Flying Fifteen specialists favoured for All-Ireland sailing race
Sixteen-boat event aims to find ‘champion of champions’ on Irish waters
Flying Fifteen action returns to Dublin Bay on Saturday a month after the class World Championships (above) were staged by the National Yacht Club. Photograph: David O’Brien
Experience in the Flying Fifteen keelboat may prove vital in Saturday’s All-Ireland Sailing Championships where a third of the fleet contains past or present FF champions at the National Yacht Club.
As a result, the Irish Sailing competition format – which has a habit of favouring helmsmen from boats in which the competition is contested – contains no such guarantee for Flying Fifteen nominees David Gorman and Chris Doorly of the host club because of the smattering of other FF talent competing with them.
British sailor Matt Alvarado, bronze medalist at last month’s Subaru-sponsored World Championships at the same Dublin Bay venue, has been recruited as crew by ICRA nominee Darren Wright of Howth Yacht Club for the weekend.
The 16-boat fleet will race in the two-man keelboat for the first time in the recent history of the 72-year-old competition.
The event aims to find the “champion of champions” pitting all stripes of sailor against each other in one type of boat but it is, in essence, an end of season celebration in borrowed boats involving some of the country’s top-ranked sailors.
The defending All-Ireland champion is the SB20 star Peter Kennedy who won last year when the regatta was contested in that sportsboat class. The Northern Ireland ace is a 1988 and 1992 Olympian from the Flying Dutchman class and a past FF performer on home waters too. His parents Terence and Bridget Kennedy of Strangford Lough YC were British FF Champions in 1962.
Also with form in one of Ireland’s strongest one-design keelboat classes is past Ireland FF champion Seán Craig sailing with top crew Alan Green. Craig’s former FF crew Stephen Boyle will also be racing and is teamed up with GP14 representative Shane MacCarthy.
Meanwhile, in youth sailing, Chris Bateman of Monkstown Bay in Cork Harbour has been cutting a swathe through the dinghy sailing scene in Ireland at both junior and open level in a number of classes for some time now. It’s a remarkable performance given that he was overlooked for Irish Sailing’s academy squad. Bateman turned 18 on September 23rd so his 2019 national title in the RS 200s provided a final opportunity to put his stamp on the All-Ireland junior championship. He won it in fine style with his younger brother Olin in Schull Harbour last weekend.
Martin Byrne of the Royal St George Yacht Club, who was runner-up at this year’s Edinburgh Cup, leads nine Irish Dragons for the 90th Anniversary Regatta at San Remo, Italy, from 7th to 11th October. The Irish boats will be part of a massive 160-boat international dragon keelboat fleet.
Cork300 was launched this week by Tánaiste Simon Coveney and sailors from all over the world at the Royal Cork Yacht Club.
In 2020, the Cork Harbour Club in Crosshaven will celebrate its 300th anniversary with a series of events on and off the water. Sailing communities throughout Europe and as far away as Australia, Hong Kong and San Francisco are expected to attend the celebrations. Highlights over the summer include a classic yacht regatta; the historic Kingstown/Queenstown feeder race from Dún Laoghaire to Cobh; the biennial Volvo Cork regatta, an international powerboat championship festival; a Wild Atlantic Way “cruise in company” for visiting yacht clubs; the Royal Cork fleet review which will be a parade of sailing craft in Cobh and a gathering of naval ships in Cork city.