Louay Habib reports on the siginficance of the win and what lay behind the Irish success
There were emotional scenes in Cowes on Saturday, as the Irish finally won the Rolex Commodores Cup. Irish teams have come desperately close to winning the prestigious Corinthian trophy on two previous occasions.
The week long regatta organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club was first run in 1992 and features a grueling programme of eight inshore and offshore races, designed to test the mettle of man and machine through the full spectrum of yacht racing disciplines. The three boat team from Ireland. Antix, Marinerscove.ie and Roxy 6, won by a landslide, leading the regatta from start to finish. But heir quest to win the coveted trophy has been and long and epic battle, stretching back over six years.
Few would argue that the Irish have immense passion and pride for the sport. Barry Rose, commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, summed up their delight in winning the golden trophy.
“This is an historic moment in Irish sailing. The team’s commitment and dedication has been fantastic and the approach superb. It has been a full focused campaign which started when we came away empty handed last time. Shore side coach Mike Broughton, has fitted in sweetly to the team and has been a tremendous asset. Myself, Fintan Cairns and Denis Kiely have worked together to make life for the sailors as stress-free as possible. I am absolutely delighted for the team, they have put in a truly magnificent performance.”
Dave Dwyer, Mills 39, Marinerscove.ie
“We are a team of local lads that have stuck together, year after year. Mariners Cove and Antix have been out training and competing at events since last year, working so hard to try to improve our game for this event. Between us we have won every event that we have entered, but we would have traded all of those in for victory today. But probably the best performance at this regatta was from Rob Davies team on Roxy. To win the cup, all three boats have had to perform well and they didn’t let us down, one bit. This has been a tough event to win, it has taken us years to get to this moment and we are rightly very proud.”
Anthony O’Leary, Ker 39, Marinerscove.ie
“We started to dream of winning by the middle of the week, but we saw how hard the other teams were pushing and we knew we could not let up. It is a big relief, having tried so hard for so long. Over the years, Irish teams have put a tremendous amount of effort into this event, probably no less than we have. Perhaps we have had a bit more luck but I think an important area has been to control our enthusiasm, to focus on important events in the build up. The Roxy boys should get the biggest pat on the back, coming into the team late on, they were really up against it. They had so little time to get the boat ready”
Unlike their team mates, Robert Davies, Corby 36, Roxy 6, did not have the luxury of hundreds of hours on the water. Davies hales from Pembrokeshire but the Welshman feels very much part of the celtic family, as he explains.
Rob Davies, Corby 36, Roxy 6.
“My son-in-law, Andy Creighton, drives the boat and comes from Cork, Andy met my daughter at Cork Week in 2002 and I have known Anthony O’Leary for a very long time, we are friends going back a long way. Roxy 6 is a brand new Corby 36 and we were really looking to next season to start to racing. But when Anthony asked me to join the team, I told him that we would do the best we could and I think we have, the boys have sailed the boat magnificently.”
Without doubt, Ireland put in the most impressive performance at the 2010 Rolex Commodores’ Cup. Defeating teams from Great Britain, France, Hong Kong and South Africa. In the past two editions, the Irish have got themselves into a winning position, only to self-destruct and throw away victory. This time they stood up and fought their corner, right up to the final bell.
Top Five Teams – Provisional Overall Positions after completion of 8 races