Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR 2013)
Bigger, better expected for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
Event: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
Venue: Dun Laoghaire
Date: 11-14 July 2013
Dun Laoghaire's Phil Smith urged Cork sailors to make a special effort to race at next year's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, the country's biggest sailing event, when he presented the Notice of Race (NOR) to delegates at the recent ICRA conference in Kilkenny.
Smith's appeal to Munster crews came during a novel presentation for the biennial event on the capital's waters, scheduled for 11-14 July, that included a free raffle for two tickets to Anglo: The Musical at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin.
Smith told delegates that the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2013 was again aiming to bring good value for sailors, with free berthing part of each entry fee. An 'early bird' entry fee will be in operation until 31 March 2013.
The NOR includes racing a total to 28 separate fleets - including kiteboards. Cost of entry for IRC Zero and One is €350 for early birds, with dinghy entry fees starting at €90.
The event, which been underway since 2005, has attracted as many as 520 boats in past editions. It is organised by Dublin Bay Regattas Ltd, a not-for-profit company which is beneficially owned by the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC).
Planning for the fifth edition of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is well underway, once again under the chairmanship of Adam Winkelmann and his committee.
"Our objective in 2013 is to build further on the success of the 2011 regatta, said Winkelmann. "We are focusing our efforts on delivering a quality sailing regatta at an affordable price.
"Competitive racing will again be offered across our various course areas and racing formats, and a social calendar available across our four waterfront yacht clubs, to make it as much fun as we possibly can for sailors, their guests and families and all our volunteers."
The country's biggest regatta opened its Online Entry in November and have introduced a number of new initiatives.
including the introduction of an IRC Coastal Class who will race one coastal race per day. A new dinghy class also makes its debut under the VDLR burgee with starts for both the RS200/RS400.
The organisers are working hard at increasing visitors from the West Coast of UK and are visiting clubs in the UK in early 2013 to encourage participation. The Lyver race from July 5th from Holyhead to Howth is an example of this feeder race activity taking shape.
Dun Laoghaire's clubs will no doubt be looking to repeat their local success in the 2011 regatta, with the bulk of the major trophies divided among sailors from the waterfront yacht clubs in Dublin Bay and Howth after four days of racing.
The major overall prize went to the Class III IRC winner Supernova, who produced three wins and three second places in a 38-boat fleet, the biggest class of the regatta.
The 33-year-old 420 yacht - sailed by Sybil McCormack, Pat Shannon and skipper Ken Lawless out of the Royal Irish Yacht Club - belied her age with a speedy performance, thanks to a previous season of modifications on the Dubois Starflash design. But it was still a close one, as she overhauled previous Volvo trophy winner Hard on Port (Flor O'Driscoll, Royal St George YV) by a mere five seconds to win the sixth and final race of the class.
Hailed as an enormous success both afloat and ashore, a combined fleet of 420 boats raced over nine courses and a range of conditions at the 2011 event - and organisers expect bigger and better for 2013.
VDLR's notice of race and entry form are available to download here
Background from the 2007 staging of the event
From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay will accommodate eight separate courses for 25 different classes when racing starts at 3pm today. In assembling this afternoon's record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) has become, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.
One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.
'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest in an effort to be the best.
Dun Laoghaire, with its own local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly bad start two years ago when the event was becalmed for four days.
The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.
Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.
There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.
Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single biggest participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.
Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.
A flotilla of 25 boats have raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.
Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as
far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.
Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.
"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it will be compared with Cowes," said Craig. But there the comparison ends.
"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique and we are making a very special effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.
The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.
A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.
The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.
Ships coming in to the bay, including the high speed Stena service to Dun Laoghaire, will use the northern lane instead.
With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate. The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.
The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future big boat fixtures on the East Coast.
With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a major impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.
Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats - Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.
Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs
What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.
Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin bay. Good views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.