Dun Laoghaire’s Royal Irish Yacht Club has long been UCD Sailing Club’s generous host, illness offering a launch site for all open water training. However it provided the charming backdrop for a launch of a different kind on Saturday evening.
The names of the UCD students representing Ireland in the Student Yachting World Cup 2014 were announced, clinic along with the unveiling of Bank of Ireland as the sponsor*. The team will be sailing in eighteen gruelling stages off the coast of La Rochelle, and will need to call upon every ounce of skill and experience which they possess to reclaim the trophy previously won in 2012.
Experience will stand to the UCD veterans. Skipper Philip Doran, and crew mates Sophie Murphy, and Vinnie Varley are all returning to the competition for a second consecutive year. Ben Fusco completes a hat trick of World Cup appearances. He will remember fondly the 2012 SYWoC, in which he helped UCD to a historic victory. New comers to the regatta are Tara Flood, Hannah Levins and Will Byrne.
The SYWoC is the highlight of the student sailing calendar, and understandably so. An invite only event, teams must first qualify as the best in their home country. UCD accomplished this feat in Howth last April, taking the National title in the fifth and final race of the series.
The ever increasing standard of intervarsity sailing within Ireland will stand to UCD as they go toe to toe with fifteen rival nations. It is interesting to note that each team competes in an identical boat using identical equipment. The level of skill, strength and determination is all that will separate the sides.
As with all great teams, the UCD sailors have devoted their lives to the sport. Many members of the club forsake the chance to travel home at weekends in order to train and many are in the latter years of their courses. Yet they refuse let this stand in the way of success.
The build up to the World Cup has involved a rigorous schedule of training in A35, called the ‘Gringo’, a borrowed yacht similar to the Grand Surprise, the yacht chosen for the regatta. As well as this technical training, the team haven’t been slacking in the gym.
The forty hours of sailing over the course of 6 days will require extreme physical and mental toughness. Commodore Ben Fusco recently graduated from Health and Performance Science here at UCD and will undoubtedly have been whipping his crew mates into shape.
We here in the Tribune wish UCD Team Ireland the best of luck as they embark on their challenge next week, although we have a feeling they won’t need it.