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Displaying items by tag: Cork Week

17th December 2009

Cork Week 2008 Preview

Cork Week 2008 Preview

380 boats and a fleet packed with quality

 (reprinted from Afloat June/July 2008)

Markham Nolan previews ACCBank Cork Week that has announced a new Cup for the amateur cruiser-racer

It’s now 30 years since the concept of Cork Week was born. In 1978 Royal Cork started the tradition of a biennial regatta with just 50 enthusiastic boats and a smattering of volunteers. Little did they know what they had started. The regatta gained momentum, and ten years later the club had a major event with a cult sailing following on its hands. Cork Week had arrived.

At that stage, Cork Week was a welcome antidote to the hot-shot racing that pitted the disgruntled amateur against the pro. No pros were allowed at Cork Week, a Corinthian ethic reiterated this year with a new trophy for the amateur cruiser-racer, the Corinthian Cup supplied by the Sisk Group. Boats in IRC Class Zero, in which professional sailors are allowed, are eligible if they have a maximum of one Group 3 classified sailor on board.

However, the pros are out there, in the one-design classes and in the big boats, and part of the experience of something like Cork Week is racing at an event which can still attract top names in yacht racing. Racing against the best is an education, and there’s always the chance that you’ll rub shoulders at the bar, and perhaps learn a trick or two from a friendly pro over a pint.

Since those early days, then, Cork Week has become something of a sailing must-see. It’s a rite of passage, providing milestones every other year by which Irish sailing is measured. Do you remember your first Cork Week? Of course you do. You still tell the stories. The memory will be blurry, sunburnt and caked in salt, but you’ll remember it – for many reasons.

There’s the fact that Crosshaven, geographically, was never meant by God to see this much action. The narrow tidal estuary has overcome its limitations through innovation, expansion and pure can-do moxy to accommodate all-comers. As craft of every conceivable shape and size funnel into the harbour at the end of the racing day, you could practically walk from shore to shore without getting your feet wet, using the moving boats as stepping stones.

There’s the fact that, for plenty of us, this is, undoubtedly, the biggest and best event available.

Until recently, nothing came close to Cork Week for sheer volume, with several acres of canvas hoisted by thousands of competitors every day, and gallons of liquid refreshment sluiced through bodies every evening. It has been Ireland’s yacht racing behemoth for decades, and the numbers, when all is said and done, are mind-boggling. There’s the craic, the unquantifiable charisma that is a factor of place, people and shared experience.

And then there’s the racing. Outside the heads the fleets go their separate ways in the morning, returning to the marina, bar and bandstand together at the end of the day. The middle part of the day is filled with the reason most go to Cork – a mix of courses, conditions, classes and competition that is unsurpassed.

The secret, as always, is in the successful mix of onshore and offshore pleasures. The tent city provides as many memories as do the racecourses, and with 10,000 visitors through the gates in any given year, its status as one of Ireland’s biggest sporting events is assured. Landlubber delights this year include several top music acts, with Paddy Casey and Aslan just two of the big names gracing the tent city in ’08.

But what of the racing at ACC Bank Cork Week, the 2008 edition, which is likely to be as memorable as any other? Entries have already reached a respectable 380, down from the heady, chaotic days of 600 boats and more, but it’s a fleet packed with quality. Again, it’ll be a spectacle like no other at the top end of the ratings, where the big money and the pros live.

For those who enjoy the skyscraper effect of superyachts, as you crane your neck upwards to take in their monstrous rigs, there are a handful of over-60s, including the awesome STP 65 Moneypenny, owned by San Franciscan Jim Schwarz, and the enormous 90-foot Reichel Pugh, Rambler, one of two maxis which featured in last year’s Fastnet Race.

However, it’s the slightly smaller TP52s that have the most potential for high-speed, close quarters cut-and-thrust racing. The six one-design carbon sleds (or as close as dammit to one-design), include Colm Barrington’s Flash Glove. The fleet will line out off Roches Point and those following form will be offering slim odds on Benny Kelly’s Panthera, which has stolen a clutch of victories around England’s south coast already this year.

