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Displaying items by tag: Sailors of the Month

For sure, the pandemic-plagued year of 2020 - with its stop-start framework of activity afloat and ashore - was something beyond most sailors' experience.

Yet ours is nothing if not a can-do sport. And while some sailing enthusiasts – particularly those at risk with underlying health conditions – may have reasonably decided to sit it out completely, there were many others who, with care and guidance and consideration for others, were able to get in some sailing – in certain cases quite a bit of sailing - without setting an irresponsible and selfish example.

Thus yet again, the diversity of those who feature in our annual list of monthly achievers is astonishing, and where necessary we have continued with the well-established tradition of often having more than one award. In the frantically busy month of September in particular, when clubs and classes worked successfully to complete programmes and championships before a fresh wave of restrictions kicked in, we have no less than four awards, and every one thoroughly deserves to be there.

It's an eclectic list, for our interests afloat are numerous and diverse. It's truly international, as our sailors are active in many parts of the world. And in all, it's a lineup of purest gold standard enthusiasts whose example will see us through the tough times ahead, into a renewed joy in boats and sailing as our sport eventually begins to return to normal.

JANUARY

CAPTAIN PAT FARNAN OF CORK HARBOUR

Captain Pat Farnan's retirement as Admiral of the Royal Cork YC on January 20th 2020 - after a two-year tour of duty in this top role - marked the completion of another chapter in an outstanding maritime career that took him straight from school to take up a Cadetship in Irish Shipping. As a Captain with wide-ranging sea service, he was recruited in 1980 into the frontline staff of the Port of Cork as Assistant Harbour Master where his 33-year career saw him become Harbour Master and then Deputy Chief Executive, serving also as President of the European Harbour Masters Association from 1996-1998.

Leading RCYC junior sailor Atlee Kohl with Capt. Pat Farnan, the first "Sailor of the Month" for 2020Leading RCYC junior sailor Atlee Kohl with Capt. Pat Farnan, the first "Sailor of the Month" for 2020. Photo: Robert Bateman

On retirement, he became Admiral of Royal Cork Yacht Club for the demanding two year period in the countdown to the RCYC's Tricentenary in 2020. Far from being over-shadowed by the approaching celebrations, 2018 and 2019 were such busy and successful years in RCYC sailing that the Royal Cork saw 2020 being ushered in with the announcement that they were the new Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year on the strength of outstanding achievements in 2018 and '19, and in recognition of Captain Farnan's quietly effective leadership

ROCCO WRIGHT OF HOWTH (Junior Award)

Rocco Wright (13) of Howth became Sailor of the Month (Junior) for January after twice taking silver in major Optimist regattas in both the southern and northern hemispheres. Early in the month in Sail Melbourne 2020 in Australia in a total fleet of 255 boats, he was overnight leader going into the final day. But a series of sometimes flukey winds produced its most fickle day of all to conclude with, the positions were inverted, and he did well to hold on to second overall.

Rocco Wright (left) Silver Medallist in the 401-boat Optimist Euromarina Trophy Regatta in Alicante at the end of January with Gold winner Alessandro Cortese (centre) and Silver Medallist Lisa VuccetiRocco Wright (left) Silver Medallist in the 401-boat Optimist Euromarina Trophy Regatta in Alicante at the end of January with Gold winner Alessandro Cortese (centre) and Silver Medallist Lisa Vucceti

In Alicante in Spain at the end of the month, conditions were breezy and almost wintry for the Euromarina Trophy and an astonishing total fleet of 401 boats. Here again he was overnight leader going into the final day's three races. With a ninth and a first in the two initial contests, things were looking good, but this time gear failure resulted in a DNC in the last race, and he'd to concede the overall lead to Italy's Alessandro Cortese while staying ahead of another Italian helm, Lisa Vucceti, who was also top girl.

Michael Boyd, former Commodore RORC, continued his winning ways with a class victory in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February.Michael Boyd, former Commodore RORC, continued his winning ways with a class victory in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February.

FEBRUARY

MICHAEL BOYD OF DUN LAOGHAIRE (OFFSHORE)

Michael Boyd of the RIYC may have first leapt to prominence in offshore racing with his overall victory in the 1996 Round Ireland Race in the J/35 Big Ears. But his enthusiasm remains undimmed such that he served as RORC Commodore, with achievements including the RORC Championship and other Round Ireland results well in the frame, and in late February 2020 he added yet another laurel with a key role in the successful Lombard 46 Pata Negra's class win in the RORC Caribbean 600 Race. 

DARAGH NAGLE OF VANCOUVER (CRUISING)

The worldwide spread of the Irish Cruising Club membership was in evidence at the AGM in Dun Laoghaire at the end of February 2020 when Daragh Nagle was awarded the supreme trophy, the Faulkner Cup. Originally of Portmarnock but now cruising from Victoria in British Columbia with his wife Cathy O'Neill in their 1987-vintage Moody 376 Chantey V, Daragh's 2019 venture was a properly-logged 2,500 miles-plus 90-day venture with more than 70 ports and anchorages visited, competently dealing with a mixture of extreme tides and open sea passages in exemplary style.

Cathy O'Neill and Daragh Nagle on the award-winning Chantey V in Mexican watersCathy O'Neill and Daragh Nagle on the award-winning Chantey V in Mexican waters

MARCH

JACK & ROSEMARY ROY OF DUN LAOGHAIRE

When Jack Roy of Dun Laoghaire (though originally from Greystones) retired from the Presidency of Irish Sailing on March 21st 2020, it marked the conclusion of a hugely successful three years in the top post in Irish sailing. They were years in which the active and enthusiastic President was always quietly but very effectively supported by his wife Rosemary as they involved themselves in all aspects of the sport in every part of the country.

