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Leading from start to finish, the Kelly family J109 from Rush Sailing Club in north county Dublin sealed the IRC One victory in the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay this afternoon with a 4.5 points cushion.

Storm counted two race wins in her seven-race tally to outwit June Sovereign's Cup winner and the much-fancied J/99 Snapshot of Mike and Ritchie Evans from Howth, who were in the runner up position for much of the competition in the championship's biggest division of 24-boats.

In a stand out final day performance, however, Tim and Richard Goodbody's J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish Yacht Club overhauled the Evans brothers.  The father and duo climbed back up the leaderboard from sixth overall with a 2 and a 1 scored in the final two races today to claim second overall.

Results are here

Second in IRC 1 - Tim and Richard Goodbody's White MischiefSecond in IRC 1 - Tim and Richard Goodbody's White Mischief

Third in IRC One - J/99 Snapshot (Mike and Ritchie Evans)Third in IRC 1- J/99 Snapshot (Mike and Ritchie Evans)

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In the end, it became a Half Tonner domination of Class Two of the ICRA Championships on Dublin Bay this weekend, where light to medium conditions played right into the hands of the optimised vintage yachts.

All three podium places went to the Howth class with, as predicted, Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII taking the title on nine points with a four-point margin over Jonny Swan in King One. 

Biggs' winning crew were Dave Cullen, Daragh Sheridan, Suzie Murphy, Andy Sargent, Mark Kenny and Niki Potterton.

Third was HYC clubmate Darren Wright in Mata. 

The north Dublin club took ten of the top 12 places in the 15-boat fleet, with 2019's overall ICRA winner, the X-332 Dux (Anthony Gore Grimes), finishing fourth.

Results are here

Jonny Swan at the helm of King OneSecond in IRC2 - Jonny Swan at the helm of King One 

Third in IRC3 - Darren Wright's MataThird in IRC2 - Darren Wright's Mata

The X-332 Dux (Anthony Gore Grimes) finished fourthThe X-332 Dux (Anthony Gore Grimes) finished fourth

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With a statement of her intent delivered last month at Calves Week in West Cork, Courtown Sailing Club Quarter Tonner 'Snoopy' is the ICRA Divison 3 National Champion at the first attempt after a superbly sailed series on Dublin Bay. 

Counting seven results in the top three (and six in the top two), Joanne Hall and Martin Mahons' Wexford campaign (with Royal Ulster connections) led the three-race championship since Friday and watched other pre-championship favourites in the 11-boat fade away. 

A port-starboard collision ended the highly fancied Quest's (Johnathan Skerritt) chances on day one of the regatta, and today, Paul Colton's Cri-Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club that was a close second going into the final two races today was pipped by Flor O'Driscoll's J24 Hard on Port from Bray Sailing Club for second overall in a building 10-knot easterly for the Sunday finale.

Flor O'Driscoll's J24 Hard on Port from Bray Sailing ClubSecond in IRC 3 - Flor O'Driscoll's J24 Hard on Port from Bray Sailing Club

Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri-Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht ClubThird in IRC 3 - Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri-Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Overall results are here.

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Two boats suffered 'serious damage' and were unable to compete in the rest of the ICRA 2021 Championships at the National Yacht Club due to a collision at the top of a windward leg in the first race on Saturday morning.

During the race, both Class Zero and One ICRA fleets were competing in different races on the same course and were rounding the windward and spreader marks on the second lap in 14-16 knots of breeze.

As Magic Touch (IRL44444), a Greystones-based First 34.7 competing in Class One, and Samatom (GBR 9244R), a Grand Soleil 44 from Howth, competing in Class Zero, rounded the spreader mark, Samatom's bow 'made contact' with Magic Touch on her port aft quarter as the sequence of pictures below show.

The impact was big enough to spin the smaller boat around almost 180 degrees.

Immediately after the incident, both boats radioed the Race Committee and stated they were retiring from the race with damage. Neither boat competed in any further racing on Saturday or Sunday of the Championships.

Both boats lodged protests over the incident. 

