With only a few days to go, its time to get ready to race on the Howth Peninsula this weekend!
What better way to kick off the 2018 sailing season with a jaunt to Howth for some competitive racing, great on land entertainment and delicious seafood all in a cracking location.
Its shaping up to be a right sporting rumble again this year with 2016 defending Sportsboat Cup Champion T-Bone (Durcan & O'Shea with previous All Ireland Helmsman Champion Alex Barry on the helm) returning to attempt to take the spoils home to Cork again. They are racing in the 1720 fleet which is the annual European Championships, with 16 boats currently entered and possibility of some last minute additions this is the largest fleet in the regatta. Last year's European Champion Antix, O'Leary while not able to attend himself as he is racing Fast 40's in the UK this weekend, has nonethless sent his boat loaded to the gills with Fionn Lyden skippering in his absense. Last years National Champions are on home waters as Atara goes looking for the European Title for the first time.
No one will have an easy time of it though with some very strong contenders hot on their heels in the hunt for glory. The resurgence of the 1720 fleet continues as boats are travelling from Wales, Baltimore, Dun Laoghaire, Cork and Galway. After Midnight (Fitzgerald et al) from Galway makes a long awaiting return to the 1720 circuit while Luvly Jubbly returns from the UK for a third time.
The J/80 Class Association is hosting its inaugural National Championships this weekend and while the number of entrants might be on the low side the quality certainly is not. Pat O'Neill's Mojo should have the jump on the fleet having done a far reaching campaign last year in his first real season with the boat. Having notched in good results at last years Euros and French Nationals he has inspired the fleet and spurred its growth with new boats arriving every few weeks into the Irish fleet. With past Olympians, National Champions and Sailmakers in the fold it will be a hostly contested fleet. From small acorns it looks like a mighty fleet will grow.
It wouldn’t be like the Tonners to miss out on a good thing either, the mixed fleet of modified Half & Quarter Tonners are the final fleet that are racing. Conor Fogarty's Silver Shamrock set the pace all those years back when it did a clean sweep at the half ton cup in the 70's with Cudmore at the helm, will she still be able to live with the newer breed? Sister ships Checkmate XV and The Big Picture will lock horns no doubt as they usually do. If we get some big breeze there are likely to be some great photo shots from this fleet as they push hard beyond their designed hull speed to gain the advatange over each other. Throw in Checkmate XVIII and wily Quarter Tonner Quest from Dun Laoghaire and this makes for an extremely intriguing fleet. Although let not hope for too much wind for this fleet as they’ll be using this as a great warm up event before Wave Regatta kicks off the following weekend and will be keeping one eye on that.
Of course, running an event like this would be all but impossible without our great sponsors who are as passionate about seeing the sport prosper as we are. Without them the show would not go on folks! So, a big thank you to our sponsors; UK Sailmakers Ireland – keeping boats fast since 1946. Aethic – ecocompatible skincare products helping us protect our skin whilst protecting the ocean. Ropedock – the simple place to get your ropes online, any boat, any rope, they’ve got you covered. Alpha Ropes – state of the art rope suppliers using advanced technology and materials to deliver only the best in ropes.
So dust off the sailing gear, grab the gloves for those soft office hands and pack your bags for The Sportsboat Cup 2018.