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An event as complex as the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 throws up so many facts and figures in a very short space of time that we have to make sense of it all on the hop as best we can writes W M Nixon. Thus it may well be that in the long run, people will remember that this year’s classic showed that when the Volvo World Race people said their new generation of boats were going to be completely and utterly one design, they really meant it – they finished as a group, and the winner Dongfeng was only 54 seconds ahead of second-placed Mapfre.

But with 312 boats racing in the IRC Division, trying to make sense of it takes quite a bit of doing, and every so often the Secret Angels of the Internet throw in a glitch which give us pause for thought, and then some.

fulmar fever2The yellow-hulled Fulmar Fever getting a good start in a WHSC event at Dunmore East
One such pause came at lunchtime yesterday. There we were, all wondering what were the chances of that decent man Ron O’Hanley from America holding on to his popular overall lead with his Cookson 50 Privateer, when up it popped on the Official Leaderboard: The winning boat was Robert Marchant’s Fulmar 32 Fulmar Fever from Waterford Harbour SC at Dunmore East.

fulmar fever3Her moment of glory. At lunchtime today, Fulmar Fever was on top

fulmar fever4And it seems it was no error. She may still have been at sea, slugging along towards the Fastnet, but the fates had decided it was Fulmar Fever’s day to be overall winner

Click over to the Tracker Chart, and it was further confirmed, even if somehow it had happened while the bright yellow Fulmar Fever was still slugging to windward in the middle of the Celtic Sea at a determined 5.4 knots.

By now, it has all been sorted out. But that little twist to events was a reminder of the sheer variety of the Fastnet fleet, and the gallant effort made by people like Robert Marchant and his Number One helm Dave Delahunt to get to Cowes, and then get themselves around the Fastnet course in a hefty boat of another era.

Meanwhile, in the zippier end of the fleet, for the Irish contingent it emerges the Donegal men have been doing well, and so has a top skipper from Belfast Lough. Best placed finisher at 30th overall is Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly in command of the Infiniti 46R Maverick, while his clubmate Richie Fearon in charge of Alan Hannon’s RP 45 Katsu is 32nd.

artemis ocean5Skippered by Mikey Ferguson from Bangor, Artemis Ocean Racing has managed to beat Rambler 88 by one place on corrected time

Mikey Ferguson from Bangor is skipper of the IRC-rated former IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing, and he has finished to place 34th, which puts him one place ahead on corrected time of the mighty Rambler 88, no less, so this is something to be savoured.

For many in the body of the fleet, there’s still a long way to go, but suggests you keep a close eye on the Tracker here 

And if those Secret Angels of the Internet are throwing more magic glitches, you never know what you might find...

Published in Fastnet

The northwest to north breeze which filled in over the Celtic Sea overnight has refreshed the record Rolex Fastnet race 2017 fleet in every way, and the long beat from Land’s End out to the rock now has many nostalgic overtones of classic Fastnet Race in times past writes W M Nixon.

But in times past the fleet didn’t have to deal with the strict imposition of the enormous Traffic Separation Zone immediately west of Land’s End, which is like a large and awkward phantom island which is quite real enough to have a fundamental effect on tactics.

Yesterday it was Jean-Pierre Dick who first elected to go southwest of it with his IMOCA 60 StMichel-Virbec, and then go on north to northwest between it and the Isles of Scilly. It’s a tactic which many others have followed since, and it certainly seemed to do StMichel-Virbec no harm, as he currently nears the Fastnet Rock lying third in IMOCA 60, and well ahead of arch-rivals Alex Thomson and Nin O’Leary in Hugo Boss, who chose the eastern option.

The MOD 70 Concise 10 finished her lonely race (she’s the only MOD 70 in the game this time round) at 0700hrs in Plymouth this morning, so now attention can focus undistracted on the mono-hulls. George David’s Rambler 88 lead them round the rock at around 0400 hours this morning, very much out on her own by a huge margin, and sailing at the more familiar speed of 16 knots after a slow outward passage. Rambler is now well in front with 187 miles to the finish and 18 knots on the clock.

The mighty 115ft Nikita (Tom Brewer) has found the new going very much to her liking, and on IRC she leads both in Class Zero and overall, having rounded at 0644, while Rambler’s much zippier performance, albeit with higher handicap, means she’s second in both categories. Although pundits had talked of it becoming a big boat race, having a canting-keel 88ft footer and a 115ft Superyacht in the top positions is over-egging the cake more than somewhat, so it will be interesting to see how these positions stack up as smaller craft get into their stride.

Of the other biggies, the IMOCA Open 60 SMA (Paul Meilhat) continues to dominate her class, she’s now making 14.7 knots with the Fastnet astern, while the Volvo 65 Dongfeng Race team is in process of rounding the rock and leading these interesting new One Designs.

The new dominance of the biggies hasn’t totally upset the underlying pattern in the overall placings, as frequent fleet leader on IRC, the J/133 Pintia (Gilles Fournier), is currently in third, while of the Irish Paul Kavanagh of the Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan has had a great night of it, he currently lies fourth overall.

Slightly further down the line, the Pwllheli J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox), which races with half her crew from Dun Laoghaire’s National YC, has emerged smelling of roses from yesterday’s swampy calms east of Lizard Point, and currently lies tenth overall, while Michael Boyd with the First 44.7 Lisa is 12th.

Most of the fleet may have already sailed 250 miles and more of the 605 mile course. But with the boats finally out in relatively open water, it’s difficult to escape the feeling that the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 has really only just properly started.

Tracker here 

Published in Fastnet

Overnight the fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race has been made solid progress upwind, tacking on shifts and dipping in and out of the land according to whether or not the tide is favourable.

At 0900 Tony Lawson's MOD 70 trimaran Concise 10 was off the Irish coast just about to tack towards the Fastnet Rock while the next boat and leading monohull, George David's Rambler 88 had rounded Land's End, followed by SMA, the lead IMOCA 60, sailed doublehanded by Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet. The bulk of the handicap fleets were attempting to make progress around Start Point. With the exception of the fastest boats, all of the crews are scratching their heads about how the weather will pan out today with very little wind forecast around the Scilly Isles and a real risk of drifting into the prohibited zone that is the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off Land's End.

