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Commandant Barry Byrne tells his story of how the Irish military assembled a winning crew in a matter of months for the inaugural international inter-service sailing contest

On 15 January I was called to a special meeting in the Carrigaline Court Hotel. Our then Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney; Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett; and key personnel from the Royal Cork Yacht Club and Kinsale Yacht Club – headed by Kieran O’Connell, chair of Volvo Cork Week 2016 – had assembled to plan a new event to be called the Beaufort Cup, named in honour of Sir Francis Beaufort, creator of the Beaufort wind force scale.

I would learn at that meeting of the goal to assemble 10 yachts, with military or emergency service crews, to compete in this new multi-race event for Cork Week. However, many present felt that given the relatively short notice – only six months – we would be doing well enough to recruit three boats to constitute a class.

One of the first teams to commit to the event were the Royal Engineers, and I will be forever grateful to them for their support at such a formative stage of the cup’s development. They gave momentum to our cause, as by the time of the event we had 12 top-class teams competing for the newly commissioned Waterford Crystal Beaufort Cup.

Joker_2_Defences_Forces_CupThe crew of Joker 2 pictured in Crosshaven

Training challenge

Assembling and training our own Defence Forces team from scratch? That was our first challenge. Many were beginners, plus we had to source the necessary boats. Through the generosity of John Maybury (Joker 2), Tom Roche (Meridian) and Dan Buckley (Justus), we secured three boats to compete in. The Defence Forces contingent increased to four when we were joined by Another Adventure, an A35 skippered for the event by Stefan Hyde. Joker 2, the national champion J109, would be our main effort at winning the cup, and I must thank our fantastic bowman, Flight Sgt Adrian Mulligan, for helping to secure the use of that vessel.

IMG 8289Training with the Navy at Haulbowline

Next came the team trials to select our four competition crews. That meant training in fitness, sailing, sea survival and medical training to ensure all boats and their crews complied with the same Cat 3 regulations as the annual Fastnet Race.

We schooled the beginners on our team in sail and race training with the help of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School (INSS), while the Joker crew were put through their paces in manoeuvres with the help of professional coach Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell. Simon Johnson kindly assisted in training up our pit and bow team, and my brother Bryan Byrne also came along to share some knowledge.

As the event grew closer, I was to learn that both national and international champions were competing in our class. It was dawning on me that our newly assembled team were going to the home of yacht racing in Ireland, and the oldest yacht club in the world, to try and win a major trophy and €10,000 prize money for a charity of one’s choosing, and the competition would be fierce.

Military principles

We got Joker 2 to Cork early and, her competition pedigree notwithstanding, we spent three full days going through every single element of the boat, stem to stern, keel to windex. We replaced ropes, end-to-ended halyards, scrubbed, dehumidified, welded – you name it, we did it. If I’d quoted ‘Mr America’s Cup’ Dennis Conner’s book No Excuse to Lose to my crew one more time, I think they would have killed me.

IMG 8291Scrubbing Joker 2 in Crosshaven

During this time, we also had a hugely important rig settings technical session with Mark Mansfield. This was to prove invaluable for the event. I wanted no ambiguity about what setting we were on for what wind condition, and I would work closely with my sole designated rig adjustor on this. Military principles in practice: one man, one job, own your job. We brought some other military principles to our sailing, too, as we had well-rehearsed standard operating procedures and clear communications, and it stood to us throughout the week.

Fastnet racing

On the morning of the start, Monday 11 July, the popping of SCUBA bubbles hitting the hull from our hardworking crew member Lt Wietse Buwalda as he scrubbed the outside provided the soundtrack as I observed our navigator reviewing the laminated, underlined and highlighted sailing instructions, and I felt like we had done everything we could to prepare for the first day – the daunting 24-hour race around Fastnet Rock.

I have been offshore racing for 20 years and I can honestly say that the short Fastnet run of the Beaufort Cup is one of the most enjoyable I have ever raced. It is the perfect length, and the race down to the famous rock is both stunningly scenic and hugely tactical, with tidal and wind influences to test the very best – not to mention the abundance of wildlife along the way, with whales and dolphins regularly spotted at this time of year. I think the race has the potential to be one of the great lures of Cork Week for international teams in future years.

After ten hours of racing, eight boats in our fleet rounded Fastnet Rock at twilight right beside one another. It was spectacular – or as Prof would say, ‘tremendous’.

Winning that race possibly came down to a single decision by our navigator, Comdt Ian Travers, to gybe out of Glandore Bay when becalmed. We gybed to get better pressure as we had no other options. That said, I do believe two factors came into play here. One, our crew had a hot meal of high-energy army ration packs inside us at one in the morning when we made that manoeuvre, so I feel we were firing on all cylinders as a crew; gybes were good, and kite peels at night went seamlessly. And two, our navigator had run seven weather routing predictions, all but one of which told him to go offshore on the way back from the rock, so he knew what he was doing, even if I didn’t.

We were awarded the impressive Sans Souci Cup at that evening’s black tie gala dinner overlooking the sea from the Naval Service base on Haulbowline. But honourable mention must go to the Royal Engineers, who were unlucky to be becalmed and, in the true spirt of military grit and determination, hung in there to finish the offshore race seven hours behind us, within two minutes of the deadline – and then, with no rest, donned their mess dress uniforms to be the life and soul of the party that night.

The Fastnet race was only the beginning of the Beaufort Cup, of course. The next day saw tighter inshore racing, but we had good starts and produced two firsts and a second, with a solid performance from everyone on the team.

