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Dublin Bay boats lead two of the four IRC classes after the opening races of the Scottish Series in excellent sailing conditions at Tarbert on Loch Fyne yesterday.

After two races sailed, Royal Irish's Andrew Craig on the J109 Chimaera leads a 14-boat RC35 class by two points with fellow Dublin crews also holding second and third place. J109 sisterships Something Else (Brian and John Hall of the National Yacht Club) are second on nine points with Howth Yacht Club's defending Scottish Series champions Storm, Pat Kelly on 11 points.

In class three, Howth Half Tonner Harmony, (Jonny Swan) that came so close to overall victory on the Clyde last year leads by two points from Scotland's Satisfaction, Nicholas Marshall.

As Afloat previously reported, the 2019 Scottish Series has attracted a significant Irish entry. It maintains the positive upswing which the regatta has been experiencing over recent years with overall entries up on target.

Read Afloat's predictions for the overall series wins here. Racing continues today and concludes on Monday. 

Results are here

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A potent fleet of Irish IRC Cruiser Racers is heading north to Tarbert this month in search of Scottish silver at the annual Scottish Series on the Clyde. There are a few Irish campaigns in each of the IRC classes this May and some likely Irish winners too.

For example, Pat Kelly's J109 Storm of Howth Yacht Club (just beaten overall at Kip Regatta) returns to Loch Fyne as the 2018 RC35 champion.

Pat Kelly's Storm of Howth Yacht ClubPat Kelly's (second from left) Storm of Howth Yacht Club is the defending Scottish Series Champion Photo:

This year she is joined in 14-boat class two by two Dublin sisterships, Chimaera (Andrew Craig) of the Royal Irish YC and Tarbert regulars Something Else (Brian & John Hall) of the National Yacht Club. The Strangford Lough Elan 37 Adelante is also entered as is the RC35 Hijacker (S Cranston&J Buchanan) of Down Cruising Club. 

J109 Something Else 2682Tarbert regulars Something Else (Brian & John Hall) from Dublin Bay Photo:

In class one, two Northern Ireland boats make up a third of the fleet with Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks and A, B, & J Douglas's Spirit of Jacana both making a return trip.

Forty licks 0315Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks Photo:

In IRC class three, two Howth Yacht Club half–tonners Mata (D & M Wright) and Jonny Swan's Harmony are entered. Royal Ulster Yacht Club Beneteau 31.7 Final Call (John Minnis) is also in this class. Back on the scene after an eventful Cork Week in 2018 is Rory Fekkes in the successfully modified First 'F'nGr8'.

Half Tonner Harmony 3418 Jonny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony from Howth Photo:

M Lowry/C Kevelighan have from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough have entered the Quarter Tonner Manzanita and East Antrim's Richard Doig of East Antrim Boat Club has entered the Westerly GK24 Sirius in the 14-boat fleet.

And in the Sigma 33 class, Paul & Emma Prentice's Squawk from Royal Ulster Yacht Club is also travelling to Scotland.

Entries are here

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David Kelly and the crew of yacht Storm from Howth Yacht Club and Rush Sailing Club have won the coveted overall Clyde Cruising Club's Scottish Series Trophy. Having won their class the previous year to come back and do so again is an outstanding achievement by the Irish J109 National Champions.

As well as the overall trophy David Kelly walked away with the Rose Bowl for best boat in the Luddon IRC fleet and The McIver Salver. In a very competitive Makars Mash RC35 Class, Kelly was pushed by fellow Dubliner's Brian and John Hall sailing 'Something Else' of the National Yacht Club finishing only four points behind in their J109. More on this win here.

Storm Kelly familyDavid Kelly and his Storm crew show off their Trophy haul in Tarbert Pictured left to right: David Kelly(jnr), Paul O’Hare, Lauren O’Hare, Paddy Kelly, David Kelly, Pat Kelly, Paul Kelly, Alan Ruigrok, Cian Hickey, (front row) Ronan Kelly and Patrick Boardman.Photo: Marc Turner/Scottish Series

As reported earlier, as Irish boats were closing in on a successful Scottish tour, in a haul of trophies for Irish racers at the Scottish Series, there were also victories in class one and class four when Carrickfergus yachts from Belfast Lough lifted the silverware after three days of competitive sailing on the Gourock. 

Spirit of Jacana (Alan Bruce/James Douglas) came from behind to win class one on the last day to earn them The Causeway Cup, awarded to the boat normally based out with Scotland which in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all boats.

Also In IRC 1, Conor & Denise Phelan's Ker 37 'Jump Juice' from Royal Cork YC, with North Sails finished third overall.  

In IRC four, cruiser debutante Rory Fekkes was the overall winner in his First, 'F'nGr8'.

In IRC three, Johnny Swan's classic half-tonner "Harmony" from Howth YC, finished a close second in her class, losing out on overall victory only by a single point. 

'Team Storm' had one simple quote, to sum up their Scottish Series victory, "we're not here to win, we're here to take over."

