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Displaying items by tag: Dun Laoghaire to Dingle

Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (D2D) race organisers at the National Yacht Club have published five compelling reasons why June's race measures up to be the 'perfect family friendly offshore race'. The club is keen to build on the ethos and tradition of the race.

  • 1. At almost 300 miles it is the perfect length typically taking the whole fleet something between 30 and 50 hours to get to Dingle in the beautful surrounds of Kerry.
  • 2. It is mostly along the coast rather than a crossing which contrubites to safety and enjoyment.
  • 3. It mixes both racing boats and cruising boats with prizes for both.
  • 4. It is in the same year as the Fastnet race, thereby providing a perfect training ground for crew and boat as testified to by RORC (the Royal Ocean Racing Club) the Fastnet Race organisers. It also forms part of the ISORA (Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association) season.
  • 5. It is a great feeder race. Having arrived in Kerry the participants can choose to cruise the amazingly beatiful area of Kerry and West Cork or head back to Kinsale for Sovereigns Week.

On Tuesday, (April 4) at the official launch in the NYC, the club announces new race sponsors and associates under new race Chairman, Adam Winkelmann. 

As if to emphasise this family racing aspect, the last race winner, from 2015 was a dedicated family boat from the host club. Liam Shanahan Jnr skippered his J109 Ruth to victory ahead of Welsh yacht Mojito, (J/109) Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC. It was a result that enabled Shanahan to lift the Irish Sailor of the Year Award for 2015. The Shanahan entry intends to defend her title and is among the first race entries along another Dun Laoghaire family boat, Aurelia, a J/122, Chris & Patanne Power Smith, from the Royal St George YC who was third in 2015. Read about Liam Shanahan's family sailing values here.

amazing grace D2DKerry yacht Amazing Grace (Brian O'Sullivan) clinched the light air 2013 Dun Laoghaire Dingle race title... Photo: Michael Chester

whisper D2D...but not all editions have been light air affairs. In 2009, competitors got a wild ride to Dingle when winds gusted to 30–knots for the start off Dun Laoghaire and Michael Cotter's Whisper (above) set a new course record. Photo:

Winkelmann is confident of a buoyant entry to match 2015's 30–boat fleet but makes the point entry is still wide open and boats from all ports are very welcome.

The 2017 race starts in Dun Laoghaire from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday June 14th at 19.00 hours. The prizegiving party will take place in Dingle in Benners Hotel on June 17th evening. The organisers expect between 30 and 35 boats across 3 classes, including the mini-transat class racing for the first time with some well know international sailors.

Winkelmann adds “It is great to have Volvo on board to compliment our long term partners in Dingle and in particular the Dingle Skellig Hotel Group. We have been encouraged by the growing interest in the race both at local and international level.” We see the race as the perfect mini offshore.

In addition, the race also has an association with Crean’s Brewery and Billy Naughton Cars of Tralee. Since its inception in 1984 this race has always thrived on the wonderful co-operation between the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and those local businesses in Dingle that provide a great welcome and hospitality at the finishing destination.

Volvo Car Ireland already firmly established as the brand partner for sailing in Ireland have added the D2D race to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and the other major events on the sailing calender in Ireland. David Thomas, recently appointed new Managing Director for Volvo Car Ireland commented that “We are delighted to support this race as we see it as a perfect fit with our global commitment to sailing which extends from the Volvo Ocean Race right down to these important grass roots events in Ireland”.

Read more: Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

The Irish Cruiser Racer Association must be applauded for providing a platform under the theme: 'we need to talk about cruiser racing' at tomorrow's conference in Limerick. Like an elephant in–the–room, the overcrowded Summer fixtures needs to be urgently addressed because it's not only the hosting clubs and competitors that suffer but the sport itself.

Between June 9 and July 9 Irish cruiser–racers have – in date order – the ICRA Nationals in Royal Cork YC (June 9–11), Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club, (June 21-24) Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay from (July 6-9) and Galway's WIORA on the Aran Islands from July 5–8.

On top of this, the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle offshore race sets sail from the National Yacht Club for a three–day race on June 14.

These major events are icons of Summer sailing but how much do we lose by having them all within one month?

With a total available racing fleet of say up to 150 keelboats in Ireland, very few boats will do all five events, not least because WIORA and Dun Laoghaire regatta dates clash.

For many skippers, getting enough crew to do even two of these events will be an achievement in itself.

And, in what is becoming a well identified problem at club level, the successive nature of these events will certainly have a knock–on effect in crew availability for local racing.

Already Dublin Bay Sailing Club has taken a pragmatic approach and scrubbed its own long standing DBSC Cruiser Challenge because of this congestion.

It may seem blindingly obvious but it needs to be said, the Irish keelboat sailing calendar has just too many events for the times that are in it.

Does such congestion best showcase our sport? Attract sponsors or discourage them? And most importantly does it suit the sailors?

It's not the first time Water Rat has mentioned it. He raised it back in 2013 when one senior organiser saw fit to deny the situation and gave poor Water Rat a good talking to into the bargain. Unfortunately, the officer subsequently added that his muscular comments were off–the–record.

Four years later, nothing it appears, has changed except that new ICRA commodore Simon McGibney has invited all to the Limerick gabfest to talk about the future of cruiser racing.

Everyone supports the notion of the ICRA National Championships because it is an extremely worthy event that has, since its inception, done so much to raise the profile of cruiser-racing, an aspect of the sport hitherto poorly represented.

But in the current environment could this event not be included within a Sovereigns Week/Dun Laoghaire Week/Cork Week scenario thus reducing:

  • crew demands
  • volunteer fatigue within clubs,
  • resources and logistics
  • costs

At the same time, such a rejig would give a much needed boost to the regatta that would now include a 'National Championships'.

ICRA National Championship Must Keep its Own Identity

Equally, in such a set–up, it is essential the ICRA championship keeps its own identity. After all, it is a national championships, and that's the formula that proves popular with competitors, so it is vital it is not subsumed by any regatta.

ICRA could consider four year cycles. All the events to run from, say, a Wednesday to Saturday to maximise club takings. If it started next year then it could go to Cork Week, Dun Laoghaire in 2019, Howth 2020, Sovereign's in 2021 or some other rotation of this. A review could take place in year three of four to see if other venues wanted a piece of the action. Belfast, anyone? Existing venues also might want to drop out or change dates to fit the recast schedule.

This would not mean the ICRA Nationals concept falls away. On the contrary, ICRA instead works with the existing regatta committees to deliver it's goal of providing quality racing for IRC and ECHO boats and to enable the growth of the sport and to maximise the numbers of people afloat. This all happens. ICRA are merely using existing regattas as their vehicle to deliver. ICRA becomes more overseer than organiser and the regattas benefit from the additional UK exposure that ICRA manages to attract.

ICRA should be applauded for bringing everyone together to discuss this subject. Lets see what overhaul comes out of round table discussions at Castletroy.

Water Rat

Published in Water Rat

'ISORA is at the cutting edge of race management' said ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan in the 2016 ISORA AGM and dinner which was held in the National Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire on Saturday 12th November.

