Sunday 17 December 2017

Spirit's change of name goes against the grain

WM Nixon

The Pride of Dalkey has gone, disappearing on Bloomsday through Finnegans Wake. The Open 60 flying machine has headed south along the Wicklow and Wexford coasts to get a new name.

But its owners resisted the chance to become the Beauty of Bray, or Glory of Greystones. The potentially fastest boat in tomorrow's round Ireland race from Wicklow became the Spirit of Rosslare Europort on Wednesday.

The entry of Steve White and Alan McGettigan was the Pride of Dalkey only a week ago. It was just the job in Finnegans beside the station. But with resources beefed up though the Rosslare support and the crew bolstered by the addition of Figaro veteran Paul O Riain, the name change was inevitable. With a 60-footer, at least they had room for all the words.

Spirit of REP isn't the biggest boat in the race. There's been a sporting entry confirmed by Michael Holland of Dun Laoghaire with his 72ft Ed Dubois ketch Celtic Spirit of Fastnet.

It's far from the Fastnet that Celtic Spirit made her mark -- she must be the only round-Ireland entry which has voyaged beyond both the Arctic and Antarctic circles, and cruised in detail in the Cape Horn region.

But the prospect of light winds will suit neither flying machines nor hefty cruisers. Slippy smaller boats can hope for their moments of fame. The entry list tantalisingly topped the 40 mark this week, but two late withdrawals -- Nigel Passmore's TP 52 from Plymouth and the West Cork campaign from Schull -- have brought it down to 38.

However, it's 38 very interesting boats. Included are the two leaders in the RORC annual championship, Dutch skipper Piet Vroon's Ker 45 Tonnere de Breskens, and John Loden and Paddy Cronin with the Humphreys 35OD Psipsina.

Loden and Cronin are rated highly in the round Ireland's two-handed division, which includes Mick Liddy and blind athlete Mark Pollock in the Class 40, and last year's Transatlantic solo race winner Barry Hurley with his JOD 35 Dinah, crewed by Hannah White.

The smallest boat is from the north, the First 31.7 Twister campaigned by Terry Fair and David Fletcher, but the lowest handicap in the entire fleet is that of two-times former winner Cavatina, Eric Lisson's veteran 38-footer from Cork.

Can Cavatina make it three? This is the 30th anniversary of the round Ireland, now the Conway Media Round Ireland. Wicklow is alive with the Seafest, which will be at its height at the start of the big race at noon. With the tide flooding adversely northwards all afternoon, if the light breezes persist the boats could make little progress for hours, with Cavatina clicking up an advantage. Lisson and his crew are the men for the long haul, but it could be a week before the results are clear.

Meanwhile, the annual Lambay Race last weekend saw entries soar above 160. Dun Laoghaire boats made hay in their annual sortie to Howth, which they can safely do as it isn't the Northside at all -- it's the Eastside.

Philip Dilworth's handsome Grand Soleil 40 Orna from the National YC, with a crew including the formidable talents of Brian Mathews, won the overall prize, while the heavy brigade in Class 1 saw the National squad also on top, with Paul O'Higgins' Corby Rockabill 5 winning by seven seconds from Nobby Reilly's Mills 37 Crazy Horse, and Chris Horrigan's First 47.7 Pretty Polly (NYC) taking third.

Irish Independent

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