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The Annual Conference of the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA), an absorbing all-day affair in Limerick this Saturday (March 4th), has an intriguing agenda writes W M Nixon. But for many sailors from all over Ireland and the other side of the Irish Sea, the high point of it all will be the announcement of the ICRA “Boat of the Year” selected by the ICRA judges.

We revive memories of the great year of 2016 by running our own informal poll - just click as you wish on this alphabetic list at the bottom of this story to see whose achievements rise up the ranking. We can only say that that the wealth of choice speaks highly of the great good health and re-growing popularity of “waterborne truck racing”

anchor challenge1QUARTER TONNER Anchor Challenge – Paul Gibbons from Royal Cork Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Anchor Challenge: Paul Gibbon’s classic Quarter Tonner from Crosshaven was good on enthusiasm, and good on performance, her top line being the overall win in the IRC Europeans at Crosshaven in July, which he plans to defend at Marseilles this summer.

antixKER39 Antix – Anthony O'Leary from Royal Cork Yacht Club. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Antix: Anthony O’Leary’s Fast Forty+ may not have had her most successful season ever in 2016, but many crews would give their eye teeth to have a record as good, topped with the Class O win in the IRC Europeans in Cork Harbour in July.

BAM Sunfast 3600SUNFAST 3600 BAM! - Conor Fogerty from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Bam!: With the complexities of the RORC Caribbean 2017 still fresh upon us, we realize just how good was Conor Fogerty’s Class win in 2016 in this demanding maze of a race around the islands with his Sunfast 3600 Bam!. And on top of that, it was all just part of an extraordinary season with thousands and thousands of miles of sailing and racing

Checkmate Davd CullenHALF TONNER Checkmate XV – David Cullen from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Checkmate XV: David Cullen’s beautifully-presented classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV found form to rocket to the top in the ICRA Nats at his home port of Howth in June in a very convincing style. Dave also skippered the J/109 Storm to a class win in the Volvo Round Ireland as Euro Carparks, but maybe that should count as a success for the Kelly family’s Storm, which also won the J/109 Nationals

Cartoon Quarter tonnerQUARTER TONNER Cartoon – Ken Lawless & Sybil McCormack  from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Cartoon V: Ken Lawless & Sybil McCormack (RIYC) with their characterful Quarter Tonner came sweeping through the IRC Nationals to win their class in style.

dark angel yachtDUBOIS 37 Dark Angel – Tony Ackland from Swansea. Photo: Bob Bateman

Dark Angel: Tony Ackland from Swansea turned all heads with his handsome boat which in a previous life was well known in both Cork Harbour and Galway. There’s more than just looks to the Angel – she won IRC 1 in the Europeans at Crosshaven.

Harmony yachtHALF TONNER Harmony – Jonny Swan from Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Harmony: Jonny Swan’s wooden-built classic Half Tonner Harmony benefitted from an under-deck laminated fore-and-aft girder installed by Dougal McMahon of Belmont in County Offaly literally to provide a bit of backbone, and it worked a treat. In many victories, Harmony won IRC 3 in the Europeans at Cork.

Irelands Eye Kilcullen j24J24 Ireland's Eye Kilcullen – HYC under-25s from Howth Yacht Club

Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen: The HYC nippers – aka the under-25s – in the club-backed J/24 showed there’s still life in this classic Johnstone design. In open events they took second place in Class 4 at Cork Week and the IRC Europeans, they also took third overall in the J/24 Under 25 Europeans. And in the class in Ireland they won the Nationals (7 wins in 7 races), the Northerns, the Southerns, and the Westerns.

Jump JuiceKER36 Jump Juice - Conor Phelan from Royal Cork Yacht Club. Photo: Bob Bateman

Jump Juice: Like good wine, Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 from Cork improves with age. They won the RORC Easter Challenge in ferocious weather in the Solent overall, and they won Class O in convincing style at the ICRA Nats in June.

Joker 2 J109J109 Joker 2 - John Maybury from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Joker 2: If you wanted a demonstration of the J/109’s all round ability, John Maybury’s Joker 2 provided it in 2016. She recorded a back-to-back win in the ICRA Nats – the only boat to do so in 2015-2016 – and under the skippering of Commandant Barry Byrne, she was the first winner of the new inter-forces Beaufort Cup including winning its Fastnet Race. Same boat, but completely different crews – Joker 2 makes a special claim for top boat of the year

OctopussE E BoatE–BOAT OctopussE - Pat O’Neill from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

OctopussE: The Julian Everitt-designed E Boat is a blast from the past, a miniature offshore racer in which the vertical keel can be retracted completely into the hull. The fleet at Clontarf deserve every credit for their multiple use, including club racing and canal cruising. But it is Pat O’Neill who carries it all through with competition in the ICRA Nats, and he won IRC 4.

