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Irish Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield picks his big (and smaller) events coming up for the Irish cruiser classes in 2020

The 2019 season is only just coming towards its end and already owners and crew are looking ahead at what is in store next year. There are still some good events to finish this season, and among them, the Autumn Leagues in Howth and Royal Cork, The final ISORA race, with the spoils still not decided, the J109 Nationals, the final summer series DBSC races and of course the very popular DBSC Turkey Shoot series.

2019 was very much a front-loaded year with Scottish Series, ICRA Nationals, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Sovereigns Cup and Dun Laoghaire Regatta all happening within a seven-week period, and 2020 is not looking a whole lot different.

Below you will see the dates of the bigger events for 2020.

Without a doubt the two standout big boat events next year will be the Round Ireland Race in June and in July, Royal Cork Yacht Club host their special Cork Week, on the Munster club's 300th year anniversary. More on this later.

2020 'Big Boat' events

  • Scottish Series, Tarbert - May 22nd to May 25th (Friday to Monday)
  • Wave Regatta, Howth Yacht Club - May 29th to May 31st (Friday to Sunday)
  • Round Ireland Race, Wicklow SC - Starts June 20th (Saturday)
  • RORC Morgan Cup - Cowes to Cork - Starts July 8th (Wednesday)
  • Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club (300 Year Celebration) - July 13th to July 18th (Monday to Saturday)
  • Calves Week - Schul August 4th to August 7th - (Tuesday to Friday)

Other events that are building numbers are Bangor Week, commencing 25th of June and WIORA week (date not published yet). The very popular ISORA offshore series runs throughout the year and these dates are also eagerly awaited.

Here are some details of each of the larger events:

Scottish Series

Always a very happy hunting ground for Irish boats wishing to sharpen themselves up for the new season. Numbers generally have been dropping for the Scottish Series except for the very popular RC35 class where Irish Boats took all podium places this year. Class 2 in 2020 might also show some increases with the biennial Classic Half-Ton Cup in Cowes bringing the competitive Half Tonners out to play early. This year there were two half tonners—expect more in 2020. Great racing and great pub craic around the beer tent and local pubs.

RC35 ScotlandIrish Boats at 2019 Scottish series RC 35 class Photo: Marc Turner

Wave Regatta

Only a new event in 2018 and is based around the Howth Yacht Club traditional June Bank Holiday Lambay Race. Wave Regatta is held every two years and if 2018 is anything to go by, it will be very well attended in 2020. It comes just a few days after the end of Scottish Series. A variety of courses over the three days, including the very popular round Lambay race. Well organised with great onshore facilities.

Signal 8 WaveJamie Mc William's Ker 40, Signal 8 at Howth's Wave Regatta 2018 Photo: Afloat

Round Ireland Race

The big one. 704 miles from Wicklow to Wicklow, clockwise around Ireland and its islands, turning corners all the way around. It goes from strength to strength. There is a rumour of a very large, very well known Maxi looking at taking on the challenge and the record in 2020. If you only plan to do one full-length offshore race, this is the one to do. I have done five Fastnet Races and I would always pick a Round Ireland over a Fastnet.

For those boats who have competed in the last two events, there is the added bonus of the chance to win a Volvo car for the best Boat over the 2016, 2018 and 2020 races. I’m sure we will be advised of the current pecking order very soon on this.

Niall Dowling Niall Dowling's Royal Irish Yacht club, Ker 43, Baraka GP, the overall winner of the Round Ireland 2018 Photo: Afloat

RORC's Morgan Cup

Rarely do Flagship RORC races end in Ireland, but on the 300th year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the RORC have graciously organised for one of their big races to finish in Cork, as a way of getting UK boats over for the Cork Week 300 regatta.

Approx 90 boats competed in the 2019 Morgan Cup edition this year, won overall by a J109. I suspect you may see some offshore orientated Irish boats decide to include this race in their calendar next year, which also serves as a way to get the boat to Cork in time for the Cork Week 300 Series.

Cork Week 300

From the Height of Cork Week in 2000 when boats competing topped 700, it has fallen somewhat. However, 2020, the 300th Anniversary of the club's founding, is all set to be special and interest from all corners of the world is evident with housing around Crosshaven and Carrigaline already starting to be booked up.