Thursday was the harbour race – and as luck would have it, we dropped our course card over the side six minutes before the start. In the commotion, we ended up dead last on the start. But I have to say, what followed was one of the most tense but also most enjoyable races of my life, as our navigator Capt Mick Liddy – who had replaced Comdt Travers after the offshore – and tactician Peter Bayly picked clear lanes through the fleet and had us in the right air the entire way as we sailed from almost last to first and beat every other J109 in the fleet.

Trust your team

That harbour race, which was to become the last of the event due to fog on the final day, confirmed everything I have always believed about yacht racing: put a team around you that you trust, and then trust them. Let them do their job. I had one policy for that light-winds race, and really it was a policy for the event in general: watch the tell-tales, keep the boat moving fast, and turn the wheel as little as possible. I trusted the team to do everything else.

At the final prizegiving I announced that we would be donating the majority of our winnings to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin – but in addition, as a mark of respect to the fantastic competition put up by the RNLI crew led by Nicholas O’Leary on True Penance, we would also donate €1,000 to the RNLI. That team performed mightily, with only seconds between us in most races.

Commenting on our victory, Commodore of the Defence Forces Sailing Club, Colonel Peter Richardson, said: “Judging by the success of this inaugural effort, I believe the Beaufort Cup can and will grow to be the top services regatta in the world, attracting hundreds of international competitors, strengthening international and national bonds, and showcasing the fantastic sailing grounds that Cork has to offer.

"Every military in the world recognises the benefits of offshore sailing for leadership and teambuilding; there are no places to hide on a boat in bad weather. As an island nation, we must embrace this resource. Congratulations to the Joker 2 crew on their wonderful achievement.”

I would like to thank the entire Defence Forces team for their efforts in our Beaufort Cup challenge. Thanks also to Kieran O’Connell and the Volvo Cork Week race office for a great event; and our sponsors Axiom Private Clients, Spanish Point Technologies, Helly Hansen and CH Marine. Thank you as well to everyone in the Department of Defence and Defence Forces who helped make this happen.

As I write, services teams from France, Italy, Spain and the US have already committed to challenge for the Beaufort Cup in 2018, and the Irish Defence Forces will be there to defend it.

The crew of the Joker 2 was:
Comdt Barry Byrne
Lt Marcus Ryan
Peter Bayly
Capt Michael Liddy
Brian Phelan
Armn Gary Phelan
Sgt Patrick McGrath
Lt Wietse Buwalda
Flt Sgt Adrian Mulligan
Comdt Ian Travers

Defence forces sailing clubDefence forces Sailing Club: Back row: Comdt Eoin O'Sullivan, Lt Eugene Mohan, Lt Marcus Ryan, Flt Sgt Adrian Mulligan, Pte Stephen Leddy, Lt Cdr Brian Mathews, Comdt Brian Sweeney Middle Row: Cpl John Ferns, Capt Catherine Lundon, Capt Oisin Branagan, Comdt Shane Keogh, Col Peter Richardson, Comdt Mark Donnelly, Sgt Patrick McGrath, Lt Col Oisin Cahill. Front Row: Capt Tom Quigley, Sgt Dave Sliney, Armn Gary Phelan, Comdt Barry Byrne, CS John O'Rielly, Lt Wietse Buwalda.

Published in Cork Week

#CorkWeek - For the inaugural IRC European Championship at this year's Volvo Cork Week, the top three boats all came from different IRC classes and the result was incredibly close.

And after the final day's results, it turns out the antique silver IRC European Champion Trophy, presented by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, will not be going far – as Royal Cork YC's Paul Gibbons, racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, emerged the winner.

“This has been such a fantastic regatta, Volvo Cork Week is very competitive, and we had a real fight on our hands to win our class, let alone the IRC European Championship," said Gibbons from the winners' podium. "I would like to thank my crew, without a good team we would never have achieved the success. We will definitely be back to defend our win in Marseille next year.”

Shrouded in sea fog, the final day of racing at Volvo Cork Week was curtailed to just one race for some classes. However, as the mist cleared, class winners appeared and the inaugural IRC European Championship went to the wire.

Located outside Cork Harbour, the visibility was just too bad for safe racing for IRC Zero, One and Two and the results remained unchanged from the previous day.

The final prizegiving was held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, established in 1720, and the antique silverware presented includes some of the world oldest and famous trophies.

But the two biggest awards of Volvo Cork Week are brand new this year.

John Swan's Howth team, racing Half Tonner Harmony, was second, winning the Royal Cork Perpetual Salver. Tony Ackland's Swansea YC team, racing Dubois 37 Dark Angel, was third and was awarded the prestigious prize of the Kinsale Kettle for Boat of the Week.

“This is the best Cork Week we have ever done and to be awarded Boat of the Week is a big honour. We will be toasting our friends tonight and when we get back to Swansea. Congratulations to all the winners, it has been great to be a part of this regatta,” said Ackland.

The Waterford Crystal Beaufort Cup, commissioned by former Marine Minister Simon Coveney, was won by Defence Forces B racing Joker 2, skippered by Cmdt Barry Byrne, as previously reported on

Baltimore RNLI racing True Penance, skippered by Nicholas O'Leary, was second while the PSNI racing Freya, skippered by Conor Doyle, came third.

Defence Force B Team have nominated Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Dublin for the €10,000 award. But the winning team have also donated €1,000 to Baltimore RNLI as a show of sportsmanship.

“To have so many teams and top quality racing in the first year of the Beaufort Cup is amazing,” said Cmdt Byrne. “The offshore race around the Fastnet is one of the most enjoyable races I have ever done. We saw dolphins and whales literally the whole way round and eight boats rounded the Fastnet Rock within sight of each other.

