Saturday 17 March 2018

Bushe builds towards deserved Fastnet honour

WM Nixon

Killian Bushe of Cork must be one of the best Irish sailors around, but unfortunately his chances to enjoy the sport at which he excels are severely limited by one inescapable fact: he is probably the best specialist boat-builder in the world.

So whenever a high-powered strongly resourced international challenge is taking shape, Bushe is the boat-builder of choice, favoured by leading designers and top skippers alike. However, if you have a challenge in mind and he is top of the list, please join the queue.

For at the moment, he is immersed in building the new Groupama 4, the top French Volvo 70 for Franck Cammas. Before that, he built the two successful Ericsson boats for the last Volvo Ocean Race -- they took first and fourth.

And when Groupama 4 is launched in May and signed off for the race (which starts on October 29) Bushe ups sticks from France, returns to Sweden, which is now his home, and starts building the Artemis challenger for the America's Cup 2013.

For that project, his designer is Juan Kouyoumdjian, and his skipper is Paul Cayard. This is stratospheric stuff, but that's the level where Bushe operates.

With more than 30 years of high-tech boat-building experience, and a string of mind-boggling success, he sets the gold standard.

But beyond that, he is still the Crosshaven kid who started racing on his father George's Avocet (which George designed and built), and internationally he is the spirit of Cork sailing.

His renowned skill and knowledge in the use of advanced materials and composites is such that you'd expect him to be awarded an honorary doctorate in chemistry from some appropriate university. But in the meantime, his special place in Irish and world sailing is being honoured tonight with his award of the Fastnet Trophy.

This trophy is co-ordinated by the Irish Cruising Club. Initiated in 2005, with its first award going to Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunnane for their pioneering circuit of the Arctic via both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage, its unique lineage has been maintained by such award winners as Robin Knox-Johnston, and the most recent one, centenarian circumnavigator Bill King of Galway.

The Fastnet Trophy is aimed at highlighting a contribution to sailing which has a sense of the unique about it, and Killian Bushe is just the man.

His international sailing achievements began back in 1976 when he was one of the crew that won the Half Ton Cup at Trieste in the Cork-built Silver Shamrock.

They celebrated by sailing up the Grand Canal in Venice with spinnaker set. But gradually the boat-building took over, though Bushe sails with his family in Sweden whenever he can.

That is what's being celebrated tonight. Killian Bushe -- very good sailor, extremely good boat-builder.

Irish crews are firmly represented in the top-20 world rankings of two Olympic classes.

Annaliese Murphy of Dun Laoghaire is best placed with 12th in the Laser Radials following her recent fourth in the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, while Peter O'Leary of the Stars -- now crewed by David Burrows -- is ranked 17th.

Irish Independent

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