With the Royal Yacht Club anniversary celebration off, Cork's sailing season is now in doubt

With the Royal Yacht Club anniversary celebration off, Cork's sailing season is now in doubt
A group of Optimist dinghies from the Royal Cork Yacht Club training in Cork Harbour against a backdrop of the coastal town of Cobh. Picture: David Creedon/Anzenberger

THROUGHOUT the week the cancellations mounted, to the stage where there are now so many of the planned major sailing events postponed or deferred until next year that the question on many sailor’s minds is – what to do when the sailing season seems to be collapsing?

The primary events cancelled were the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s 300th-anniversary celebrations in June and July. This was a tough decision for the club’s new Admiral, Colin Morehead, in his first months of office.

The decision was arrived at by the club’s organising committee after consultation with the health authorities, sailing organisations in Ireland and overseas and sponsors. There will be effects on the local economy.

“The cancellation comes with deep regret,” Colin Morehead said, acknowledging that it “will have an impact on the sailing community and the local economy.

“In the three hundred years since its foundation the Royal Cork Yacht Club has faced many adversities and we are confident that working together we will see our club, our country and global sailing community come through these difficult and challenging times.”

A swathe of events were taken out of the sailing calendar – Cork Week, the Beaufort Cup, the 29er National Championships, the Wild Atlantic Cruise, the RCYC Fleet Review, the ICRA National Championships, the 1720 Europeans, the SB20 Southerns, the Morgan Cup, the Classic Boats in Cork Harbour, the IRC Europeans and the reinauguration of the historic Kingstown-to-Queenstown, (the former names of Dun Laoghaire and Cobh) Race.

Cork Week has been put back two years, re-scheduled for July 11-15, 2022.

The RCYC Admiral said that the club was continuing to plan for Cork 300 events this August, in the present hope that they will be able to go ahead.

Kinsale Yacht Club cancelled the Squibs Irish and British National Championships due to be held in June. “We are looking at the possibility and logistics of hosting the event in Kinsale Yacht Club next year,” said Ruth Ennis, the Regatta Director.

Kinsale also cancelled its April Cruiser racing series.

Also cancelled is the Cork harbour Festival from May 15 to June 8 which would have included the Rás Mór rowing race and which is given a lot of support by sailing clubs.

Two major events for which final decisions will not be made until next month are the Round Ireland Race and the Glandore Classic Boats. I’ve sailed several times in both and they are amongst my favourite events.

Commodore, Eamon Timoney has told club members that Glandore Harbour Yacht Club is still committed to the Classics 2020 schedule which is set for July 18-24, but things may change.

“Our strategy is to plan for our various events, including the Classic Regatta until such time as a cancellation or postponement is required. The Committee will endeavour to do this in a timely way.”

Another of the major events in which I take particular interest and raced three times - the Round Ireland - is still set for Saturday, June 20.

Wicklow Sailing Club says it will “make a call on whether or not to go ahead with the race towards the end of April.” If the Round Ireland should go ahead, there will be a lot of Cork interest.

Four Cork yachts are expected on the start line. The top Irish boat from the 2019 Fastnet – Conor Doyle’s XP 50 Freya from Kinsale YC is down to race, according to the organisers. So is Denis and Annamarie Murphy’s Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo, from the RCYC which had a good season last year on Southern waters.

Two other RCYC boats are logged in - Frank Doyle’s J/112E Cara and Ian Hickey’s Granada 38, Cavatina. She has become a star performer in the race for several years and will be seeking a third win in the 704-nautical miles non/stop race, starting and finishing at Wicklow.

From the start, the course takes the yachts southwards around Cork, up the West Coast, across the northern tip of Ireland and down the east coast back to Wicklow.

Cavatina is proudly-described as a ‘vintage’ yacht from the Crosshaven club. Skipper Ian Hickey made it the 37th entry into this year’s race. It is the 21st edition, of what is regarded internationally as a “classic offshore” event. The race is being sponsored by SSE Renewables.

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