The ICRA protest committee chaired by International Rules Judge Bill O'Hara heard both protests on Saturday night, and it found the following facts: 

  1. MagicTouch rounded the windward mark clear ahead of Samatom, heading towards the Offset mark (6-8 BL from W mark). Two other boats were above and outside MagicTouch.
  2. MagicTouch was slower than Samatom, which was coming from astern at a higher speed.
  3. As MagicTouch entered the zone of the mark, she was clear ahead. Shortly afterwards, Samatom established an overlap from astern.
  4. When MagicTouch bore away to round the mark, Samatom altered course in an attempt to avoid a contact.
  5. Samatom made contact causing serious damage.
  6. The wind was 14/16 knots.

As both boats retired, no penalty could be applied, the jury decided. The full jury decision and conclusion, along with other case details, is here

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Greystones Sailing Club's J122 Kaya is walking away with the IRC Zero Divison of the ICRA National Championships, counting four wins from four races so far.

“The boat is going very well, and we got good positions most of the time,” Kaya tactician Mark Mansfield said.  “With a good crew, the results just came.  And we’re the middle-rated boat in our class.”

The Wicklow crew are Frank Whelan (helm); Paddy Barnwell (nav/helm); Mark Mansfield (tactics), Andy Verso (main); Bill Nolan (trim 1); Cillian Ballesty (trim 2); Gary Hick (pit1); Matt Sherlock (mast); Gavin Laverty (bow 1); Brian Hare (bow 2) and Killian FitzGerald (pit2)

The regatta reaches its conclusion on Sunday, and some well-publicised challenges for the Zero title have not materialised.

Although a pre-race favourite, Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice took a UFD penalty in the first of three races today, putting her into fifth overall on 22 points.

Another challenge from June's Sovereign's Cup-winning Grand Soleil 44 Samatom ended after a weather mark collision in race two saw the brand new marque retire from racing today. 

Another great start for Kaya in the ICRA big boat class but spare a thought for smaller Class Zero competitors such as second-row Yoyo, the Sunfast 3600, some 10 feet smaller than some competitorsAnother great start for Kaya in the ICRA big boat class, but spare a thought for smaller Class Zero competitors such as second-row Yoyo, the Sunfast 3600, some 10 feet smaller than the biggest entry

Instead, Jay Colville’s Forty Licks from the Royal Ulster Yacht Club has been a consistent presence in the 12 boat fleet and is rewarded with second place overall on 10 points. 

Jay Colville’s Forty Licks from the Royal Ulster Yacht Club is second overallJay Colville’s Forty Licks from the Royal Ulster Yacht Club is second overall.

Another Northern Ireland boat, the Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer, lies third on 19 points. 

The Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer from Cockle Island Boat Club lies thirdThe Beneteau 40.7 Game Changer from Cockle Island Boat Club lies third

The forecast for Sunday's final two races is for SSE winds of 12 to 16 mph

Results are here

The Dublin Bay First 40 Prima Forte from the National Yacht Club lies fourth The Dublin Bay First 40 Prima Forte from the National Yacht Club lies fourth.

El Pocko, a Puma 42 from the Royal St George Yacht ClubEl Pocko, a Puma 42 from the Royal St George Yacht Club

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Joanne Hall and Martin Mahons' Quarter Tonner Snoopy from Courtown Sailing Club (with Royal Ulster connections) continue to hold a narrow lead in Class 3 of the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay. 

The overnight leader scored 1, 2, 2 in today's three races that puts her on 7 points overall and two points ahead of Paul Colton’s Quarter Tonner Cri Cri from the Royal Irish YC in second.

A win for Bray Sailing Club’s Flor O’Driscoll in a J/24 puts him in third place in the 11-boat fleet.

Disappointingly, pre-regatta favourite Quest did not sail today following a collision on the opening day that has put her out of the championships. 

The forecast for Sunday's final two races is for SSE winds of 12 to 16 mph

Results are here.

