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Java Straits crash puts hopes of Cork Ireland on the rocks

They say that battles are won by the leader who gets the mostest there the fastest. But the assumption is that the mostest will be all in one piece.

This morning, however, the 68ft cutter Cork Ireland is neither in one piece nor the fastest in the Clipper Round the World Race.

Munster's pride walloped a rock in the Java Straits in the closing stages of the West Australia to Singapore leg and her ability to resume racing onwards from Singapore is in the balance.

All this occurred while the ship and skipper Richie Fearon were painfully re-establishing themselves as serious contenders after retiring from the Cape Town to West Australia leg following a collision in Cape Town harbour.

It was a huge blow, as Cork Ireland had shown what she was capable of with a convincing win in the previous stage from Rio de Janeiro to South Africa.

Despite the complete loss of any possible extra points for the next race to West Australia, Cork Ireland was still lying sixth overall in the fleet of 10 as they raced to Singapore and by getting through the mid-race scoring gate in second place earlier this week, they further improved to fifth overall.


Last week in this column, happily reporting on the fact that the Irish boat was very much in the frame in the early stages of the race to Singapore, we signed off by pleading: "But no more shunts, please".

Just so. This week, faced with this latest monumental setback, we're at a loss for words, other than to give thanks that no one was injured.

Singapore is a very happening place in global sailing at the moment. Switzerland and the US, the two teams which are due to start racing the 33rd America's Cup at Valencia in Spain in three weeks' time, had their top management and legal eagles in conference in Singapore in order to hammer out a joint document of agreement on the final form of the event. Despite the urgency, peace did not break out.

Meanwhile, with the two giant multihulls now on station, Valencia in February is no encouragement to good humour for sailing.

It has been snowing and the people of Valencia are not much taken with it all. They say that instead of splashing out the money necessary to bring the America's Cup to their area, it would be much better for local tourism if the city fathers had simply coughed up the €1m demanded by Ryanair to continue using their airport. Ryanair now flies elsewhere.

At home, the adjudicators are now in conclave to decide the new Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent Sailing Club of the Year. White smoke to go up shortly.

Irish Independent