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With 110 boats already entered, Volvo Cork Week is preparing to welcome crews and boats from all over Ireland, the UK and from as far away as Dubai, Australia and Hong Kong. With a new flexible format of racing available to participants, competitors can choose to race for the full five days, three days or contestants can hold their own class championships, finishing on the Saturday. It’s an exciting amendment that has attracted a diverse demographic from many sectors of the sailing world. It also allows competitors to enjoy the outstanding entertainment once ashore.

At The Royal Cork Yacht Club, there are fun packed family events such as treasure hunts, face painting and kids games on Sunday,15th and Saturday, 21st July, kicking off at 11am.

At the Opening Ceremony on 15th July, there is live music from easy listening crooner, The Loungeman, who returns for the Ladies Fashion Show and Lunch on Wednesday 18th July. Every night of the week there is world class music and entertainment following the races and Gala Dinners, including The Roaring Forties, Midnight Sons and Amazing Apples as well as late night DJs throughout the weekend.

Online entry is still open and the closing date is 30th June.

Event and Entertainment Timetable Volvo Cork Week Race Week Timetable

Sunday 15th July
12.00pm: Family Fun Day with Volvo Promotions
15.00pm: Live Music with The Loungeman
17.00pm: Opening Ceremony
20.00pm: Admirals Dinner

Sunday 15th July
11.00am: Morning Practice Racing
14.30pm: Afternoon Practice Racing

Monday 16th July
13.00pm: Afternoon Tea with BUMBLEance and special guest Anna Geary
16.30pm: Live Music with RECKLESS
19.00pm Live Music at The Royal Cork Yacht Club

Monday 16th July
11.00am: Fastnet Race/ Wreck Series - Race 1

Tuesday 17th July
13.00pm: Public Open Day with 96fm Giveaway
16.30pm: Live Music with Gerald Ahern
19.00pm Live Music at The Royal Cork Yacht Club

Tuesday 17th July
11.00am: Fastnet Race/ Wreck Series - Race 2

Wednesday 18th July
12.30pm: Ladies Fashion Show & Lunch with special guests Francis Brennan and harpist Carys Ann Evans
16.30pm: Live Music with The Loungeman
19.00pm Live Music at The Royal Cork Yacht Club
20.00pm: Beaufort Cup Gala Dinner at Naval base
21.00pm: Live Music with Amazing Apples - followed by late night DJ

Wednesday 18th July
11.00am: Harbour Race - Race 3

Thursday 19th July
16.30pm: Live Music with Holy Moly
19.00pm: Corporate Evening, BBQ and Live Music
21.00pm: UV5 followed by late night DJ

Thursday 19th July
10.00am: In Shore Series - Race 4
12.30pm: In Shore Series - Race 5
14.30pm: In Shore Series - Race 6

Friday 20th July
16.30pm: Live Music with Savage Cabbage
20.00pm: Volvo Cork Week Closing Dinner with Spectacular Fireworks Display
21.00pm: Live Music with Midnight Sons - followed by late night DJ

Friday 20th July
10.00am: In Shore Series - Race 7
12.30pm: In Shore Series - Race 8
14.30pm: In Shore Series - Race 9

Saturday 21st July
11.00am: Family Fun Day with Volvo Promotions
16.00pm: Live Music
19.00pm: Quartet For Drinks Reception
20.00pm: Black Tie Gala Dinner
21.00pm: The Roaring Forties

Saturday 21st July
12.30pm: Club Regatta Race 1 & 2

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After the success of the inaugural Beaufort Cup for Military and Emergency teams in 2016, this year's entries are approaching 20 boats already, including no less than eight J109's for the Cork Week event. There's an excellent line up of Dublin and Cork boats now involved and organisers are appealing for further Irish boats owners to team up with Services teams.

Fancy entering Volvo Cork Week for free? Joining an exciting new fleet, having a chance to win €10,000 prize money and getting some experienced crew to help race your yacht?  Maybe the Beaufort Cup is the event for you...?

JEDI j109 INSS 0367Tanaiste Simon Coveney has entered the Dublin-based INSS J109 for the Beaufort Cup. Photo: Afloat.ie

The Beaufort Cup is an international sailing event, run as part of Volvo Cork Week for military and emergency service teams. Beaufort Cup teams also have the opportunity to participate in the full sailing programme for the week.

"There are currently a number of teams looking to team up with Irish boats"

Only 50% of the team must be from the service they are representing, and there are currently a number of teams looking to team up with Irish boats.

