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As Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta readies for its official launch on Wednesday, early bird numbers for for Ireland's biggest sailing regatta continue to grow with over half the expected total fleet of 400 boats now signed up, four months before the first gun on July 6.

It's a satisfying result for regatta chairman Tim Goodbody of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who will toast the ongoing success of the biennial event that first set sailed in 2005.

The biennial event is masterminded by all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs and has become the major sailing fixture on the Irish Sea.

This summer's edition will incorporate a 'Kingstown 200' Anniversary Cup marking the bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. A special classic boat regatta, shaping up to be the biggest of its kind in Irish waters, will sail as part of the four day event and includes a harbour 'Parade of Sail' on Saturday, July 8 as a highlight.

The strong flow of early entries were secured by a generous discount (of 30%) system if skippers enter before March 31st. When entries opened in December, 30 entries were received in the first week. By January, 18 boats from 180 entries listed were awarded a free entry after a draw among 'super early bird entries'.

The 232–boat entry so far is of course boosted by Dun Laoghaire's own local fleet but there is a big travelling contingent from across the Irish Sea too. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Man are all racing at Dun Laoghaire. This is on top of boats traveling from all four coasts of Ireland.

Goodbody says 'we have a number of National and Regional events within the overall regatta which makes it more attractive for many to travel and compete'.

