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Team Toy Yot come in under radar to take award

Smallest boat, biggest prize. Team Toy Yot of Malahide are the Irish Independent/Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month for May after sweeping Class 4 IRC in the record-breaking BMW ICRA Nationals at Howth.

This really is a team effort. Team Toy Yot were so determined to submerge their individual talents in the group effort, that the race reports couldn't come up with a specific person to identify with this remarkably successful little racer.

The boat is an Evolution 22, a vintage Julian Everitt design which they restored from dereliction in their spare time. But spare time is a scarce commodity for Team Toy Yot in the early part of the season, as three of the four involved work in the marine industry. Not in the glamorous end of the business, such as sales and design and concept development.

On the contrary, they work in the nitty gritty, deep down and dirty business of getting everyday boats ready for the water and keeping them going through an active season, balancing expectations and queries from dozens of owners.

For anyone making a living in this way, it would be excusable if they relaxed at something remote from boats and water. But around Malahide Marina the trio of Stephen Mullany, Gavin Lavery the rigger, and Dave Carroll the mechanic, got to talking of the possibility of giving it a push.

So, 18 months ago, they got the boat, they signed on student Gavin Pitcher as the fourth syndicate member, and fitted in some racing when they could.

The 2012 ICRA Nationals at Howth at the end of May offered the perfect opportunity. A compact format and all within manageable distance.

When they could grab a moment from the real jobs, they worked on preparing their own boat, out in the open in April's dreadful weather, while local sailmaker Philip Watson ran them up a smart new suit.

When the championship started, they were in the groove and had notched a straight run of success before anyone had copped on to who they were. Neat indeed -- and perfectly fitted to the times we live in.

Optimists among the cruiser-racer community had hoped the success of the ICRA National Championship might generate enough enthusiasm to raise a team to defend the Commodore's Cup in July. But ICRA Commodore Barry Rose of Cork reckons economic realities militate against it.

A final decision will have to be made within the next fortnight, but with even the top global sailing events showing the harsh effects of economic slowdown, perhaps the sensible thing is to accept that it's a non-runner and instead we should be building towards getting back in the hunt in 2014.

As it is, with events like the ICRA National Championship, the revived ISORA programme, and the round Ireland race in three weeks time, those who are keen to go sailing should have no complaints.

Nevertheless, with 17 boats nominated for the British trials this month, even if they muster four three-boat teams out of the line-up, there'll still be five boats going spare.

But after the decisive Irish campaigns of the past decade, who would want to go with some sort of last-minute lash up?

The Volvo boats racing Transatlantic from Miami to Lisbon found the last 260 miles were the most difficult of all, as they'd to break through an area of calm before getting into the generous northerlies blowing down the Portuguese coast.

Ian Walker, whose crew on Abu Dhabi includes our own Justin Slattery, clung onto their lead despite the gap closing as they entered the light airs.

But then as they started to feel the first of the new breeze on Thursday, their speed popped up to 12 knots and they'd soon extended the lead to 15 miles over Franck Cammas and Damian Foxall on Groupama, with Ken Read on Puma lying third.

Lisbon is en fete with the fleet's arrival.

Irish Independent