Racing folk go cruising – Jack & Rosemary Roy on Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock.Racing folk go cruising – Jack & Rosemary Roy on Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock.

The commitment of "Team Roy" ranged from Race Officering up to Olympic level at one end, all the way to hospitable cruising with their ubiquitous Hallberg Rassy 48 Tangaroa at the other, with just about everything possible – including continuing as regular Race Officer and Timekeeper for Dublin Bay SC on the big-fixture Thursday evening programme – frequently and competently dealt with in between. 

DANIEL RAYMOND OF DUBLIN (Team Racing)

The energetically-organised Irish Inter-varsities team racers managed to get in their 2020 Championship early in March before the Covid-19 clampdown closed in. The venue was University of Limerick's watersports facility at Killaloe on Lough Derg, and in three decidedly hectic days of Firefly racing, University College Dublin Firsts emerged as overall winners. Their Sailing Captain is Daniel Raymond, so he gets the nod as our Team Racer of the Month, but it's all about team effort, and the complete lineup was Jack Higgins, Daniel Raymond and Patrick Cahill as helms, while crews were Alanna Lyttle, Kathy Kelly and Lucy McCutcheon, with Lucy McCutcheon (winner in 2019) taking the Irish Universities Sailing Association "Crew of the Year" title

The UCD Team at UCLSC's Killaloe base on Lough Derg after winning the 2020 Irish title captained by Daniel Raymond.The UCD Team at UCLSC's Killaloe base on Lough Derg after winning the 2020 Irish title captained by Daniel Raymond.

APRIL

CLAIRE MORGAN OF CROSSHAVEN

When the story of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland finally comes to be written, there'll be many individuals - both voluntary and professional - who will be recognized as having contributed way beyond the call of duty in helping to fight the scourge. In choosing Claire Morgan of UK Sailmakers of Crosshaven, who worked night and day to change and operate the company's production line to meet the unprecedented demand for PPE gowns, we were honouring one in order to honour the many to whom we all owe our heartfelt thanks.

Claire Morgan after a 12-hour shift making PPE gowns at UK Sailmakers in CrosshavenClaire Morgan after a 12-hour shift making PPE gowns at UK Sailmakers in Crosshaven

MARK MILLS OF WICKLOW (International)

In a time of inevitable national introspection, the design work of Mark Mills was a breath of fresh and global sea air, taking us out of ourselves. Already in 2020, his design work had been recognised with the MDO Montecarlo Trophy for the quality of the biggest vessel to emerge from his County Wicklow design studio to date, the 30-metre Wallycento Tango. And his smaller designs continue to attract, with the rapidly-growing popularity of his Melges IC37 - in which Anthony O'Leary's Royal Cork team took the Bronze at September 2019's New York YC Invitational - a testament to the versatility of this talented naval architect, who has since created the world's first "post-America's Cup 2021 racer/cruiser" for an Italian owner

Mark Mills – his design studio in the heart of County Wicklow creates yacht designs for a global clienteleMark Mills – his design studio in the heart of County Wicklow creates yacht designs for a global clientele

The new 30 metre Wallycento Tango won Mark Mills a major design award. The new 30 metre Wallycento Tango won Mark Mills a major design award

MAY

IAN BYRNE OF HOWTH

With the complex COVID-19 regulations seeing their post-First Wave easing in May, many sailors with boats to fit out and get into commission had difficulty in assessing just what they were permitted to do or not do. But Ian Byrne, Commodore of Howth Yacht Club, made it his business to analyse in detail the national and local regulations and limitations. And then, as various stages were passed, he led his members afloat for a first sail, fully compliant with social-distancing, on Sunday, May 24th. This resulted in a gradual resumption of day sailing, with family and household crews becoming accustomed to the "new normal".

With an excess of information available as the first lockdown eased, HYC Commodore Ian Byrne made it his business to clarify the situation as to how much sailing was permissible, and in what form With an excess of information available as the first lockdown eased, HYC Commodore Ian Byrne made it his business to clarify the situation as to how much sailing was permissible, and in what form

DARIA & ALEX BLACKWELL OF MAYO

Daria and Alex Blackwell of Mayo SC are highly-experienced ocean voyagers, and they're Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore respectively of the Ocean Cruising Club, the global body which currently has hundreds of members' boats currently on long cruises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these boats had been caught out on long passages not knowing what kind of reception they would get when they reached their destination. From their base on the shores of Clew Bay, Daria and Alex provided assistance and guidance - sometimes including negotiations with national authorities - for many sailors in potentially difficult situations.

The good shepherds…Alex and Daria Blackwell of the Ocean Cruising Club provided an invaluable service for voyagers caught at sea as the pandemic lockdowns closed in.The good shepherds…Alex and Daria Blackwell of the Ocean Cruising Club provided an invaluable service for voyagers caught at sea as the pandemic lockdowns closed in.

One-armed solo sailor Garry Crothers was one of those being monitored by the OCC as he returned home across the Atlantic.One-armed solo sailor Garry Crothers was one of those being monitored by the OCC as he returned home across the Atlantic. Photo: Ken Curry

JUNE

GARRY CROTHERS OF DERRY (OFFSHORE)

When Garry Crothers (64) of Lough Swilly YC solo-sailed his Ovni 435 Kind of Blue towards her berth in Foyle Marina in the heart of the City of Derry, it marked the completion of an extraordinary adventure which had started as the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown fell suddenly into place in the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten in early May.

