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Who is Your Irish Sailor of the Year for 2022?

17th January 2023
Class of 2022 - The Irish Sailors of the Year (clockwise from top left) Jim Schofield, Paul Kehoe, Justin Slattery, Karen Weekes, Shane Diviney, Harry Durcan, Eve McMahon, Hal Sisk, Philip Mayne, Lucia Cullen, Cian McCarthy, Sam Hunt, Pat Kelly, John Maybury, Dermot Skehan, Ross McDonald, Frank Guy, Chris Moore, Naomi Alego, Alana Twomey, Rocco Wright, Hannes Louet-Feisser, Simon O’Keeffe, Fiachra Geraghty-McDonnell, Patrick Boardman, Laura Dillon, Andy Thompson, Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell, Sean Craig, Richie Evans, Micheal O’Suilleabhain, Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop, Nick Cats, Colman Grimes, Melanie Morris, Ger Owens, Tom Dolan, Conor Doyle, Robbie English, Damian Browne, Peter Crowley, Bill O’Hara, Con Murphy, David Lovegrove, Lee Condell, Pat O’Neill Mike Evans and Aoife English. Scroll down for month by month citations and vote in our poll (panel on the right on desktop and at the bottom of the article on mobile and tablet)
Class of 2022 - The Irish Sailors of the Year (clockwise from top left) Jim Schofield, Paul Kehoe, Justin Slattery, Karen Weekes, Shane Diviney, Harry Durcan, Eve McMahon, Hal Sisk, Philip Mayne, Lucia Cullen, Cian McCarthy, Sam Hunt, Pat Kelly, John Maybury, Dermot Skehan, Ross McDonald, Frank Guy, Chris Moore, Naomi Alego, Alana Twomey, Rocco Wright, Hannes Louet-Feisser, Simon O’Keeffe, Fiachra Geraghty-McDonnell, Patrick Boardman, Laura Dillon, Andy Thompson, Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell, Sean Craig, Richie Evans, Micheal O’Suilleabhain, Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop, Nick Cats, Colman Grimes, Melanie Morris, Ger Owens, Tom Dolan, Conor Doyle, Robbie English, Damian Browne, Peter Crowley, Bill O’Hara, Con Murphy, David Lovegrove, Lee Condell, Pat O’Neill Mike Evans and Aoife English

Who gets your vote for the Irish Sailor of the Year 2022?

50 Afloat Sailors of the Month in 2022 (double that awarded in 2021) demonstrate the strength and diversity of the sport of sailing in Ireland.

Afloat's review of individual sailors, pairings and crews (below) is a roll call of all those who have excelled in their respective disciplines, be it offshore, dinghy, cruising, windsurfing, sailing administration, plus some amazing achievements in ocean rowing too! 

In February, Afloat's judging panel will announce the Irish Sailor of the Year  — and you can have your say by voting in our poll on any page of the Afloat website (see right of this page).

IRISH SAILORS OF THE MONTH 2022

JANUARY

Offshore: JIM SCHOFIELD (Blessington)

Offshore: JIM SCHOFIELD (Blessington)Offshore: JIM SCHOFIELD (Blessington)

Jim Schofield (57) completed the ultimate pandemic project by self-building his 19ft McIntyre Globe 5.80 Molly Claire in his own space-limited workshop in Blessington, and then sailing from Poolbeg in Dublin via the Canaries Transatlantic to the Caribbean.

Services to Sailing: PAUL KEHOE (Poolbeg, Dublin Port)

Services to Sailing: PAUL KEHOE (Poolbeg, Dublin Port)Services to Sailing: PAUL KEHOE (Poolbeg, Dublin Port)

For long renowned as “The Man Who Kept The Show On The Road”, in January 2022, Paul Kehoe received the international Old Gaffers Association’s premier award, the Jolie Brise Trophy, for his 25 years-plus successful years of managing and sailing the Clondalkin community-built traditional Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan, which has now been transferred to Galway City ownership.   

International: JUSTIN SLATTERY (Wexford & Cork) 

International: JUSTIN SLATTERY (Wexford & Cork) International: JUSTIN SLATTERY (Wexford & Cork) 

A regular crewman aboard the legendary 100ft Comanche, Justin Slattery was on the big boat for the overall win in the RORC Transatlantic Race  in Jauuary, and at year’s end he was also with Comanche when she took line honours in the Sydney-Hobart Race in December 2022.