The offshore body is on a high after a record season and a post season survey gave a thumbs–up to the Irish Sea scene. As reported, more than half of survey respondents are regular offshore racers.

At the AGM it was agreed that the ISORA 2017 race schedule would star the Classics 'Dun Laoghaire to Dingle' Race in June.

The 'RORC Lyver Trophy' race will form part of the Royal Dee Yacht Club's Offshore Championship with the coastal races in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July whilst the race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli would be a great feeder race for the IRC Welsh National Championships hosted in Pwllheli in August.

The AGM also confirmed the use of auto helms in ISORA races and that the race schedule is designed to encourage new participants into the Irish Sea offshore scene from both sides of the channel with two coastal series and a good mix of race ports. Peter also confirmed that 'Virtual marks, combined with the latest Avery Crest YB Trakers would provide exciting and imaginative courses which could also feature virtual start lines and finishes'

At the spectacular prize-giving Sgrech, skippered by Afloat's Sailor of the Month for September Stephen Tudor, was confirmed the Offshore Champions for the third time and collected the prestigeous RDYC Wolf's Head Trophy.

Published in ISORA

The only non-elitist thing about the Olympic Games is the fact that all countries – however large or small – are treated equally. A small country like Ireland is entitled to exactly the same number of places in competition as the superstates like the US or China. But apart from that, if any country’s national authority in any Olympic discipline is not treating its selected athletes as a pampered elite as an Olympic year arrives, then it is wasting everyone’s time. That’s how it should be in an Olympic year. But things definitely aren’t the same in the three clear years between each Olympiad. W M Nixon looks ahead to a completely different type of season in 2017.

Irish sailing had a good 2016 Olympics. Our waterborne elite did well - they did us proud. And the Irish national sailing season of 2016 – as we saw in last weekend’s review here – was special in many ways, for on top of Olympic success we staged two major world dinghy championships, witnessed perhaps the best ever Volvo Round Ireland Race, and brought home both silver and bronze medals from world youth championships.

That was how it was in 2016. But for 2017, we look forward to a very different kind of sailing year, in which everyone has the chance to be a star at local level, and our Olympic achievers and international medallists will be sailing as ordinary competitors along with everyone else.

Annalise Murphy Moth Dinghy Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy racing her foiling Moth, with which she is expected to compete in the Cork Dinghy Fest at the end of June. Photo: VDLR

In these circumstances, it’s intriguing to look at some of the events which will set the tone for the coming year. And if by some chance you’re feeling jaded as we sink into the depths of winter, rest assured that it’s an absolute tonic to talk with the voluntary organisers who are heading up the groups which are putting together the various packages which will provide sailing happenings of all sizes from one end of the country to the other.

These people have a level of infectious enthusiasm which, if you could bottle it, would make you a fortune. Their zest in our sport, and their joy in boats and the sailing of them, is a wonder to behold. And they’re so keen on it that they’re prepared to put in so very many hours of their free time – hours beyond measure, in fact – in administrative effort, that it would put many professional organisers to shame.

Such enthusiasm can bring its own special problems. Every sailing centre round the coast and on the lakes will expect its share of the action. So inevitably there will be a clashing of dates which will make for difficult choices for crews who had specific programmes in mind. But this morning, we’re not in the mood to beat the drum about ruthlessly rationalising the national programme. Let’s just tell you what’s happening, and you can draw your own conclusions and plan out your own season.

That said, the big one is undoubtedly the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from the 6th to 9th July. 2015’s staging of this biennial festival experienced a quantum leap in the scale and scope of the event. Somehow, it moved onto a new plane. Under the chairmanship of Tim Goodbody, the organising committee built on the efforts of previous years, and the resulting myriad of sailing became a wonder to behold, and a joy to take part in. The plan for 2017 is to make it even better.

This outline hints at the scale of the event which will take place in July:

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017

Racing open to 30 Classes.

Incorporating the following Championships:-

· Royal Dee Yacht Club Irish Sea Offshore Championship
· Sigma 33 and Wayfarer National Championships
· Beneteau 211 Irish Championship
· GP14 and 420 Leinster Championships
· SB20 Southern Championship
· J24 & Squib East Coast Championships

Celebrating 200 years of Dun Laoghaire Harbour:

The Kingstown 200 Trophy for the best classic keelboat/dinghy.

NOR and Online Entry will open mid November (Monday November 14th).

Super Early Bird Entry Prize Draw: All entries received and paid for in full by 31 December 2016 will automatically be entered into a Super Early Bird Prize Draw and 10% of these lucky people will have their Entry Fee refunded.

To get the flavour of it, a chat with Organising Chairman Tim Goodbody at mid-week brought everything to life. That said, he was in a thoughtful mood, as that morning he had sold his much-loved Sigma 33 White Mischief after seventeen very happy and successful years. This enthusiasm in talking about their boats was found to be a shared characteristic of all the voluntary organisers, something which those who think the future of sailing lies in group-owned professionally-maintained boats might like to ponder.

Be that as it may, the J/109 class in Ireland will be taking on board the fact that their newest star entrant Tim Goodbody is now a hundred per cent J/109 man. For until he was comfortable in the knowledge that his Sigma 33 White Mischief had gone to a good home (she has found a lucky owner in Arklow), you had the feeling that a tiny bit of his mind was elsewhere as he campaigned the new White Mischief, a J/109.

Tim Goodbody J109No longer a fleet owner…..Tim Goodbody’s J/109 White Mishcief is now his only racing steed. Photo:
That said, he was frequently on the podium in the new class, but for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 the rest of his crew will have to race as best they can without him, for he throws himself so thoroughly into heading up the large army of VDLR volunteers – with Ciara Dowling as an awesomely effective Executive Secretary – that there simply isn’t the time to think of campaigning in one of the hottest of the 30 classes as well.

A look at the heights of the 2017 programme shows how it is quite an achievement for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 to be the peak event at home, and it also reveals the difficulty for planning a programme for your boat and crew which will keep everyone – including the Commodore of your home club – in a happy frame of mind.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta PrizegivingPrize winners at the conclusion of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015. Adrian Yeates, CEO Volvo Car Ireland, is at centre, overall winner George Sisk is left centre, and Tim Goodbody, Chairman Organising Committee, is second right. Photo VDLR

This list is by no means complete, but if you haven’t firmed up your club or association schedule by November, you’re not going to be taken seriously, as November is traditionally the month when the next year’s Corinthian crewing programmes take shape.

2017 Preliminary Programme

March 25th Horizon Energy Group PY1000 in Owenabue River at Crosshaven (RCYC)

May 26th – May 29th Scottish Series (Clyde Cruising Club)

June 3rd Lambay Races (Howth)

June 9th- June 11th ICRA Nats (Royal Cork)

June 14th Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (National YC)

June 21st to 24th Sovereigns Cup (Kinsale)

June 30th – July 2nd Cork Dinghy Fest 2017

July 6th to 9th Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

July 6th to 8th WIORA Championship, Aran Islands

July 23rd to 28th Glandore Classics

August 1st to 4th Calves Week (Schull)

August 6th 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race

August 14th – 18th Half Ton Classic Worlds (Kinsale)

October 21st Rolex Middle Sea Race

We happen to know about the first rather esoteric major event on the programme, the PY 1000 dinghy race in the Owenabue River at Crosshaven on March 25th, thanks to the enthusiasm of Nicholas O’Leary of Royal Cork. He’s back on home ground and busy with being the third generation of his family in the energetic and imaginative organisation and promotion of sailing.