"We already have confirmed interest from USA, France, Canada and Spain for 2018. The goal is to make the Beaufort Cup the biggest emergency and military services regatta in the world and I would like to applaud Minister Simon Coveney and Vice Admiral Mark Mellett for their continued support for the initiative and all of the teams that participated.”

Gladiator-in-Harbour-Race-Ingrid-AberyTony Langley's TP52 Gladiator leads the fleet in the Harbour Race Photo: Ingrid Abery

Anthony O'Leary's Ker 40 Antix from the Royal Cork YC are the IRC Zero champions, beating strong opposition from Tony Langley's British TP52 Gladiator and Eric De Turckiem's French A13 Teasing Machine.

The class was fiercely contested with both Antix and Gladiator taking three wins a piece in the seven race series. Antix won the class by just one point.

Tony Ackland's team from Swansea YC, racing Dubois 37 Dark Angel, dominated IRC One. Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks from East Down YC in Northern Ireland was second in class and Royal Cork's Conor Phelan, racing Ker 37 Jump Juice was third, fending off a strong challenge from Charlie Frize's Scottish team, racing Mills 36 Prime Suspect.

The team from Clyde CC were the winners of the Hugh Coveney Trophy, for the best team under IRC in the Harbour Race.

Paul O'Higgins Royal Irish YC team, racing JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, corrected out to win IRC Two by four points from Robert McConnell's A35 Fools Gold. A terrific battle for third place was won by Richard Goodbody's Royal Irish team, racing J/109 White Mischief. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, racing Irish JPK 10.80 Audrey was fourth and William Wester's Dutch team, racing Grand Soleil 37 Antilope was close behind in fifth.

In IRC Three, John Swan's Howth YC team, racing Half Tonner Harmony, was the runaway winner, scoring five bullets at Volvo Cork Week. Patrick Farcy's French JPK 9.60 Cavok won the last race of the championship to snatch second by a single point from Paul & Deirdre Tingle's Royal Cork team, racing X-34 Alpaca.

Simon Henning's Guernsey YC team, racing 1720 Alice, was the runaway winner of the Mixed Sportsboats Class. George Sisk's Farr 42 WoW won a close encounter in IRC Coastal Class 1. Nick Ogden's Ulula and Sheila & James Tyrrel's J/112e Aquelina was just a point behind the winner.

Martin Breen's Port of Galway Team won IRC Coastal Class 2, winning three of the four race series. Jimmy Nyhan's Out Rigger was the winner of the Club Regatta Fleet, with three straight bullets. Tom McNeice's Sigma 33 Minx III was the winner in the non-spinnaker class, which was only decided on the last race of the seven race series.

The non-spinnaker class is growing at Volvo Cork Week and proving extremely competitive. Of the 12 entries this year, six teams made the podium during the regatta. Kieran McCarthy's Voxpro team won the Try Sailing Challenge, the initiative has received much acclaim and interest with 120 people applying to join the initiative across Ireland.

VIPs for the final award ceremony were Adrian Yeates, managing director of Volvo Cars Ireland, Naval Service Vice Admiral Mark Mellett and Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Michael Boyd.

Published in Cork Week’s W M Nixon won’t divulge when he first sailed into Cork Harbour, but he claims to have taken part in an early version of Cork Week as long ago as 1970. And he also claims that, at the Week of 1992, when ashore he never went beyond the RCYC’s Regatta Compound. He was overnighting aboard his boat which was a competitor, and after racing the whole sailing world and all facilities were to be found right there in the compound. There was no need to go any further. Here, he casts an eye over Volvo Cork Week 2016, and reflects on the extraordinary story of the hosting club.

There was a time when most histories of sailing were based on the idea that yachting as we know it didn’t really begin until 1815, when the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo provided peaceful seas off Europe to allow recreational sailing to develop into what ultimately became many forms, involving boats and rigs of all types.

It’s a process which continues today. But while the change in circumstances in 1815 was undoubtedly a major force in accelerating the development of the sport, anyone in Cork will be only too happy to tell you that by the time of Waterloo, the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork had been in existence for all of 95 years.

The yachts of the 1720 Water Club The great pioneers. The yachts of the 1720 Water Club of the Harbour of Cork, as recorded by Peter Monamy in 1738. Courtesy RCYC

And up Athlone way, they’ll determinedly assert that Lough Ree YC came into being in some form or other in 1770, so it was looking at 45 years by the time of Waterloo. But on Lough Ree, you could be reasonably confident that your day’s sailing wouldn’t be spoilt with an attack by French privateers. Yet the Privateer threat was a fact of life in the seas off Cork in the turbulent times as the 1700s drew to a close, and the cheekier ones even came right into Cork Harbour itself.

Nevertheless although the 1720-founded Water Club had a tenuous-enough existence at times, as soon as peace broke out it reasserted itself, a notable instance being in 1802 after the Peace of Amiens, and again in 1806 when the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 had greatly reduced the French threat at sea.

Water Club Nathanael GroganThe quiet years. A lone yacht of the Water Club shown in a panting by Nathanael Grogan in the upper harbour of Cork at Tivoli in the late 18th century

With each revival, names of “Old Members” would be added to the lists of new people who wished to keep the club going. And though there may have been times when Annual General Meetings weren’t held – a requirement for any club’s continuing validity today – the old Water Club always seems to have been part of the warp and weft of the great fabric of Cork Harbour, where they’d a much more relaxed attitude to the necessity for an AGM in the dim and distant past.