Ten Farr 45s form another high-performance one-design category within IRC class Zero, as well as, further down the ratings, ten X332s, a dozen Beneteau 31.7s and more than two dozen J109s, which will share guns for some toe-to-toe action in their Irish Championships.

And among the cruiser-racers, the beating heart of the event, you’ll find a slew of top club racers facing off against crews returned from the Commodore’s Cup.
 
The newly-swelled ranks of the SB3 class are expected to number into the forties, with entries coming from as far afield as Australia.

For the slightly more sedate, yet no less competitive, forty-something entries flesh out the increasingly popular white sails gentleman’s class.

All that remains is to get thee to the Rebel County for another edition of Ireland’s premier regatta. It’s all there once again – everything that makes the week as special as it is. The line-up is solid. The stage is set. Cork it.  

 

 

The Admiral's View

Describing himself as a ‘reluctant admiral’ when it comes to telling his story, Mike MacCarthy started sailing in dinghies at the Royal Cork Yacht Club at about nine or ten years of age. He’s now been involved for 30-odd years having worked up to admiral, a position he will fill for the next 18 months having started in the position in January 2008.

Enjoying his tenure, looking forward to Cork Week and commenting on what it means to be admiral, MacCarthy maintains that, “the club here is quite large and there are a number of different sections: racing, dinghies, cruising, and motor-boating, and each group has their own social element. I have to try and represent every one of these and not just the club itself, which makes the job time-consuming, yet very interesting”.

Putting a slight sail to his own story, MacCarthy acknowledges “I’m from the racing fraternity and the name of my boat is Checkmate – a family association – which is a racing cruiser, and I enjoy racing in West Cork and go to Dublin on a regular basis, and I’ve been to Dún Laoghaire Week several times”.

If the Royal Cork Yacht Club had the ear of Government, MacCarthy would like to see “a better system to allow the club develop its facilities, both land- and water-based. For instance, if I had a €5 million donation tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to build a marina. Or a slipway. The planning regulations and the red-tape between The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, valuation departments and county councils (even though Cork County Council has been very good to us and has been very understanding) is a nightmare. We have a wish list of a number of projects we’d like to do including extending our marina, putting in a crane, and developing an extra slipway. However, with all the different departments to negotiate with, it’s incredibly difficult to improve the quality of the club.”

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Party Town

Once in or around Crosshaven, when you’re not mesmerised by the delights in the marina, there are walks in every direction to clear the mind or exercise the body, including a number of designated coloured routes like the rising blue and yellow lines which, while having spectacular views of Spike Island, Haulbowline, Rushbrooke and Cobh, also offer a good vantage point to see the starting line for Royal Cork Yacht Club racing. On this walk you’ll also come across Camden Fort (or Fort Meagher), one of the region’s historical landmarks, famous for its magnificent tunnel and fortifications. Crosshaven is also famous for its two holy wells on the edge of Cruachan woods, and its limekilns, on the Carriagline Road which were once used for firing, baking, drying and hardening clay.

While there are a number of ways to get to Crosshaven, prices to Cork, from say Dublin, are around €90 (premium) return by train, or €85 by plane. If you’re driving, the route goes through Cork city following the signposts for the Ringaskiddy Ferry Port until you arrive at the Shannonpark roundabout. From there take the second exit towards Carrigaline and finally at second next roundabout take a left and follow the signs and 13 miles to Crosshaven. If you thinking of visiting you won’t be disappointed. See you there for Cork Week.

Published in Cork Week

Cork Week – The World's Top Fun Regatta

Since 1978 Cork Week has been setting the bar for Irish Sailing and Afloat Magazine has documented the growth of the biennial event over the past 30 years to the stage today where it is widely regarded as one of the world's top regattas. For all the latest news and updates on Cork Week click here.

Take a small sleepy fishing village. Add water (well, the Atlantic Ocean) and old-fashioned Irish charm. Stir in seven bars, three restaurants, 50 bands, 400 performers and 180 hours of entertainment. Bake in warm sunshine for one week every two years. Sprinkle with 7,000 high-earning visitors.