So what's in it for you?

Free entry to Volvo Cork Week, the possibility to team up with a military or emergency services crew, join us at the Beaufort Bar in the tented village at Volvo Cork Week, which will have exclusive parties throughout the week, the unique opportunity to attend the Beaufort Cup Gala dinner on Haulbowline Island Naval Base, €10,000 prize money for the charity of your choice, plus the now famous short offshore; a 24hr race from Cork Harbour to the iconic Fastnet Rock and back.

Asked what the lure of this event is, 2016's winner Commandant Barry Byrne said that "the unique atmosphere and camaraderie between the services teams in the fleet is something the yacht owners really enjoy being a part of, also the short offshore is the perfect length; 24 hours down to the Fasnet along some of the most scenic coastline in the world is a great feature of the event, last time we had nine boats all rounding the rock within an hour of each other."

Grand Soleil 40 Neulargo 1Denis Murphy's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo will race as RNLI Crosshaven in the Beaufort Cup. Photo: Afloat.ie
For J109 owners in particular, the possibility to join this fleet and compete against another eight J109s, from the Royal Navy, Royal Engineers, Royal Air Force, Irish Defence Forces and a myriad of other teams, is very appealing.

While there is a large fun element to the competition, and lots of friendly rivalry between the services, there is also very serious racing at the top end of the fleet. This year's fleet has attracted some high profile racing names, such as Irish past All Ireland champions Peter O'Leary and Stephan Hyde.

See the full 2018 Cork Week and Beaufort Cup entry list here

There are currently a number of highly experienced international and national teams looking to team up with Irish boats, if you are interested in getting involved, contact Barry Byrne at [email protected] or James Fegan at [email protected]

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The UK Launch of Volvo Cork Week 2018 was held at the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble, with an after party at the King & Queen Pub. Representing Volvo Cork Week was Director of Racing Rosscoe Deasy, Event Chairman Kieran O’Connell, and Gavin Deane General Manager of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. This July, Volvo Cork Week welcomes a wide variety of international sailors to experience well-managed racing on a range of courses, both inside and outside of Cork Harbour. Classes will include IRC rated boats, non-spinnaker, 1720, Dragons and Sportsboats. 1st of May is the early bird deadline.

“Entries for Volvo Cork Week are coming in well above last year's quota from Irish competitors, and the UK launch was all about informing and encouraging British teams to come and compete.” commented Kieran O’Connell. “We are delighted to hear that the Royal Southern YC will be forming a youth team for Volvo Cork Week, and we are delighted to welcome more teams from overseas to enjoy the hospitality of the Royal Cork YC this July. The new format allows a huge variety of sailors and boats to attend, with events ranging from a full week of racing to just a single day, there is a style of racing to suit just about everyone.”

The second edition of the Beaufort Cup will take place during Volvo Cork Week 2018. International teams from their associated national services will take part, 50% of each team must be active in the service they represent. Racing is scheduled over five days with a mix of challenging offshore, and tactical inshore racing, including a Fastnet Rock Race. Teams will be able to join in the shoreside fun at Volvo Cork Week and their own Gala Dinner. The winning team will have €10,000 donated to their nominated charity.

“We have already got a lot of entries from the UK and one from France including the Welsh Police Force, Royal Air Force, Royal Engineers, and Royal Navy. Three teams will compete from the Irish Defence Forces and we have interest from two RNLI stations, Crosshaven and Baltimore. We would welcome entries from other services, and right now we have owners who have made boats and crew available for the Beaufort Cup and we would be delighted to put them both together. We hope to get in excess of 20 entries.” commented Chair of the Beaufort Cup, James Fegan.

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For 40 years Volvo Cork Week has welcomed teams from overseas to the biennial regatta hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, and what better time than Patrick's Day for the UK Launch of Volvo Cork Week 2018.

Senior members of the organising committee for Volvo Cork Week will be in attendance for two events in Hamble, which just happens to coincide with the England versus Ireland Six Nations Rugby and Grand Slam decider and St Patrick's Day.

Representing Volvo Cork Week in Hamble will be Volvo Cork Week Director of Racing, Rosscoe Deasy, Event Chairman Kieran O'Connell, and Gavin Deane, General Manager of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

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An Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, TD, launched, Volvo Cork Week, today on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, following the cancellation of the original launch last Friday due to the arrival of Storm Emma.