The Horizon Energy Group PY 1000 is a come-all-ye for dinghies using the Portsmouth Yardstick handicap. And they don’t mess about with prizes – there’s €1,000 on it. As the tides suit, they’ll be using the full available length and breadth of the Owenabue River between Crosser and Carrigaline in a crazy sailing project to blow the winter cobwebs away, and it will be a useful training for ogranisational energy levels as young O’Leary puts his team through their paces in training for the Cork Dinghy Fest at the end of June.

Feva dinghy racingRS Fevas in a National Championship on Lough Ree. They’ll be gathering with other classes in Cork at the end of June 2017
Like Tim Goodbody, he can be slightly sentimental about his boats – in his case, it was seeing an old and much-loved Optimist he’d once raced which fired him up to spread the news. An email from him this week gets the flavour of Nicholas O’Leary’s approach to sailing:

“Top of the organisational agenda is taking on the Dinghy Festival at the end of June on behalf of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and the dinghy fraternity of Ireland and beyond. My good friend Marty O’Leary is chairman of the RS Class in Ireland, and we will again welcome three fleets from under his wing - The RS200 for their Nationals and the RS400 and Feva Southerns.

The array of dinghy classes within Ireland concentrate on doing their own calendar year after year. This is a huge undertaking and requires massive dedication by class captains, regional reps and the clubs that host. The Dinghy Fest takes the stress off such class reps for one of many events they would normally have to organise, and brings together the masses into one harbour to enjoy great racing and great craic ashore, particularly as it provides socialising with friends they haven’t seen due to other class commitments.

We are working on connections within the variety of classes nationwide, and one exciting grouping that we’re planning is an Extreme Fleet. To see one 49er screaming across Cork Harbour is a sight, but we plan to have one race course dedicated to an entire fleet of fast dinghies, with the foiling Moths - where we hope to see Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy racing against her coach Rory Fitzpatrick - as well as 29ers and 49ers, and the Cat class, with the Catamarans demonstrating their viable concept of mixed craft racing on the one race track, and results divided thereafter.

I know this Extreme Fleet will open the eyes of young sailors to see that there is life after an Optimist, 420, Laser or whatever fleet they are currently in, and that fast fun boats are accessible classes, alive within Irish waters. I sincerely think it’s very important for the future of youth sailing that they enjoy it, finding a class they are happy in rather than being marched up to the gates of a pathway and pushed through. Those who enjoy the sport will stay in the sport. If they excel to greater heights, then so much the better, but that shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all for everyone.

I don’t believe the success of an event is within its number of entries, but in its quality of racing provided. That is why my old housemate and current ISA Champion of Champions Alex Barry is joining our team in an advisory role to keep the high standard of racing up to scratch, and in line with what we would expect when racing Worldwide. I look forward to developments in the months to come, and will of course keep everyone updated with sailing news from near and far.”

29er in flight. Nicholas O’Leary, organiser for Cork Dinghy Fest 2017, hopes that the presence of 29ers will encourage more young sailors to realize that boats like this aren’t only for the elite29er in flight. Nicholas O’Leary, organiser for Cork Dinghy Fest 2017, hopes that the presence of 29ers will encourage more young sailors to realize that boats like this aren’t only for the elite

So the dinghies of Ireland have the good example of somebody thinking in a far-sighted and coherent way. But with the offshore racers, the picture is as ever more complex. Yet it’s for sure we’re interested in the Scottish Series out on its own in May, as we provide the ex-Pat overall winner Dara O’Malley (originally from Westport, he’s Edinburgh-based) with his Hunter 707 Seaword in 2016, while regular contender John Hall from the National YC won Class 2 with his J/109 Something Else.

But in June things get mighty complicated, as there are two major cruiser-racer championships in Cork with a clear fortnight between them, yet during that fortnight the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race gets under way.

However, if you talk with the enthusiasts involved in organising any of these events, it all seems very manageable. Paul Tingle who is chairman to organise the ICRA Nats at Royal Cork from June 9th to 11th has recently moved from campaigning a Corby 25 with family and friends to the comparatively luxurious yet equally competitive surrounds of an X 34 which will also be called Alpaca. He sees the ICRA Nats at Crosshaven from June 9th to 11th as offering the special cachet of a National Championship in a manageable package. And at the end of it your boat is conveniently placed to be moved to Kinsale the following weekend for the time-honoured Sovereign’s Cup series the weekend after (June 21st-24th)

kinsale marina Kinsale is pulling out all the stops to make the Sovereign’s Cup fleet welcome from June 21st to 24th.
In fact, Paul Tingle and his counterpart at the Sovereign’s, Kevin Murray of Kinsale, are coming up with all sorts of ingenious suggestions for getting the boats from Crosshaven to Kinsale, ranging from a passage race to a simple offer to provide voluntary delivery crews. The thinking is that some crews and owners will welcome the opportunity for a weekend off to score some brownie points on the home front. But however they get to Kinsale, the participants in the Sovereign’s will find that the entire town is behind the event, which is very much aimed at being a fun happening.

Freed from the constraints of the IRC limitations within ICRA, Kinsale YC can open the door to sportsboats and even inshore keelboat classes, should they be so interested, and the emphasis is going to be very much on a regatta atmosphere rather than the more serious mood of a national championship.

Meanwhile, take note that the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is on a Wednesday evening – June 14th – not the Friday evening as in 2015. The feeling is that in these demanding times, it make more sense to slip away from business cares on a Thursday and Friday to get comfortably finished racing by Sunday and probably earlier, rather than arrive in the office exhausted on a Tuesday after a 380-mile race which finished in the small hours of Monday morning. Last time round, it was J boats of several sizes which dominated, with the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth winning from sister-ship Mojito, but maybe in 2017 some other marque will get a look in.

For July, an east-west divide arose in planning the programme, when the fascinating concept of a West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association Championship on the Aran islands made the discovery that out in Kilronan, each summer weekend is spoken for in terms of hosting some major island festival. Thus the only clear one they could offer hyper-keen Atlantic Way sailor Cormac MacDonnacha of WIORA was July 8th & 9th, and as his fleet will be wanting to make their way home along the Atlantic seaboard on the Sunday, the WIORA Championship 2017 is July 6th to 8th. It will make for a painful decision for some crews who had hoped to go east for the big one in Dun Laoghaire taking place at exactly the same time.

The Rolex Fastnet Race next year is earlier in August than it has been for some time, going off on Sunday August 6th. And among the fleet will be an Irish boat defending a trophy won in 2015, the Jeanneau 37 Desert Star skippered by Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire. Desert Star was right on the podium among the many Irish boats in the previous race, and she was also overall winner of the Sailing Schools trophy, besting 32 other boats.