But the toast of the night has been for Kelly who was absolutely delighted with the crews' performance at this year's Scottish Series with the class and the overall win. "This is probably some of the best racing around. I've been coming here for the last 12 years and will be back again next year; we have been targeting this event for a while and are really chuffed to win it overall; this crew has done an amazing job."

Storm Marc turnerPowerful start for Storm Photo: Marc Turner/Scottish Series

'Team Storm' had one simple quote to sum up their Scottish Series victory, " we're not here to win, we're here to take over."

Scottish Series Event Chairman, David Denholm, commented "The Clyde Cruising Club Scottish Series enjoyed some brilliant sailing in stunning Loch Fyne off Tarbert with superb Bank holiday weather. David Kelly's 'Storm' crew are without doubt worthy winners of CCC Scottish Series 2018 and the IRC Scottish Championship; the crew looked particularly pleased to have won a gallon of Bruichladdich whisky. He also commented that the event is extremely grateful to the companies that provide sponsorship to support the event; The Botanist was certainly well-received as part of the prizes for the overall class winners."

Overall Results

The VALHALLA OF ASHTON SALVER for a volunteer who makes a particular contribution to the event was awarded to Alan Cassels who, for the last 20 years, has acted as the Race Officer for the One Design Fleet.

The CRINAN CUP was awarded to the boat which, in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the most meritorious performance of all competitors in the Passage Race from Largs; this year that boat was Brian Robertson's 'Celtic Spirit' from CYCA class 7 also taking home the Clyde Bowl for the best combined times for the Passage Race from Largs and the Tunnock's Inch' Race.

The TUNNOCK'S CUP for the boat with the lowest corrected time in the CYCA classes in the Tunnock's Inch' Race this year was awarded to John Corson's 'Salamander XXII'.

The CRAWFORD McINNES TROPHY supported by Hempel Paints for best under 25 helm or crew, who in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all eligible competitors in the Series, was presented to Rory Fekkes of 'F'NGr8' and Hempel product prizes to the youth crew of 'Jump Juice'.

The SINBAD TROPHY was awarded to the family boat, regardless of class or results, as judged by representatives of the organising committee; this year was presented to the Morrison family sailing 'Synergie' in CYCA 7.

The LEMARAC TANKARD was awarded to the boat which, in the opinion of the Race Committee achieved the best performance of all competitors in the White Sail classes in the Series this year, 'St Bridget' owned by Ian Nicolson.

The ALFRED MYLNE CUP TROPHY which goes to the best performance of all competitors in the EventScotland One Design classes in the Series, and was awarded to the winner of the Scottish National Championship of the class, Brian Wiseman sailing National Sonata One Design 'Virtuoso'.

The JOE DEANE CUP, for the best performance in the Tunnock's CYCA handicap Classes in the Series this year goes to Howard Morrison of 'Enigma'.

The ROSE BOWL for the best performance in the Luddon Fleet IRC Classes in the Series this year goes to David Kelly of 'Storm'.

The CAUSEWAY CUP awarded to the boat normally based out with Scotland which in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all boats in the Series went to Alan, Bruce and James Douglas in their Irish based boat 'Spirit of Jacana'.

The McIVER SALVER (owned by the Mudhook Yacht Club) was awarded to the winner of the IRC SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIP, David Kelly of the yacht 'Storm'.

The overall award, the Clyde Cruising Club SCOTTISH SERIES TROPHY, also went to David Kelly's 'Storm'.

Overall results are here

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Irish boats are winning overall in two divisions and second in another as the final day of the Scottish Series sets sail today in Tarbert that incorporates the Scottish IRC Championships.

In the tough RC35 class, Dublin family-based J109s are first and second with Howth Yacht Club's Storm (The Kelly family) ahead of the National Yacht Club's (The Hall family). As regular readers will know, this is no flash-in-the-pan for Storm, who are the defending class champions at Tarbert. The Kelly's, who are Irish J109 National Champions, have also tasted victory this season already with a comprehensive win a fortnight ago, at Scotland's Kip Regatta.

In Class four, Carrickfergus Sailing Club's Frist, 'F'nGr8' skippered by Rory Fekkes is the overall leader. 

Marc Turner Jump JuiceConor Phelan's Jump Juice is fighting for the overall lead in Class One Photo: Marc Turner

In Class one, Conor Phelan's Royal Cork Yacht Club Ker Custom Ker 37, Jump Juice trails France's Gery Trentesaux for the overall lead by only 3.5 points.

The Luddon Fleet saw yet more champagne sailing conditions with a warm Southerly 15 – 20mph building throughout the day. With one windward-leeward race planned, followed by the round Inchmarnock Race the IRC fleet enjoyed a busy day navigating around the waters of Loch Fyne.

No one enjoyed the day more than Trentesaux's Courrier Recommande in IRC 1 displaying an impressive set of results with two firsts changing the leader-board leaving him 3.5 points ahead of Cork Harbour's Jump Juice and Carrickgergus's Spirit of Jacana both on 17.5 closely followed by Aurora on 20 points meaning this class is still wide open heading into tomorrow (Monday).