Approaching Land's End this morning Sam Davies sailing, doublehanded on the IMOCA 60 Initiatives Coeur with Tanguy de Lamotte reported seeing 7 knots of wind from the southwest. How was her first night? "Busy! We did manage each to get two times one hour's sleep because today is going to be even busier!" They spent most of the night short tacking, no mean feat in an unfamiliar IMOCA 60, particularly with sail to re-stack each time.

Their next call was whether to go west or east of the TSS. Leader in the IMOCA 60 class, SMA had already opted for the easterly Land's End side along with IRC Z leader (and impressively within the top five overall under IRC), the 115 footer Nikata and Ludde Ingvall's maxi CQS. "Luckily we will have the tide with us. From then on we see the breeze building back up in the Irish Sea," said Davies.

There was some ladies' fist shaking this morning when Davies' old Team SCA crew mates Dee Caffari and Liz Wardley, aboard the VO65 Turn the Tide on Plastic, tacked right on top of them. "I thought they were going to sail across and say 'hi' and then tack like a nice friend would - because we are not in the same classes. But she tacked right on top of us, in the worst place you could imagine, when there was no reason to do it! And there was I about to say 'hi' to my best friend... Dee Caffari and Liz Wardley owe me a beer when I next see them..."

The Infiniti 46 Maverick, racing in IRC Z was half way between Start Point and the Lizard this morning. Tactician Michael Firmin was not only happy with their decision to bang the left side of the course yesterday after exiting the Solent. "We were hoping the models would play out and we'd see a big left shift which never really came, so there was stronger breeze and a slight right and people on the inside made out."

At 0830 they had tacked away from the Eddystone south of Plymouth and were sailing in 9 knots from the west in 0.5 knots of adverse current. Fermin continued: "We are taking a leg out in front of a squall line to get a bit more pressure and hopefully a bit of a lift, just waiting for the change to come through. We are hoping the model gives us something better than what we are currently seeing which is quite light round the corner with about 4 knots of adverse current!" At present a slow moving shallow cold front is lying across the course on a northeast-southwest axis. Firmin was also contemplating the Land's End TSS, the left possibly proving attractive as the side where the wind was expected to fill in first later today.

In a similar location to Maverick was Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine's J/133 Pintia, leading IRC Two on the water as well as IRC overall, from the Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau on the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam. Both boats benefitted greatly from going inshore at Portland overnight.

In the same class, Ireland's Joan Mulloy and Cathal Clarke on board the Figaro Beneteau 2, Offshore Academy 21 were negotiating Start Point. "The night was good we made up some ground," Mulloy reported. "We went really in close to Portland Bill and we were happy with that because we were looking bad coming out of the Solent and we've been a bit slow going around Start Point." Clarke has spent much time below fixing a sail they had managed to blow up leaving the Solent.

"We are just trying to figure out what to do," Mulloy continued. "We are watching people on the AIS to see what's happening with the wind. There are two forecasts and there is a front and if that moved everything changes. I am trying to play it safe and stay in the middle."

Track the fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race here. 

Published in Fastnet

After beating every inch of the way down the English Channel from yesterday’s spectacular start in the Solent, Rolex Fastnet Race mono-hull leader on the water Rambler 88 (George David) has this morning been facing lighter airs and much slowed speeds at Land’s End as the wind pattern flukes around before settling into the expected westerly which will in due course veer northwest to north writes W M Nixon

Although the original southwest wind held up for much of the night, it’s definitely not record-making weather. Having been marching her way up the overall IRC rankings in the small hours, Rambler 88 saw her speed fall back to less than 5 knots for a while as she approached mainland Cornwall’s southwest point, putting her back to 30th overall in IRC and 3rd in IRC Zero.

Now she has decided to pass to pass to the eastward of the enormous Traffic Separation Zone – an area forbidden to racing yachts - between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly, which will involve a long deviation in a northerly direction before she can finally get down to the serious business of making across the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet’s famous turning point off West Cork.

Through the night in the 312-strong IRC Division, fortunes have waxed and waned depending on where the boat in question found herself as slight changes in wind speed and direction, and the underlying flow of the tides, affected overall placings. The most consistent performance in the IRC fleet has been put in by the biggest boat, the JV 115 Nikata skipper by Tom Brewer, which has sailed a wellnigh faultless race and has never been more than a dozen miles astern of the higher-rated Rambler 88.

The idea of a boat of this size mixing it in the hugely varied Fastnet fleet seemed slightly absurd at first. But the IRC is a broad church, so we should allow even the humblest Supermaxi to race against aristocrats of offshore racing such as Stuart Greenfeld’s Silver Shamrock, Half Ton World Champion in 1976 under Harold Cudnore’s command, whuch in the Fastnet 2017 has been showing very well from time to time both overall and in the Two-handed Division, where the leaders are previous winners, the Loisons father and son, in the JPK 10.80 Night and Day.

However, Nikata has been seldom out of the frame, and she approaches Land’s End at 7.4 knots just 8 miles behind Rambler 88, and lying first in IRC Zero and second overall in IRC. The IRC leader is currently the French J/133 Pintia (Gilles Fournier), at the moment off Plymouth laying seaward on starboard and making just 5.0knots, so the softening of the still southwest wind has spread back into the body of the fleet.

Harry Hiejst’s class S&S 41 Winsome continues to perform consistently with Laura Dillon as lead helm, and she is southeast of Plymouth but with Start Point clear astern, currently first in IRC 4 and fifth overall. However, she’s making only 4.9 knots while boats further inshore seem to be enjoying a slightly better breeze, but such fluctuations have been experienced by most through the night.

Of the other boats of Irish interest, Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan is in the hunt in IRC overall, she lies 17th and is 5th in IRC 4. The two J/109s Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) and jedi (Irish National sailing Sschool) are well offshore sou’southwest of Start Point, and down the rankings after their good showing yesterday, while Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Star is still southeast of Start Point, she currently lies 29th in IRC 4.

Some of the most interesting racing has been in the nine IMOCA Open 60s and the seven Volvo 65s. The veteran Open 60 SMA(Paul Mailhat and Gwenole Gahinet) has sailed a blinder throughout, and is currently crossing tacks ahead of Nikita near the Runnelstone south of Land’s End. In the earlier part of the night, SMA was being challenged by Jeanne-Pierre Dick’s StMichel-Virbac, but this has petered out, StMichel-Virbac is currently south of Lizard Point and lyng 9th in th Open 60s, while the other favoured contender, Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson & Nin O’Leary) is eight in class, and she’s close northeast of the Lizard, frustrated back to 6.3 knots.