VDLR 2017 Entries to date

ClassBoat NameSail NumberFirst NameSurnameHome Club
420   GBR 54979 Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club
420   IRL 56032 Nicola Ferguson National Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Small Wonder IRL 7007 Hugh Kelly Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 MonReve IRL2113 Brian Stewart Malahide Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Chinook IRL2121 Andrew Bradley Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Carousel 362 Derek Beddows Windemere Motor Boat Racing Club
Beneteau 211 Carna GBR4167L Stu Spence Clyde Cruising Club
Beneteau 211 Ventuno IRL 2111 Rowan Fogarty Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 211 Wild Thing IRL 1363 Louis Byrne Tralee Bay Sailing Club
Beneteau 211 Billy Whiz IRL2170 Pat Shannon Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Levante IRL3107 John Power National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Crazyhorse IRL2004 Frank Heath Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
Beneteau 31.7 Prospect Irl 1565 Chris Johnston National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Camira IRL 2474 Peter Beamish Royal Irish Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Extreme Reality IRL 6909 Lorcan Balfe National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Eauvation GBR7221T Jason Corlett Isle Of Man Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 Fiddly Bits IRL 5317 Bill Quigley National Yacht Club
Beneteau 31.7 (Scratch & ECHO) Bluefin Two IRL6662 Michael Bryson National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy Samphire none John Keogh Other...
Classic Dinghy No Name 10 Fiacc OBrolchain Other...
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Atomic 14/71 Donal Heney Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Dubious 14/134 Simon Revill Sutton Dinghy Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Doody 14/137 John Fitzgerald Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Starfish 38 Alan Carr Sutton Dinghy Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Diane 14/122 Brian Murphy Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Dunmoanin 140 Frank Hamilton Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Smurfette 14/126 Charles Sargent Sutton Dinghy Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 DART 161 Mr Long Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: IDRA 14 Sapphire 138 Lorcan O'Sullivan Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Aideen 21 Brendan Martin National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid The Message 185 Ross Galbraith Skerries Sailing Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Gentoo 186 Brian McNally Skerries Sailing Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Three Chevrons 119 Vincent Mc Cormack Foynes Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Lively Lady 73 Geraldine O'Neill National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Jill 134 Paul Smith Royal Irish Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Mermaid Tiller Girl 77 Jonathan O'Rourke National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Shannon One Design   178 Finn Murphy National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Chloe 34 Kate O'Leary Royal Irish Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Mollie 41 Cathy Mac Aleavey National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Mariposa 45 Claudine Murphy National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Little Tern 36 Tim Pearson Royal St George Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Swift 38 Guy Kilroy Royal Irish Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Marcia 37 Brendan McCormack National Yacht Club
Classic Dinghy: Waterwag Mademoiselle 46 Adam Winkelmann Royal Irish Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat Peggy Bawn - Watson 1894 Cutter None Hal Sisk Royal Irish Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat Drascombe Coaster - Tyboat IRL1640 Jack O'Keeffee Other...
Classic Keelboat: Howth 17 Eileen 16 Rima Macken Howth Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Howth 17 Oona 17 Peter Courtney Howth Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Howth 17 Aura 7 Ian Malcolm Howth Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Howth 17 Isobel 19 Conor Turvey Howth Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Howth 17 Silver Moon 5 Susan Morgan Howth Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Cornish Shrimper Purple Haze 369 Kevin Collins Sligo Yacht Club
Classic Keelboat: Cornish Shrimper Scallywag 750 Olivier Prouveur National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Checkmate XVIII GBR66R   Performance Solutions Ltd Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) White Mischief GBR1242R Richard Goodbody Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Rockabill VI IRL 10800 Paul O'Higgins Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) D-TOX IRL 13500 Patrick McSwiney Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Dux Irl988 Anthony Gore-Grimes Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Forty Licks GBR 4041R Jay Colville East Down Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Kamikaze IRL 8223 Peter Nash Royal St George Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Juggerknot IRL 3660 Andrew Algeo  
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Chimaera IRL2160 Andrew Craig Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Injenious GBR2728L Mike Crompton South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Checkmate XV IRL2016 David Cullen Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) RAPTOR IRL 811 DENIS HEWITT Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Jigamaree IR7991 Ronan Harris Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Eazi tiger 2909 Jonathan Oliver Liverpool Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) JACOB VII IRL3307 John Stamp Port Edgar Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) TRIPLE ELF FRA37296 Christine Murray Clyde Cruising Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Wynward irl307 McCormack Family Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Chase Me 397 John Raughter Bray Sailing Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) STARGAZER GBR4203 ANGUS CAMPBELL Arran Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Movistar Bleu GBR 8747 Raymond Killops Killyleagh Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Starflash GBR7149 Alan Morrison Ballyholme YC / Royal Ulster YC
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Cacciatore IRL8069 Mairead Ni Cheallachain National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Now or Never 3 GBR7667R Neill Sandford Fairlie Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Aurora GBR 7737R Roderick Stuart Clyde Cruising Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Indecision IRL 9898 Declan Hayes Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) TBA IRL1103 Kevin Darmody Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Alpaca IRL 35221 Paul & Deirdre Tingle Royal Cork Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Jump The Gun IRL 1129 John Kelly Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Prima Luce IRL 3504 Patrick Burke Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Ruthless IRL26026 Conor Ronan Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Challenger IRL6556 Paul Rossiter Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Fusion IRL2552 Richard Colwell Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) SOMETHING ELSE IRL 29213 JOHN HALL National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Samurai J GBR9292c Alan Macleod Cove Sailing Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Boomerang IRL1367 Family Kirwan Royal St George Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Jalapeno IRL5109 Paul Barrington National Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Maximus IRL 7495 Paddy Kyne Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Joker 2 IRL 1206 John Maybury Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) ShakerMaker GBR 7031T Austin Harbison Liverpool Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Apache 1192c Jonathan Gifford Quoile Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Dubious 1654 Peter Richardson Royal Cork YC / Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Fait accompli Gbr 7707 Charlie McAllister Antrim Boat Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Axiom IRL 3709 Michael O'Neill Royal Irish Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Happy GBR 9518 Ian Macdonald Clyde Cruising Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Carmen11 IRL 1666 Alan Jeffrey Helensburgh Sailing Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Running Wild IRL 9538 Brendan Foley Royal St George Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) Maranda 11 Myles Kelly Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) X-Rated IRL7066 John Gordon Mayo Sailing Club / Royal St George YC
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - 0.912 > TCC > 0.820 K-Nine IRL 9541 Enda Mulvihill Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - 0.912 > TCC > 0.820 Asterix 8245N Frazer Meredith Other...
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - 0.912 > TCC > 0.820 Kahera IRL9554 Russell Camier Malahide Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - 0.912 > TCC > 0.820 Autism on the Water GBR 749 Murray MacDonald Other...
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - 0.979 > TCC > 0.913 kodachi irl2706 Rick De Neve Howth Yacht Club
Cruiser (IRC & ECHO) - TCC > 0.980, LOA < 12m Powder Monkey 2 IRL28898 Christopher Moore Other...
Dragon DCision 195 Joey Mason Royal St George Yacht Club
Dragon ZinZan IRL 127 Tim Carpenter Royal Irish Yacht Club
Dragon Phantom 176 David Williams Royal St George Yacht Club
Fife PEGGY 14 Tak Kershaw Other...
Fife SIAN No 1 Richard Tudor Other...
Fife Fiona 41 Nicki Yates Other...
Fireball LICENCE TO THRILL IRL15007 LOUIS SMYTH Coal Harbour
Flying Fifteen Derranged IRL 3665 Neil Colin Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Flying Fifteen FFASTIDIOTS 3837 Peter Cronin National Yacht Club
Flying Fifteen Gruffalo IRL3864 Keith Poole National Yacht Club
Flying Fifteen Perfect Ten IRL3995 Alan Balfe National Yacht Club
Flying Fifteen No Name 4045 Gerry Ryan Other...
Glen Glen Luce G67 Richard O'Connor Royal St George Yacht Club
Glen GlenDun G9 David Houlton Royal St George Yacht Club
Glen Glenshesk G1 Liz Faulkner Royal St George Yacht Club
GP14 Trouble on the way TBA Curly Morris East Antrim Boat Club
GP14   14074 Cathal Sheridan Skerries Sailing Club
GP14 Kalaco 14130 Hugh Gill Sutton Dinghy Club
GP14   14116 Peter Boyle Sutton Dinghy Club
GP14   TBC Keith Louden Irish Sailing Association
GP14 Southern Wild 13353 Des MacMahon Cullaun Sailing Club
GP14   13782 Michael Collender Mullingar Sailing Club
GP14 Duffi 14047 JP McCladin Lough Erne Yacht Club / Sligo Yacht Club
GP14 Com-adee 14165 Neil Boyd Donaghadee Sailing Club
GP14 kylie 14133 Jack Buttimer Youghal Sailing Club
GP14   13852 Alan Pinder Mullingar Sailing Club
GP14   14138 SIMON CULLY Blessington Sailing Club
GP14 cloud nine 13981 Richard Street Blessington Sailing Club
GP14 None 14143 John McGuinness Moville Boat Club
GP14   14203 Shane MacCarthy Greystones Sailing Club
GP14 No Surprise 14144 Colman Grimes Skerries Sailing Club
GP14   14209 Richard Gallagher Lough Foyle Yacht Club
GP14 joe batts arm 13466 Matthew Street Blessington Sailing Club
GP14 Temerity 13977 Alan Blay Sutton Dinghy Club
J24 Jelignite IRL4218 Finbarr Ryan Lough Ree Yacht Club
J24 Hard on Port IRL 4794 Flor O'Driscoll Royal St George Yacht Club
J24 Jumpin' Jive IRL 3060 Mark Usher Greystones Sailing Club
J24 Jana 397 Gerard Gilligan Sligo Yacht Club
J24 Crazyhorse IRL4533 Martin Reilly Sligo Yacht Club
J24 Luder Too 4009 Gerard Brady Sligo Yacht Club
J24 Bád IRL4628 Steve Atkinson Carrickfergus Sailing Club
J24 YaGottaWanna IRL5098 Dave/Sinead Lane/Enright Royal Cork Yacht Club
Mermaid Maybe 191 Paddy Archer Other...
Mixed Sportsboats Supergroove GBR4100L Ronan Stack Arklow Sailing Club
Mixed Sportsboats Jester IRL 8750 Declan Curtin National Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Zelus IRL1540 Conor Maguire Royal Irish Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Jambiya GBR605 Vincent Lattimore Royal Irish Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats HYC 5 - Try Racing Team GBR 527 Noel Davidson Howth Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Pris IRL 1527 Colman Billings National Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Big Bad Wolf 1793 David Ryan Royal Irish Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Jheetah IRL 070 Andrew Sarratt Royal Irish Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Merlin IRL 1818 Ian Cummins Royal Irish Yacht Club
Mixed Sportsboats Finding Saoirse 1773 National Yacht Club National Yacht Club
Moth DBS IRL 3632 Jim Devlin Royal St George Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Act Two IRL4250 Michael O'Leary Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Vespucci IRL1502 Sean & Kristina O'Regan Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Poppy GBR4183 John Roberts Whitehaven Sailing & Boating Association
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Edenpark IRL1166 Liam Farmer Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Spirit 3950 Colin O'Brien Royal St George Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Just Jasmin IRL3506 Philip Smith Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Persistance 8237 Charles Broadhead Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser REBELLION IRL 6001 John J. Hughes Hughes National Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Calypso IRL5643 Howard Knott Royal St George Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Katienua IRL 2035 Conor Mc Guinness Royal St George Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser cevantes irl 932 Paul Conway Royal St George Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser The Great Escape IRL 1217 Patrick Rigney Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Afternoon Delight IRL 3202 Michael Bennett Royal Irish Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Bite the Bullet 3335 C Colm Bermingham Howth Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser White Lotus IRL 1333 Paul Tully Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Nyamadzi Smc9 Frank Fegan Bray Sailing Club
Non-Spinnaker Cruiser Nirvana IRL3104 Bernard Neeson Royal St George Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) AQUAPLANE GBR7878L Mark Thompson Pwllheli Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Mojito GBR9047R Peter Dunlop Pwllheli Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Aurelia IRL35950 Chris & Patanne Power Smith Royal St George Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Black Velvet IRL 3471 Leslie Parnell Royal Irish Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Pleione of Dee GBR3573L Derek R Matthews Royal Dee Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Warrior IRL8478 Dave Shanahan Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Magic Touch IRL 44444 Steve Hayes Bray Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) WOW IRL4208 George Sisk Royal Irish Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Pipedreamer VI GBR2271L Paul Sutton Holyhead Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Lively Lady IRL 1644 Derek Martin Royal Irish Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Tsunami IRL4007 Vincent Farrell National Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Ulula GBR8911R Nick Ogden Liverpool Yacht Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Sgrech GBR9036 Stephen Tudor Pwllheli Sailing Club
Offshore Cruiser (IRC) Jackknife GBR8859R Andrew Hall Pwllheli Sailing Club
Ruffian 23 Alias 525 Martin McCarthy National Yacht Club
Ruffian 23 Bandit IRL3333 Ann Kirwan National Yacht Club
Ruffian 23 Ruff Diamond IRL 155 John Dooney Sailing in Dublin
Ruffian 23 Ruff Justice IRL 404 Pat O'Dowd Royal Irish Yacht Club
SB20 Smoke on the Water IRL3320 Bob Hobby Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
SB20 SACREBLEU 3164 RICHARD HAYES Royal Irish Yacht Club
SB20 Alert Packaging 3717 Justin Burke National Yacht Club
SB20 venuesworld.com IRL 3739 Ger Dempsey Royal Irish Yacht Club
Shipman   IR 270 Derek Madden  
Shipman Barossa IRL753 Stuart Trotter Royal Irish Yacht Club
Shipman Bluefin 1223 Brendan Finucane National Yacht Club
Shipman INVADER IRL3221 Gerard Glynn Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Shipman Viking IRL 409 Dr Fergus Mason Royal St George Yacht Club
Shipman Viking IRL 409 Brian Glynn Royal St George Yacht Club
Shipman The Den 507 Aisling Costello Royal Cork YC / Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
Shipman Jo Slim 528 John D Clarke Royal St George Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Legless Again GBR4348 Dave Hughes Liverpool Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Springer IRL 4464 Ian Bowring Royal St George Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Elandra IRL4536 Joe Conway Royal Irish Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Gwili Two IRL 4534 Dermot Clarke Royal Irish YC / Royal St George YC
Sigma 33 Sea-Pie of Cultra GBR 4254 Jeremy Colman Manx Sailing & Cruising Club
Sigma 33 Leaky Roof 2 GBR 4607 Alan Harper Cove Sailing Club
Sigma 33 Rupert IRL 4518 Richard Lovegrove Royal St George Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Leeuwin IRL 971 Henry Leonard Royal Irish Yacht Club
Sigma 33 Whit mischief Irl 4633 John Doyle Arklow Sailing Club
Sigma 33 Squawk GBR 8148 Paul Prentice Ballyholme YC / Royal Ulster YC
Sigma 33 Obsession 4513 John Dooney Sailing in Dublin
Sigma 33 Partisan K5690 Dan Lewis Neyland Yacht Club
Squib FOX 738 Michael Moran Royal St George Yacht Club
Squib TOY for the boys 818 PETER WALLACE Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
Squib Tears in Heaven 869 Michele Halpenny Royal Irish Yacht Club / National Yacht Club
Squib Periquin 48 Noel Colclough Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Squib Little Demon 95 Sheila Power Royal St George Yacht Club
Waterwag Marie Louise 9 John J Magner Royal Irish Yacht Club
Waterwag peggy 47 David Corcoran National Yacht Club
Wayfarer Mistral II W10935 Margie Crawford East Down Yacht Club
Wayfarer ANAMCARA 10952 John Turner Ramor Watersports Club
Wayfarer Seadhna 10826 Margaret Hynes Cullaun Sailing Club
Wayfarer Lakka 11152 Monica Schaefer Greystones Sailing Club
Wayfarer Lightning W10934 Seamus O'Cleirigh Greystones Sailing Club
Published in Volvo Regatta

Ireland will be the base for the Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII Half Ton campagin this season with a programme that includes the ICRA Nationals, Sovereigns Cup, Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the Half Ton Cup in Kinsale.

In a previous Irish campaign, Biggs was the overall winner of the 2013 'Boat of the Week' at a massive Dun Laoghaire Regatta edition with seven straight wins in class two.

Biggs's 'new' Half–Tonner that is currently very much a work in progress (see photo above) is the old Emiliano Zapata, ex Dick Dastardly, ex French Beret, ex Concorde from 1985. As with his previous two successful half–tonners (Harmony and Checkmate XV) she has been 'breathed on' by Wicklow yacht designer Mark Mills with a revised sailplan and keel. All the work is being undertaken at his team base near Bangor in North Wales and he anticipates launching early May.

