Friday 23 February 2018

Sailing: ICRA mark year Irish made waves

WM Nixon

THE Irish Cruiser Racing Association's annual conference today in Kilkenny will review an exceptionally varied year in which unexpected international and national successes more than offset the disappointment of having to accept that Ireland hadn't the resources in 2012 to defend the Commodore's Cup in the Solent.

The annual ICRA Nationals, a new-fangled notion when it was introduced at the association's founding 10 years ago as central to its purpose, has become such a prestigious happening that clubs compete to be selected for it. The 2012 version in Howth in May was a classic, with 115 starters.

Plans are well advanced for 2013's championship in Tralee Bay, with Brian O'Sullivan in charge.

However, even a high-flying group like ICRA can feel the effects of the recession as keenly as everyone else and it was tough having to accept that the resources weren't available to mount a defence of the biennial international Commodore's Cup, which the Ireland Team, organised by ICRA, won in convincing style in 2010.

One particularly encouraging feature of the past season has been the emergence of strong university crews on the offshore scene. Back in June in the Round Ireland Race, Galway University were right in the hunt with their chartered Reflex 38, and they won their class and placed sixth overall.

Then at the end of October, the Student Yachting Worlds in France – a classic inshore-offshore event – saw a runaway overall win for Ireland, represented by UCD.

The UCD campaign was such a superb model of its kind that the team will be giving a presentation at today's Kilkenny conference to outline the structure of their approach.

And Ireland's own international offshore sailing superstar Damian Foxall will be giving a presentation about being the first mate aboard Franck Cammas' Groupama, overall winner of the Volvo World Race.

Barry Rose will be standing down as commodore with the organisation in good heart and then the business will be concluded with the final stages of the voting for the ICRA Boat of the Year.

We've a feeling here it will be Jelly Baby (Ian Nagle and Paul O'Malley).

Meanwhile, there was plenty of politics at play at the International Sailing Federation's annual conference in Dun Laoghaire last week.

The big issue was whether it was to be kite-surfing or wind-surfing, or some mixture of both, for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics.

Kite-surfing on its own had been voted in to replace windsurfing by the ISAF council at its meeting in May by a majority of just two votes.

But this caused so much grief that the events sub-committee put through a motion last week for a sharing of the Rio de Janeiro slot by both kites and windsurfers.

When this reached the council last Saturday, it wasn't ratified, as they needed a majority of 75pc to revisit a previous decision and that majority wasn't forthcoming.

But the AGM at the end of the conference can consider all decisions made by the council and rejecting them only needs a simple majority. This particular bazooka was brought into play and now windsurfing is back on top.

At the conference, John Twomey of Kinsale, Ireland's most dedicated paralympian, was elected to a four-year term as president of the International Association for Disabled Sailing.

Irish Independent

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