Thursday 23 November 2017

Sailing: Pride of Dalkey-Fuji gunning for Whisper record

WM Nixon

The summer sailing season is upon us, but it seems that nobody has told the summer it's time to step back up to the plate. Massive yet unpredictable rain showers and plunging night temperatures make a mockery of plans for leisurely sailing in benign conditions, but the show goes on.

Today will see the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta reach its climax at the Olympic venue on England's Dorset coast, and we keep our fingers crossed for stellar performances by the Irish squad, with Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radials leading the charge.

At home, today sees two major events which celebrate the Irish coast.

The biennial 260-mile Dun Laoghaire-Dingle race gets under way at 10am off Dun Laoghaire's East Pier to take the latter half of the ebb tide south towards the first turning point at the Tuskar Rock. And then, as the new flood tide starts to make in the early afternoon, the diverse fleet in Howth's annual Lambay Race have the tide to help them on the outward leg for their time-honoured circuit of the east coast's finest island, a tradition which goes back 115 years.

Last year, Philip Dilworth's elegant 40ft Orna from the National YC won the overall Lambay prize, which is given to the boat which wins her class with the greatest margin over the runner-up. It's a crazy system which seems to reward participation in the most unbalanced classes. Yet it works, and the Lambay Lady -- a silver mermaid -- has in its time even gone to One Designs.

Orna isn't defending her title, as she's racing to Dingle and must be one of the fancied boats.

But the fleet going to Kerry is mighty diverse, and with the possibility of strong south-easters taking over from westerlies as the weekend progresses it could happen that the highest-rated entry, Alan McGettigan's flying machine, the Open 40 Pride of Dalkey-Fuji, will get the conditions to zap round in style. But whether the 24 hours and 43 minutes record set by Mick Cotter's 78ft Whisper in 2009 is challenged is another matter.

Cathal Drohan's X41 Legally Brunette is defending his 2009 win against a fascinating lineup.

The smallest entrant is John Alvey's 30ft Puppeteer 330 Betty Boop from Poolbeg but most of the boats are around the 40ft mark. And right on the median line is another proven contender, Matt Davis' Sigma 400 Raging Bull from Skerries, last year's ISORA Champion, and at the top of the leaderboard in this year's series.

The leaders should be well into Dingle by the time another major Atlantic coast event gets under way on Monday, the Fireball Worlds at Rosses Point in Sligo, with a global entry of 58 of these distinctive 15ft skimming dishes. Last year they staged their Worlds in Barbados, but as the Fireball is a genuine enthusiasts boat, they'll be game for the rather different Sligo conditions. Britain's Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey, current European champions, are among the expected front-runners in a fleet which will include 28 Irish boats.

Meanwhile in Cork, final preparations are under way for almost continuous IRC racing, with the ICRA Championship taking place over three days from next Friday at Crosshaven, and then on Wednesday, June 22 the four-day Sovereign's Cup is at Kinsale.

Irish Independent

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