Yesterday, in The Makars Mash RC35 Class, Dave Kelly, Storm, retains his position on 13 points after stretching his lead to a 3 point difference over Brian and John Hall sailing their J109, Something Else, with both boats showing great crew work and downwind speed. They are followed by Charlie Frize of team Banshee on 21.5 points who had a difficult first race today leaving them 3rd in class.

In Luddon IRC Class 3 things are tighter than ever for the class, with Samurai J owned by Alan Macleod/Andrew Knowles and Jonny Swan's half-tonner Harmony only separated by 1 point. This means that tomorrow these two boats are going to go down to the wire. Vixen, sailed by Neal Piper from Tynemouth SC, is sitting on 17 points and could upset the pecking order.

In IRC Class 4 things have changed around at the top with F'nGr8, owned by Rory Fekkes from Carrickfergus YC, dragging themselves into first place with two bullets today showing great control and pace. This has pushed Jon Fitzgerald of Ayesha into second place, with only half a point separating these two titans, closely followed by Ben Shelley's Lady Ex in third place on 16 points. The last two races scheduled for Monday mean it is still anyone's Series.

Today in the Tunnock's CYCA class 5 Howard Morrison, Enigma, has had his 8 point lead slashed to 3 by Alan Dunnet's Valhalla of Ashton sitting on 15 points, displaying an impressive show of downwind sailing in the passage race with controlled composure. They are followed by Ian Hard's Hardslog on 22 points.

In CYCA Class 6 Alistair Gay's Orwell Lass compounds their lead within the class with a 3rd and 2nd in today's racing giving them a comfortable lead over Richard Doig's Sirius on 19 points. However, the competition for second place is still very open with Oliver Epsom's Radioactivity on 22 points.

CYCA Class 7 Slippi Gin owned by Dave & Karen Parker and Brian Roberston's Celtic Spirit are still fighting it out for first place, with only 1 point separating the two. They are followed by more close racing in the challenge for second with Argento and Encore separated by 1 point.

CYCA Class 8 has again had changes at the top with Clive Reeves' Lyrebird now taking the lead, however followed closely by George Reid and Alistair Wilkie of Vitale and Ian Nicolson's St Bridget both on 10 points, only 1 point behind the class leader meaning things are all still open heading into tomorrow (Monday).

The Event Scotland Fleet finally enjoyed some stable winds from the south giving them 3 races in excellent conditions in upper Loch Fyne with some closely fought One Design racing in all classes.

In the Sigma fleet the leaderboard has changed overnight with James Miller of Mayrise posting a 2nd and two 1st places, moving ahead of overnight leader Griogair Whyte of Close Encounters. In third place is Alan Harper and Eric Robertson sailing Leaky Roof II, leaving the top three separated by only 4 points going into the last day and likely to be settled in the last race.

Big changes in the Hunter 707 fleet today as Andy Hughes, Sharky, moves from 2nd to 1st after posting a 1st, 4th and 2nd demonstrating that great starting can deliver in such a tight fleet. Boat control was the name of the game today and this was well demonstrated by his crew, pushing them into first place ahead of More T Vicar by 4 points. Seaword dropped to 3rd after a challenging day with an 8th, 2nd and 5th.

There were changes in the Sonata fleet, but Brian Wiseman of Virtuoso continues to lead after cementing his place with two 1sts and a 2nd.. MacNish/Galbraith and Chassels' Old School breaking Virtuoso's string of firsts in the second race put them on 18 points and Mark Taylor's Saraband is now on 23 points.

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Anyone who has ever raced against the J/109 Storm, campaigned by Pat Kelly and his close-knit family from Rush Sailing Club, quickly realises that they are up against something special in sailing. This is evident both with the Storm team themselves, and with the rising spirit of the small-sized but big-hearted club they call home, a club which has already logged formidable success at junior and senior levels, inshore and offshore, during the first weeks of the 2017 season.

Mooring facilities at the Rush club’s tide-riven anchorage on Rogerstown Estuary in the heart of Fingal are so confined that Storm is actually based at Howth Marina. But while she’s very welcome and popular there, no-one has any doubt that she’s the boat from Rush. It is a pleasure to watch her being raced by the Kelly’s remarkable family unit, augmented by their relatives and friends. We saw the essence of their approach on Monday in the final and vital two races of the Silvers Scottish Series 2017 at Tarbert. Storm handled both of these contests with clinical precision to take the overall class lead in convincing style from seven other possible winners. The Kelly Family of Rush are worthy “Sailors of the Month” for May 2017.

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North Dublin boats from Rush Sailing Club and Howth Yacht Club have won class titles at Scotland's biggest sailing event that concluded on Loch Fyne this evening.

Pat Kelly's J109 Storm from Rush in North Dublin (who also sails at Howth) has won the RC35 class and Stephen Quinn's Howth Yacht Club based Lambay Rules, another J-design, has won IRC class three.

With a score sheet that featured five results out of eight races in the top three, Kelly's consistent north Dublin crew overhauled Scottish entry Kevin and Debbie Aitken's 'Animal' on the final day to win overall. Four Irish boats were in the top six overall in the 16–boat fleet going into today's last two races. Any one of seven boats were in contention. Second was 2015 Scottish Series Champion Fools Gold (Rob McConnell) from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club.

