Volvo race fallout leaves a bad taste

Fri, Dec 28, 2012, 00:00

SAILING:It was almost the year that it could have been, a classic case of so near yet so far for Irish sailing.

The first part of the year was dominated in part by the build-up to the finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway at the end of it’s 39,000-mile epic circumnavigation.

Irish pride and interest hinged on hosting a successful finale capped nicely by a win for Kerryman Damian Foxall on board Franck Cammas’s Groupama entry.

But ambition got the better of reality and the highly-successful second visit of the race to Ireland was left tainted for the unpaid creditors of the Galway-based organisation who had contributed to the result that boosted Ireland’s reputation around the world.

The conclusion of a round-the-world epic led straight into the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships for 10 days in July. More recently, the world governing body’s annual conference easily delivered a full month of business, once again demonstrating the potential of a participant-based sport that exists behind the headline sporting world.

But Irish sailors hit the headlines in a major way the following month when the London 2012 Olympic regatta got under way in Weymouth Portland.

Annalise Murphy’s spectacular four consecutive race wins put her in a great position but in the end a medal proved tantalisingly elusive.

The Dragon Gold Cup was held at Kinsale and a classic class, perfect racing conditions and a spectacular venue drew competitors from 16 nations for a cliff-hanger finish that saw Germany’s Tommy Mueller prevail.

The non-discard regatta format will be used again in 2013 when the Irish Cruiser Racing Association national championships are held in Fenit.

Regrouping of some kind is certain to be a key feature of 2013 for some of the country’s biggest yacht clubs battle falling memberships.

There are signs of hope for a brighter future too however. Sophie Browne placed 14th at the Optimist Worlds in New Zealand in January and 130 young Optimist sailors turned out in Baltimore for the February training camp. In July, Finn Lynch won a silver medal in the Laser Radial at the Youth Worlds held in Dublin Bay.

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