Having campaigned his C&C 30 in the US in the US last year, (debuting in Dun Laoghaire in 2015) Biggs say his 12–year–old daughter had been nagging him to get a boat over this side of the Atlantic so she could sail with him more often. 'What father could refuse such a request?' he told Afloat.ie

Checkmate XVIII boat will be sailed by his usual team, some of whom have sailed together for over 20 years and some of whom have only joined over the last couple of years ( Dun Laoghaire's Adam Hyland and Cian Guilfoyle) plus his daughter, of course.

Published in ICRA

There could well be as many opinions as to what constitutes a true classic or traditional boat as there are owners of these often highly individual craft. As part of the celebration of the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour – where the first stone was officially laid by the Viceroy on 31st May 1817 - the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 (it’s from July 6th to 9th) will be including a Classics, Traditional and Old Gaffer section. This will, in addition to putting extra emphasis on older classes already regularly involved such as the Glens, the Mermaids, the Howth 17s, the IDRA 14s and the Water Wags, be extending a welcome to older boats of other types, and to classic classes from Ireland and around the Irish Sea. W M Nixon reports on progress in this special feature of a very attractive new dimension to Ireland’s biggest sailing event.

If you want anything done in introducing a new twist to sailing, make Cathy MacAleavey the organiser of the special sub-committee in charge of moving things along. And if you want to be sure things are going in the right direction as regards classics and traditional craft, make sure that that Hal Sisk is being consulted and will be personally involved in one or maybe all of his classic craft, for the contribution he has made to the appreciation of our boat heritage in Ireland is unmatched.

Former Olympic sailor and round Ireland record holder Cathy is now herself very much a mover and shaker in the classics, as she has built a Water Wag and a Shannon One Design working alongside the great Jimmy Furey of Leecarrow in Roscommon, and races regularly in both classes.

On being appointed to this completely new post last Autumn by top honcho Tim Goodbody, Chair of the overall Organising Committee, one of the first things she remembered was that while taking part in the Glandore Classics some years ago, she’d been much taken with the Fife One Designs from the Menai Straits, little gems some 24ft 6ins LOA whose design origins go back to 1926, and have been thriving as a class since the 1930s.

Royal Anglesey Fife yachtsThe Royal Anglesey Fifes racing in the Menai Straits. Although the class was first designed in 1926, and gained full strength early in the 1930s, this will be their first visit to Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Ian bradley
These days they hunt as a pack and many of them are well organised for road trailing, so on the assumption that they would be heading to the Glandore Classics 2017 on July 23rd, she sent an email to class chairman Richard Tudor suggesting that they might like to take in Dun Laoghaire on the way. It turns out that they won’t be at Glandore in late July as they’re expected to take part in the four yearly Celtic Festival in the Menai Straits at much the same time. But their diary was reasonably clear for the 6th to 9th of July and the Dun Laoghaire festivities, and they’re coming to race for the new Kingstown Cup big time.

This is doubly interesting, for they’re very much a William Fife design and only six inches shorter than the Alfred Mylne-designed Glens, yet the two comparable classes have never raced in the same event. Needless to say the chances of an inter-fleet race in Dun Laoghaire is now high on the agenda.

Alfred Mylne Glen Class  yachtAn Alfred Mylne-designed Glen Class OD on her home waters of Dublin Bay in the kind of conditions everyone hopes for in July 2017.

 Glen yacht dublin bayThe Glen class neatly demonstrate their need for traditional moorings in their allocated area off the Royal St George YC

Howth 17 traditional yachtThe 1898 Howth 17s will be coming in force from Howth, but they’ve adapted the programme to suit their needs, with a race from Howth to Dun Laoghaire on the Friday, a full day’s racing on the Saturday, a morning race on the Sunday, and then a race home after the prize-giving ceremony.

So at a stroke, Cathy had given wings to the new event. But at the same time she was casting a fly over Hal Sisk, against whom she regularly races in the Water Wags, but who had his 1894 Watson-designed, Hilditch-built 36ft classic gaff cutter Peggy Bawn on the market, as more than ten years have elapsed since his team completed the wellnigh perfect restoration of this boat in 2005.

Peggy Bawn had been based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour continuously since 1919, and then after her restoration, she became a much-admired feature in classic regattas on both sides of the Atlantic. To say that Hal Sisk has done his duty by her is under-stating the case, yet when Cathy approached him about making Peggy Bawn the centrepiece of the VDLR Classics Regatta, he said he’d already decided to do so, and was looking forward to it very much.

Peggy Bawn yachtPeggy Bawn in her newly-restored form in 2005. Anyone contemplating a similar project should spend hours studying this image……Photo W M Nixon

While all this was going on in the background, one of the members of Cathy’s sub-committee, Guy Kilroy, was constructing a database of all the classic and traditional classes within Ireland or within reasonable reach. Although most of them are very location-specific and few have the trailers for a long road journey, you just never know who might be swept up in the general enthusiasm for an event which is really beginning to buzz, and certainly the exotic Shannon One Designs will be turning up in strength.

Meanwhile, there’s the mysterious territory which is the Old Gaffer’s Association, which came into being in 1963 when people realised there wasn’t any organisation looking after the needs of boats which weren’t really classics in the strictest sense, yet fitted into so many other categories that they almost defied definition.

Ironically, the OGA was founded in the very year that Dublin Bay’s perfect exemplars of the gaff-rigged racing cutter, the Dublin Bay 21s, changed over to Bermudan rig. Yet as the 2013 Golden Jubilee Round Britain and Ireland cruise of the OGA showed, the Old Gaffers thrive as never before. And as it happened, in 2015 and 2016 the President of the overall Old Gaffers Association was Dun Laoghaire’s own Sean Walsh, owner-skipper of the very gaff-rigged Heard 28 Tir na nOg.

But Sean was due to stand down as President in London in January 14th 2017 – last weekend, in other words. Fortunately, there was just time to convene a meeting of key people before that happened, and a gathering in the NYC of Sean Walsh, Dublin Bay OGA President Denis Aylmer, Ian Malcolm of the Howth Seventeen and Water Wag classes, and Cathy MacAleavey and her husband Con Murphy, did a lot to improve mutual understanding and clarify the in-port needs of Old Gaffers, which are different from those of Classics, which are in turn very different from those of easily-manoeuvred modern craft with auxiliary engines.

old gaffers association dun aloghaireA meeting of minds. At the key gathering to assess the needs of the Old Gaffers Association were (left to right) Denis Aylmer (President Dublin Bay OGA), Sean Walsh (President, OGA), Ian Macolm (Howth 17 and Water Wag classes), Cathy MacAleavey, and Con Murphy. Photo: W M Nixon

Even before Sean and his team had left for London for the OGA changeover, the word had come through from Paul Keogh, skipper of the Clondalkin community-owned-and-built full-size Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan, that he and his crew would be delighted to take part in Dun Laoghaire in July.

This was another key decision, for the Naomh Cronan is now the only full-sized traditional Galway type on the Irish Sea. But while the great hooker voyager Paddy Barry now sails the seas in a 45ft Frers-designed cutter, it was also confirmed that he too would be taking part, as crew aboard Sean Walsh’s Tir n nOg.

Galway Hooker Naomh CronanThe Clondalkin community-built Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan. Her commitment to the Dun Laoghaire Traditional regatta has greatly encouraged the organisers. Photo: W M Nixon

Heard 28 Tir n nOg yachtSean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir n nOg in racing mode. In Dun Laoghaire in July 2017, his crew will include legendary Galway hooker voyager Paddy Barry. Photo: Dave Owens

So the main building blocks of a great event are now going into place, and it’s a matter of building on this sound foundation. With the organisers fully aware of the need to provide proper liaison officers for each special group or class, the need for designated berthing between the Carlisle Pier and the East Pier is also being addressed, as it is the most suitable space, and has the bonus of providing the best possible public view of some of the most interesting-looking boats around.

Thus invitations are on their way to the likes of Scott and Ruth Metcalfe with their characterful schooner Vilma on the Menai Straits, and Mike Clark with his traditional Manx nobby White Heather at Peel in the Isle of Man.

Menai Straits-based schooner VilmaThe Menai Straits-based schooner Vilma (Scott & Ruth Metcalf) is exactly the kind of vessel the Dun Laoghaire event is aimed at. Photo: W M Nixon

Manx Nobby White HeatherMike Clark’s Manx Nobby White Heather
At the other end of the Isle of Man is Joe Pennington with his restored Manx longliner Master Frank, an asset to any regatta, while across in Strangford Lough Dickie Gomes may have his 1912-built 36ft Kearney yawl Ainmara on the market after 51 years of ownership, but if she doesn’t move he says he is on for Dun Laoghaire.

