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Trip across to Merseyside a must for football fans

It would be a novel way to get to a football match, but why not? A new tall ships race has been added to this year's programme, and the course is Dublin to Liverpool.

This sailing is planned to take place after the tall ships have made their major visit to Dublin in late August, and the fact the new football season will be under way by then will interest fans who want to spice up their regular journeys across the water.

The new event is an add-on to the time-honoured annual programme, which will see the tall ships conclude their established programme with a race from La Coruna in northwest Spain to Dublin, starting on August 13, with the sea festival in full swing on the Liffey from August 22 onwards.

Normally, the fleet would then go their various ways after August 26, so all credit to those who have grasped this opportunity. Assembling a tall ships gathering of this calibre in the Irish Sea, with spectacular square riggers like the mighty Mir from Russia, is a major challenge. But they'll all be here, so a little jaunt across to Liverpool -- they're calling it the Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta -- is just the job.

Further details are available from www.dublintallships.com, and www.irishsailtraining.ie has all the info on the complete programme.

Meanwhile, for those with experience, a recruitment drive is under way to muster 150 volunteer ship liaison officers to help with the ships and their crews when they arrive in Dublin between August 22 and 26.

The last time the tall ships were in the Fair City on this scale was back in 1998. Then, the camaraderie and good will of the skilled volunteer corps, who had come from all over Ireland, was one of the most highly praised aspects of the event. Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Ringsend became their lively HQ, and did it so successfully that it earned the Club of the Year crown.

Those with marine experience who wish to be part of the new officer group are invited to contact www.dublintallships.ie/volunteers.

They say that if you don't break bits off a racing boat now and again, then she's built overweight. That may be so, but the current litany of breakages throughout the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race as they plunge southeast towards Cape Horn will surely result in a re-think on specification requirements.

Franck Cammas and Damian Foxall on Groupama sensibly had their breakage 100 miles before getting to Auckland and were able to make temporary repairs which maintained their lead in the leg from China.

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They're now leading in the race round the Horn to Brazil, chased by Kenny Read in Puma. Overall leader Telefonica, and Iker Martinez, has suffered bow damage and will have to stop in Chile for repairs, as will Chris Nicholson's Camper.

Sanya's broken rudder proved unfixable afloat and they've returned to New Zealand; the boat will rejoin the race in Miami. As for Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi, they took a midnight capsize in their stride.

With all instruments down, they were caught aback in the pitch dark, and suddenly the canting keel was hauling them over rather than keeping them upright. Sea conditions were ferocious, but they managed to sort it -- otherwise, it would only have been a matter of time before they sank.

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