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Friday 1 August 2014

Sailing: UCD's world beaters worthy November award winners

WM Nixon

Published 01/12/2012|05:00

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Never before have we had 10 Irish Independent/Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month in the one month. But with Christmas approaching, it's time for gifting all round and the adjudicators have agreed the entire UCD team that clinched the Student Yachting Worlds in France four weeks ago are Sailors of the Month for November.

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UCD Sailing Club captain Cathal Leigh-Doyle made best use of the extensive resources of talent available in Ireland's largest university by taking along a squad of 10, even though the boats used are actually raced by eight.

Ever since they won the right to represent Ireland by taking the national college title in Dun Laoghaire in March, the UCD club's key officers kept an intensive training programme on track.

With the points table at a crucial phase, sailing skipper Aidan MacLaverty and tactician Barry McCartin were able to bring on board the fresh energy of the highly experienced Ben Fusco and Ellen Cahill for the marathon overnight contest and this made for the key contribution to the massive points lead with which the Irish team clinched the world title.

The complete team were Cathal Leigh-Doyle, Aidan McLaverty, Barry McCartin, Ben Fusco, Ellen Cahill, Simon Doran, Bella Moorehead, Alyson Rumball, Theo Murphy and David Fitzgerald, and they did us proud.

Speed is of the essence in global sailing at this time of year, with conditions at their best in the world's favoured location for those extra knots, Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Where everyone once dreamed of breaking the 40-knot barrier, and then the 50 knots, now we're looking at 60 and the focus is shifting from kite-sailing back to boats.

Presumably the reason is once a kite surfer gets beyond, say, 55 knots, they're not really on the water at all.

And anyway, without the protection of some sort of hull, speeds of this nature are highly dangerous and you need a boat.

But they're not boats as we know them.

When Australian inventor Paul Larsen appeared at the Weymouth Speed Week with his first SailRocket just 10 years ago, he struggled to get past 30 knots, but even then, his boat was off the wall, more a sail-machine than a boat.

Now with SailRocket2 and perfect sailing conditions at Walvis, the veteran speedster has this week been able to claim an officially recognised record of 59.38 knots and it is known that he has been sailing better than 65 knots.

It's all very well so long as the old engine holds together.

But with the new generation of 72-foot America's Cup catamarans showing how easy it is to go into lethal cartwheels when you push the speed up to just 45 knots, these guys have clearly gone beyond being sailors – they're test pilots, and with a kamikaze flavour too.

Irish Independent

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