Royal Cork Yacht Club has reconfigured its biennial regatta with a number of novel new features. The event takes place this year in Crosshaven from July 16th to July 21st.

Speaking at the launch Minister Coveney said: “It is always a pleasure to be asked to officially launch an event like Volvo Cork Week. Events like this are very important for Ireland, showcasing, as they do, the beautiful marine resource we have, particularly here in Cork Harbour, the second biggest natural harbour in the world. Competition for The Beaufort Cup will see teams from many different national and international defence forces, RNLI, Coast Guard, Welsh and Northern Ireland Police, and other service teams, competing against each other and this year it again includes an overnight race around the famous Fastnet Rock. It is great to see Volvo Cork Week being the first Irish Regatta to take an active approach on the fight against plastics. It is a subject that is very close to my heart and I will do all I can to assist them in their effort this year. Cork is truly at the forefront of sustainability and renewable energy, with MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) located here in Cork Harbour.”

All photos by Bob Bateman

untitled 08032016 Beaufort Cup winner, Commandant Barry Byrne, Commander Brian Matthews and Pat Harte, Hon Secretary of Royal Corkuntitled 0803Irish Sailing President Jack Roy with Captain William Roberts and David Thomas of Volvo untitled 0803Captain William Roberts, Jack Roy,, Pat Farnan and Darragh Connollyuntitled 0803Captain William Roberts, Mayor of Cork County Cllr Declan Hurley, Deputy Mayor Kieran McCarthy and David Thomasuntitled 0803Pat Farnan, David Thomas and Captain William Roberts in front of the Irish Navy Ship, LE William Butler Yeatsuntitled 0803RCYC Admiral Pat Farnan addresses the gathering on Haulbowline Islanduntitled 0803Jack Roy of Irish Sailinguntitled 0803David Thomas of Volvountitled 0803An Tánaiste Simon Coveneyuntitled 0803A great turnout at Haulbowlineuntitled 0803Cork Week Chairman Kieran O'Connell, with Jack Roy (who will be the event's Chief Race Officer) Admiral Pat Farnan and Cove Sailing Club's Joannna Murphyuntitled 0803Volvo's David Thomas, Mayor of Cork County Cllr Declan Hurley, An Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Deputy Mayor Kieran McCarthy and Royal Cork CEO Gavin Deaneuntitled 0803Royal Cork's Ross Deasy with Commander Brian Matthews and Royal Cork's Darragh Connollyuntitled 0803(From right) Cork Week Chairman Kieran O'Connell, with Volvo's David Thomas and An Tanaiste Simon Coveney

David Thomas, MD Volvo Car Ireland, said that Volvo Car Ireland, in partnership with Johnson & Perrott, are proud to sponsor Volvo Cork Week for the third time: "since coming to Ireland, I have seen and appreciate the importance of the water as an island nation. The Volvo brand is synonymous with sailing across the world and we believe in the importance of supporting, and partnering, with sports and communities where our customers live, work, and play." 

Kieran O’Connell, Chair of Volvo Cork Week, welcomes the growing awareness of the plastics issue amongst the public and particularly amongst sailors. He intends to put an emphasis on reducing Volvo Cork Week’s impact on the environment. Amongst the initiatives being proposed is that all competitors will be asked to use reusable drink containers and there will be water coolers/fountains available. Suppliers will be asked to reduce their use of plastic and use compostable materials. “Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our seas and if no action is taken there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, every bit of plastic ever made still exists somewhere. Care to the environment is a core value at Volvo Car Ireland and we intend to play our part during Volvo Cork Week 2018. Education and outreach activities will be facilitated by MaREI during the event."

The first of a series of beach clean ups took place during the launch. Schoolchildren from Crosshaven took part in an initial clean up of the beach on Haulbowline Island. This is the first in a series of nationwide beach clean ups Volvo have planned to help raise awareness of the #TurnTheTideOnPlastics initiative.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club is the NMU Marina of the Year and is a Gold Anchor Awardee from the Yacht Harbour Association. It is committed to minimising the impact of its activities on the environment and has created a Green Events Policy which will be applied during Volvo Cork Week 2018.

While retaining many of the successful elements of previous events Volvo Cork Week 2018 has a completely redesigned format which gives competitiors various options to choose whilst still enjoying the world class racing that is on offer. Entries have already been received from Ireland, England, France, Dubai and Australia and this year. The SB20 sportsboat class will host its Southern Championships on the two days before Cork Week (14/15 July) and the Dragon Class will host their championships at Volvo Cork Week for the first time.

