Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sailing: Commodore's Cup crowns greatest Irish season

WM Nixon

The 2010 season is now neatly put away with all championships decided and even those hardy souls who persist in winter sailing will have their keelboat special leagues concluding today or in a week's time, though dinghy sailors -- and particularly the Laserfolk -- simply keep at it.

And what a season it has been, making it difficult yet engrossing to assess the Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent Sailing Club of the Year.

Because, in the midst of all the general gloom, 2010 has been the best season in Irish sailing history, both in Ireland and for our top competitors abroad.

Having been within a whisker of winning the Admirals Cup a couple of times since its inception in 1957, in 2010 we finally saw our team -- sourced almost entirely from Cork -- land its successor, the Commodore's Cup.

Then, with the countdown to the 2012 Olympics in Portland on England's south coast well under way, the first major Olympic classes championship at the new venue saw Peter O'Leary turn in his best performance yet to take gold from a truly stellar turnout of crews.

At home, the main international event was the Etchells Worlds at Howth. It was won by Australia's John Bertand of America's Cup fame after a very thorough campaign in which he and his crew took up residence for several weeks.

By the time they notched their convincing win, they knew more of the winds and tides of Fingal than anyone else, including the natives.

Thus, when his crewman Tom Slingsby had to rush away, missing the prize-giving, in order to race the Laser Worlds, he was forgiven his absence as he went on to become the new Laser champion in the same convincing style as he'd won the Etchells. So, when Slingsby was announced in November as the International Sailing Federation's World Sailor of the Year, we reckoned he was one of ours.

On the offshore scene, the two main races in Europe were the Round Ireland in June, and the Middle Sea Race out of Malta at the end of October.

While the Round Ireland was won by the Netherlands' Piet Vroon with his Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens well ahead of any Irish boat, we were consoled that Tonnerre went on to become RORC Yacht of the Year, for she is one very special boat.

As for the Middle Sea race, it was won by an American TP52, but as the spray settled it was confirmed that the winning navigator was our own Ian Moore.

Success abroad and well-run major events at home are all part of the Irish sailing scene and all clubs and organisations are involved at different levels.

For sure, like everybody else, sailing clubs are feeling the pinch.

But sailors themselves are getting on with it, making the best of what's available and when the Club of the Year is announced early in January, it will reflect this.

Irish Independent

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