Meanwhile Dongfeng Race Ream head the Volvo 65s after several lead changes though the night. We sign off at 0850 noting that Rambler 88 has shaken off the Land’s End sluggishness, she’s now making north along the east side of the TSZ at better than 11 knots and marching up the overall rankings once more, while SMA, Nikita and the 100ft CQS struggle to reach the crucial Land’s End corner.

Tracker here

Published in Fastnet

In August 2007, a lone Irish boat swept quickly towards the finish of the Fastnet Race at Plymouth. Groups of larger craft had finished ahead of her, and soon a rush of other boats would follow in her wake. But when Ger O’Rourke of Limerick brought his Cookson 50 Chieftain across the line, he and his crew had the stage to themselves writes W M Nixon

They felt they’d done quite well, but wouldn’t know for sure until hundreds of other boats had been timed in. However, as the hours ticked away, Chieftain’s crew closed in on an overall win which had been achieved despite losing their main electronics before getting past the Lizard on the rough outward passage, and despite having been on the Waiting List rather than the limited-numbers Official Entry List until only a few days before the race actually started.

Chieftain’s owner Ger O’Rourke seemed to thrive on such uncertainty, and as his proposed crew included the formidable talents of the legendary Jochem Visser, he knew that once the Chieftain entry was given the nod, they’d very quickly have a full complement to take on the race.

Other entries - dutifully made many months in advance - fell away as start time approached. A heavy weather forecast may have played a role in this. But it didn’t faze Chieftain’s owner, as his programme that year had already included taking second overall in the rugged New York to Hamburg race, and he knew his canting-keel Farr-designed boat was more truly race-ready than most of the fleet. Getting officially acceptance into the fold, when it came, just seemed part of a larger plan.

chieftain at finish3In the last of the evening sun, Chieftain approaches the finish line Plymouth with Ger O’Rourke on the hel

Chieftain finish plymouth4They’ve done it. Chieftain wins the Rolex Fastnet Race 2007. The lack of anything approaching a crew uniform is testament to the fact that she was accepted as an entry only after more than forty boats had dropped out beforehand

In a stormy race, many boats pulled out, but in the weather pattern which developed, Chieftain was exactly the right size and type of boat to do best. And she’d the crew to enable her to do this, despite having to rely for much of the race on tiny hand-held GPS devices and increasingly wet paper charts.

After the finish, Chieftain’s motley crew could see the growing inevitability of the final result. But the owner refused to go up the town to buy himself a crisp new white shirt for the prize-giving until he’d been shown a document confirming that he was indeed the undisputed overall winner.

Sometime it seems as though it happened only yesterday. But sometimes it seems a very, very long time ago, as Ireland has been through a ferocious economic mincing machine since then. Either way, the reality is that the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017, which starts tomorrow from Cowes in a sequence beginning at 1100 hrs for a record entry list of 384 boats, will mark the Tenth Anniversary of Ireland’s greatest win in an event which is a pillar of world sailing. And it’s an event in which Irish boats have been involved since it was first sailed in 1925 with just seven starters. Our gallant representative, Harry Donegan from Cork with the 17-ton gaff cutter Gull, placed third overall.

Today, the increasing internationalism of sailing – and offshore and ocean racing in particular - is evident throughout the fleet, so much so that it’s almost the norm to have a crew with some mixing of nationalities. Thus in taking a preview, it’s increasingly difficult to say which entry is or isn’t Irish, regardless of simply taking it from the national flag indicated beside the name on the RORC’s entry list.

On top of that, with an entry of 384 boats and entries not officially finalized until the Race Office has the complete crew list with the essential personal information, you can readily visualize how things have been in and around the organisers’ office these past few days.

After one of the roughest Cowes Weeks in years comes to a close today, the Rolex Fastnet Race is expected to start tomorrow in moderate conditions with the hugely impressive sight of the enormous fleet sweeping westward out of the Solent through the Needles Channel, and facing the prospect of a beat down Channel to Land’s End.

Fair weather sailors had been hoping that the ridge from the Azores High might build northeastwards to give summer sailing for the 605-mile race. But we’re in unstable meteorological conditions with the restless Jetstream dictating weather and wind changes, and not all of these can be closely predicted.

rambler 88 racing5If it turns out to be a big boat race, with her unrivalled trio of line honours and IRC wins in three recent RORC races, George David’s Rambler 88 has to be a favourite

Majority opinion has it that it will be a big boat race, as the nor’westers will remain fresh to strong – or even more – until Wednesday, when another little ridge might ease things back for the smaller craft. If it is a big boat race, then in IRC Overall the smart money will be on George David’s Rambler 88. She has been re-writing the form book these past two years, as she took line honours and the overall win in IRC in the Volvo Round Ireland Race last year, and this year she has repeated the remarkable double in both the RORC’s Cowes-St Malo Race and the RORC’s Channel Race.

Certainly it will be interesting to see how she does against the newest 100ft super-maxi, the Ludde Ingvall-skippered CQS from Australia, which was shipped to Europe with the Fastnet Race as her main priority. But in her brief time in the northern hemisphere so far, things haven’t gone her way. She went out to do the Round the Island Sprint on Wednesday with the other biggies when they’d gale fore winds around the south end of the isle of Wight, and while CQS had sail trouble and didn’t excel, the seven brand new Volvo 65s had a magnificent race, with Mapfre (skipper Xabi Fernandez) winning, and the first three breaking the Round the Island Mono-hull Record.

mapfre round island6The completely new strictly one-design Volvo 65 Mapfre (skipper Xabi Fernandez) on her way to winning the Round Isle of Wight sprint on Wednesday, and creating a new record while she was at it.

There was almost an Irish interest in this as our own Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy was being lined up for a crew test for the all-women panel on Dee Caffari’s Volvo 65
Turn The Tide On Plastic, but unfortunately an injury in the recent International Moth Worlds (in which she was top woman) has side-lined her for a while, but she may be aboard post-Fastnet.