Fastnet rock yachtsDesert Start round the rock during the Rolex Fastnet Race of 2015, on her way to winning the Sailing Schools Division in a fleet of 33 yachts. Photo: Rolex

This was a notable success which underlined just how significant the concept of Fastnet Race experience has become in the definition of genuine seagoing ability. The camaraderie which developed among Desert Star’s crew of rookies from an extraordinary variety of backgrounds was heart-warming to behold, and it’s something which many wish to experience and share.

It’s very much what we hope for 2017, as it’s the perfect example of sailing for more ordinary folk rather than top level competition for superstars. So as we snuggle down into winter with just the special Frostbite, Brass Monkey and Turkey Shoot races available for those who want the occasional quick taste of sailing all year round, spare a thought for those dedicated souls who are so keen to get involved that they’ll go to sea just whenever they can, and that includes going offshore in the depths of winter.

For those dreamily contemplating next season from a comfortable armchair in front of a roaring fire, here’s a thought-provoking email I received last Sunday from Ronan O Siochru:

“We are flying downwind with a poled-out headsail
and double reefed main, 30 knots behind us in absolutely glorious sunshine
from Kilkeel back to Dun Laoghaire.
The guys are after sailing 500 miles in six days, and have been to Wales, the Isle
of Man, England, and Northern Ireland. We have also experienced the raw energy
of the North Channel and the Scottish sea state in November as we headed up to
Cambeltown on the Mull of Kintyre.

They are getting some of the most intense, gruelling training in difficult
conditions - cold, 16 hours of darkness each day, and sometimes very fast-changing weather. We haven’t seen another sailing boat in 500 miles, as we
 left Dun Laoghaire in the dark and haven’t been back since.

They are doing serious training, and are learning so fast they are
really closing in on many so called 'experienced’ sailors who have been
sailing for decades.

They are an interesting group coming from a variety of backgrounds, a
totally international crew, and all guys on this occasion - Irish, French, English, Italian and a Canadian. Their reasons for being here range from a Canadian naval architect looking to learn to
sail, to a Frenchman taking early retirement with a dream to cash in his
pension to buy a catamaran and do charters in the Caribbean.
And there are a few young bucks
keen to avoid university, and instead sink their teeth into a grittier more active
career……The course has been running since 3rd September, and culminates in the RYA
 Yachtmaster Offshore exam on the 26th November. Meanwhile, roll on 2017. The Fastnet calls.”

Yacht CrewA selfie by Fastnet Race class winner Ronan o Siochru with his crew of trainee yachtmasters as they experience their first easy sailing on the final leg last Sunday from Kilkeel to Dun Laoghaire.

Published in W M Nixon

#d2drace – It's the Irish offshore race which ticks all the boxes.You start conveniently on a Friday night from a harbour which – despite everything that has been done to it in the name of modern architecture – continues to present the classically smooth granite façade of official Dublin-on-Sea. The race is on southward through the night down the east coast, past murky sandbanks which contrast with the luxuriance of the Garden of Ireland beyond the nearby shore. After that, it's round the tricky rock-strewn southeast corner and into the Atlantic, seeking a course between southwest and west along a green and purple coastline with fine mountains beyond, until your next major turn is the Fastnet Rock itself.

Then it's on round Ireland's most spectacularly beautiful southwestern coastline, past one great headland after another, each more impressive than the last. The final turning mark is reached, a rock so spectacular it's first choice for location shooting on sci-fi blockbusters. Thus is the mighty and mystical Skellig Michael put astern. And then, with the majestic scenery of the great mountains of Kerry setting the style, you head up a splendid inlet and sail through a small and almost hidden gap in its rugged northern coastline.

You've suddenly entered a secret yet commodious natural harbour, and may find yourself being welcomed by the amiable yet often spectacular resident dolphin. But far from finding you've arrived at a sparse little village which is appropriately dwarfed by the big country about it, on the contrary there's a proper little port town with an air of confidence and cosmopolitan chic, and the aromas of good cooking in the breeze off the land. But the contrast with the smooth metropolitan harbour town you left a couple of days earlier simply couldn't be greater. For you have just finished the 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, and all is very well with the world at one of Ireland's best destination ports. W M Nixon tells the story of the 2015 edition of this biennial classic.


We took leave of the fleet of thirty boats a week ago on this blog as they exited unspectacularly from Dublin Bay in the gathering dusk, helped by the new ebb, and searching for the brisk northerly which had been forecast. And to varying extents they did find it, though it was only those who went close along the land who found it in anything like the forecast strengths - those offshore could have done with more. But before we go into their travails and triumphs, let us again list the dramatis personae, ranked by IRC Rating:

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

As they sailed into the night, some were doing better than others almost regardless of the wind they found. And the D2D Race Tracker began its work on to such good effect that within a couple of days its visitor hits had knocked "James Bond in Dun Laoghaire" off the top of the popularity sidebar on our website.

d2dmap.jpgA great offshore race becomes a computer game. Thanks to the ISORA Averycrest Yellowbrick support, we could follow every twist and turn, then relish it all as seen here after the finish, when we could look back at leisure to see those who took flyers. That's Jedi and WOW from Dun Laoghaire who went way to the eastward going south through St George's Channel, with Jedi going deepest. Then Ipanema from Galway went looking for palm trees in the Celtic Sea and didn't do well, though the other markedly though not so extreme southward plunger, the J/122 Aurelia, placed third overall. Then in the open Atlantic off the coast of Kerry, Joker from Kinsale clearly reckoned she just couldn't go too far west...

The masthead-spinnaker-toting veteran Dehler DB1 Red Rhum (Jonathan Nicholson, RStGYC) was very much a contender in the early stages, and briefly took the overall lead again off West Cork, but at the finish she was 11th. Photo: W M Nixon

From the screen, it became increasingly clear as the first night went along that the racing superstar Antix was starting to look good. Anthony O'Leary of Cork's current British IRC Champion, the Munster-red Ker 40 formerly known as Catapult, had shaken herself clear of most of the rest of the bigger boat group, though a select band of craft of all sizes which has chosen a corner-cutting course out of Dublin Bay close by the Muglins were going well, with the Tyrell's J/122 Aquelina from Arklow setting the pace ahead of the masthead-spinnaker-toting veteran Dehler db1 Red Rhum (Jonathan Nicholson) and the pace-setters in both the Two-Handed and Cruiser Divisions, Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles with the Elan 340 Blue Eyes, and Brian O'Sullivan with the defending champion, the vintage Oyster 37 Amazing Grace.

In the early stages of the race, the Elan 340 Blue Eyes (left), raced two-handed by Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles (Howth YC) was showing very well against the entire fleet. She lost her good placing for a while in the calms off the southwest coast, but at the finish won the Two-Handed Division and placed twelfth overall, thereby putting sixteen fully-crewed boat astern. With her shortly after the start is the Sigma 38 Joker (David Gibbons, Kinsale YC) which placed second in the Two-Handed Division. Photo: W M Nixon

Their moment of glory was rather more than that. Close along the land, the little fellows were still finding the better breeze an hour later. But offshore the biggies were finding their style, and soon Antix was sitting on nearly 8 knots while Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners was powering through at 9, and though Aquelina was hanging in mighty well, the proper order was asserting itself by the time Wicklow Head was astern of the leaders at midnight, though Red Rhum, Blue Eyes and Chris Moore's J/109 Powder Monkey were still embarrassingly close. Further back in the fleet, David Bolger's comfortable Sadler 34 lady Rowena was going much too well for the peace of mind of the bigger newer boats around her.

