Tuesday 20 February 2018

Quinlans hailed for epic voyage in home-built boat

WM Nixon

Fergus and Kay Quinlan of Clare are the Irish Independent/Afloat.ie 'Sailors of the Month' for February to mark their fine voyage from their home port of Kinvara on Galway Bay to Tahiti in the Pacific.

Recognised by the senior offshore sailing organisation, the Irish Cruising Club, with the award of the historic Faulkner Cup, the Quinlans' achievement is further enhanced by the fact that, in their determination to acquire a boat suitable for long-distance voyaging, they built their steel-constructed 40-foot cutter Pylades themselves, launching in 1997.

They have brought a lively and enquiring eye to the complex project, something which reflects Fergus' qualifications as an architect. As he has drily observed himself, there isn't a lot of work around for architects in Ireland at the moment, so everything clicked, with the boat sea-tested and ready to go off on this sail of a lifetime.

Having left Kinvara in June 2009, their long-term plan is a global circumnavigation, returning to Galway Bay in August 2012. Quite what Ireland will be like by then is anybody's guess.

But as it is, the crew of Pylades have enough to be getting on with in dealing with the vagaries of the open ocean -- and the volatile political situation in some of the areas where ocean voyagers go.

For armchair sailors at home, their thoughtful and entertaining reports on their experiences make them worthy 'Sailors of the Month.'

A month ago, when entries for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2011 had already hit the upper limit of 300, would-be entrants who had missed the cut were told not to despair -- 2007's overall winner of the great race, Ger O'Rourke's 50-foot Chieftain from Shannonside, was originally 46th on the waiting list, yet as the big day approached, other entries faded away, number 46 came up, and Chieftain went forth and won mightily.

Well, already things have improved with this week's announcement by the organising RORC that the large entry in the professional divisions -- boats like the Volvo 70s and the Open 60s -- will be counted separately, which in effect made around 50 extra places available, but they're being snapped up at speed.

The Fastnet Race is a highlight of a formidable new event combination, the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series 2011, which has already had two contests, the Montego Bay Race and the Caribbean 600.

Next out is Fort Lauderdale to Charleston in a month's time, then the Annapolis to Newport on June 3, and the big one -- the Transatlantic Race 2011, with a staggered start between June 26 and July 3, leading on to the Fastnet Race on August 14, then a race across the Bay of Biscay in September, and finally the Middle Sea Race from Malta on October 22.

Meanwhile, the Tall Ships will return to Dublin in August 2012 at the end of their summer programme.

By then, the newly-formed voluntary organisation for square rig experience, Sail Training Ireland, will have found its feet and the picture will be clearer about the likelihood of a people-sponsored successor to the much-lamented Asgard II.

Irish Independent

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