Legally Brunette and Aziza pull out of Malta event


SAILING:“SAFETY AND security” is cited as the main reason behind the withdrawal of both boats with Irish interest from this week’s Mediterranean offshore fixture as the final entries cross the Malta finish line this morning.

Legally Brunette (Cathal Drohan and Paul Egan), the sole Irish entry in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, pulled out yesterday due to a worsening forecast shortly after the 40-foot yacht from Dun Laoghaire had rounded Sicily, according to race headquarters.

Heavy rain, lightning and turbulent winds were hardly a welcome home either for the fleet at the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

A Maltese entry, Aziza, with Irish Ostar-winning skipper Barry Hurley and racing with a half-Irish, half-Maltese crew, also retired. It brought the total of retirees to 12 boats from 80 since the race started six days ago.

The overall win on handicap is still in the balance as the 31st race goes down to the wire.

Exploits during Ireland’s offshore race in July will be relived tomorrow night when Dutch veteran Piet Vroon lifts the Round Ireland trophy at the Park Hotel in Newtownmountkennedy. The Wicklow Sailing Club prize-giving includes a new Irish Cruiser Racing Association trophy and the inaugural winner is local yacht Aquelina, owned by the Tyrrell family.

Defending match racing champion John Sheehy signed off the season by retaining his crown in Kinsale last weekend, but only after a comeback performance by the Dun Laoghaire helmsman in a series sailed in J-80 keelboats.

Lying in fourth place overnight, the pressure was on to make the final last Sunday, but things got worse when Sheehy’s Jodapama team lost the opening race of the second day to Ben Duncan and Mad Match Racing.

But after that Sheehy and his crew – Darragh O’Connor, Paddy Kirwan and Marty O’Leary – regrouped and came back to finish with eight wins. Mad Match was second, with Sam Hunt’s Gladiator third.

Match racing here is on the rise and could be boosted further if an Irish club accepted an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) offer to bid for a round in the World Match Racing Tour. ISAF announced this week it’s looking for cities to host a stage of sailing’s leading world series.

In dinghy news, it was business as usual for Sligo’s Tim Corcoran and Brendan Brogan who won the GP14 Hot Toddy season closer in Larne last weekend in a fleet of 22.

In Cork Harbour, Monkstown Bay pair Alex Barry and Adam Kenny won the Irish 505 title from a fleet of 12. The hosts counted a string of first places. Four UK visitors also competed last weekend when the breeze reached 25 knots on the Cuskinny bank.

Laser radial sailor Tiffany Brien (20), from Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, presented an £18,000 Paralympic boat to local charity Belfast Lough Sailability in Belfast Harbour this week, the culmination of two years of fundraising by the 2012 Olympic hopeful.

The country’s biggest Laser dinghy series starts in over a week. Entry is now open for the Howth Laser Frostbite series on Sunday, October 31st.

In Cork, racing in the October league concludes tomorrow. Up to 1,000 are taking taking part.

Kieran Twomey’s Gloves Off, a Corby 38, leads the big boats by four points.