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Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race Form Guide: D2D Could Be Another J/Boats Triumph

14th June 2017
As ISORA fleet leader after five races, Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) has to be a favourite in tonight's 2017 D2D race As ISORA fleet leader after five races, Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) has to be a favourite in tonight's 2017 D2D race Photo: Afloat.ie

Even with leading contenders Aurelia (J/122) and Jacana (J/115) scratching (the former with rigging problems, the latter with logistics difficulties), J/Boats still might have it all the way in the remaining fleet of 43 boats in the National YC’s 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race, which starts this evening off the East Pier at 1900hrs writes W M Nixon.

After all, in 2015 it was J/Boats filling most of the top six places, with the J/109 Ruth (Shanahan family) taking it by twenty minutes from sister ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox). So far in the 2017 season, Mojito has been the Irish Sea pace-setter, so she has to be seen as the smart money bet.

Against that, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI is safely back in her home port of Dun Laoghaire after a fast incident-free passage returning from the ICRA Nats in Crosshaven, where she’d showed steadily improving performance. We have to remember that she was overall winner of ISORA’s first all-feet cross-channel race last month, so never under-estimate a JPK 10.80 – they specialise in surprises.

Rockabill VI yacht isoraRockabill VI – the JPK 10.80 is a recent ISORA cross channel winner. Photo: Afloat.ie

The J/Boat dominance continues into the 11-strong Two-Handed Division, where defending champions Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles have upped their game from the Elan 340 Blue Eyes to the J/109 Indian. They won the ISORA Dun Laoghaire-Arklow Race in Indian fully crewed, so they have good form, but ironically their closest competition may come from Howth clubmates Stephen Quinn and Dave Cotter racing the significantly smaller J/97 Lambay Rules, which has been one of Irish offshore racing’s most consistently successful performers at home and abroad for a couple of seasons.

Inevitably, though, with the wind veering steadily during the course of the race, the fastest front runners will be favoured, as they may find they get to crucial headlands while it is still just possible to lay the course direct to the next headland, whereas it looks as though the little ’uns will be slugging it out to windward just about every inch of the way.

And there’s no doubt that “slugging” will be the operative word. Writing this at noon on Wednesday, the wind is still moderate to fresh southerly in the Irish Sea, while the Dublin Bay effect means there’s a strong touch of east in the breeze off Dun Laoghaire to make for a distinctly rumbly sea.

But just at start time, a veering is forecast with an untable gusty front coming through to switch the underlying wind to sou’sou’west. While this may see the average wind speed at a manageable 15 mph, it will make for harder work for crews, as the gusts will see the top strengths rocket up to 25 and even 30-32 mph.

On top of that, the ebb tide will be running south for no more than a couple of hours after the start, and much less at some locations. So it could well be that some crews will get to know what an accursed place Bray Head can be when the unstable wind is beginning to acquire an offshore element, and you’re trying to get inshore and best-placed to deal with a foul tide.

And all that within hours of the start. It has all the makings of quite a rugged race, and those who make the already legendary Prize Giving Party in Benner’s Hotel on Saturday night in the heart of Dingle will have certainly earned it.

By that time, however, better weather will have settled in, and the challenging conditions of Wednesday night and Thursday will be fading behind memories of finishing in summery conditions.

Race tracker here

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