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Following the recent announcement of the Volvo Cork Week ‘Super Early Bird’ competition winners who won back their full entry fee for the regatta, event organisers have announced a new enticing deal for those who sign up before March 31st. A very lucky 5% of entries received over the next eight weeks will receive a crew gear pack, which contains 10 branded Helly Hansen Crew tops personalised with the boat name, and one skipper’s branded Helly Hansen Regatta jacket, also personalised with the boat name. 

With a 45 entries before the end of December, and international interest, indicators show that Volvo Cork Week is shaping up to be the biggest yet with over 50% of total entries for the last regatta already registered, 6 months in advance of the event itself.

With Volvo Cork Week’s new format, and again teaming up with Ireland’s principal sponsor of sailing events Volvo Car Ireland, and local dealership Johnson and Perrott at Mahon Point, the organising committee are focusing on attracting more sailors from more areas of sailing and from a more diverse demographic. This, accompanied by six nights of entertainment, will make for a event in 2018.

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Cork Week has announced the lucky 10% of Super Early Bird entries that will receive a full refund on their entry fee for Volvo Cork Week, which will take place in the Royal Cork Yacht Club from the 16th to the 21st of July next, in association with Volvo at Johnson & Perrott Mahonpoint. Off to a winning start are: Colin Galavan and Richard Hayes with CARPE DIUM, Rory Fekke with F’n Gr8, Anthony O’Neill with Tenacious, Joan Mulloy Racing and Johnny Swan with Harmony.

The event received a whopping 45 entries before the end of December and indicators show that Volvo Cork Week is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet with over 50% of total entries for the last regatta already registered, 6 months in advance of the event itself.

Volvo Cork Week organisers are always looking for new and exciting ways to make the regatta better for competitors. The committee invested a lot of time looking at how best to offer a tailored experience to as many competitors as possible. This year will have a brand new format giving people the option to build their own regatta from the multi series format of the new event. Competitors have the option to enjoy the full five days of world class racing and great entertainment; there is an option of a new, three-day, series for those that can’t commit to the five days; if participants enjoy the longer offshore style racing both fully crewed or shorthanded, then that is also on offer and if participants would like to hold their own class championships, finishing on the Saturday, then that is also an option.

With this new format, and again teaming up with Ireland’s principal sponsor of sailing events Volvo Car Ireland, the organising committee hope to attract more sailors from more areas of sailing and from a more diverse demographic. This, accompanied by six nights of world-class entertainment, will again make for a world-class event in 2018.

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The Beaufort Cup returns in 2018 and with entry level already surpassing 2016 it is gearing up to be a great success.

Three English teams have already committed to take on the challenge and there’s also interest from Wales, America, France and Northern Ireland.

Download the Notice of Race below

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The 2018 Notice of Race for Volvo Cork Week, which will take place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club from the 16th to the 21st of July, 2018 has been published (and is downloadable below)

A Super Early Bird entry rate until December 30th where a lucky 10% of entries received before the deadline will get a full refund on their entry fee.

2016 saw a revived interest in the Club’s biennial regatta, which has been going strong since 1978. For its 40 year anniversary in 2018, RCYC is launching an all new format where competitors can pick a choose which element of the week that they wish to attend, giving the options for one, two, or three days racing, or go all in for the full Volvo Cup.

Cork Week organiser Kieran O'Connell told Afloat.ie 'We are also holding a number of One Design Class Championships during the week with racing for these classes on Thursday 19th, Friday 20th and Saturday 21st. If your class would like to be part of this, and benefit from the great entertainment that will be laid on for the week, please get in touch'.

The Beaufort Cup returns in 2018 and with entry level already surpassing 2016 it is gearing up to be a great success. Three English teams have already committed to take on the challenge and there’s also interest from Wales, America, France and Northern Ireland. Download the Beaufort Cup Notice of Race here.

The new Offshore Series on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th will attract boats from all over to compete in the challenging over night Fastnet race and in the shorter day race Wreck series for the smaller boats.

The online entry system is now live and RCYC is running a Super Early Bird entry until December 30th where a lucky 10% of entries received before the deadline will get a full refund on their entry fee.

