Thursday 22 February 2018

Rush on crest of wave as Kelly storms to award


W M Nixon

Pat Kelly of Rush Sailing Club is the Irish Independent/ Sailor of the Month for November after his J/109 Storm was named the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) Boat of the Year at the ICRA annual general meeting in Dun Laoghaire.

The sailors of north Fingal are on a roll these days. Back in September, Matt Davis of Skerries won our monthly award after his Sigma 400 Raging Bull retained the Irish Sea offshore championship. And another Skerries sailor, windsurfer Oisin van Gelderen, continues to be Ireland's fastest man afloat, his current official best speed being 44.23 knots. Now it's the turn of Rush to climb the podium.

The highlight of Kelly's season with Storm was his outright class win in the ICRA Nationals at Crosshaven, winning five races out of a possible six. Storm was also regularly in the frame in many other major events, and had frequent success in regattas and club racing with a dedication to sailing that does her skipper and crew proud.

The boat is based in Howth marina. Kelly kept his previous 30-footer in the tide-riven anchorage at Rogerstown off Rush SC's attractive south-facing clubhouse (one of the few south-facing sailing clubhouses in the entire country).

However, with the bigger boat, it was necessary to find a berth at Howth and, in fact, Storm sails as a joint HYC/RSC entry, but the club in Howth wouldn't begrudge this success to their smaller neighbours to the north.

And with their own marina in fine shape (they host next year's ICRA Nationals in late May), Howth would be the first to agree that the only thing holding back north Fingal sailing from even greater achievements is the lack of sheltered and conveniently accessible pontoon berthing on the entire coast between Malahide and Carlingford Lough.

Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Racers are gathering themselves in Capetown for the in-port race in a week's time, while in Perth Ireland's Olympic hopefuls are all in the line-up for the ISAF World Championship, starting on Monday.

It's a long haul to any Olympiad, and though the London 2012 sailing venue at Weymouth is almost on our doorstep, getting the entire squad to the other side of the world on the way to Weymouth is par for the course.

With the Games less than eight months away, the superstars from the richest sailing nations will be homing back in on the Olympics after a couple of years taking on other forms of sailing. It was serious before -- now it's deadly serious.

In Capetown with the Volvo racers, by the time the in-port race gets going three of the six boats will have been delivered there as packages in urgent need of repair.

And as for these in-port races beloved of sponsors, in the first one at Alicante six weeks ago, Iker Martinez with Spain's Telefonica was utterly last. Yet Telefonica was first by very many miles sailing into Capetown, and now sits on a handsome points lead.

Irish Independent

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