Storm Scottish series winPat Kelly's winning crew from Rush Sailing Club and Howth Yacht Club celebrate victory on the Clyde. Photo: Marc Turner

RC35 Scottish seriesToday's final race of the RC35 class at the 2017 Scottish Series, the 43rd edition of the regatta Photo: Marc Turner

Stephen Quinn's J97 was crowned IRC3 champion when he ended the series with eight results in the top five, a very consistent showing that put him into first place but only by a single point after a weekend duel with local entry Trastada, owned by Roddy Angus and Dan Challis.  Quinn also won the event's Rose Bowl. awarded to the yacht which in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance in the IRC handicap classes in the Series and the Causeway Cup, awarded to the entry from Ireland which, in the opinion of the Race Committee, gives the best performance of the IRC classes in the Series.

Lambay rules j97Stephen Quinn's J97 from Howth was crowned IRC3 champion, winning both the ‘The Rose Bowl’ and ‘The Causeway Cup’

The runner up in Class one was ‘Forty Licks’, Jay Colville's East Down Yacht Club entry.

Jamie McGarry and Colin Moore and the crew of 'Eala of Rhu' who not only won class one, but also the coveted Scottish Series Trophy and the Scottish IRC Championship. Having been a very close contender in past years and missing out on count back, it is fitting that this year in a hotly contested class after finishing on equal points with the well sailed Irish boat 'Forty Licks', McGarry counted four firsts to three for 'Forty Licks' winning 'Eala of Rhu' the class.

Other prize winners were:

- Harris Cartwright of 'Golden Fox' who takes home the Crawford McInnes Trophy for Best Under 25 Helm, sponsored by Hempel Paints.

- Hempel Paints Youth Prizes were shared between the crews of 'Golden Fox' and 'Warrior'

- Rose Bowl awarded to the yacht which in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance in the IRC handicap classes in the Series - 'Lambay Rules', Stephen Quinn

- The Tarbert Shield awarded to the yacht which, in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance in the CYCA handicap classes in the Series - 'Enigma', Howard Morrison

- The Anchor Hotel Trophy awarded to the yacht which, in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all competitors in the One Design classes in the Series: 'Mayrise', James Miller

- The Lemarac Tankard awarded to the yacht which, in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all competitors in the Restricted Sail classes in the Series - 'Argento', Ken Andrew

- The Sinbad Trophy awarded to the best family yacht, regardless of class or results, as judged by representatives of the organising committee - 'Lyrebird', Clive Reeves

- The Causeway Cup awarded to the entry from Ireland which in the opinion of the Race Committee gives the best performance of the IRC classes in the Series (other than the winner of the Sail Scotland Trophy and the Silvers Marine Scottish Series Trophy, if appropriate) - Lambay Rules, Stephen Quinn

- The Silvers Marine Scottish Series Trophy awarded to the yacht which, in the opinion of the Race Committee has given the best performance of all competitors in the Series - 'Eala of Rhu', Jamie McGarry and Colin Moore

Download selected provisional results sheets below.

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Four Irish boats are in the top six of the RC35 Class as the Scottish Series at Tarbert concludes today. Pat Kelly's J109 Stom from Rush Sailing Club is four points off the lead while Irish sisterships Chimaera (Andrew Craig) of the Royal Irish Yacht Club and John and Brian Hall sailing Something Else of the National Yacht Club are third and fourth respectively. 2015 overall winner, the A35 Fools Gold from Waterford Harbour is fifth in the 16–boat fleet. Download results below.

Despite being unable to race on Saturday due to lack of wind, crews made the most of the opportunity to enjoy the shore side activities around the village of Tarbert and the day was topped off with live music and a fantastic display of fireworks writes Catriona Craig.

Sunday saw a day of champagne sailing with a NNW wind 9 to 10 knots and mostly dry and sunny. Most classes managed to get in three races which was basically the programme of races from the Saturday. The races officers did a fantastic job in managing the day's racing schedule in what seems to be a seamless transition from race to race, which is becoming a hallmark of the regatta

IRC Class One – Jamie McGarry and Colin Moore's Swan 45 "Eala of Rhu' proved difficult to catch as it revelled in almost perfect conditions along with faultless crew work and tactics. With two firsts and a fourth it gives 'Eala of Rhu' a five-point lead over Jay Colville's 'Forty Licks' a very well sailed First 40 from East Down Yacht Club, which is still in contention for silverware. Two points behind is Rod Stuart and Bill Ram's "Aurora" sitting on 13 points just one point ahead of Jonathan Anderson and Murray Findlay's "Inis Mor" on 14 points. This is a very tightly sailed class and it will all come down to the results of Monday's races.

RC35 Class – The question in this class is can Kevin and Debbie Aitken's "Animal" get its paws on the silverware with an overall class win, currently lying in first place with 15 points. This has been a very competitive class from day one and going into the final days sailing there are 7 boats that could claim the title. One of those is Pat Kelly's "Storm" a well sailed J109 with consistent results throughout the series. Also in contention is "Banshee" owned and sailed by Charlie Frize, who is no stranger to class wins at Scottish Series and who could easily end up at the top of the class. The winner in this class is likely to be decided on the very last tack tomorrow.

