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Sailing has a down-home, count the pennies couple of days this weekend.  But the seven Irish boats which are preparing for the Fastnet Race in a fortnight’s time will be on a different track, knowing that on the 30th anniversary of the storm struck Fastnet of 1979, skimping on safety gear is not an option.

But if the weather improves somewhere beyond this morning’s forecast of a good day, the fleet numbers shaping up for the West Cork Regattas in a weeks time will increase.  And that, in turn will pose problems – there’ll be more with race winning potential than there’ll be crews to sail them properly.

Thus, shrewd skippers along the South coast will have kept an eye on the annual Fastnet International Schools Regatta, which concluded on Thursday at Schull.  New talent is emerging, and this years event was a classic with three days of good sailing.

The overall winner came yet again from the large Optimist dinghy fleet, the title being taken comfortably by John  Durcan of Douglas Community School in Cork who swept past overnight leaders Oisin O’Driscoll and Conor Millar of Schull C.S. sailing a 420.

However, the talk on the waterfront was the showing by Tom Morehead of CBC Cork in the Laser 4.7s.  Having been upgraded from the Silver Fleet into the Gold after early successes, he then went on to win the Lasers overall, with the Silver Fleet being won by Mikcala Neely of St. Colmcill’s in Crossgar, Co. Down, who sails from the seaboard facility at Killyeagh on Strangford Lough.

Meanwhile, the down-home team was launched last weekend at Cove Sailing Club in Cork Harbour, where they can celebrate major successes already this year by former Cork Matelots Barry Hurley (Trans Atlantic race class winner) and Flor O’Driscoll (Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Champion).  But it was a visiting boat, the O’Leary’s 26ft Antix Beag from Crosshaven which took the main prize at Cobh in the IRC Division.

Antix Beag is a converted 1720 with a lid.  Having a little cabin means she can  race in the IRC divisions, which is the main event these days,  We used to think that IRC meant International Rating Certificate, but the attractive little Antix with her useful lid suggests that it really means “In Rainy Conditions”.

If the welcome sunshine inclines you to take up a spot of yachting even at this mid-season stage, it’s easily done.  Our little boat, the Volvo 70 Green Dragon, goes on shoreside display (ideal for a potential buyer’s survey) at Salthill on Galway Bay.  She’s very much for “sale”, and the price is a mere €2.5m.  An snip beag as you might say.

Green Dragon is a bit deep for events like the Clontarf At Home, but you could cut a real dash at the West Cork regattas.  Expert crews can be easily recruited at Jacobs or Bushes’s in Baltimore, or Newmans of Schull.

With many thanks to W M Nixon for his very interesting and entertaining piece on sailing.

May we add our many congratulations to John Durcan and Tom Morehead junior members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club for their magnificient achievements at Schull.

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