#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.