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National Yacht Club's Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2021 Should Get Us Going Again

16th January 2021
Conor Doyle's xP50 Freya from Kinsale is currently the largest entrant for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race on June 9th. She is seen here winning the Kinsale-Monkstown Race in a record two hours, but the course record she challenges in the race to Dingle was set by a 94-footer, Mick Cottter's Windfall in 2019 Conor Doyle's xP50 Freya from Kinsale is currently the largest entrant for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race on June 9th. She is seen here winning the Kinsale-Monkstown Race in a record two hours, but the course record she challenges in the race to Dingle was set by a 94-footer, Mick Cottter's Windfall in 2019 Credit: Robert Bateman

It's getting to be like a game of skittles in the planned lineup of high-profile 2021 events which everybody - way back in the dark depths of earlier pandemic lockdowns – thought would surely come to pass in the remote sunlit heights of what was then the distant future of supposedly plague-free 2021.

The skittles that have fallen this week have included the RORC Caribbean 600 scheduled for Monday, February 22nd off English Harbour, Antigua, and the 565-mile Rolex China Sea Race, which wasn't due to start until March 31st from the Royal Hong Kong YC. They're both gone, and gone so completely we've been given the 2022 dates already as consolation prizes. 

Start of the small class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2020. The 2021 Race, scheduled for February 22nd, was cancelled this week.Start of the small class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2020. The 2021 Race, scheduled for February 22nd, was cancelled this week.

So which skittles will still be standing as the pandemic moves away with glacial speed, and we begin to feel reassured that the vaccines are having a real effect? At the moment, with one viral surge piling on another like a feast-day down at Aileen's breaker off the Cliffs of Moher even as vax distribution tries to find the best way forward, the resumption of something remotely approaching normal life is anyone's guess.

Thus we might as well look back at our slightly chirpy preview of the possibilities for 2021, which we published here a mere four weeks ago, just as the ludicrous Christmas socialising was starting to weave its hyper-infectious wicked web. While very reasonably suggesting that the best plan was to keep planning - as followed and demonstrated in various extreme situations by General Dwight D Eisenhower - we did have enough savvy to suggest that though some events were already posted as preceding it, the National YC's 280-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 9th had the whiff of reality about it as an internationally-recognised classic that provided the ingredients for getting an inevitably still-limited season properly underway.

Ian Hickey's 38ft Cavatina from Cork – twice winner of the Round Ireland race – is on the entry list for the D2D in JuneIan Hickey's 38ft Cavatina from Cork – twice winner of the Round Ireland race – is on the entry list for the D2D in June

It seems a lot of other people thought the same way, for no sooner was the entry list opened recently than they were into double figures with boats of serious provenance – the largest of them Conor Doyle's xP50 Freya from Kinsale – and as of yesterday (Friday) the listing had gone up to 32, making it look as though Organising Committee Chairman Adam Winkelmann and his team will indeed have to invoke their fifty boat limit.

It's all good news, and we'll look at these early entries in more detail in a moment. But though there is this glimmer of light in the distance on June 9th (with Howth's Lambay Race a nice little possible programme starter on Saturday, June 5th), we're looking at things that might just happen nearly five months away, which seems like forever. But fortunately, any internationally-minded sailing fan will find happenings of interest in the meantime.

As it is, through the winter some events have taken place, though in very shrunken-numbers versions. However, enough boats took part in the ARC 2020 to St Lucia before Christmas to note that the most interesting class winner was the 59ft classic 1936 German yawl Peter von Seestermuhe (formerly Peter von Danzig). She was designed by Henry Gruber, who served his time in the Sparkman & Stephens office in New York in the early 1930s, and then returned for a successful if brief individual design career in his native Germany, a career which was going fine until World War II got in the way.

The classic 1936 Henry Gruber-designed yawl Peter von Seestermuhe crosses the line in St Lucia in December to win her class in the ARC 2020. The classic 1936 Henry Gruber-designed yawl Peter von Seestermuhe crosses the line in St Lucia in December to win her class in the ARC 2020.

Gruber's extremely elegant yacht design oeuvre culminated in the handsome 88ft Nordwind (she's still going strong) for the Kriegsmarine – the German Navy - in 1939, when she took line honours in the Fastnet Race. In doing so, she toppled the 70ft Hallowe'en's course record which had stood since 1926. And yes, that's the classic Fife-designed-and-built Hallowe'en now owned by an Irish syndicate. At the prizegiving in Plymouth in 1939, Nordwind's German navy crew took everyone's breath away by turning up in their very smart Hugo Boss-designed dress uniforms, adding to the effect with a cascade of Heil Hitler salutes all round as they collected their trophies.

We can only hope that when the likewise under-the-radar RORC Transatlantic Race - currently underway from Lanzarote in the Canaries to Grenada in the Caribbean after being postponed from December – gets to the finish, and then on ashore to the mono-hull line honours winning crew collecting their trophies, that we'll see completely informal air-punching salutes. For it's possible that the first mono-hull across will be that gallant old warhorse, the Irish-Chinese Volvo 70 Green Dragon, a veteran of the 2008-2009 Volvo Round the World Race.

The old dog for the long road – the 2008 Irish Volvo World race entry Green Dragon – seen here at 30 knots – is currently vying for line honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race from the Canaries to Grenada.The old dog for the long road – the 2008 Irish Volvo World race entry Green Dragon – seen here at 30 knots – is currently vying for line honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race from the Canaries to Grenada.