Garry is one-armed as the consequence of a motorbike accident in 2007, and though he had managed short single-handed passages, he was reliant on crew flying into the shared Dutch/French island to help him sail home the 3,500 miles to Ireland. The rapid spread of the pandemic to central America and the Pacific islands beyond had completely closed off his long-distance cruising plans there, and with the Lockdown in the Caribbean being imposed with increasing severity and indefinite length.

Gary Crothers with his family of daughter Oonagh (left) wife Marie and daughter Amy on Kind of Blue in the Caribbean. Photo: Ken CurryGary Crothers with his family of daughter Oonagh (left) wife Marie and daughter Amy on Kind of Blue in the Caribbean. Photo: Ken Curry

Thus his only options seemed to be to either to sail the boat home with a locally-recruited crew if one could be found, or to lay up with the limited facilities in Sint Maarten, and fly home himself if he could get out. Neither option proved possible, so he simply sailed home by himself, single-handed in every sense of the term.

JOHN KILLEEN OF GALWAY (SERVICES TO THE MARINE)

John Killeen of Galway's services to sailing and the broader maritime world expanded still further in June, when he became Chairman of the RNLI Council for Ireland. This is in addition to his major role as Chairman of the Marine Institute, while he continues to fulfil other top positions – most of them on a voluntary basis – which reflect his deeply-held beliefs on building a better Ireland. In particular, he is devoted to improving the vitality of the national maritime movement, while also promoting the needs and potential of the western seaboard. All this is in addition to his personal enthusiasm for sailing, which was well expressed in the creation in Galway of his dreamship, the 70ft performance cruiser Nimmo.

John Killeen – the enormous input he makes into many aspects of the marina sphere in Ireland increased even further with his appointment as the Chairman of the RNLI Council for IrelandJohn Killeen – the enormous input he makes into many aspects of the marina sphere in Ireland increased even further with his appointment as the Chairman of the RNLI Council for Ireland

JULY

QUINLAN-OWENS FAMILY OF KINVARA

The Sailor of the Month contest has been running for a quarter of a century now, but this may well be the first time the award has gone to a single seagoing family. Vera Quinlan, her husband Peter Owens, and their children Lillian (now 12) and Ruairi (10) departed their home near Kinvara in the southeast corner of Galway Bay with their 43ft steel ketch Danu in June 2019 in anticipation of a comprehensive Atlantic circuit cruise to South America and the Caribbean, concluding back in Galway Bay at the end of August 2020. Despite their plans being battered by the massive international effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Danu and her crew managed to finish a very complete voyage of remarkable variety which include detailed travels ashore, and they thoroughly deserved the warm welcome and congratulations they received from family and friends when they arrived back into Kilronan in the Aran Islands on Wednesday 29th July.

The Quinlan-Owens family at the start of their cruise in June 2019The Quinlan-Owens family at the start of their cruise in June 2019

The 43ft 1993-built Bruce Roberts steel ketch Danu was given a very complete refit by Peter Owens and Vera Quinlan before their award-winning family cruise of the Atlantic circuit The 43ft 1993-built Bruce Roberts steel ketch Danu was given a very complete refit by Peter Owens and Vera Quinlan before their award-winning family cruise of the Atlantic circuit

KIERAN DORGAN OF COBH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

While other clubs have found it a big enough challenge simply resuming sailing in a regulation-compliant way, the 101-year-old Cove Sailing Club in Cork Harbour has also been bringing its new marina on stream, and in addition to resuming club sailing, it staged the first open event of the delayed 2020 season, the Squib Southerns, on July 25th-26th. It has been a superb team effort, but all teams need effective leadership, and CSC Commodore Kieran Dorgan has been providing it in a family tradition - his father Barry was in the same role, while on the water Kieran himself is no stranger to the front of the fleet with his First 36.7 Altair.

Kieran Dorgan of Cove Sailing ClubKieran Dorgan of Cove Sailing Club

AUGUST

MURPHY FAMILY AND NIEULARGO OF CROSSHAVEN 

There are many boats in Ireland that are in the happy position of being regarded as one of the family, yet few fulfil that role so completely as Denis and Annamarie Murphy of Crosshaven's beloved Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo. Aboard her, guesting superstars are swept into the onboard mood so totally that they become "honorary Murphys", and as likely as not when Nieulargo confidently overtakes you, you'll find that one of the talented Murphy sisters is serenely on the helm.

This very complete approach reached new heights in August, when Nieulargo took line honours and the overall win in the Kinsale-Fasnet-Kinsale race, and then a fortnight later took the overall win and second in line honours in the Fastnet 450. The Irish sailing world is a better place for Nieulargo being at the heart of it, and she puts us in the happy position of being able to honour another special Irish sailing family for the second month in a row.

Nieulargo's crew after winning the Fastnet 450 are (left to right, standing) Denis, Annamarie & Molly Murphy, Mark "Nipper" Murphy (no relation), Killian Collins and Clive O'Shea, front row Mia Murphy, Cian Byrne, James Fegan and Nin O'LearyNieulargo's crew after winning the Fastnet 450 are (left to right, standing) Denis, Annamarie & Molly Murphy, Mark "Nipper" Murphy (no relation), Killian Collins and Clive O'Shea, front row Mia Murphy, Cian Byrne, James Fegan and Nin O'Leary. Photo: North Sails 

ADMIRAL COLIN MOREHEAD OF CROSSHAVEN & COMMODORE MARTIN McCARTHY OF DUN LAOGHAIRE (SERVICES TO SAILING)

It is unusual to have two leading figures sharing the "Sailor of the Month (Services to Sailing)" award. And it surely unique when one is Admiral of the world's oldest yacht club, the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, in its Tricentenary Year, while the other is Commodore of the National YC in Dun Laoghaire as it marks its 150th Anniversary.