For several years. Ainmara was Dun Laoghaire-based, but the Dun Laoghaire class which everyone would most particularly welcome back would be the Dublin Bay 24s which raced in the bay from 1947 to 2004. Here’s a rough-cut vid from their final race in the bay in 2004, since then they’ve been taken to Brittany in hope of restoration, but only one has had the complete job done. Originally called Periwinkle, she is now re-named Grace, and is based at Douarnenez, but if she could be persuaded back to Dublin Bay for July 2017, who knows what doors might be opened.

Dublin Bay 24 yacht Grace PeriwinkleThe restored Dublin Bay 24 Grace (ex-Periwinkle) is now reported to be based in Douarnenenz, but she would be very welcome back in Dublin Bay

Boats of a very different kind came centre stage many years ago in another Hal Sisk initiative, the Bantry Boats built to the design of the ship’s longboat left behind in Bantry after the unsuccessful French invasion of 1796. From the new involvement came the Atlantic Challenge, and you’ll find Bantry Boats at many ports, though there are few enough of them in Ireland. But the Dun Laoghaire festivities would provide an ideal opportunity for them, as the final day of the regatta, Sunday 9th July, is also being pencilled in for a full-on traditional rowing competition for the East Coast Skiffs.

Pembrokeshire Bantry Boat The Pembrokeshire Bantry Boat sailing off the coast of southwest Wales. Some racing for these very special craft is another proposal for the Dun Laoghaire regatta

In fact, with so much effort being made to provide proper waterfront facilities in Dun Laoghaire, it’s a case of the more the merrier, and another interesting vessel whose management have indicated positive interest is the Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen, currently nearing completion of her restoration through the Ilen Boat Building School of Limerick at Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt near Baltimore.

Ilen is due to be launched in April and will be in full commission by July. The very fact of having a complete suit of new sails will make her look better than she ever has since she was built in 1927, and if she does turn up to Dun Laoghaire welcome, it will be a very different boat from the tired-looking vessel at the end of her working days in the Falkands, the vessel which was finally, thanks to Gary MacMahon’s initiative, returned to Ireland in 1998.

In other words, so many ideas are flying around about the fresh shapes and new vitality that the Kingstown Bicentenary can add to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta that all things are possible.

Conor O’Brien ketch IlenThe Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen towards the end of her working days in the Falkland Islands. In fully restored form, she is expected to launch in April of this year, and may well include the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in her 2017 programme. Photo courtesy Ilen Boatbuilding School

Published in W M Nixon

'ISORA is at the cutting edge of race management' said ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan in the 2016 ISORA AGM and dinner which was held in the National Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire on Saturday 12th November.

The offshore body is on a high after a record season and a post season survey gave a thumbs–up to the Irish Sea scene. As Afloat.ie reported, more than half of survey respondents are regular offshore racers.

At the AGM it was agreed that the ISORA 2017 race schedule would star the Classics 'Dun Laoghaire to Dingle' Race in June.

The 'RORC Lyver Trophy' race will form part of the Royal Dee Yacht Club's Offshore Championship with the coastal races in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July whilst the race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli would be a great feeder race for the IRC Welsh National Championships hosted in Pwllheli in August.

The AGM also confirmed the use of auto helms in ISORA races and that the race schedule is designed to encourage new participants into the Irish Sea offshore scene from both sides of the channel with two coastal series and a good mix of race ports. Peter also confirmed that 'Virtual marks, combined with the latest Avery Crest YB Trakers would provide exciting and imaginative courses which could also feature virtual start lines and finishes'

At the spectacular prize-giving Sgrech, skippered by Afloat's Sailor of the Month for September Stephen Tudor, was confirmed the Offshore Champions for the third time and collected the prestigeous RDYC Wolf's Head Trophy.

Published in ISORA

The only non-elitist thing about the Olympic Games is the fact that all countries – however large or small – are treated equally. A small country like Ireland is entitled to exactly the same number of places in competition as the superstates like the US or China. But apart from that, if any country’s national authority in any Olympic discipline is not treating its selected athletes as a pampered elite as an Olympic year arrives, then it is wasting everyone’s time. That’s how it should be in an Olympic year. But things definitely aren’t the same in the three clear years between each Olympiad. W M Nixon looks ahead to a completely different type of season in 2017.

Irish sailing had a good 2016 Olympics. Our waterborne elite did well - they did us proud. And the Irish national sailing season of 2016 – as we saw in last weekend’s review here – was special in many ways, for on top of Olympic success we staged two major world dinghy championships, witnessed perhaps the best ever Volvo Round Ireland Race, and brought home both silver and bronze medals from world youth championships.

That was how it was in 2016. But for 2017, we look forward to a very different kind of sailing year, in which everyone has the chance to be a star at local level, and our Olympic achievers and international medallists will be sailing as ordinary competitors along with everyone else.

Annalise Murphy Moth Dinghy Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy racing her foiling Moth, with which she is expected to compete in the Cork Dinghy Fest at the end of June. Photo: VDLR

In these circumstances, it’s intriguing to look at some of the events which will set the tone for the coming year. And if by some chance you’re feeling jaded as we sink into the depths of winter, rest assured that it’s an absolute tonic to talk with the voluntary organisers who are heading up the groups which are putting together the various packages which will provide sailing happenings of all sizes from one end of the country to the other.

These people have a level of infectious enthusiasm which, if you could bottle it, would make you a fortune. Their zest in our sport, and their joy in boats and the sailing of them, is a wonder to behold. And they’re so keen on it that they’re prepared to put in so very many hours of their free time – hours beyond measure, in fact – in administrative effort, that it would put many professional organisers to shame.

Such enthusiasm can bring its own special problems. Every sailing centre round the coast and on the lakes will expect its share of the action. So inevitably there will be a clashing of dates which will make for difficult choices for crews who had specific programmes in mind. But this morning, we’re not in the mood to beat the drum about ruthlessly rationalising the national programme. Let’s just tell you what’s happening, and you can draw your own conclusions and plan out your own season.

That said, the big one is undoubtedly the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from the 6th to 9th July. 2015’s staging of this biennial festival experienced a quantum leap in the scale and scope of the event. Somehow, it moved onto a new plane. Under the chairmanship of Tim Goodbody, the organising committee built on the efforts of previous years, and the resulting myriad of sailing became a wonder to behold, and a joy to take part in. The plan for 2017 is to make it even better.

This outline hints at the scale of the event which will take place in July:

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017

Racing open to 30 Classes.

Incorporating the following Championships:-

· Royal Dee Yacht Club Irish Sea Offshore Championship
· Sigma 33 and Wayfarer National Championships
· Beneteau 211 Irish Championship
· GP14 and 420 Leinster Championships
· SB20 Southern Championship
· J24 & Squib East Coast Championships

Celebrating 200 years of Dun Laoghaire Harbour:

The Kingstown 200 Trophy for the best classic keelboat/dinghy.

NOR and Online Entry will open mid November (Monday November 14th).

Super Early Bird Entry Prize Draw: All entries received and paid for in full by 31 December 2016 will automatically be entered into a Super Early Bird Prize Draw and 10% of these lucky people will have their Entry Fee refunded.

To get the flavour of it, a chat with Organising Chairman Tim Goodbody at mid-week brought everything to life. That said, he was in a thoughtful mood, as that morning he had sold his much-loved Sigma 33 White Mischief after seventeen very happy and successful years. This enthusiasm in talking about their boats was found to be a shared characteristic of all the voluntary organisers, something which those who think the future of sailing lies in group-owned professionally-maintained boats might like to ponder.

Be that as it may, the J/109 class in Ireland will be taking on board the fact that their newest star entrant Tim Goodbody is now a hundred per cent J/109 man. For until he was comfortable in the knowledge that his Sigma 33 White Mischief had gone to a good home (she has found a lucky owner in Arklow), you had the feeling that a tiny bit of his mind was elsewhere as he campaigned the new White Mischief, a J/109.

Tim Goodbody J109No longer a fleet owner…..Tim Goodbody’s J/109 White Mishcief is now his only racing steed. Photo: Afloat.ie
That said, he was frequently on the podium in the new class, but for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 the rest of his crew will have to race as best they can without him, for he throws himself so thoroughly into heading up the large army of VDLR volunteers – with Ciara Dowling as an awesomely effective Executive Secretary – that there simply isn’t the time to think of campaigning in one of the hottest of the 30 classes as well.

A look at the heights of the 2017 programme shows how it is quite an achievement for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 to be the peak event at home, and it also reveals the difficulty for planning a programme for your boat and crew which will keep everyone – including the Commodore of your home club – in a happy frame of mind.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta PrizegivingPrize winners at the conclusion of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015. Adrian Yeates, CEO Volvo Car Ireland, is at centre, overall winner George Sisk is left centre, and Tim Goodbody, Chairman Organising Committee, is second right. Photo VDLR

This list is by no means complete, but if you haven’t firmed up your club or association schedule by November, you’re not going to be taken seriously, as November is traditionally the month when the next year’s Corinthian crewing programmes take shape.