Having graced the seafront at Salthill post-world-race for a while, the somewhat overweight Dragon was eventually sold to Austrian Johannes Schwarz in 2015 "for rather less than her building cost". As a result, the new owner got a bulletproof boat which has since given many people a lot of good sport afloat and much fun ashore.

So although Green Dragon's lead on the water is being challenged by two of the latest French Class 40s which feature the very fast downwind scow hull shape which was successfully pioneered some time ago by Ian Lipinsky in his Mini-transat Proto Griffon, let's hear it for the old Dragon hanging in there to give everyone the vicarious satisfaction of a line honours win.

Meanwhile, the Vendee Globe leading group has closed up off the east coast of Brazil to open up the possible final results, and while they may be talking in terms of a finish within a dozen days, the reality is that they still haven't even re-crossed the Equator yet, and the North Atlantic between there and the finish in the Bay of Biscay can be one very obtuse bit of wind and water as January morphs into February.

A boat transformed. While other America's Cup teams in New Zealand took a Christmas break, Ineos Britannia's technical staff worked night and day to transform the boat into a real contender for this week's resumption of racing.A boat transformed. While other America's Cup teams in New Zealand took a Christmas break, Ineos Britannia's technical staff worked night and day to transform the boat into a real contender for this week's resumption of racing.

For complementary entertainment, the America's Cup in New Zealand has suddenly leapt to life with Ben Ainslie's Ineos Britannia a boat transformed this week into a seeming potential winner. Her technical team had worked all hours on mods since the pre-Christmas series, when she had been usually found in the crabgrass. This new look has resulted in much excitement afloat, but it's as nothing compared to the kerfuffle in the back offices of the bookmakers of Auckland, where they'd been rating Ineos Britannia as the rank outsider in the betting until Friday of this week.

By the time the America's Cup is drawing to its conclusion in March, the pandemic picture will be much clearer, it's possible other events of a more pop-up nature will have emerged, and hopefully, we may be looking at some controlled sailing in May, with the arrival of June seeing a more positive scene afloat.

Thus a short and sweet Lambay Race on June 5th and a long and lovely Dingle Race on June 9th would be a neat combination, as both involve a real homage to the coasts of Ireland. Their basic course concepts are as simple as you can get, and yet as both are essentially coastal events in one jurisdiction, regulations are easily defined and complied with.

Two is better than one. For the D2D, Andrew Hall of Pwllheli has entered both his J/125 Jack Knife (above)……….Two is better than one. For the D2D, Andrew Hall of Pwllheli has entered both his J/125 Jack Knife (above)……….

…… and the internationally successful Lombard 45 Pata Negra …… and the internationally successful Lombard 45 Pata Negra

That said, the list of entries for Dingle as seen here shows there's already an international element, none more so than through Andrew Hall of Pwllheli, who has done a Matt Allen in having two entries – his own J/125 Jack Knife, and the chartered Lombard 45 Pata Negra which has provided several Irish crews with high-grade international success in recent years.

Even as it stands with 18 places still available, it's a formidable list with most of the main Irish sailing centres well represented, and a truly formidable line-up of hotshot boats gearing themselves up to deny Paul O'Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill (RIYC) the satisfaction of making it three in a row.

The current benchmark performer – Nieulargo finishing at Roche's Point to win the 2020 Fastnet 450. Photo: Robert BatemanThe current benchmark performer – Nieulargo finishing at Roche's Point to win the 2020 Fastnet 450. Photo: Robert Bateman

For although Rockabill showed she'd lost none of her edge through retaining the admittedly restricted ISORA Championship in 2020, she has yet to race the Murphy family of Kinsale with their all-conquering Grand Soleil Nieulargo in her current very competitive form. Nieulargo was a competitor in the previous D2D in 2019, but the Nieulargo of 2020 and today has upped her game and is a very different machine.

Extra interest is added with a two-handed division in which Cian McCarthy's Sunfast 3300 from Kinsale is already entered, and Dingle interest is stepped up not only with added support at the finish port but also with one of the early entries in the form of Kenneth Cunnane's Dingle-based Swan 46 Mynx.

Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale has entered for the two-Handed Division:

Adam Winkelmann is particularly pleased with the very positive attitude towards the race down in Kerry:

"The ongoing support by Volvo and Billy Naughton Cars underlines the value of the partnership of the event over many years," he says. "The Dingle Skellig Hotel also continue as accommodation partner and long-term sponsor, and we are delighted to work with them again in 2021.

Billy Naughton of Volvo agents Billy Naughton Cars presenting the second overall prize to Patanne Power-Smith of the J/122 Aurelia (RStGYC) at the prizegiving in the Dingle Skellig Hotel after 2019's raceBilly Naughton of Volvo agents Billy Naughton Cars presenting the second overall prize to Aileen Kelleher, a crew member of the J/122 Aurelia (RStGYC) at the prizegiving in the Dingle Skellig Hotel after 2019's race

While we are optimistic for the race itself in terms of on the water activity, we will have to wait and see what the Covid-19 situation allows in terms of on-shore activity around the race at the time. As always, it is the participants and public health that will take priority in terms of gatherings or prizegiving.

We also continue with great support from ISORA and DBSC as on-the-water partners. The timing of the 2021 race is designed to accommodate boats participating in Sovereigns Week (23 – 26 June) in Kinsale, and of course with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (2-4 July One -Design and 9 -11 July Cruisers)

The Notice of Race is now available to download at www.d2drace.ie and entries can be made online via the website. Accommodation can be reserved directly with the Dingle Skellig Hotel www.dingleskellig.com"

Afloat.ie Team

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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