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The 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race overall win was still open to challenge until the leader on the water, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, had cleared the Fastnet Rock. However, with every mile sailed thereafter, it looked increasingly likely that Rockabill was on track to win every title for which she was eligible. Only a total catastrophic failure of boat or equipment was going to prevent it. But there was no failure of any kind. The JPK 10.80 comes at a significant price premium because this is a clearly defined concept which just doesn’t do boat or equipment failures. W M Nixon tries to pin down why the Dingle win seemed so special.

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. As Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has increasingly found her form in Irish sailing since arriving new from the builders just over a year ago, there’s no lack of people ready to tell you how and why they counselled him to go for an expensive new JPK 10.80, rather than a reasonably-priced second-hand J/109 like so many others.

But as one of Dublin’s leading barristers, Paul O’Higgins is his own man, quiet in demeanor yet thinking on his feet at the speed of lightning, while effortlessly storing any new information in a well-furnished brain. His approach to sourcing a new boat as the 2014 season drew to a close was forensic in its analysis, and the way he picked on a JPK 10.80 before they’d hit the headlines of major success is illustrative of how he functions.

Not being a cradle sailor, he can look at boats in a coldly dispassionate way. He hadn’t sailed at all until he met his future wife Finola Flanagan at College, and as the Flanagans of Skerries were the total sailing family, he soon found himself roped into sailing with his future father-in-law Jack Flanagan on a series of boats all named Rockabill after that distinctive lighthouse-topped rocky islet that is eight miles east of Skerries out in the Irish Sea, an islet big enough to provide a home for Europe’s largest colony of the rare roseate terns.

rockabill image2The one and only original Rockabill is still a couple of hundred miles from the Fastnet Rock. Photo: W M Nixon

From being a visitor who might pull a rope when asked, the daughter’s suitor developed into a crewman, and as his taste for this weird but wonderful sport grew, he became a partner in the continuing succession of Rockabills, going into co-ownership with Jack in a souped-up First 30, Rockabill II.

By 1998, the balance was changing naturally with the passage of time, and Paul was becoming the pace-setter when they moved into a First 33.7 Rockabill III. He was competitive, yet no more naturally able at sport than most. An enthusiasm for playing rugby had been brought to an end by a knee injury, but he can still give a reasonable account of himself on a tennis court. However, it was the hugely complex wind-driven vehicle sport of campaigning a cruiser-racer under fair handicap rules which increasingly appealed to him. Having made the happy discovery that he seemed to be immune to seasickness, he stepped up his level of involvement.

His father-in-law had long since become eligible for the free travel pass, so the stage was reached where Paul bought him out while still with the First 33.7, and then with the turn of the millennium he was thinking of another boat slightly further up the Beneteau range, the highly-regarded First 36.7, and with her he achieved his first significant win in an IRC event.

Professional and family life were at their most demanding, yet somehow he found the time to campaign the First 36.7 Rockabill IV in several significant series and regattas, building up both experience and skills, while at the same time enlarging his circle of like-minded friends to create the kind of crew panel – more than twice the number of actual crew on the day - which is necessary to campaign a serious boat at this level.

With every year, however, the level became ever more demanding, and in admitting to himself that the First 36.7 was no longer cutting the mustard at the heights to which he aspired, he reckoned by 2008 that he needed to be in a Corby, and a new Corby 33 was what he could most comfortably afford.

rockabill v corby3With the Corby 33 Rockabill V, Paul O’Higgins had many successful years. She is seen here racing at the ICRA Nationals 2013 at Tralee Bay. Photo: Robert Bateman

Rockabill V, the Corby 33, became a familiar sight on the circuit, always noted for putting in an interesting and often podium-gaining position, yet almost invariably guaranteed to appear at Calves Week, that amalgam of West Cork Regattas out of Schull early in August, a fun event with an underlying level of quite serious racing which fitted well with the Higgins’ family’s regular summer holidays in West Cork in August.

For a busy man ashore, his commitment to getting afloat as much as possible was remarkable, and his willingness to take part each year in an interesting series of regattas and events saw his crew panel increasing. If you were as keen as Paul O’Higgins, then as a committed panel-member you were going to get sailing. And with first places recorded in various series which ranged from Scotland to Kerry, plus regular participation in Dublin Bay where he sails from the Royal Irish YC, Rockabill V made frequent and regular appearances in the frame.

But by 2014 he began to feel that he’d gone about as far as he could with the Corby 33. She’s a very interesting boat, unforgiving in some ways yet rewarding in others. But nobody would call her luxurious, let alone comfortable. That said, Rockabill V was still winning races. But when a new boat called the JPK 10.80 appeared from a specialist yard in France in the Spring of 2014, his interest was piqued by the fact that she had race potential, yet with her considerable beam, twin rudders, and roomy and comfortable accommodation, was about as different as possible in concept from the Corby.

If he was going to make a change, why not make a complete one? The J/109 seemed an attractive idea, but when the class finally started to take off in Dublin Bay, she was no longer being built. This “new” Dublin Bay One-Design was a class made up entirely of pre-owned boats. Yet Paul O’Higgins had become accustomed to buying from new. Second-hand just wasn’t his thing.

He looked again at the JPK 10.80, and when one of the very first turned up from France to race Cork Week 2014, he was very taken with her despite the fact that in straight sailing, the crew clearly weren’t getting the best from her, while their confusion with Cork Harbour courses compounded their problems.

Paul O’Higgins bided his time until July 2015 when, despite the pressure from the J/109 lobby, he placed an order for a JPK 10.80. It was a decision soon supported by events, with a JPK 10.80 winning the Rolex Fastnet overall in August 2015, and then in December a JPK 10.80 cruising the Pacific was briefly taken out of her cruising reverie, kitted out with racing sails by Gery Trentesaux’s Fastnet-winning crew, and promptly went out and won her class in the Sydney-Hobart Race.