This is the recipe for success at Cork Week regatta – an icon of Ireland's summer sport that has a bigger reputation overseas than it has at home. 

corkweek_drakespool.jpg

Above: Looking south towards Crosshaven. Photo: Bob Bateman 

Competitors come from as far away as the US, Hong Kong, Australia, France, Germany and Belgium. 2006's regatta attracted first time entries from the Philippines, South Africa, Italy and Sweden but the mainstay of the biennial event is a huge representation from England, Scotland and Wales.

Cork Week, of course is not the only regatta of its kind in the world and many copycat events have sprung up across Europe. But Cork continues to have a special mix that lives up to its billing as the number one fun regatta in the world.

For a typical 450 entries, 80% of them would come from overseas, and they are heading here to race but also for the fun.

In many respects Cork Week, when it first started in 1986, took its inspiration from the success of Cowes Week on the Solent but from the beginning Royal Cork Yacht Club (RCYC) organisers wanted to do more than ape a British event.

They saw a gap in the regatta market and took a bold decision to do away with convention and rewrite the rules for sailing regattas. It sounds cliched some 23 years later but they wanted to produce a regatta that was run by sailors for sailors.

What this actually meant was they set about banning professional sailors from attending Cork at a time when regattas across Europe were suffering from the invasion of paid-to-sail crews. It was a situation that left amateur skippers and crews, representing the majority of the sailing community, tired of heading home without any silverware.

The plan was risky, of course, because pros were an influential bunch required to establish the regatta as a credible venue. Banning them was especially problematic for a remote venue on the outskirts of Europe where the high costs of transporting crew and equipment could have kept many away.

But the crews didn’t stay away and the ‘no-pro’ rule, as it became known, has worked in Cork’s favour. Amateur sailors embraced the idea and owners return to Crosshaven year after year to race against each other for a week of Corinthian fun.

Cork went one better by going back out to the professional circuit and inviting pros to a special restricted class within the week where they could race with each other.

In 2004, for example, it attracted some real professional glamour. American Roy Disney came to town, as did the German billionaire Hasso Plattner, both racing massive Z-86 racing machines around Cork harbour. It was a show stopper and put the glitz into Cork.

It hasn't all been plain sailing however. The Cork week organisation has had its difficulties. Four years ago the host club, the RCYC was so intent on having a good time that it lost money on the enterprise. Thankfully it’s now on a firm financial footing again and the event looks stronger than ever.

Around the same time, many Irish sailors began to think that Cork Week had become just the ‘The Solent on tour’.

They were turned off by the high prices of local accommodation for the week. Dublin sailors complained that the successful Crosshaven formula had been over cooked. They resented paying up to 500 Euro to share a bedroom for the week.

Thankfully that too has been ironed out with a bigger range of accommodation now on offer.

But perhaps in the crush most Irish sailors forgot to appreciate just what they have on their own doorstep. Nowhere was this point more clearly made than in early June when the world’s top offshore sailors called in unexpectedly to our south coast.

They came principally in search of wind in leg eight of the Volvo Round the World race. They found little wind, unusually, but before they left they wrote prose worthy of a Failte Ireland copywriter.

In his log, navigator Simon Fisher wrote: “Our day started sailing in and out of the mist rolling down off the hills and, as the sun rose and the mist burnt off, it gave way to spectacular views of rolling green hills and a weather-beaten rocky coastline. With castles and towers stationed on each headland, it gives you the feeling of sailing through a scene out of Lord of the Rings.”

With endorsements like that, it’s easy to see why Crosshaven will teem again with sailors and supporters for a festival of sailing that’s more like Galway Races on water than a regular Irish sailing regatta.

Although Cork Week's not all about rubbing shoulders with serious money, it is hard to ignore the economic value of the event.

Putting a figure on it can be difficult but Cork Week chairman Ian Venner reckons it is worth 10 million Euro to the local economy. It's like Ireland –v– England at Lansdowne road in an otherwise sleepy fishing village.

You can read Cork Week's own history of the event here.

Published in Cork Week
Page 16 of 16

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.

Competitions

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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