Colin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. His graceful acceptance of the pandemic lockdown's adverse effect on his club's planned Tricentenary, and his enthusiasm in getting sailing going again as soon as possible, set a fine example for the entire Irish sailing communityColin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. His graceful acceptance of the pandemic lockdown's adverse effect on his club's planned Tricentenary, and his enthusiasm in getting sailing going again as soon as possible, set a fine example for the entire Irish sailing community. Photo: Robert Bateman

Yet both have shared an indomitable spirit in encouraging and leading their members in whatever sailing and club activity is possible through the COVID-19 crisis, and both, in turn, have received their members' support with a sense of responsible community which is a credit to both clubs, and to Irish sailing generally.

Commodore Martin McCarthy took a hands-on approach to the club's annual lift-in at the end of April. Despite the frustrations of lockdown in the NYC's 150th Anniversary Year, he was able to host the start of the Fastnet 450, and also very successful Sesquicentennial Regatta.Commodore at work…NYC Commodore Martin McCarthy took a hands-on approach to the club's annual lift-in at the end of April. Despite the frustrations of lockdown in the NYC's 150th Anniversary Year, he was able to host the start of the Fastnet 450, and also very successful Sesquicentennial Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

This was celebrated by a very special occasion on the morning of Saturday, August 22nd, when a small but select and carefully-choreographed gathering, hosted by Commodore Martin McCarthy at the National YC, marked the imminent start of the Fastnet 450 Race to the Fastnet Rock and Crosshaven.

Admiral Morehead attended from Cork – as did his predecessor Thomas G French for the first such race 160 years ago, in 1860 - and there too was the new Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Councillor Una Power, to show her support for the increasingly important role sailing fulfils in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and to express the respect which Ireland's maritime world feels for the venerable Royal Cork Yacht Club.

nto the limelight – young Johnny Flynn of Howth takes the Irish Optimist nationals by one point at Crosshaven, RCYC Admiral Colin Morehead on right in a socially-distaned ceremony  Photo: Robert BatemanInto the limelight – young Johnny Flynn of Howth takes the Irish Optimist nationals by one point at Crosshaven, RCYC Admiral Colin Morehead on right in a socially-distanced ceremony Photo: Robert Bateman

Johnny Flynn of Howth (Junior)

One of the few national championships which was staged in 2020 was the AIB Optimist Irish Nationals with a 73-boat fleet at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven in mid-August. In sometimes flukey conditions, it went right to the wire with young Johnny Flynn of Howth taking the title by one point in the last race from Ben O’Shaughnessy of the host club, and Howth club-mate Rocco Wright in third.

SEPTEMBER

TOM DOLAN OF MEATH (INTERNATIONAL)

When Meathman Tom Dolan heads off for a solo or double-handed campaign with the Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa from his French base at Concarneau, the Irish sailing community is with him all the way. But as the truncated 2020 season finally got going, we'd to control our hopes until it became clear whether or not the psychological coaching he'd been working with was paying dividends.

Tom Dolan brought his Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa firmly into the frame in 2020Tom Dolan brought his Figaro 3 Smurfit Kappa firmly into the frame in 2020

His 2019 season with the new foiling Figaro 3 had been frustrating in the extreme, as he had the speed, but the tactics and strategy were way off target, and this put him well into the lower half of the fleet. Yet as 2020's main event, the Figaro Solitaire itself through the first three weeks of September, gradually took shape, it was clear that Smurfit Kappa had at least as much speed as before, but now it was in the most beneficial directions.

Even when he'd been down the numbers in the early stages of one of the legs, Tom Dolan and his boat were soon eating their way up through the fleet in any situation which demanded difficult tactical decisions. His fifth overall at the finish – the highest-placed non-French sailor and winner of the Vivi Cup – had him right among the international elite in one of 2020's few major events.

ROB O'LEARY OF BALTIMORE (INSHORE)

The O'Leary family of Crosshaven and Baltimore have a fine reputation for top-level competitive sailing allied with ready enthusiasm for volunteering in services to our sport, and Rob the youngest O'Leary brother is following this tradition. Having served successfully as Captain of his university sailing club, he is now a newbie on the Committee of Baltimore SC in West Cork as the Honorary Sailing Secretary in this most demanding of years, when flexibility in planning and nimbleness in organisation has been the essential approach in keeping sailing alive yet compliant. And he is equally a pace-setter afloat, having helmed the winning 1720 in the Baltimore Cup, the Southerns, and most recently the Munsters in Cork Harbour, racing in one of the most competitive fleets in the country.

Rob O'Leary, 1720 Champion of 2020Rob O'Leary, 1720 Champion of 2020. Photo: Robert Bateman

PAUL O'HIGGINS OF DUN LAOGHAIRE (OFFSHORE)

One of the many "little miracles" which kept Irish sailing alive and active during the continually-changing official restrictions in the summer of 2020 was the flexible and effective administration of the Irish side of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association's annual programme by ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan of the National YC.

But in order to succeed in this, he needed the support of the skippers and crews who enjoy what ISORA has on offer, yet in a normal year would be able to plan their programme well in advance. This wasn't possible in 2020, but thanks to a generous spirit among those involved, the Irish boats in ISORA had a very good season in the circumstances. Once again it came down to the outcome of the last race in September, and once again the final race overall winner, and new 2020 champion, was Paul O'Higgins (Royal Irish YC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI.