Yet perhaps the best thing of all about having placed his order back in July was that it entitled him to visit the new factory near Lorient where the boat was being built. He went there a number of times, finding it an inspiring place of exceptional cleanliness and precision, while the dedication of designer Jacques Valer and company founder Jean Pierre Kelbert set the tone.courier du leon4The JPK 10.80 Courier du Leon winning the Fastnet race a month after the order had been placed for Rockabill VI

Thus although the situation is that an order placed today for a new JPK 10.80 would mean delivery no earlier than the very end of 2018, they are not enthusiastic about taking on extra staff to speed up production. They feel that not everyone would immediately share the JPK ethos, and the current workforce size and output is probably optimal.

jpk 1080 aloft5The JPK 10.80’s beamy hull shape with twin rudders was a whole world away from the narrow deep Corby concept.

jpk 1080 layout6The accommodation is surprisingly roomy and comfortable for a boat which has now added the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race win to overall victory in the Fastnet and a class win in the Sydney-Hobart.

It may be frustrating for someone who is keen but hasn’t yet made the commitment, but for those already on the ladder or with a JPK 10.80 sailing and winning, it serves to keep the boat’s value very high. You don’t buy a JPK 10.80. You invest in one.

But when Rockabill VI first arrived in Ireland early in the season of 2016, the light airs of her debut event, the ICRA Nationals at Howth, didn’t suit her initial configuration of small sails planned to fit into the preferred IRC Rating band for the best racing in Dublin Bay.

However, for the Round Ireland Race 2016 later in June, she was at her sparkling best for the fast run up the west coast, and seemed to have a class win in the bag when she hit a localised total calm at Inishtrahull. Rockabill VI and a couple of other boats nearby simply sat there for nearly four hours while the closest competition, the J/109 Euro Car Parks (Dave Cullen), came up from very many miles astern with her own breeze to knock Rockabill off the leader perch. With light airs when beating down the Irish Sea, the under-canvassed JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI failed to re-take the class lead.

So although there were many wins in 2016, particularly when there was a good breeze or lots of high-powered offwind stuff, and preferably both, Rockabill VI was on the money, but through the winter Paul O’Higgins implemented a plan to step up the sail area and take the ratings hit.

rockabill vi dublin bay7Rockabill VI in the totally familiar surroundings of Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

paul on helm8Paul O’Higgins on the tiller as Rockabill VI wins the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire Race 2017
Most observers are confident that it will pay ultimately pay off, yet oddly enough there has only been one major race this year in which its success was clearly demonstrated. The Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire – which she won – was a freed-sheet breezy sprint, while the Dun Laoghaire-Arklow was a calm-bedevilled flukerama. So the only true test was the hybrid ISORA Howth-Lambay-Poolbeg race on June 3rd, in which the ISORA fleet sailed Howth YC’s Lambay Race in a gesture to Howth Regatta, but then continued on through the finish line to finish at the Poolbeg Y&BC line as a gesture to the Dublin Port Riverfest.

Hybrid or not, it demonstrated that Rockabill VI’s new configuration was a race winner, but after that there was little opportunity for any further testing before the National YC’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle race got under way at 1900hrs on Wednesday June 14th.

We’ve carried at least a dozen continuing reports on Afloat.ie, so there’s no need here to tell you of the ins and outs of a classic race, but what was it like on Rockabill VI, which so convincingly won?

By this stage in a sailing career which has been going on for nearly 35 years, Paul O’Higgins has a trusted crew panel of between 15 and 20 centred on Dublin or Cork upon whom he can draw, and putting together a campaign team of eight for the Dingle Race neatly drew the balance between who was available, who was really keen, and those whose abilities would best complement the core squad which was emerging.

Topping the list was Paul himself and his son Conor, while regular helmsman Mark Pettit was also in from the start. The other main helm became Peter Wilson, whose skills on the tiller or wheel are legendary, and he also brought the kudos of having been a key member of the crew with which Richard Burrows won the very first Dingle Race in 1993 with the Sigma 36 Black Pepper.

Central to the crew was Ian O’Meara of Viking Marine in Dun Laoghaire, who in addition to knowledge of equipment and considerable sailing skills, is married to Jacquie Marsh who heads that very special catering setup, The Butler’s Pantry. Rockabill VI raced with a balanced selection of pre-prepared meals from The Butler’s Pantry, and when feeding time came around, they feasted like kings in the remarkable comfort which this very exceptional boat is able to provide.

Through his contacts on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, Ian O’Meara had introduced a recent recruit to the crew panel, Will Byrne who was Captain of UCD Sailing in recent years when they’ve been winning every which way. He has also logged offshore racing experience with the RORC programme in the English Channel each summer, and he brought youth and extra skills to the crew for Dingle.

will byrne9Will Byrne (right) with his new shipmates at the Fastnet. He was a highly successful Captain of UCD sailing and a veteran of RORC events, but had not sailed the Dingle race before. Photo: Paul O’Higgins

Two frequent crew regulars on Rockabill – Rees Kavanagh who knows his way round many boats, and Ian Heffernan who is a professional maritime instructor, made up the total of eight. They were divided into a rolling system of pairing which means that at any one time, there’s always a minimum of four on deck, but proper off-watch spells are guaranteed, as Rockabill VI is laid out in such a way that three people can be fully off-watch and sleeping, yet they’re right up against the weather side of the boat.

This may sound self-indulgent for people who expect to spend a night on the weather rail, but it was part of the formula which contributed to Rockabill’s success. As Paul O’Higgins puts it:

“You really do get a proper little spell of sleep. To begin with, the boat is so well built there is no water finding its way below. Troublesome drips from above are unknown. You won’t find the sleeping bag is slowly dampening from some hidden little puddle. And within the limits of slugging to windward off Ireland’s south coast, she’s as sea-kindly as can be, particularly when you have helmsmen of world quality who know that a banging boat is a slow boat.