However, through the remainder of the short June night, the two leaders were powering away, and by 0530 Antix and Lee OP had broken past the Tuskar Rock while the fleet astern found the new flood tide piling up against them to enable Antix to start to assert her position at the top of the leaderboard on IRC. This was what had been expected with the weather forecasts on Thursday morning, when predictions had been that a favourable wind pattern - briskly from the north - might enable Antix to get to Dingle within the 24 hours, with the stratospherically-rated Lee Overlay Partners doing even better.

But by Friday morning the wind expectations and the betting had softened. It seemed there were going to be at least two significant flat patches which would have to be negotiated before they could breathe the Kerry air. In those circumstances, the smart money shifted to boats with middle ratings in the fleet, and where better to settle than on the half dozen ever-reliable J/109s? And within those ever-reliable J/109s, where safer than the Shanahan family with Ruth, the 2014 ISORA Champion?

It has to be admitted that with Powder Monkey leading the charge for glory in the J/109s in the early stages, Ruth had her backers worried. But by the time they were out past the Coningbeg at 11 o'clock on Saturday morning, the money was looking a little bit safer, for although Antix was still reaching along in glorious style and fine weather with the Old Head of Kinsale the next mark in mind and her still on top of the handicap lead, Ruth was now emerging from the pack and was picking at the lead in the J/109s which had been taken over by the Welsh boat Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), while early sprinter Powder Monkey had run out of steam and was now well back.

While the northerly breeze lasted, Lee Overlay Partners and Antix were in a race of their own. Horizon job doesn't even begin to describe it. And when the wind did go soft and then drew locally from ahead on Saturday afternoon during an otherwise perfect summer's day, they were better able to cope in clear conditions. But many miles astern, the most of the rest of the fleet were in those messy waters south of the Hook, where head winds in the usual lumpy sea make any progress difficult, and some took desperate tactical gambles.

Yet such is the nature of this race that the more optimistic continued to hope that their time might yet come, and so it proved through Saturday night. The underlying northerly breeze had returned as forecast, reinforced by being the night breeze off the land right along the south coast of West Cork. But for the two leaders ploughing along approaching the Fastnet Rock at midnight, they were sailing into another calm. The Fastnet Rock, legendary emblem of rough water, was no more than a great big pussy cat sitting serenely in its own bed of almost windless sea. Lee OP and Antix, within a couple of miles of each other, came as near as dammit to a halt.

Yet the rest of the fleet, led by the offshore-course-favouring J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith), were coming down from the Old Head of Kinsale through the velvet night in considerable style and at a very fine speed. Then through that night, as each cohort in turn came to the Fastnet and found it calm and then had some very slow progress towards the next bit of a reasonably moving air out by Mizen Head, the corrected time leadership changed almost by the minute, and certainly by the hour.

In such circumstances, with all the benefit of hindsight, we can see a trend emerging. The close racing between Mojito and Ruth had developed into an exhausting duel. But their heightened performance for that one-on-one challenge meant they in turn were out-performing all others. Oh for sure, from time to time other boats appeared at the top of the leaderboard. But thanks to the Mojito/Ruth contest - "a dogfight" was how Liam Shanahan later laconically described it - when anything remotely like reasonable sailing emerged, the two top J/109s were poised to take the lead.

It was at Cape Clear and heading on towards the Fastnet at 6 o'clock on Sunday morning that Ruth for the first time started to show ahead, though only just, when they were only 80 metres apart. But she stayed ahead of Mojito thereafter, even though like everyone else they spent a considerable time – three hours in the case of some boats – becalmed at the mouth of Bantry Bay. Yet all the time Ruth was somehow nibbling away, and as the northerly returned to give a summer day's beat out past Dursey Head and on towards the big turn at the Skellig, Ruth was building towards having two miles in hand on Mojito.

She never lost it thereafter, and as the chips were falling exactly the right way for whoever was leading the J/109s, they were able to get round the Skellig and up to the finish at Dingle carrying the port tack all the way, albeit hard on the wind, while those ahead had found things flukey towards Dingle, and those far astern were to find the wind veering to give a beat, and then falling away.

Moment of truth aboard Ruth. With Liam Shanahan on the wheel and crewman Kevin Daly on the mainsheet, they have just rounded the Skellig and can lay the course for the finish. If the expected veering in the wind can hold off for just a little while, they have the race in the bag........

The early overall leader Antix was no longer in a commanding position when she finally finished the D2D 2015 shortly after 2pm on Sunday, having to contend with a local south to east breeze to get across the line. But in the end, she did very well to correct to 8th place overall after a race in which conditions were against her. Photo: Alan Dooley

Lee Overlay Partners and Antix had stayed well ahead, but being stopped – as the whole fleet had been from time to time – is murder for the highest rated boats, and though they were both into Dingle in time for a late Sunday lunch, it would have needed the rest of the fleet to be set in concrete for half a day to give them a chance of the handicap win.

Yet not so far behind the two big glamour girls, the Steady Eddy performer Aurelia came in neck and neck with George Sisk's much higher rated Farr 42 WOW, and Aurelia was undoubtedly in with more than shout if things went even slightly pear-shaped for the tightly packed bunch astern. But it was not to be. Far from resembling a pear, the shape was perfect for Ruth, and she took the win with style, finishing at 1945 hrs still that crucial two miles ahead of Mojito, which in turn came in twenty minutes later to move into second on corrected time, with things now looking good for Aurelia in third.

It was fairly clearcut in terms of time for the first three places, but fourth slot was a very close run thing. If there was a prize for the most inappropriately-named boat in the race, it would have been no contest for Jay Bourke's J/109 Dear Prudence. She seemed to be crewed mostly by some of the most colourful characters on the Irish sailing scene. And in those difficult stages to the west of the Coningbeg and Saltees, Dear Prudence seemed to be taking unsuccessful flyers which belied her name. But as the race progressed, her motley crew – sorry about the cliché, but nothing else will do – began to get their act together, and they fairly milled their way through the fleet.

By the time Dear Prudence got out of the Bantry Bay calm, she was becoming a contender. Thereafter, the motley crew sailed like men possessed. To get to Dingle as quickly as possible, they made some inspired tactical decisions in the beat up to the Skellig. And then, on the final leg to the finish, they didn't sail an inch further than was absolutely necessary, skirting Valentia Island close inshore with a splendidly cavalier disregard for the supposed perils of doing so, and hounding down Frank Doyle's A35 Endgame and Mike Murphy's perky little twin-ruddered JPK 9.60 Alchimiste like a very hungry lion after his prey.

Possibly the most inappropriately-named boat on the planet, the J/109 Dear Prudence (seen here in another race) managed to snatch fourth place by 50 seconds thanks to shaving past the coast of Valentia Island on the way to the finish. Photo: W M Nixon

"And they told me Dingle was a rugged place with ferocious Atlantic weather....." Post-finish celebrations in Dingle say it all.

