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Organisers expect a 40-boat fleet for the 14th edition of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in ten day's time. 

The 320-mile offshore race will be a season highlight for the Irish fleet and is organised by the National Yacht Club.

An 11 boat ISORA fleet took the last chance for a D2D warm-up yesterday but conditions were light and flukey over the 50-mile coastal race course from Dublin Bay. 

The Archambault 31 A Plus from the host club is contesting the 2021 D2D RaceThe Archambault 31 'A Plus' from the host club is contesting the 2021 D2D Race Photo: Afloat

Sailing Instructions for the Wednesday, June 9th D2D start at 1355 hours off Dun Laoghaire has been published (downloadable below as a PDF document) and show the course shall be from the starting line in Scotsman’s Bay, East of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, leaving the marks listed hereunder to starboard:

  • (i) Muglins
  • (ii) Wicklow Head
  • (iii) Tuskar Rock
  • (iv) Barrels Light Buoy
  • (v) Bore Rocks Buoy
  • (vi) Coningbeg Light Buoy
  • (vii) Red Bank Buoy
  • (viii) Old Head of Kinsale
  • (ix) Fastnet Rock
  • (x) Mizen Head
  • (xi) Calf Rock
  • (xii) Gull Rock (off Bull Rock) and
  • (xiii) Washerwoman Rock (off Great Skellig)
  • (xiv) Great Skellig and thence to the finishing line off the entrance to Dingle Harbour.

D2D competitors are required to leave the Muglins Rocks to starboard when exiting Dublin Bay on June 9thD2D competitors are required to leave the Muglins Rocks to starboard when exiting Dublin Bay on June 9th

Other race documents are now available from the D2D site here

Afloat will carry a full D2D race preview next Saturday (June 5)  by WM Nixon

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
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Royal Cork Yacht Club's Alpaca, Paul and Deirdre Tingle's X-34 yacht is the latest entry into June's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle Offshore Race.

The Cork Harbour entry brings to 42 the number of boats now entered for the 320-mile National Yacht Club fixture, edging the club closer to its 50-boat advertised limit.

The biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, which starts from Dun Laoghaire Harbour on June 9th, is a race down to the east coast of Ireland, across the south coast and into Dingle harbour in County Kerry.

The initial lineup includes defending champion Rockabill VI, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 which was also first on her debut on 2017, so the O’Higgins team have set the stakes high in aiming for the “Threepeat” in this classic challenge which always provides competitors with a remarkable variety of sailing.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

It's getting to be like a game of skittles in the planned lineup of high-profile 2021 events which everybody - way back in the dark depths of earlier pandemic lockdowns – thought would surely come to pass in the remote sunlit heights of what was then the distant future of supposedly plague-free 2021.

The skittles that have fallen this week have included the RORC Caribbean 600 scheduled for Monday, February 22nd off English Harbour, Antigua, and the 565-mile Rolex China Sea Race, which wasn't due to start until March 31st from the Royal Hong Kong YC. They're both gone, and gone so completely we've been given the 2022 dates already as consolation prizes. 

Start of the small class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2020. The 2021 Race, scheduled for February 22nd, was cancelled this week.Start of the small class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February 2020. The 2021 Race, scheduled for February 22nd, was cancelled this week.

So which skittles will still be standing as the pandemic moves away with glacial speed, and we begin to feel reassured that the vaccines are having a real effect? At the moment, with one viral surge piling on another like a feast-day down at Aileen's breaker off the Cliffs of Moher even as vax distribution tries to find the best way forward, the resumption of something remotely approaching normal life is anyone's guess.

Thus we might as well look back at our slightly chirpy preview of the possibilities for 2021, which we published here a mere four weeks ago, just as the ludicrous Christmas socialising was starting to weave its hyper-infectious wicked web. While very reasonably suggesting that the best plan was to keep planning - as followed and demonstrated in various extreme situations by General Dwight D Eisenhower - we did have enough savvy to suggest that though some events were already posted as preceding it, the National YC's 280-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 9th had the whiff of reality about it as an internationally-recognised classic that provided the ingredients for getting an inevitably still-limited season properly underway.

