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Tom MacSweeney’s Weekly Maritime Blog – September 18

THE AMERICA’S CUP DEBATE – THE AULD MUG AND MONEY

More realism is needed in the reportage and debate about the Americas’ Cup. The amount of money AC organisers want would do a huge amount for Ireland’s leisure marine sphere which needs more State investment to gain more public involvement. Many more young people from all over Ireland would have benefited from the comprehensive training and experience of sailing in its widest form if the Irish government had spent just €3m. on replacing the national tall ship, ASGARD, money which it received in compensation for the sinking of that vessel. It did not so do. Aspects of sailing like that should be borne in mind. The America’s Cup is, as the New Zealand Government pointed out when refusing to give the AC organisers the amount of money they demanded to keep the event in Auckland, ”a global commercial operation, an international business as much as a sporting contest. The AC is much about money.” This is at the core of the decision about where to hold it. The Irish Government is right to do careful due diligence about providing funding. New Zealand is, arguably, the leading sailing nation in the world and its government would not fund it to the amount demanded. It seems that the AC organisers are playing one location off against the other to get as much money as possible. One aspect has become clear to me from Emails, texts, comments – unfortunately, sailing is again being highlighted in the public mind as elitist and that is disappointing after the years of gaining more acceptance and more people at, if I may say without implying social standing to anyone, an ;ordinary level, as is my own. While a case can be put for tourism, infrastructure and so forth, the core point remains – rather than about sailing – this has become all about money and how much can be wrested from the location which the organisers favour.  It seems to be now not about sailing as much as about big business, national and international politics and huge sums of money.

IRELAND’S NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART MULTIPURPOSE MARINE RESEARCH VESSEL

RV TOM CREAN UNDER CONSTRUCTION

What was particularly good to see this week was the progress on the building of the RV Tom Crean, the new ‘state-of-the-art’ marine research vessel for the Marine Institute. This is a positive maritime achievement which will repay the national investment in maritime research. It is time that Tom Crean was given more national prominence. I remember doing the first report that began to bring prominence to him  in current times, down at the South Pole Inn in Annascaul in Kerry. That was a television report and it drew a lot of interest, from which has stemmed much more since. Not that one expects one’s original involvement to be remembered, neither was Tom Crean’s too much remembered, if I may make such a reference. The RV Tom Crean consists of 32 individual hull units expertly assembled to form the hull of the vessel. This phase of the project involved upwards of 70 personnel working at some stages which included the joining of the hull units, installation of the vessel generation sets, electric propulsion motor, deck equipment and the vessel’s unique silent seven-bladed propeller. The wheelhouse will be installed this week. The vessel hull has been painted in the familiar ‘signal green’ colour, and features the vessel name Tom Crean. It is the colour used on the Marine Institute’s two research vessels currently in operation, the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager. Construction of the new national research vessel continues on schedule and on budget in 2021, with the build process expected to be completed in summer 2022.

GREAT RESULT

And, continuing on sailing theme, well done to Meath solo International sailor Tom Dolan who came third in the final leg of the French Figaro Race sailing Smurfit Kappa this week. He has a determination to overcome setbacks that earns its rewards.

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Tom MacSweeney

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