IRC Class 3 – This class looks to be a real battle between local boat "Trastada" owned by Roddy Angus and Dan Challis, and Irish boat "Lambay Rules' a J97 owned by Stephen Quinn of Howth Yacht Club. On 11 and 12 points, respectively only one point separates these two remarkably well sailed boats who have enjoyed some great racing, tomorrow is a new day and both boats have all to sail for. In third place with 21 points is "Samurai J" owned by Alan Macleod and A Knowles sailing their first season in this J92. With three points separating the next three boats this class is still very open and will likely be decided on the final race tomorrow.

CYCA 4 – Scottish Series veteran Howard Morrison's "Enigma" looked magnificent coming down the last reach and it is easy to see why he is leading his class. Sitting on 10.5 points at the end of today's racing he will have to maintain a mistake free day tomorrow to keep his lead. "Stargazer" sitting on 14 points is an equally well sailed yacht and will have a hunger to win tomorrow. There is still a margin for error and "Celtic Spirit" currently lying third on 18 points could still squeeze in.

CYCA 5 – Alistair Gay's Nicholson 35 "Orwell Lass" was impeccably sailed today getting a perfect score to finish leading the class on 5 points. The crew managed keep the boat moving through the shifty and light winds of the morning's race with ease and revelled in the steady breeze of the afternoon to finish the day with three firsts. The battle will be for second place between "Marisca" on 12 points and "Ravel's Bolero" on 17 points.

CYCA7 – In the restricted sail class "Argento" looks like she might be the eventual class winner sitting on 6 points five ahead of "Jocher" in second and "Lyrebird' in third both sitting on 11 points. With more wind forecast for tomorrow it could all come down to boat handling to decide first, second and third.

Sigma 33 Class - The Sigma class, one of the Crewsaver Fleets, enjoyed anther day of close racing with much place changing it was boat handling that delivered the results today. No more so than in James Miller's "Mayrise" from Helensburgh Sailing Club finishing the day on 11 points. In second and third places, respectively are Allan Lennox's "Miss Behavin" on 16 points and A Harper and E, K Robertson's "Leaky Roof 2" on 19 points.

Sonata Class – Steven Lyon from Cove Sailing Club, sailing "Kalm", kept his head and delivered a second a first and a second to finish the day on 9 points. Dealing a harsh blow to "Old School" who previously lead the class and finished the day in second place on 13 points. Ross MacNish's "Old School" from Royal Gourock Yacht Club will be fighting hard tomorrow along with Brian Wiseman's "Virtuoso". The 9-boat class has enjoyed some great close racing and we look forward to more of the same tomorrow. With only 10 points separating the first five boats it is not over yet.

Hunter 707 Class – is enjoying some of the closest one design racing the class has seen. Darra O'Malley last year's winner sailing "Seaword" is without doubt the most consistent one design winner of the series, today posting a one, three and a one showing that strong tactics backed up with a disciplined crew will pay off in the toughest one design fleets. "Seaword" is currently sitting on 7 points three ahead of rivals "CRHU" sailed by Olympian Luke Patience. New boy to the class Luke, looked today to be having a stronger day on the water finishing the second race with a first and a very impressive lead. Carl Allen's "More T Vicar" from Port Edgar Yacht Club will be looking to continue to move up the rankings currently sitting third on 16 points.

The racing over the weekend has been great and with only one more day of racing it will be a big day for many as they fight for class places.

Full results are available from

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Irish boats are to the fore at the Scottish Series with Dublin J109s Storm (Pat Kelly of Howth Yacht Club), Chimaera (Andrew Craig of Royal Irish Yacht Club) but none are quicker than Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's 'Fools Gold' owned by Rob McConnell, last year's winner who stamped their intentions on the class and lead the pack writes Catriona Craig.

The 43rd Scottish Series, sponsored by Silvers Marine for the third year started on Friday 26th May 2017. With it brought sunshine and record temperatures hitting 30 degrees in Tarbert, Loch Fyne . Some would say that the competition on the water was even hotter, with plenty of action in the Silvers Fleet and the Crewsaver Fleet.

These results are almost certainly subject to protest as it was very competitive in most classes, no more so than in IRC 2 the RC35 class where some bumps occurred during mark roundings. Slivers Marine Scottish Series is also incorporating the Spinlock IRC Championships so there is plenty to race for. The day's racing was spectacular with the most incredible splash of colour across Loch Fyne and the atmosphere is electric on and off the water. Everything points to a fantastic weekend of racing ahead.

IRC Class One – the sun was definitely shining on 'Eala of Rhu', owned by Jamie McGarry and Colin Muir of event main sponsor Silvers Marine. Today 'Eala of Rhu' dominated class one, showing some great pace and tactical decision making managing to place the boat at the right place at the right time, ably assisted round the course by Jon Fitzgerald and Kevin Sproul. Claiming two firsts and a second giving them 4 points and leaving them 4 points ahead of 'Forty Licks' owned by Jay Colville from Ireland on 8 points just one ahead of Jonathan Anderson sailing his new Ker 39' 'Inis Mor' with Murray Findlay. There are plenty of other boats in this highly competitive class who could upset the 'apple cart' before the weekend is out.