Also up among the biggies, Irish interest will be intense for the foiling IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, where new “Sailor of the Month” Nin O’Leary is teaming up as joint skipper with seasoned campaigner Alex Thompson. O’Leary has sailed on Hugo Boss before, but the Fastnet is a case of going in at the deep end, as their main rivals at the big boat end of a two-part 69-strong two-handed division will be the legendary Jeanne-Pierre Dick and three-times Figaro winner Yann Elies in the foiling IMOCA 60 St Michel-Virbac.

hugo boss7Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a manta ray….? Hugo Boss will be raced by Alex Thompson and Nin O’Leary

stmichel virbac8Jeanne-Piere Dick’s StMichel-Virbac is likely to be Hugo Boss’s closest opponent

The Fastnet fleet is like an awesome mountain range - it’s easy enough to discern the major peaks, but it’s only as you descend into the smaller mountains and the foothills that you feel some sense of identity and fellow-feeling with what’s around you, and for true aficionados, the IRC corrected time winners in class and overall is the real Rolex Fastnet Race.

Thus the main topic this year is can the French make it three in a row. And even better, can the incredible JPK marque from Lorient make it three in a row?

Back in 2013, the unthinkable happened. The overall winner was the French JPK 10.10 Night and Day, raced in the Two-Handed division by father-and-son crew Pascal and Alexis Loison. For those of us who can just about rub along with family on a boat, and prefer to be fully crewed, it took some time to get used to the idea of Night and Day’s superb win.

Then by 2015, JPK’s new design, the JPK 10.80, was starting to make waves, and went on to win the Rolex Fastnet Race overall in the form of veteran Gery Trentesaux’s Courrier du Leon. Just to show it was no flash in the pan, a sister-ship – also skippered by Trentesaux – won her class in the next Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, and now in 2017 Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has won the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race overall in June while in July another sister-ship, Yes! skippered by Nin O’Leary, won the big-fleet Round the Island by an unusually wide margin.

Courrier du Leon9The JPK 10.80 Courrier du Leon (Gery Trentesaux) winning the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015

So these are still the boats to beat. But as we’ve learned in Irish offshore racing, a well-sailed J/109 can sometimes get the better of them, so although she’s not strictly Irish, we reckon that the J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox from Pwllheli) is Honorary Irish, and she’s very much in the lineup for tomorrow’s start, as is the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi skippered by Kenneth Rumball, which is in both the Open Division and in the racing for the Roger Justice Trophy for sailing schools.

This is hotly contested with more than 30 offshore sailing and racing schools involved, and in 2015 it was won by Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire with Ronan O Siochru skippering the Sunfast 37 Desert Star. IOS is back this year with Desert Star, and while a fine camaraderie had built up among her crew, the rules for participation as a sailing school means you have to carry a significant proportion of first timers, thus two of Desert Star’s crew from 2015, Louise Gray and Jacques Diedricks, have transferred to another non-school Dun Laoghaire-based Fastnet contender, Brendan Couglan’s Sunfast 37 Windshift.

boyd and osiochru10At the prize-giving in Plymouth, RORC Commodore Michael Boyd presents Ronan O Siochru with the Roger Justice Trophy for the best-placed sailing school entry in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015. Boyd himself had won the Gull Salver for the top-placed Irish boat.
Irish Offshore Sailing and Irish International Sailing School have of course competed against each other before, in last year’s Volvo Round Ireland, when INSS did best winning the schools division and placing tenth overall. But that was in the Reflex 38 Lynx. The more recently-acquired J/109 gives a new perspective, but here too the rules about having a certain proportion of trainees in your crew have affected personnel selection, and Kenneth Rumball has been unable to take his right-hand man from the 2016 Round Ireland win, Luke Malcolm, who has transferred to Paul Egan’s Dun Laoghaire-based First 35 Platinum Blonde to gain his Fastnet spurs.

jedi leading11The Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi ahead of the pack in the ISORA Lyver Trophy Race, part of the buildup in the training towards the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017

Some additions and insights into the eleven Irish Fastnet entries listed in are intriguing. For instance, Alan Hannon’s Reichel Pugh 45 Katsu was a very attractive participant in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race, and a closer look at the RORC’s list shows her as skippered by Richie Fearon of Lough Swilly Yacht Club, who navigated the overall winner Tanit in the 2014 Round Ireland, and has formidable international connections which could see Katsu racing with a stellar crew.

Of similar size but with a rating of only 1.096 compared to Katsu’s stratospheric 1.240, the First 44.7 Lisa is skippered by our own Michael Boyd, Commodore RORC. Not only is he defending Irish champion in the Fastnet as he won the Gull Salver with Quokka in 2015, but this year he has been doing mighty well, winning overall in the RORC’s Morgan Cup Race in June.

Another sensibly-rated boat to watch is Harry Heijst’s veteran Winsome, an alloy early version of the Swan 41, built 1972. Though Winsome is proudly Dutch (sail number is NED 118), she’s something of a star in the Solent, and is different from the slightly later GRP Swan 41 with a cockpit/bridge-deck arrangement which many owners of standard Swans of a certain size and vintage would dearly like to emulate, as it greatly improves the boat’s cockpit ergonomics and companionway access. If this is what you want, lads, get out the chainsaw……

winsome laura12Laura Dillon helming the vintage Swan 41 Winsome at the current Cowes Week. Although Winsome’s alloy hull is similar to a Swan 41, her cockpit/companionway/cabintop arrangement is a considerable improvement

The competitive Winsome’s hull has stayed exactly the same, which means she retains all the rating advantages of her age, and clocks in at just 0.990. This makes her very competitive indeed, particularly in a breeze, but only if you have the right person on the wheel. And for some years now that right person has been Howth ex-Pat sailing star Laura Dillon, a former Helmsmans Champion who is now London-based and the extremely effective regular driver on Winsome when she’s not away on some other sailing campaign.

Winsome has been making hay in this windy Cowes Week, and at the time of writing was leading her class well clear, and only rivalled for Boat of the Week in all classes by another veteran yacht with strong Fingal connections, the superbly tuned and sailed 1939-vintage Whooper of Giovanni Belgrano at the top of Class 6. In another life, Whooper used to be the Star of Skerries, owned by Christy and Joe Fox and based at Skerries in North Fingal.