2017 Preliminary Programme

March 25th Horizon Energy Group PY1000 in Owenabue River at Crosshaven (RCYC)

May 26th – May 29th Scottish Series (Clyde Cruising Club)

June 3rd Lambay Races (Howth)

June 9th- June 11th ICRA Nats (Royal Cork)

June 14th Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (National YC)

June 21st to 24th Sovereigns Cup (Kinsale)

June 30th – July 2nd Cork Dinghy Fest 2017

July 6th to 9th Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

July 6th to 8th WIORA Championship, Aran Islands

July 23rd to 28th Glandore Classics

August 1st to 4th Calves Week (Schull)

August 6th 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race

August 14th – 18th Half Ton Classic Worlds (Kinsale)

October 21st Rolex Middle Sea Race

We happen to know about the first rather esoteric major event on the programme, the PY 1000 dinghy race in the Owenabue River at Crosshaven on March 25th, thanks to the enthusiasm of Nicholas O’Leary of Royal Cork. He’s back on home ground and busy with being the third generation of his family in the energetic and imaginative organisation and promotion of sailing.

The Horizon Energy Group PY 1000 is a come-all-ye for dinghies using the Portsmouth Yardstick handicap. And they don’t mess about with prizes – there’s €1,000 on it. As the tides suit, they’ll be using the full available length and breadth of the Owenabue River between Crosser and Carrigaline in a crazy sailing project to blow the winter cobwebs away, and it will be a useful training for ogranisational energy levels as young O’Leary puts his team through their paces in training for the Cork Dinghy Fest at the end of June.

Feva dinghy racingRS Fevas in a National Championship on Lough Ree. They’ll be gathering with other classes in Cork at the end of June 2017
Like Tim Goodbody, he can be slightly sentimental about his boats – in his case, it was seeing an old and much-loved Optimist he’d once raced which fired him up to spread the news. An email from him this week gets the flavour of Nicholas O’Leary’s approach to sailing:

“Top of the organisational agenda is taking on the Dinghy Festival at the end of June on behalf of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and the dinghy fraternity of Ireland and beyond. My good friend Marty O’Leary is chairman of the RS Class in Ireland, and we will again welcome three fleets from under his wing - The RS200 for their Nationals and the RS400 and Feva Southerns.

The array of dinghy classes within Ireland concentrate on doing their own calendar year after year. This is a huge undertaking and requires massive dedication by class captains, regional reps and the clubs that host. The Dinghy Fest takes the stress off such class reps for one of many events they would normally have to organise, and brings together the masses into one harbour to enjoy great racing and great craic ashore, particularly as it provides socialising with friends they haven’t seen due to other class commitments.

We are working on connections within the variety of classes nationwide, and one exciting grouping that we’re planning is an Extreme Fleet. To see one 49er screaming across Cork Harbour is a sight, but we plan to have one race course dedicated to an entire fleet of fast dinghies, with the foiling Moths - where we hope to see Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy racing against her coach Rory Fitzpatrick - as well as 29ers and 49ers, and the Cat class, with the Catamarans demonstrating their viable concept of mixed craft racing on the one race track, and results divided thereafter.

I know this Extreme Fleet will open the eyes of young sailors to see that there is life after an Optimist, 420, Laser or whatever fleet they are currently in, and that fast fun boats are accessible classes, alive within Irish waters. I sincerely think it’s very important for the future of youth sailing that they enjoy it, finding a class they are happy in rather than being marched up to the gates of a pathway and pushed through. Those who enjoy the sport will stay in the sport. If they excel to greater heights, then so much the better, but that shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all for everyone.

I don’t believe the success of an event is within its number of entries, but in its quality of racing provided. That is why my old housemate and current ISA Champion of Champions Alex Barry is joining our team in an advisory role to keep the high standard of racing up to scratch, and in line with what we would expect when racing Worldwide. I look forward to developments in the months to come, and will of course keep everyone updated with sailing news from near and far.”

29er in flight. Nicholas O’Leary, organiser for Cork Dinghy Fest 2017, hopes that the presence of 29ers will encourage more young sailors to realize that boats like this aren’t only for the elite29er in flight. Nicholas O’Leary, organiser for Cork Dinghy Fest 2017, hopes that the presence of 29ers will encourage more young sailors to realize that boats like this aren’t only for the elite

So the dinghies of Ireland have the good example of somebody thinking in a far-sighted and coherent way. But with the offshore racers, the picture is as ever more complex. Yet it’s for sure we’re interested in the Scottish Series out on its own in May, as we provide the ex-Pat overall winner Dara O’Malley (originally from Westport, he’s Edinburgh-based) with his Hunter 707 Seaword in 2016, while regular contender John Hall from the National YC won Class 2 with his J/109 Something Else.

But in June things get mighty complicated, as there are two major cruiser-racer championships in Cork with a clear fortnight between them, yet during that fortnight the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race gets under way.

However, if you talk with the enthusiasts involved in organising any of these events, it all seems very manageable. Paul Tingle who is chairman to organise the ICRA Nats at Royal Cork from June 9th to 11th has recently moved from campaigning a Corby 25 with family and friends to the comparatively luxurious yet equally competitive surrounds of an X 34 which will also be called Alpaca. He sees the ICRA Nats at Crosshaven from June 9th to 11th as offering the special cachet of a National Championship in a manageable package. And at the end of it your boat is conveniently placed to be moved to Kinsale the following weekend for the time-honoured Sovereign’s Cup series the weekend after (June 21st-24th)

kinsale marina Kinsale is pulling out all the stops to make the Sovereign’s Cup fleet welcome from June 21st to 24th.
In fact, Paul Tingle and his counterpart at the Sovereign’s, Kevin Murray of Kinsale, are coming up with all sorts of ingenious suggestions for getting the boats from Crosshaven to Kinsale, ranging from a passage race to a simple offer to provide voluntary delivery crews. The thinking is that some crews and owners will welcome the opportunity for a weekend off to score some brownie points on the home front. But however they get to Kinsale, the participants in the Sovereign’s will find that the entire town is behind the event, which is very much aimed at being a fun happening.

Freed from the constraints of the IRC limitations within ICRA, Kinsale YC can open the door to sportsboats and even inshore keelboat classes, should they be so interested, and the emphasis is going to be very much on a regatta atmosphere rather than the more serious mood of a national championship.

Meanwhile, take note that the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is on a Wednesday evening – June 14th – not the Friday evening as in 2015. The feeling is that in these demanding times, it make more sense to slip away from business cares on a Thursday and Friday to get comfortably finished racing by Sunday and probably earlier, rather than arrive in the office exhausted on a Tuesday after a 380-mile race which finished in the small hours of Monday morning. Last time round, it was J boats of several sizes which dominated, with the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth winning from sister-ship Mojito, but maybe in 2017 some other marque will get a look in.

For July, an east-west divide arose in planning the programme, when the fascinating concept of a West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association Championship on the Aran islands made the discovery that out in Kilronan, each summer weekend is spoken for in terms of hosting some major island festival. Thus the only clear one they could offer hyper-keen Atlantic Way sailor Cormac MacDonnacha of WIORA was July 8th & 9th, and as his fleet will be wanting to make their way home along the Atlantic seaboard on the Sunday, the WIORA Championship 2017 is July 6th to 8th. It will make for a painful decision for some crews who had hoped to go east for the big one in Dun Laoghaire taking place at exactly the same time.

The Rolex Fastnet Race next year is earlier in August than it has been for some time, going off on Sunday August 6th. And among the fleet will be an Irish boat defending a trophy won in 2015, the Jeanneau 37 Desert Star skippered by Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire. Desert Star was right on the podium among the many Irish boats in the previous race, and she was also overall winner of the Sailing Schools trophy, besting 32 other boats.

Fastnet rock yachtsDesert Start round the rock during the Rolex Fastnet Race of 2015, on her way to winning the Sailing Schools Division in a fleet of 33 yachts. Photo: Rolex

This was a notable success which underlined just how significant the concept of Fastnet Race experience has become in the definition of genuine seagoing ability. The camaraderie which developed among Desert Star’s crew of rookies from an extraordinary variety of backgrounds was heart-warming to behold, and it’s something which many wish to experience and share.

It’s very much what we hope for 2017, as it’s the perfect example of sailing for more ordinary folk rather than top level competition for superstars. So as we snuggle down into winter with just the special Frostbite, Brass Monkey and Turkey Shoot races available for those who want the occasional quick taste of sailing all year round, spare a thought for those dedicated souls who are so keen to get involved that they’ll go to sea just whenever they can, and that includes going offshore in the depths of winter.

For those dreamily contemplating next season from a comfortable armchair in front of a roaring fire, here’s a thought-provoking email I received last Sunday from Ronan O Siochru:

“We are flying downwind with a poled-out headsail
and double reefed main, 30 knots behind us in absolutely glorious sunshine
from Kilkeel back to Dun Laoghaire.
The guys are after sailing 500 miles in six days, and have been to Wales, the Isle
of Man, England, and Northern Ireland. We have also experienced the raw energy
of the North Channel and the Scottish sea state in November as we headed up to
Cambeltown on the Mull of Kintyre.