IRC Class Two - RC35 Class – this ferociously competitive class of 17 boats, with a very tight rating band does not allow for error. It was a pleasure to watch the starts of this class and indeed the class racing over the three races today. This class is going to be won by consistency and today that was seen in the results where the first three boats are all on 13 points. Ireland's 'Fools Gold' owned by Rob McConnell, last year's winner today stamped their intentions on the class and lead the pack. In second place 'Now or Never' sailed by owner Neill Sandford squeezing in front of Irish boat 'Storm' owned by Pat Kelly. It is going to be really exciting watching this new class develop and grow.

IRC Class 3  – saw fifteen boats crossing the line and enjoying three very competitive races. Leading class three after the first day's racing is Stephen Quinn returning this year with his boat 'Lambie Rules' from Howth Yacht Club, on ten points with a one point lead over local boat 'Trastada' owned by Roddy Angus and Dan Challis, who in turn are 3 points ahead of Nicholas Marshall's 'Satisfaction'. There is no doubt that this class is competitive with seasoned campaigners joined by some new designs in the fleet all enjoying some great racing across three races today.

CYCA 4 – They say experience counts and this class has at first glance three past Scottish Series winners, not to mention previous class winners. One veteran campaigner Howard Morrison who today had two firsts and a third in his yacht 'Enigma' used that experience wisely today giving him a four-point lead over 'Stargazer' from Arran Yacht Club owned by A Bilsland and A Campbell on 9 points and in third is 'Celtic Spirit' sailed by Brian Robertson on 10 points. Looking at the entry list there will be much upset in this class and no doubt with old scores to be settled.

CYCA 5 – Enjoyed some close racing but was dominated by 'Orwell Lass', a Nicholson 35' sailed by Alistair Gay, Kyles of Bute Sailing Club definitely one to watch this week with two firsts and a third giving him a 7 point lead over 'Marisca' a Contessa 32' sailed by Alistair Pugh just ahead by one point of "Sirius' a GK 24' from Ireland sailed by Richard Doig.

CYCA7 – Restricted Sail Class of 13 boats sailed a passage race from Largs to Tarbert after much place changing the eventual winner was David and Karen Parker's Beneteau 35''Slippy Jin' followed closely by 'Argento' a Jeanneau Sunfast sailed by Ken Andrew. Followed in third place by Clive Reeves' Maxi 1000 'Lyrebird'.

Sigma 33 Class - As always this class has regularly been one of the tightest fleets in Scottish Series with a strong one design association, it is a fast and exciting class to sail in whatever the weather delivers, and today was no exception. 'Miss Behavin' sits on 9 points equal with 'Leaky Roof 2' just one point ahead of James Millar's 'Mayrise'. Expect some very tight racing in this class of 10 boats.

Sonata Class – In the Sonata class Ross McNeish in 'Old School' from Royal Gourock Sailing club dominated the day with three firsts and a third this well sailed boat will be hard to beat, but there are plenty in the class that will be vying to do that. 'Kalm' in second place with 8 points just two ahead of 'Scruples' on 10 points will all be wanting to stamp their authority on the class tomorrow.

Hunter 707 Class - This popular one design class saw 11 boats on the water today enjoying some great one design racing, it was a joy to watch Dara O'Malley last year's winner in his boat 'Seaword' taking the fight to 'CRHU' owned by Neil Ross, however on this occasion sailed by Olympian Luke Patience. Luke would be forgiven for thinking he was back at the Olympics and will definitely be looking to beat today's race results where he is sitting one point behind O'Malley with 5 and 6 points respectively.

Saturday is shaping up for a great day on the water in all classes

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Despite some interruptions from either too much or too little wind, the regular club sailing programme for 2017 is now fully under way, and this weekend is additionally so well filled with major regional and national events that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s high summer already. W M Nixon tries to make sense of it all.

How on earth is anyone expected to fully understand, let alone explain, a global activity which today sees the extraordinary 1,500 boat Festival of Sail in the Morbihan in France putting in its final races and fleet manoeuvres, before everyone joins in the end-of-show Parade of Sail tomorrow?

Yet at the same time, across the Atlantic in Bermuda, the first moves in the 35th edition of the America’s Cup, arguably the world’s oldest international sporting contest as it goes back to 1851, are getting under way, involving sailing machines for which the word “boat” seems somewhat inappropriate.

americas cup2It’s difficult to think of them as anything other than “sailing machines,” but America’s Cup rules reckon they are boats
morbihan fleet3Some of the huge fleet at the current Morbihan festival. In their midst is the bisquine-rigged La Cancalaise from Cancale. In the days of piracy, smuggling and privateering in the English Channel, it was reckoned that any vessel setting this demanding high-performance rig was up to no good, and therefore a legitimate target for government ships

Then too, the world sailing community is still digesting the revelation that future generations of boats in the Volvo World Race, which now rivals the America’s Cup for international attention, will be in effect IMOCA 60s with mega-foils.