It became the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1830 when sailing was being re-structured at national level, and it was always enumerated as Club No 1 in the official listings, even if the Royal Yacht Squadron tended to be listed above it. Yet if you were at the opening party of Volvo Cork Week at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven last Sunday evening, you could have been forgiven for thinking that this was a happening being organised by the newest club on the block.

The fact is the Royal Cork is not merely ageless – it is eternally young. In this era of outdoor festivals, at events like Sunday’s opening party they showed themselves ahead of the curve in having world-standard sound systems which provide a welcome and easily-audible intimacy for speakers, enabling them to put through an informative programme of crisp speeches in comfortable time as the party buzz built steadily among the gathered multitude, whose friendly attention was duly rewarded by the arrival of a sunny evening.

The atmosphere was of one great big happy family gathering. And if this seemed to be a family with many members holding high military rank with decorations to match, it’s because the occasion was taken to launch the Beaufort Cup in all its official glory, and there were more naval and other military attaches present than you’ll see at many a National Day parade.

Royal Navy Supply ShipNaval presence. The successful staging of the first Beaufort Cup series within Volvo Cork Week 2016 saw increased naval activity in Cork Harbour, including this Royal Navy Supply Ship. A highlight of the Beaufort Series was a black-tie dinner for all competing crews in the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island on Tuesday night. Photo: Bob Bateman

But far from parading military might, the Beaufort Cup is all about comradely sailing competition, providing sport afloat for people who normally look on being at sea in a very different light. And it was not just between people in the armed forces, but between agencies of all kinds – life-saving, fisheries supervision, port inspection or whatever – where I suppose the only common denominator is that at some stage the people involved might wear a uniform.

The trophy commemorates Meath-born Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) whose achievements in hydrography and marine science were many. The idea of commemorating him in this way certainly captured the Volvo Cork Week imagination, with people readily making their boats available to agency crews who did not have access to craft of their own.

The spirit of it all was exemplified by the first boat and crew to the Fastnet Rock in the Beaufort’s long opening race. It was Conor Doyle of Kinsale’s X442 Freya, crewed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. And then the overall winner of this special Fastnet race on corrected time was John Maybury of Dun Laoghaire’s champion J/109 Joker 2, sailed by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne.

Barry Byrne and his crew on Joker 2 continued their success through the week as the varied fleet was put through a programme of equal variety, and it was singularly ironic that Class 0 in the Combined Fleets Harbour Race for the Hugh Coveney Trophy – surely the ultimate combination of a sailing come-all-ye and a festival of local knowledge – should be won by Eric de Turckheim’s A13 Teasing Machine, which is rightly recognised as one of the greatest offshore racers currently active on the planet, but arguably not a boat the smart money would have backed to win her class in a crowded race in the winding waters of Cork Harbour.

Teasing Machine Teasing Machine revelling in a breeze at the start of the week. Yet she won Class 0 in lighter airs in the Harbour Race. Photo: Tim Wright

And as for the alleged benefits of local knowledge, perhaps the Cork sailors were being just too clever in using their supposed experience in the weird ways of the tides and winds within this historic natural harbour, for the overall winner of the Harbour Race was Charlie Frieze’s Mills 36 Prime Suspect from Scotland, which made a good start in clear air, and continued to build on it.

In a sense, it was a double victory, as the breeze freshening towards the end naturally favoured the smaller boats over those already finished, despite Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator having zapped round the course in less than two hours. But although Prime Suspect was clearly mid-fleet in size, she put in such a neat showing she stayed ahead of Quarter Tonners and the like to take the prize.

TP 52 GladiatorTony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator took line honours in the Harbour Race. Photo: Bob Bateman

In fact, the view that smaller boats would be favoured by the freshening breeze doesn’t really stand up to examination, as second overall was taken by Richard Matthews’ new H39 Oystercatcher XXXI, a notably handsome boat in a very distinctive shade of blue. And as for assertions that an excess of local knowledge can sometimes be a drawback, Oystercatcher XXXI proved otherwise, as her crew included Eddie English who probably knows more of the sailing ways and wiles of Cork Harbour than anyone else on the planet.

Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXI A bit of local knowledge didn’t go amiss…..with Eddie English of Cobh on board, Richard Matthews’ new Oystercatcher XXXI took second overall in the Harbour Race. Photo: Bob Bateman

Irish National Sailing School of Dun Laoghaire’s Reflex 38 LynxAn unrivalled learning environment – the Irish National Sailing School of Dun Laoghaire’s Reflex 38 Lynx in action in Cork. Photo: Bob BatemanThird slot overall went to John Swan’s Half Tonner Harmony from Howth, continuing her dominance of Class 3 where she’d already logged six bullets in eight races by the time they took on the points-free harbour melee.

Whether sailing for fun in the Harbour Race, or competing with a real edge for points gains in races included in the European IRC Championship, there can be absolutely no doubt that this Volvo Cork Week is all about high-pitched racing, and as such is light years away from the Admiral Sailing in formation which was at the core of the sea-going activities of the Water Club in its early days.

Or is it? At mid-week I’d a very amiable discussion with Royal Cork YC archivist Dermot Burns as to whether or not the original Club of 1720 included racing in its activities. He reckons a form of competitive sailing - beyond that of showing your ability to maintain station relative to the Admiral while moving along in formation - is suggested in the Sailing Orders which were re-published in 1765 after the club had gone through one of its regenerations in 1760, though it does involve assuming that the Orders of 1765 reflected the original orders of 1720.

