Low numbers and high winds at national cruiser championships

Four new national champions emerge at Royal Cork Yacht Club

Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice powers through heavy chop while defending his Division 0 title at the Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships 17 hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport

A record low-turnout for the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association national championships on Cork Harbour belied a memorable series for the 43 entries from around Ireland.

Although medium airs marked the start of the regatta at the Royal Cork Yacht Club on Friday, the weekend forecast of gales proved accurate. Nevertheless, three races were sailed on Saturday before the series was abandoned on the third day.

But five races proved plenty for most competitors, many nursing broken gear and bruised bodies, who were glad to turn back for shelter as the westerly gale gusts whipped up a seaway off Spike Island.

Unchallenged by a final race or two, Saturday’s leaderboard remained unchanged and four new national champions emerged. The exception was John Maybury’s Joker 2, the J109 from the Royal Irish YC that recorded its third consecutive victory at this event in Division 1.


Ousted Division 2 champion David Cullen on Checkmate VI had a broken spinnaker pole after Saturday's opening race and retired leaving the path clear for Howth clubmate Ross McDonald on Equinox to take over as the new title-holder.

The smallest boat division had the largest turnout - 12 boats - with J24 footers making up nine of the entries and accounting for all top seven places. Foynes Sailing Club’s Darragh McCormack on his newly-acquired Stouche topped the class with consistent top three scores.

Of all five divisions, just two had straight unbeaten runs by the eventual winners. Division 3 saw Paul Gibbons' restored quarter-tonner Anchor Challenge unbeaten for the series while in Division 0, Rob O'Leary at the helm of Tony Ackland's Welsh entry Dark Angel delivered five straight wins against defending champion Conor Phelan on Jump Juice.

The pair were locked in a match-race series since Friday, rarely more than a few boat-lengths apart, and provided a spectacle of their own.

Meanwhile, while this championship was cut short most of the fleet will remain in the locality for a re-match of sorts next week when the biennial O’Leary Life & Pensions Sovereigns Cup is held at Kinsale.

Over 90 boats are expected there while the small turnout for the weekend’s championship will be the focus of efforts by the ICRA committee ahead of next year’s event that is to be held later in the year to avoid fixtures conflicts and will be staged on Galway Bay.

David Branigan

David Branigan

David Branigan is a contributor on sailing to The Irish Times