But always, there’s the reassurance of knowing how well she is built. She’s definitely not going to fall asunder under you and about you. There’s no better recipe for a refreshing sleep when it’s your turn to be off watch”.

dingle finish10Perfect end to a great race. Summer evening as seen from Rockabill VI heading into Dingle. Photo: Will Byrne

Thus Rockabill VI’s inbuilt advantage over the opposition simply increased as the race went on. Others were giving it best and retired as the going got tough and stayed tough, but on Rockabill, they were on top of it - and enjoying it too.

That said, with the increased rating, they knew that they were vulnerable to any unexpected calm and the constant challenge of the three chasing J/109s, to all of whom they gave quite a bit of time. It was an itch to be scratched .The owner-skipper at his navigation and tactics took to referring to the nearest one, Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito, as Mosquito.....

Yet most of the time, Rockabill was stretching her lead on Mosquito. When she got to the Fastnet towards 1000 hrs on the Friday morning, they’d lengthened it to eleven miles. A celebratory crew photo with the rock in the background was assembled by Will Byrne, but helmsman Mark Pettit, a very serious person, thought such frivolity was premature.

Evidently the Fastnet Rock agreed with him. It served up a slack patch and a very lumpy sea, and for an agonising period their speed dropped to 3.8 knots. But they got clear of its clutches, and the notorious flat at Mizen Head only slowed them back to 4.4 knots for a while.

And then they were gone, piling on the knots in a warm southwesterly which became stronger the nearer they got to the finish. They came past Skellig Michael at 8.8 knots. The last nine miles into Dingle were seen off in less than fifty minutes. They’d won everything by a country mile and then some. After the finish, they were lined up for photos. History was made. Mark Pettit smiled.

rockabill crew11History is made. Mark Pettit (right) is recorded as smiling (well, sort of) at the crew-lineup in Dingle. Others in the photo are (left to right) Peter Wilson, Paul O’Higgins, Will Byrne, Conor O’Higgins, Ian Heffernan, Rees Kavanagh and Ian O’Meara. Photo: Con Murphy
The plans for the rest of the season are very conservative, for this is first and last a Corinthian boat. As a busy lawyer, Paul O’Higgins’ free time is constrained, and he reckons something like a Fastnet campaign is simply too demanding of time, money and other resources when the energy would give a better return deployed in other ways, and his family have always had other ways of being near the Fastnet Rock during August.

So Rockabill VI will return to Dun Laoghaire for DBSC racing, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta preceded by ISORA’s Lyver trophy Race, some other ISORA events, and then full-on participation in Calves Week out of Schull as part of a family holiday in West Cork, when the boat’s excellent cruising potential will also be utilised.

It’s Irish sailing at its best. This is how it should be done. Topped off with the Dingle Race win before midsummer was even upon us, it’s a very attractive balance.

Read our 2017 Dun Laoghaire–Dingle Race Reports in one handy link here

Published in W M Nixon

Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has been piling up the pressure from the front on the chasing opposition in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 writes W M Nixon. She swept up to Skellig Michael at 8.8 knots in the sou’wester around 1730 hrs well in the lead, and then in shaping her course into Dingle Bay with twenty miles to the finish, she was still going good at only slightly reduced speed of 7.1 knots.

Tracker here

On down the line, fortunes have varied enormously, and anyone watching the Tracker has felt helpless as one boat after another wandered into the local flat patch at Mizen Head, with their speed falling right away.

Rockabill D2D 2017The Royal Irish YC Rockabill VI crew on the D2D were Paul O'Higgins, Conor O'Higgins, Mark Pettit, Ian O'Meara, Peter Wilson, William Byrne, Rees Kavanagh and Ian Heffernan Photo: Afloat.ie

The gallant charge of the Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty & David Cagney) came to a virtual halt here. For long enough – or so it seemed - the Two-handed Division leader sat almost paralysed at barely a knot while smaller lighter boats such as Andrew Algeo’s J/109 Juggerknot, which had been right beside her, were able to slip away in the slightest sharpening of the light air and get back up to speed off the mouth of Dunmanus Bay.

But now Soufriere has got herself going again at 1800hrs, and is getting up to speed at 6.8 knots, yet the J/109s around her – with Juggerknot a bit over a mile ahead and Ruth (Shanahan family) much the same distance astern astern – are matching the pace.

Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s leading J/109 Mojito is in turn just under three miles ahead of Juggerknot, but that puts her all of 15 miles behind Rockabill, which has been sailing a remarkable race. But then you’d expect that with helmsmen of the calibre of Mark Pettit and Peter Wilson aboard, the latter having an unrivalled record in this race as he played a key role when Richard Burrows’ Sigma 36 Black Pepper was overall winner of the first dash to Dingle in 1993.

Within classes, the Tyrrell family’s J/112E Aquelina continues in a solid lead in the Cruiser Division, and is midway between the Fastnet Rock and Mizen Head making 6.4 knots on course, while in Racing Division 2, the leader on the water, Irish Offshore Sailing’s Jeanneau 37 Desert Star skippered by the sailing school’s principal Ronan O’Siochru, is currently nearing the Fastnet. However, Ian Hickey and his Cork crew on the Granada 38 Cavatina are close enough astern to maintain their corrected time lead, while Desert Star is second.

We maligned that tough old salt Liam Coyne in the First 36.7 Lula Belle by suggesting in an earlier report today that the Round Britain and Ireland Race class winner had retired into Kinsale this morning. Lula Belle did indeed go into Kinsale Marina at about three minutes to eight this morning, but at 8 o’clock she was heading straight back out again, having presumably made the necessary drop-off of a crewman. Lula Belle is currently pacing along at better than 5 knots between Desert Star and Cavatina, currently lying third in Racing 2 where a right old ding-dong is clearly developing for the top three places.

Further down the line, the two tiny Mini Transat 650s Port of Galway Green and Port of Galway Black are by no means last on the water, and they’re just about in sight of each other and having a real race, with Green (Yannick Lemonnier and DanMill) leading from Black (Marcus Ryan).