The many orders are un-numbered, but down around what would be number 17 we find:

“WHEN the Admiral will have the whole Fleet to Chace, he will hoist Dutch colours under his Flag, and fire a Gun from each Quarter; if a single boat, he will hoist a Pendant, and fire as many guns from the side as the Boat is distanced from him. WHEN he would have the Chace given over, he will hawl in his Flag and fire a Gun”.

Dermot’s very reasonable contention is that “Chace” is in the same sense as Steeplechasing for horses, and that these are straightforward orders for either fleet races or a match race, the start simply being made by piling on the speed from whatever position you’re in when the Admiral gives his signals.

It’s a long way from today’s precisely-laid committee boat starting lines. And it boggles the mind to think of your average modern crew trying to decide what Mr Big means when he starts firing guns from every quarter and sending all manner of flags aloft. But it’s part of the joy of studying the long history of the Royal Cork Yacht Club that such gems for interpretation come our way.

Anthony O’Leary racing top contender AntixAdmiral’s orders? Former RCYC Admiral Anthony O’Leary racing top contender Antix off the Cobh waterfront. Photo: Bob Bateman
And who knows, but with further tangential study it may still be possible to find out who actually won those earliest races. For though we soon find notices of a up-coming races of the Water Club being advertised in the local press, accounts of what actually happened, if they appear at all, can be confused in the extreme as the reporter is often too giddy with listing the names of the great and the good who are present, and how fashionable the gathering is, to give us the hard facts of yacht race results.

Meanwhile, Dermot was also able to put me right on the notice advertising the forthcoming Water Club Race of 1787 as entitling the winner to an Anchor. Far from being a complex right to decide where the fleet should anchor, the word is that an Anchor is a substantial measure of brandy. I should have known that.

Some histories can evoke happy memories combined with entertaining and friendly debates among friends. Such is the story of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. And with the prospect of the RCYC 300th Anniversary in 2020 coming steadily down the line, the good news is that there was across-the-board political representation at a very high level at the Crosshaven events on Sunday July 10th. So much so, indeed, that it’s reasonable to expect that whatever government is in power in 2020, there’ll be proper official support for the celebration of this unique Tricentenary for an ever-young club which could only have been founded in Ireland, and only in Cork at that.

cork week 2016 At last! The summer comes in from the sea at Volvo Cork Week 2016. Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in W M Nixon

After today's Volvo Cork Week Harbour Race, the 100–boat fleet is poised to crown its Cork Week and IRC European champions tomorrow.

One hundreds yachts, of all shapes and sizes, graced Cork Harbour on the fourth day of Cork Week. The weather lived up to the spectacular location with bright sunshine bathing the course for most of the day. Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator romped around the course in under two hours to take line honours but after time correction Eric De Turckiem's Teasing Machine was the winner of IRC Zero. Towards the end of the race, fresh breeze favoured the smaller yachts, and the overall results after IRC correction favoured the pocket rockets.

Teasing Machine Eric De Turckiem's Teasing Machine was the winner of IRC Zero Photo: Bob Bateman

Richard Matthews' H39 Oystercatcher XXXIRichard Matthews' H39 Oystercatcher XXXI. Photo: Bob Bateman

Charlie Frieze Scottish team, racing Mills 36 Prime Suspect, was the overall winner, their rivals in IRC One, Richard Matthews' H39 Oystercatcher XXXI was second overall and John Swan's Half Tonner Harmony from the Howth YC was third.

“We got a good start which was crucial in such a big fleet, clear air on the short beat and room at the top mark was the early goal.” commented Charlie Frieze. “Once we were inside the harbour we were able to run a symmetrical spinnaker in the light air, whilst others had to sail greater distances to keep their asymmetric spinnakers filled. In the later part of the race the breeze built, which helped us punch through the negative tide.”

Prime Suspect will be awarded the coveted Hugh Coveney Trophy on Friday at the Final Prize Giving. Richard Matthews' Oystercatcher XXXI was second overall and John Swan's Harmony was third.

 DSC3520In IRC Three, John Swan's Half Tonner Harmony was the winner. Photo: Bob Bateman

Robert McConnell's A35 Fools Gold took line honours in IRC Two, one minute ahead of Richard Goodbody's J/109 White Mischief after time correction. Pat Kelly's J/109 Rush was third by just ten seconds.

In IRC Three, John Swan's Half Tonner Harmony was the winner. The team from Howth are now firm favourites to win IRC Three having won six out of eight races. For the Harbour Race, Paul & Deirdre Tingle's Alpaca was second and Patrick Farcy's Cavok was third.

 DSC3670In IRC Coastal One, Sheila & James Tyrrell's Aquelina from Arklow was second by just seven seconds Photo: Bob Bateman 

In IRC Four, Paul Gibbons' Royal Cork team, racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge posted their sixth win of the regatta by a comfortable margin from the Under 25 Howth team, racing J/24 Ireland's Eye Kilcullen. Andrew & Cheissie Laming's team from the St. Mawes Sailing Club in Cornwall was third.

 DSC3420George Sisk's Farr 42 Wow was third in the Harbour race Photo: Bob Bateman 

The winner of The Harbour Race for Coastal Fleet One was Nick Ogden's Ulula. Sheila & James Tyrrell's Aquelina was second by just seven seconds. George Sisk's Farr 42 Wow was third for the Harbour race but retains the class lead. Martin Breen's Dehler 37 Port of Galway is dominating the Coastal Fleet 2 Class, scoring their third win today.