A number of classes are planning to use the week as their European Championships. The 1720 class, who had circa 75 boats at their 2000 event, are planning a big show in 2020 with already 10 boats confirmed from the UK with more likely to follow. A proper event Announcement is expected in September announcing some major classes and profile boats that will be competing.

The 2020 ICRA Nationals is being held as part of Cork week (three days only). Cork Week also incorporates a building fleet for the Beaufort Cup, which is a separate event within the week for associated national services (Army, Naval, Police, Firefighting, Coast Guard etc). This event incorporates an offshore race around the Fastnet and back.

Cork Week 2020 will be one not to miss. White Sail and coastal fleets will be included and the highlight is the all in Harbour race.

FekkesRory Fekkes from Carrigfergus SC, First Class 8—FN-GR8—Overall Winner of Cork week 2018 Photo: Bob Bateman

Calves Week

Numbers have held up very well for Calves Week. In 2019, there were 65 cruisers competing, with very competitive racing over the four days. A mix of windward-leeward courses, around the Islands and the Fastnet race keeps everyone interested. One race a day, with all the crews congregating after racing out in the streets between Newmans and Hackett's pubs. The Apres racing is as important as the racing with many sailors choosing to incorporate family holidays into the week. If you are doing Cork Week, and have not done Calves Week before, maybe you should consider leaving the boat in Cork and sliding down westwards a week or two later.

Rockabill JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish—Winner of Calves week Class One in 2019 

The violent overnight thunderstorms certainly cleared the air in Schull for the start of day four of Calves Week writes Michael Murphy.

Unfortunately, it also cleared the wind, leaving race officer Alan Crosbie starting his fleets in a falling southeasterly from a line well inside the harbour.

As the breeze continued to drop, most of the fleets drifted aimlessly off the harbour mouth, for up to an hour and a half. Then the forecasted weather front arrived, first came the torrential rain and then the strong southwesterly, sweeping all the backmarkers safely home after up to four hours of racing.

IMG 20190809 WA0083v2Tricky conditions on day four of Calves Week

In class 1 it was a clean sweep for Paul O'Higgins' “Rockabill VI, whose victory in both divisions, also clinched him the overall title, from the 2018 holder and event sponsor Frank Whelan's “Eleuthera” in IRC and Dennis O'Sullivan's “Aris” in Echo.

 DSC8730Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

In class two, IRC Jonny Swan's “Harmony” finished the week in style to claim both the daily prize and the overall from Frank Desmond's “Bad Company”.

In Echo, it was a dead heat between Rob Allen's “Smile” and Kevin Daly's “Jamaro”, while George Radley's” Cortegada” took the overall trophy.

Class three IRC also finished in a tie with David Buckley's “Jaguar ”winning the overall by reason of a victory over “ Dave Doyle's “Musketeer” in the final race.

In Echo, the overall went to another Tralee Bay boat, with Diarmuid Dineen's “Growler” finishing one point ahead of the Dwyer family in “Sally in Stitches”, while the Kerry club finished off a great week with Paul Taylor winning class four Echo in “Sea Psalm”. The IRC trophy was claimed by Rob O Reily in “Bonjourno”.

RIYC Calves weekRIYC winners at Calves 2019: Act 2 owners David Andrews, Michael O’Leary and Tom Roche (and all their trophies won last week!) with winning IRC One winning skipper Paul O’Higgins of Rockabill VI pictured second from right.

In White sail one IRC Michael O'Leary in “Act Two” was able to discard the final day's race to secure overall victory by one point from Aiden Heffernans “Indulgence”, while Tom McCarthy's “Bateleur 88” won Echo.

Local Schull boats dominated White Sail Two,  with Don Buckley's “Zeezwan” winning the tiebreaker from Frank Murphy in “Dreamcatcher”

Results are here

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The successful Dun Laoghaire White Sails Dufour 425 campaigner 'Act 2', was back in the silverware this week with a win in the Fastnet race at Calves Week.

Owners Michael O’Leary, David Andrews and Tom Roche, all former international offshore sailors, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, made the best of the heavy weather and big seas last Thursday to take the 2019 Cup.