Published in Cork Week

At least two different viewpoints may be taken on the remarkable and very long history of sailing in Ireland. Either you see it as a wonderful heritage, which should be celebrated with gala anniversaries, and whatever you’re having yourself, at every possible opportunity. Or else you might sadly admit that it’s a burden, a deadening load on all of us which stultifies development, restricts fresh thinking, and railroads the annual programme into a traditional pattern sailed in vintage boats which allows very little space for something with the instant appeal and intrinsic excitement of novelty.

But perhaps there’s a happy place somewhere in between, a thoughtful place among many events, where we can live comfortably with some astonishingly old throwbacks to the distant past, yet continue to modify the programme and our way of doing things in order to accommodate new ideas. And with any luck, we might somehow find space to come up with some bright ideas of our own to add to the rich and very varied tapestry of the world sailing scene. W M Nixon casts an eye over next season’s programme to see what it might bring to the party.

After the excitement of Annalise’s Silver Medal in Rio on August 2016, in 2017 there was a generally unstated but definite feeling that we were due a down-home year, a year when sailing in Ireland in all its quirkiness would be celebrated, and anything with a non-Olympic flavour would be given every encouragement to flourish.

Yet at the beginning of 2017, who could have predicted that as summer approached, it would be Annalise herself who would up-sticks from the pre-ordained Olympian way of doing things, and plunge into the maelstrom which is Volvo Ocean Racing?

annalise with parents2Olympic Medallist Annalise Murphy with her parents Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy. As the establishers of a long-standing Round Ireland Record in 1993, Cathy and Con are well aware of what Annalise has faced in taking on a round-the-world crewing job in the Volvo 65 Turn the Tide on Plastic (below)

turn the tide3

Successful predicting doesn’t get any easier, even with detailed programes taking shape. Annalise’s progress in the rugged ocean racing world this will be continuing until the finish in June 2018, but thanks to the Volvo Race’s flexible approach to crewing arrangements, she will be able to opt out for long enough to get herself back into the Olympic Women’s Radial Laser mode from time to time to keep in touch for the big Tokyo 2020 Olympics countdown event in early August 2018, the two-week Hempel World Sailing Championship at Aarhus in Denmark.

There, with 40% of places up for grabs, many other Irish Olympic wannabees will be progressing after long and often lonely months and even years of doing the circuit. By then, several of them such as Aoife Hopkins will have thoroughly tested the waters in the Olympic Classes, starting with the Championships in Florida in January.

aoife hopkins4Aoife Hopkins of Howth and Trinity College will be starting her 2018 campaign towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Florida in January

February sees action at home and abroad with the growing enthusiasm for Team Racing in action with the Trinity Varsities up on the lake at Blessington on Friday 9th/Saturday 10th February, which will fit them neatly around the Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Year 2017” awards ceremony back down in Dublin at the RDS on the evening of Friday February 9th, where an exceptionally eclectic group of maritime high-flyers will gather to receive well-deserved praise for many remarkable - indeed, in some cases astonishing - achievements.

But late February will also see serious international racing on the other side of the Atlantic with the increasingly popular annual RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua on Monday 19th February. There’ll be a strong Irish contingent, and we have form here, as Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire won the first Caribbean 600 in 2009, then Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth won her class in 2016, and in 2017 it was all back on top again, as the overall winner, Hap Fauth’s Maxi72 Belle Mente, was navigated by our own Ian Moore.

bella mente5Bella Mente on her way to winning the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2017, navigated by Ian Moore. There will be a strong Irish presence in 2018’s race, starting at Antigua on 19th February. Photo Tim Wright

However, February at home in Ireland for most sailors is conference time, and the ever-expanding annual Irish sailing Cruising Conference is scheduled for Saturday February 17th at the Clayton Hotel in Leopardstown in Dublin, the move to a Clayton Hotel’s conference facilities having started last year in Cork when bookings were so heavy they’d to change the venue from the original choice of the Port of Cork HQ Building.

Nevertheless those dedicated team racers in school and college are also maximising their use of February before exam countdowns take over everyone’s timetable, and there’s the Leinster Schools at RStGYC on February 17th, while the following weekend is the big one, the Irish Universities Championship. In 2017 they had Clifden as a very successful venue in an early weekend in March, in 2018 they’re pushing the early season envelope even further by using the weekend of 22nd-24th February, and the venue is again in the west, this time at Kilrush, County Clare.

students clifden6Springtime sunshine at Clifden in Connemara, March 2017, for the Irish Universities Championship. In 2018, the event will be even earlier – on February 24-25th at Kilrush in County Clare

Thus we reach the end of February with the season already well under way for some specialists, but mainstream sailors will still be in a different time-scale, and in March the first one for the diary is Irish Sailing’s AGM on Saturday 10th March, venue still to be confirmed. However for those who insist that sailing shouldn’t miss any month of the Irish year, the Royal Cork’s famous come-all-ye dinghy festival, the PY1000, is slated in for Sunday March 11th, and it’s quite something, in fact it’s fantastic.

