Pat Lyons, chairman of Cork Week, which takes place around Cork Harbour from tomorrow (Saturday), insists that the shortfall in numbers on the water will not impact on the event’s status on the global racing calendar.
With sponsorship drying up, and Irish and UK-based sailors choosier about how many regattas they attend, not to mention the proximity of other high profile international events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympics, the organisers of Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, always faced a challenge to put together the biannual event this year.
But while the 100 or so boats registered to race over five days from next Monday morning falls far short of the target of 250 set last winter, Cork Week chairman Pat Lyons admitted that while the 2012 event has been scaled down into a “boutique” occasion, there has been no effort spared to ensure that it will deliver on the fundamentals that have earned the event its reputation.
“While Cork Week is known for the fun and celebration around the racing, we must remember that what made its reputation has been top quality racing and management of that racing, in the unique environment of Cork Harbour. That will always be the same, whether we have 100 boats or 1,000 boats on the water,” said Pat, who was appointed chairman of Cork Week last September.
The Volvo Ocean Race in Galway has been the greatest contributor to the drop-off in Irish racing entrants, while the Olympics has made another big impact in terms of a rival attraction for many UK sailors who would otherwise have attended Cork Week.
“Look, these are wonderful events. The Volvo Ocean Race is a wonderful thing, and has attracted huge numbers to Galway, while the feedback we were getting from the UK is that competitors were going to spend the money they would have spent on coming to Cork Week to instead take their families to the Olympics. I think that’s totally understandable, and I might even be doing the same myself if I was in that position,” Pat said.
However, Cork Week has retained its status for sailors from further afield, with crews from destinations as diverse as Hong Kong, South Africa, the Netherlands, Sweden and France bound for Cork this week to take part in the five days of racing.