Ian Hickey's 38ft Cavatina from Cork – twice winner of the Round Ireland race – is on the entry list for the D2D in JuneIan Hickey's 38ft Cavatina from Cork – twice winner of the Round Ireland race – is on the entry list for the D2D in June

It seems a lot of other people thought the same way, for no sooner was the entry list opened recently than they were into double figures with boats of serious provenance – the largest of them Conor Doyle's xP50 Freya from Kinsale – and as of yesterday (Friday) the listing had gone up to 32, making it look as though Organising Committee Chairman Adam Winkelmann and his team will indeed have to invoke their fifty boat limit.

It's all good news, and we'll look at these early entries in more detail in a moment. But though there is this glimmer of light in the distance on June 9th (with Howth's Lambay Race a nice little possible programme starter on Saturday, June 5th), we're looking at things that might just happen nearly five months away, which seems like forever. But fortunately, any internationally-minded sailing fan will find happenings of interest in the meantime.

As it is, through the winter some events have taken place, though in very shrunken-numbers versions. However, enough boats took part in the ARC 2020 to St Lucia before Christmas to note that the most interesting class winner was the 59ft classic 1936 German yawl Peter von Seestermuhe (formerly Peter von Danzig). She was designed by Henry Gruber, who served his time in the Sparkman & Stephens office in New York in the early 1930s, and then returned for a successful if brief individual design career in his native Germany, a career which was going fine until World War II got in the way.

The classic 1936 Henry Gruber-designed yawl Peter von Seestermuhe crosses the line in St Lucia in December to win her class in the ARC 2020. The classic 1936 Henry Gruber-designed yawl Peter von Seestermuhe crosses the line in St Lucia in December to win her class in the ARC 2020.

Gruber's extremely elegant yacht design oeuvre culminated in the handsome 88ft Nordwind (she's still going strong) for the Kriegsmarine – the German Navy - in 1939, when she took line honours in the Fastnet Race. In doing so, she toppled the 70ft Hallowe'en's course record which had stood since 1926. And yes, that's the classic Fife-designed-and-built Hallowe'en now owned by an Irish syndicate. At the prizegiving in Plymouth in 1939, Nordwind's German navy crew took everyone's breath away by turning up in their very smart Hugo Boss-designed dress uniforms, adding to the effect with a cascade of Heil Hitler salutes all round as they collected their trophies.

We can only hope that when the likewise under-the-radar RORC Transatlantic Race - currently underway from Lanzarote in the Canaries to Grenada in the Caribbean after being postponed from December – gets to the finish, and then on ashore to the mono-hull line honours winning crew collecting their trophies, that we'll see completely informal air-punching salutes. For it's possible that the first mono-hull across will be that gallant old warhorse, the Irish-Chinese Volvo 70 Green Dragon, a veteran of the 2008-2009 Volvo Round the World Race.

The old dog for the long road – the 2008 Irish Volvo World race entry Green Dragon – seen here at 30 knots – is currently vying for line honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race from the Canaries to Grenada.The old dog for the long road – the 2008 Irish Volvo World race entry Green Dragon – seen here at 30 knots – is currently vying for line honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race from the Canaries to Grenada.

Having graced the seafront at Salthill post-world-race for a while, the somewhat overweight Dragon was eventually sold to Austrian Johannes Schwarz in 2015 "for rather less than her building cost". As a result, the new owner got a bulletproof boat which has since given many people a lot of good sport afloat and much fun ashore.

So although Green Dragon's lead on the water is being challenged by two of the latest French Class 40s which feature the very fast downwind scow hull shape which was successfully pioneered some time ago by Ian Lipinsky in his Mini-transat Proto Griffon, let's hear it for the old Dragon hanging in there to give everyone the vicarious satisfaction of a line honours win.

Meanwhile, the Vendee Globe leading group has closed up off the east coast of Brazil to open up the possible final results, and while they may be talking in terms of a finish within a dozen days, the reality is that they still haven't even re-crossed the Equator yet, and the North Atlantic between there and the finish in the Bay of Biscay can be one very obtuse bit of wind and water as January morphs into February.

