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Mansfield gets new lease of life with 1720 victory

Even in these times of economic stringency, talent will win out. New boats may be rarer than hen's teeth, but there's still a feast of sailing going on and growing talent can show itself in unexpected ways, while old salts show a new lease of life.

Former Olympian Mark Mansfield of Cork has put his stamp on the 1720 Europeans in Baltimore in a big way. After several years of what seemed like semi-retirement, the big man is back in action with a refurbished 1720 in partnership with Terry English.

As for the health of the 1720s, reports of their demise has been greatly exaggerated. Twenty-eight of these 26ft oversized dinghies-with-keels turned up in Baltimore and there was no mistaking the strength of the Mansfield win.

Across in Schull, meanwhile, Irish hopes in the World Team Racing Championship were maintained right to the end, but a broad selection of international squads found that the tradition of team racing from Dun Laoghaire to West Kirby has left the English with a world-beating skill.

The West Kirby juniors came up against Ireland -- represented by the Schull Community College's finest -- on the penultimate day and won out. Then on the final day, the West Kirby seniors milled through a defending American squad of all the talents to record a remarkable double.

Former schoolboy champion George Kenefick of Cork has been campaigning the restored classic Quarter Tonner Tiger this year, aiming towards the Worlds in Cowes, but though they were often in the frame, the Tiger team failed to take the win.

However, while they were in and around the Solent, young Kenefick was recruited to helm English owner Mike Kershaw's restored Jean Berret-designed 1978 Half Tonner Chimp in the Classic Half Ton Worlds, which were to be staged a week later by the same management.

Everything clicked. In a remarkable international fleet of 38 boats, the Kenefick mount won overall. And the production boat division was won by French-owned Ron Holland-designed Golden Shamrock, built in Cork.

With a bit of luck with the weather, September can be an excellent time for sailing championships once the jet stream stays well north. Unfortunately, like everything else, the jet stream has gone south.

We've already had our quota of September gales, as they've discovered at the Star Europeans in Dublin Bay. Now the J/24 Europeans are coming up at Howth with an international fleet of 42 boats. Irish hopes will mainly rest on national champion Flor O'Driscoll.

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Spare a thought, meanwhile, for the teams training up towards the 2013 America's Cup. The new format, with an initial series in 45ft catamarans building up towards a final in 72ft cats, was supposed to attract wide public attention. But during their first outing in European waters in Portugal last month, it emerged that even in New Zealand, the hotbed of AC talent, the high point of sailing interest during August was in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

All the AC squads are now in Plymouth, where their next contest is getting under way. Southwest England has been experiencing the same fierce weather as Ireland, only more so. If boat-crash sailing is your thing, Plymouth Hoe is the place to be.

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