The inaugural ISA Try Sailing Invitational is part of Volvo Cork Week. The initiative aims at introducing as many people as possible to the joys of sailing. Racing in 1720 sports boats, the teams enjoyed the atmosphere and adrenalin rush of The Harbour Race.

“To think that a few months ago, none of these people had ever sailed a boat before, they have come a long way.” commented Voxpro's Donal Hegarty, winner of the Harbour Race. “Sailing is a great way to get people together and our company is also using the initaitive to raise money for charity. The new sailors showed how far they had come today, the chat was about tide and shifts and for them to come and race at one of the world's best know regattas, had them star gazing.”

Racing at Volvo Cork Week, incorporating the IRC European Championship, concludes tomorrow with up to three races scheduled. Tomorrow night the first IRC European Champion will be crowned.

Cork Week Harbour Race Photo Gallery

Cork Week reporter Louay Habib

Published in Cork Week
Tagged under

Volvo Cork Week's Harbour Race highlight for the combined 100–boat fleet took place today.

Bob Bateman captured the action for in the gallery below:

There were separate IRC and ECHO handicap divisions

Published in Cork Week

Royal Cork Yacht Club entries lead class zero and four after seven races sailed at Cork Week 2016 but other IRC fleets are being led by yachts from other sailing centres drawn from across the Irish Sea at Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Swansea.

Seven of the ten races scheduled for the inaugural IRC European Championship have now been completed. Yachts equally matched by the IRC Handicap system, competitors have enjoyed a variety of courses, testing the all round ability of crew and their yachts. On Day Three, all of the IRC Classes were racing in the Atlantic Approaches on either the Windward Leeward or Slalom Course. The key to a top performance today was reacting to the squalls and shifts.

 DSC3063Eric De Turckiem's A13 Teasing Machine from La Rochelle is competing in Class 0. Photo: Bob Bateman


Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary, racing Ker 40 Antix, leads the class by virtue of two wins today but it was far from easy. Race 5 was won by 14 seconds and Race 7 by 30 seconds on IRC corrected time. Eric De Turckiem's Teasing Machine, more akin to offshore sailing, struggled on the windward leeward course dropping to third. Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator is now second in class.

“It's a small but very selective field” commented Anthony O'Leary, “Our competition races in some of the world's top races and has been very successful. So to be leading today is very satisfying. Tomorrow's Harbour Race is not part of the IRC European Championship but there are very prestigious trophies up for grabs and we will be racing just as hard to win. Friday we will find out who has won the class, and it would be a very special win if we can achieve it.”

 DSC2797 Conor Phelan's Jump Juice from Royal Cork is third overall after seven races in IRC one. Photo: Bob Bateman


Tony Ackland's Swansea YC team, racing Dubois 37 Dark Angel, leads a highly competitive class having won three out of seven races. Jay Colville's East Down YC team, racing First 40 Forty Licks, is second by just half a point from Charlie Frize's Scottish team, racing Mills 36 Prime Suspect. Seconds count in this highly competitive class, epitomised by a dead heat for second between Prime Suspect and Forty Licks in Race 5. Royal Cork's Conor Phelan, racing Ker 37 Jump Juice, is just half a point off the podium.

“It's going well and that is down to great team work and some excellent local knowledge from Robert O'Leary. We are out racing most of the time in Swansea but this is the one big regatta of the year for us. I have been coming here for years, I think I have only missed two regattas but we have only won a single race before. Tomorrow's Harbour Race doesn't count for the IRC Europeans but we will be staying in the zone, having said that, it is one of the crew's birthday, so we will have a couple of drinks tonight, as we often do. We will keep concentrating on winning our class. Winning the IRC European Trophy would be unbelievable but we can't influence the racing in other classes.”

 DSC3134Michael Boyd's JPK 10.80 Audrey  Photo: Bob Bateman


RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, racing JPK 10.80 Audrey, scored two victories today and Royal Irish's Timothy & Richard Goodbody, racing J/109 White Mischief, also won a race to put pressure on the class leaders. Robert McConnell's A35 Fools Gold also made up ground on the leaders. However, Royal Irish's Paul O'Higgins, racing JPK 1080 Rockabill VI, is still the class leader.

X43 Alcapa Paul and Deirdre Tingle's X-34 Alpaca from the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Tim Wright


John Swan's Howth YC team, racing Half Tonner Harmony, had a great start, winning two of today's races and placing second in the last. Harmony has a net points score of just seven for the IRC European Championship, scoring five bullets. Paul & Deirdre Tingle's X-34 Alpaca is second in class, just a point ahead of Patrick Farcy's French team racing, JPK 9.60 Cavok, which finished the day in style, winning the last race.

 DSC3309The Howth YC Under 25 team racing J/24 Ireland's Eye Kilcullen Photo: Bob Bateman


Paul Gibbons' Royal Cork team, racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, scored two bullets and a second today, to lead the class by a single point from the Howth YC Under 25 team racing J/24 Ireland's Eye Kilcullen. Both teams are very much in the frame for the overall win in the IRC European Championship. Former Royal Cork Admiral Peter Deasy, racing Sunfast 32 Bad Company, with Mark Ivors and Frank Desmond, had a better day at the races, scoring three podium finishes to end the day in third.


Irish Sea yachts Wow (George Sisk) from Dun Laoghaire and Aquelina (James Tyrrell) from Arklow Sailing Club lead a six–boat fleet after three races sailed. In coastal two, Martin Breen's Port of Galway, and Derek Dillon's No Big Deal from Foynes, both Dehler types, lead the six–boat class.