Thus from being an also ran going nowhere, Dear Prudence came in a commendable fourth, albeit by just 50 seconds ahead of Alchimiste. It was an astounding performance. And it added yet further lustre to the J/Boat sweep of the results, as they now took five of the first six places. In a wonderful race like this, every boat has a dozen stories to tell. In the end though, it is only the story of the winner that really matters. But before we focus on Ruth and her team, here are the complete results, and let it be noted that being a J/109 was no guarantee of success – in the final tally, they were spread between first and nineteenth overall. And in that final tally, an encouraging aspect has to be the widespread nature of the clubs taking part in this great race:

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2015 (National YC & Dingle Sailing Club) Results

IRC Overall: 1st Ruth (J/109, B, W, A, T & P Shanahan, National YC) Corrected Time: 1 day 23hrs 30 minutes & 48 seconds; 2nd Mojito (J/109) Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) 1:23:51:50; 3rd Aurelia (J/122, Chris & Patanne Power Smith, Royal St George YC) 2:0:15:52; 4th Dear Prudence (J/109, Jonathan Bourke, Manhattan YC) 2:1:18:14; 5th Alchimiste (JPK 9.60, Mike Murphy, National YC) 2:1:19:04; 6th Aquelina (J/122. James & Sheila Tyrrell, Arklow SC) 2:1:31:10; 7th Endgame (A35, Frank Doyle, Royal Cork YC) 2:1:47:04; 8th Antix (Ker 40, Anthony O'Leary, RCYC & Baltimore SC) 2:2:02:27; 9th WOW (Farr 42, George Sisk, Royal Irish YC) 2:2:20:52; 10th: Wakey Wakey (J/109, Roger Smith, Poolbeg Y & BC) 2:3:40:56; 11th Red Rhum (Dehler db1, Jonathan Nicholson, RStGYC) 2:3:40:56; 12th Blue Eyes (Elan 340, Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) 2:4:27:10; 13th Amazing Grace (Oyster 37, Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC) 2:4:31:23; 14th First of September (First 435, Jerry Whiston, Poolbeg Y & BC) 2:6:16:00); 15th Lula Belle (First 36.7, Liam Coyne, NYC) 2:6:49:37; 16th Lee Overlay Partners (Cookson 50, Adrian Lee, RStGYC) 2:6:52:23; 17th Desert Star (Jeanneau Sunfast 37, Ronan O Siochru, RStGYC) 2:6:55:50; 18th Jedi (J/109, Johnny Treanor, Andrew Sarratt & Mary McGuinness, NYC, RStGYC, RIYC) 2:7:02:07; 19th Powder Monkey (J/109, Chris Moore, NYC) 2:7:08:03, 20th Windshift (Jeanneau Sunfast 37, Brendan Coghlan, RStGYC) 2:7:12:41, 21st Joker (Sigma 38, David Gibbons, Kinsale YC) 2:7:24:19; 22nd Big Deal (Dehler 34, Derek & Conor Dillon, Foynes YC) 2:7:28;21; 23rd Yahtzee (Beneteau Oeanis 411, Richard Mossop, Dun Laoghaire Motor YC) 2:7:58:48; 24th Exhale (X-Yachts 362 Sport, Derry & Hilda Good, RCYC) 2:8:36:27; 25th Lady Rowena (Sadler 34, David Bolger, RStGYC) 2:8:41:10; 26th Legally Blonde (First 31.7, Cathal Drohan, RStGYC) 2:9:04:48; 27th Polished Manx (Sigma 33, Kuba Szymanski, Douglas Bay YC) 2:9:32:37, 28th Pogeen (Pogo 1050, John Gilmore, Strangford Lough YC) 2:10:04:38; 29th Persistance (Sigma 38, Jerry Collins, RStGYC) 2:10:21:55. Ipanema (Dehler 37CR, Martin Breen, Galway Bay SC) DNF.

Two-handed Division: 1st Blue Eyes (Elan 340, Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) 2:4:27:10; 2nd Joker (Sigma 38, David Gibbons, Kinsale YC) 2:7:24:19; 3rd Big Deal (Dehler 34, Derek & Conor Dillon, Foynes YC) 2:7:28:21;

Cruising: 1st Amazing Grace (Oyster 37, Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC) 2:8:46:54; 2nd Yahtzee (Beneteau Oceanis 411, Richard Mossop, Dun Laoghaire Motor YC) 2:7:58:48; 3rd Lady Rowena (Sadler 34, David Bolger RStGYC) 2:8:41:10.


The offshore racing story of the Shanahan family of the National Yacht Club goes back at least three generations, and while Liam Shanahan Jnr and two of his sons were racing the family's J/109 Ruth (which is named for his wife, the mother of their five children), father and grandfather Liam Senior, a renowned offshore racing skipper and international businessman in his day, was not only following their progress in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race on the Averycrest Yacht Tracker "every fifteen minutes", but recently he has – at the age of 84 – bought himself a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 38.

When you're from stock like that, offshore racing runs in the blood. Yet it was only within the past five years that Liam bought the new J/109 Ruth. He'd kept in touch with sailing, but a hectic working life – often overseas - meant his sailing was limited to occasional brief forays with a 1720 and an SB20.

But then he literally decided to spend more time with his family, and as much of it as possible sailing. In looking analytically with his oldest sons Ben and William at the sailing scene in Dun Laoghaire, they reckoned that the J/109 provided the best all round value, as there'd be One Design racing in Dublin Bay, there'd also be the scope to renew the Shanahan involvement with ISORA racing which their friend Peter Ryan in the National YC was promoting with vigour, and while the boat was clearly a genuine contender in the offshore racing scene, she provided the third option of real cruising potential.

A clean, simple yet sophisticated boat – the J/109 exactly fitted the Shanahan family's requirements

The saloon area on the J/109 is a successful compromise between comfort and seagoing efficiency


The J/109's straightforward galley is actually more workmanlike than is on many supposedly out-and-out cruisers

They decided to go for the total racing version, with the biggest steering wheel possible, and while Liam admits it takes a little bit of gymnastics for the helmsman to take up his position astern of it, the result is an easily controlled boat with very responsive steering – "you feel close to the feel of the water when you're on the wheel, it's finger-tip cntrol".

His approach to the offshore racing game was that it should first help to bind his family together in a shared enterprise which they all enjoyed, but as well the demands of crewing a J/109 meant they happily had to reinforce old friendships and create new ones in order to provide the necessary amateur crew panel to enable an active season which can go on for twelve months – this past winter is the first one in which Ruth has been ashore for eight weeks, the previous three winters she was raced all year round.

You get some idea of the scale of family ties and sailing friendships involved when you learn that at last year's ISORA Prize-Giving Dinner when Ruth was hailed as overall champion, the Shanahan group included no less than 28 people who had all raced on the boat since the stellar career of racing the J/109 began, all of whom regularly renewed their involvement as crew panel allocations and personal time availability required. For the race to Dingle, the crew lineup was typical, as it included Liam, Ben and William Shanahan, backed up by Kevin Daly, Simon Digby, Conall O'Halloran and Fiachra Etchingham.

