Top boat award for 'spirited' students


SAILING:The decision to award the Irish Cruiser Racer Association’s (ICRA) Boat of the Year to an unconventional student offshore campaign has been warmly applauded.

The NUI Galway Round Ireland campaign was picked ahead of six other boats short-listed because ICRA judges said the university challenge embodied the spirit of ICRA.

“It was a youthful campaign from a bunch of guys interested in the future,” said outgoing ICRA commodore Barry Rose.

“They ran an exceptional Round Ireland campaign but also competed at many different venues around the country.”

The students won Class 2 in June’s Round Ireland race and were the first Irish fixed keel boat, finishing sixth overall.

Lifting the trophy last Saturday at ICRA’s Kilkenny conference, NUI Galway team manager Cathal Clarke said the boat’s aim in 2012 was to inspire other sailors from the west coast to undertake similar projects and for the next generation to get sailing.

The boat, a Reflex 38, is owned by Galway helmsman Martin Breen and is the first west coast boat to win the award.

Delegates to the 10th ICRA conference heard about the latest developments in international cruiser racing, the biggest sector of the sport in Ireland. There was also news on next year’s national regatta circuit, with presentations on the Dún Laoghaire to Dingle race (June 8th); ICRA Nationals’ (June 13th); Sovereign’s Cup (June 26th); and Dún Laoghaire regatta (July 11th).

An ICRA crew training academy initiative was launched by new commodore Norbert Reilly of Howth and a preview of the 2013 ICRA national championships bound for Fenit Bay was also made by Kerry sailor Brian O’Sullivan.

The day-long event also reviewed an exceptionally varied year in which unexpected international and national successes more than compensated for the disappointment of not having the resources to defend the Commodore’s Cup in the Solent.

Dublin Race officer Jack Roy, who was one of only six international race officers chosen from 180 world-wide to run the Weymouth Olympics, gave an insight into the scale of the Olympic regatta.

Roy, a former champion sailor, described some of the latest technology in use and race management techniques that will be used at home in Irish waters.

Meanwhile, Irish offshore racer Damian Foxall was in Dún Laoghaire on Wednesday to promote a new cruise next season along the East and south coasts.

Abroad, just 12 days into the Vendee non-stop round the world race there has already been a 30 per cent attrition rate in the 20-boat fleet.

Although there has been little in the way of heavy weather the race is off to a shaky start with the French race committee protesting seven skippers who infringed Cape Finisterre shipping lanes.

French solo sailor Armel Le Cléac’h leads from countryman Francois Gabart, with Vincent Rio lying third.

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