It would be impossible to imagine contemporary Irish sailing without the Laser, that ageless wonder which has contributed so much to our sport since it first appeared here around 1970. Yes, 1970. To be completely accurate, the Laser will be having its Golden Jubilee in 2019, as the prototpypes and first production boats sailed in 1969, so when our first major Laser event of 2018 gets going, the Munsters at Baltimore on March 31st/April 1st, it will be part of a growing celebration which in 2018 will culminate in Ireland in the mega-fleet World Lasers Masters (we’re talking maybe 400 boats) in Dun Laoghaire in a joint NYC/RStGYC venture from 7th to 17th September 2018. That will be a joyous affair to bring Dun Laoghaire Harbour to an upbeat mood as the traditional sailing season draws to its close after a fascinating main programme in the central part of the 2018 summer, with various pillar events the highlights in a continuous and colourful tapestry which takes in every part of the country.

Laser 2848Lasers – it’s part of what we are. This classic dinghy is still as new as tomorrow, yet it’s now on the count-down to the Golden Jubilee in 2019-2020, and a significant part of that will be the World Laser Masters in Dun Laoghaire from 7th to 17th September 2018, with a huge fleet expected.

That “traditional season” will have seen solid regulars such as the annual programme of the steadily-expanding Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association into action by late April (first races are on April 21st), by which time the Irish Sailing’s Youth Pathway Nationals – 2017 was the biggest yet seen when it was at Ballyholme – will have been staged from 5th to 8th April at a venue yet to be confirmed. And Ireland’s long history of team racing will have been acknowledged yet again, this time with the 70th Anniversary of the senior of them all, the Royal St George series in Dun Laoghaire on April 22nd/23rd. Believe me, over those seventy years, just about everybody in Irish sailing seems to have been a participant in some way or other in this grandaddy of team events.

Into May, and the 12th to 18th sees the Asgard II Tall Ship Reunion Voyage in the Irish Sea on the Tall Ship Pelican, followed by a Gala Ball which will show that although the Asgard II was sadly lost ten years earlier in September 2008 when she sank, her spirit and those who sailed on her lives on, and an Irish tall Ship will sail again.

ship asgard8The much-lamented Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II was lost in September 2008, but the tenth anniversary of this sad event will see a renewal of the determination to find an appropriate replacement

In May the core pace of mainstream sailing is hotting up, though while you might get sunshine, pure heat is still in short supply in Scotland in the Springtime with snow sometimes still on the mountain-tops for the Scottish Series at Tarbert in late May. But this has long been a happy hunting ground for Irish cruiser-racer crews, and we’ve no doubt the tradition will be maintained.

Meanwhile there’s more chance of a first hint of summer warmth away, far away to the southwest at Baltimore in County Cork where the steadily-growing Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival sees 2018’s staging from 25th to 27th May, and the whisper is there might be some unexpected and interesting visitors making their Baltimore debut.

baltimore woodenboat9The Baltimore Woodenboat Festival in May definitely has something for everyone…

Back in the Irish Sea, the ingenious Peter Ryan of ISORA managed to devise a race in 2017 which somehow took in Howth YC’s time-honoured Lambay Race as the first part of the course. This will be repeated in 2018, helping to swell numbers in an event which, in the Bank Holiday Weekend of June 1st to 3rd 2018, will be part of Howth’s Regatta, the shoreside high point of which is a family day for the peninsula people which in 2017 was adjudged an outstanding success.

lambay race10Summer comes to the East Coast - the Lambay Race at Howth, first sailed in 1904. 2018’s will be part of a family-friendly regatta at June’s Bank Holiday weekend, with the Lambay Race itself once again including the successful combination of the first part of an ISORA Race

Because June’s Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been moved from the traditional mid-summer weekend start to the last weekend of the month (presumably to avoid clashing with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself at The Hague in The Netherlands where the stage is set from June 24th onwards), June is quite like old times with each Dun Laoghaire club staging its own Saturday regatta, while at national championship level the J/24s are descending on Foynes from June 8th to 10th, and the Sigma 33s are at the Royal St. George Yacht Club from June 22nd to 24th, while the National 18s in all their fascinating variations get in ahead of everyone with their Nationals at Baltimore on June 2nd/3rd.