It's a huge challenge maintaining such a network, yet it's one which Liam Shanahan clearly relishes, as he has a generous and continually developing philosophy of family, friends and community as expressed through sailing. And in ISORA especially, with like-minded people such as Peter Ryan on the Irish side and Stephen Tudor on the Welsh side, he has found a remarkably congenial atmosphere in which to express his approach to life, and his enthusiasm in bringing his family with him.

But in fact, when you see the Shanahan family in full flight, whether sailing together or socialising at something like last November's Round Ireland Awards Dinner in Wicklow, you could begin to wonder just who is encouraging whom, as the younger generation interact with the seniors in a mutually beneficial display of enjoyment of their own and their non-family shipmates' company, with private jokes, shared enthusiasm, and an almost telepathic in-family sense of communication and shared values.

In other words, they move as quickly and effectively ashore as they do afloat. It's impressive. And while there is this well thought out thinking behind it, it's not something that's shouted too much from the rooftops, but rather it is expressed through the shared purpose of doing well in racing, and doing it in an amateur capacity.

But in line with it, a few months ago Liam took the very definite step of formally transferring the ownership of Ruth to the five children – Ben (22), William (20), Alice (19), Tom (16) and Peter (14). For as he says himself, everything happens so quickly in a busy family, and soon they'll be moving out and going their various ways on all their different projects. But if they continue to have this shared responsibility for running a boat in all its complex aspects of logistics and personnel and decision-making, they'll have something which regularly gets them all round a table together discussing topics which are at least at one remove from the other sometimes tedious demands of modern life.

So in looking at Ruth's success in the D2D 2015, we find ourselves contemplating a very interesting exercise and experiment in family dynamic. Just so. For those who are interested simply in what boats are doing, the word is that Ruth was due back in Dun Laghaire before this weekend, as the universal family challenge of exams is top of the agenda for the current few days or so. Then she resumes racing next weekend with the hundred mile Royal Dee/ISORA Lyver Trophy Race between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire which, as part of the Royal Dee YC's Bicentenary celebrations, will bring the ISORA fleet to Dun Laoghaire for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015. In that, a healthy turnout of J/109s racing as a One Design class will be keen to show Ruth and her five family owners that she won't necessarily have it all her own way.

Published in W M Nixon

#d2drace – The results in the National YC's 280–mile 30–boat Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race have now been officially ratified, and they confirm the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth (National YC) as overall winner. The race has been a remarkable success for J/Boats, as top performing craft from the design board of American Rod Johnstone have taken five of the first six places.

In the Two-Handed Division, at Dingle Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles (Howth YC) had regained their initial lead – which they'd lost while battling light headwinds off the Kerry coast - and they finished well to place 12th overall with the Elan 340 Blue Eyes, thereby putting 16 fully-crewed boats astern. Just one place behind Blue Eyes in 13th overall was the defending champion from Tralee Bay SC, Brian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford's Oyster 37 Amazing Grace, which won the Cruiser Division.

This weekend's Sailing on Saturday blog on by W M Nixon will feature a profile of the Shanahan family and Ruth, together with a more detailed analysis of the race and the results.

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2015 (National YC & Dingle Sailing Club)

IRC Overall: 1st Ruth (J/109, B, W, A, T & P Shanahan, National YC) Corrected Time: 1 day 23hrs 30 minutes & 48 seconds; 2nd Mojito (J/109) Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) 1:23:51:50; 3rd Aurelia (J/122, Chris & Patanne Power Smith, Royal St George YC) 2:0:15:52; 4th Dear Prudence (J/109, Jonathan Bourke, Manhattan YC) 2:1:18:14; 5th Alchimiste (JPK 9.60, Mike Murphy, National YC) 2:1:19:04; 6th Aquelina (J/122. James & Sheila Tyrrell, Arklow SC) 2:1:31:10

Two-handed Division: 1st Blue Eyes (Elan 340, Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) 2:4:27:10; 2nd Joker (Sigma 38, David Gibbons, Kinsale YC) 2:7:24:19

Cruising: 1st Amazing Grace (Oyster 37, Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC) 2:8:46:54; 2nd Yahtzee (Beneteau Oceanis 411, Richard Mossop, Dun Laoghaire Motor YC) 2:7:58:48; 3rd Lady Rowena (Sadler 34, David Bolger RStGYC) 2:8:41:10

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

#d2d – In previewing the National Yacht Club's 280-mile Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race here on Friday morning,'s W M Nixon predicted that the best racing would be among the six J/109s, and that the smart money would be on the Shanahan family's Ruth.

Ruth has just finished first of the J/109s at 1945 hrs, and this puts her clear first overall on the leaderboard too. But in case anyone thinks this is counting chickens before they're hatched with most of the fleet being still at sea and racing, Ruth's success is cushioned by her Welsh-based sister ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) lying second overall just a couple of miles astern.

In fact, J Boats are definitely in the ascendant, as it looks very much as though the already-finished J/122 Aurelia (Chris and Patanne Power Smith, Royal St George YC) will continue to hold on to third place overall on IRC. But right now, the laurels are very much for Ruth and her determined family crew. Liam Shanahan and his team effectively match-raced neck-and-neck with Mojito all the way from the start in Dublin Bay on Friday night until noon today, when they finally opened out a lead as both boats got themselves clear of the calm patch which had been slowing the boats off Bantry Bay.

Getting past Dursey Head, Ruth finally managed to create a gap of two miles which they have diligently maintained ever since. And unlike the first finishers in early afternoon, who found the final couple of miles to Dingle frustrating with winds drawing locally from the southeast, Ruth has carried the afternoon and evening's northerly breeze all the way to the finish line and a triumphant conclusion to a great race.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

 #D2D Race – Having finished the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle at 7:45pm Ruth (Shanahan Family) must play the waiting game to see if any of the following boats can beat her corrected time of half an hour shy of two days.  While not wanting to give false hope, Afloat predicts that the challenging yachts still at sea will fall foul of the predicted dying breeze which is forecast to extend across Dingle Bay as night falls.  Of those with an outside chance, Lady Rowena (David Bolger) has the most distance to travel, thus giving her more time to make up the deficit.  However, as she is currently in a very light headwind south of the Skelligs, the upset is unlikely.

It also looks as if there will be little change to the predicted overall podium, with Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) taking 2nd, while Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith) and Dear Prudence (Jonathan Bourke) take 3rd and 4th places respectively making it a clean sweep for the J Boats brand.

In the cruiser division, Amazing Grace (Brian O’Sullivan and Frances Clifford) continues to hold off Lady Rowena (David Bolger), while Blue Eyes (Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles) has regained the lead ceded temporarily to the father and son team aboard Big Deal (Derek & Conor Dillon}

Follow the race here


Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

#d2drace – It may sound like the title of a lost play by Sam Beckett, but that's the way it is as the first finishers in the 280 mile race from Dun Laoghaire got into a very summery Dingle in time for a late lunch. The Cookson Lee Overlay Partners (Adrian Lee, Royal St George YC) took line honours at 1357 hrs, while the Ker 40 Antix (Anthony O'Leary, Royal Cork YC & Baltimore SC) was across 24 minutes later, with current positions of the rest of the fleet at sea putting Antix at 14th overall on IRC, but Lee Overlay is 29th in a fleet of thirty.