But while Whooper isn’t down to do the Fastnet Race as her owner is probably doing it in his day job as a top professional, Winsome most definitely is. And with the forecast of early brisk breezes and lots of beating, she might be one to watch if she can stay ahead of the lightening breezes which may occur later next week.

silver shamrock13They may not make sterns like that any more, but after 41 years the 1976 Half Ton World Champion Silver Shamrock is still going strong, and she’s the smallest boat entered in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017

Another one to watch, this time for old sake’s sake, is the smallest boat in the fleet, Stuart Greenfield’s 30ft Silver Shamrock. This is the Ron Holland-designed boat with which Harry Cudmore won the Half Ton Worlds in Trieste in 1976. That’s all of forty-one years ago now, yet little Silver Shamrock is still going strong, and with the Half Ton Classics coming up at Kinsale in a dozen days’ time, we can salute Silver Shamrock and feel a sense of identity with her.

This isn’t a feeling aroused by contemplating the biggest boat which has ever raced in the Fastnet, this year’s monster, the 115ft Nikata. An absurdly large vessel. At race’s end, you’d only know a quarter of the crew. And even she’ll be eclipsed if the 130ft trimaran Spindrift 2 – currently not listed as an entry – somehow manifests herself on Sunday heading down Solent. Will there be room for the two of them?

yacht nikita14The crew will just have to wear name tags…..the 115ft Nikita is the largest mono-hull in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017

Published in W M Nixon

#FastnetRace - What does it take to win the Rolex Fastnet Race? That’s the question Yachting World posed to four former podium finishers in what’s arguably the world’s greatest offshore challenge.

For 2015 winner Gery Trentesaux, the key is keeping the yacht light — and manual routeing to stay on top of conditions.

For smaller crews, such as Pascal Loison and son’s winning two-handed partnership from 2013, it means having to “think carefully about how you sail the boat”.

Mixed ability teams work together more effectively, and achieve better results, according to Fastnet charter specialists — and podium regulars — Sailing Logic.

Meanwhile, for professional tactician Adrian Stead, a winner in 2009 and 2011, it’s all about doing the work well before the starting line.

“I think any well sailed, well prepared, well optimised boat has always got a chance of winning the Fastnet Race,” he says. “It’s about doing your preparation and not giving things away.”

Their advice might prove very useful for the 11 Irish entries confirmed thus far for the latest running of the Fastnet Race two weeks from tomorrow.

Published in Fastnet

A potent line–up of Irish offshore performers will be lining up for the record breaking Fastnet Race entry – the world's largest offshore race that starts in less than three weeks time.

The 605nm race was full in under five minutes, creating another record. Up to 400 boats will be on the RYS startline in Cowes on Sunday 6th August.

Among the eleven Irish entries, among 28 participating countries, is a former Middle Sea Race class winner and some top ISORA performers. There's also two sailing school entries from Dun Laoghaire and two West Coast entries, one from Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary and another from Westport in County Mayo.

Wakey Wakey ISORA j109 2033Roger Smith's J109 Wakey Wakey, a regular ISORA racer, is Fastnet Race bound. Photo:

Although listed as an entrant in the sell–out race, this year's Howth Yacht Club Ostar TransAtlantic winner is not competing. Conor Fogerty's Bam is still in America after Transatlantic success and won't be doing the Fastnet but it appears RORC have been slow to delete the entry. 

Fogerty told 'I'm hoping to do the Caribbean 600 instead, as the logistics make more sense'.

paddy dermot croninIn 2015, Malahide's Dermot and Paddy Cronin come ashore in Malta after winning the double-handed division of the Middle Sea race. Encore is entered for this year's Fastnet Photo: Barry Hurley

Kenneth Rumball will steer his Irish National Sailing School J109, Jedi. The top performer in the ISORA series, who was second in the offshore class of Dun Laoghaire Regatta, will be racing with a number of students who have been building up their offshore miles this season with a number of fixtures including the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

big dealFrom Foynes to the Fastnet – Sole Shannon Estuary entry Big Deal races double–handed. Photo:

Another sailing school entry is the Irish Offshore Sailing School's Desert Star. Skipper Ronan O'Siochru shot to offshore success in the 2015 Fastnet Race when he stepped on to the podium in class.

Joan Mulloy sailingWestrport's Joan Mulloy will be sailing double handed in a Cowes Registered Figaro entry

Mayo woman Joan Mulloy will be skippering the Cowes–registered Figaro 2 - 'The Offshore Academy 21'. Her co-skipper is Cathal Clarke and they will be racing double–handed in the IRC 2 class.

Originally from Westport, Co. Mayo Mulloy is currently living in Cowes having spent the last two years working with the UK's Offshore Academy. She has been the 'preparateur' for the British entries in La Solitaire Le Figaro race in France. Mulloy plans a solo sailing campaign of her own with an entry in the 2018 La Solitaire Le Figaro race and longer term ambitions for the Vendee Globe in 2020.

This weekend she skippers 'The Offshore Academy 21' in the RORC Channel Race as part of the Fastnet qualifying process.

The full list of Irish entries taking part is below

Irish in the Fastnet

IRL 8407 Encore 3 C Dermot Cronin First 40.7 Malahide IE
IRL 733 Thalia 3 C Grant Kinsman Sigma 400 2.33 Dublin IE
IRL 3516 Platinum Blonde 3 C Paul Egan First 35 Carbon Dublin 4 IE
IRL 8088 Jedi 3 C Kenneth Rumball J/109 Dublin IE
IRL 37737 Windshift 4 C Louise Gray Sunfast 37 Co. Monaghan IE
IRL 1397 Desert Star Irish Offshore Sailing 4 C Irish Offshore Sailing Ronan O'Siochru Sun Fast 37 Dun Laoghaire IE
IRL 3492 Big Deal 4 C Conor Dillon Dehler 34 Top-nova Listowel IE
IRL 45 Katsu 1 C Alan Hannon Rp 45 Downings IE
GBR 5909 Wakey Wakey 3 C Roger Smith J/109 Dublin IE
NED 8824 Trilogic M Hugo Karlsson-Smythe Multi 50 Tallaght IE

Fight to be first home

While the Judel-Vrolijk 115 Nikata will be the largest yacht competing among the 350 or so yachts starting on Sunday 6 August, the battle for line honours glory looks set to be between two titans of the grand prix racing world.