Act 2 went on to win the Calves Week White Sails Regatta division by one point with scores of 1st, 3rd, 1st and (5th). See more here.

Act2Act 2 during Calves Week Photo: Amy O'Leary

More Calves Week race news in this link here

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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A 180-degree wind shift to the east from the previous two days of westerlies, presented Calves Week race officer Alan Crosbie with a problem on how to get fleet to the Fastnet and back, without forming a large reaching procession writes Michael Murphy.

He elected to set up his start line inside Schull harbour with a half-mile frantic beat across the harbour to the windward mark, much to the delight of the various tourist ribs on the water.

From there the fleets split with the smaller classes three, four, and white sail two, then on a broad reach to the rock, via the Amelia buoy, while the three larger classes had a spectacular run up Long Island Sound, with a sausage type fetch from Goat Island to the rock and a reach back to the same location and a beat back down the channel to a turning mark at the harbour mouth.

M50 type congestion occurred off the Fastnet as the various fleets arrived together, with local Schull boat “Quinsea ” even managing to embrace the rock.

In class one IRC Paul O Higgins' “Rockabill VI finally beat rivals “Neulargo” and “Jelly Baby” in a very competitive race, while Gabby Hogan’s local boat “Growler” took the echo prize from Denis O Sullivan’s “Aris” and the 1720 “Sheebeen” sailed by Mick Horgan.

In class two IRC Jonny Swan’s “Harmony” came home ahead of yesterdays winner “Bad Company”, with George Radley's “Cortegada” in third, while in Echo it was a victory for Paul Eikrems “Freyja”, with Henry Hogg’s “Lisador” in second and Schull commodore Flor O Riordans “3 Cheers “ in third.

In class three IRC the Cove crew on “Musketeer” notched up another win from David Buckley’s “Jaguar” and Dan O Donovan’s “Second Count”, while the Dwyer family sailing local boat “Sally In Stitches” took first in Echo ahead of another Schull boat “La Perle Noire” sailed by Deborah Crowley.

In class four IRC yesterdays placings were reversed with Rob O Reily’s “Bonjourno” taking the trophy from the Murphy family in “Shelly D” while in ECHO victory went to the Buckley Family in “Tete a Tete”.

In White Sail one Michael O Leary’s “Act Two” finished ahead of Aiden Heffernan’s “Indulgence”, while in Echo it was a win for ex Schull sailor “Dermot Cronin” in “Encore” from Adrian Blake's “Tulia”.

In White Sail two local Schull boats dominated, with Frank Murphy’s “Dreamcatcher” beating Andrew Mackey’s “Lorna Drew” into second place.

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The weather gods certainty decided to be kind to Schull today for the second day of Calves Week, by providing a sun-filled summers day with a steady 15 knots of a warm westerly wind, and a long inter-island interesting course from race officer Alan Crosbie writes Michael Murphy.

Once again all the fleets started with a beat-up Long Island sound, much to the delight of the throngs of spectators who had a spectacular close up view of the activities on the water.

In IRC 0/1 it was the turn of Brian Jones in “Jelly Baby” to win both handicap divisions followed home in second IRC by Paul O Higgin's in “Rockabill VI” and local Schull boat “Growler” sailed by Gabby Hogan in Echo.

"All the fleets started with a beat-up Long Island sound, much to the delight of the throngs of spectators"

In class two it was back to winning ways for Frank Desmond and the crew of “Bad Company”, following yesterday’s retiral, to clinch victory in both IRC and Echo, ahead of Johnny Swan's “Harmony” in IRC and George Radley’s “Cortegada” in Echo.

Calves Week 20192Johnny Swan's “Harmony” from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

Class three IRC produced the same results as yesterday, with David Buckley’s “Jaguar” followed home by the “Muskateer” crew from Cobh and Dan O Donovan’s “Second Count”.

In Echo, it was a first for the second named “Growler” in the fleet sailed by Diarmuid Dineen from Tralee, ahead of the Dwyer family sailing local boat “Sally In Stitches”
Class four IRC reversed yesterdays placing with the Murphy family in “Shelly D” snatching victory from Rob O Reily’s “Bonjourno”, with Simon Nelson in “Witchcraft winning Echo from Paul Taylor’s “Sea Psalm”.

