FOR the third day in a row, the gods smiled on Crosshaven yesterday, confounding the weather watchers’ predictions of atrocious conditions and delivering what was, by consensus, the best day’s sailing so far of Cork Week.
“The conditions couldn’t be better,” said Niall MacAllister as he powered his 37 foot Sun Oydssey cruiser, Jessy, into a not-so-gentle swell to chase the flotilla of boats assembled for the morning race.
“It’s a bit sloppy out here at the moment but that’s because we are facing wind against tide. Overall, though, this is a fantastic day for racing. We have five knots of wind and that’s perfect.”
Niall and his wife, Gail, run the West Cork Sailing and Powerboat Centre based in Adrigole, on the Beara peninsula. A venture that began in a disused shed 12 years ago has now grown to be one of the country’s foremost sail training centres. “We have people of all ages and from all walks of life training with us, from school-leavers and college students to people looking for a change of career as a result of the recession. Funnily enough, the banks have no trouble lending us money as they see our business as one of the few they can safely finance.”
His crew, 18-year-old Isaac Brealey, was clearly enjoying himself as he flitted about on bare feet with the dexterity of a seasoned sailor. “All those guys who stayed in the marina and decided not to race today must be kicking themselves now,” he said.
Isaac, originally from Nottingham in England, has lived in Adrigole from the age of 11 when he discovered west Cork and sailing in the same year. “In Nottingham there is no water, apart from the River Trent, but I love being out on a boat. Niall converted me straight away and I have never looked back.”
To add to the picture postcard morning, a school of skittish dolphins, attracted by all the excitement, rose and dived through the waves.
Racing started with little delay and by lunchtime there were hundreds of happy sailors returning to the dock, having had a spectacular morning on the water and preparing for Round Two in the afternoon.
Among the visitors was Jennifer Kinnear from Dublin, and John Paul Dennehy, his wife, Brenda and their sons Joshua and Sean from Cork. Also enjoying the excitement were members of the celebrated Cudmore sailing family, Sarah, John, Clare, Peter and Aideen.
A lot of the hard work was being cheerfully done by Annamarie Fegan who was preparing to feed hundreds of mouths for the partying to follow. Her company, Excellent Choice, has been in the catering business since 1990 and she relishes the challenge that Cork Week brings every two years.
“The recession has had an effect, of course, and it’s been a tough year, but I prefer to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. Cork Week is still the biggest sailing event in Ireland this year and there are in the region of 250 boats here which means there are 2,000 competitors, along with visitors, so we are as busy as ever, working every day from noon to 5am.”
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