#YACHT CLUB OF THE YEAR – The National Yacht Club of Dun Laoghaire is the Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent "Sailing Club of the Year" 2012 in celebration of an impressive and continuous level of activity in sailing, with the highly-praised hosting of events for international competitors and Irish sailors, and the efficient running of a hospitable clubhouse, boatyard and dinghy park operation which caters for the waterborne and shoreside activities of an enthusiastic and loyal membership and their visitors.
The adjudicators recognise that the National is particularly fortunate in its location in the southeast corner of Dun Laoghaire harbour. Whether approached by sea or land, the clubhouse complex provides a secluded haven from the busy life of the harbour and the town. Not that the club is in any way a sleepy spot. On the contrary, from its serene premises it provides a hive of activity for sailors of all ages, and boats of all shapes and sizes.
It's not the first time the NYC has won this award. They've been on the top of the podium in 1981, 1985, 1993 and most recently in 1996. But in the remarkable pace set by Irish sailing even in times of recession, the inter-club competition is friendly but fierce. Thus the National has usually been in the frame, but during the past 12 months several factors have combined to make it tops.
That said, successful seasons don't pop up suddenly. Rather, they're part of a continuous process, and when Peter Ryan stood down as Commodore back in the spring to be succeeded by Paul Barrington, he left in place the concepts and structures for a remarkable summer.
Ryan's own special enthusiasm was for offshore racing, and his energy in reviving the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association was to everyone's benefit. Then too, the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is the invention (in 1993) of leading National sailors Martin Crotty and Peter Cullen, and during 2011 it was deservedly one of the highlights of the season. NYC boats may have made up one of the largest club contingents in the record fleet, but their instinct for hospitality is such that they ensured it was Martin Breen from Galway who was overall winner with his Reflex 38.
The club took on the hosting of two major international events for solo sailors. They provided the Irish stopover for the formidable challenge of the Figaro Single-handed Race from France, and the staging of the Topper Worlds for junior sailors. In a fleet of 177 Topper dinghies, David Crosbie of Cork was best Irish in third, while Laura Gilmore of Strangford was first girl and fifth overall.
The success of this regatta underlined the National's high level of event proficiency. It is recognition of this that one of the club's leading race officers, Jack Roy, has been recruited to the 16-man Olympic Race Management Team for this summer's Olympiad.
The National will of course have a leading member on the other side of the Olympic fence – Laser sailor Annalise Murphy, who has already won a Bronze in the pre-Olympic trials last summer - will be a real Irish hope for a medal.
This strength of sailing right across the board continues to draw on a large and active junior section, where Ruth Shanahan has taken over from Cathy MacAleavey to encourage the sailors of tomorrow. Cathy meanwhile is focusing on traditional boats – with husband Con Murphy, she's involved in this year's 125th anniversary of the Dublin Bay Waterwags.
Success at home and abroad in boats which range from state-of-the-art to vintage - that's the way it is with the National YC. They deserve their success.