CQS IngvallLudde Ingvall still holds the double record set 22 years ago in the Rolex Fastnet Race, taking both line honours and handicap victory. He's back this year with the 100ft DSS foiling CQS © Andrea Francolini

Finnish Whitbread Round the World Race legend Ludde Ingvall returns having previously put in one of the most exceptional performances in the 92 year history of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event.

Firstly in 1985, the same year Simon le Bon's Drum famously capsized, Ingvall raced on the Whitbread maxi Atlantic Privateer when it won her class. But the race which has gone down in history was a decade later, when he skippered Nicorette, the former 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race maxi Charles Jourdan but much modified, to line honours, finishing a massive 24 hours ahead of the next boat. But significantly that year Nicorette not only claimed line honours but victory on handicap as well.

"We won it on CHS, we won it on IMS and we got line honours," Ingvall recalls proudly. "We walked away with 16 trophies, which was amazing. I still remember the speech at the prize giving where they said 'the Vikings have been here before and now they have come back to steal our silver!'" That race, 22 years ago, was the last occasion someone won the Rolex Fastnet Race line honours and handicap 'double'.

This time Sydney-based Ingvall is back with another weapon, and again one which is heavily modified. CQS was originally built in 2004 as the 90ft canting keel Simonis Voogd-design Nicorette aboard which Ingvall claimed line honours in that year's Rolex Sydney Hobart. During 2016, this boat underwent major surgery extending her to 100ft by fitting a new bow. Small wings were added at deck level to widen her shroud base to accept a larger, more powerful rig and she was also fitted with retracting lateral Dynamic Stability Systems foils to provide lift to leeward.

Since competing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, CQS has arrived in Europe and, weekend before last, set a new course record in Sweden's AF Offshore Race (Round Gotland), breaking the existing record which Ingvall had established on his previous Nicorette.

However Ingvall warns that he and the crew, that includes sponsor Sir Michael Hintze and Kiwi sailing legends Chris Dickson and Rodney Keenan, are still green when it comes to the new beast. "We are taking steps forward all the time, but everything still feels quite new and we really haven't had enough time with a regular crew." A week and a half's training with her race crew before the Rolex Fastnet Race will help rectify this.

CQS will face stiff competition from American George David's Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 88. She may have a shorter waterline but in her long career racing Jim Clark's 100ft Comanche, this has seemed to have made little difference: In the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, Rambler 88 crossed the finish line just four and a half minutes behind Comanche.

According to tactician Brad Butterworth, their fight with CQS is likely to come down to the weather. "If there is any breeze it will make a big difference as to who wins across the line. If there are any powered up situations then Rambler will do pretty well, but if it is light airs running or even upwind, it will be a struggle. The modern maxis like Comanche and Rambler have huge wetted surface so when they are not heeled you are carrying a lot of viscous drag around with you."

Like Ingvall, Butterworth is a veteran of countless Fastnet Races dating back to 1987 when he skippered the top-ranked Admiral's Cup boat Propaganda in that year's victorious New Zealand team. Two years later he claimed line honours on Peter Blake's all-conquering maxi ketch Steinlager II. He says Rambler 88 has changed little from her 2015 configuration other than some sail development and a weight loss program. "That is why we're hoping for a bit of breeze."

Ingvall agrees with Butterworth's assessment of their relative form going into the Rolex Fastnet Race: "Rambler is a bloody good boat with top guys and they have been sailing the boat for a long time whereas we are still learning about what we've got. CQS is very long and skinny, while Rambler is very wide and her hull stability gives her a huge advantage. We are still learning about the DSS foil which improves our stability. When it is a matter of stability and power they will be hard to beat, whereas if it is about light airs and finesse, then I think we will be pretty good because we are so narrow and low resistance in the water. It will be fun to race each other."

Published in Fastnet

#FastnetRace - With the days ticking down till the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, Ocean Safety has published its free Fastnet Safety Checklist to ensure your yacht is ready for the rigours of the challenging seas around Fastnet Rock.

One of the most important items for the race for the race undoubtedly the liferaft, which will need a service before setting out from Cowes on Sunday, 6 August.

Ireland's CH Marine is a leading supplier of liferafts and services, hires and sells rafts. Both for leisure and commercial vessels.

Published in Fastnet

#VOR - The Rolex Fastnet Race has been named among the mandatory qualifiers ahead of the start of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.

The famed run from the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock in West Cork joins the new Lisbon-Alicante prologue — and a provisional transatlantic challenge over the summer — in the pre-race series that will serve as the first fight for dominance among the now eight-strong fleet.

‘Leg Zero’, as organisers have dubbed the new qualifier, comprises the traditional Fastnet Race route with an additional course from Plymouth to Lisbon.

Many VOR teams have used the Fastnet Race in their preparations – Team SCA and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing being the most recent, in the 2013 race — but never before has it been a mandatory qualifier.

“I’ve done a few Fastnet Races, some were windy and some were light,” said Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team in the 2014-15 VOR.

“It’s a nice course, very fun and interesting to sail around the coast, with the effect of the currents. It’s a good test and a very dynamic race, with interesting weather.”

According to race operations director — and VOR veteran — Richard Mason, the Fastnet Race “is on the bucket list of every ocean racer in the world.

“It’s famous for being very tricky and coastal. You can have no wind, you can have enormous amounts of breeze, and vicious seas, out near Fastnet Rock, it’s navigationally and tactically challenging, you don’t get much sleep.

“It’s the perfect race – an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

How would you like to undertake an intense course of guaranteed Irish offshore racing training? Start as an absolute beginner on a strange boat in April next year. Dedicate yourself to it. Then by the end of June, the boat – aboard which you’re now very much an active and involved part of the sailing team – will have won a podium place in her class in the Round Ireland Race 2016.

Or even further into the realms of fantasy, how about starting your offshore sailing learning experience at a similar early season time in 2017, but aimed at the Fastnet Race? Or perhaps you’ll be continuing to build on 2016’s experience and successes. Either way, by the evening of Friday August 18th 2017 you and your shipmates are in the prize ceremony throng at Plymouth. And you’re absolutely bedazzled by the fact that you’ve won your class in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. Sounds good…? W M Nixon takes up the story.

