Steady as she goes is the message from Schull Harbour Sailing Club as the organisers of the West Cork season highlight make final preparations for next week’s annual Calves Week regatta.
Widely regarded as a hidden gem of Irish sailing, the regatta has settled well into it’s new format — introduced four years ago — and entries are up on 2015.
While the Olympic Games are just around the corner and one coach recently called Schull “the spiritual home” of Irish performance sailors, Calves Week is firmly aimed at club-level sailors and cruiser-racers.
“We have 70 boats expected, so we’re up on last year and certainly bucking the trend,” said SHSC commodore Martin Lane yesterday.
“Most are regulars, with three boats expected from the UK.”
The town is fully involved and integrated with the event, including hosting the prizegiving on the main street. This year, the Schull Business Association is involved, with the opening ceremony featuring local food producers that will showcase one of West Cork’s other attractions.
“Sailing around the islands in West Cork is simply lovely, probably amongst the best in Europe in my opinion,” enthused Lane.
“The Fastnet Race, in particular, is iconic and many people take part just for that alone; we notice that crew numbers on some boats pick up just for that day.”
The new format shifted the event away from an eight-day regatta that included Baltimore and Cape Clear to a shorter event running over four days. Participants now only need to find accommodation and time-off work for one week instead of two, with the move in line with other events.
Nevertheless, as other regattas on the Irish coast notice a small fall-off in numbers — as crews are apparently more reluctant to travel — Calves Week appears to be holding or even growing its fleet.
“Apart from issuing the Notice of Race earlier this year, we haven’t done much extra promotion,” said Lane.
“We’d like to keep it at 60 to 70 boats, as we can manage the moorings for this many, but we’d need a marina in the bay if the regatta was to be bigger.”
The club obtained planning permission for a marina four years ago, but the project has stalled recently, leaving the nearest south-coast facility at either Laurence Cove or Kinsale.
The event opens on Monday evening with a reception from 6-8pm. Racing is planned on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, along with the iconic race to the Fastnet Lighthouse on Thursday.
“It looks like we’ll have no shortage of wind, going by the current forecast, said Lane.
“The race courses will be decided on each morning by principal race officer Neil Prendeville, and we have six variations to choose from.”
More than 70 entries are currently listed online at shsc.ie, including regular Paul O’Higgins and his brand new Rockabill VI, which won its class at Volvo Cork Week in Crosshaven two weeks ago.
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