FEBRUARY 

Ocean Rowing: KAREN WEEKES (Kinvara)

Ocean Rowing: KAREN WEEKES (Kinvara)Ocean Rowing: KAREN WEEKES (Kinvara)

In rowing solo and completely unaccompanied across the Atlantic, Dr Karen Weekes (54) - of Kinvara on Galway Bay - achieved so many “firsts” when she reached Barbados from the Canaries on Thursday, February 24th that it’s difficult to tabulate them all – it was an utterly exceptional achievement

International: SHANE DIVINEY (Howth)

International: SHANE DIVINEY (Howth)International: SHANE DIVINEY (Howth)

Whether it’s the special skills needed to handle a large classic gaff-rigged 15 Metre, or an experimentally-rigged offshore multi-hull, or a front-line canting keel IOR challenger, then Sean Diviney is on the potential crew list. The final week of February saw him add to his successes with the overall win the RORC Caribbean 600 aboard the TransPac52 Warrior Won, which went on to be the top 52 in American waters in 2022

MARCH

Inshore: HARRY DURCAN (Cork)

HARRY DURCAN (Cork)Inshore: HARRY DURCAN (Cork)

Racing J/80s under its new name of Munster Technological University, the former CIT inter-college squad showed they’d lost none of their oomph in the Intervarsity Keelboat Nationals at Howth in March. The margin after 18 races was 12 points over UCD, and while his crew of Ronan Cournane, Mark Murphy, Morgan McKnight and Charlie Moloney had something to do with it, one name had to go on the title, and that’s captain Harry Durcan.

APRIL

Dinghies: EVE McMAHON (Howth)

EVE McMAHON (Howth)Dinghies: EVE McMAHON (Howth)

The transition from more junior levels to youth and senior sailing is difficult at the best of times, and the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year 2021Eve McMahon of Howth found that the arbitrary dictates of personal birth dates means that she has been dealing with the demands of the Leaving Cert in her education, while at the same time beginning her departure from the younger scene to move towards the challenges of the bigger world. Meanwhile, she dominated the junior scene in some style in April 2022, winning the ILCA6s at the breezy and big wave Youth Nationals at Ballyholme.

Classics: HAL SISK (Dun Laoghaire)

HAL SISK (Dun Laoghaire)Classics: HAL SISK (Dun Laoghaire)

When Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire was presented with the International “Classic Boater Of The Year” Award in London on April 12th, the brief outline of his major achievements in preserving maritime heritage may have highlighted his current project - with Fionan de Barra of Dun Laoghaire and Steve Morris of Kilrush – of restoring the Dublin Bay 21 Class. But that barely scratches the surface of his extraordinary life in boat re-build, restoration or conservation, and his major input into the creation and publishing of highly-regarded books on classic and traditional boats and designers, which have become essential reading.

MAY 

Offshore: CIAN McCARTHY & SAM HUNT (Kinsale)

Offshore: CIAN McCARTHY & SAM HUNT (Kinsale)Offshore: CIAN McCARTHY (right) & left SAM HUNT (Kinsale)

Ireland's most westerly Atlantic outcrop, the Blasket Islands, are so imbued with mythology and an almost supernatural ruggedness that no-one had previously thought of using the group’s lighthouse island, Inishtearaght, as the turning point for a 240-mile offshore race. But they think outside the box in Kinsale YC. On the morning of Friday May 20th, the inaugural Inishtearaght Race got under way with a fleet which made up in quality anything it lacked in quantity, and at its finish, the winner was one of the smaller boats, and sailed two-handed at that – the McCarthy-Hunt Sun Fast 3300 Cinnamon Girl.

JUNE

Regatta: DERMOT SKEHAN (Howth)

Regatta: DERMOT SKEHAN (Howth)Regatta: DERMOT SKEHAN, pictured centre (Howth)

The Howth Wave Regatta created some sort of record for the mixture of weather it packed into its three day format, and how anyone found the energy for the legendary Saturday night party suggests superhuman stamina. With a rugged Lambay Race in its midst, Wave was for heroes, and it was the heroic Dermot Skehan - racing as ever with a crew of longtime friends and shipmates on his MG34 Toughnut - who emerged as overall winner and a worthy Sailor of the Month for June.

Offshore: MIKE & RICHIE EVANS (Howth)

Offshore: MIKE & RICHIE EVANS (Howth)Offshore: MIKE & RICHIE EVANS (Howth)

June saw the staging of a truly vintage SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. But for those who think that success in events like this 704-mile marathon is only for seasoned sailors with many comparable races logged, the top Irish boat - the J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) - was an eye-opener, as this was their first offshore major. And they almost won it, placing just five minutes behind the overall winner after out-performing many comparable boats in the final very difficult miles.

Regatta: KELLY FAMILY (Rush)

Regatta: KELLY FAMILY (Rush)Regatta: KELLY FAMILY (Rush)

Sailing is often promoted as a family sport for all ages. But if anyone doubts that this can be happily achieved with racing success thrown in, then they only have to consider the Kelly clan of Rush SC with their J/109 Storm. Aboard Storm, the patriarch Pat Kelly heads a multi-talented crew which includes three generations of his family, and they clearly demonstrated they’d lost none of the successful touch shown in previous years by winning overall in June’s four day Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough.