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. And the scenario outlined above was still very much in the realms of fantasy eighteen months ago. Yet at Easter 2014, Irish Offshore Sailing started a course of intensive training for beginners aboard their two Jeanneau Sunfast 37s towards competition in the Round Ireland Race 2014 in June. And by the end of it, the better-placed of their two boats was very much in the frame.

Then for this year, they spread their wings still further, and once again started early in the season with the makings of a crew many of whom were complete beginners, but all were highly motivated towards doing the Fastnet Race, and doing well in it. They not only saw it through to the end, they were brilliantly successful and have a mighty trophy to prove it.

In theory, Irish sailors aiming for this scenario have it made. They have the advantage of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in late June as a convenient Fastnet Race qualifier. So to say that this trainee crew’s programme was “time-efficient” is under-stating it. The Dun Laoghaire-Dingle takes a long weekend, other intensive training could be put in at night and at weekends, and the Rolex Fastnet Race is done and dusted in a week.

So it’s about eight days off in all, nine at most. Thus for any crewmember who wished or could, there was still time and entitlement available for those in jobs to take an ordinary holiday before the bubbles had fully settled. Yet although our wannabe Round Irelanders and Fastneteers may have this wonderful training ground and courses of international repute right on their doorstep, getting involved from scratch has not always been easy.

irish offshore sailing round Ireland2New boys on the block. The Irish Offshore Sailing School’s boats race ready and raring to go before the start of the Round Ireland Race, Wicklow June 2014. Photo: W M NixonIrish offshore sailing 4

Sister-ships. The Irish Offshore Sailing School duo make their debut in the Round Ireland race 2014.

The enduring strength of the club structure in Ireland means that learning to sail here is not necessarily a straightforward process. A child from a club-oriented sailing family will be reassuringly guided into the club-administered ISA training programme. But while there is an increasing effort to provide club courses which are also attractive to adult beginners, the reality is that as the age increases and the complexity of the sailing being undertaken develops, the options for outsiders become increasingly limited unless they can attach themselves as crew on a boat already in the club system.

In the south of England, where there’s a large and affluent population providing a ready market, the situation is very different. Commercial sailing schools play a key role in meeting basic demand, and most such schools do reasonably well. But in the more specialised world of schools providing boats and sailing courses which take crews offshore and right up to the top grades of qualification with events like the Rolex Fastnet Race as the ultimate objective, a thriving industry-within-an-industry has developed.

Former pupils stay with their offshore schools for extended periods - in effect in permanent post-grad mode - as their offshore sailing schools, having provided them with training, now also provide them with a ready-made camaraderie, an instant virtual club environment.

So successful has this become that in the Rolex Fastnet Race last month, there were 32 offshore school yachts taking part. In other words, more than 10% of the 309-strong IRC fleet. So significant is this development that the sailing schools have their own Fastnet Race prize, the Roger Justice Trophy. Yet despite the fact that the bigger UK offshore sailing schools are highly resourced with relatively new race-proven boats, the winner of the Roger Justice Trophy in 2015 was Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Star, a veteran which has been used for sail training for a dozen years and more.Ronan O Siochru4A highly dedicated sailor and teacher – Ronan O Siochru has successfully transferred his inherited teaching skills to sailing. Photo: W M Nixon

Desert Star was also second overall of all the Irish entries in the Fastnet, so her skipper Ronan O Siochru was most deservedly the Sailor of the Month (Offshore) for August. Those who know Ronan O’Siochru and what he does will have known just how thoroughly this recognition – and the Fastnet Race trophy – was earned. But although the rest of the sailing community in the greater Dublin Bay area will be aware of the activities of the two Irish Offshore Sailing sister-ships as they go about their training programme – often at anti-social hours of the night, and often in adverse weather – the achievements of Ronan O’Siochru and his team should be a banner of hope for all Irish sailing.

Ronan O’Siochru (32) is from Cork, but he’s from a non-sailing family in Bishopstown. However, one of the keys to his current success in his chosen area of sailing is that he’s from a long line of teachers. At least three generations of them, teaching away. But somehow he got the boat and sailing bug in Kinsale before he was even into his teens. When asked how he got himself to Kinsale from Bishopstown to pursue this developing passion, he admits there were times when it could be a very long hitch-hike for a little boy in the rain.

Yet gradually he built up contacts in Kinsale sailing, and his ready enthusiasm to learn and to crew soon saw him often afloat in an increasing variety of boats. The urge to own his own boat became a priority, and he set himself at it with typical dedication, working in a vegetable shop at £3 an hour (this was in pre-Euro days) until he’d the £600 to buy a Flying Fifteen of a certain age.

For most young Irish sailors, that would have been the beginning of a lifelong interest of boat ownership with self-maintained craft sailed within a local club context. But the young O’Siochru had visions of greater things. He realized that having an internationally-recognised Yachtmaster (Offshore) Certificate was a passport to interesting sailing jobs worldwide, so he set himself on this course and in time found himself within the orbit of the legendary Bob Salmon, veteran of more than fifty Transatlantic Crossings, and a proponent of mini-Transat racing.

When the young O Siochru – now 21 – asked Salmon what would be the best way forward to a Mini Transat Campaign, the suggestion was he should buy a little boat and sail her to Iceland single-handed as a charity fund-raiser for starters, and then they’d see what could be built on that.

The result was the smallest 21-footer you’ve ever seen caught out in a vicious Atlantic storm west of the Outer Hebrides, and a young Corkman getting to know the crew of the Barra lifeboat very well indeed, but for all the wrong reasons.

So it was back to the grindstone of working away as a Yachtmaster and a Yachtmaster Instructor in whatever positions became available. With his strong inheritance of the teaching gene, his proven ability to recover from setbacks, and his precious gift of being able to convey a love of sailing for its own sake to those he was teaching, Ronan O Siochru was leading a very busy and fulfilling existence, but “peripatetic and undomesticated” would only begin to describe his way of life.

However, during his ventures under sail he met a girl in Gibraltar, and it was time to change tack. She was from Birmingham, she was called Salome (she really was and is), they got married, and the move towards having his own boats in his own sailing school in Ireland became a priority.