The only other boats past Skellig Michael at the moment are the J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith, RStGYC) and the Farr 42 WOW (George Sisk, Royal Irish YC), with James & Sheila Tyrrell's J/122 Aquelina (Arklow SC) making the turn at the big rock at 1540hrs. The two boats ahead are enjoying a summery nor'wester with 13 miles to go, closing in past Valentia Island's rugged Atlantic coast coast racing neck and neck, with Aurelia (currently showing at seventh overall in IRC) down as doing 7.5 knots, while the larger WOW (placed 20th in IRC) is indicated at 8.0knots, but they seem to have been glued together since putting the Skellig astern, and WOW is shaping up to be rather nearer the cliffs of Valentia than old D2D hands would recommend, the backwash and wind-shadow are notorious.

It's just round the Skellig that we find a likely winner, the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth (National YC), which has finally shaken off sister-ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) by a couple of miles after a duel which has been going on for most of the race, and they're now onto port tack, heading for Dingle and shown as topping the leaderboard, with second place currently held by defending champion Amazing Grace (Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC), which at the moment is plugging to windward well down the line, as she still has to to get past Dursey Island.

'We just missed getting around Fastnet before the wind dropped by about 20 minutes, instead it took three hours! Taking a chance now and heading out west for a while, in the hands of the Gods! Crew in great spirits in spite of missing the opportunity! Not over 'til the fat lady sings; and hopefully that is not Lady Rowena!' Brian O'Sullivan told

It's still very much a race for the smaller or lower-rated boats, as currently 3rd overall is the veteran Sadler 34 Lady Rowena (David Bolger, RStGYC), which like Amazing Grace is entered as a cruiser, but she has certainly given a very good account of herself, and is currently turning to windward off Dunmanus Bay beside the Dehler 34 Big Deal with the father and son crew of Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC, who have been making up lost ground in the second half of the race, and they are now leading the two-handed division as longtime leader Blue Eyes (Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) got stuck in the mouth of Bantry bay, but is now back in business approaching the west end of Dursey Island, albeit only at 4.9 knots, but this is enough to have them second in the two-handed, and tenth overall, while the gallant Foynes duo in Big Deal are 8th overall, which is going some for a two-hander.

Everything is looking good for Ruth as the soldier's breeze is likely to hold up for long enugh to get them into port and in the money, but remembering how they were pipped by just six minutes for last year's Round Ireland race, they're counting no chickens at all until the race is well finished.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

#D2DRace – The Fastnet Rock may have a reputation for ruggedness writes W M Nixon. But ever since Lee Overlay Partners (Adrian Lee) got past it around midnight in the local area's increasingly fickle offshore wind, it has seen a succession of craft in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2015 approaching it at a merry speed through the short summer night along the southern coast of West Cork, only to find the bite went out of the breeze the nearer they got to Cape Clear, with the iconic rock three miles beyond becoming no more than a great big pussy cat.

It's a situation which has inevitably resulted in an inversion of the leaderboard, with the J/109 Mojito (Shanahan family) taking over the lead from Anthony O'Leary's Antix during the small hours, then towards breakfast time the front runner became one of the oldest boats in the fleet, Jonathan Nicholson's Dehler db1 Red Rhum (RStGYC), which had been fairly steady around 5th overall through Saturday afternoon and evening.

She move up steadily throught the rankings to snatch first place overall, while astern of her second slot was taken over by the defending champion, the even older Oyster 37 Amazing Grace (Brian O'Sullivan & Frances Clifford, Tralee Bay SC).

Amazing Grace had been placed in the teens overall as she struggled to get through the adverse winds off the coast of West Waterford through Saturday afternoon. But once that fine night breeze came off the land, she was in business, romping along the coast of Cork on a fast smooth reach and hauling back boats which were slowing as they neared the Fastnet.

These in time included Red Rhum, so as we approach 1000hrs on a fine summer morning, it's Amazing Grace first with Red Rhum second, but the general reversal isn't total as Mike Murphy's delightful twin-ruddered JPK 9.60 Alchimiste (National YC) still lies third overall on IRC, a position she seems to have been in or near for most of the race.

With lots of TLC and a rating of 0.968, Red Rhum continues to be competitive, and her performance is sharpened with the addition of a masthead kite, which wasn't thought of in the original design from the van de Stadt office many years ago. Photo: W M Nixon

It was Antix which first experienced the slack effect around the Fastnet Rock as she closed in in on it towards midnight. She'd been hounding Lee Overlay Partners from between one and three miles astern virtually the entire length of the south coast, although at times they were significantly different distances offshore. However, they were well within contact of each other due south of the entrance to Baltimore in the final hour before midnight, but while Lee OP found a handy little zephyr in the offshore air to increase her lead from two miles to four in very short order, Antix struggled to get past the rock, which is not at all as it should be when you're the flagship of the Cork fleet.

However, both boats then found better speed in the night's nor'easter off the coast of West Cork as it veered into Kerry, but then in terms of overall placings things went pear-shaped in the middle of the mouth of Bantry Bay. The wind fell away then was all over the place in weak strengths, and that was when the lead which Antix had held since leaving Dublin Bay simply disappeared.

But now, approaching the 1000hrs deadline, the two biggies are rounding Skellig Michael to take on the often wayward final 25 miles up Dingle Bay, which is shaping up as a beat. Lee OP already has the mighty monastic sea mountain astern and is making slightly better than 7 knots close-hauled on starboard, but barely laying the Blaskets let alone Dingle Harbour, while Antix, four miles astern but just laying the turn at the Washerwoman Rock sou'west of the Great Skelig, is on 6.8 knots.

The O'Leary's boat's overall placing, having been right down the drain while getting through the calm patch off Bantry Bay, has now struggled back up to 23rd overall, but things are very far from over, as that pesky calm patch in the approaches of Bantry Bay currently has the next group of boats in its grasp, and contenders such as Aurelia, Aquelina, WOW, Ruth and Mojito are currently looking at frustrating speeds between two and four knots.

As the heat of the day builds up, the battle between sea and land breezes could make the situation even more confusing off West Cork and southwest Kerry, but further north crisper conditions often prevail in Dingle Bay where the two leaders are sailing. And while Lee Overlay Partners has such a stratospheric rating that it would need the remainder of the fleet to be set in concrete for half a day for her to get the top title, it's still all to play for as far as Antix is concerned, as current leader Amazing Grace is now slowed to 1.5 knots nearing the Fastnet Rock with 70 mies still to sail, while second overall Red Rhum is off Mizen Head and going rather sedately at 3.3 knots with 58 miles still to go.

Less than two miles astern of Red Rhum yet making 5.9 knots is the two-Handed Division leader, the Elan 340 Blue Eyes sailed by Howth's Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles. They've had a good night of it to consolidate their lead in the two-handed division while moving up the overall rankings to sixth. It will be adrenalin all the way to Dingle for little old Blue Eyes.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
Page 4 of 7

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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