Meeting to consider Lobster retiral

 

The organising committee of the biennial Round Ireland Race is expected to meet tonight to consider the implications of the retiral this week of one of the leading yachts from this year's event that ended almost two months ago.

The development has arisen because of the statement by the skipper of the boat that he received outside assistance during the 704-mile race. In a statement to The Irish Times yesterday, Gary Horgan, owner/skipper of the Dubois 45-footer Lobster from Kinsale said:

"On board Lobster, a fan belt broke during the second day of the race.

"There are two fan belts on the engine and we were still capable of recharging our batteries with one but I was concerned with regard to safety, as if the other failed we would have no auxiliary power in an emergency situation. As was the case, this did not happen. I was concerned enough that I organised for a spare fan belt to be delivered to the boat.

"Having reported the fan-belt incident to the race organiser Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC), I sought further advice and decided the correct course of action was to retire Lobster from the race which I have done. I have the full support of my crew who along with me thoroughly enjoyed the race."

On Tuesday, the WSC race chairman had no information either formally or otherwise that such an incident had occurred. Contact was made by Horgan yesterday and WSC have now formally received notice of the yacht's retiral.

Lobster was the captain of Kinsale Yacht Club's "Team A" that won the overall team prize for the race. There is no suggestion that either of the other two boats were involved in this or any other incident. The position concerning the status of the team prize was unclear yesterday. The rules state that competitors shall not receive outside assistance of any kind including communications. Should such an incident occur, the boat is required to make a declaration to that effect upon finishing or sooner if possible. Most offshore races require skippers to sign a declaration that the race was sailed in compliance with the rules. WSC requires skippers to sign within four hours of finishing.

When asked why Lobster didn't sail into port and pick up a new fan belt, Horgan said it was more convenient to have the spare dropped out to the boat at sea.

"It wouldn't have made sense to go into Kinsale," he said yesterday. Horgan's own reasoning is that in previous races, outside assistance has been permitted on safety grounds which is what motivated the delivery of the spare part on this occasion which wasn't in fact needed.

Horgan said yesterday that in the heat of finishing a six-day race he could not recall actually signing a declaration, except for signing in to state the boat had returned safely.

The winning Kinsale team also comprised George Radley's classic one-tonner, Imp, and George McConnell's Sigma 38 Galliver. Both boats won their respective classes and secured first and second places overall.

The second-placed team represented the Royal Alfred YC in Dublin.