They are getting some of the most intense, gruelling training in difficult
conditions - cold, 16 hours of darkness each day, and sometimes very fast-changing weather. We haven’t seen another sailing boat in 500 miles, as we
 left Dun Laoghaire in the dark and haven’t been back since.

They are doing serious training, and are learning so fast they are
really closing in on many so called 'experienced’ sailors who have been
sailing for decades.

They are an interesting group coming from a variety of backgrounds, a
totally international crew, and all guys on this occasion - Irish, French, English, Italian and a Canadian. Their reasons for being here range from a Canadian naval architect looking to learn to
sail, to a Frenchman taking early retirement with a dream to cash in his
pension to buy a catamaran and do charters in the Caribbean.
And there are a few young bucks
keen to avoid university, and instead sink their teeth into a grittier more active
career……The course has been running since 3rd September, and culminates in the RYA
 Yachtmaster Offshore exam on the 26th November. Meanwhile, roll on 2017. The Fastnet calls.”

Yacht CrewA selfie by Fastnet Race class winner Ronan o Siochru with his crew of trainee yachtmasters as they experience their first easy sailing on the final leg last Sunday from Kilkeel to Dun Laoghaire.

Published in W M Nixon

It could be argued that Dun Laoghaire Harbour has never been completely finished writes W M Nixon. To varying degrees, it has always been Work in Progress. Construction started in 1817, yet it was maybe all of twenty or even thirty years before the basic shape of the harbour as we know it today had been finally created. But in 1821 there was enough of a new pier in existence for King George IV to visit and re-name it the Royal Harbour of Kingstown.

By 1828 there was enough shelter available to provide the setting for the first staging of a regatta, and by 1834 the pioneering railway line to Dublin was in existence to accelerate Kingstown’s development as a seaside town and ferry port. Initially, it had been envisaged solely as an Asylum Harbour for Royal Navy and other government vessels seeking shelter in southeasterly gales in Dublin Bay. The ferry port and the rapid growth of a town had not been in the original plan. But ship-owners and property developers had other notions, as they usually do, and the ferries were there from the start.

 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828

By 1850, both the Royal St George and Royal Irish Yacht Clubs were in existence on the waterfront to provide focal points for the development of sport afloat, and then the cross-channel ferries – which had been making do as best they could with berths along the East Pier – were in 1859 provided with proper berths at the new Carlisle Pier, with direct rail connections.

The Edward Yacht Club – now the National Yacht Club – came into being in 1870 between the Carlisle Pier and the East Pier. However, although the overall outer shape of the harbour was by now finalised, as an 1870s plan to put an extra island breakwater across the rather exposed northeast-facing entrance was never implemented, within the harbour re-shaping of the waterfront continued.

dun laoghaire harbour victorian times It has been suggested that temporary moorings for a fleet of Classics could best be laid in this area – seen here around 1895 – off the National Yacht Club

dublin_bay_24Last of the glory days. The Dublin Bay 24s in their final season in Dun Laoghaire in 1997. Photo: W M Nixon
With this week’s news that transitional teams are already working on the practical issues of transferring the semi-governmental Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company into the overall control of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, a new chapter is opening in the history of this extraordinary place, and eventually it will mean further infrastructural work, which in turn validates our claim that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is almost always to some extent Work in Progress.

So when we have to put a date on the harbour, the only one beyond argument is that work started in 1817 under the direction of the great engineer John Rennie. Thus in the absence of any other date of comparable exactitude, 2017 marks the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It was “the new Dunleary harbour” only from 1817 to 1821, then it was Kingstown Harbour for the next 99 years, and ever since it has been Dun Laoghaire Harbour. But if the organisers of next year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th 2017 achieve just some of their more visionary ideas to attract extra sailing visitors, we may even see a movement to return to the original user-friendly Dunleary Harbour spelling. You’d be surprised how many first-time visitors to the harbour and marina still make an absolute meal out of the pronunciation. And even within the ranks of the Gaelgoirs, there are several opinions as to what is correct.

vdlr 175The restored Huff of Arklow was one of the stars of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 – and she won her class. Photo VDLR

But simplifying the name to Dunleary Harbour is another day’s work. Top of the agenda this weekend is something else altogether - the growing sense of excitement over the fact that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Harbour’s Bicentenary in magnificent style, and the VDLR 2017 Organising Committee under the chairmanship of Tim Goodbody have been beavering away for some time now on making VDLR 2017 even better than VDLR 2015, which will take a bit of doing.

water wagThe Water Wags started as 13ft double-enders in 1887, but then changed to transom-sterned 14-footers in 1901, and are seen here around 1905

water wagStill going strong…..the Water Wags would play an important role in a Bicentenary Classic Boat regatta within Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.

Apart from all the other standard-setters, last year saw Volvo Cork Week 2016 having something very special within it with the staging of the inaugural series for the new Beaufort Cup, an international event raced between crews from the Defence Forces from home and abroad, together with marine-related Emergency Services.

It was won by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne, sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker. And one story which emerged afterwards was that it was hoped to make the Beaufort series an annual event, with the expectation of the holders that it could possibly be made part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. But the problem with this might be that the Beaufort is going to become such a major happening that it could seriously deplete other fleets in Dublin Bay, particularly the J/109s.

However, in view of upcoming Bicentenary and its celebration, an important aspect of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 which was mentioned in one of our Afloat.ie reports at the time was the number of classics taking part. Most obvious were the Howth 17s of 1898 and the Water Wags of 1901 and 1887. But also racing were the Mermaids of 1932, the IDRA 14s of 1946, and the Glens of 1947, while a much-admired presence was the very special superbly-restored Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow.

Designed by Uffa Fox and built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow in 1950, Huff of Arklow won her class overall under the visionary Progressive ECHO handicap system. In addition, the dinghy adjudged best overall was Ian and Judith Malcolm’s hundred-years-old Water Wag Barbara.

Taking a general look at all this, we suggested that in effect there was an excellent Classic Yacht Regatta hidden in plain sight in the midst of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, and it might be something worth remembering for future plans. Now the word on the waterfront is that there’ll be a significant upgrade in interest in the Classics at the VDLR 2017, and there’ll be special attention given to enticing historic boats which have direct links to Dun Laoghaire.

Obviously heading the agenda are the great Dublin Bay One Designs, and the whisper is that things are now looking healthier for the Dublin Bay 24s which ended up in an ambitious restoration plan in South Brittany which failed to reach fruition. So it’s not unreasonable to hope that the already restored DB24 Periwinkle might be persuaded home.

dublin Bay 25 The only surviving Dublin Bay 25 is Iona, originally built as Nance in 1899. Currently Dutch-owned and based in the south of France, she is seen here setting her Bermudan cutter rig, but she also has a gaff rig.

But long before the Mylne-designed 24s came into being in 1947, there were the Fife-designed Dublin Bay 25s in 1898, and one of them still exists. These days she’s called Iona, but originally she was called Nance, owned by a man called Cosby Burrows from Cavan, who had her built in 1899 at the Fife yard in Fairlie in Scotland.

That in itself is historic, as the other Dublin Bay 25s – around a dozen in all – were built in the Dublin Bay region. Be that as it may, Nance still survives as Iona, and she’s under Dutch ownership but living in the south of France, restored with such enthusiasm that she can set either a gaff or a Bermudan cutter rig.

belfast lough 25Tern is one of only two surviving Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, and she is the one with the closest links to Dun Laoghaire.

The Dublin Bay 25s were in turn based on the Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, all of them built by John Hilditch of Carrickfergus. But after that class was wound up in 1909, one of them – Tern – was in Dublin Bay from 1912 until 1919, and again from 1944 to 1954. Thus of all the Belfast Lough boats, Tern has the strongest Dublin Bay links, so who knows, as she has recently had a major restoration, she too might be a candidate for the Bicentenary Classics regatta in Dublin Bay.

Soon after John Hilditch finished the eight Belfast Lough 25s, he built the first five Howth 17s in 1898, and they all survive, while the class has expanded far beyond the original five. In fact a new boat – the nineteenth – is now being built for Ian and Judith Malcolm at the remarkable Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany, and as the Howth 17s have been a mainstay of the VDLR in times past, they should be encouraged to participate in 2017.

howth 17The Howth 17s racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: VDLR

Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern BrittanyThe backbone of the new Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany

IDRA_14A real classic. Gerry Sargent (on helm) and Ian McCormick sailing the 1962-built IDRA 14 Starfish to victory in the class’s 70th Anniversary Race, September 2016.