JULY 

International: EVE McMAHON (Howth)

International: EVE McMAHON (Howth)International: EVE McMAHON (Howth)

July 2022 will be remembered as the ultra-crowded month in which sailing in Ireland really did leap back to pre-pandemic levels, something that has been reflected in its recording an unprecedented number of Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month” in six distinct categories.

But in this as in everything else, Eve McMahon (18) of Howth was in a league of her own, adding a secnd nomination to her April title. She emerged from the non-sailing purdah in May and June of total concentration on revision and sitting the Leaving Cert to return afloat, and take three Gold Medals in the ILCA 6 Radial - in the Euros in Greece, the World Sailing Youth Championship in the Netherlands, and the ILCA 6 Youth Worlds in Texas – all in the month of July.

National: JOHN MAYBURY (Dun Laoghaire)

JOHN MAYBURY (Dun Laoghaire)National: JOHN MAYBURY, with trophy, (Dun Laoghaire)

The complexities of Volvo Cork Week 2022 may have obscured some of the important National Championships taking place within the regattta and its many classes. But aboard the more serious boats, the “hidden target” was the ICRA Nationals 2022, and the focus on this sharpened as the Week progressed until, in the end, the popular winner was J/109 stalwart John Maybury (Royal Irish YC) with his efficiently-campaigned Joker II, a boat which is no stranger to the podium.

Regatta: ROSS McDONALD, AOIFE ENGLISH & ROB ENGLISH (Howth & Cork)

ROSS McDONALD, AOIFE ENGLISH & ROB ENGLISH (Howth & Cork)Regatta: ROSS McDONALD, AOIFE ENGLISH & ROB ENGLISH (Howth & Cork)

Volvo Cork Week 2022 was July’s regatta highlight, and with the Royal Cork YC’s Tricentenary cancelled in 2020, the Tri-Centenary +Two had much to celebrate, not least the remarkable revival of the 30-year-old 1720 Sportsboat Class, which in 2022 was ably led by David Love. With the largest fleet at Cork, the 1720s deservedly became the focus of much attention, and the combined Royal Cork YC (Aoife English & Rob English) and Howth YC (Ross McDonald ) team with Rope Dock Atara gave a masterful display of series control to win the 1720s, and then also take the cherished silver trophy for “Boat of the Regatta”, the affectionately-named Kinsale Kettle which dates back to 1859

Inland: FRANK GUY (Lough Ree & Lough Derg)

Inland: FRANK GUY (Lough Ree & Lough Derg)Inland: FRANK GUY (Lough Ree & Lough Derg)

For most of their hundred years, the unique 18th Shannon ODs have kept themselves to themselves in their secret world of Ireland’s great lakes. But in July 2022, they went unprecedently public with their Centenary celebrated in two special two-day regattas at their historic bases at Lough Derg YC (founded 1835) and Lough Ree YC (founded 1770). The month’s fluctuating weather served up some very demanding conditions indeed, testing both light and heavy (sometimes very heavy) weather skills. It took dedication and skill to come in as overall leader in the combined results in the large fleet, but Frank Guy and his well-proven team on No 142 (built 1990) proved able for the challenge.

Services to Sailing: CHRIS MOORE (Dun Laoghaire)

Services to Sailing: CHRIS MOORE (Dun Laoghaire)Services to Sailing: CHRIS MOORE (Dun Laoghaire)

Chris Moore of the National YC had already given exceptional services to sailing - including being Commodore of both the National YC and Dublin Bay SC - when he took on the role of DBSC Honorary Secretary before the lock-downs occurred.

Thus he was running one of the world’s largest yacht racing organisations through unprecedented new challenges, a fact which was recognised with DBSC becoming the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year” for 2021. But with normality of sorts returning with the club in good heart, it was time to stand down, and in mid-July 2022 he was succeeded in the key role by Rosemary Roy. We salute Chris Moore for his exceptional service to our sport.

Youth: ROCCO WRIGHT (Howth)

Youth: ROCCO WRIGHT (Howth)Youth: ROCCO WRIGHT (Howth)

It seems like only yesterday that Rocco Wright (15) of Howth was a World star in the unmistakably junior Optimists. Yet in what seems like less than a year he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the decidedly grown-up ILCA/Laser class at home and abroad. He was still finding his feet at the World Sailing Youth Worlds in the Netherlands in mid-July, and approaching the final race it seemed just possible that he might be on the podium. Yet with one of the most masterful displays of strategic and tactical sailing likely to be seen this year, the final race saw him getting all his ducks in precisely the right order to win him the Gold.

AUGUST

Windfoiling: HANNES LOUET-FEISSER (Carlingford)

Windfoiling: HANNES LOUET-FEISSER (Carlingford)Windfoiling: HANNES LOUET-FEISSER (Carlingford)

There have been some remarkable round Ireland circuits in extra-small and often unusual craft over the years, but a new standard was set in 2022 by Hannes Louet-Feisser of Carlingford Lough, who completed the challenge – usually unaccompanied afloat – on a Windfoiler. His longest day’s distance was 170kms, and he occasionally spent seven hours in the standing position “cruising” at speeds of up to 35kph, which indicates an exceptional level of core fitness and will-power for this 51-year-old veteran of the Irish board-sailing scene.