Come the end of the month, and all eyes will be focused on Wicklow and the back-up port of Dun Laoghaire for the Volvo Round Ireland Race, counting 1.4 for the RORC points championship, and starting Saturday June 30th. It will be the 20th staging of this very special 704-mile Irish classic (it’s longer than either the Fastnet, the Middle Sea, the Bermuda, the Sydney-Hobart or the RORC Caribbean 600), but the 19th staging in 2016 was such a sensational event, with three MOD 70s and George David’s mighty Rambler 88 stealing the show, that 2018 is going to have to think of something different to make the proper impact.

In the end, its the steady, regular and frequent contenders who are the backbone of this race, and to emphasise this, the organisers are going to find which skipper has had the best accumulated result from the races of 2016, 2018, and 2020. Then at the prize giving after 2020’s race, that top scorer will be awarded a brand-new road-ready Volvo V40.

As to who will be doing the 2018 circuit, we do know already that the winner of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017, Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, has already signed up the formidable talents of Mark Mansfield of Cork who was on Dave Cullen’s chartered J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), which was the only Irish boat to win a class in the 2016 circuit.

round ireland 2016 start11Here she comes….! How on earth George David’s Rambler 88 managed to come cleanly through the crowded start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 is a matter of wonder, but she did it like a hot and very swift knife through butter. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

In July the emphasis moves emphatically to the south coast, and you can drive your new Volvo V40 there in expectation of a warm welcome, as the next big one up is Volvo Cork Week from July 16th to 21st. There’ll be an added sense of anticipation to this marvellous biennial sailfest, for it will be the last Cork Week before the big one in 2020, when the Royal Cork Yacht Club Tricentenary Cork Week will be just one of many major events celebrating 300 years of the world’s oldest yacht club.

Who knows, but maybe by 2020 they’ll be staging the Beaufort Cup as a major standalone event. What started as the germ of an idea in February 2016 for a sailing series among crews from the Defence Forces in the Volvo Cork Week of that July took off like a rocket, and 33 public agency crews in 12 mostly borrowed boats, representing just about every organisation and agency which is involved in serving the public, stretching its remit way beyond the defence forces.

Nevertheless it was a Defence Forces crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne racing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2, which topped the leaderboard in a series which brilliantly captured genuine public interest. It was an astonishing success, and already entries are registered for 2018 with so much interest that you’d begin to worry whether there’ll be enough suitable boats available for loan to accommodate everyone.

Joker2 Cork weekThe Defence Forces’ crew, skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne and racing the J/109 Joker 2, were first winners of the Beaufort Cup which will continue as a feature of Volvo Cork Week in 2018. Photo Robert Bateman

As it is, taking 12 highly competitive boats out of general competition impinged significantly on the mainstream Volvo Cork Week fleet in 2016, yet having the Beaufort Cup as part of Cork Week is something which adds to the allure of both events, so we sympathise with anyone who, in time, is going to have to square this particular circle. As it is, in 2018 the Beaufort Cup teams are going to be a fully-integrated part of Cork Week, racing the entire five days and savouring the unique Crosshaven Cork Week flavour, but nevertheless there are bound to be those who’ll wonder if extra mileage couldn’t be squeezed from having the Beaufort Cup as a standalone event.

As July veers into August, national sailing interest will swing two ways. Our potential Olympians will be shaping up for the intense contest at Aarhus in Dernmark, and at home in Ireland down in West Cork they’ll be shaping up for the allegedly non-intense Calves Week from Schull. In previewing the 2017 season, we described it as “a fun event with quite serious competitive undertones”, and this was then quoted with approval (and acknowledgement) by the Calves Week Chairman at a subsequent press launch, so if it ain’t broke, why try and fix it, Calves Week 2018 from 7th to 10th August (yes, four days, you’ll do more living in four days in West Cork than you will in a week elsewhere) definitely is a real fun event with quite serious competitive undertones.

west corkWest Cork sailing at its glorious best – Calves Week action in August will be top of the bill in Schull. Photo: Robert Bateman

Back on the East Coast, meanwhile, the 1898-vintage Howth 17s are putting out the welcome mat on the weekend of August 10th to 12th for a Classics One-Design Regatta. It has been successfully done before with the Mermaids contributing much to the festivities, but this time the Young Gaffers of Howth hope that others – the Glens and Water Wags of Dun Laoghaire spring to mind – might also be interested. Certainly one of the unexpected successes of 2017 was the inclusion of a Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as part of the Bicentenary Celebrations for Dun Laoghaire Harbour, an idea which proved so popular there’s talk of doing it again in 2019, but it’s quite a challenge – getting venerable wooden boats and their characterful crews together is about as easy as herding cats.

howth seventeens14The 1898-vintage Howth 17s will be welcoming other classic One Designs to their home port on August 10th to 12th.