After the great success of their 70th Anniversary season through the summer of 2016, the IDRA 14s have themselves a new lease of life, and they always seem to achieve their best turnouts in the Dun Laoghaire regatta, so they’ll be looking to excel themselves, particularly after being seen to extremely good effect on TV this week……

Another historic class which has possibilities is the Colleens, where Hal Sisk led a movement to re-create the old 1890s design in fibreglass. With a bit of encouragement, owners like Dermot O’Flynn might be persuaded to return to Dublin Bay after this year’s cruising in West Cork, and maybe race against Hal himself. However, this tireless promoter of sailing heritage has other boats which he might sail, including a Water Wag and the famous Peggy Bawn, though she is currently very actively for sale.

vdlr 1713 Dermot O’Flynn’s Colleen in Crosshaven

We don’t consider the Dragons at first thought as Classics, but their design goes back to 1929, and one of the best classic Dragon fleets in the world is to be found in Ireland, in Glandore in West Cork, where that seasoned campaigner Don Street sets a cracking pace. They’ll be beating the drum for everyone to go to the Glandore Classics in the last week of July 2017, so maybe some of the Glandore Classics might see their way to heading for Dun Laoghaire to strut their stuff between the 6th and 9th of July.

In the classic cruiser end of things, one of the most popular boats around Dublin Bay is Darryl Hughes’ beautifully-restored 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird. Though he has entered for the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 14th, his love of maritime history is such that he finds the idea of being in Dun Laoghaire – where Maybird’s sister-ship Aideen was based for many years – a very enticing prospect for the Bicentenary in July.

vdlr 1714Darryl Hughes’ 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird

There are many other superb classic boats not too distant from Dublin Bay. But if they’re going to be invited to the Bicentenary Regatta in Dun Laoghaire, it has to be remembered that these aren’t rough and tumble modern boats which can be left to their own devices. On the contrary, they need pampered attention.

For starters, most of them find it much easier to come to a mooring than struggle into a marina berth. So one suggestion which has already arisen is that temporary additional moorings for Classics should be laid off the National Yacht Club, where there’s most space available, and it would have the bonus of putting these fascinating craft where they’d be most conveniently visible from shore.

So many and varied are the needs of true classics that they need special treatment. Ideally, each boat - and certainly each class - should have a designated minder complete with RIB and crew to look after their needs. When you learn of the effort that is needed to bring an old classic back up to first class order, genuine care and attention for boat and crew should be a natural priority at any port they visit.

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that after the turmoil of the past two Centuries, there is much to celebrate in the fact that, in 2017, the 200 year old Dun Laoghaire Harbour seems at last to be finding an equitable system of management and administration. But if people are going to be invited to bring their cherished classics to Dublin Bay to celebrate this, then it’s only right and proper that the most thoughtful Irish hospitality should be extended to them in every way.

Published in W M Nixon

#Joker2 - John Maybury's Joker 2 has had an impressive run of form since June, with big wins in both the ICRA Nationals/Sovereign's Cup week and more recently in the J/109 Nationals at the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

The first of these victories for the Royal Irish YC boat came on Saturday 27 June in the hotly contested Class 1 at Kinsale, with Joker 2 squaring off against Ian Nagle's Jelly Baby – off the back of a win at the UK J/109 Nationals, and with Olympian Killian Collins on tactics, no less – and Pat Kelly's Storm from Rush.

In addition to the J109s, there were other very well-prepared boats such as Rockabill (Paul O'Higgins, with Mel Collins steering and Mark Pettitt calling tactics), Bon Exemple (with Ben Duncan calling the shots) and Fools Gold (Rob McConnell), which had just won the Scottish Series overall.

On the lighter first day, Jelly Baby, sporting a larger jib than the other J/109s, excelled with a first and a second, but Joker 2 kept in touch with a 1,3 scoreline. On the Archambault 35, Rob McConnell and crew found the lighter conditions less to their liking with a 7,2 scoreline, but they were to improve as the wind increased on later days.

Indeed, days 2 and 3 had much stronger conditions, with winds around 20 knots, and Joker 2 started to take control with a 2,1,4,1 scoreline. Fools Gold also showed strong with a score of 2,1,3,1 to keep them just just three points off the lead after discard, with Jelly Baby a further two points behind.

Roll on the final day at Kinsale, and Joker 2 took control of the first race to win by over a minute on corrected time, giving Maybury and crew (including Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield) the championship with a race to spare. Fools Gold would later take a win in the final race to end up second overall, with Jelly Baby taking third – meaning two J/109s placed in the top three. 

Joker 2 and Storm would also dominate next big event for the J/109s, their Nationals as part of the Dun Laoghaire Regatta – racing as a separate class but with the same courses in most races as Class 1.

What's more, a glance at the finishing times would have had the J/109s winning most of the Div 1 races had they sailed as a single group.

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This race was abandoned at VDLR after a starting sequence error

After a faltering start on the Thursday (9 July), with racing abandoned after an early starting gun, the boats were flying in strong winds on day 2, held mainly in and around Howth.

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Storm won both heavy air races on Day two of VDLR

Pat Kelly's Storm was the star of the show here, excelling in the conditions to win both races, though Joker 2 was a close second, with Something Else taking third overall.

Day 3 was sailed in 15 to 17 knots, and ended with a 1,2 scoreline for Joker 2 and a 1,4 for Storm, putting the latter ahead after discard by two points.

The next day would be the decider, and going in fleet was unsure whether the race committee would field a restart of Thursday's abandoned race as well as the final.

If there was just the one race, Joker 2 needed a win – and needed Storm no better than fourth place – to clinch the title. Two races would give Maybury a better opportunity to make up the deficit.

Sunday came and brought lighter winds. Joker 2 had the better of the start and tacked on Storm a number of times up the first beat, before breaking through to lead on the first downwind, with Storm yo-yoing between fifth and sixth.

However, that lead evaporated after the bottom mark when a left-degree shift with extra pressure brought Jigamaree, Something Else  and Jalapeno into the top three, with Joker 2 now fourth.

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Close racing in the J109s

It took until the very final mark for Maybury and company to overhaul that trio, taking the gun from Jalapeno by 30 seconds. With Storm coming in fifth and trailing by a point, with Joker 2 also having the better discard, the RIYC boat had done the necessary, provided no more racing was in order. 

With the wind disappearing, race officer Jack Roy decided there was insufficient breeze to complete another race, and that was that: Joker 2 took the overall win and the J/109 National title for 2015 from Storm, with Jalapeno taking third on countback from Something Else due to her fine second place in the last race. 

Continuing to grow in Dublin and elsewhere, J/109s have shown that they are not only a very well constructed and designed cruiser racer, they are also extremely competitive in IRC and have now won the last 2 IRC Nationals in Class 1.

Published in Racing

#fireball – The Clancy's aka Conor and James were deserved winners of the Fireball main prize in the four day biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

The brothers sailed consistently well through the lively and varied winds of the regatta. In second and giving the Clancys a good run for their money were Tedz (Brian Byrne) sailing with Stephen Campion. This marriage of convenience (due to Kenny Rumball's temporary departure to a larger vessel) proved to be very compatible with Tedz jumping from the role of crew to helm and Stephen, a former Laser 2 world champion, using his excellent crewing skills to maximum advantage.

Third place went to Louis Smyth with Joe O'Reilly returning to the crewing position. This duo were up and down the placings during racing but consistently managed to come back from difficult positions to post high average scores. In fact one of the features of the regatta was the amount of place changing throughout the fleet, especially in the Salthill course where a shifting offshore wind and tidal changes provided many puzzles to be solved. At different times the race lead by the overall winners were shared by those further back.

This was a most successful regatta with lively, varied and challenging winds which tested the brain and the body. The eight Fireballs who competed shared starts with the smaller RS 400 turnout, a mix that worked quite well despite the different downwind optimum angles needed by each. Wind strengths ranged from about 8 knots to well over 20 with dinghies racing in the harbour one day. Courses varied but PRO Harry Gallagher and his team provided excellent race management and fleet separation on their inner/outer trapezoid courses. What Fireballs may have missed in exciting close reaches was compensated for with the tactical challenges of longer beats and runs. The final day was lighter and shifty leading to even more place changing but the Clancys did enough to maintain their very credible lead and take first place.

Overall this event has been a huge success, full marks to all those whose hard work created another great Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta..

Published in Fireball

#dlregatta –  Dublin Yacht Club's shared the bulk of the overall prizes at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 this afternoon, winning 22 of the 29 classes including the coveted 'Boat of the Week' Trophy. 

Veteran big boat campaigner George Sisk's Farr 42 WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club was named top boat after winning three of four challenging IRC Coastal races in a buoyant turnout of 25 boats in the offshore class.

Regatta Chairman Tim Goodbody's reminder that 'Volvo Dun Laoghaire is a fun regatta, not a championship' did little to stem the fierce competition for the coveted Volvo prizes in 29 classes as the last race of the event concluded in the lightest winds of the series.

Three national championship titles were decided as part of the regatta programme for more than 3,000 sailors. Joker II (John Maybury) took the 11-boat J109 Irish title after a series long fight with Pat Kelly's Storm from Rush and a Clyde Cruising Club entry, Leaky Roof 2, (Alan Harper) won the Sigma 33 championships. The Beneteau 21 title went to Séamus Storan's Capilano of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in a 13-boat fleet.

