On Saturday February 10th 1973, in the first round of matches in that seasons Five Nations Championship, the English rugby football team ran out onto the pitch inLansdowne Road and were greeted with the unprecedented sight and sound of a rapturous five minute standing ovation. The background to this unusual display of “cead mile failte” was the refusal of bothScotland andWales to travel toDublin the previous season to fulfil their fixtures due to the troubles inNorthern Ireland and the ill perceived safety concerns that they felt. In typical Irish fashion, after welcomingEngland with one of the most emotional scenes ever witnessed in the grand old ground, they were duly smashed up and down the pitch ending up on the receiving end of an 18-9 hammering(!) – any Irish victory over that Perfidious Albion is always viewed here in “Eire” as a hammering. Hours later, at the after match gala dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel, the English captain John Pullin, whilst delivering his after dinner speech, brought the house down with the immortal words “we may not be any good, but at least we turn up!”
Having soldiered on Yahtzee, a Beneteau Oceannis 411 (often described as a floating hotel rather than a lean, mean, racing machine what with it’s eight berths, two heads with hot water showers and the obligatory wine cooler in the cockpit) for the last four seasons of ISORA, I feel this quote more than sums up how it feels to consistently soldier on at the back of the fleet with the likes of our good friends on Sarnia and a few other dedicated stalwarts – always turning up, always competing as hard and as honestly as the big boys up front, but ultimately always coming home long, long after the J’s and the First’s have finished, showered, dined and imbibed.