Regatta: SIMON O’KEEFFE (Schull)

Regatta: SIMON O’KEEFFE (Schull)Regatta: SIMON O’KEEFFE (Schull)

It’s a mixed blessing being the curator-owner of a boat designed and built by a direct ancestor in your home-port town 120 years ago. But Simon O’Keeffe of Schull has turned a challenge into a triumph by commissioning classic boat-builder Tiernan Roe of Ballydehob to breathe fresh life into the family’s 1902-vintage gaff cutter Lady Min, and then rounding out the “beautiful project” by winning his class in Calves Week at Schull in August after notching successes at regattas all along the South Coast.  

Inshore: FIACHRA GERAGHTY-McDONNELL (Dun Laoghaire)

Inshore: FIACHRA GERAGHTY-McDONNELL (Dun Laoghaire)Inshore: FIACHRA GERAGHTY-McDONNELL, left, (Dun Laoghaire)

The most numerous and widespread dinghy class in Ireland is the ever-young ILCA/Laser. Yet even though a large fleet turned up for their Nationals in August at Tralee Bay, the fact that several sub-divisions took part with the class’s different rig options makes it a challenge to name the outstanding performer. But in a close-called assessment, it was reckoned that Fiachra Geraghty-McDonnell of the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire, winner after a countback in the ferociously close-fought ILCA6 Division, was the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month (Inshore)” for August.

Offshore: PATRICK BOARDMAN (Rush)

Offshore: PATRICK BOARDMAN (Rush)Offshore: PATRICK BOARDMAN (Rush)

They’re renowned for growing good things in the fertile hidden lands of Fingal up around the Rogerstown Estuary, and the local Rush SC is right on message with an expanding stream of talent in all branches of sailing. In 2022 there was an increased emphasis on Half Tonners in concert with the flotilla in Howth, and mid-August saw Rush coming through big time with Patrick Boardman’s beautifully-prepared King One (World Half Ton Champion for France in 1981) showing a clean pair of heels to take the RORC Half Ton Classic Cup from an international fleet in the Solent. 

Women on Water: LAURA DILLON (Howth and RORC)

Women on Water: LAURA DILLON (Howth and RORC)Women on Water: LAURA DILLON (Howth and RORC)

Laura Dillon of Howth is one of Ireland's most accomplished sailors under so many headings that it seems almost superfluous to point out that during August, she was at the sharp and of success in both Cowes Week and at several Irish venues where the Women on Water movement featured. 

For the fact is that she is higly ranked regardless of gender. But as it happens, in August she won both the Women's Trophy in Cowes Week and skippered the Class 1 overall winner in the National Women at the Helm event in Dublin Bay, a very special double.

Junior: Lucia Cullen (RStGYC) and Alana Twomey (RCYC & CHSC) 

Lucia Cullen (Royal St George YC) and Alana Twomey (Royal Cork YC) won Gold and took the U17 29er Female World Title in SpainLucia Cullen (Royal St George YC) and Alana Twomey (Royal Cork YC) won Gold and took the U17 29er Female World Title in Spain

Lucia Cullen of Dun Laoghaire and Alana Twomey of Cork - both 16 - have combined to form one of Ireland's most successful 29er teams to such good effect that during August at El Bais in Spain, they became the 29er Under 17 Female World Champions in addition to taking Bronze in the Open Divison of the Female Worlds.

When added to their later winning - still in August - of the 29er Female National Title in addition to being U17 National Champions, it makes for a remarkably balanced picture of achievement when added to the fact that Alana Twomey was also a member of the winning team racing team at the top-level Elmo Trophy at RStGYC.

SEPTEMBER

Dinghies: ANDY THOMPSON  (Larne)

Dinghies: ANDY THOMPSON  (Larne)Dinghies: ANDY THOMPSON  (Larne)

Andy Thompson (50), originally of Larne and East Antrim Boat Club, is one of the most successful international dinghy crews in the world. Yet he is equally successful at keeping himself under the radar, as he never has to spread the word about his exceptional abilities. A significant cohort of top skippers are well aware of the remarkable ability he has to bring out the best in boat and helmsman, for as multiple champion Shane McCarthy of Greystones puts it, “the boat leaps to life when Thompo steps aboard”. And though Andy is as demanding of himself as he is of his helms – and he is definitely demanding of the highest standards – the result at the end is another Gold in a world championship

Junior: FIACHRA & CAOILINN GERAGHTY-McDONNELL (Dun Laoghaire)

Junior: FIACHRA & CAOILINN GERAGHTY-McDONNELL (Dun Laoghaire)Junior: FIACHRA & CAOILINN GERAGHTY-McDONNELL (Dun Laoghaire)

Although it will be ILCA6 National Champion Fiachra Geraghty-McDonnell’s name on the trophy in the Junior Helms Nationals 2022, winning it was a family team effort, as his sister Caoilinn – a proven Optimist star – forsook her own place as of right as a junior helm, and elected to crew for her brother instead.

