Thursday 23 February 2017

Moore on to another winner with switch to Oracle team

WM Nixon

Ian Moore is renowned for his shrewd moves --and as Ireland's leading navigator/tactician on the global sailing scene, that's his job. Originally from the north, among his many achievements was calling the shots aboard Illbruck, the German entry, which was the overall winner of the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race.

And then in the 2008-09 race, he did some of the legs navigating Ireland's Green Dragon -- it was he who gave the boat her only first place.

He has twice been Ireland's Sailor of the Month. However, although this year he made perhaps his smartest tactical move of all, it can't be considered for the monthly award. And it was a smart career move. In the spring, he joined the America's Cup superstar team from California, BMW Oracle.

He moved on from his long-standing position with the British Team Origin campaign, headed by Keith Mills with Ben Ainslie as skipper -- and had a key role against his old colleagues at Cowes Week.

It was a tough series in strong winds. The Brits won the inshore section, but in the race that mattered around the Isle of Wight, BMW Oracle won convincingly.

This week, the news that Team Origin are pulling out of the America's Cup trail gave added insight to Moore's thinking. Following the announcement that the next series in 2013 would use 72ft catamarans setting wingsails, Mills announced that his group could not see themselves having the time or the resources to mount a challenge in such radical sailing machines.

It was admitted that the economic climate in the UK played a significant part in the decision, but they hoped to look at other areas of international sailing. They reckoned that, having already spent £30m, at least another £70m would have been needed in a virtually impossible time-frame. So, top sailors like Ainslie (a triple Olympic medallist) are having to re-shape their plans, though there's little time to gear themselves towards London 2012.

The America's Cup community will be saddened that an interesting squad have had to exit in what will inevitably become controversial circumstances. But controversy is nothing new in the history of this supreme challenge. There have been many and varied unpleasantnesses, and we've only heard the beginning of this latest discord.

So, let's end with good news. In Ireland, sailing people take a much greater interest in the inland waterways than anywhere else, and top sea sailors were involved in the founding of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland in 1954.

They supported the campaign -- despite it seeming to be in cloud cuckoo land at times -- to reopen the Royal Canal from Dublin across the north midlands to the Shannon in Longford. But the Royal Canal restoration movement, founded by the indefatigable Ian Bath in 1974, never gave up.

And last weekend the waterway was reopened after more than 50 years, with local voluntary groups often showing just what could be done. A great effort and a superb achievement.

Irish Independent

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