And in addition to that, at each in-harbour stopover, the world-girdling Volvo Ocean Race crews will be expected to do a series of races in smaller but very potent multi-hulls which will thrill spectators with their closeness to the watching crowds and to each other, with hair’s breadth misses – and ideally the occasional not-too-serious shunt - a central part of the action.

All these major international events then have to be fitted around the reality that, like it or not, sailing is one of those minority sports that need the Olympics more than the Olympics need sailing. In other words, we have to keep the decks clear of other major international fixtures to give total attention when the next sailing Olympiad at Tokyo comes along in 2020.

For those who would snort in derision at such a suggestion, do tell us what you were doing (if you can remember) while the rest of Ireland held its breath and watched as Annalise Murphy was sailing towards her Silver Medal on August 16th 2016?

Nevertheless, having taken all that into account, the reality is that the top end of sailing is reaching ever-higher peaks of performance in everything, and inevitably using boats and equipment of unimaginable expense. So except for the Morbihan event - whose ethos is found in going the other way, with total democratic involvement for everyone - how on earth can ordinary sailors relate to what the participants in the America’s Cup and the Volvo World Race are experiencing?

Let’s be honest. We can only do so - if at all - with some mighty leaps of the imagination. The result is that many of us are going back to the knitting. We’re going back to trusted events, and staying with sailing boats which may not be in the first flush of youth, but at least they mean something to us.

We know that with them, we can find racing which bears some relation to everyday life rather than the other-world dreamscape which is the America’s Cup or the Volvo World Race.

Over the next two weekends in Ireland, this racing of familiar boats will move up a couple of gears, as this weekend is the Bank Holiday in the North, and in a week’s time the extra day off is in the Republic. So keen sailors who see their programme on an all-Ireland basis somehow manage to convince themselves that we have two all-island Bank Holidays on the trot.

claddagh festival4Galway hookers gather at the Claddagh, while above them is the Galway City Museum, currently staging a Marine Science Exhibition.

Thus the ongoing Claddagh Festival with all varieties of Galway Hookers on show in the City of the Tribes is also managing to welcome Viking longships which have been brought overland from their home port of Ardglass in County Down. And at least the northerners have the proper claim that, for them, Monday is a free day to get their boats home again.

That equally applies to northern visitors to the Woodenboat Festival in Baltimore, which got going last night and should have good weather from midday onwards today, and through tomorrow’s colourful programme. Nevertheless for those with a day job to think about, the long haul home on Sunday night can become very long indeed.

baltimore aerial5Baltimore in West Cork - the perfect location for a friendly Woodenboat Festival

baltimore woodenboat festival6It’s not quite racing, but when a Galway hooker (left) finds competition at Baltimore Woodenboat Festival with a traditional West Cork boat, there’s certainly an added edge to the sailing. Photo Sheena Jolley

Both these events are traditional annual festivals in which racing plays only a small – if any – part. But even in competitive sailing, all the signs are that people are returning to beef up the numbers and competition in events which served them well in the past, yet had slipped in the popularity ratings owing to a change in behavioural patterns (the modern family is an extremely demanding taskmaster), and the ill-effects of the economic recession.

Everyone has been heartened by the new strength of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (to which we’ll return in a minute), but today the top of the agenda is the Scottish Series, getting up to speed at the lovely little port of Tarbert on Loch Fyne. Of course, numbers are nothing like the eventually unmanageable crowd of boats which became a feature of this series about twenty years ago. But nevertheless there’s a tidy fleet at Tarbert, and a strong Irish contingent are in with more than shout of bringing home the big prize.

tarbert loch fyne7Packing them in – the Scottish Series fleet in Tarbert

hunters racing8The Hunter 707 fleet provided some of the best racing at last year’s Scottish Series

seaword wins9Dara O’Malley (second left) and his winning crew on Seaword, which made him “Sailor of the Month” for May 2016. Photo: Marc Turner

Last year it was one of the diaspora, Dara O’Malley originally from Westport but now sailing on the Firth of Forth with his Hunter 707 Seaword, who was tops. While he may be Scottish-based, he was home among us in January to receive his “Sailor of the Month” Award for May 2016 at the National Sailing Awards in the RDS.

He is defending this weekend, and another former overall winner is the irrepressible Rob McConnell from Dunmore East. With an almost entirely Waterford Harbour SC crew, Rob’s A35 Fool’s Gold is reportedly in particular good trim this year, so definitely a boat to watch.

Other strong performers from Ireland over in Tarbert include the Kelly family from Rush with their J/109 Storm, and that highly individualistic helmsman renowned for pulling rabbits out of the hat, Johnny Swan with his classic Half Tonner Harmony from Howth. Strangford Lough is sending the notably steady perfomer Jay Colville with his successful First 40 Forty Licks, while all the way from Cork Harbour is the First 36.7 Altair (K Dorgan & J Losty) of Cove Sailing Club, recalling the enthusiasm of a high order which used to be a feature of the O’Leary family’s years with the Corby 36 Antix from Crosshaven, an overall winner in Scotland on more than one occasion.

fools gold scotland10They might do it again......Rob McConnell (fourth left) and his mostly Dunmore East crew after winning the Scottish Series in 2015 on the Archambault 35 Fool’s Gold. Photo: Marc Turner

The continuing growth of the J/109s, which have needed ten years to become an overnight success in Ireland, is shown by the additional presence in Scotland of two of Storm’s sister-ships from home, Andrew Craig’s Chimaera and John & Brian Hall’s Something Else, while a smaller manifestation of the J Boat range’s ubiquitous nature is the participation of Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules from Howth.