At time of writing (1830 hrs Friday) it’s looking hopeful for a daylight finish for Rockabill VI, as she has been logging 7.3 knots tacking downwind, and has just 15 miles to go to the finish. That said, strange things can happen to the winds of Dingle Bay as evening draws on, and even as we finish writing thisdispatch, the leader’s speed has dropped to 6.9 knots...

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Conor Fogerty is making great westerly progress this morning following a windshift last night in the closing stages of the OSTAR Transtlantic Race.

The Howth Yacht Club sailor is vying for overall honours after a storm ravaged crossing. He has 722 mailes to sail is the Gipsy Moth division leader, is second in line honours and second in Ostar division.

Fogerty on board a Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 departed Portsmouth 17 days ago.

Fogerty reports his major concern is that the auto pilot keeps cutting out on him but then restarts and functions as normal.

His shore team say he is 'on full sail and spending most of his time trimming'. He is expecting a bit more wind over the next day and then after that, he may see a little downwind sailing.

Main competitor Vento is sailing well again and at this rate should finish late this evening  to take line honours. From that moment on, BAM will be racing the clock for first on corrected time.

Track Fogerty's closing stages in this race here

Published in Solo Sailing

It started in 1993 as a gentler (it was hoped) biennial alternative to the Round Ireland Race, with the 275-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race being the brainchild of Martin Crotty and Peter Cullen of the National Yacht Club writes W M Nixon.

They’d been forced to run back to the shelter of Dingle – a port they didn’t know at all until then – after their mainsail on the Sigma 41 Koala had disintegrated during a ferocious beat northward off the Clare coast during the 1992 Round Ireland Race. In Dingle, they found the perfect port-town for recovery, and a warm welcome which got them thinking it would make the ideal venue for a cruiser-racer event starting at their own club in Dun Laoghaire.

They didn’t let the grass grow under their feet, with the first Dingle Race staged in June 1993. But the thinking behind it was that this was primarily a convenient way to get comfortable performance-cruisers to the sacred cruising territories of southwest Ireland as rapidly as possible, adding to the entertainment by turning the long haul to West Kerry into a bit of sport.

national yacht club2The National Yacht Club’s special corner in Dun Laoghaire harbour provides an ideal setting for the pre-race buzz before the fleet sails out, bound for Dingle

Certainly there has always been a significant contingent of cruising-oriented performance sailors in the fleet. But right from the off, the event’s attraction as a serious race was obviously the reason for many of the competitors’ presence, and the first winner was Richard Burrows’ Sigma 36 Black Pepper with a crew including such noted talents as Robert Dix and Peter Wilson.

Moonduster racing2When Denis Doyle’s Moonduster first did the biennial Dingle Race in 1994, it became a pillar of the Irish sailing programme

Then for 1994’s edition, Denis Doyle appeared from Cork to race the mighty Moonduster to Dingle, and it was clear the event had arrived. Since then, like all Irish sailing it has had its ups and with the rise and fall and rise again of the Irish economy. But there’s no doubting that 2015’s staging showed an event regaining full health. It put out a fleet of 30 with line honours being taken by the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partner (Adrian Lee, RStGYC) ahead of the Fast 40+ Antix (Anthony O’Leary, Royal Cork YC,) while the corrected time battle was won by the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth (NYC) by just 20 minutes from sister-ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC).

Having brought his race back to full health, Martin Crotty signalled his hopes of standing down from the central organisational role. But before doing so, he made sure he’d the ideal person to succeed him in the person of leading NYC clubmate Adam Winkelmann. For 2017, Winkelmann has taken an already great event and given it turbo power on the sponsorship side by making it the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. It’s now recognised by ISORA (who are providing the trackers), it is being appraised this time round for inclusion in future RORC programmes, and with 45 very varied boats down to start the race next Wednesday evening (June 14th, 1900hrs) off the Dun Laoghaire pierheads, the dash to Dingle has entered the big time with a 50% increase in participants.

adam winkelmann12Given a strong brand to manage with the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Adam Winkelmann has seen entries in the Volvo-sponsored event increase by 50% for 2017’s edition. Photo: Michael Chester

As for the fleet, the only significant absentees from 2015 are the two former contenders for line honours, Lee Overlay Partners and Antix. There are many new boats in the mix, and the winners on corrected time are in there too, notably overall winner Ruth and runner-up Mojito.

There is also a significant two-handed division with eleven boats entered, while the fleet is further spiced up by the presence of three Mini Transat 650s which will be racing to Dingle as an event within the event. At the other extremity, the Dingle race even has its first gaff-rigged entry, Darryl Hughes’s 43ft 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow-built Maybird. She’s able to race thanks to there being a division for Progressive ECHO. And before you dismiss her chances, bear it in mind that at the end of the long leg from the start to the Arklow Buoy in the recent ISORA Dun Laoghaire-Arklow Race, Maybird was leading the fleet on ECHO CT at the turn. So they’ll be hoping for a lot of reaching to ease their progress along the coast, and their main hope is to be in Dingle by Saturday (June 17th) in time for the Dingle Race’s very special prize-giving.

Maybird ISORA 2As part of the celebrations for her 80th birthday, the 1937-built classic Maybird will be racing to Dingle, the first gaff-rigged entry in the event’s 24-year history Photo: Afloat.ie

Overall, the sensible money would have to be on the J/109s, but although Ruth is in the entry lists and is very much the defending champion, she and her crew have been quiet enough in the 2017 season so far, while overall after five ISORA races the fleet leader is Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito, which must make her favourite for the new Volvo Trophy for the overall winner.

But hold hard. The Entry List also includes Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabil VI. She may rate higher than the J/109s (she’s 1.051 to the 1.015 of Ruth), but experience shows that in a variety of conditions, Rockabill VI can overcome that disadvantage, and a 275 miles race along a hugely varied (and rather magnificent) coastline will almost inevitably serve up a wide variety of conditions.