Paul Colton’s Quarter Tonner Cri Cri lies second overall Paul Colton’s Quarter Tonner Cri Cri

 

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With top-five results scored in all five races so far - and three race wins to boot - the Kelly family J109 from Rush Sailing Club continues to lead the ICRA Nationals Division One on Dublin Bay.

Such consistent sailing has allowed the Kelly's, with Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary onboard as tactician, to build a margin of four points in the biggest fleet of the championships. 

Second is Mike and Ritchie Evans J99 Snapshot from Howth Sailing and Boating Club on 11 points. 

J109 designs continue to dominate the 24 boat division, occupying eight of the top ten places overall. 

Royal Cork visitor Jelly Baby (Brian Jones) is third, just five points off the overall lead with two more races left to sail tomorrow, so the championships is still very much up for grabs. 

Royal Cork Yacht Club J109 Jelly Baby (Brian Jones) lies thirdRoyal Cork Yacht Club J109 Jelly Baby (Brian Jones) lies third Photo: Afloat

The forecast for Sunday's finale is for SSE winds of 12 to 16 mph

Results are here

J109 Outrajeous lies fifthHowth J109 Outrajeous lies fifth

The XP33 Bon Exemple lies fourth overall The XP33 Bon Exemple from the Royal Irish is fourth

J109 Artful DodJer from Kinsale Yacht Club lies eighthJ109 Artful DodJer from Kinsale Yacht Club lies eighth

The J109 White Mischief lies sixth The J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish lies sixth

J109 Something Else from the National Yacht Club is tenthJ109 Something Else from the National Yacht Club is tenth

Part of a Class One start in the 24-boat fleetPart of a Class One start in the 24-boat fleet - a strong tide led to several general recalls

Raptor, a Mills 30Raptor, a Mills 30 - gear failure led to a retiral in one race

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At the helm of David Kelly's King One, Jonny Swan has ruined the perfect scoresheet of Nigel Biggs and his Checkmate XVIII team after an intense second day of competition at the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay.

Checkmate continues to lead overall after five races sailed, but King One is now just three points off the top of the leaderboard with the final two races of the Championships left to sail tomorrow (Sunday).

Biggs added another win to his two opening day victories on Friday and looked invincible at lunchtime, but this afternoon, in races four and five, as the breeze went right to 145 degrees and strengthened, the King One crew took advantage and earned their first race win in the last race of the day.

With it all still to play for, a third Howth Half Tonner Mata (Darren Wright) is on 10 points in third place in the 17-boat IRC Two fleet, where HYC entries occupy the top seven places overall. 

Howth Yacht Club's leading Half-Ton Trio

The Checkmate XVIII crew going like a train in the heavier conditions of day two: Nigel Biggs, Daragh Sheridan, Suzie Murphy, Andy Sargent, Mark Kenny and Niki PottertonThe Checkmate XVIII crew going like a train in the heavier conditions of day two: Dave Cullen, Nigel Biggs, Daragh Sheridan, Suzie Murphy, Andy Sargent, Mark Kenny and Niki Potterton

Jonny Swan steering and Ryan Glynn on mainsheet in the Half Tonner King OneJonny Swan steering and Ryan Glynn on mainsheet in the Half Tonner King One

 Darren Wright's Half Tonner Mata whose crew includes Athens Olympic sailor Killian Collins of Royal CorkDarren Wright's Half Tonner Mata, whose crew includes Athens Olympic sailor Killian Collins of Royal Cork

Results are here. Racing concludes on Sunday.

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Let's hear it for coloured sails. On a grey day on a grey bay, every last spinnaker or asymmetric or gennaker or whatever with a splash of colour was more than welcome yesterday morning (Friday) to help bring the grimly monochrome scene to life as a raw easterly – From Russia With Malice as you might well say – livened up the seas off Dun Laoghaire to help the Irish Cruiser Racing Association get its 2021 Championship underway on Dublin Bay.

The hosts at the National Yacht Club, with Paul Barrington as Race Director, had pulled out all the stops, and a goodly fleet of around 80 boats has gathered for battle. In normal times this would be regarded as a distinctly so-so turnout. But these are not normal times. Thus it's a very good entry in a stop-go period of mixed pandemic responses, for there are those who have decided to sit it out completely until a very clear all-clear is sounded. However, other more gung-ho types have been reckoning for some time now that it's all systems go, even if they have to keep themselves reined in when ashore.

