Handicapping error dismissed as 'minor issue'


SAILING: Irish Cruiser racing officials have dismissed this week's error in the handicapping of a member of its Irish Commodore's Cup team as a "minor issue" and remained focused instead on the Easter season performances of the Irish squad at last weekend's Red Funnel regatta on the Solent.

Irish crews are celebrating two class wins, a second and a third placing in an early season display of promise in new boats that feature keels with trim tabs that have the potential for even more speed this season.

Last night the Royal Ocean Racing Club admitted a rating office error in the processing of a handicap certificate for the Royal Cork Yacht Club's Blondie III, skippered by Eamonn Rohan.

Blondie III was the IRC 1 class winner of the Red Funnel event and the recalculation of the result when the error was found has reduced Rohan's winning margin to a single point.

Although RORC racing manager Janet Grosvenor confirmed the error occurred at RORC's rating office yesterday she would make no further comment on the weekend results of the Cork boat, a Corby 37 design.

But in a forum on the international sailing website sailinganarchy.com a posting from a Lymington source said last night: "The facts are: there was an inputting error here in the rating office (yes, we're human). Note, the error was not on the boat's rating application."

It went on to say: "The rating increase is 1.083 to 1.089 and a corrected certificate has been issued. There would have been no effect on the overall results of Red Funnel regatta."

It appears the incorrect cert showed a regular fin keel instead of a bulb. Bulb keels are heavier and as a result the boat's handicap should have been higher. Rohan is abroad and could not be contacted last night.

Last weekend's regatta was a major success for Irish boats who refuse to let the error overshadow the important early season win for the middle boat in the Irish Commodore's Cup Green Team.

"The result is a great one for Ireland, regardless of any human error. We can all make mistakes and the rating office have put their hand up to it," said Fintan Cairns, the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) commodore.

Commodore's cup team skipper Colm Barrington, who did not attend the regatta in his new boat that will be launched this week, added his voice last night: "It's only a tuning regatta and the results themselves are not that important but what is important is that both Rohan and the Phelans were both streets ahead of the opposition."

Blondie III beat her club mate Jump Juice, a Ker 37 (Conor and Denis Phelan) for overall honours in a fleet of 24 boats. Phelan's boat was launched especially for the Easter event. It made a stunning debut, picking up the prix d'elegance trophy for her preparation.

In another class win for Ireland, in IRC 2 division 2, Belfast Lough's No Naked Flames, a J 109, skippered by Andrew Allen finished top of another 24 boat fleet.

In Class Super Zero and Zero, Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain, from the Kilrush-based Western Yacht Club, finished third in a fleet of eight.

Skerries-based Óisín Van Gelderen (35) is preparing to windsurf across the Irish sea to establish a speed sailing record for the route. He is waiting for the optimum conditions to make the 56-mile crossing that starts from the West Pier in DúLaoghaire and finishes at Holyhead. "We have been training hard over the last nine months in various seas to see what's ideal. Southerly, 15-20 knot winds is what we want, any windier and it makes it hard for the support boat to keep up in the rough sea."

In training, using GPS to track the route and speeds, Van Gelderen, an Irish windsurfing champion, has averaged 24-26 knots and peaked at 33 knots bolstering hopes that the inaugural time could be set at less than three hours.

The attempt, sponsored by Red Bull, will be monitored by the National Yacht Club the keeper of such records in Ireland for the world speed sailing council.

The inaugural Ireland Challenge 2006 which sets sail this weekend will start and finish from a line from Ireland's Eye, north of Dublin Bay. The brand new event will feature five identical 72-foot yachts each with a crew of 16, racing around Ireland, non-stop, from Dublin to Dublin.

Nearly three quarters of the crew have never sailed before starting their training and are now preparing for the 704-mile challenge. The yachts set sail tomorrow at 2pm off Ireland's Eye and are due back into Dublin Bay for their finish from Wednesday, April 26th.