun on the site for the club sailor – that’s the goal of the event.”

On the ‘professional problem’ – “There is no problem, to be honest with you. The rules are quite clear. The competitors do not want professionals in their club racing in Cork Week. What Cork Week did was create two classes, Super Zero and Zero, also a corporate class, and grade two and grade three sailors can race in those fleets.

“The problem is that’s not a Cork Week issue or a club issue, that’s ISAF grading. Most competitors will have received an email by now asking them for their feedback on the 2008 event, and it is quite surprising the number who have come back saying ‘Make sure you keep a ‘grade one only’ event, and that’s what the competitors come back looking for.

“Nonetheless there is a demand for grade twos and that’s why we’ve gone out of our way to create a corporate class.”


Hot site in Harbour

As the Cork Week fleet crossed tacks along the Cobh shoreline, passing the naval dockyard at Haulbowline, few would have realised they were cruising past one of Ireland’s environmental hot potatoes.

Haulbowline island, at the time, was making headlines because of cancer-causing residue, left over from the Irish Steel plant that once occupied the land. It was recently confirmed that a cache of 500,000 tonnes of slag and toxic waste material were buried at the former steelworks.

The report, compiled in 2005 but, like the toxins, only seeping out later, shows high levels of several heavy metals at the plant, both in soil samples and water samples.

Chromium six, which causes cancer both by inhalation and by infecting groundwater, was revealed to be present in massive quantities at Haulbowline. The mineral is a highly toxic anti-corrosion agent used in the steel-making process, but which is gradually being phased out due to its toxicity.

The site is a blight on one of the finest natural harbours in the world, and home to one of the best regattas in the world. How can sailors make their views known on this subject? We’d like to hear your thoughts – [email protected]


Published in Cork Week
17th December 2009

How Old Is Cork Week?

How old is Cork Week?

Was this year (2008) the 30th anniversary of Cork Week, or will it come in 2016? To many of the sailing competitors enjoying Crosshaven’s sunshine this year, it might seem irrelevant when the event started. But for those close to the action, and the organisation, it certainly stirred up an interest.

cork_ex3_copy.jpgLeft: the start of it all – Tom O’Sullivan’s report from The Cork Examiner in 1978

After much discussion, it now appears that the leading Cork sailing authorities are in agreement. The first Cork Week was held in 1978 and attracted around 32 boats.

The event, which ran from July 18th to 21st, featured the presentation of the Carling Trophy. There had been some confusion over the event, which some commentators felt was in fact an ISORA event. However, checks on The (then Cork) Examiner archives by Afloat  correspondent Claire Bateman revealed that there was an ISORA event on July 4th that year in Holyhead, with a feeder race from Dun Laoghaire attracting 50 yachts.



Published in Cork Week

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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