Racing at Volvo Cork Week continues tomorrow with all competitors racing in one of the world's largest natural harbours. Cork Harbour has over 200 miles of coast line with spectacular vistas, including the iconic town of Cobh, which will be a excellent vantage point for race fans.

Day Three photo slideshow below by Bob Bateman

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A mix of English, Welsh, Dun Laoghaire, Howth and Cork yachts lead IRC divisions one to four after today's coastal fixture on the second day of racing at Cork Week. Although leaders have established a points cushion in IRC divisons one, two and three, there is still all to play across the near 100–boat fleet as the biennial regatta enters its half way stage tomorrow morning.

In IRC Zero, the TP52 Gladiator leads a three boat turnout by one point from Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix. In IRC One, the Swansea based Dubois 327 Dark Angel of Tony Ackland continues to lead from East Down's Forty Licks, a First 40 skippered by Jay Colville. Third but on equal points with the Northern Ireland entry is Royal Cork's Jump Juice (Conor Phelan).

There is no change either at the top of the 12-boat IRC 2 division where Royal Irish yacht Rockabill (Paul O'Higgins) now has a ten point lead over Rob McConnell's A35 Fools Gold from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club on 16 points. Third is O'Higgins's club mates Timothy & Richard Goodbody in the J109 White Mischief also on 16 points after four races sailed.

In IRC three, Royal Cork's Paul Tingle was smiling like a Cheshire Cat after today's Coastal Race, as was his wife Deirdre at the helm of X-34 Alpaca. After a race lasting six hours, Alpaca was the top boat in IRC 3 by under three minutes from John Swan's Half Tonner Harmony from Howth Yacht Club.

X43 Alcapa Home club challenge – Paul and Deirdre Tingle's X-34 Alpaca from the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Tim Wright

“It was fantastic absolutely brilliant, ten knots of breeze hugging the shore line after the start, rock hopping all the way against the flooding tide to Big Sovereign and then kite up all the way back but some rain showers came in and sucked away the wind, which was frustrating but not nearly as much as the finish. As we approached Roches Point the wind just died and we must have put in half a dozen tacks up tide to make the finish. The last hundred metres took over five minutes and we thought we might have lost it there. So to come in and find out we won is just amazing, we will be having a glass in the Royal Cork tonight.”

“The young Dublin lads racing Ireland's Eye Kilcullen are a handful, they never give it up"

In IRC four, Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons, racing the quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, scored an impressive victory in the Coastal Race winning by nearly an hour.

Anchor Challenge, with Cork Olympian Mark Mansfield onboard, now leads IRC Four, which is proving to be extremely competitive as Paul Gibbons explains: “The young Dublin lads racing Ireland's Eye Kilcullen are a handful, they never give it up. Bad Company is always well sailed and the Sigma 33 SeaHawk will be a handful especially when the breeze picks up, so we are taking nothing for granted but we also have one eye on the IRC European Trophy. I believe that after a few more races, it will boil down to four or five boats that can win it and we want to be one of them. Today in the Coastal Race we knew we had to get a good start, if the bigger boats got in front, we would have found it hard to pass them. Beating up the shore was all about staying high and by doing that e avoided tacking, which slowed some of the other boats down. A big win today but we know we have to keep it up, if we are going to win our class and then who knows after that.”

Racing at Volvo Cork Week continues tomorrow with the Beaufort Cup teams joining the faster IRC boats on the Olympic Course southeast of Roches Point. IRC 3&4 and the Sportsboats will tackle the Slalom Course south of Roches Point, whilst all other classes will race in Cork Harbour.

A black tie Gala Dinner for the Beaufort Cup is being held tonight at the Naval Base. 

See full results here

Cork Week reporter: Louay Habib

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The Irish Defence Forces Team, racing the Irish national champion J19 yacht Joker 2, and skippered by Cmdt Barry Byrne, has won the inaugural Beaufort Cup Fastnet Race held as part of Volvo Cork Week.

The 140–mile overnight race was a race from Cork Harbour around the famous West cork rock and back to Cork Harbour.

Racing continues for the Beaufort Cup with three days of inshore racing. The offshore win has put the team in the driving seat to win the prestigious new trophy, and €10,000 for their nominated charity.

“We are over the moon.” smiled Barry Byrne. “Late last night in light airs, most of the fleet compressed together and we gybed out for more wind offshore and got it. From then on we kept our position between the Fastnet and the boats behind to consolidate on that gain and those tactics got us through. But it was a tough fight all the way to the Rock and a tough slog all the way back. We are looking forward to the inaugural Beaufort Cup Gala Dinner tonight, to meet our colleagues from overseas to discuss the challenges to come.”
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney, was racing on board “Another Adventure,” with the Irish Defence Forces Team in the Beaufort Cup Fastnet Race. Minister Coveney is one of the biggest supporters of the new international services sailing competition, now part of Volvo Cork Week.
“The Fastnet Lighthouse is famous internationally as an iconic symbol of sailing and we felt that it was important to have a race around it to encourage foreigners, in particular, to come and race. This year we are testing the water, so to speak, and it was super.” commented Simon Coveney. “We have 12 teams and six of them went around the Fastnet within five minutes, which is fantastic racing. We have two teams from Britain and another from Northern Ireland and Irish teams from the Defence Forces, Marine Institute,Fisheries Board, the RNLI and the Coastguard. We have promises from lots of other countries who want to come in two years time. What we would like to build over the next few years is the world's largest services event, with top quality racing for services teams from all over the world. The structure will be an offshore race followed by inshore racing and you won't find a better harbour to race than Cork and the coastline is just spectacular. We want people to come and experience the hospitality and competitive racing of Volvo Cork Week. We hope that in the future to cast the net much wider and receive teams from Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal and build on what we have started this year.”

