#som – August of 2015 may well be already remembered for its decidedly mixed weather, but as ever it was sailing's busiest month, with Irish crews achieving success inshore and offshore, and at home and abroad. We congratulate all those who reached the podium – indeed, with the adverse weather quite frequently experienced, we congratulate everyone who succeeded in finishing whatever particular sailing challenge they undertook.
But in the end, Afloat.ie reckons three achievements were worthy of the highest recognition.
AFLOAT.IE SAILORS OF THE MONTH AUGUST 2015 (INSHORE)
SHANE McCARTHY & ANDY THOMPSON
2015 has been very much the year for the GP14 dinghy at the top levels of the popularity polls in Irish dinghy sailing. And it has also been the year in which Greystones Sailing Club have been flexing their muscles both as a hotbed of dinghy racing, and as a popular addition to the list of centres for keelboat activity with the new marina bedding in.
These positive themes united in the Greystones GP 14 crew of Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson. Their sailing year started well with wins in the season's early regional events, they had their skills sharpened in the large GP14 fleet racing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and then their campaigning really started to sing with the British GP 14 Nationals at Brixham in Devon in the first week of August.
Although only a small contingent of Irish boats travelled to this big championship, they punched way above their weight. McCarthy & Thompson led the charge to such good effect that they had the title won outright without having to sail the final race. As for the rest of the Irish group, Sutton DC's Alan Blay and David Johnston were also in the frame with two race wins. But when the lights went up for the prize-giving it was McCarthy & Thompson in the limelight, worthy Sailors of the Month (Inshore) for August.
An impressive turnout of top GP 14s at the British Championship saw Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson pf geystones win with a race to spare
AUGUST 2015 SAILOR OF THE MONTH (OFFSHORE)
RONAN O SIOCHRU
The Fastnet Race offers an ideal "living lesson" for the increasing number of offshore sailing schools in Europe, providing as it does clear stipulations of the basic requirements for those hoping to take part. This means that a beginner to sailing in May of a Fastnet Race year can aspire to take part in the historic race in August if he or she has stayed with an offshore sailing school's gruelling course of training and participation in distance races in the buildup to the start of the 608-mile marathon off Cowes.
Irish wannabe Fastneteers are at something of an advantage, as our offshore sailing courses take place in waters of which the Fastnet is an iconic part, and as well any Fastnet year will see the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June, a classic yet very convenient Fastnet qualifier with the morale-building bonus of having the majestic Rock as a mark of the course.
Nevertheless when you get your Irish offshore sailing school boat down to the Solent, the Fastnet start will bring with it the realization that not only are you up against the crème de la crème of international offshore racing, but there are other offshore sailing schools also taking part, and some of them are sailing seriously heavy metal.
So when, with only an hour or so to go to the prize-giving of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in Plymouth on the evening of Friday August 21st, it emerged that the recently-finished Class 4 Jeanneau Sunfast 37 Desert Star of the Dun Laoghaire-based Irish Offshore Sailing was winner of the Roger Justice Trophy for the best-placed sailing school boat in the entire fleet, and was additionally second overall of all the Irish entries, it was the stuff of dreams.
Desert Star's crew were Louise Gray, David McDonnell, Rupert Barry, David Garforth, Symeon Charalabides and Sam Lamont, while the first mate was Kristian Aderman and the skipper/chief instructor was Ronan O Siochru of the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire. Ronan O Siochru is our Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for August 2015.
Winners together. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (left), whose 43-footer Quokka 8 was best-placed Irish boat in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015, presents the Roger Justice Trophy to a still slightly bemused Ronan O Siochru in Plymouth on Friday August 22nd after his skippering of Irish Offshore Sailing's Desert Star had made her the top of the sailing school boats
AUGUST 2015 SAILOR OF THE MONTH (INTERNATIONAL AWARD)
Dave Cullen of Howth is well-known in sailing circles as an affable bloke whose amiable appearance disguises a very keen determination to win. And in Irish business life, his management style at Euro Car Parks is so highly regarded that the company regularly features in the frame in those annual competitions for "best place to work in Ireland".
Both these aspects of the Cullen way of life came together when he and his team took his Classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV to the Worlds at Nieuwpoort in Belgium from 17th to 21st August. For sure he had some of the best sailors in Ireland in his crew. But then such people wouldn't join any crew unless they were certain that their skipper was in Belgium on serious racing business, and not just in pursuit of fun.
It says everything about the Cullen style that not only did his carefully assembled campaign win the championship with a race to spare, but he personally was one of the most popular owner-skippers in the entire fleet, a friend to all and more than ready to give practical assistance to the opposition if required. Dave Cullen is our Sailor of the Month August 2015 (International Award).
The sort of start the rest of us dream of....Dave Cullen on the helm as Checkmate XV takes the pin to perfection at the Half Ton Classic Worlds in Belgium.