A boat transformed. While other America's Cup teams in New Zealand took a Christmas break, Ineos Britannia's technical staff worked night and day to transform the boat into a real contender for this week's resumption of racing.A boat transformed. While other America's Cup teams in New Zealand took a Christmas break, Ineos Britannia's technical staff worked night and day to transform the boat into a real contender for this week's resumption of racing.

For complementary entertainment, the America's Cup in New Zealand has suddenly leapt to life with Ben Ainslie's Ineos Britannia a boat transformed this week into a seeming potential winner. Her technical team had worked all hours on mods since the pre-Christmas series, when she had been usually found in the crabgrass. This new look has resulted in much excitement afloat, but it's as nothing compared to the kerfuffle in the back offices of the bookmakers of Auckland, where they'd been rating Ineos Britannia as the rank outsider in the betting until Friday of this week.

By the time the America's Cup is drawing to its conclusion in March, the pandemic picture will be much clearer, it's possible other events of a more pop-up nature will have emerged, and hopefully, we may be looking at some controlled sailing in May, with the arrival of June seeing a more positive scene afloat.

Thus a short and sweet Lambay Race on June 5th and a long and lovely Dingle Race on June 9th would be a neat combination, as both involve a real homage to the coasts of Ireland. Their basic course concepts are as simple as you can get, and yet as both are essentially coastal events in one jurisdiction, regulations are easily defined and complied with.

Two is better than one. For the D2D, Andrew Hall of Pwllheli has entered both his J/125 Jack Knife (above)……….Two is better than one. For the D2D, Andrew Hall of Pwllheli has entered both his J/125 Jack Knife (above)……….

…… and the internationally successful Lombard 45 Pata Negra …… and the internationally successful Lombard 45 Pata Negra

That said, the list of entries for Dingle as seen here shows there's already an international element, none more so than through Andrew Hall of Pwllheli, who has done a Matt Allen in having two entries – his own J/125 Jack Knife, and the chartered Lombard 45 Pata Negra which has provided several Irish crews with high-grade international success in recent years.

Even as it stands with 18 places still available, it's a formidable list with most of the main Irish sailing centres well represented, and a truly formidable line-up of hotshot boats gearing themselves up to deny Paul O'Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill (RIYC) the satisfaction of making it three in a row.

The current benchmark performer – Nieulargo finishing at Roche's Point to win the 2020 Fastnet 450. Photo: Robert BatemanThe current benchmark performer – Nieulargo finishing at Roche's Point to win the 2020 Fastnet 450. Photo: Robert Bateman

For although Rockabill showed she'd lost none of her edge through retaining the admittedly restricted ISORA Championship in 2020, she has yet to race the Murphy family of Kinsale with their all-conquering Grand Soleil Nieulargo in her current very competitive form. Nieulargo was a competitor in the previous D2D in 2019, but the Nieulargo of 2020 and today has upped her game and is a very different machine.

Extra interest is added with a two-handed division in which Cian McCarthy's Sunfast 3300 from Kinsale is already entered, and Dingle interest is stepped up not only with added support at the finish port but also with one of the early entries in the form of Kenneth Cunnane's Dingle-based Swan 46 Mynx.

Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale has entered for the two-Handed Division:

Adam Winkelmann is particularly pleased with the very positive attitude towards the race down in Kerry:

"The ongoing support by Volvo and Billy Naughton Cars underlines the value of the partnership of the event over many years," he says. "The Dingle Skellig Hotel also continue as accommodation partner and long-term sponsor, and we are delighted to work with them again in 2021.

Billy Naughton of Volvo agents Billy Naughton Cars presenting the second overall prize to Patanne Power-Smith of the J/122 Aurelia (RStGYC) at the prizegiving in the Dingle Skellig Hotel after 2019's raceBilly Naughton of Volvo agents Billy Naughton Cars presenting the second overall prize to Aileen Kelleher, a crew member of the J/122 Aurelia (RStGYC) at the prizegiving in the Dingle Skellig Hotel after 2019's race

While we are optimistic for the race itself in terms of on the water activity, we will have to wait and see what the Covid-19 situation allows in terms of on-shore activity around the race at the time. As always, it is the participants and public health that will take priority in terms of gatherings or prizegiving.

