GEORGE SISK IS AFLOAT'S RACING SAILOR OF THE MONTH FOR JULY
George Sisk of Dun Laoghaire (pictured top) is the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month (Racing)" for July 2015. By July 9th, an exceptional record had already been logged by his Farr 42 WOW when she was declared Top Boat at the conclusion of the often breezy four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. To achieve this, WOW and her veteran crew (some of them very veteran indeed) had won three of the four demanding offshore races, further demonstrating that this is their preferred area of sailing - four weeks earlier they'd notched up a good Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in an event in which size benefits meant that the J/109s were ideal for the course and the condtions.
But if needs be, the gallant old codgers on WOW have shown they can cut the mustard in close-fought inshore contests, with the well-tested Farr 42 revelling in the freshening winds in the ICRA Nationals/Sovereigns Cup series at Kinsale at the end of June. WOW went into the final race with the waterfront pundits reckoning she might just upset the betting with a useful second overall. But she did better than - she emerged as overall class winner.
George Sisk has been making an exceptional contribution to Irish offshore racing since the late 1960s, and he has done it in a fascinating range of boats of several sizes, and many types. Yet through several boat changes, his longtime crewing panel has reflected his personal popularity and an admirable loyalty to old friends and shipmates. He sets an example which any sailing enthusiast could usefully follow, and his own quiet but steady and determined enthusiasm for our sport is inspiring.
IRELAND-GIRDLING OGDEN BROTHERS ARE AFLOAT'S CRUISING SAILORS OF THE MONTH FOR JULY
When the Ogden brothers Nathaniel (23) and Fergus (16) sailed their 18ft Drascombe Lugger Lughnasa (pictured above) in to their home port of Baltimore to berth at the new in-harbour pontoon in the evening sunshine of Wednesday July 29th, a casual observer might well have thought that this was just another characterful Drascombe concluding a couple of hours of sailing in weather which had, albeit briefly, been much better than that experienced for most of July.
But Lughnasa was successfully completing an eight weeks voyage of clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland. Sailed as a fund-raiser for the RNLI, the voyage would have been quite something for a Drascombe Lugger in a reasonably normal summer. But in the exceptionally bad weather of 2015, it was an extraordinary achievement.
On every coastline of Ireland, the brothers had to contend with adverse conditions at some stage, and often for long periods. Even when they finally reached the home stages of the final passages along the coast of West Cork, 2015's weather demons hadn't finished with them, as one of the roughest passages of the entire cruise involved getting round the Old Head of Kinsale from Kinsale itself, and battling on westward under shortened sail in winds of 25 knots gusting 30, until they finally got to Castlehaven, with Baltimore just a day's sail beyond that.
There's a completeness to the achievement of Lughnasa and her young crew which becomes even more perfect when all the factors involved are taken into consideration. Nathaniel and Fergus Ogden are very worthily the Afloat.ie "Sailors of the Month (Cruising)" for July 2015.