Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal attended the Cork Dry Gin Sailor of the Year Awards in the Old Jameson Distillery, Smithfield, Dublin, on Tuesday l7 February.
Noel BUTLER and Stephen CAMPION were presented with Ireland's most sought after sailing award, the Cork Dry Gin Sailor of the Year Award, by Princess Anne, at a ceremony which was attended by Ireland's top sailors.
Philippe SAVINEL welcomed guests to the Old Jameson Distillery, paying special thanks to the special guest of honour, "Irish Distillers is delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness and wishes to thank her for travelling to Dublin to present these prestigious sailing awards. Cork Dry Gin has a long and established relationship with the sport of sailing in Ireland and has supported and nurtured many sailing events over the years."
Recognising a remarkable season on home and foreign waters, in which Irish crews picked up several World and European titles, 24 Irish sailors were in the running for the big prize.
But it was the fairy tale ending to last year's world championship in Holland when comparative novices Noel BUTLER and Stephen CAMPION lifted the Laser II World Trophy for Ireland that swayed the judges to make Butler and Campion the Cork Dry Gin Sailors of the Year.
Butler, who only learned to race in l995 after attending an inspirational sailing lecture, went from zero to hero when he and Campion landed the world title from a fleet of 70 boats after a last race tactical duel where the Dublin based pair outwitted defending champions Kevin TEBOREK and Ryan DONAHUE of the United States.
Seen as the social highlight of the yachting year, the Cork Dry Gin Awards are run in association with Afloat Magazine and the Irish Independent. The awards are dubbed the "Oscars" of the Irish boating scene.
A panel of sailing journalists and administrators selected the winners, each of whom was presented with an inscribed cut glass ice bucket while the overall winner received an inscribed cut glass trophy.
The full list of Cork Dry Gin Sailor of the Month Awards 2003 are as follows:
Chris Clayton & Craig Martin, Cultra, Co. Down
David O'Brien, Irish Marine Federation
John Sheehy, Blackrock
Capt Tom McCarthy, Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Johnny Ross Murphy, Dalkey
Mark Mansfield and Killian Collins, Cork
Jim Barden, Dublin and Des McWilliam, Crosshaven, Cork
Tim Goodbody, Dun Laoghaire
Anthony Gore-Grimes, Howth
Eunice Kennedy, Cabinteely
Oliver Sheehy, Blackrock
John Killeen, Galway
Peter & Susan Gray, Dun Laoghaire
Noel Butler, Inchicore, and Stephen Campion, Dublin
David Burrows, Malahide, Dublin
John Gore-Grimes, Howth
Neil Hegarty, Cork
Damien Foxall, Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry
Gordon Maguire, Sutton