In a long and demanding series, their underlying quality of performance led to a steadily upward curve of results to make Fiachra the Junior National Champion at Schull, coming tops against a formidable line-up of established and rising talent from every leading sailing centre in the country.

International Keelboats: MICHEAL O SUILLEBHAIN (Kinsale)

International Keelboats: MICHEAL O SUILLEBHAIN (Kinsale)International Keelboats: MICHEAL O SUILLEBHAIN, right, (Kinsale) 

Micheal O Suilleabhain may well be he name that goes into the records books. Yet he will be the first to point out that not only was it a team effort, in fact it was an entire Kinsale Yacht Club effort to start putting together an exemplary challenge – initially in times of pandemic and post-pandemic - for the J/24 Europeans 2022 at Howth, when the event itself was still a distant speck on the uncertain future horizon. But a widely-supported campaign on the ICRA K25 model was launched and maintained, gradually building momentum until they reached the big one itself. There, many proven international stars were so busy keeping tabs on their familiar rivals that the rapidly-improving young Kinsale crew went into the final race with a fighting chance, and they emerged firmly in the podium frame to take the Bronze, clearly also the best-placed Irish boat.

Offshore: VICKY COX & PETER DUNLOP (National YC and Pwllheli)

Offshore: VICKY COX & PETER DUNLOP (Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli)Offshore: VICKY COX & PETER DUNLOP (left and centre) (Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli)

In its Golden Jubilee Season, the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association in 2022 lived up to its reputation of the points championship being contested right up to the final race. It was the immaculately-prepared J/109 Mojito (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop) from Pwllheli which came in from offstage in the concluding and historic James C Eadie Cup, snatching the 2022 Championship and the Wolf’s head Trophy with it. For the enthusiastically and skillfully raced Mojito, it was another significant prize in a good season – she also won her class in Volvo Cork Week 2022 in July.

Voyaging: NICK KATS (Clifden)  

Voyaging: NICK KATS (Clifden)  Voyaging: NICK KATS (Clifden)  

When the workmanlike-looking 39ft ketch Teddy returned to her familiar drying quayside berth in the deep shelter of Clifden Harbour in mid-September, it marked the completion of skipper Nick Kats’ tenth voyage to the Arctic, and his third detailed visit to the majestic coast of East Greenland. As ever with the Teddy’s ventures, there was extra purpose to it all, as Nick is a dedicated nutrionist whose researches may lead to him inviting the Teddy crews to join him in testing some seemingly revolting local “delicacy”. Years of this seem to have toughened the Kats’ digestion system, for during 2022’s voyage he found one such tested item very nourishing, but a crewman was violently ill. Happily, all got home safe and sound to complete a particularly satisfying voyage.

Dinghy Racing & Services to Sailing: COLMAN GRIMES (Skerries)

Dinghy Racing & Services to Sailing: COLMAN GRIMES (Skerries)Dinghy Racing & Services to Sailing: COLMAN GRIMES (Skerries)

There can have been few things more dispiriting in recent years than being in the key role in the organization of a major international sporting event in Ireland as it hung in the balance in the face of changing pandemic restrictions. Yet Colman Grimes, the central figure in staging the GP14 Worlds in Skerries, kept everyone’s sprits up despite uncertainties and changes of date from pre-2020 onwards. And when the dates were finally set for the latter half of the 2022 season, he was first to step up to the plate, putting in his own boat in as Entry #1.

It’s not unknown for an organiser to take part in the racing, but it’s very rare with a fleet of 104 boats putting pressure on venue and organisers alike. Yet he had great support in his crew Ross Gingles, and in this big event his team not only dealt successfully with some difficult racing days, but the Grimes-Gingle combo worked so well afloat that they came in fifth overall, first of all the Irish boats and ahead of other impressive opposition up to Olympic standard. It was a remarkable performance afloat and ashore. 

Offshore International:  TOM DOLAN (National YC and Meath)

Offshore International:  TOM DOLAN (National YC and Meath)Offshore International:  TOM DOLAN (National YC and Meath)

Tom Dolan is from a farming family in Meath, and started his sailing on Lough Ramor plumb in the middle of Ireland, but thanks to Glenans Ireland (now Glenua) he has been totally committed to France’s challenging solo and two-handed offshore circuit for a dozen years now. With the reputation of being L’Irlandais Volante (The Flying Irishman) in this rarefied world, in September, he added to his laurels with sixth overall and the Vivi Trophy for the top non-French participant in the Figaro Solo 2022.

