Green Dragon may sail again

 

SAILING: IRISH VOLVO 70 yacht the Green Dragon may sail again following this week’s announcement that a west coast bid to secure a return visit of the Volvo Ocean Race has Government backing to the tune of €4 million.

The Government support for the 2011/12 race stopover came on Tuesday but is contingent on Ireland having a race entry.

The funding is half what was secured from Government for the 2009 stop-over and is also subject to the balance being raised from the private sector.

The successful stop-over in May 2009 was matched with a €15 million Irish entry in the race, the Green Dragon yacht, which ended the circumnavigation fifth out of seven finishers and is now stored in Galway.

New rules that allow additional keel weight may make the Irish boat more competitive for 2011 but for any weight added to the keel 50 per cent must be added to he hull too, so it is not a complete remedy for the Irish design.

Already international campaigns are making further Volvo 70 design strides.

French team Groupama, which has signed Kerry’s Damian Foxall, has purchased the 2009 winning yacht Ericsson 4 from the 2009 race and aims to build on that success.

The Minister for Sport, Martin Cullen, gave the Irish bid his backing but it came only after a Cabinet decision on the matter had been deferred for a week.

It is understood that intensive lobbying included support from local Minister Eamon Ó Cuiv and that swung the deal for Galway.

In welcoming the announcement the Galway consortium, “Let’s do it Global”, led by John Killeen, acknowledged the funding shortfall but repeated the view that the success of the last stop-over in May 2009 left the Irish port well positioned.

Galway is vying with Lorient, France and Lisbon, Portugal in its bid to become the Atlantic stop-over in two years’ time.

The Let’s do it Global chairman, Enda O’Coineen, said that without the necessary central Government funding, the bid would collapse.

A decision on the bid is expected to be known next month.

Over 650,000 people visited the Race Village and Salthill during the festivities last summer, bringing a value of €55.8 million to the area – 1.327 billion viewers tuned in to watch the event on television.

Interest in going offshore continues to build with 25 inquiries for June’s Round Ireland Race, well ahead of normal levels. Wicklow Sailing Club has confirmed the first entry received was from an eager Isle of Man sailor Robin Wooton.

Last night Irish solo sailor Paul O’Riain was joined by Vendee Globe skipper Steve White at the Alliance Francaise on Kildare St for a talk on solo racing.

O’Riain competed in the gruelling Solitaire du Figaro, a race which strings 1,800 miles of solo offshore sprints together, and will call to Kinsale this year.

The reported move, in some media columns, of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Headquarters from Dún Laoghaire to Galway may have been premature.

After calling for “expressions of interest” for a new national water sports centre last summer the national body now says it is considering the viability of such a centre.

A series of meetings at clubs around the country will debate the matter starting at the National Yacht Club next Tuesday, at 7pm.

Nine people have been short listed for the association’s volunteer of the year award, which will be presented at an awards dinner on Saturday, March 6th, in the Osprey Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare.

Last Monday, the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest sailing club in the world, held its 289th annual general meeting and elected Paddy McGlade as Admiral, a term he will hold for two years.

Meanwhile, Setanta Ireland will broadcast a 30-minute documentary on Ireland’s largest regatta – last July’s Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta – tomorrow at 4pm. It will be repeated at 5.30pm on Sunday.

Dublin-born sailor in America's Cup

THE DUBLIN-BORN sailor Noel Drennan (aged 46, he moved to Australia when he was 13 years of age) keeps the Irish flag flying in Valencia, Spain, for the first race of the America’s Cup on Monday. He is a trimmer on board the challenger BMW Oracle.

Against a backdrop of long running legal wrangle this 33rd America’s Cup will be raced for by two giant 90-foot multihulls, a match predicted to completely change the usual boat-against-boat match racing tactics.

In just over 10 knots of wind the multihull crews have reported speeds in excess of 25 knots. Each campaign has cost well over €100 million, making it one of the world’s richest sporting events.

The 33rd America’s Cup will be held under the strict “Deed of Gift” rules.

It is specified that the match be sailed in yachts 90 ft by 90 ft and so the Golden Gate Yacht Club developed their trimaran BOR (BMW Oracle Racing) 90, now USA 17, while the Société Nautique de Geneve, Alinghi, have opted for a giant catamaran.

AMERICA’S CUP RACE SCHEDULE

Monday, February 8th, 2010 from 10 am (CET): First Race

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 from 10 am (CET): Second Race

Friday, February 12th, 2010 from 10 am (CET): Third Race (if required).