Paul O'Higgins (Sailor of the Year 2019) successfully defended his 2019 ISORA title in 2020 with his JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI.Paul O'Higgins (Sailor of the Year 2019) successfully defended his 2019 ISORA title in 2020 with his JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

BEN GRAF OF LOUGH REE (JUNIOR)

Teenage skipper Ben Graf of the 250-year-old Lough Ree YC became September's Junior "Sailor of the Month" on the strength of a remarkably varied lineup of successes which reached a new level during the late season. Having won the 420 Nationals at Dunmore East crewed by Alexander Farrell, he repeated the performance of gaining top slot at the 420 Northerns at Ballyholme, and then immediately transferred back to Lough Ree for another bout of successful helming in the SB20 Class. He has also figured in Shannon One Design racing, and in a new departure for 2020, he and Farrell made their impressive debut in the Fireball Class in anticipation of the Worlds in Ireland in 2021.

Ben Graf on helm and Alexander Farrell on wire as they shape their champion International 420 for a startBen Graf on helm and Alexander Farrell on wire as they shape their champion International 420 for a start.

Action stations. Catherine Hunt and Pamela Lee powering along on board the round Ireland record-breaking Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta Action stations. Catherine Hunt and Pamela Lee powering along on board the round Ireland record-breaking Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta

OCTOBER

PAMELA LEE OF GREYSTONES & CATHERINE HUNT 

The new Round Ireland Two-handed Record Holders, RL Sailing's Pamela Lee of Greystones SC and Catherine Hunt, were acclaimed as October's "Sailors of the Month" after a superbly-executed circuit of our island home which went way beyond their initial challenge of establishing a significant speed for a female two-handed crew. Their time of 3 days 19 hours and 45 minutes in the Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta was not only many hours clear of previous comparable circuits by any crews of two-handed sailors, but was impressively close to record times set by fully-crewed larger boats - and it was all done so stylishly that this was sailing as performance art.

Fast and steady and in the right direction- Iarracht Maigeanta with the kind of sailing that established the new Round Ireland Two-Handed Record Fast and steady and in the right direction- Iarracht Maigeanta with the kind of sailing that established the new Round Ireland Two-Handed Record

NOVEMBER

MARCUS SPILLANE OF CORK (INTERNATIONAL)

The election of Marcus Spillane – originally of Cork – to a Vice Presidency of World Sailing in November was the latest step in an extraordinary involvement in sailing which has seen him compete in many world championships – most notably in the International 49er – while at the same time playing key roles in global sailing administration. He did much of the heavy lifting in making the Olympic International 49er Association the force it is today, serving as Class CEO for six years and becoming President for eight. Then when the Olympic NACRA 17 class came into being, he was persuaded to take on its Presidency for its first four formative years. Though now US-based, he maintains his close links with Ireland through being Treasurer to Irish Sailing's Olympic Steering Group.

In the thick of it – new World Sailing Vice President Marcus Spillane and Rory Fitzpatrick racing a 49er.In the thick of it – new World Sailing Vice President Marcus Spillane and Rory Fitzpatrick racing a 49er.

DONAL O'SULLIVAN OF DUN LAOGHAIRE

Anyone who writes the history at the Centenary of one of his long-affiliated sailing clubs in 1984, and then writes the history of his other club at its 150th (Sesquicentennial) some 36 years later in 2020, is clearly someone profoundly committed to the legends and lore of our highly individualistic sport. In those circumstances, you might expect that his interest is academic rather than active. But Donal O'Sullivan – longtime Honorary Secretary of Dublin Bay SC and its Centenary history writer in 1984, and more recently historian of the National Yacht Club with his new Chronicles of the NYC published in November 2020 - is very much a longtime 'actif' in the Dublin Bay racing scene afloat, while his books bring a depth and breadth which enable him to put our sometimes narrowly-focused sport into its larger context, thereby defining its proper role in the national narrative.

Donal O'Sullivan – a fount of erudition in sailing and local historyDonal O'Sullivan – a fount of erudition in sailing and local history

DECEMBER

PETER RYAN OF DUN LAOGHAIRE (SERVICES TO SAILING)

Peter Ryan of Dun Laoghaire is a dedicated sailing enthusiast – particularly for offshore racing – whose affable exterior camouflages the fact that his brain is busily whirring with ideas for improving the sport. Thus when the challenges of pandemic shoreside shutdown arose, he grasped the opportunities provided by being Chairman of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association and having access to a generously donated consignment of Yellowbrick trackers, and set about devising a coastal racing programme which would comply with regulations while still providing good sport.

Peter Ryan at the helm of the J/109 Mojito in the Fastnet RacePeter Ryan at the helm of the J/109 Mojito in the Fastnet Race

It may not have been offshore racing as we know it, as it lacked the post-race parties previously thought indispensable. But it was a proper racing programme nevertheless, while the general ISORA contribution to the legitimate continuation of the sport was also seen in the loan of the Yellowbricks for the excellent Fastnet 450 race in August, and the hugely successful Round Ireland Two-Handed Challenge by Pam Lee of Greystones and Cat Hunt with the Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta in October. 

DON STREET OF GLANDORE (INTERNATIONAL)

Don Street of Glandore and the Caribbean was celebrated in December to mark his continuing and inspirational joy in sailing at the age of 90, and in honour of the remarkable contribution he has made to our sport, both in the many areas of his active and successful involvement afloat, and in his writing of many books – cruising guides and technical manuals alike - which have been a source of encouragement for his international legions of followers.

Don's sailing is such a mixture of experiences that anyone can find something of interest in his writings, and for a connoisseur, it's all pure gold. In much of 2020, the lockdowns meant he was restricted to Glandore and the Dragons, but typically he made the most of it to inspire young and old alike. 

As keen as ever…..Don Street in GlandoreDon Street

The Afloat.ie Sailor of the Irish Sailor of the Year Award will be presented in February 2020.

