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Here's To Howth Yacht Club's Conor Fogerty, Irish Sailor of the Year!

9th February 2018
Role reversal. A year ago, when Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy became Volvo Sailor of the Year 2016, monthly award winner Conor Fogerty got together with her for a quick snap. Now, she is on the high seas, racing the Hong Kong to New Zealand leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. And Conor Fogerty is now Volvo Sailor of the Year 2017 Role reversal. A year ago, when Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy became Volvo Sailor of the Year 2016, monthly award winner Conor Fogerty got together with her for a quick snap. Now, she is on the high seas, racing the Hong Kong to New Zealand leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. And Conor Fogerty is now Volvo Sailor of the Year 2017 Credit: Brian Turvey

As he commented at last night’s annual Volvo Sailing Awards ceremony, our Sailing on Saturday columnist reckons that anyone who thinks they really understand every aspect of the Irish sailing and boating scene obviously isn’t a part of it. It’s a complex and multi-faceted vehicle sport with more twists and turns than a Kerry mountain road. And that’s before you start considering the huge range of people involved. W M Nixon develops this theme.

If you want to know what is to happen next in any area, ask Brian Turvey of the noted Howth sailing family. Stock market volatility troubling you? He’s the man to advise. Who’s likely to be the next star in the Irish sailing firmament? Consult the Turvey oracle. He seems to have a sixth sense.

Irish Sailing Awards 2018 FogertyConor Fogerty, Howth receiving the Overall Volvo Irish Sailor of the Year Award from (L/R) Jack Roy, President Irish Sailing, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, Minister of State for Higher Education and Patricia Greene, Head of Communications Volvo Car Ireland at the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards 2018. Photo: Irish Sailing/David Branigan/Oceansport

Hindsight is something we can all manage. And it’s with appreciative hindsight that we now admire how, exactly a year ago in the RDS in Dublin, Brian Turvey spotted the February 2016 Sailor of the Month Conor Fogerty (he’d won his Class in the RORC Caribbean 600) and the new Sailor of the Year Annalise Murphy in close proximity in the swirling crowd in the après-awards party, and he got them together for a quick snap, a double breath of fresh sea air against the fusty background of rows of learned books typical of the RDS.

“Something clicked” he says now, “so I clicked double-quick, and immediately felt I’d recorded something very important”.

He certainly had, providing an image which gives an almost iconic vision of the kind of people our sport attracts. On the left was someone for whom offshore sailing was the ultimate ambition, the real sailing, a guy who admitted to being a bit of a tearaway in his younger days – “the black sheep of a black sheep” as he had put it when got together with himself and Tom Dolan – but had now become an experienced offshore sailor with much more to do.

Conor fogerty sailor2Hard driving – Conor Fogerty far offshore, winning across the Atlantic

And on the right was a young woman reared in the Olympic ideal, devoted to the austere world of Olympic Laser sailing, a sailor’s sailor who had overcome the huge disappointment of missing a medal in the last minutes of the last race of the 2012 Olympics to make a courageous family-supported comeback to win Silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Fast forward a year, and the former young tearaway is the hero of the hour, the hero of the year, class victor in the toughest east-west Single-handed Transatlantic Race ever and thus the new holder of the Holy Grail itself, the Gipsy Moth Trophy, and as of last night, Ireland’s newest “Sailor of the Year”.

And as for the highly-tuned hyper-trained Olympian, she has thrown herself into the rough and tumble, the intense and crowded harshness, of the Volvo Ocean Race, many worlds away from the demanding but defined path of the lone Olympic campaigner.

annalise murphy steering volvo3Annalise Murphy on the helm, racing Turn the Tide on Plastic in the Volvo Ocean Race which is currently on the Hong Kong to New Zealand leg

Even as the man on the left was becoming the new Sailor of the Year last night, the other sailor was far away, racing the Hong Kong to New Zealand leg if the Volvo Ocean Race. Yet we aren’t talking of reversals of role, let alone reversals of fortune. On the contrary, we’re talking of the many twists and turns that are an integral part of sailing, both in Ireland and globally.

With last night’s remarkable gathering of personalities and specialities and local and regional and national and international enthusiasm, it all was on display in its great and glorious colourful vitality in the RDS in Dublin.

And naturally and inevitably there comes the question which is central to life afloat and ashore. What happens next? Who will rise to the surface during 2018’s long and varied sailing season.

But for today, here’s to Conor Fogerty, our new and well-deserved Volvo Irish Sailing “Sailor of the Year”.

And good luck and good sailing to Annalise Murphy, as she continues with the latest chapter in her fascinating sailing story.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Ireland's Sailor of the Year Awards

Created in 1996, the Afloat Sailor of the Year Awards represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene.

Since it began 25 years ago, the awards have recognised over 500 monthly award winners in the pages of Ireland's sailing magazine Afloat, and these have been made to both amateur and professional sailors. The first-ever Sailor of the Year was dinghy sailor Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

And since then it's gone on to read like a who's who of Irish sailing.

The national award is specially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing's elite. After two decades the awards has developed into a premier awards ceremony for water sports.

The overall national award will be announced each January to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to, Irish sailing in the previous year.

A review of the first 25 years of the Irish Sailor the Year Awards is here

Irish Sailor of the Year Award FAQs

The Irish Sailor of the Year Awards is a scheme designed by Afloat magazine to represent all that is praiseworthy, innovative and groundbreaking in the Irish sailing scene..

The Irish Sailor of the Year Awards began in 1996.

The awards are administered by Afloat, Ireland's boating magazine.

  • 1996 Mark Lyttle
  • 1997 Tom Roche
  • 1998 Tom Fitzpatrick & David McHugh
  • 1999 Mark Mansfield
  • 2000 David Burrows
  • 2001 Maria Coleman
  • 2002 Eric Lisson
  • 2003 Noel Butler & Stephen Campion
  • 2004 Eamonn Crosbie
  • 2005 Paddy Barry & Jarlath Cunnane
  • 2006 Justin Slattery
  • 2007 Ger O'Rourke
  • 2008 Damian Foxall
  • 2009 Mark Mills
  • 2010 Anthony O'Leary
  • 2011 George Kenefick
  • 2012 Annalise Murphy
  • 2013 David Kenefick
  • 2014 Anthony O'Leary
  • 2015 Liam Shanahan
  • 2016 Annalise Murphy
  • 2017 Conor Fogerty
  • 2018 Robert Dickson & Sean Waddilove
  • 2019 Paul O'Higgins

Yes. The boating public and maritime community can have their say to help guide judges in deciding who should be crowned Ireland's Sailor of the Year by using an Afloat online poll). The judges welcome the traditional huge level of public interest in helping them make their decision but firmly retain their right to make the ultimate decision for the final choice while taking voting trends into account. By voting for your favourite nominee, you are creating additional awareness of their nomination and highlighting their success.

Anthony O'Leary of Crosshaven and Annalise Murphy of Dun Laoghaire are the only contenders to be "Sailors of the Year" twice – himself in 2010 and 2014, and herself in 2012 and 2016.

In its 25 year history, there have been wins for 15, offshore or IRC achievements, nine dinghy and one designs accomplishments and one for adventure sailing.

Annually, generally in January or February of the following year.

In 2003 Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presented the Awards.

©Afloat 2020