Chernobyl kids get a taste of Costa Del Cork

IT might not have been quite Mediterranean weather but, once again, the doomsayers got the prediction wrong as Cork Week entered its second day of full racing yesterday in Crosshaven, which is rapidly living up to its name as the Costa Del Cork.

Foul weather with high winds was the forecast but the sun shone intermittently and the winds were, if anything, a little on the light side. “We could do with a bit more puff,” complained one seasoned sailor.!

It was just as well there wasn’t too much ‘puff’ as this was the day when the Royal Cork Yacht Club played host not just to 1,000 sailors but also to a group of children from an orphanage in Chernobyl. Entertaining the children was the brainchild of RCYC’s John Crotty who approached the ‘two Micks’ who run the Chernobyl Orphans’ Fund. Michael Noonan, chairman of the fund, and Michael Croghan, its secretary, could hardly believe the generosity of club members and others who gave not only their time but the use of their boats to ensure that the 15 children from Chernobyl, who are on a three-week holiday in Ireland, would enjoy a day they would never forget.

“They have been amazing,” said Croghan. “Without John and others like John and James Whelan this could not have happened, We are overwhelmed. This is definitely one of the major highlights of their time here,” said Noonan as he struggled to make himself heard above the din of children on board the motor launch Sunseeker, owned and skippered by John Kennedy, a prominent figure in the oil industry.

As if on cue, to copper-fasten a day to remember, a school of dolphins suddenly appeared as the launch motored out of Crosshaven to the race start. “Some of these kids have never been in a boat, let alone seen a dolphin,” said Croghan. At the helm, John Kennedy could not fail to be impressed. “We have two 800 horsepower diesel engines here,” he explained, “and if you are really making speed it can cost up to €400 an hour in diesel alone.”

Those under sail had little to complain about as racing started mostly on time and went according to plan. While the recession has ensured the event will not be as high powered as in previous years, Cork Week has still attracted boats from Australia, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Holland, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Over 200 boats are competing on five separate courses throughout the week.

“I prefer it a bit quieter, to be honest,” said John Crotty, a Cork Week veteran. “I remember a few years ago when I was racing and there were around 500 boats. It was a great sight to see all that sail on the water but the onshore situation was too crowded. It’s better now.”

Onshore activities can be just as strenuous. One not-so-young and not-so-serious sailor was still nursing a sore head yesterday afternoon that even a trip around the harbour couldn’t cure. “I’ll have to go for a bit of a kip for an hour or so,” he moaned. “Otherwise I won’t be up to another night of it.” He even had a theory as to why Cork Week only comes around every two years. “At my age, it takes me that long to recover.”

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