Ronan Siochru Salome5
She tamed him……Ronan O Siochru and his wife Salome in Dun Laoghaire Marina. Photo: W M NixonSalome Ronan Siochru Louise Gray Peter Beamish6

Some of the IOS team (left to right) are Salome & Ronan O Siochru, Louise Gray who raced in the Fastnet, and Peter Beamish who is one of the school’s instructors as well as being its business mentor. Photo: W M Nixon

He’d been diligently saving everything he could from instructing and yachtmastering, so when in the winter of 2009-2010 he heard that Port Solent were selling off a raft of 2002-built Jeanneau Sunfast 37s, they bought one as the basis of a fleet, and Ronan and Salome sailed the new boat home to Ireland in January 2010.

It was a crazy time to be starting any sort of business with the recession gripping Ireland, but the reckoning was that if they could survive the bad times then they’d thrive in the good. Not that anything was easy. Ireland’s Department of the Marine makes it very difficult to get a boat certified – it can cost around €25,000 per boat in extra equipment to achieve this – while the Irish Sailing Association is so club-oriented that the new Irish Offshore Sailing School found it much more satisfactory to deal with the RYA for guidance.

They set up shop in Dun Laoghaire Marina, for much as Ronan’s first love is sailing the Cork coast, he’d no doubt that the relative size and concentration of the population of Dublin, with its high proportion of affluent and energetic young professionals, made a Dublin Bay location essential for such a tightly-focused business.

Now that success has been achieved, it all looks like a smooth progression, but heaven knows there were times it was anything but. However, the sheer enthusiasm of Ronan O Siochru and his crews began to interest other sailors in Dun Laoghaire Marina, and top skipper Peter Beamish, recently retired from an international career in management in American conglomerates, was interested both with a view to acquiring a few certificates himself, and also maybe in becoming an instructor too. He is now part of the team, and finds his extensive business management experience has additionally brought him aboard as mentor and financial advisor.

Are we really supposed to race against all those boats? The first sight of the Fastnet’s gathering starting line fleet was a bit of a culture shock for Desert Star’s crew. Photo: Louise Gray

Irish offshore sailing 8
Mixing it with the big boys. The Maxi 72 Momo - top big boat in the final results – and the hundred footer Leopard (extreme right) come sweeping through past Desert Star in the Needles Channel. Photo: Louise Gray

Somehow they not only hung in, they expanded, and when the demise of Glenans Ireland made a Baltimore-based Sunfast 37 called Sherkin available for sale, they added this sister-ship to their lineup, and the sunny start to the Round Ireland Race 2014 with the two IOS boats setting off with the rest of the fleet underlined the fact that here indeed was a very significant new force to be reckoned with in Irish sailing.

It has been onwards and upwards ever since. The crew for the Fastnet campaign with Desert Star from April through to late August reflected both the way in which Dublin has drawn in young professionals from near and far, and also the fact that Ronan O Siochru and his school were already receiving marked respect for what they do even before the Fastnet win set them in lights.

Irish offshore sailing 9
Finally clear of the crowd in the Solent – Desert Star settling down nicely with the Needles at the west point of the Isle of Wight astern, and room ahead to work the bays out of the worst of the tide.

Thus people from elsewhere were and are prepared to commit to travel to Dun Laoghaire for each part of the programme afloat, the final lineup when the Fastnet Race started on August 16th being Ronan O Siochru (Cork) skipper, Kristian Aderman (Sweden) first mate, Dr Rupert Barry (Dublin), Symeon Charalabides (ex-Greece, living Dublin), Dave Garforth (ex-UK, living Cork), Louise Gray (Monaghan, living Dublin), Dr Sam Lamont (Belfast), and David McDonnell (Cork).

It was a tricky Fastnet for every boat, and if the weather chips didn’t fall the right way for your boat size and rating, then it was more a matter of how you did against comparable boats. In this, Desert Star did very well indeed, while her performance against other sailing school boats was champion stuff.

Irish offshore sailing 10

Sunrise on the threshold of the Atlantic. The Isles of Scilly are finally astern, and Desert Star is starting to feel the breeze which will carry her out to the Fastnet

In the early stages, they made every effort to minimize the effects of adverse tide, playing the big bays of England’s south coast in classic Cork style such that when they got to the Lizard the company they were keeping showed they were doing more than okay. Then outward bound towards the Rock getting through that demanding gap between the big Seven Stones Separation Zone and the Isles of Scilly, they managed to find their way through the shortest route southwest of the zone and north of the islands, then when they came round the Fastnet with the new breeze settled in, the going was good as they got there before it was totally on the nose, while the company all around them was even more encouraging.Irish offshore sailing 11

The most famous racing mark in the world, and Desert Star laying it nicely to round the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Louise Gray

There was rain on the way to the finish at Plymouth, but it brought a fair wind, and every inch of the way Desert Star was improving on her overall position. They arrived in to find the countdown already under way towards the mighty prize-giving, and for a while the overloaded results computer had them even better placed than expected, but it due course it got itself sorted out and Desert Star was confirmed as winner of the Roger Justice Trophy.

Our concluding three photos say it all. We caught up with Ronan this week in Dun Laoghaire, he was back to the grindstone running a five day Yachtmaster course. Except that he doesn’t think it’s a grindstone – he thinks it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. He’s grateful to be able to do it, and is an inspirational teacher. We’ll be returning to Ronan O Siochru and the Irish Offshore Sailing School in the near future when his season is finally winding down a bit, and he has been able to catch up on sleep. Meanwhile, those of us who had been concerned for the future of Irish sailing generally can sleep a little easier thank to his efforts and idealism.

Irish offshore sailing 12
Still can’t quite believe it - the skipper and his trophy in Plymouth, Friday August 21st 2015.Irish offshore sailing 13

Shipmates and celebrating. Desert Star’s Fastnet-winning crew are (left to right) Symeon Charalabides, Sam Lamont, Louise Gray, Kristian Aderman, Ronan O Siochru, Rupert Barry, and David Garforth. Photo: David McDonnellIrish offshore sailing 14

It’s official! Total crew lineup are (left to right) David McDonnell, David Garforth, Rupert Barry, Symeon Charalabides, Ronan O Siochru, Kristian Aderman, Louise Gray and Sam Lamont. Photo: Rolex/RORC

Published in W M Nixon
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