Mojito yacht isoraThe J/109 Mojito, runner-up in the Dingle Race of 2015, is currently topping the ISORA points table as she lines up to race to Dingle again

In the current spell of hyper-unsettled weather, there’s a lot of guessing in telling what that wide variety of conditions might be some four days hence, but all predictions seem to agree in having the words southwest and west in their wind direction forecasts, so at this juncture we’ll just leave it at that and focus up again nearer the time.

Meanwhile, the fleet has enough able boats to deal with all and any conditions, a welcome re-appearance in the Dublin Bay area being the Douglas brothers from Carrickfergus with their J/133 Jacana, which in her day has been the top Irish performer in the Fastnet Race as well as having Round Ireland credentials.

But if it’s Round Ireland and Fastnet Race credentials you seek, few can match Ian Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Cork, which on an IRC Rating of 0.930 can just keep plodding along at best possible speed, and suddenly she emerges as overall winner.

cavatina racing7Ian Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Royal Cork – a “serial Round Ireland winner” – will always have to be factored into the calculations for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle race

Other proven craft which are always there ready to pounce include George Sisk’s Farr 42 WOW, Chris and Patanne Power Smith’s J122 Aurelia (RStGYC), and Andrew Algeo’s J/109 Juggerknot, while the interesting Sailing School side of things is represented both by Fastnet Race class winner Ronan O Siochru with Irish Offshore Sailing’s Jeanneau 37 Desert Star, and Kenneth Rumball of Irish National Sailing School with the J/109 Jedi.

The three Mini 650s are Gildas Bechet’s Dingo 1 from Malahide, and two from the west – Yannick Lemonnier and Dan Mill with Port of Galway Green (they’re racing for Aran Sailing Club), and Port of Galway Black (Marcus Ryan & Louis Mulloy of Mayo SC).

dingo1 mini8The Mini 650 Dingo I from Malahide will be one of three Minis racing to Dingle as a separate class

Yannick lemonnier Dan millsDan Mill (right) and Yannick Lemonnier will race together on the Mini 650 Port of Galway Green

With all due respects to the other competitors, most observers will find a special fascination in the two-handed division, which is as motley a selection of boats and people as you could find in any Irish sailing event.

Yet it has real credibility in that it includes former winners of the two handed class in the Round Ireland – that’s father and son crew of Derek and Conor Dillon from Foynes YC with the Dehler 34 Big Deal, which won in the circuit in 2014. And also taking part are the winners of the admittedly then smaller two-handed division in the 2015 Dingle Race, Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles of Howth. In 2015, they raced the Elan 340 Blue Eyes to Dingle with success, this time round they’ve their recently-acquired J/109 Indian, which made an impressive debut by winning the ISORA Dun Laoghaire-Arklow Race three weeks ago.

blue eyes10The Elan 340 Blue Eyes (left) getting clear after the start of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race 2015, in which she won the two-Handed Division for Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles. This year they’re racing two-handed again, but in the newly-acquired J/109 Indian. Photo: W M Nixon

But for a real track record in racing two-handed in Irish waters, no-one can match Eamonn Crosbie (RIYC/NYC) who has entered this division in the D2D with his impressive Ron Holland-designed Discovery 55 Pamela. Eamonn Crosbie sailed the first round Ireland race ever, a three-stage two-handed event, from Ballyholme in 1975 with the late Jim Poole in a Ruffian 23. Later, he went on to win the Round Ireland overall in a fully-crewed Ker 32. But now his boat style has changed completely, and he should find some comfort in racing a 55-footer to Dingle, as she’s the biggest boat in the race.

discovery 55 crosby.11Profile drawing of the Discovery 55 by Ron Holland. This will be the largest yacht in the Dingle Race, skippered in the two-handed division by Eamonn Crosbie

The second-biggest in terms of overall length is also in the two-handed division, this is Stephen O’Flaherty’s Sprit 54 Soufriere, which may seem a lot of boat to race two-up, but he and his shipmate David Cagney have already achieved a podium place racing Soufriere in the two-handed event at Howth, so they know what they’re taking on.

At other times and events, the two of them are on the crew strength of Stephen Quinn’s successful J/97 Lambay Rules, but for the race to Dingle the little J boat will also be going two-handed, with Stephen Quinn sailing with Dave Cotter in what will inevitably be a uniquely mis-matched needle contest with Soufriere, as Lambay Rules rates 0.971 to the 1.120 of Soufriere

spirit54 soufriere12Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere is usually very fully crewed, but she’s racing in the two-handed division to Dingle next Wednesday. Photo: W M Nixon

Such personal contests and many others will be found as the fleet makes its way southward from Dublin Bay next Wednesday evening along a fascinating course which has just about everything. It’s a marvellous event, and while the prize giving at the conclusion in Benner’s Hotel in the heart of Dingle will be epic, the pre-race atmosphere at the National YC on Wednesday afternoon and evening will be something very special too.

The location of the hospitable club in its own attractive corner of Dun Laoghaire’s mighty harbour lends itself well to building up the pre-race buzz, but you definitely have to be there to fully appreciate it.