Rockabill Paul O Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill – Paul O'Higgins  from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: Afloat.ie

Rockabill VI: It takes courage to start racing in a boat with a massive international success record like the JPK 10.80, but Paul O’Higgins was game for the challenge when he took Rockabill VI fresh out of the wrappings to do the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June, and came within an ace of a class win. He then re-surfaced for the IRC Europeans at Cork in July – and won IRC 2.

Who is Your ICRA Boat of Year 2016?
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Published in ICRA

Conor Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice defended her 2015 Abersoch Keelboat Week title in some style on Friday winning both the penultimate and the final races.

The Royal Cork yacht finished the regatta a whopping 11–points clear.

As Afloat.ie previously reported, despite the margin of victory, “Jump Juice” was pushed all the way by regular ISORA competitor Peter Dunlop and Vicki Cox’ J109 “Mojito” and John Batson’s Dehler 36 “Wombat”.

“Jump Juice” team for the week was:-

Bow: Ewan O’Keefe
Mast: James Coulson / Fergal McGrath / Tom Soar
Pit: Mary Barrett
Pit Assist: Selina Thomas
Trim 1: Dave Rowland
Trim 2: John Sisk / Jerry Ibberson
Trim 3: Adam Hyland
Float: Noirin Phelan
Mainsheet / crew boss: Maurice “Prof” O’Connell
Helm / Skipper: Conor Phelan
Tactician: Mike Budd

Results here

Published in Royal Cork YC

Conor Phelan's Jump Juice established a firm grip on Abersoch Keelboat Week yesterday, winning both races in very light airs. The Royal Cork YC Ker 37 was on fire in IRC 1, winning race six by over a minute and race seven by a whopping 24 minutes.

Two races are scheduled this morning in a medium air forecast for the final day. Fingers are crossed for a repeat of Jump Juice's 2015 victory, says mainsheet trimmer/crew boss Maurice O'Connell.

See results here.

Published in Offshore

Conor Phelan's much travelled Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork Yacht Club leads class one of Abersoch keelboat week in North Wales this week. Five races of the series have been sailed so far with one discard. The Crosshaven entry, with Maurice O'Connell onboard as part of the Munster crew, leads the Jon Batson skippered Dehler 36 Wombat by a point and a half. There are three more races left to sail today and two tomorrow. Full results in the nine boat class one fleet are here 

Published in Offshore

April has come upon us with so many podium positions suddenly taken by Irish sailors in major events that you could have been forgiven for thinking that our usual April 1st specials had been allowed to run on for a day or two extra writes W M Nixon. But before fully savouring the new successes, we must bid a final farewell to March, which had its moments of extreme excitement - and some taking of silverware too.

Nothing was more extreme than the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent from March 25th to 27th, with the tail-end of the winter providing one final ferocious flick for a fleet which included several bats with Irish connections And within the series, nothing was more extreme than Black Sunday, March 27th, when hyper- black striker squalls of the kind that would make you wonder if the roof on the house was safe, let alone if you could carry extra downwind sails on the boat, were top of the agenda as they swept in at record speeds.

Yet Black Sunday was the best day for the Irish, with two wins being recorded in the final race. Until then, Anthony O’Leary’s Kery 40 Antix in the Fast40+ division had been had been out of the frame – albeit by a small margin – by what the owner had cheerfully admitted to be “silly mistakes”. But on that final day as mayhem was the experience of most of the fleet, Antix was beautifully in control at top performance, tearing up the Solent in a blaze of spray to take the final race win, though she wasn’t to finish first overall.

But in Class 2, Conor Phelan’s 2008-vintage Ker 36 Jump Juice had been lying second throughout the series, despite being up against some superbly-sailed boats which included America’s Cup sailors among their crews. Yet even the AC aces found themselves wiping out in spectacular style on Black Sunday, while Jump Juice streaked along in cool control to take the race win and the Class win overall to make Conor Phelan of Royal Cork YC the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for March 2016.