OCTOBER

Inshore: GER OWENS (Dun Laoghaire) & MEL MORRIS (Newtownards)

Inshore: GER OWENS (Dun Laoghaire) & MEL MORRIS (Newtownards)Inshore: GER OWENS (Dun Laoghaire) & MEL MORRIS (Newtownards)

So many factors came into play for the 75th Anniversary of the Champions’ Cup (aka the Helmsman’s Championship or the All-Ireland) in GP 14s at Sutton Dinghy Club on October 8th/9th that its weather-imposed compression into a one day series made for a very intense mix. It went right to the wire, but the defending champion, RStGYC’s Ger Owens (who won in National 18s in Crosshaven in 2021), and his regular GP14 partner Mel Morris of Newtownards SC (her father Curly Morris of East Antrim BC won in 1967), had moved smoothly into their dynamic duo routine, and as the sun set on a deceptively gentle evening which was the calm before the storm, the salver that now thinks it’s a cup was theirs for the taking.

Ocean Rowing: DAMIEN BROWNE (Galway)

Ocean Rowing: DAMIEN BROWNE (Galway)Ocean Rowing: DAMIEN BROWNE (Galway)

Ocean rowing has come up before in our Sailor of the Month listings. But it’s an understandably rare feat, and noted former rugby player Damian Browne’s huge achievement of rowing from New York to Galway is put into deeper perspective through knowing that his shipmate at the start of the voyage needed to be air-lifted off at an early stage owing to illness. Thus Damian had to make his way solo across a notably obtuse ocean in what was essentially a two-man boat, resulting in a time-scale which is difficult to grasp. He departed on June 14th and reached Ireland on October 4th, by which time the ocean swell and the Atlantic winds were already well into the beginnings of their winter routines.

Offshore: CONOR DOYLE (Kinsale)

Offshore: CONOR DOYLE (Kinsale)Offshore: CONOR DOYLE, with trophy, (Kinsale)

While the IRC may still be the rating system of choice in northwest Europe, any movement of the action in any international direction quickly finds your boat and crew are soon into hotly competitive offshore racing events where the ORC gets equal ranking. This was the case for Conor Doyle of Kinsale and his large crew of all the talents when they arrived with his elegant X-50 Freya to be the only Irish entrant for the Middle Sea Race 2022 from Malta. But it’s now a double-system setup which they embrace with enthusiasm, as Freya won ORC 3 - a popular success for a highly-regarded and enthusiastic owner-skipper. 

International: PAT O’NEILL (Howth)

International: PAT O’NEILL, second from left, (Howth)International: PAT O’NEILL, second from left, (Howth)

Pat O’Neill of Howth and his Mojo J/80 team are well known for their success in major events across Europe. But taking on the J/80 Worlds in the class heartlands at Newport, Rhode Island was a challenge which raised the stakes by several notches, and then some. So much so, in fact, that some early success in the very international fleet was regarded as a flash in the pan. But they just kept on getting better, and though the leading American and Swedish crews stayed ahead of them right to the end to take first and second, it was third and a Bronze for Ireland at the conclusion of a hectic series.

Seniors: SEAN CRAIG (Royal St. George, Dun Laoghaire)

Seniors: SEAN CRAIG (Dun Laoghaire)Seniors: SEAN CRAIG, right, (Dun Laoghaire)

When you see Dun Laoghaire’s Sean Craig (RStGYC) racing a solo dinghy, the last thing that springs to mind would be to categorizing him as a “Senior” or “Masters” sailor. Yet it was way back in 1993 – thirty years ago – that he won the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland in Larne while in the midst of an already prize-studded sailing career which has continued ever since. These days he’s best known for being in the frame in various categories of international competition in the ILCA/Laser 6, his October 2022 achievement being to get on podium with the Bronze Medal at the EurILCA Masters Europeans at L’Escala in Spain on October 14th.  

NOVEMBER 

Services to Sailing: PETER CROWLEY (Crosshaven)

Services to Sailing: PETER CROWLEY (Crosshaven)Services to Sailing: PETER CROWLEY (Crosshaven)

Affable Race Officer and former Royal Cork YC Admiral Peter Crowley brings comprehensive experience of participation and organisation to any major championship with which he becomes involved

The 505 Worlds 2022 from 3rd to 13th August at the Royal Cork came laden with historic associations. For though this attractive class may still look as modern as tomorrow, it goes way back, and around 70 years ago Cork Harbour was the hotbed of a busy fleet that was part of a worldwide movement. But now – like former superstar classes such as the Finn, the Star and the Dragon – the 505 class is an elite international travelling circus, making the highest demands on any venue that it selects for its Worlds.