Published in Sailor of the Year
Tagged under

Irish sailing may have gone very public and centre stage in the national consciousness in August 2016, when our Olympic squad performed with distinction. But all round the coast and on the lakes, and at major venues overseas, sailing events large and small, local, national and international, continued as before. W M Nixon looks back on the Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month” awards for a very special year.

JANUARY SAILOR OF THE MONTH

ENDA O'COINEEN

In the countdown to Christmas, the thoughts of many in the Irish sailing community were in mid-Atlantic, where Enda O Coineen, was in an IMOCA 60 race from the Caribbean to Brittany.

He’d started a day after the rest of the fleet while a mechanical problem was being sorted. But then Kilcullen Voyager got going. to take third, qualifying for the Vendee Globe.

Enda OCoineen2All his Christmases come at once – Enda O Coineen celebrates as he closes in on third place in the Transatlantic Race
JANUARY YOUTH SAILORS OF THE MONTH

DOUGLAS ELMES AND COLIN O’SULLIVAN

Ireland’s youth sailing programme for 2016 got off to a rocket-assisted start with Doug Elmes (17) and Colin O’Sullivan (16) winning the bronze in the 420 Worlds 2015 in the final hours of the old year at Langkawi in Malaysia. Sailing conditions were brilliant – and so were they.

Douglas elmes Colin OSullivanDoug Elmes & Colin O’Sullivan with their Bronze Medals in January. Photo W M Nixon
FEBRUARY SAILOR OF THE MONTH (RACING)

CONOR FOGERTY

The very thought of the annual RORC Caribbean 600 relieves the February gloom, and 2016’s was vintage, with Conor Fogerty of Howth YC doing it as part of his Atlantic circuit voyage with his new Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 Bam! His superb overall win in Class 3 was a tonic for the folks at home.

Conor FogertyConor Fogerty, winner of Class 3 in the RORC Caribbean 600. Photo W M Nixon
FEBRUARY SAILOR OF THE MONTH (CRUISING)

ALAN ROUNTREE

The normally private world of cruising goes public in February with the announcement of the Irish Cruising Club’s annual awards, and veteran skipper Alan Rountree of Wicklow with his own-built 34 footer Tallulah took the top trophies for a textbook venture to Spain and the Azores, successfully returning single-handed in severe weather.

Alan rountreeAlan Rountree’s much-travelled 34ft Tallulah. Photo W M Nixon
MARCH SAILOR OF THE MONTH

CONOR PHELAN

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Conor Phelan of Cork with his 2008-vintage Ker 36 Jump Juice was lying second in Class 2 during the wintry RORC Easter Challenge on the Solent until the final day, Black Sunday, brought extreme conditions and mayhem. Jump Juice simply flew through it to take the overall win

83ed564b3fb5127151983c8559f561f3 LConor Phelan's IRL 2007 Jump Juice gives chase on the Solent

APRIL SAILORS OF THE MONTH (OLYMPIC)

RYAN SEATON & MATT MCGOVERN

April’s Princess Sofia regatta in Palma was a major test for many Olympic hopefuls, and Belfast Lough’s Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern in the 49er had to fight every inch of the way to snatch Gold by one point in the final race from Australian superstars Nathan Otteridge and Iain Jensen.

Ryan seaton Matt McGovernMatt McGovern and Ryan Seaton in their way to Gold in Palma
APRIL SAILOR OF THE MONTH

SHANE McCARTHY

The 2016 GP 14 Worlds in Barbados in April was a triumph for the enthusiastic Irish division of this vintage dinghy class. By a master-stroke of logistics, they managed to get 22 boats to the venue, and then Shane McCarthy of Greystones, crewed by Andy Davis, won the Gold Medal.

Shane McCarthyShane McCarthy & Andy Davis, GP 14 World Champions 2016
MAY SAILOR OF THE MONTH (OLYMPIC)

FINN LYNCH

The already-secure Irish place in the Men’s Lasers at the Rio Olympics August 2016 was still up for grabs at the personal level at the ISAF Worlds in Mexico in late May. Despite being impaired by a training injury, Finn Lynch of County Carlow (who had turned 20 only a few weeks earlier) secured the coveted slot after a year’s campaigning supported by voluntary contributions.

Finn LynchFinn Lynch, youngest sailor in the Olympics 2016
MAY SAILOR OF THE MONTH (POWERBOATS)

JOHN RYAN

In the round Ireland sailing record, challengers have been happy enough to chop and hour or two off the established time. But in perfect conditions in May for the powerboat record, John Ryan’s 40ft Team Hibernia was the right boat in the right place at the right time, and with the right crew – they knocked six hours off the previous best to go round in 12 hours 54 minutes and 24 seconds.

John RyanJohn Ryan at the helm in his formidable 40-footer Team Hibernia
MAY SAILOR OF THE MONTH

DARA O’MALLEY

Dara O’Malley is originally from Westport in Mayo, but he has long been based in Edinburgh and sails in Scotland. We know that the sailors in the Irish diaspora worldwide take a keen interest in our Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month, so it was a special pleasure to make Dara SoM May 2016 after he was overall winner of the Scottish Series with his Hunter 707 Seaword.

Dara OMalleyDara O’Malley (second left) after winning the Scottish Series
INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR MAY

SYDNEY GAVIGNET

The Round Ireland Record of 44-hours set by Steve Fossett’s catamaran Lakota in 1993 had long looked unbeatable. France’s Sydney Gavignet with the MOD 70 Oman Sailing had already tried three times when he took on the challenge again early in May 2016. This time they did it, bringing the time down to just above 40 hours.