Full entry list here:

Class Boat Name Boat Manufacturer - Model Sail Number IRC TCF Skipper Sailing Club

2-handed AJ Wanderlust Jeanneau 45.2 Sun Odyssey IOM 8931 R 0.990 Charlene Howard Douglas Bay Yacht Club

2-handed Big Deal Dehler 34 IRL3492 0.922 Derek Dillon Foynes Yacht Club

2-handed Indian J109 1543 1.011 Colm Buckley Howth Yacht Club

2-handed Lambay Rules J 97 IRL 9970 0.971 Stephen Quinn Howth Yacht Club

2-handed LOBSTER Two Ton Dubois IRL 7077 1.101 Gary Horgan Kinsale Yacht Club

2-handed Pamela Discovery 55 IRL5503 1.082 Eamon Crosbie RIYC/NYC

2-handed Prima Luce Beneteau First 35 IRL 3504 1.017 Sean Lemass, and Patrick Burke National Yacht Club, and Royal Irish Yacht Club

2-handed Soufriere Spirit 54 IRL 1974 1.120 Stephen O'Flaherty Howth

Cruiser ACT Two DuFour 425 IRL4250 1.004 Tom Michael David Roche O'Leary Andrews RIYC

Cruiser Birmayne Bruce Roberts IRL 756 0.000 Justin McKenna RSGYC

Cruiser Fulmar Fever Westerly Fulmar FR 14 0.869 Robert Marchant W.H.S.C.

Cruiser Golden Fleece Sigma 41 IRL51215 0.800 Barry Cunningham RIYC

Cruiser Harriet Marwood Farrow & Chambers, Collins 40 Tandem Keel GBR3556L 0.984 Bryan Mullarkey Holyhead Sailing Club

Cruiser Lady Rowena Sadler IRL34218 0.905 David Bolger Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Cruiser Maybird Shepherd design built by Jack Terrell in 1937 GBR 644R 0.910 Darryl Hughes Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club

Cruiser Oystercatcher Dufour IRL 1177 0.932 Brian Hett Greystones

Cruiser Pipedreamer VI Dufour 40 GBR 2271L 1.020 Paul Sutton Holyhead Sailing Club

Cruiser Thisbe Nicholson 32 IRL 1530 0.849 Jim Schofield Poolbeg Boat Club

Mini 6.50 Gemo Mini 650 Dingo 1 FR 699 1.000 Gildas BECHET Malahide Marina

Mini 6.50 Port of Galway Black Mini 6.50/ Proto 303 1.000 Marcus Ryan Louis Mulloy Mayo Sailing Clu

Mini 6.50 Port of Galway Green Mini Transat 6.5 Proto IRL78 1.000 Yannick Lemonnier / Dan Mill Aran Sailing Club

Racing aquelina J-112E IRL 1507 1.054 Sheila/James Tyrrell arklow sailing clab

Racing Aurelia J Boats IRL35950 1.077 Chris & Patanne Power Smith RSGYC RORC

Racing Cavatina Granada 38 IRL3861 0.930 Ian Hickey Royal Cork YC

Racing Elandra SIgma 33 IRL 4536 0.914 Joe Conway RIYC

Racing EOS X 362 SPORT IRL 6695 1.018 CIAN MC CARTHY KINSALE YACHT CLUB

Racing IOS Desert Star Jeanneau irl 1397 0.970 Ronan O Siochru Royal St. George Yacht Club

Racing Jedi J109 IRL 8088 1.008 Kenneth Rumball Irish National Sailing Club

Racing Juggerknot J/109 IRL 3660 1.016 Andrew Algeo RIYC / Baltimore SC

Racing Kalamar Beneteau 31.7 IRL3171 0.948 Roberto Sastre NYC

Racing Lively Lady Beneteau First 44.7 IRL1644 1.105 Derek Martin RIYC

Racing Lula Belle Beneteau 36.7 IRL 3607 0.991 Liam Coyne Wicklow

Racing Mojito J/109 GBR0947R 1.010 Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox Pwllheli SC

Racing Platinum Blonde Beneteau 35 First IRL 3516 1.019 Pau Egan RSGYC

Racing Red Alert Jeanneau---JOD35 IRL6036 1.001 Rupert Barry Greystone Sailing Club

Racing Rockabill VI JPK 10.80IRL IRL 10800 1.051 Paul O'Higgins RIYC

Racing Ruth J/109 IRL 1383 1.015 Shanahan Family National Yacht Club

Racing Sgrech J109 GBR9319R 1.011 Stephen Tudor Pwllheli Sailing Club - Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club

Racing Spirit of Jacana J133 IRL1335 1.103 Alan, Bruce and James Douglas Carrickfergus Sailing Club

Racing Springer Sigma 33 (Marine Projects) IRL 4464 0.914 Ian Bowring RStGYC

Racing Thalia Sigma 400 IRL733 1.035 Mick Flynn NYC

Racing Wakey Wakey J109 GBR5909R 1.014 Roger Smith Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club

Racing White Tiger Beneteau First 44.7 IRL4470 1.112 Tony O'Brien Kinsale Yacht Club

Racing Windshift Sunfast 37 37737 0.985 Brendan Coghlan Royal St George

Racing WOW Austral Yachts IRL4208 1.123 George Sisk RIYC

Click for all the latest Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race News

Published in W M Nixon

On Saturday, 3rd June, due to a clash of events, the Howth YC’s Lambay Races and the Poolbeg Y&BC’s Regatta, both of which ISORA committed to incorporate, a new race format evolved writes Peter Ryan. The way to take part in both events was developed by ISORA. The ISORA fleet would have their start as part of the HYC Lambay Race and complete that course. The fleet would then sail through that finish line and continue on the Poolbeg Y&BC to a second finish at Poolbeg Lighthouse.

This was made manageable by the use of the YB trackers recording the first finish at “Stack” mark off Ireland’s Eye. The ISORA / Poolbeg Y&BC Race was sponsored by Dublin Port.

Howth Race Officer David Lovegrove started the fleet of 25 boats with an downwind leg from “Viceroy” mark towards Lambay Island. The weather forecast was for 5-15 Knots SE and this weather arrived at the start area.