Normally August in a non-Fastnet year is a laid-back time for cruiser-racers when it’s possible to slip in one or two well-supported distance races in the Irish Sea, but August 2018 is going to be unprecedented, as both the WIORA Championship and the ICRA Nationals are going to be staged at Galway City from the 15th to the 18th of August.

Traditionalists will be ruffled by it being in August rather than June, and in the heart of the West Coast rather than at either end the old time-honoured basically Cork-Dublin axis. But ICRA Commodore Simon McGibney of Foynes and his team know that there is a strong core ownership of cruiser-racers along the length of the western seaboard (think of the 44 boats which turned out for the WIORA Championship in the Aran Islands at exactly the same time as the massive Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 was under way) and this fresh-look cruiser-racer gathering in Galway deserves every chance of success.

galway docks15Regatta base in the hart of a hospitable city – Galway will be the hosting port for the WIORA Championship/ICRA Nationals 2018 from August 15th to 18th

This preview of the cornucopia of events which 2018 has to offer is no more than a skimming of the peaks, with occasional in-depth glances at some curious corners of special interest. The sheer diversity of events, boats, locations and people involved is outlined in the detailed Irish Sailing schedule, and every sailor will find his or her favourite event there. But inevitably that detailed schedule is still far from complete. After all, in previewing 2016, even in January of that year we would not have been able to anticipate the huge success of the Beaufort Cup in July, for the then Minister for Defence Simon Coveney TD and his team didn’t have the inspired idea of the Beaufort Cup until late February.

SB20 1258The SB20 Europeans promises some lively action on Dublin from August 28th – September 1st, at the Royal Irish Yacht Club hosted event Photo: David O'Brien/Afloat.ie

Nevertheless some things have been part of our sailing lives for decades, and every year September brings an entirely new mood, with established summer programmes drawing to a close, Autumn Leagues getting themselves into gear, and All-Ireland Championships to be raced.

The Juniors will be in the last weekend of September, venue and boat type still to be confirmed, but the Seniors are firmly in place at Lough Ree Yacht Club on the weekend of 13th to 14th October, to be raced in SB 20s.

There’s something very pleasing about the fact that the core stream of Irish sailing at home should reach its time-honoured concluding Championship of Champions in the heart of the country at a hospitable club which can trace its history back to 1770, with the event itself being raced in boats of a modern international class which has special Irish links. 2018 Irish sailing at home does indeed give every sign of being another memorable year, with a stylish and upbeat concluding championship.

fionn lyden16Fionn Lyden of Baltimore Sailing Club (left), with Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and crewman Liam Manning of Schull, and the historic All-Ireland silver salver he won on Lough Owel at Mullingar in October 2017. He will be defending at the All Irelands at Lough Ree on October 13th-14th 2018. Photo Irish Sailing

2018 SAILING HIGHLIGHTS

January Florida USA (Ft Lauderdale & Miami) – Olympic Classes Regattas

February 19th Antigua – RORC 600

March 12th Royal Cork YC - PY 1000

April 5th – 8th Irish Youth Pathway Nationals

April 21st ISORA season starts

May 25th – 29th Scottish Series, Tarbert

June 1-3rd Howth Regatta & Lambay Races

June 30th Volvo Round Ireland Race

July 16th-21st Volvo Cork Week with Beaufort Cup 

July 30th – August 12th Hempel World Sailing Championship Aarhus, Denmark

August 7th-10th Calves Week, Schull

August 15th – 18th WIORA Championship & ICRA Nationals, Galway

August 28th – September 1st, SB20 Europeans, Royal Irish Yacht Club

September 7th – 15th September Laser Masters World Championships,  RStGYC &  NYC

September 29th-30th All Ireland Junior Championship (venue to be confirmed)

October 13th – 14th All Ireland Senior Championship, Lough Ree YC, sailed in SB20s

Published in W M Nixon
Page 4 of 15

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