Published in Sailor of the Month

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Jump Juice (Conor Phelan) has won the 17–boat class two fleet of RORC's Easter Challenge on the Solent today in dramatic fashion. Clubmate Antix (Anthony O'Leary) at the helm of Antix was the winner of today's breezy FAST 40+ race but the Royal Cork yacht did not retain the overall trophy won in 2015 and finished fourth overall.

If traditionally the RORC Easter Challenge is the Royal Ocean Racing Club's coaching regatta, today's lesson centred upon heavy weather sailing technique.

As the fleet returned to yesterday's start area around Peel Bank, conditions were sunny and relatively benign, but with giant grey clouds looming. During today's one race, a squall stuck down the fleet with gale force gusts of up to 40 knots. In addition to numerous broaches, there were two man overboard incidents; one on James Neville's INO XXX racing in the FAST 40+ class, the other on RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine's First 40, La Réponse.

On La Réponse the vang trimmer got washed overboard during a Chinese gybe. As McIrvine described it: "We were absolutely dead downwind and a little bit by the lee and a big gust took us the other way. We let the vang off too much and the boat rolled and we Chinesed in."

Fortunately the MOB's lifejacket inflated and they were recovered after a few minutes and hauled onto a RIB by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and lead coach, Jim Saltonstall. The incident cost La Réponse victory in IRC Two, where today's race was claimed by former RORC Commodore Mike Greville on his Ker 39 Erivale III and the class prize went to Ireland's Conor Phelan and his Ker 37, Jump Juice.

Phelan described today: "We were happy to pull it off because the conditions were quite challenging." During the race they saw 35 knots. "I thought we were going to go down the mine on the run," said tactician Mike Budd. "We had to drop the kite and do two gybes at the bottom which was a bit wild but our main competitor [La Réponse] span out at that point which was bad luck to them because they sailed well."

With the big forecast, eight of the 10 FAST40+ class pitched up today but only four finished. While James Neville's INO XXX got away well at the pin, Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II did well being first to hoist her kite. However the South Africans subsequently struggled to retrieve their kite causing it to fly like a flag from the masthead. Eventually the crew relinquished, performing a 'chase boat drop' with the assistance of RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen.

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Anthony O'Leary's Antix at full speed on the Solent this afternoon. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Today's FAST 40+ race was won by Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40, Antix. For the Irish two time Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup winner, this event was their first sailing this season. However O'Leary acknowledged that Antix prefers the big conditions. "Pound for pound, we sail better in a gale than in a calm." However, in similar conditions, they had finished fourth in yesterday's race. "We made some silly mistakes and you deserve to get punished for that. Our mark rounding was getting better as the weekend went on."

Ultimately Texan William Coates' Ker 43 Otra Vez was the overall winner of the FAST40+ class' first ever regatta. Peter Morton's Carkeek 40 Mk3 Girls on Film didn't compete today leaving Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+ Invictus to take second overall.

Mills stated: "We saw 37 knots of wind and then various things started blowing away and we had a wonderful broach, when we nearly lost one of our guys over the side. We hit something like 23-24 knots downwind, but I had so much water in my face that I couldn't see the instruments. You need a snorkel and goggles! They are wet boats but such great fun to sail. My boat is like racing a dinghy."

Despite a strong challenge from David Franks' JPK 10.10 Strait Dealer, which claimed three bullets in five races, it was the newer, larger JPK 10.80 Sunrise that prevailed in IRC Three, winning today's race.

"This is the first time I have won a yacht race - which is why we're drinking at 1100!" enthused Sunrise's skipper, Tom Kneen. "We've only had the boat for four weeks and she's just astonishing - very very fast and in quite difficult conditions."

Kneen experienced his first Chinese gybe yesterday, but today calmed down, which he attributed to the coaching they received yesterday. "That was very useful - about moving our weight around the boat which makes such a difference. The whole process of this weekend has enabled us to build, so I am looking forward to the season."

In IRC Four Harry Heijst and his Winsome claimed today's race and the overall class win. The conditions over the Easter weekend perfectly suited the classic Dutch S&S 41. One of the most impressive performances in IRC Four was that of the Sam Laidlaw-helmed Quarter Tonner, Aguila. "It is a real handful and very hard to get uphill because you are almost overpowered," said Laidlaw of sailing the mini boat in the big wind. "It was gusting 35-38 knots, but we were planning at 16!"

Quarter Tonners aren't supposed to plane? "Someone forgot to tell the boat that! We got to the bottom of the run and all we could see was white water everywhere. We had a great time - great fun."

