#d2d – Last night's start of the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race was a tricky business, with the ebb starting to sluice out of Dublin Bay, and a less-than-commanding breeze making for an inelegant beginning to this year's biggest offshore race in Irish waters. If anyone hoped to see a colourful spectacle reflecting top end sailing's supposedly glamorous image, they were woefully disappointed. Yet for offshore racing aficionados, it was vintage stuff. W M Nixon tries to explain why.
If you set out to pick a media-unfriendly time to stage a minority sports event, you really couldn't do better (or maybe that should be worse) than nine o'clock on a Friday night. All the regular lines of communication have pretty well closed up at the end of the working week, while the weekend itself is cordoned off for the big time spectator-friendly stadium or TV sports spectaculars.
Yet the National Yacht Club's biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle sailing race went off at precisely nine o'clock last night, and nobody thought it at all odd. In fact, the time was selected to suit various offshore racing owners who'd told organizer Martin Crotty that they'd find it much easier to get their amateur crew together if the start was timed to be comfortably after close of business on a Friday evening, the thinking being that it's better to seem to be busy about the workplace right through to the end of the week, but non-appearance first thing on a Monday morning can somehow be slipped under the radar.
It may be slightly crazy thinking, but that's the way the Corinthian sailing mind works. It means that the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is run entirely for the benefit and enjoyment of its many amateur participants. And if the media in any shape or form wants to cover it, then the media has to learn to play by the D2D's rules.
All of which makes the D2D uniquely attractive in an era when even the most historic and tradition-bound sporting events are distorted, and maybe even re-located in the calendar, in order to serve some arrogant media and publicity requirements.
So as with all the best sailing events, the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is most truly savoured by taking part. But if for some reason we can't take part ourselves, it's all part of this classic race's attraction that we will readily put the beginning of our own weekend on hold in order to give the D2D start the attention and respect it deserves.
It may not be a sight to stir the heart of the casual observer, yet for those involved the difficulties of a downwind down-tide start are all part of the game. Photo: W M Nixon
Jedi and Powder Monkey are two of the six J/109s taking part in the race to Dingle. Photo: W M Nixon
Admittedly the fact that the final starting lineup of 30 boats included craft of the calibre of the all-conquering Antix and the consistent and ever-more-attractive Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners added to the appeal. When the word came on the grapevine that Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40 Antix was making final preparations in the relative peace of the Royal Irish YC pontoon rather than at the George with its impressive and busy entry of nine boats, let alone at the National where the place was simply heaving, we made it our business to nip down to the RIYC. And there indeed was Antix and her crew of superstars, beavering away just like yachties anywhere and at every level simply in order to be ready for the start.
It was a chance to see the current superstar without her makeup on, as she'd recently been delivered from Cowes against headwinds all the way by young Robert O'Leary, and now the support van was parked in a convenient if unglitzy spot nearby while gear was transferred hither and yon. Yet there was time for a quick look below and a chance to experience the fact that this highly-tuned boat sings to anyone who is on the sailing wavelength – she really does.
Antix - a boat that really does sing to anyone on the sailing wavelength. Photo: W M Nixon
Crosshaven's Robert O'Leary and his father Anthony in Dun Laoghaire – the younger O'Leary brought Antix from Cowes with headwinds all the way. Photo: W M Nixon
dd6.jpgFunctional and hyper-light, but you would scarcely describe the arrangements below in Antix as "accommodation". Photo: W M Nixon
The brains of the boat – the Antix navstation is hidden away "somewhere down aft". Photo: W M Nixon
The Antix keel and mast are engineered together. Photo: W M Nixon
It's not quite a Learjet, but the Antix support van does what's needed. Photo: W M Nixon
"And now for something completely different". Amazing Grace from Tralee, the defending D2D winner of 2013, makes for a marked contrast with Antix. Photo: W M Nixon
Crazy night, crazy place, crazy prices – and great food. The service at the National YC lived up to the billing. Photo: W M Nixon
Then it was on into the melee at the National. How manager Tim O'Brien and his team managed to cope with the endless throughput of people and their food and drink and socializing requirements is beyond the imagination. And the start of the D2D was only one of several events taking place in a typically busy summer Friday evening. Yet somehow it was all done with the greatest good humour, and then out we went in the Dublin Bay Sailing Club's Committee Boat Mac Lir hoping to find a decent breeze outside the harbour, but the photos say it all.
