Friday 23 March 2018

Superb ICRA cruise to 'Club of the Year' award

WM Nixon

The Commodore's Cup, Europe's premier international trophy for offshore racers and currently held by Ireland, was briefly on open display in Dublin this week.

But it took a bit of subterfuge on the part of the organisers of the long-established Mitsubishi Motors/Irish Independent 'Sailing Club of the Year' contest to achieve this commendable objective, as the cup has been very much at home in Cork.

Under the comprehensive rules of the 32-year-old contest, class associations and specialist nationwide organisations are every bit as eligible for consideration as the 120 clubs throughout the country.

So, after a superb season in 2010, in which the Irish Cruiser Racing Association's (ICRA) Annual Championship in May -- hosted by the Royal St George YC in Dublin Bay -- had excellent racing with an entry of nearly 130 boats, ICRA was already well in the running for the top club trophy.

Then, in August, their dedicated team of Anthony O'Leary's 39ft Antix, Dave Dwyer's 38ft, and Rob Davis' 36ft Roxy, went forth to the English Channel for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial Commodore's Cup, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, and in a challenging international fleet, they had a convincing overall win.

If every other organisation in Ireland was as effective and focused as ICRA, then we'd be the Switzerland of the North Atlantic.

To say that it's pared down doesn't give a true picture of the association, which was brought into being in 2003 under the inspiration of Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire -- who had done great work in turning Dublin Bay Sailing Club into its current vibrant state -- and the late Jim Donegan of Cork, who had shown, with the South Coast Offshore Racing Association, just how effective a regionally based group for "maritime truck racing" could be.

Central to ICRA from the beginning was Denis Kiely of Cork with his formidable computer skills.

The original one-man back office operation, Denis has been crunching numbers for the sailing community for more than 30 years.

Indeed, it's been suggested that he spends so long in back offices that he would disappear if exposed to natural light.

However, the good news is that he was at the trophy presentation by Frank Keane of Mitsubishi in the Royal St George in Dun Laoghaire this week -- and in the best of form.

So, ICRA these days is basically Kiely with his computers, Commodore Barry Rose with his mobile phone, and both of them in Cork with the Commodore's Cup beside them.

They've a nationwide committee of like-minded souls, people who get on with the job rather than make a fuss. And with the support of other talents such as Dublin Bay's Brian Craig -- currently and very properly the Irish Sailing Association's Volunteer of the Year -- the show goes on.

Thus, although they paused for a moment to accept the ship's wheel trophy, next month's ICRA championship at Crosshaven is coming up on the radar, and a new spin will see the Corinthian Trophy dedicated to the white sail class. ICRA monitors its market.

While spinnakers and gennakers are at the sharp end, many members find the only meaningful racing they can get with boats with a lid is under white sails only. So, as far as ICRA is concerned, the white sail championship is every bit as important as the Grand Prix divisions.

Irish Independent

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