Monday 11 December 2017

Sailing: Byrne pounces with Jaguar

WM Nixon

Martin Byrne of Dun Laoghaire is the Irish Independent/ Sailor of the Month after his superb final race to clinch the Edinburgh Cup, one of the most significant events in the International Dragon Class' annual programme in Europe.

In a fleet of 44, including many of the world's top boats, he had already put together a solid series as the final day arrived in the excellent sailing waters off Abersoch in North Wales.

But whether or not he and his crew of Adam Winkelmann and Pedro Andrade came home with bronze, silver or gold, hinged entirely on that last race.

Sailing the immaculate Jaguar, he logged the kind of race that, for most skippers, is the stuff of dreams.

Jaguar emerged clear from the starting melee to such good effect that by mid-race she had a clear lead of 200 metres, a comfortable gap that enabled Byrne to keep effective cover on any challengers, such that the real race was for second place as Jaguar powered on to finish an extraordinary three minutes ahead.

It was textbook stuff. In his winner's speech, Martin Byrne said the secret of it all was the shoreside commander, his wife Triona, who looked after logistics and paperwork, and ensured everything ran smoothly all week.

Irish sailing needs more Trionas.

The Byrne win gives a boost towards 2012, which in Ireland will be the Year of the Dragon. The Edinburgh Cup will be on Belfast Lough from July 4-8, while the historic Gold Cup is in Kinsale from September 8-14.

Ireland has won a dozen Edinburgh Cups, the most prolific victor being Tony O'Gorman who won six times between 1975 and 1984.

But only once has the Gold Cup been brought home, in 1947, when it was won by Eric Strain of Belfast Lough. Robin Hennessy was in the frame in 1971 but didn't quite clinch it, so an Irish win is overdue.

And, with the Gold Cup scheduled for Ostende in September, maybe we won't have to wait until next year.

Calves Week in west Cork saw sunshine and light breezes.

Aidan Heffernan's Indulgence won the race west from Crosshaven.

Since then, the front runners have included Donal O'Leary's X35 D-tox, Derry Good's X36 Exhale, Brian Goggin's Corby 25 Allure, Eamonn Rohan's Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, Padraig O'Donovan's Fastnet 34 Chameleon, and two Dublin Bay boats, Peter Allman's Megalopolois from Dun Laoghaire and Negley Groom's Wild Dreams from Poolbeg.

Fleet numbers have topped the 60 mark, and there'll be more for the main event, Schull Regatta tomorrow.

Although the Squib National Championships at Howth last weekend attracted 36 boats, it was the longest established division on Belfast Lough which set the pace, with former dinghy champion Ross Nolan and Gordon Patterson winning from RNIYC clubmates David Eccles and Philip Hutchinson. Well done to all.

Irish Independent

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