THE majestic Fastnet lighthouse provided a stark backdrop for the inaugural Beaufort Cup this week which was claimed by a team from the Irish Defence Forces.
The team, racing Joker 2, and skippered by Cmdt Barry Byrne, won the race which was open to services teams, including the RNLI, Irish Army, Coast Guard, and Fisheries Board.
There were also services teams from abroad competing, and it is hoped to grow the international participation in future years.
The event was held as part of Volvo Cork Week and the offshore win has put the Defence Forces team in the driving seat to win the prestigious new trophy, and €10,000 for their nominated charity.
‘We are over the moon,’ said Cmdt Byrne. ‘Late last night in light airs, most of the fleet compressed together and we gybed out for more wind offshore and got it. From then on we kept our position between the Fastnet and the boats behind to consolidate on that gain and those tactics got us through,’ he said on Tuesday. ‘But it was a tough fight all the way to the Rock and a tough slog all the way back.’
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney, was racing on board Another Adventure, which was also part of the Irish Defence Forces. Minister Coveney is one of the biggest supporters of the new international services sailing competition, now part of Volvo Cork Week.
‘The Fastnet Lighthouse is famous internationally as an iconic symbol of sailing and we felt that it was important to have a race around it to encourage foreigners, in particular, to come and race. This year we were testing the water, so to speak, and it was super,’ the Minister said.
‘We have 12 teams and six of them went around the Fastnet within five minutes, which is fantastic racing. We have two teams from Britain and another from Northern Ireland and Irish teams from the Defence Forces, Marine Institute, Fisheries Board, the RNLI and the Coast Guard. We have promises from lots of other countries who want to come in two years’ time. What we would like to build over the next few years is the world’s largest services event, with top quality racing for services teams from all over the world. The structure will be an offshore race followed by inshore racing and you won’t find a better harbour to race than Cork and the coastline is just spectacular. We want people to come and experience the hospitality and competitive racing of Volvo Cork Week. We hope that in the future to cast the net much wider and receive teams from Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal and build on what we have started this year,’ he said.