White Sail One IRC saw Aiden Heffernan sail “Indulgence to victor, from Tom Mc Carthy’s “Bateleur” who was second in IRC and first in Echo. A new boat “Prince Of Tides” on its maiden visit to Schull. scored second in Echo for owner Frank Caul, with local sailor John Molloy on the helm.

Dan Buckley's “Zeezwan was a clear winner in White Sail Two, from John and Fiona Murphy’s “Esme”.

Tomorrows Fastnet Race is now scheduled to go ahead, following an improved weather forecast.

Results are here

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Thrills and spills were the order of the day for the opening races at Calves Week 2019, Schull, sailed in a brisk westerly wind, gusting close to thirty knots at times writes Michael Murphy

Race Officer Kieran McSweeney, who was drafted in at short notice in place of principle race officer Alan Crosbie, elected to set up his starting line south of the harbour entrance and succeeded in getting all six classes of the sixty-two boat fleet away, without mishap.

All the fleets had a though beat through Long Island sound, with all bar White Sail two rounding Goat Island for a bumpy downwind leg outside the islands to the Amelia Buoy.
The conditions took their toll on the fleet with six retirals before the halfway stage.

In Class 0/1 it was a perfect start for Denis Murphy's “Nieulargo” who clocked up first in both handicap divisions ahead of Frank Whelan's “Eleuthera”, with the much smaller “Antix Beag” claiming third in IRC for Antony O'Leary, while Paul O'Higgins “Rockabill VI” took third in Echo.

In class two Jonny Swan's “Harmony” from Howth took the IRC prize, with George Radley in “Cortegada” filling the Echo slot.

In class three it was a clean sweep for Tralee based David Buckley who sailed “Jaguar” to victory in both IRC and ECHO ahead of the “Musketeer” crew from Cobh who notched up a second in IRC and third in Echo. Dan O'Donovan from Dungarvan sailing Club “Second Count” and the Schull based Quinlan family filled the third spots.

Class four saw Rob O'Reilly's “Bonjourno” claim the IRC prize ahead of the Murphy Family in “Shelly D”, with the order reversed in echo. Richard Hanley's “Saoirse ”from KYC, claimed third in IRC, with the Buckley crew in “Tete-A-Tete filling third in Echo.

White Sail one, saw Michael O Leary's “Act Two” from the Royal Irish Yacht Club claim both prizes, with Bryan Heffernan's “Aisling” filling both seconds.

In White Sail Two, victory went to the local boat “Dreamcatcher” sailed by Frank Murphy, ahead of Andrew Mackey's “Lorna Drew.

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The West Cork Sailing Festival kicks off this Saturday when SCORA will start an offshore race off Kinsale to Baltimore starting at 8 am. This replaces the traditional overnight race from Crosshaven, which had suffered from declining numbers in the past few years.

The cruiser fleet will be greeted by Baltimore Sailing Club who are hosting the 1720 Sportsboat “Baltimore Cup” series in the harbour on the Bank holiday Saturday and Sunday.

Baltimore Traders Regatta on Monday signals the start of the Calves Week series of races, called after the Islands that lie at the centre of most of the weeks sailing action, with a nod towards that other sailing event which leaves Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Saturday, heading for the Fastnet.

The four days of racing in Schull, sponsored by Frank Whelan’s “Gas Analysis Services” begins at midday on Tuesday, with a nightly presentation of prizes and live music on the main street.

Local regatta races on Saturday in Crookhaven and on Sunday in Schull, round off the extra-long week's activities which now extends to eight days.

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With over 65 confirmed entries at present, representing fourteen clubs, ranging from Galway to Dublin, the 2019 Calves Week organised by Schull Harbour Sailing Club, is again shaping up to provide competitive and exciting racing for the annual West Cork festival of sailing writes Bob Bateman.

The event will see sponsor, Frank Whelan of Gas Analysis Services, hoping to make it three victories in a row in his Grand Soleil “Eleuthera”, following his excellent performance in Kinsale's Sovereign's Cup and more recently Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

This year’s event incorporates a race in the SCORA offshore series and will feature racing for six classes, with Principal Race Officer Alan Crosbie promising a variety of courses using laid Buoy’s and the many islands of Roaring water bay, together with in-harbour starts when possible.