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The first Beaufort Cup race around the Fastnet rock for 13–competing boats has until 3pm this afternoon to complete the handicap course. 

The yachts departed at 10am from Cork Harbour Naval Base yesterday and last night at around 9pm yachts were closing in on the Fastnet in the 150–mile marathon.

The new military and emergency services regatta – with a first prize of €10,000 – is being run as part of Cork Week and has been enthusiastically embraced by Housing Minister and former Defence Minister Simon Coveney, who promoted the concept of the Beaufort Cup last year.

Coveney joined his brother Patrick on the Greystyones Sailing Club based A35 Another Adventure to enter with a Defence Forces crew.

Simon Coveney_YachtHousing Minister Simon Coveney gives a media interview on his way to the start of yesterday's first race of the Beaufort Cup. Screenshot: TV3

The Irish Defence Forces D team on Merdian and the PSNI on Freya were leading the race as the yachts closed on the lighthouse off Cape Clear, 12 hours after starting off Haulbowline.

Once back in Cork Harbour today, the 13 boats will have a rest day before resuming competition in Class 2 with the rest of the  Cork Week 2016 entries.

Published in Cork Week

Volvo Cork Week at Royal Cork Yacht Club has Irish boats in the frame of three of its most competitive classes after racing opened for all classes today. In 12–boat IRC class two Dubliner Paul O'Higgin's in his new this season JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has won all three races but, it was far from easy for the Royal Irish YC team, as Paul explains: “I would say we were lucky today, we won the second race by one second and the last race by four seconds. The reaching angles of the slalom course also suits us better than other designs but later in the week the windward leewards may favour others, especially if we have light winds.” IRC Two is extremely competitive, Ian Nagle's Royal Cork team racing J/109 Jellybaby is second, just a point ahead of Robert McConnell's A35 Fools Gold from Waterford Harbour SC. Royal Irish skipper, Richard Goodbody racing J//109 White Mischief finished the day with a second to secure fourth in class.

In IRC one, another 12-boat class Swansea Yacht Club's Tony Ackland in the Dubois 37 Dark Angel leads from Royal Cork's own Ker 37 Jump Juice skippered by Conor Phelan. East Down yacht Forty Licks, (First 40) skippered by A Colville lies third.

In an 11–boat IRC division four, Cillian Dickson's Ireland's Eye, a J24 from Howth Yacht Club, leads Paul Gibbons Farr Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge from the home club. 

Cork Week got off to a supersonic start with a fly-by of four PC9 aircraft passing over the start line of the Beaufort Cup fleet, heading for the Fastnet Rock for their offshore race. 12 teams have entered the inaugural international services competition supported by the Irish Defence Forces, with a top prize of 10000 euros to a nominated charity.

For the remainder of the Cork Week fleet, there was racing on the first day in Cork Harbour and the Atlantic Approaches. A solid 12 knots of breeze from the North decrease during the day but a significant sea state remained for competitors on the Slalom Course and Windward Leeward course south of Roches Point.

AntixHome boat Antix skippered by Anthony O'Leary races in class zero. Photo: Tim Wright

In a three boat IRC Zero, three races produced three different winners. Tony Langley's TP52 Gladiator, with son Bernard taking over the helm, took the first race. However, as the wind subsided for the second, Anthony O'Leary's Royal Cork team, racing Ker 40 Antix, took the win. Eric De Turckiem's French A13 Teasing Machine ended the day with a bullet in the last race, to lead the class by a single point from Antix. Gladiator is just two points off the lead in third.

Olympian Peter O'Leary was calling tactics on Antix. “Gladiator is so fast, we will struggle to be any where near her in tomorrow's coastal race and Teasing Machine is a reaching machine. All three boats are very different but so are all the different courses for Volvo Cork Week. It is going to be an interesting week.”

The story of the day has to be Mike Henning's Alice. Prior to Volvo Cork Week, Mike's team sailed Mumm 36 Alice over 300 miles to Crosshaven from the Hamble UK but horror of horrors, the boat was badly damaged below the chain plates shortly after arrival. A replacement charter was rapidly sort and Grand Soleil 43 Quokka started the trip from the UK, only to be turned back by foul weather off Lands End. Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary came to the rescue, launching a 1720 for the British team to charter and race in the mixed sportsboat fleet. There were three races today for the fleet and Alice won all three.

“None of the crew have ever sailed a 1720 before and after our bad luck we did not have high expectations today!” smiled Mike Henning. “The Royal Cork have been truly amazing, helping us in every way they could, down to lending us buoyancy aids. I have to admit we did get a few astonished looks from the rest of the fleet, when we won all the races today. I would have thought we have now put a big target on our back and we will be in for some great competition.”

Johnny Swan Half Tonner Harmony HYCJohnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony from Howth Yacht Club has a perfect score of three race wins so far Photo:

In IRC Three, Howth YC's John Swan, racing Half Tonner Harmony, scored a perfect three bullets today. Patrick Farcy's JPK 9.60 Cavok, from Yacht Club de la Rade de Brest, is in second place with Royal Cork's Paul & Deirdre Tingle, racing X-34 Alpaca, just a point behind in third.

Racing continues at Volvo Cork Week tomorrow, the IRC Classes will be taking on the long coastal course with the potential for an eight hour race along the rugged coastline of West Cork.

Full Cork Week results here

Volvo Cork Week reporting: Louay Habib

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