The full course for the race was:

Start at “Viceroy”
Taylor’s Buoy (S)
Lambay Island (S)
“Portmarknok” (P)
“Stack” (S) – Finish of Lambay Race
North Burford (S)
Finish off Poolbeg Lighthouse
25 miles approx

Conditions start to get fickle as the fleet rounded Lambay Island. Andrew Hall’s “Jacknife” led the fleet followed by George Sisk’s “WOW” and Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”. Four J109’s were also bunched behind these leaders, Vicky Cox’s “Mojito”, Liam Shanahan’s “Ruth”, Kenneth Rumball’s Irish National Sailing School “Jedi” and Roger Smith’s “Wakey Wakey”. There was significant and constant variation in wind conditions across the course varying from 5 to 15 knots. The leg to Portmarnock was a beat. The varying conditions spread the fleet widely and places were won and lost from tack to tack.

Jedi J109 ISORAThe Kenneth Rumball skippered Irish National Sailing School entry “Jedi” leads on ECHO handicap. Photo: Afloat.ie

As the fleet approached “Portmarnock” some confusion arose with advice from the Race Committee that the mark was “missing” and they were replacing it with a RIB flying an M flag. When the fleet arrived at the location, the RIB had stood down and the mark had been replaced. Fortunately for most of the fleet, this did not lead to any difficulties.

The last leg of the Lambay course was led by “WOW” who took line honours. “Mojito” took IRC Overall and Grant Kinsman’s “Thalia” took ECHO Overall. A Prize giving by Howth YC is to be arranged.

The fleet then continued towards Poolbeg in even flukier conditions. On this leg, the front boats were experiencing very light condition while those boats at the back of the fleet had good wind which had now verred west. This bunched the fleet as it rounded North Burford for the beat to the finish at Poolbeg.

The Overall winner of the IRC Section of the Poolbeg Y&BC Regatta and the ISORA race was “Rockabill VI” with five J Boats taking the next places – “Mojito”, “Jedi”, “Ruth”, Chirs Power’s “Aurelia” and “Wakey Wakey”. Derek Dillon’s “Big Deal” from Foynes YC took Class 2.

In ECHO, two Sigmas took first and second place with Grant Kinsman’s Sigma 400 “Thalia” beating Joe Conway’s Sigma 33 “Elandra”, ahead of “Jedi” and “Big Deal”.

Most of the finishing boats made their way down the river to Poolbeg Y&BC where a great “Beach Party” was arranged. A BBQ and music ensured that the party went on well in to the night. A prize giving for the IRC and ECHO winners and placing took place with Commodore Roger Smith making the presentations.

After 5 races “Mojito” is leading the IRC Section of the ISORA Averycrest Offshore Series with “Jedi” and “Aurelia” close behind. In ECHO, “Jedi”, “Elandra” and Paul Hampson’s “MoJo” from Liverpool are top of the series. A lot will be decided by the start of july with the D2D Race, Lyver Race and the Adrian Lee & Partners “Lighthouse Race” as part of the VDLR. Full results are here.

The next race in the ISORA schedule is the D2D race on the 14th June. A fleet of 45 boats are expected to line up for this race and a great social itinerary is arrange for those boats arriving in Dingle.

Published in ISORA

Solo sailor Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club attended this morning's OSTAR skippers race briefing. John Forde, in Plymouth with Ireland's Team BAM!, updates on preparations for Monday's Transatlantic race start. 

Bam arrived safely in Plymouth to take her place amongst the fleet of solo and two handed sailors in this year's OSTAR.

Ten different nationalities are represented from as far apart as Australia and America to the usual European strongholds , one from Poland and Bulgaria and Howths own Fogerty on the intrepid Sunfast 3600 Bam.

An interesting delivery saw Bam slip her lines early Wednesday morning after a lateish send off from friends and family in Howth.

A flat calm Irish Sea shrouded in fog saw Bam on bare poles head for Tuskar and then South east to the turn. The wind filled and a sun soaked Thursday afternoon saw 30 knots of breeze on a nice angle of 55 apparent.

It also provided the crew with the opportunity to photograph the skipper against the backdrop of the disused Cornish tin mine shafts and Lands End.

However the breeze backed as we turned the corner and a lumpy sea accompaning saw a demanding last leg, A temporary glitch in the Auto pilot meant the two watches were stretched from 3 hours on to fully on for the last 12 hours from the Lizard Rock up the coast to Plymouth Harbour.

As Conor said a small taste of what awaits him on this 3,000 mile up wind race.

OSTAR Fogerty ConorThe Irish Jeanneau Sunfast BAM! is prepared for the Transatlantic crossing in Plymouth. Photo: John Forde

With the excitement now building amongst the skippers gathered , a round of briefings , drinks receptions and tales from past participants has begun in earnest. The Half Crown Club will meet this Saturday afternoon to commemorate the original race run in 1960 and the bet placed between the first corinthian competitors. Also this weekend sees the 50th anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester Clarke's global circumnavigation in 1967. The Gypsy Moth IV now held in trust and run by a lively female crew lies on the marina beside Bam with a series of talks and viewings of the famous old lady organised this weekend.

So now as a Skippers Briefing takes place and last minute jobs and tweaks are carried out, a more familiar south westerly has filled in bringing rain after glorious sunshine to the hosting club of the Royal Western.

The Starting gun goes at 12.00 hours on Monday the 29th of this Bank Holiday weekend.

Interested parties can track the race and hopefully Conor's successful passage on the Yellow Brick tracker.

We wish Captain Fogerty a speedy, safe and a hoped for successful Atlantic crossing and finish in Newport Rhode Island in approximately three weeks time.

Published in Howth YC

Saturday's fourth ISORA race of the season starts from Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin and finishes in Arklow, County Wicklow. The 60–mile race will be the first ISORA visit to Arklow for many years and Arklow Sailing Club, as previously reported by Afloat.ie, is preparing a warm welcome for the offshore fleet with over 32–boats expected for the 8am start off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The 'Sailing Instructions and Supplementary Information for Race 4' are attached below. 