JUNE INTERNATIONAL SAILOR OF THE MONTH (1)

GEORGE DAVID

The Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow with its 63-strong star-quality fleet completely eclipsed everything else in June, and in the mono-hull division George David’s wonderful Rambler 88 eclipsed all others with a virtually perfect performance to take line honours and then hold onto the overall IRC lead by a huge margin. An unrivalled performance.

som 201612Cutting through….Rambler 88 looked like a winner from the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016. Photo W M Nixon

JUNE INTERNATIONAL SAILOR OF THE MONTH (2)

DAMIAN FOXALL

An event as special as the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race deserved a cascade of awards. Ireland’s own international sailing superstar Damian Foxall played a key role in ensuring that three MOD 70s took part. And he raced on the winning boat Oman Sail to break the new record, giving him his own special place in the Round Ireland lineup of prize-winners.

som 201613Oman Sailing (left) finished ahead of Phaedo 3 (right) at the finish of the race round Ireland Photo: W M Nixon
JUNE SAILOR OF THE MONTH

DAVE CULLEN

With so many visiting super-boats, it was quite something to get into the frame in any division, and only one Irish boat actually won her class. This was the J/109 Euro Car Parks skippered by Dave Cullen of Howth, coming from behind to be outright winner of Class 3 after a very closely-fought race.

som 201614The J/109 Euro Car parks was the only Irish class winner in the Volvo Round Ireland race 2016. Photo: W M Nixon
JULY SAILOR OF THE MONTH (RACING)

EWAN MACMAHON

The KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dublin Bay in July 2016 attracted a fleet of 350 boats from 34 countries, making it the year’s biggest dinghy event by far. Several young Irish sailors performed notably well, but 17-year-old Ewan MacMahon of Howth was in a league of his own, emerging with the Silver Medal after meeting the challenge with cool consistency.

Ewan MacMahonEwan MacMahon in action in the KBC Laser Radial Worlds
JULY SAILORS OF THE MONTH (CRUISING)

PARAIC O’MAOLRIADA & MYRA REID

Taking six years to cruise round the world with an Amel Super Maramu 54 ketch is about as different as possible from the experiences of a Laser-filled Dublin Bay. Yet this too is part of our diverse sport, and in July Paraic O’Maolriada and Myra Reid (they’ve been married 49 years) sailed quietly back into Kinsale with their ketch Saol Eile to complete a perfect venture.

PARAIC OMAOLRIADA  MYRA REIDMyra Reid and her husband Paraic O’Maolriada relax in Kinsale after completing their six year voyage round the world. Photo Bob Bateman

JULY SAILORS OF THE MONTH SPECIAL AWARDS

COMMANDANT BARRY BYRNE & THE IRISH DEFENCE FORCES BEAUFORT CUP CREW

Any biennial Volvo Cork Week is special, and 2016’s was extra special with the inauguration of the Beaufort Cup series for international competition between sailing crews from defence forces and national security agencies with a maritime arm. First winners were Commandant Barry Byrne and a crew from the Irish Defence Forces racing the J/109 Joker II provided by John Maybury.

Defence forces sailingThe Defence Forces crew on he J/109 Joker II, first winners of the new Beaufort Cup

AUGUST SAILOR OF THE MONTH

ANNALISE MURPHY

It was only in boat sports that Ireland won any medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The National Yacht Club’s Annalise Murphy win of the Silver Medal in the Laser Radial Women’s was richly deserved but hard earned in the concluding Medals Race, a cliff-hanger which had the entire country holding its breath for the final seconds until her Silver was confirmed on the line.

som 201618Out on her own, Annalise Murphy racing her Laser Radial on one of the less summery days in the Rio Olympics

SEPTEMBER SAILOR OF THE MONTH (INSHORE)

JOHNNY DURCAN

Young Johnny Durcan of the Royal Cork Yacht Club is normally a lone star of the Laser Class. But at the end of September, crewed by Flor Lyden of the National YC, he showed himself well able for a two-handed boat with a good overall win in the ISA All Ireland Junior Championship at Schull, racing the TR 3.6 dinghies.

Johnny durcanJohnny Durcan at home in his Laser. But he showed he could win the All-Ireland Juniors racing two handed

SEPTEMBER SAILOR OF THE MONTH (OFFSHORE)

STEPHEN TUDOR

The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association is in a healthy growth phase these days, and a key player is Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli in North Wales, where has also done much to re-vitalise his home port. Thus his overall win of the 2016 ISORA Championship in the final race of the season was hugely popular on both sides of the channel.

Sgrech stephen tudorChampions of the Irish Sea – Stephen Tudor’s J/109 Sgrech from Pwllheli

OCTOBER SAILOR OF THE MONTH (INSHORE)

ALEX BARRY

RS 400 2016 National Champion Alex Barry of Monkstown and Royal Cork made history in the first weekend of October by winning the first All Ireland Championship to be raced in the new Ultra version of Crosshaven’s iconic National 18s. It was a true Championship of Champions, going right to the wire for the closest of victories.

Alex BarryHistoric moment. New All Ireland Champion Alex Barry with ISA President David Lovegrove (left) and Royal Cork Admiral John Roche (right).
OCTOBER SAILOR OF THE MONTH (OFFSHORE)

IAN MOORE

Renowned international navigator and tactician Ian Mooore – originally of Carrickfergus – had one of his best seasons ever in 2016 in a variety of front-line boats. But the clear overall victory he provided for the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino in the Rolex Middle Sea was sweetest of all, as the same team missed the overall win in 2015 by just nine seconds.

Ian mooreIan Moore was one of the most successful navigator/tacticians in the world in 2016

November and December Awards will be made at the end of each respective month and are listed here

Voting for the Sailor of the Year opens on January 1st on www.afloat.ie. The awards ceremony will be held on Friday, January 27th at the RDS Library, Dublin

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly of the National Yacht Club are our “Sailors of the Month” for September on the basis of a great half hour or so of sailing in Dublin Bay on the morning of Sunday 13th September.

