Tuesday 28 March 2017

Sailing: Royal St George a model of enthusiasm and success

WM Nixon

The assessors in the Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent Sailing Club of the Year 2010 adjudication have placed a strong emphasis on national and international sailing success in analysing the overall achievements of the past year.

For sure, interaction with the community, running vibrant events afloat and ashore, and keeping the membership happy while maintaining a valued reputation for hospitality and entertainment, are still a key part of the mix. They have been so since 1979, when this contest came into being.

But these days, Ireland is blessed in the profusion of its efficient and hospitable sailing clubs. So the judges went for sporting achievement, and soon all the lights were flashing for a club which was winning major events at home and abroad throughout the year.

The Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire presents a dignified classical facade on its landward side, as you'd expect of a venerable organisation founded in 1838. But don't be fooled. Behind this calm exterior, the place is a hotbed of sailing enthusiasm and success.

Commodore Patrick Blaney has ably led the large and energetic membership through a cracker of a year ever since he took over the top post in March 2009. In fact, success in the new year had already been logged with long-time member Adrian Lee winning overall with his Cookson 50 in the new international offshore classic, the RORC Caribbean 600, in February.

Then the club's team-racing ace John Sheehy began to slice through the developing Irish match-racing scene, winning the first regional event at Dromineer in April, and taking the national title at Kinsale in October.

Meanwhile, the Irish offshore season was getting under way, and though the popular biennial 266-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is run by the neighbouring National YC, the Royal St George made hay in the record fleet, with Mick Cotter's 78ft Whisper taking line honours and setting a new course record, while Cathal Drohan and Paul Egan's X41 Legally Blonde won overall on corrected time.

The club has a very active junior section and it was rewarded by international success in 2009, with Matty O'Dowd taking the Laser Radial Europe Cup in Denmark, and the Irish Nationals on Lough Derg.

Back home, the RStGYC was at the heart of the four-day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July, and member Flor O'Driscoll took the top title with his J/24. August saw Mick Cotter's Whisper in action again, placing best of all Irish boats in the Fastnet Race, fifth overall, a placing she repeated at the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia in September.

The sailing highlights were matched by active shoreside programmes, with a new modern extension impressing the architectural community so much that it was one of the featured attractions in the Architectural Open Days in Dublin in October.

That alone is quite an achievement. But it is only yet another aspect of the hugely varied contemporary activity of the 172-year-old Royal St George Yacht Club, Sailing Club of the Year 2010.

Irish Independent

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