The BMW J/24 European Championships were officially opened last night with a ceremony on the forecourt in front of the Howth Yacht Club clubhouse on the podium erected by the sponsor but a practise race scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled due to strong winds.
Last night's openning ceremony featured two top-of-the range BMW vehicles and a motorcycle and a backdrop with the highly appropriate phrase of 'Joy is Plain Sailing' in front of the national flags of the nine competing nations.
With an audience of competitors, supporters and club members, the speakers on the podium were introduced by the 'Master of Ceremonies', Club and Championship Press Officer Graham Smith.
First to speak was Derek Bothwell, Chairman of the Championship Organising Committee, and then the Commodore Roger Cagney addressed the large crowd who has assembled on the forecourt and balcony. They were followed by John Ives, Managing Director of BMW Ireland, the title sponsors, who spoke about BMW's global involvement in sailing, and then Niamh McCutcheon, President of the Irish Sailing Association, spoke on behalf of the ISA and the Irish Sports Council who supported the event.
Jim Farmer, President of the World Council of the International J/24 Class Association, spoke next, and the final speaker was the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr.Gerry McGuire, who welcomed all the overseas visitors to the county and officially declared the Championship open.