And though we've only the first day's racing of a three-day programme to go on, on the basis of home club location we've a useful and varied spread of sailing centres large and small getting their name up in lights, though a quick scan of the Class 2 outcome suggests that the Howth sailors' occasional habit of racing around some unusual natural marks does no harm at all in training for orthodox turning points in Dublin Bay.

With weather marks like this at home, Howth boats find orthodox race marks in Dublin Bay a straightforward proposition. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWith weather marks like this at home, Howth boats find orthodox race marks in Dublin Bay a straightforward proposition. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Either way, 2021 has seen great sport on the water in contrast to a sense of restriction on already limited socialising the minute you step off the boat. This is constraining for everyone, for as we've suggested before, sailors are so weird that their's is the only sport in which the participants administer performance-enhancing drugs after the event.

It means that when leaving the boat, you may be well aware that you've had an indifferent race. But even a couple of socially distant pints ashore is enough to modify the recollections to having been placed in the top half of the fleet.

In theory, there should be no greater difference in mood than that between the pre-racing and the après-sailing, but it has to be said that in offshore racing in particular, the fact that its participants are a minority within a minority sport used to mean that they simply had to celebrate meeting each other before the event, regardless of the detrimental effect it may have on their performance when the big race began next day.

Even the great ocean-racing pioneer Captain John Illingworth was prone to this, and during the RORC Channel Race of 1947 - his first major race with the new and hugely innovative 40ft Myth of Malham – he was pleased to observe that the Myth was out-performing everything once they'd started turning to windward in a Force 5 to 6, "even though my head was regularly in a bucket, as I'd over-indulged at the pre-race dinner the night before".

John Illingworth's innovative Myth of Malham was the super-star boat of 1947, '48 and '49.John Illingworth's innovative Myth of Malham was the super-star boat of 1947, '48 and '49.

You didn't need to go to the English Channel to witness this sort of thing. The great Leslie Kertesz of the National YC, who introduced the ultimate Dehler DBS Lightning to ISORA racing back in the 1970s, had started his competitive life afloat with the austerely dedicated rowing clubs on the Danube in Budapest, and he found the Irish Sea's pre-race approach of those convivial days distinctly odd.

Before there was a marina at Pwllheli, the season concluded with the Abersoch-Rockabill-Howth Race, and the first time Lightning's skipper witnessed the pre-race Bacchanalia in the notably hospitable South Caernarvon Yacht Club in Abersoch the night before what everyone knew was going to be a heavy weather race, he was briefly rendered speechless, and then gasped out:

"My God" said he, "and these people like to think of themselves as athletes…."

Stretching the season – sunset sailing for one of the Howth J/80s on Wednesday. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyStretching the season – sunset sailing for one of the Howth J/80s on Wednesday. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Of course, it's all changed now, nutritionists rule is total, and there are those who modify their diet in all sorts of beneficial ways as the race approaches. For even if you've found a cure for seasickness or aren't prone to it in the first place, anything that improves the chances of being in top condition at sea is very welcome.

Time was when the greatest hazard of all was what amounted to an unofficial competition between owner-skippers as to who could host the best dinner in Cowes the night before the Fastnet Race. This usually had the makings of a perilous experience, so there were those of us who'd find an excuse to skive off to the outskirts of Cowes, where we knew of an unpretentious little café with good home cooking and the chance of a light but nourishing booze-free meal to set us up for the morning's inevitable wind-over-tide slog westward.

The memories of all that came back in full colour this week when our Offshore Sailors of the Month for August – the entire ship's company of the mighty successful Fastnet veteran Desert Star of Irish Offshore Sailing – sent along some more photos of as nearly perfect a sailing experience as anyone is ever likely to have. For if a boat of Desert Star's age and style, and crewed moreover by trainees, had done any better in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021, there'd have been rioting in the streets of Cherbourg by those who have spent squillions in trying to achieve a comparable performance.

