Young seafarers from west Cork arrived home last night to a rousing reception after claiming, for the fifth time, the top prize in an international competition for maritime skills.
Bantry, the Republic of Ireland’s sole representative in the Atlantic Challenge since the late 1980s, triumphed over Russian and Britain in a ‘down-to-the-wire’ final.
Northern Ireland was fourth in a competition hosted by France in the south Brittany harbour of Golfe Du Morbihan which also attracted teams from Indonesia, Canada, USA, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy and the Basque country.
Locally-based Cllr Mary Hegarty said the week-long success by a 20-strong crew of young men and women had continued a great tradition of Bantry’s involvement in the now-12 nations’ biannual event.
“Over the years, Dr Matt Murphy and his wife Anne, along with their son Diarmuid, have been the mainstay of Bantry’s involvement in the competition.
“The continued good run of success by Bantry teams has been phenomenal.”
Significantly, she said, all the competing nations use a gig designed on the famed Bantry longboat which was recovered after the 1796 French invasion in Bantry Bay. Since the initial event between the US and France was held in 1986, a total of 55 Bantry longboats have been constructed worldwide,” she said.
“Bantry, in the last few years, hosted the event and it was also an absolutely brilliant week with families and friends from all the teams supporting the young competitors,” she added.
The Bantry team operate and practice from a purpose-built facility at Reendonegan Lake.
Cllr Hegarty said: “All Bantry’s teams have been exceptional in terms of training and dedication and everyone involved deserves the best wishes for another great win.”
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