So where's the sport in all this? Well believe me, it's all right there. Some of us may have gone away from the fleet as it trickled out of Dublin Bay thinking that there are surely more entertaining forms of sailing. But the reality is that there's something so utterly absorbing about a race like this - when you're actually doing it - that the thought of being anywhere else doing anything else simply doesn't occur. And far from being envious of the spectator boats peeling away and heading back to the bright lights in the warm places, on the contrary you're glad to see the back of them, leaving you undistracted in the sacred task of squeezing an extra tenth of a knot out of your beloved boat as she sails into the night. That's what amateur offshore racing is all about.
Dingle Skellig Hotel Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2015, start 2100hrs Friday June 12th. Entries listed by rating.
1 Lee Overlay Partners, (Cookson 50, Adrian Lee, Royal St George YC) - 1.340
2 Antix, (Ker 40, Anthony O'Leary, Royal Cork YC & Baltimore SC) - 1.210
3 WOW, (Farr 42, George Sisk, Royal Irish YC) - 1.124
4 Pogeen (Pogo 1050, John Gilmore, Strangford Lough YC) -1.096 (Cruiser)
5 Aquelina (J/122, James & Sheila Tyrrell, Arklow SC) – 1.078
6 Aurelia (J/122, Chris & Patanne Power Smith, RStGYC) – 1.077
7 Endgame (A 35, Frank Doyle, RCYC) – 1.027
8 Dear Prudence (J/109, Jonathan Bourke, ManhattanYC) – 1.021
9 Mojito (J109,Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) – 1.018
10 Ruth (J/109, Shanahan family, National YC) – 1.017
11 Wakey Wakey (J/109, Roger Smith, Poolbeg Y & BC), - 1.015
12 Powder Monkey (J/109, Chris Moore, NYC) – 1.014
13 Jedi (J/109, J Treanor, A Sarratt, M McGuinness, RIYC, NYC, RStGYC) – 1.009
14 Exhale (X-Yachts 362 Sport, Derry & Hilda Good, RCYC) – 1.009
15 First of September (First 435, Jerry Whiston, PY&BC) – 1.003
16 Lula Belle (First 36.7, Liam Coyne, NYC) – 1.002
17 Alchimiste (JPK 9.60, Mike Murphy, National YC) – 0.998
18 Blue Eyes (Elan 340, Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) – 0.987 (2-handed)
19 Joker (Sigma 38, David Gibbons, Kinsale YC) – 0.982 (2-handed)
20 Windshift (Jeanneau Sunfast 37, Brendan Coghlan, RStGYC) – 0.980
21 Persistance (Sigma 38, Jerry Collins, RStGYC) 0.978 (Cruiser)
22 Yahtzee (Beneteau Oceanis 411) Richard Mossop, Dun Laoghaire MYC – 0.978 (Cruiser)
23 Red Rhum (Dehler db1, Jonathan Nicholson, RStGYC) – 0.968
24 Desert Star (Jeanneau Sunfast 37, Ronan O Siochru, RStGYC) – 0.966
25 Ipanema (Dehler 37 CR, Martin Breen Galway Bay SC) – 0.959 (Cruiser)
26 Legally Blonde (Beneteau First 31.7, Cathal Drohan, RStGYC) 0.951
27 Amazing Grace (Oyster 37, Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC) – 0.928
28 Big Deal (Dehler 34, Derek & Conor Dillon, Foynes YC) - 0.922 (2-handed)
29 Lady Rowena (Sadler 34, David Bolger, RStGYC) 0.911 (Cruiser)
30 Polished Manx (Sigma 33, Kuba Szymanski, Douglas Bay YC) – 0.899
John Gilmore's Pogo 1050 Pogeen from Strangford Lough looked like a boat which would have preferred more wind. Photo: W M Nixon
Shaping in for the start – George Disk's Farr 42 WOW and Mike Murphy's twin-ruddered JPK 9.60 Alchimiste. Photo: W M Nixon
On the start, Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners has found a gap to run through, while in the foreground Frank Doyle's A35 Endgame is cleanly away. Photo: W M Nixon
Last glimpse as they head into the night with Antix (left) leading the fleet into the Channel in search of stronger favourable tide and a better breeze. Photo: W M Nixon
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