The Last Supper…..the crew of Desert Star having a restrained and sensible meal in Cowes the night before the Fastnet Race – skipper Ronan O Siochru on right.The Last Supper…..the crew of Desert Star having a restrained and sensible meal in Cowes the night before the Fastnet Race – skipper Ronan O Siochru on right.

The fact is the Desert Star did everything right from beginning to end. And with skipper Ronan O Siochru's Fastnet experience now covering four good races, the show was properly on the road the night before, when he and his team had somehow arranged a quiet meal together – The Last Supper as they call it – in what must have been one of the few peaceful corners of Cowes, and you don't need to be hawk-eyed to note that every glass is filled with water, but there's not a bottle of wine to be seen.

It's now all filed away under Special Memories. But meanwhile, with continued restriction-lifting promised in the weeks and months ahead, there are several significant late-season fixtures in prospect. And it has to be said that when the ICRA Nats were announced as the first weekend of September, it brought a soothing vision of balmy Indian Summer weather, and sailing on a sea which will continue to get warmer until mid-September.

Twilight sailing as we dream of it – the Gore-Grimes family's successful Dux arriving at the weather mark on Wednesday evening. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyTwilight sailing as we dream of it – the Gore-Grimes family's successful Dux arriving at the weather mark on Wednesday evening. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

But whatever we're experiencing today, nobody would talk of Indian Summer weather, so they'll be relying on the heat of competition to keep the temperature at tolerable levels for late-season fixtures and Autumn Leagues.

Another item which comes up the agenda at a time like this is Twilight Sailing, an evocative name whose promise is seldom fulfilled unless you're based in a place where daytime temperatures are such that Hoagy Carmichael's "cool, cool, cool of the evening" is the local anthem. We should be so lucky. This persistent easterly which has plagued us in recent days with its thin but seemingly impenetrable skein of cloud cover gets plain cold at night.

 Mind the gap…..Paddy Kyne's Maximus negotiating the turn at Gannet City off Howth. When the tide is ebbing southward, there's a helpful north-going eddy to the south of The Stack, close in under the cliffs if you can manage to carry the wind. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyMind the gap…..Paddy Kyne's Maximus negotiating the turn at Gannet City off Howth. When the tide is ebbing southward, there's a helpful north-going eddy to the south of The Stack, close in under the cliffs if you can manage to carry the wind. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Now and again it breaks enough for a final glimpse of the sun just before it sets, and in the evening races at Howth this week, Anraoi Blaney was on hand to capture some brief golden moments and also to wonder anew at the fact that, effectively within city limits, boats are racing close under rugged stack rocks which are home to one of the most vibrant gannet colonies in the world.

Those gannets are what they'd called "runners" in Howth. The first breeding pair settled on The Stack off the northeast corner of Ireland's Eye as recently as 1989. Now they're everywhere. That first pair have a lot to answer for.

Golden sunset, Silver Shamrock. Conor Fogerty's 1976 Half Ton World Champion is bathed by the elusive orb on Wednesday evening. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyGolden sunset, Silver Shamrock. Conor Fogerty's 1976 Half Ton World Champion is bathed by the elusive orb on Wednesday evening. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

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It is a perfect scoreline of two firsts for Nigel Biggs and his Checkmate XVIII crew in IRC2 after the first day of the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay. 

The three competing Half Tonners made hay in the light and tricky conditions that prevailed for the two races and now occupy the top three places in the 17-boat fleet. 

David Kelly's King One from Howth Yacht Club is lying second on a 3,2 with clubmate Mata (Darren Wright) counting a 2,3.

Completing a clean sweep for Howth Yacht Club of the top five, J97s take the next three places overall with HYC's Lambay Rules in fourth and Jeneral Lee fifth.  Royal St. George's J97 Windjammer (Lindsay Casey) is in sixth place.  

King One chasing Mata downwind in the first race of the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatKing One chasing Mata downwind in the first race of the ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Results are here. Racing continues over the weekend.

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