We also continue with great support from ISORA and DBSC as on-the-water partners. The timing of the 2021 race is designed to accommodate boats participating in Sovereigns Week (23 – 26 June) in Kinsale, and of course with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (2-4 July One -Design and 9 -11 July Cruisers)

The Notice of Race is now available to download at and entries can be made online via the website. Accommodation can be reserved directly with the Dingle Skellig Hotel"

Published in W M Nixon

It’s only a week since the listings opened for the National YC’s 2021 Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race scheduled for June 9th, and already 15 definite entries have arrived in with such speed that the organising committee - under chairman Adam Winkelmann – have said they may have to be prepared to look at an upper limit of 50 boats.

The initial lineup includes defending champion Rockabill VI, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 which was also first on her debut on 2017, so the O’Higgins team have set the stakes high in aiming for the “Threepeat” in this classic 280-mile challenge which always provides competitors with a remarkable variety of sailing.

As this list shows, many of the great and the good in Irish offshore racing have led the way in putting themselves into the mix, including the star boat of 2020's two significant race, the Murphy family’s Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from Cork, victor in both the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale Race, and the Fastnet 450 from Dublin Bay round the Fastnet and back to Cork Harbour.

And even at this early stage, there’s an international element, as Solent-based Royal Irish YC member Niall Dowling – overall winner of the 2018 Round Ireland with the Ker 43 Baraka GP – has entered with the Ker 40+ Arabella.

See race entries here

Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP at the start of her doubly-successful 2018 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. Niall Dowling returns, this time  for the D2D 2021, with the newer Ker 40+ ArabellaNiall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP at the start of her doubly-successful 2018 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. Niall Dowling returns, this time for the D2D 2021, with the newer Ker 40+ Arabella. Photo: O’Brien

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Day #3 - 8am  We concluded last night’s closing roundup of the continuing drama which is the 270-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2019 by noting that for some crews, the race only seemed to become serious once they’d put the Fastnet astern, and the real challenge was getting along that awe-inspiring Atlantic seaboard to the welcoming haven which is Dingle as efficiently and as tirelessly as possible writes W M Nixon

For by this stage, exhaustion is becoming a significant factor, and it’s a case of the tough old dog for the long road. Boats which had been showing well for much of the race just didn’t seem to have the energy in them any more to keep up the relentless pace, whereas boats with experienced crews who knew the focused bit would come in the final seventy miles seemed to keep something in reserve for the last push, while never letting themselves get out of contention as the race progressed.

Rockabill VI 2188The Rockabill VI crew

Thus having been always there or thereabouts throughout the race, Paul O’Higgins’ and his hardened team on board the defending champion Rockabill VI were fourth to cross the finishing line at 03:19 hrs this morning, and this immediately put them into the IRC lead, with second place IRC going Chris & Patann Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia which finished at 03.23, while third slot has been grabbed by John O’Gorman’s Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie, in which visiting rockstar Mark Mansfield has found new sources of formidable speed.

As suggested in our concluding report last night, Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya did indeed get through Andrew Hall’s J125 Freya to take second in line honours, but though they were in at 02:09 and 02:13 repectively, they have slipped to 5h IRC for Jackknife and 11th for Freya, with the upper placings on IRC currently held by the J/109 Ruth (Shanahan family) in fourth, Jakckknife fifth, and another two J/109s, Outrajeous and Mojito, in 6th and 7th.

There are still many boats out racing, but those early placings look increasingly firm.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

A last-minute entry for this evening’s 280-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is a clear case of horses for courses writes W M Nixon.

Andrew Hall’s relatively new J/125 Jackknife from Pwllheli is renowned for her speed on a reach, and when her entry was finally confirmed on Monday, the weather forecasts were all suggesting a real drag race in brisk northerlies the full length of the south coast.

With her experienced crew beefed up by the addition of that noted ISORA stalwart Stephen Tudor, Jackknife has completed a very comprehensive three-boat challenge from the Pwllheli club, as her Welsh-based partners in the dash to Dingle will be the consistently successful J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) and the Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do (Mark Thompson).

