Irish report widely praised for aiding yachting safety


SAILING:Leaders in international offshore sailing have praised the work of a State body after its recommendations led to changes in the world’s offshore sailing rules.

The British Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has commended the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar on findings contained in the Marine Casualty Investigation Board’s (MCIB) “excellent report” into the rescue of the Super maxi in 2011.

The “dramatic and catastrophic” failure of the keel on the Fastnet Race yacht Rambler 100 triggered a series of events that ultimately delayed the rescue of the crew, according to the official report into the capsize.

Among the MCIB conclusions were that the upturned vessel would have been visible from a much greater distance by rescue crews had the hull been painted with a bright colour.

In a letter to the Minister in November, RORC director Mike Urwin, the principal organiser of offshore yacht races in the UK, including the Fastnet race and the Commodore’s Cup, described the State report as of “significant value to the sport of sailing”.

Of the 10 MCIB recommendations made eight have already been accepted by the world body with two more deferred for one year to allow further study. The report also advised yachtsmen to look out for signs of keel failure on one-off design yachts, many of which in previous cases were found to be caused by weld fractures.

Four hours in water

The successful Irish rescue of all 22 crew from the American yacht skippered by George Davis made headlines around the world when the 100-footer capsized due to a keel failure and crew spent up to four hours in the water before rescue by Baltimore lifeboat and local boats.

The letter confirms that MCIB recommendations were the subject of much discussion at the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) world conference held in Dún Laoghaire in November.

The MCIB investigator who prepared the report attended ISAF Offshore Special Regulations sub-Committee meeting.

Urwin concludes the MCIB report “greatly aided safety in world yachting”.

If Dún Laoghaire proceeds with a tender for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017 the Irish Sea area will be well represented by potential ports vying for stop over status.

Cardiff in Wales has signed off on £3 million (€3.7m) plans to host the global route, bidding alongside a shortlist of 30 cities ahead of an official decision by race authorities.

Dún Laoghaire is considering a tender for the race to cash in on the success of the event that finished in Galway this summer.

It’s not the first time Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors have eyed the race either.

In 2010 it was also proposed that the council invite Volvo Ocean Race organisers “to designate Dún Laoghaire as a port of call”.

But the south Dublin town’s gestures towards hosting it never materialised because of a lack of funding. Instead Galway hosted it – twice. Two years later a fresh bid for the round-the-world yacht race is back on the cards after the council passed a motion to enter consultations with Fáilte Ireland.

With both Fáilte Ireland and the Government potentially stumping up €5 million of the expected €8 million total cost, Dún Laoghaire needs to raise the remaining €3 million to be able to host the VOR.

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