Unfortunately for Cork in the first part of the 2022 Worlds, the event was frustrated by calms. But even here, the fact of having Peter Crowley as Race Officer was all to the good, for on the Lay Day he gave everyone a convivial harbour tour on his Beneteau Trawler Yacht Spare Times which much improved the mood. And then when the breezes came good towards the end of the week, he clicked through enough races in champagne sailing to get a real result, with the USA’s Stuart McNay & Caleb Paine winning from GBR’s Nathan Batchelor & Seam Pascoe, while best of the Irish in a 78-strong and totally international fleet were Ewan Barry & Charles Dwyer at 12th.

Services to Sailing: BILL O’HARA (Ballyholme)

Services to Sailing: BILL O’HARA (Ballyholme)Services to Sailing: BILL O’HARA (Ballyholme)

Race Officer Bill O’Hara first leapt to national fame when he skippered the Bangor Grammar School team to overall victory in the annual Britain & Ireland Schools Championship in Scotland in the days when it was an event of prime importance, which is now a very long time ago. Since then, he has starred in Olympic Finns and Lasers to the highest international levels, while his unrivalled race management expertise been enacted with many high-profile events, including the multi-stage round-the-world Ocean Race.

Thus in getting him to oversee their 2022 Worlds from 14th to 19th August at Skerries with a fleet of 104 boats, the GP 14 Association and Skerries SC really were getting one of the Main Men to see them through a challenging week, from which Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliff (GBR) emerged as the Champions, while the top Irish were the host club’s Colman Grimes crewed by Rob Gingles at fifth, and the top female helm was Jane Kearney of Royal North of Ireland YC in 14th, crewed by Oliver Goodhead.

Services to Sailing: CON MURPHY (Dun Laoghaire)

Services to Sailing: CON MURPHY (Dun Laoghaire)Services to Sailing: CON MURPHY (Dun Laoghaire)

There are few sailors in Ireland with more eclectic interests afloat than Race Officer Con Murphy, as he is the husband and father of Olympic sailors, his wife Cathy having raced the 470 in the 1988 Olympics, while his daughter Annalise won the Silver Medal in the Lasers in 2016 in Rio.

But with interests extending in many directions, he has long been a multi-hull enthusiast, and in September 1993 he persuaded the late Steve Fossett to bring his superb 60ft trimaran Lakota to Ireland for a joint tilt at the Round Ireland Record, which had stood since November 1986. They did it with such style that their new time stood until June 2016, when the three larger MOD 70 trimarans finally sliced a little more off it during that year’s multiple record-breaking Round Ireland race from Wicklow.

Such breadth of experience brings its own deep sense of reassuring calm at challenging moments during World Championships, and on Lough Derg in late August Con Murphy oversaw an enjoyment-plus Fireball Worlds which saw Tom Gillard (GBR) and Andy Thompson (East Antrim Boat Club) take the title, while the best all-Irish team of Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsaella (Royal St George YC) just missed the podium with a very commendable fourth overall in a notably strong fleet.

Services to Sailing: DAVID LOVEGROVE (Howth)

Services to Sailing: DAVID LOVEGROVE (Howth)Services to Sailing: DAVID LOVEGROVE (Howth)

September is always a bit of a gamble as the time for staging a major sailing championship, for although the sea temperature may be at its warmest, the closing in of the evenings and a sometimes unexpected nip in the air can combine with big winds – usually from the west – to tell us that our predecessors in sailing may have been wise in drawing most sport afloat towards a close by the end of August.

Yet, with modern boats and the growing precision of weather forecast, early September can be a real Godsend in completing the season’s main national and international events. But when Race Officer David Lovegrove arrived at the beginning of September to oversee the Royal Irish YC’s staging of the SB20 Worlds 2022, he may have seen it as just another day’s voluntary work at the top level of the sport, as he had already master-minded the Wave Regatta at Howth in early June, and he’d overseen a host of other lesser events throughout the summer before taking on the J/24 Euros at his home port in the week before the SB20 Worlds began across the bay.

It was a tough one. If September was coming in as a month of gentle mists and mellow fruitfulness, it was doing so somewhere other than Dublin Bay. This was the Big Boys’ Game, and no mistake. But they battered their way through, and by the end Jose Paulo Ramada of Portugal was the winner out of a 56-strong fleet, while best of the Irish were Royal St George’s Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Edward Cook in fourth.

Afterwards, David Lovegrove supposedly retired home to rest for a while at his house on the Hill of Howth. But rumours abound about him being spotted in the main role aboard the Committee Boat at various events since the SB 20s were blasting so spectacularly around Dublin Bay. Either way, he certainly deserves praise for his extensive work on behalf of sailing, which involved him in spending 25 days afloat in various Committee Boats during 2022.