It’s an interesting crew setup, as Lambay Rules’ core team, including Stephen Quinn himself, have been seen racing in the elegance of Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere, whose claims to fame include a role in a James Bond movie. Despite the obvious differences between the two boats, the key personnel – including Stephen O’Flaherty – moved aboard the little Lambay Rules for last year’s Volvo Round Ireland Race, and despite being one of the smallest boats in the fleet (in fact, I think she was the smallest), at several stages they were leading their class, but not alas at the finish.

Their determined involvement in Scotland says much for their continuing zest in the game, but meanwhile back home the presence of so many significant boats over in Scotland has done little to diminish numbers for this morning’s ISORA Race from Dun Laoghaire to Arklow, which will see 28 starters.

isora starters11The lineup for today’s ISORA-Dun Laoghaire Race
Very senior ISORA contenders have a feeling that they must have raced to Arklow before, but maybe they’re confusing it with ISORA races which took in the Arklow Lightvessel as a mark of the course, and it’s undoubtedly a very long time since a lightship was on the Arklow Bank.

Certainly ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan says that this is the first time an ISORA Race has finished in Arklow, where the local sailing club has been expanding in a healthy style, while on the bigger canvas, the Tyrrell family with their succession of ever-larger and successful craft in the J Boat range – all called Aquelina – has done much to have Arklow SC punching way above its weight on the national offshore racing scene.

The Tyrrells were too far ahead of the curve when they got their first Aquelina, a J/109, shortly after the new marque was introduced. Their hopes of getting a semi-One-Design J/109 class going didn’t take off. But today, racing their current J/122E Aquelina back to their home port, they’ll ruefully observe that there are at least five J/109s racing with them, a goodly number when we remember that three of the Dublin class are in Scotland, and several others are staying in Dun Laoghaire to do today’s Dublin Bay SC race.

j109s on dublin bay12It has taken them ten years to become an overnight success, but the J/109s are now a very significant presence in Dublin Bay. Photo:

However, one of the latest J/09s to join the Greater Dublin class is Indian, owned by Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles of Howth. They won the two-handed class in the 2015 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race in the smaller Elan Blue Eyes, but this race to Arklow is their first serious offshore challenge in the J/109. It will be a proper test, as the J/109 contingent includes Peter Dunlop’s Mojito and Stephen Tudor’s Sgrech, both from Pwllheli and respectively first and second of the J/109s in the Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire race a fortnight ago.

But the boat for everyone to beat is Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, whose remarkable all-round ability was demonstrated with the overall win in the increasingly breezy Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire Race of May 13th. These JPK 10.80s are superb performers across a wide range of conditions, and the simple fact of knowing they have such a good boat under them is an added encouragement for Paul O’Higgins and his crew of all the talents.

The highly technical approach of racing a boat like Rockabill VI is a whole world away from the intimate world of wooden boat adherents getting together in Baltimore, or the historical, cultural and music-laden gathering of the traditional craft and their visiting Vikings in Galway. But that’s the way it is in the very wide world of boats and sailing. In the end, we’re all members of the same exceptionally diverse sailing community.

Rockabill paul o higgins13The boat to beat – Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI is a superb all-rounder

Published in W M Nixon

For the second month running, we have been able to draw on the categorisaton of Ireland’s sailors as either Olympic or non-Olympic in order to provide two “Sailors of the Month” in a way which accurately reflects the diversity of Irish sailing, and the current high level of achievement.

And our May “Sailor of the Month” also reflects the Irish diaspora.

We find that when the voting opens on who should be “Sailor of the Year”, more than half the votes cast come from Irish sailors currently based abroad. So it’s a special pleasure that the Sailor of the Month for May 2916 should be one of these ex-Pats.

Dara O’Malley of Westport in County Mayo still had to spread his sailing wings when he left Ireland straight from school around 1994 to study chemistry at Aberdeen University, and it is in Scotland that he has built his career both ashore in industry, and afloat with Port Edgar Yacht Club on the Firth of Forth on Scotland’s East Coast

However, one of his favourite events is on Scotland’s West Coast, at Tarbert on Loch Fyne, venue for the annual Silvers Marine Scottish Series. The O’Malley team, racing the Hunter 707 Seaword, have been in the frame in Tarbert in previous years. But on Monday they moved onto a new level by finishing the 2016 series with an almost flawless scoreline, a feat which won them the overall trophy and made Dara O’Malley our “Sailor of the Month” (non-Olympic) for May 2016.

Read more: Ex-Pat From Westport in Mayo Wins Scottish Series

Published in Sailor of the Month
Page 2 of 5

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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