The Corona Cork 1720 European Championships were once again sailed out of the beautiful West Cork coastal village of Baltimore from 30th August to 1st September 2012 and were attended by 18 boats from Ireland and the UK, many with elite crew members which made the level of racing higher than the class has experienced in over 10 years. Sailing was to be conducted under returning race officer David O’Brien and his strong team, the event was once again generously supported by proud sponsors Corona beer and a very favourable weather forecast meant sunscreen would have to be packed in kit bags.
One of the favourites to lift the trophy from last year’s winner Mark Mansfield and his crew was Peter O’Leary, fresh from his top ten finish in the Star class at the 2012 Olympics and Tom Durkin with Nicholas O’Leary and former Irish Olympian Maria Coleman on board. Overseas visitors included Steve Forester Coles, David Townend & Neil Angel from England and Colin McDonald all the way down from Scotland. Former 1720 owner Jane McClelland made a return to the class sailing local boat Smile & Wave with her nearly all girl crew helmed by Irish 470 starlet Diana Kissane.
After the formalities of lift-in and registration on Wednesday, two races were sailed on day one of racing in 7 to 8 knots on a short but shifty course outside Baltimore harbour under the shadow of the famous local landmark the Beacon and accompanied by pods of leaping dolphins, both were won Peter O'Leary sailing Wet & Ready who took a four point lead into Day 2 over Mansfield/English.
Day 2 was sailed in 12/13 knots on a course in picturesque Roaring Water Bay between Sherkin Island and Cape Clear island and a 1, 1, 3 in the three races put Peter's brother Nicholas O' Leary (a triple winner of the ISA All Ireland Sailing Championships) into a one point lead over Peter with Mansfield/English a further 3 points back.
Perfect sunny 18/20 knot conditions greeted competitors on the final day as they headed out of the harbour back to roaring Water Bay past all the stunning islands, oyster beds, basking seals and narrow tidal channels for 3 races. Mansfield/English sailed very impressively in the champagne conditions and took a 1st and a 3rd in the first two races to close the gap on the two O'Leary boats going into the final race.
A stiffening breeze was creating challenging conditions which took its toll on Wet & Ready’s spinnaker and Mansfield went on to win the last race and emerge champions two points clear of Nicholas O’Leary in second which in turn was just one point ahead of Olympic brother Peter.
Following a swift lift-out, pacey strap down and generous prizegiving, competitors were treated to a fine meal in the clubhouse of hosts, Baltimore Sailing Club and then a few late drinks in the local bars which entertained into the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Irish 1720 class has added a further two boats to its fleet number this season and the next Port of call for the class is Royal Cork's CH Marine sponsored October league.