Saturday 25 January 2020

O'Leary's Antix favourite to beat the fickle winds

WM Nixon

Weather-reading skills rank very high in sailing's must-have list. But this weekend in Dublin Bay, the focus on diagnosing developing wind patterns reaches fresh heights as the Liebherr ICRA National Championship sees the cream of Ireland's offshore racers attempt to decipher the meteorological messages which are being issued by a huge high pressure area sitting plumb over the Irish Sea.

Basically, it means there's very little gradient wind about the place, but such wind as there is, looks to be coming from the south. The hope is that the exceptional heat, which is forecast inland today, will help to get a worthwhile sea breeze developing from between southeast and east.

If it does, conditions will be ideal. But a good sea breeze is unusual this early in the summer. In fact, the purists would tell us it isn't really summer at all yet.

However, our lands along the east coast are being parched by the current drought, the strong sunshine won't see its heat absorbed by damp grass, so the fields of Kildare and Meath should be sucking in the sea air, and the offshore brigade will be sucking diesel.

With several of the stars racing up from Cork last weekend, they'd ample reminders of how fickle the winds can be.

Dave Dwyer's Mills 39, an ICRA champion of past years, was right in there at the front of the fleet, but sailed into a flat patch under Wicklow Head, while shaping up for the final miles, and simply stayed still for hours.

Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix continued to build on her excellent first season in Irish waters and won overall, reinforcing her position as favourite today.

Second slot went to Andrew Creighton's Corby 36 Roxy, only two weeks fresh out of the wrapping, but could well be worthy of that third place in the Irish Commodore's Cup team, which at the moment is looking like an exclusively Royal Cork affair, with marinerscove the middle boat.

Aftr the ICRA Championship has been resolved tomorrow evening, the top boats head on for the Scottish Championship.

Past overall winners there from Ireland include Anthony O'Leary and Tim Costello from Dun Laoghaire with the Mark Mills-designed Tiamat.

Designer Mills is handsomely justifying his current position as Ireland's 'Sailor of the Year' with further success all round the globe. The San Francisco-based Summit 40 Soozal (Dan Woolery), a wiiner in Florida, last weekend topped the Stone Cup championship at home in SF, and in Japan the Summit 40 Karasu dominated the Sagamiwan Series with three wins in five races.

The Mills 68 Alegre (Andy Soreano), winner overall of last November's Middle Sea Race, is on a fresh roll in the Mediterranean, the most recent success being a clean sweep of the Pirelli Cup at Portofino. We would guess this was not a low- rent affair in some industrial setting.

Cork Clipper is reborn. Lose one boat on a reef? Just get another, pronto!

The replacement Cork 68-footer has joined the Clipper Round the World Race, the original boat (which won the Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town leg) having become part of a reef in Indonesia.

Skippered by Hannah Jenner, the Cork crew finished eighth in the Panama to Jamaica leg, and will be upping their game for the next stages, which will bring them to Kinsale and Cork early in July.

Irish Independent

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