Racing Manager, Nick Elliott concluded: "While conditions were challenging over the regatta, this provided the perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience from our world class coaches and will certainly have jump started each participant's season."

Published in RORC

High speed, adrenalin pumping, ultra-competitive racing came to the Solent on the first day of RORC's Easter Challenge 2016 in what many agree is the most exciting development to have taken place in big boat keel boat racing in the UK for decades writes James Boyd.

The long-awaited advent of competition for the new FAST40+s, the big boat class at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Easter Challenge, coincided today with chilly, but summery conditions. Three races were sailed with the wind peaking at 15-20 knots during race two. Royal Cork's Antix scored a 9,8,4 to be eighth overall in a fleet of ten.

Among the ten FAST40s, there was a different winner in each race, but ultimately there were two stand-out performers in American William Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez, and Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film. They won the third and first races, respectively, while Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus, claimed race two when the FAST40+s were sailing at wind speed.

"It has gone really well," said FAST40+ Class President, Robert Greenhalgh. "It has been a lot of hard work by everybody, but all the owners have pulled in the same direction to make it happen, and have spent the money and got the boats. The RORC and IRC [the RORC Racing Office] have been very supportive and we've had a lot of sponsors that have come in to help bring it all together."

Greenhalgh was pleased that most teams posted good results today.

Himself a former Volvo Ocean Race winner and 18ft skiff and International 14 World Championship, Greenhalgh calls tactics on Invictus which today posted a 6-1-8 scoreline. This leaves them third overall, six points adrift of Girls on Film and tied with two modified GP42s, Tony Dickins' Jubilee and South African Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II.

Invictus got buried at the start of the first race, got away cleanly in race two and then suffered a mishap coming into the top mark in the final race that cost them. "This is about close racing and not making mistakes," advises Greenhalgh.

Overall leader by two points today is Otra Vez. FAST40+ crewscan include up to five ISAF Cat3 'professionals' of their 11. Sailing with Coates are heavyweight Volvo Ocean Race veterans Steve Hayles, Luke Molloy and Phil Harmer.

"The fleet is very high quality, it is living up to expectations. It was fantastic racing and it is only going to get better, which is what is nice about it," said Coates of today's inaugural racing for the FAST40+s. Previously Coates raced his Ker 43 in the US and the Caribbean before moving her to the Mediterranean last year and now onto the UK. "I think we improved a little bit every race. Most of the crew had never stepped on board before yesterday - they are excellent, but it was about getting familiar with some of the basics today. Plus we do have a little bit of waterline [advantage]. If we get better starts, it helps get us into clear air."

While the FAST40+s stole the show today, in the other three classes there were also standout performers, including RORC Admiral Andrew McIrvine on his First 40, La Réponse, whose two bullets in today's final races, give him a three point lead in IRC Two. Second overall is O'Leary's clubmate Conor Phelan sailing Jump Juice, who counts 2,5,4 in the 17–boat fleet.

In IRC Four, it is the closest at the topwith Sam Laidlaw's Quarter Tonner, Aguila, a mere half point ahead of Harry J. Heijst's perennial S&S 41, Winsome.

In IRC Three the latest hardware is prevailing in Tom Kneen's Sunrise. This is a JPK 1080 sistership to last year's Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Courrier Du Leon. Today Kneen and his Plymouth-based crew were top scorers posting a 1-2-2, despite having only had the boat for three weeks and today being just the third day of racing her.

"We had an Elan E4, in which we had a brilliant season last year and learned a lot. I was looking for a boat of this size which would be competitive and so far it has been. I am absolutely delighted," saidKneen, who intends to enter the selection for the British team in this year's Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup.

While Kneen has had to adjust from wheel to tiller steering over the last few days, today came good he felt because of the first class effort of the crew, which includes five who sailed with him last season.

For this time of year, it would have been hard to beat today's conditions. Sadly tomorrow the wind is looking tougher with gale force gusts predicted for the afternoon. Principal Race Officer Stuart Childerley is keeping fingers crossed that conditions will be sailable in the morning before the front arrives.

Published in RORC

Forty entries are already in for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, a fixture widely expected to be the biggest in Ireland this season when it sets sail on Dublin Bay in July.

Organisers are expecting up to 500 boats to keep it on a par with the 2009 event. The early entries, 11 weeks ahead of the entry deadline, is being taken as a thumbs up by competitors for the fun and vlaue theme of this year's VDLR.