The biennial regatta is being hailed an enormous success both afloat and ashore for a combined fleet of 415 boats, the biggest on the Irish Sea. Over 250 races on five different courses were staged in a range of light to very heavy conditions since racing began last Thursday.

Although 180 visiting boats, made up nearly half the fleet, yachts from outside the bay area took away only seven trophies. The bulk of the silverware – 17 titles – have stayed on Dun Laoghaire's waterfront.

Trophies were awarded in each of the 29 competing classes plus several premier awards at a special National Yacht Club ceremony this afternoon bringing the curtain down on one of the most successful stagings of Ireland's biggest sailing event.

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The massive Volvo prizegiving at the National Yacht Club this afternoon

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The IRC Coastal fleet start race four this morning under race officer David Lovegrove from Howth

In a summer of achievements for George Sisk the boat of the week award follows his IRC National Championship victory in Kinsale last month.The premier award for top visiting boat went to Harper's Leaky Roof 2. The best IRC yacht award went to Paul Colton's quarter tonner Cri-Cri from the Royal Irish. The best one design keelboat award went to the Ruffian 23 Diane II skippered by Chris Helme of the Royal St. George YC.

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Rush Sailing Club's Storm (the Kelly family) held the early lead in the J109 Irish National championships won by John Maybury's Joker II (below) this afternoon

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Scotland's Clyde Cruising Club took a win in the Sigma 33 class and very nearly in the Beneteau 21 class. Howth Yacht Club took wins in IRC three, the Howth 17s, J24s (including the class Leinster Championship title) and the Water Wags but outside of that there was only single wins for Belfast Lough in the RS Elite. Cullaun Sailing Club in County Clare won the Wayfarers.

In Dun Laoghaire, The Royal Irish topped the leaderboard with eight wins across IRC and one design including: IRC One, IRC Four, J109, White Sails Two, Dragon, Beneteau 21 and Mermaid. Royal St. George YC yachts won in seven classes of one designs from Beneteau 31.7 keelboats to GP14 dinghies.The National Yacht Club had five victories; White Sails one, Flying Fifteen, SB20, Shipman and Moth. 

In the IRC divisions although Royal Cork's Jump Juice, Howth's Dux and the Royal Irish's Cri–Cri held their leads in Divisions zero, three and four respectively today's final race brought changes to the leaderboard in both IRC one and two. South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club in Wales looked sure of IRC Two with a fine performance by The J97 Injenious (Mike and Graham Crompton & Hallworth) until a last race comeback by Howth's modified Half–Tonner Harmony.

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The J97 Injenious (Mike and Graham Crompton & Hallworth) from South Caernarvonshire Yacht (above) led Class two for most of the regatta but not everything went to plan on the last day leaving Johnny Swan's modified Harmony (below) to top the leaderboard

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The National Yacht Club's A35 Gringo lost its overall lead of class one to Paul O'Higgin's Corby 33 Rockabill. O'Higgins won by three clear points in a class that had a number of different leaders since Thursday.

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Paul O'Higgins Corby 33 Rockabill V from the Royal Irish Yacht Club won the 16–boat class zero fleet.

In the one designs there were plaudits for many consistent performers including John Masterson's National Yacht Club based Shipman 28, Curraglas. Winners of the GP14 series, Gerard Owens and Melanie Morris were eight points clear at the top with six results from eight in the top three. Likewsie in the Squib keelboats, Vincent Delany took the overall prize with six race wins from nine starts.

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John Masterson's Curraglas (left) from the National Yacht Club was in the running for the boat of the week trophy with five race wins from six in the Shipman class

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A crowded pin end start for the last race of the GP14s

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Femme Fatale (Vincent Delany and Joe O'Byrne) of the Royal St George Yacht Club look up the course prior to today's final start at South Bull. Femme Fatale went on to win the nine race event with six race wins  and 12 points clear

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True Belle (Gerard Owens and Melanie Morris) of the Royal St George YC and East Antrim BC were seven points clear in the 30–boat GP14 fleet

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 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Premier prizewinners 2015

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Published in Volvo Regatta

#vdlr –  As Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 reaches its halfway stage, leaderboards are shaping up across 29 classes. The strong wind sixth edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event has produced some impressive performances on the water. 

With a strong wind warning there was alway going to be gear damage on day two of the massive 415-boat regatta. Battered sailors returned to harbour tonight with plenty of stories from the race course of retirals, torn sails, crews overboard, capsizes and dismastings. A lifeboat call–out and worrying stories of yachts straying into the Dublin Port shipping lanes only added to the drama of day two.

It marked a busy day for both for competitors and the race committee who were forced to postpone racing for the dinghies and one designs until lunch time as southerly winds touched 30-knots yesterday morning.

With all classes aiming for either two or three races today, results in the 415-boat fleet were still being computed in some classes at 7pm partly due to the late start of the one designs.

Racing started with the bumper 25–boat IRC offshore class and a start close to the Dun Laoghaire shoreline. Adrian Lee's canting keel Cookson 50 Lee Overlay took an immediate advantage in the heavy airs to lead the fleet south and now leads the division from George Sisk's Farr 42 WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Third is Kinsale visitor Freya, an X–442, skippered by Conor Doyle.

The offshore race was not without incident and in the closing stages in the afternoon the Dun Laoghaire lifeboat was called to render assistance to a man overboard from the Arklow J122 Aquelina with winds reaching 25 knots in choppy seas.

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Mobile phone footage gives a glimpse of the strong wind start to this morning's IRC offshore race

Three straight wins for Royal Cork Yacht Jump Juice puts skipper Conor Phelan in the running for the top overall performance in the regatta so far. The former Commodore's Cupper is now five points clear of the Clyde's Corby 37 Auora  (R Stuart B Ram) in the seven boat fleet. Struggling to perform so far, however, in this big boat class, is the new C&C 30 Checkmate XVI under skipper Nigel Biggs from the Royal Irish.

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The Ker 37 Jump Juice (Conor Phelan) took wins in the first three races of the series in Class Zero

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Bon Exemple (XP33) owned by X Yachts GB from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Class one

In class one, two Royal Irish yachts, Bon Exemple, an XP33 and Paul O'Higgins' Corby 33 Rockabill V are separated by a single point at the top of the 16–boat fleet. Third is another Dublin Bay boat, the A35 Gringo skippered by Tony Fox of the National Yacht Club.

South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club Injenious J97 is the leader of class two from Howth Half–Tonner Checkmate XV. Third is Craig Latimer's J/92 Wildebeest V  from the Clyde Cruising Club.

The Howth X 302 Dux (Anthony Gore-Grimes) is counting two wins and a second to lead clubmate Paddy Kyne's sistership by a single point in the 11–boat class three. Third is another Howth boat, the Corby 25 Fusion (Richard Colwell/Ronan Cobbe).

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The battle of the Howth X 302s  – Dux (Anthony Gore-Grimes) leads  Maximus (Paddy Kyne) below

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After three races sailed Royal Irish yachts have taken the lead in cruiser class four. Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri Cri has the same five points as the Royal Ulster Yacht Club and Ballyholme entry Starflash (Alan Morrison and John Simms)but leads by virtue of her two race wins today. 

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The Royal Ulster Yacht Club and Ballyholme entry Starflash (Alan Morrison and John Simms) is on the same points as cruisers four leader Cri-Cri

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Quarter–tonner Quest  (Barry Cunningham/Jonathon Skerritt) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club looks in great shape on the upwind leg of race two in Cruisers four... 

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...until a dismasting only moments later 

Pat Kelly's first race advantage in the J109 National Championships, being sailed as part of the regatta, turned out to be short–lived when Thursday's race was scrubbed due to an error in the starting sequence. The aim is to re-run the race tomorrow. Kelly, however, did not let the setback deter him and took two further wins today. It puts the Howth boat at the top of the leaderboard and ahead of pre-regatta favourites, John Maybury's Joker II, who counts two seconds.

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An error in the starting sequence in race one (above) for the J109s caused the race to be scrubbed on Thursday night

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Alan Harper's  Leaky Roof 2 from the Clyde takes a second race win to lead the Sigma 33s

In a fine turn out of 16 Sigma 33s Alan Harper's Leaky Roof 2 from the Clyde Cruising Club leads Belfast lough rival Squawk (Paul Prentice). Third is local yacht Popje skippered by Ted McCourt of the National Yacht Club.

Three race wins gives Ian Mathews and Keith Poole the lead in the 20–boat Flying Fifteen class. 

According to forecasters, it looks like there will be more blustery south-westerlies for racing tomorrow, moderating slightly for the final races on Sunday morning.

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The vintage wooden Huff of Arklow raced by Cremyll Charity is sailing under the Royal St George Yacht Club burgee. Read more on Huff's participation in VDLR 2015 in WM Nixon's blog tomorrow on Afloat.ie here

Published in Volvo Regatta
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