DECEMBER

International Offshore: LEE CONDELL (Limerick & Sydney)

International Offshore: LEE CONDELL (Limerick & Sydney)International Offshore: LEE CONDELL (Limerick & Sydney)

Lee Condell of Limerick has been building a successful career in the marine industry in Australia for some time now. But with his 60th birthday approaching and the much-mourned death of his father - regional sailing development enthusiast Alan Condell - in Limerick at the height of the lockdown, he felt that the up-grading of the Two-handed Division to full competitor status in the forthcoming 628-mile Sydney-Hobart Race offered a manageable challenge for something special, both to honour his father’s memory, and to acknowledge his own six decades on the planet.

He undertook what was at times a strong winds event with Lincoln Dews as shipmate on the Sun Fast 3300 Sun Fast Racing, and at one stage they were shown as leading the two-handed division, despite being  one of the smallest boats in the fleet.

They were back at third coming into the Derwent on the way to he finish at Hobart in the dark - notoriously difficult conditions. Yet they made such a good job of it that Sun Fast Racing came across the line to place second on corrected time in the Two-Handed Division.

Services to Sailing: PHILIP MAYNE & NAOMI ALGEO (Lough Ree)

Services to Sailing: PHILIP MAYNE & NAOMI ALGEO (Lough Ree) of the Shannon One Designs (above)Services to Sailing: PHILIP MAYNE & NAOMI ALGEO (Lough Ree) of the Shannon One Designs (above)

The unique and Centenary-celebrating una-rigged 18ft Shannon One Designs and their Association were already recognised in their special achievement by being co-winners (with Lough Ree YC) of the MG Motor “Club of the Year” award for 2022. But while it was all well and good to know that something very special in sailing was taking place down along the Shannon and its great lakes during 2022, it was something else altogether to keep a characterful class - whose administration has been compared to herding cats - on track through a special and lengthy programme.

In this, intensive Centenary Regattas in July at Lough Derg YC and then at Lough Ree YC were added to the traditional and time-honoured lake and river sailing programme - concluding in the Autumn - that long pre-dates the founding of the Shannon ODs in 1922.

But with longtime Shannon OD sailors Philip Mayne as Class Chairman and Naomi Algeo as Honorary Secretary, ably supported by many volunteers, the crowded programme was successfully put through from beginning to end, and the class already has plans for 2023 well-advanced.

Services to Sailing: PADDY JUDGE (Howth)

Services to Sailing: PADDY JUDGE (Howth)Services to Sailing: PADDY JUDGE (Howth)

When Paddy Judge stood down as Commodore of Howth Yacht Club at the AGM on Tuesday, 13th December 2022 to be succeeded by former Vice Commodore Neil Murphy, it marked much more than the conclusion of the usual two years in the hot seat. For, like all clubs, HYC had experienced difficult times adjusting to the changing economic realities from 2009 onwards, and the onset of the various pandemic restrictions.

A severe cost-cutting programme had become essential, and it had to be demonstrated that the club could handle the situation with a voluntary General Manager, with Rear Commodore Paddy Judge undertaking the role. For several years, he was in the clubhouse almost every day, dealing with members’ problems and quietly monitoring the onward progress of the club’s re-organisation and expansion plans.

So when he re-focussed on being a member of the “officer corps” in order to become Commodore in December 2020, Howth YC had expanded its activities afloat and ashore to become a thriving organisation with more than 2,000 members when all categories are included. And during his peak concluding year as Commodore in 2022, the club was unprecedented in its sailing successes at home and internationally, so much so that on January 8th 2023 it was named as MG Motor “Sailing Club of the Year 2023”.

It had all been quietly achieved with an under-stated style of leadership which was exactly what the situation required. And at the unique HYC Commodores Lunch in November 2022, when HYC interacts with hospitality for all its neighbouring organisations and the supportive Fingal County Council, the club gave recognition to all who had been involved at a personal level with the popular presentation of a large bouquet of flowers to Paddy Judge’s wife Mary “with heartfelt thanks for the use of her husband for so many important years”.

Sailor of the Year: Voting 2022

As in previous years, 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 for 2022 by using our online poll.

The judges welcome the traditional massive 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.

Please note: One vote per person. Your vote DOES NOT necessarily determine the overall winner.

The national award is specially designed to salute the achievements of Ireland's sailing elite. After more than 25 years, the awards have developed into a premier ceremony for water sports.

The overall national award will be presented to the person who, in the judges' opinion, achieved the most notable results in, or made the most significant contribution to Irish sailing during 2021.

By supporting your favourite nominee, you are creating additional awareness of their nomination and highlighting their success.

Voting online is open to public view from Monday, January 16, until Tuesday, January 31st 2023.

CLICK THE LINK ON EACH SAILORS' NAME TO READ THEIR ACHIEVEMENT FROM 2022 AND VOTE FOR YOUR SAILOR in the right-hand column (on desktop machines) and below on tablet and mobile.

ABOUT THE AFLOAT.IE IRISH SAILOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

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

Since it began over 27 years ago, the awards have recognised nearly 600 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.

The judges' decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Published in Sailor of the Year
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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 Afloat.ie "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

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