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Nama firm 'struggles to survive' as Cotter sails €1m yacht in St Barts

AHOY there! Guess who's sailing the Caribbean once more?

Nama developer Mick Cotter spent an invigorating week racing his luxury yacht off the coast of the sun-drenched island of St Barts.

A few miles off the coast of the sparkling palm-fringed West Indies isle, a favourite holiday spot for Sir Paul McCartney and other celebs, Mr Cotter competed in the Les Voiles de Saint Barth regatta on board his beautifully designed €1m-plus 80ft cruiser, Whisper.

Whisper has been flying the flag for Ireland around the Caribbean regatta circuit for much of this year. Sailing in the Maxi class, it put in a decent showing despite light winds.

In February the Sunday Independent spotted Mr Cotter among the wealthy sailing set at the RORC Caribbean 600 race in Antigua and Whisper has sailed in several other island races since January.

Mr Cotter stayed at the $1,000-a-night exclusive luxury private villa complex Luxe St Barts, described by the proprietors as "one of the most calm and exclusive properties" on the island. Each bedroom has private terraces and there are stunning sea views. Attached is a private pool and there's a nearby private beach. Concierge service is included.

Mr Cotter is a partner in a €30m yacht club in the affluent South of France locale of Villefranche and a regular on the chillier waters off Dun Laoghaire when at home.

Cotter's Park Developments, whose loans are now owned by Nama, was one of Ireland's biggest developers, building swathes of housing in south Co Dublin and the Park commercial development in Carrickmines.

Park was owed over €750m by group companies at the end of 2011 and had net assets of €102m. The company said in last financials that it was continuing to service its debt, but it told a Labour Court hearing late last year that it had "very serious financial difficulties brought about due to the significant reduction in its business" and that it was "struggling to survive".

Park teamed with construction giant Sisk during the boom on a €300m marina, retail and residential venture at Greystones Harbour through company called Sispar in a PPP with Wicklow County Council. That has stalled. The loans attached to the development have been transferred to Nama.

Sispar has said it needs funding from Nama -- in other words, we the tax- payers -- to finish the project.

Now in its third year, Les Voiles de St Barth Regatta has become as well known for its lively post-race parties as for its high-quality racing.

Sponsored by venerable Champagne marque Taittinger and others, the fun kicked off on the picturesque French Caribbean island and legendary sailing paradise on Monday with a cocktail reception. Racing started midday on Tuesday, a mile or two off Gustavia harbour.

A "big crew party" was held on Wednesday night, including a spectacular fireworks display, with racing revellers enjoying themselves late into the night.

The 'lay day' activities on Thursday included lunch at gorgeous Nikki Beach and entertainment at the race village bar.

Saturday finished with more celebratory cocktails and gala closing ceremony.

Meanwhile, back at Greystones Harbour, word is awaited by interest groups on the building of a promised medical centre and other works.