Sailing: Commodores' Cup reputations on the line in Cork
Irish sailing, in all its racing forms, is well represented this weekend in Cork, with the All-Ireland Championship at Crosshaven and the South Coast Offshore Racing Association annual championship at Cobh.
The Helmsman's Championship at Royal Cork is the senior event -- it goes back more than 50 years, so three leading south coast sailors, who would normally be making the scene with SCORA, are lining up in the ISA SailFleet J80s to take on all comers.
There's Nicholas O'Leary, who is the All-Ireland defender and was one of the helms in the successful Commodores' Cup team. There's Anthony O'Leary (the Da), who captained the Commodores' team, and was also a helm. Then there's Andrew Creighton, who helmed the third boat of the successful trio, the Corby 36 Roxy.
There's no doubt the tall poppy syndrome will be rampant among their 18 opponents. No racing sailor could resist such a very special chance to topple this year's international superstars. And, as the J80s have shown that they're just about as level a playing field as Irish sailing can provide, there's always a chance for someone else to upset the form book.
The entries are from all over Ireland, but with four participants, the host club is best represented, while Royal St George and Howth have three apiece. The SB3 class, having had one of the biggest turnouts at their nationals, have been allocated two places, with Andrew Craig and Ben Duncan flying the flag. And the continuing strength of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association is shown in the challenge from Daire O'Reilly of Class 2 and Neil Kennefick of Class 3.
The 21 competitors have been divided into three preliminary flights, and as the two O'Learys are in separate sections, their chances of having the clan name on the trophy again are looking good. But, as ever with this fascinating annual championship of the champions, by tomorrow evening somebody is going to find that their 2010 season has an added shine. And with the possibility of light winds today and tomorrow, it might be more open than most pundits would reckon.
Current 'Sailor of the Year' Mark Mills has been having a further global run of success with his boat designs in recent days. The Summit 40 design continues to pile in the silverware, with Dan Woolery's Soozal winning her class in the Big Boat Regatta in San Francisco, while sister ship American Girl had the class win in the American IRC championship in Long Island Sound.
The Mills 41 Ambush successfully defended her championship title in the season-long Typhoon Series in Hong Kong and the big girl of the Mills racing stable, Andy Soreano's Mills 68 Alegre, has logged the overall class win in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, in the upper reaches of sailing, the very powerful powers that be have agreed that the next America's Cup will be raced in 72ft catamarans with wing sails. It will be sailed in 2013, but a World Series will get under way as a build-up next year. The cost of involvement will, of course, be stratospheric, but the organisers reckon that by selecting boats of this size and type there should be a 20pc reduction in campaign costs. So that's all right then.