Monday 22 January 2018

Sailing: O'Leary enjoys Kleen sweep

WM Nixon

If your name is Mr Kleen, you like to take a bath. It's what you do. But there's an appropriate time and place, and approaching the finish of a race for an Olympic class -- with first place in the balance -- is neither.

Yet, as reported here last week, that's what German crewman Frithjof Kleen did to Peter O'Leary. He fell overboard while the Sail for Gold series was very much up for grabs in the Star class at the 2012 Olympiad sailing venue.

The Olympic Star is a very demanding boat for the usual crew of two. No way is it a single-hander. Somehow O'Leary managed to get his ship-mate back on board but they had to face last weekend's finale carrying the 16th place which resulted from those Kleen ablutions.

They had done so well up to then that they were certain of a medal but it would take a superhuman effort to secure the gold. Yet they did it. And very convincingly too, with a 'who's who' of global Star sailing behind them on the leaderboard. So we should get Irish citizenship for Mr Kleen -- he and O'Leary seem to click.

Another German sailor who'd be welcome aboard is Chris Opielok of Hamburg. He calls his boats Rockall, which is halfway there already. The current Rockall III is one of the ace performers of this week's International Commodores' Cup series out of Cowes as she was overall winner in the mid-week high-scoring offshore race -- and by the kind of margin we didn't think happened anymore.

Rockall was simply out of sight ahead, with a crew comprised of German, Dutch and Irish and racing for Hong Kong. As she was formerly Irish -- sailing under Roy Dickson's successful command -- and called Rosie, she's really one of our own. Going almost as well for Hong Kong is the Mark Mills-designed Blondie IV, originally commissioned and owned by Eamon Rohan of Cork.

The Hong Kong team are now in the frame towards the front of the Commodores' Cup fleet. But right in front -- and understandably nervous about feeling too celebratory -- are Ireland, with Anthony O'Leary's Antix, Dave Dwyer's and Rob Davis' Roxy 6 putting in a formidable individual and team performance.

As the 2010 Commodores' Cup draws to its conclusion today in the Solent, back in Ireland the Etchells Worlds gets under way at Howth, with 44 of these elegant craft lining up in what looks like being a very mixed bag of weather.

Last weekend's Irish Open Championships for the Etchells 22s had very summery weather, with the second day frustrated by light airs.

Australia were setting the pace. Peter McNeill and David Gleadhill of Sydney, with Tom Woods as third man, took the overall title, but only by using the tie-breaker formula with English helm Julia Bailey. Third was Dan O'Grady of Howth, while another Australian, John Bertrand, was fourth.

He is, of course, the helmsman who finally wrested the America's Cup from the US stranglehold in 1983. The sport of Etchells 22 racing is a magnet for America's Cup superstars. Dennis Conner of California, who lost the cup but won it back again in Australia, has raced with the Etchells fleet in Howth, as has Russell Coutts, the main man in the BMW Oracle camp. But for now, it's Bertrand who is the target in a fleet so razor sharp that only four points separated third from 10th.

Irish Independent

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