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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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