21 June, 2011


Sovereign’s Cup is upon us and racing is scheduled for four days starting 22nd June.

There are Quarter Tonners, IRC boats, White Sails, ECHO boats, big boats, small boats, old boats and new. Home boats and foreign boats and boats from Dublin too. But, and this is the big but, who will win the most prestigious trophy and the newest trophy on the Irish sailing scene?

The 100 entries that have come to Kinsale to race in the Sovereign's Cup regatta gathered in the yacht club for the welcome speeches of the organising committee, flag officers and local politicians. What they hadn't bargained on was hearing about a new trophy, the Michelle Dunne Prix d'Elegance.

What is the trophy and who was Michelle Dunne?

The new trophy, made of highly polished recycled stainless steel representing the sails, a spinnaker and a wave of a racing yacht, is called the Michelle Dunne Prix d’Elegance Trophy. It was presented by Michelle’s mother, Caroline Dunne, to Kinsale Yacht Club on the evening of 21st June at the opening party of the 2011 Sovereign’s Cup.

Whereas the Sovereign’s Cup itself is awarded to the winner of the week in IRC and the Portcullis Trophy is awarded to the winner in ECHO, the Michelle Dunne Prix d’Elegance Trophy will be won by the boat that…., well, according to event chairman Gary Horgan “the boat in the view of the organising committee that most deserves it”.

So will it be the boat that sailed the best and didn’t win, will it be the boat that was the best dressed, will it be the most stunning looking boat, will it be the boat that made the most gallant sporting gesture, or will it be the boat that travelled the furthest to be here?

Maybe one of those criteria might work, but maybe another thing will make the difference. The committee will decide. Can you wait to find out?

Michelle Dunne was quite simply a giant in Irish sailing circles. She was involved in everything, had endless energy and knew no frontiers to what she was motivated about. Anything to do with sailing and the sea at any level, be it the RNLI, youth sailing, disabled sailing, club activities, communications with the media, ….

Michelle passed on suddenly in 2007. But her memory will now be kept alive by the newest trophy in Irish sailing, certainly one of the most elegant, and what must be the most prestigious of trophies to win in the country.

Kinsale Yacht Club is honoured to be able to present this trophy - Michelle’s Trophy - at its flagship regatta every two years. The proud winner will have their name engraved on one of the most splendid trophies in the country and will get to take a keeper home too.

The big question is who is going to win it first, and what will the criteria have been? Somehow we have to believe that Michelle is up there now looking down on the fleet in Kinsale and deciding that herself.