Oscar-winning performance from one man and his dog on the high seas
The new Irish Independent/ Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month is a blue-water voyager who sailed to South America, crewed for much of the way by a dog.
But not any old dog. Oscar is a magnificent golden retriever who somehow coped happily with being cooped up on the 54ft ketch Seafever of Cuan, skippered by Trevor Lusty of Strangford Lough, who has just been awarded the Irish Cruising Club's historic Faulkner Cup for the best voyaging of the year.
The star of this 'Oscar-winning' performance was Oscar himself. The further that Seafever sailed south on this fine cruise to France, Spain, the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries, West Africa, the Cape Verde islands, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, the more exotic Oscar appeared.
In countries where fantastic tropical animals are 10-a-penny, a handsome, good-tempered Irish golden retriever was as startling as a giraffe on Grafton Street. And Oscar revelled in the attention. In every port, he was the focus of dozens of cameras.
As for his skipper, Lusty has only been an ICC member since 2004, but despite his limited experience, it was clear that this is an inspirational seafarer.
This weekend sees two days of serious self-assessment and planning for the Irish sailing community, with the Annual Conference and AGM of the Irish Sailing Association in Naas.
Naas has been selected for being within relatively handy reach of the largest sailing populations, but it does have a harbour -- it's on an offshoot of the Grand Canal.
While there is much enthusiasm for all forms of boating, there's no doubt that international racing success is something which sets public interest afire.
So when Rod Carr, the hugely successful British Olympic coach, recently retired, an important side-effect of his achievements emerged. After masterminding the winning of a veritable goldmine of Olympic medals, Carr could speak for all sailing and boating people, and thus he was effectively able to defend the interests of ordinary amateur, non-racing sailors at a time when government regulation was threatening to suffocate the quiet enjoyment of the sport.
So the mood in sailing and boating is that we're all in this together, and in these recessionary times, the main theme is making the best use of available resources.
And voluntary workers are more important than ever, with a highlight of this weekend being ISA's Volunteer of the Year award.