No sign of end of season at Dromineer


SAILING:IT’S A curious feature of the sailing season that has emerged over the past few years in that it continues well into what could be described as winter. And on the other end, early summer sailing is more like late-winter going by the numbers insisting on going afloat.

Of course, an alternative theory is that the lack of any appreciable summer weather over the past decade has left keen sailors straining for more.

What has not changed is the perennial shut-down of moorings in exposed anchorages around the coast where insurance cover becomes unavailable from mid-October onwards. But the days of the time-honoured hauling-out supper and lift-out operations may be numbered as demand is surging for continued racing activity despite falling air temperatures.

This weekend sees a fleet of 60 boats in action at Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer where four classes have gathered for a mix of championships. The Dragon class, that originally started the event six years ago as their “freshwater rinse” after a season in coastal waters begin racing today for the Jack Craig Memorial Trophy.

Tomorrow, they will be joined on their common starting line and first beat using a trapezoid course with outer and inner loops by the SB20 Sportsboats and Squibs, both racing for their Inland Championship titles as well as the ISA Sailfleet J80s that have been based at Dromineer for the past four winters. More classes are expected to join the event in 2013.

So is the event simply a last hurrah for the main sailing season or is it proof of demand to continue racing further into the year, despite the weather? For LDYC organiser Geoff O’Donoghue, there is no clear indication yet except that demand keeps increasing year on year.

“It’s an event that we can fairly safely run even if it’s windy because it’s on a sheltered inland location,” he said. “It’s also a very central location and handy for the motorway network so boats can travel from around Ireland easily.”

Given the economic climate, the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta is pitched carefully and also coincides with out-of-season accommodation rates. Actual entry-fees are €120 per boat, about €40 per crew-member based on three crew for the weekend. “We’d love to see it grow into a mini-Dinghy Week except for one-design keelboats,” O’Donoghue said, recalling the successful 1970s racing festivals that were briefly revived at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in the 1990’s.

Meanwhile, the economic situation prompted one of Ireland’s foremost sailing schools to suspend operations for 18 months to avail of a lifetime opportunity that would certainly tick most boxes for any keen sailor. After four years of operations in Dún Laoghaire, Sailing West, owned by Paul Adamson and wife Audrey, is going global as the couple begin an 18-month circumnavigation in charge of Eddie Jordan’s new Moody 88 sailing yacht called Lush that is being prepared for a transatlantic crossing next month.

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