The ISORA fleet has grown to 50 boats for the 2017 season with fixtures on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Published in ISORA

It’s been a studious, laborious night for the 20 competitors still out on the offshore race track in the Normandy Channel Race. The SW’ly wind is right on the nose as they continue to battle towards Fastnet Rock after rounding the Tuskar mark yesterday afternoon. Twice the distance, three times the effort it is often said. Indeed, the Class 40s are embroiled in a series of tedious tacks upwind in a bid to make even minimal headway, with a heavy price to pay in terms of physical effort and strategic cogitation, with every sail manœuvre requiring a serious amount of stacking, which consists of shifting any movable weight in the boat to the other tack, from heavy sail bags to personal belongings. However, a sailor has a sense of humour and also knows a thing or two about philosophising, as evidenced by this short message from Halvard Mabire (Campagne de France) last night: “The work on deck is quite a laugh, but the shifting of gear down below is no joke, especially whilst the floor is constantly jumping around and moving. It’s easy to keep hitting yourself against the walls and bulkheads and taking a bath is out of the question, otherwise you’re at risk of setting the tongues wagging on the dock (because it’s common knowledge that nobody believes you if you say you’ve walked into a door to explain a black eye...)”.

After a quick exit from the English Channel and an ultra fast climb up to Tuskar, the race pace has dropped off considerably and the ability to make headway has greatly reduced. A firm leader, Imerys (Phil Sharp - Pablo Santurde), which has consolidated its lead overnight, (over 13 miles) has only covered 89 miles in the space of 24 hours in reality, or an average speed of less than 4 knots. The British-Spanish pairing is just 20 miles or so from the famous rock this morning, which it is likely to round late morning, before linking onto a rapid negotiation of the Irish Sea, beam onto what is set to be a W’ly wind. As is often the case, beating tends to reshuffle the cards and behind Imerys the battle for the top spots is fierce. Gambling hard, V and B (Sorel-Carpentier) has sacrificed her second place to hunt down a little more pressure a long way South, and with it a decent wind angle that will enable her to drive straight down towards Fastnet and hopefully be in with a chance of getting the better of Serenis Consulting (Galfione- Troussel).

With the passage shortly after 02:00 GMT this morning of Team SPM (Bry-Day), all the protagonists have now rounded the Tuskar mark and are making for Fastnet.

Published in Offshore

County Cork's Justin Slattery onboard Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 swept past Diamond Head Lighthouse buoy at 4:32:18am local time in Hawaii today, to shave an hour off the previous record Transpacific record. The total elapsed time was 3 days, 16 hours 52 minutes and 03 seconds (all times are still to be ratified by the WSSRC).

As Lloyd stepped onto the dock he said.... “ An unbelievable trip! Can't believe we actually broke the record! This was the most difficult sail of my life. Everything went our way and the team put out a super human effort in order to keep the boat moving at nearly 30 knots through the entire trip. We are all excited for a well deserved rest and some sight seeing in Hawaii..."

As Afloat.ie reported previously, crew on board for the record–breaking run were: Lloyd Thornburg, Brian Thompson, Fletcher Kennedy, Justin Slattery, Pete Cumming, Henry Bomby and David Swete.

Published in Offshore

In a weekend that saw the only Irish JPK10.80, Rockabill VI, win the biggest ISORA race for many years, Arnaud Delamare and Eric Mordret's sister ship Dream Pearls has won the Royal Ocean Racing Club's De Guingand Bowl Race. In second place was Noel Racine's JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew and third overall was the British Two Handed team of Ian Hoddle and Ollie Wyatt, racing Sunfast 3600 Game On.

Line Honours for the De Guingand Bowl Race went to Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 51 Tonnerre de Breskens, 36 minutes ahead of their nearest rival, Daniel Hardy's Ker 46 Lady Mariposa. After IRC time correction Lady Mariposa was the winner the big boat class, IRC Zero.

“A very competitive race for us and we are delighted to win the first race of our campaign for the Rolex Fastnet Race” commented Dream Pearls' Christian Maby. “We were happy with our speed and we made some very good decisions with sail selection, especially using our Code Zero on the leg back to St. Catherine's Point. If there was one part of the race that we made significant gains it was there. When we finished, we could see boats around us in IRC Two, so we knew we had done well, but to win is fantastic for the team, and this will give us good hope for the season.”

IRC Three was the biggest class with 27 yachts competing; Dream Pearls took the class win, as well as the overall with Game On second and Thomas Kneen's JPK 10.80 Sunrise in third.

Ian Hoddle's Game On had a terrific race, winning the 20-strong IRC Two Handed Class and placing third overall. However Game On was pushed all the way. In IRC Two Handed Nigel De Quervain Colley's Fastrak XI was only two minutes behind and Ed Fishwick's Redshift Reloaded less than three minutes, after IRC time correction.

“Having been beaten by Bellino and Redshift in the Cervantes Trophy, we were keen to strike back immediately” commented Ian Hoddle. “We nailed a more aggressive start, which paid off as we were in the leading pack on the kite-leg down to the forts. The intensity of competition in the Two Handed fleet is such that a good start can make all the difference. North Head was the low point of our race; a broken jib shackle delayed our kite hoist and the time to fix it and a foul tide punished us. At this point the competition had all positioned themselves for the maximum tide running out of Portland. We continued across to Swanage to see if the anticipated lift provided gains; and it worked to a tee. We made the East Shingles Buoy without a tack and even got the Code Zero aloft! Both Ollie and I had certainly left nothing on the table and by 2am we were exhausted!! Ollie and I last raced together back in 2011. I have never seen someone with so much energy - he literally never stops working around the boat - like a machine :)”

Congratulations to Angus Bates' J/133 Assarain IV, winner of IRC One, Nick & Suzi Jones' First 44.7 Lisa, winner of IRC Two, and Antoine Magre's Palanad II, winner of the Class40 Division. The next race in the 2017 RORC Season's Points Championship will be the Myth of Malham. Mirroring the start of the Rolex Fastnet course, the 256 nautical mile race around the Eddytstone Lighthouse, will be the first weighted race of the championship, with a points factor of 1.2.

Published in RORC
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