Yacht club is at heart of town life
At the centre of the town’s leisure and sporting life, the Kinsale Yacht Club is home away from home for its 850 members.
With the open sailing waters to the East of the Old Head and the lower estuary of the Bandon River coupled with the prevailing South Westerly winds and the Gulf Stream, sailors enjoy some of the best tidal, rough and smooth water racing anywhere in the world.
The club’s 400-berth marina and the Bandon River’s moorings are home to Cruisers, One Design Keelboats Catamarans and Dinghies — all of which compete in offshore and inshore races, an active cruising scene, a nascent powerboat section, and a dynamic junior training programme.
“Most of our members are local,” says Yacht Club manager Brian Hunt. “It is a natural harbour, one of the prettiest in Ireland, and, for those reasons alone, has seen this club become an established part of the town’s sporting fabric.
“The club is not just for the members, of course, as during any given year we will have thousands of visiting boats who tie up on the marina for various amounts of time. We even have a developing sector of boats that winter here over the past few years,” he adds. “While that is a small part of the club’s overall revenue, it is an important stream and one we are happy to hopefully grow larger over coming years.”
KYC was awarded the prestigious ISA Club of the Year Award in 2014, following a momentous 2013 during which an extensive renovation of the clubhouse was completed.
Even allowing for the complexities of renovating a listed building, the finished design and look continues to deliver a ‘Wow!’ factor to locals and visitors alike — underlined with major marina works to compliment the overall project.
The highlight of the year was the hosting of the World Championship of the Inter- national Federation of Disabled Sailing, an event made possible by a willing army of 120 volunteers drawn from the membership who gave freely of their time to make the event a huge success.
President of the IFDS, and former KYC Commodore, John Twomey, played a major role in bringing this event to his home town.
Sovereign’s Cup 2017
The bi-annual Sovereign’s Cup, taking place this year June 21 to 24, is one the club’s biggest events.
Dating from the early 1990s, it began as many things do, as a ‘small idea’ to host a regatta in the off year to Cork Week. As the idea took hold and developed, it was discovered that the ‘Sovereign of Kinsale’ used to put up a trophy for a sailing race in the late 1700s and early 1800s — and thus deemed appropriate that the proposed event would be named Sovereigns’s Cup.
A special Waterford Glass trophy was designed for the inaugural event in 1995, with another trophy called the ‘Portcullis’ also included based on the tradition of using a portcullis symbol as part of the KYC burgee — to celebrate the area’s history.
At its inception it was decided that the event should be limited to 100 yachts — then regarded as being the limit of what KYC could reasonably cater for, and also not wanting to compete with Cork Week, which had 150 entries at the time. If the 2015 event is anything to go by, this year’s Sovereign’s Cup is definitely a date for the diary.
Music gigs by King K, SG’s and the Magnetics, plus resident DJ Mark Wilson. It also included the Sovereign’s Cup Ladies Lunch and a Barracuda BBQ to facilitate the prize-giving.
“It really has become an event comparable to Cork Week at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven, with more or less the same number of boats,” says Brian.
“We support them every other year, and they do the same for us. We get huge numbers of visiting boats, not to mention the injection of business for the whole town. It is one of the big highlights in our calendar, and certainly this year’s event look like being as successful as all the others.”
As with so many events in the club, the Sovereign’s Cup is organised through a small army of volunteers — all dedicated to maintaining the club in the best possible light.
“They really outdo themselves every Sovereign’s Cup, and I’ve no doubt this year will be no different. There’s a tremendous spirit in the club, all members pulling together to make not just the big events, but all the small ones throughout the year, just as important as each other.”
Cara O’Sullivan and Meabh Aherne at Sailability 2016 at Kinsale Yacht Club, promoting sailing for people with disabilities.
Seán Murphy and his son Jack participating in Sailability 2016 at Kinsale Yacht Club, a popular event which promotes sailing for people with disabilities throughout Ireland. Picture: Dan Linehan