Calves Week 198Grand Soleil “Eleuthera at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Bob Bateman

The opening reception and registration takes place at the Fastnet Marine Centre on Monday, August 5th from 17.30 hrs, where the cream of the West Cork gourmet scene will serve a fantastic array of local food and wine to set the week in motion.

Calves Week 197

Calves Week 195Frank Whelan at the helm of Eleuthera Photo: Bob Bateman

The first “round the islands” race fleet starts at 11.55 on Tuesday and on Wednesday the fleets will sail a variety of courses in Long Island Bay. Thursday will see the combined fleets head for the Fastnet Rock, where there is the possibility of meeting some of the backmarkers of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The series finishes on Friday with racing in Roaring Water Bay, followed by the overall presentation of prizes and closing ceremony on Schull Main Street.

Local racing on Saturday continues with Crookhaven Regatta, and for those with still some stamina left, Schull Regatta Committee finish off the week in style on Sunday, with an all in Cruiser race and shore side fun activities together with a firework display at dusk.

Calves Week 192

Calves Week Regatta entries are here

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In the performance of the Calves Week regatta so far, Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones Sailing Club took her third win of the week in the 13-boat class Zero/One class, this time in the event's Fastnet race on the penultimate day of racing writes Bob Bateman. Second to Eleuthera in IRC overall is the Royal St George Yacht Club J/109 Dear Prudence (Patrick Cruise O'Brien). Third overall is Black Velvet, the First 34.7 skippered by Calves Week regular Leslie Parnell of the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

There were superb conditions for the race with a westerly breeze with sunshine greeting the sixty-one starters. A short beat across the Harbour, a turn to port to bring the fleets on to a reach with some of the brave hearts trying spinnakers to another mark out the harbour which brought the various fleets on to a beat up the sound. All but Whitesail two took in Goat Island before heading for the Rock.

Fastnet race calves week2Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones Sailing Club

Class one continued around Cape Clear Island while the remainder of the classes returned to the Harbour via a variety of race marks and Inner islands. This resulted in the majority of yachts finishing close together on the inner harbour line much to the delight of the many holidaymakers watching from the shore.

Fastnet race calves week2George Radley's Half Tonner Cortegada from Great Island Sailing Club Photo: Bob Bateman

In a nine-boat Class Two fleet, the Sunfast 32 Bad Company (Frank Desmond) of Royal Cork Yacht Club leads overall from clubmate Kieran Collins in the Olson 30 Coracle VI. Third is George Radley's Half Tonner Cortegada from Great Island Sailing Club.

Fastnet race calves week2

In Class Three IRC, Dan O'Donovan's Seconds Count from Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club leads Billy Burke's Sigma 33 Musketeer. Third from five starters is Padraig O'Donovan's Fastnet 34 Chameleon from Kinsale Yacht Club.

Full results are here

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The weather gods continued to shine on PRO Alan Crosbie and his well-drilled team at sunny Gas Calves Week in Schull, West Cork as the large fleet lined up in a 15–knot westerly wind for another inner harbour start on day two of the event.

The various courses took the fleets on a scenic tour of four of the offshore islands, with the finish line off north harbour Cape Clear, where competitors had a chance to sample the recently completed pontoon facilities.

In Class One IRC, Frank Whelan's 'Eleuthera' scored another victory in the series, while the Echo trophy went to Gary Fort sailing 'Jaguar' from Tralee Sailing Club.

In Class Two, it was victory in both divisions for the Royal Cork's 'Bad Company' holding off fellow club member Kieran Collins 'Coracle' in IRC and Fergus Coughlan's 'Jedi' in Echo.

In Class Three, Dan O Donovan's 'Second Counts' revelled in the lively conditions to hold off the challenge of Great Island Sailing Club's 'Musketeer', while in class 4 IRC, the conditions again suited the Murphy families Moody 'Shelly D' to take podium position with Paul Taylor's Tralee based 'Sea Pslam' winning Echo, despite having an encounter with the Perch rock.

In White Sail One, Dennis Murphy's 'Nieulargo' continued her winning streak in both IRC and Echo while in WS 2 it was a win for local boat 'Dreamcatcher' sailed by Frank Murphy.

Full results are here

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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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