Anyone who read Chris Doorly’s riveting account on Afloat.ie of the penultimate race of the Mitsubishi Motors Flying Fifteen Championship, and has raced a sailing boat at any level – whether local, regional, national or international – will have identified totally with this dedicated duo as they sailed their hearts out. And they did it all just to secure a third place, in order to put themselves in the happy position of knowing they were champions without having to sail the last race.

It would be quite something in a club race or a major regatta series. But this was the big one, the Irish Championship with visiting superstar Steve Goacher – three times World Champion – expected to sweep the board. And even if he was off form – which he wasn’t - the class in Dun Laoghaire is now in such vibrant condition, and growing, that the lively home fleet was putting up half a dozen crews who were in there with more than a shout.

But Chris and Dave did it. And being proper sportsmen, they stil sailed the last race anyway, but the fact that they were able to discard the fourth place it provided shows the kind of form they’d been in throughout the championship.

It cannot be said too often that winning a series is more a matter of solid consistency than occasional flashes of total brilliance. In the end, though, it can all come down to something so mundane as securing a third place at just the right time. But as Dave and Chris had been lying sixth until they realized the need to up their game, and saw a way of doing so, what they achieved is something we can all identify with, making them ideal “Sailors of the Month”.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#rorcsrbi –  Liam Coyne of Dun Laoghaire and Brian Flahive of Wicklow are the Afloat.ie "Sailors of the Month" for August 2014, following their stunning and comprehensive success in the 1,802 mile RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race. In it, with the standard First 36.7 Lula Belle, they topped the Two-Handed Division, won two of the RORC classes against opposition which included fully-crewed boats, and finished sixth overall in a fleet in which the results were otherwise dominated by much bigger boats with a large professional element in their crews.

In fact, some of the crews were wholly professional. But the two Irish amateurs not only did the race out of their own time and resources, but they had to be their own shore management and technical support team as well.

In a very gruelling race in which they battled on to success in ferocious conditions which saw them having to cope with a wide range of gear and electronic equipment failure, their sheer enthusiasm and grit was an inspiration to the entire Irish maritime community for the 12 days of the race.

While their challenge was made through the National YC of Dun Laoghaire where Liam (47) is a member, Brian (31) is very much a stalwart of Wicklow SC, where he learned his sailing in the training progammes since childhood. Liam meanwhile didn't start sailing at all until he was 38, and his first club was Poolbeg (to which he retains close links), while the duo also used the ISORA programme extensively to develop their performance. With Brian providing the skill gained in years of sailing, and Liam making a huge input of entrepreneurial flair and unstoppable enthusiasm, the synergy between the two created a formidable challenge which has achieved well-merited international success. 

lulabelle rorcsrbi

On their way – Lula Belle sails fast eastward out of the Solent at the start of the 1802-mile antic-clockwise circuit of Britain and Ireland. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Published in Sailor of the Month

#irish49er – Their meteoric rise from 33rd to 11th in the ISAF Global Rankings for the 49er Olympic Class gave international recognition to the April achievement of Belfast Lough's Ryan Seaton (24) and Matt McGovern (26). They brought home the Silver Medal from the ISAF World Championship in Hyeres on France's Mediterranean coast, and although it was a high-achieving month for Irish sailing generally at home and abroad, it makes them clear winners of the Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month title for April.

This is no flash-in-the-pan success. Seaton, who calls Carrickfergus home, and longtime sailing partner McGovern from Bangor on the other side of the lough, have been genuine contenders in this demanding class since the buildup to the 2012 Olympics, when they emerged in the front ranks. While they're well aware that sailing conditions in Brazil in 2016 will be very different from the brisk weather which helped them to start making their mark at Weymouth two years ago, their campaign is steadily developing.

Next up for the busy duo – who have admitted it took a day or two for the full significance of their silver to sink in – is a series of majors in Europe as the 2014 season develops. It's a hectic pace with the Garda EuroSAF Championship from May 8th to 12th, the often blustery Delta Lloyd Regatta in The Netherlands (May 21st to 25th), and Sail for Gold at Weymouth in the first week of June. It's all serious challenges coming down the line. But for now we salute Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern, Sailors of the Month for April 2014.

Published in Sailor of the Month

The sailing season is starting and selecting the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailors of the Month" for March has been a swift business, with the remarkable performance by Peter O'Leary of Cork and David Burrows of Malahide in the Olympic Star Class's legendary annual Bacardi Cup series in Miami emerging as the clear winner.

Admittedly the Irish duo only managed the runner-up slot in Florida. But in a fleet of 93 boats rampaging around in wildly varying conditions, it was an achievement to be at the top of the frame at all. And they were beaten by only one point, even if it was lost in the final race, which they'd started leading overall by a point.

Because the Stars are under a death sentence in the Olympic scene, with next year's Olympiad their final appearance in the five ring circus, the class has acquired an extra slightly morbid interest. And the boat tuning and tweaking knowledge acquired during their long Olympic career will see the class's measurement and equipment rules pushed to the uttermost for this last hurrah.

In fact, some Star fans have become emotional and compared the showdown to a combination of the OK Corral, the Alamo, and Custer's Last Stand in light of the Star's American origins, while the more internationally and nautically minded have invoked memories of Trafalgar and Lepanto.

And all this for one of the oddest looking and most demanding boats on the planet. The Olympic glow does that to people. This time round, we happily glow ourselves, as the O'Leary-Burrows team (each has figured as Sailor of the Month before, but this is their first time together) and the combinations shows every promise of having what it takes.

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