Thursday 30 March 2017

Commodores' Cup heroes a cut above

WM Nixon

The 2010 Irish Commodores' Cup team are jointly Irish Independent/ Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month for August.

In times past, we've had two or even three Sailors of the Month at once. We even had a family -- the Dicksons of Lough Ree -- getting the honours together. But this is the first time that an entire team has been given the accolade.

However, the 2010 Irish Commodores' Cup team achieved their comprehensive triumph with a display of team spirit which was of truly international standard and the judges have acclaimed the entire squad -- and their enthusiastic and able management -- with the accolade.

It was realised that selecting any individual sailor or one of the crews from the three boats was going to be difficult.

Even when you tried to congratulate any of them, they would tend to heap praise on another of the boats. And on the rare occasion when things went wrong -- as when Antix was caught by a rule break at the start of the final, victory-clinching race -- the skippers readily accepted blame.

In that instance, Antix boss and team captain Anthony O'Leary declared afterwards that he'd been "110pc in the wrong". Admittedly, it's not so painful saying that when you go on to sail an absolute blinder of a heavy-weather race to finish second in class, despite the setback of taking your penalty turn.

But even so, O'Leary, Dave Dwyer on marinerscove.ie, and the new boys on Roxy 6 were exemplary in their achievement.

Roxy 6 was given special praise, as she was still very raw, a new Corby 36 built for Rob Davis in Pembroke in Wales and was put together on the water at some speed by a Cork crew headed by Andrew Creighton, with Maurice 'The Prof' O'Connell invaluable as the single permitted onboard professional.

consistency

They sailed with a steady consistency and it is that sense of looking at the bigger picture which is the key to team success.

Ashore, Barry Rose of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association was always available as manager, and the result was the kind of boost the Irish sailing community have dreamed about for decades.

Not only have we been within a whisker of winning the Commodores' Cup in recent years, but way back in the great days of the Admirals Cup in 1979, the Irish team went into the final event of the series, the Fastnet Race, with what seemed like a commanding points lead.

The notorious Fastnet storm of 1979 put paid to that. It was ironic that it was extreme Irish weather which blasted our chances out of the water.

But the pain of that, and other blighted hopes over the years, were so gloriously blown away in the Solent on Saturday, August 21, as the final race was completed with Ireland's winning points piled high.

Preparation was the essence of the Commodores' Cup success, but even the team's incredible dedication was eclipsed by the new Etchells World Champion John Bertrand's approach to the Worlds in Howth.

By the time the series got under way, the Australian knew more about the sailing area between Ireland's Eye and Lambay, and how an Etchells 22 performed best in it, than anyone else -- including the locals. Racing at the Bertrand level is stratospheric, but he relaxed at the prize-giving dinner last Saturday night.

However, of his crew, only Andrew Palfrey was at the party. Their shipmate Tom Slingsby had done a runner to take in the Laser Worlds at Hayling Island in the south of England.

Having cleared the prime part of their marina for the Etchells Worlds, Howth YC are keeping up the space and the pace with this weekend's three-day Laser SB3 Nationals, with more than 40 boats lining up to take a bite at current class stars Gareth Flannigan of Ballyholme and Ben Duncan of the home club.

Irish Independent

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