THE sailing festival known as Volvo Cork Week is ‘back with a bang’ – at least that was the description for the four-day extravaganza of all things maritime by Marine Minister Simon Coveney last week.
Minister Coveney was on board the LE Róisín in Cork harbour last week, to announce details of the event, which has the big-name car manufacturer on board as lead sponsor.
Details of the festival – which runs from July 10th-15th – were unveiled during a ceremony on board the navy’s 259ft vessel, as it brought guests on a short trip from Haulbowline to anchor off Fort Camden in Crosshaven, and back.
The launch was held in association with the world’s oldest yacht club, the Royal Cork, which hosts Cork Week every second year.
‘Cork Week is on the way back,’ said Minister Coveney, himself a keen sailor, who admitted he was hoping to compete. ‘I have three great loves in life,’ he told the guests, ‘Cork Harbour, the naval service, and all things maritime.’
He was also on board to announce a new competition during the sailing week – the Beaufort Cup, which invites sailing teams from their associated national services to race.
The inaugural cup has already signed up teams from the Irish Defence Forces, including navy, army and air corps, the RNLI, the Maritime Institute, the Gardai, the Fire Service, French teams, and is hoping to attract teams such as the PSNI, the Royal Navy, and more, said the Minister.
The French ambassador Monsieur Jean Pierre Thébault, revealed that as France’s national holiday – Bastille Day – falls during the festival, on July 14th, it would provide a special opportunity for France and Ireland to celebrate ‘some of things in common’ between the countries.
He noted that the Beaufort Cup was named after the Navan scientist whose family would have originated in France, as Beaufort is a French name.
Adrian Yeates of Volvo Ireland said the car manufactuer was delighted with its involvement with Cork Week, and a past admiral of the RCYC, Paddy McGlade, reminded visitors that Volvo has a long sailing tradition, and makes boat engines as well as cars.
And there is a strong West Cork dimension to the event this year too, as the Minister – himself a regular visitor to the area –pointed out last Friday.
On the Monday and Tuesday of Cork Week, the Beaufort Cup will involve a race around the Fastnet Rock in West Cork – which could take about 20 hours, depending on weather conditions, said the Minister.
And for the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Beaufort Cup contestants will ‘synch in’ with the rest of the races being run as part of the festival of sailing. ‘I think it will be a very successful formula,’ he said.
This year’s racing also includes the new event, the IRC European Championships. The first edition of the RORC IRC National Championship took place in 2000, and has done so every year since. There are now seven IRC National Championships throughout the world, but up until now, there has been no continental event.
The intention is for the IRC European Championships to be held at a different European location annually. The fact that the Royal Cork Yacht Club has been selected to host this championship is a huge honour and reflects the esteem in which the committee are held, chairman of Volvo Cork Week, Kieran O’Connell, pointed out.