So far 22 different clubs have entered from six countries. The bulk of the fleet is Irish but there are early entries from France, Isle of Man, UK, Wales and Northern Ireland. Another good turnout is exepcted from Liverpool and Holyhead for boats competing in the IRC Lyver Cup Race across the Irish Sea. Ten boats from the Clyde will also compete on the Bay.

Cork's Conor Phelan the skipper of Jump Juice is one of the first Royal Cork boats confirmed.

Two handed IRC racing makes its debut in July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta organisers have also confirmed. Click HERE.

On the dinghy front, the Fireball class has confirmed it will be running an'Open Championship' within the regatta, an event that follows the class world championships in Sligo in June.

Published in Volvo Regatta

What a day this Sunday's racing turned out to be. From the moment one turned the corner on to the Crosshaven road at Carrigaline there was magic in the air writes Claire Bateman. The sun was shining, the trees were resplendent in their multi colour seasonal changes and the line of cars making their way to the Royal Cork Yacht Club was non-stop. The forecast said Sunday was going to be a very nice day with lots of sunshine but nowhere did I hear anyone say anything other than winds would be light and, so it seemed, until a flag outside one of the supermarkets on the road to Carrigaline seemed to be moving pretty nicely and was a taste of things to come.

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Tight racing in the penultimate race of Royal Cork's October League. Photo: Bob Bateman. Scroll down for more photos from yesterday

Classes Zero, One and 1720s got the nicest wind on the laid course to day. Race Officer Richard Leonard and his race committee in Capta Ventum, kindly provided by Pascal Healy, certainly made the best of the day. Today Richard decided on a change of format and started the 1720s first followed by Classes Zero and One together and then Class Two. He gave the fleets short courses providing very tight racing ensuring the crews had plenty of hard work and also providing very exciting viewing with a few heart-stopping moments. The 1720s, Zero and One did three rounds and Class Two did two rounds. With a northerly breeze of some 10 knots gusting to 12 and occasionally 14, it was to provide a tantalising taste of what was to come and there was no disappointment. Voices that hadn't needed to be raised at marks on previous Sundays found the necessity to make themselves heard today and the action was fascinating with hard work on the boats but a sense of great sailing exhilaration emanating from them.

Coming into race two of the day the skippers and crews had got the bit well between their teeth and were all like bucking broncos at the start line. In Class Zero there was an individual recall sounded. Jump Juice and Freya answered the call immediately and returned to restart and after some little while Gloves Off returned and while not knowing the reason why, one can only assume the helmsman perhaps was not quite convinced he had been over but then decided to return having considered it. Again the wind duly obliged and as in the first race, there were boats to the left, boats to the right and boats pretty well everywhere one looked. In Class Zero Tom Roche's Meridian from Kinsale had been performing extremely well but was slightly under
crewed today and was unlucky enough to have an incident at the weather mark in this race and after that things just did not go their way and they retired. This must have been disappointing as they had been doing so well. With Jump Juice winning the first race today and Gloves Off taking the second race and first overall to date in the series, the last day of racing next Saturday will be crucial as these races will be non discardable.

Race Officer Anthony O'Leary stood in to day for David O'Brien and the committee boat Sabrone was again kindly provided by Admiral Paddy McGlade. It was not such a lucky day wind wise inside the harbour for Classes Three and Four and White Sail 1 and 2. There was also extremely low water to day
and some of the skippers mentioned they had in fact touched rocks. Nonetheless they enjoyed good racing if at a somewhat lower pace than the competitors on the laid course.

At this point in time Class Three IRC looks like a two horse race with Tiger on 9pts followed by Bandit on 11pts. Class Four has a very similar situation with Sundancer on 9pts followed by Granny knot on 11pts. In White Sail 1 IRC Minx 111 had a good day to day with a first and second and currently has 7pts overall and the two big boats in the fleet Chancer from Kinsale and Aisha from RCYC are on 14pts each. In White Sail 2 IRC Plumbat is on 6pts overall with Phaeton on 9pts and Silk Breeze on 12pts.

And so we are coming to the final race of this exciting series. All competitors should note carefully that racing will take place on SATURDAY NEXT OCTOBER 30TH. The prize giving dinner will take place that evening at the Club House .

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MORE OCTOBER LEAGUE GALLERY IMAGES HERE 

 

Published in Royal Cork YC