#ICRA – A record entry of 123 boats racing in 7 sailing divisions will compete for honours at this weekend's BMW Cruiser Nationals being hosted by Howth Yacht Club on behalf of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA).
Seven races over three days – a mixture of round-the-cans and windward-leewards - will be provided on three separate courses, with Class 0 and 1 together, Class 2, 3 and 4 on another, and two divisions of non-spinnaker cruisers racing for the Corinthian Cup.
Last year's championship winners in the first four divisions will all be in Howth to defend their titles. Anthony O'Leary's Antix from Cork will again be among the favourites in Class 0 although he can expect strong challenges from Jump Juice (Denise Phelan) and George Sisk's WOW, while Richard Fildes Impetuous from Wales had a useful warm-up on the race track in winning last weekend's Corby Cup.
Pat Kelly's Storm (HYC & Rush) won Class 1 in Cork last year and there are six other J109s in the line-up to keep them on their toes. Six of the 21 entries are from outside Dublin.
In Class 2, Brian Goggin's Corby 25 Allure from Kinsale was the winner a year ago and will be expected to be a front-runner in the biggest fleet (31 boats) in the Championships, the majority of which are visitors. Of the local entries, Dave Cullen's King One, Ian Byrne's Sunburn and Anthony Gore-Grimes Dux are contenders.
The modified quarter-tonner Tiger (Neil Kenefick) from Cork is undoubtedly the boat to beat in Class 3, having been the outstanding boat in this division over the past couple of years. Half a dozen J24s will have to be at their very best to compete against this very fast, well sailed boat, while in Class 4, Goyave (Camier/Fitzpatrick) from Malahide and Basil MacMahon's Holly of the host club will be fancied.
The Corinthian Cup entries have been split into two divisions, with local boats Changeling (Kieran Jameson) and Bite the Bullet (Colm Bermingham) among those fancied in division 5 and Harry Byrne's Alphida and Demelza (Laudan & Ennis) serious contenders in division 6.