While the J/109 is noted as an all-round performer which is good but not exceptional on all points of sailing, the Sunfast range is noted for its reaching abilities, so with Jackknife rating 1.143, Mojito on a very competitive 1.009, and Jac Y Do on 0.995, the Pwllheli club looks to have all options well covered for being there or thereabouts when the final handicap winner is announced.

That might be sooner rather than later, for aboard Mick Cotter’s mighty 94ft Windfall in a windy and rain-swept Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning, their computer model was optimistically showing that they could be finished some time between 2.0 pm and 6.0pm tomorrow.

windfall reaching2Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall – this morning her computers were suggesting she could reach Dingle by tomorrow afternoon
That’s fine and dandy for a big one carrying the blustery breeze all the way to the finish, with a minimum of beating at the end. But if the breeze goes round to the northwest, getting to the Fastnet Rock in a record speed will be a snare and a delusion for the smaller craft. For the 70 miles thereafter, from the Fastnet to Dingle, slugging along to windward on one of the most challenging coasts in Europe, can soon start to seem like the longest 70 miles in the world.

That said, the likelihood of Windfall seeing her line honours becoming the handicap win as well is surely a long shot. But don’t forget that George David’s Rambler 88 did that very thing in some style in the 2016 Round Ireland Race.

Nevertheless with a very solid phalanx of boats between the 40ft and 50ft mark including Jackknife, Chris & Patanne Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia (with ISORA boss Peter Ryan onboard), George Sisk’s Xp 44 WOW, and Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya, we have a group who might just manage the race’s win move of also carrying the best breeze the whole way.

freya from ahead3This is a sight very few boats in the Dingle Race will get to see – Conor Doyle’s Freya from ahead. For the dash to Dingle, her crew will include the special talents of Kenneth Rumball and Ryan Seaton. Photo: Robert Bateman

And then there are the flying outsiders such as Conor Fogerty’s utterly new Figaro 3 Raw. She’s so new his experience of making best use of her foils is minimal, but that could all change tonight. It will be intriguing to watch Raw’s progress, as the word from Stage 2 of the ongoing Solitaire URGO Figaro is that two of the boats had to pull out of the Kinsale-Needles Fairway-Roscoff course to head direct for Roscoff with “water ingress” problems around the casings for their foils.

All this talk of cunning club combinations, and biggies of 94ft, and solid phalanxes of 40-to 50ft boats - plus musings of whether or not the new Figaro 3 could still be reasonably described as Work in Progress - shouldn’t blind us to the fact that there are competitive boats at every level in this best-ever 44-strong Dingle fleet, and somewhere amongst them will be the defending champion, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI, quietly getting on with the business of getting to Dingle with the least fuss and in the shortest possible time.

rockabill racing4As your were……Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI on her way to the overall win in the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. Photo: O’Brien

But first, they all have to get cleanly way from Race Director Con Murphy’s start line in a vigorous onshore breeze on an evening of Arctic air with a lumpy sea coming every which way. At the start of the 2017 race in an easier-to-handle offshore wind, the adrenalin was pumping and sheer animal spirits led to some decidedly unorthodox manoeuvring. Having a significant sea running adds to the challenge. But it’s all part of the sport of this very special race, and it starts off Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier at 6.0pm this evening

Entries here 

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Will the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race next Wednesday find itself sailing with mostly fair winds asks W M Nixon. Will the presence of lows to the west of them, and other lows to the southeast, provide a line of favourable higher pressure down the course to give fair nor’easters in the early stages, and nothing too totally contrary thereafter?

It seems just possible, and would be very welcome. For there have been occasions racing to Dingle in conditions so obtuse that some easier ways of getting from Dublin Bay to West Kerry other than via the National Yacht Club’s biennial D2D have come to mind, such as walking backwards the whole way in your bare feet…….

On the other hand, it’s a race in which at some stage the sailing is inevitably sublime, yet even with the unsettled weather that Ireland is currently experiencing, as of this morning there are 43 sound boats signed up for next Wednesday’s 1800hrs start immediately eastwards Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier. And they include a goodly number of boats and sailors who are busy this weekend in dealing with the sometimes wayward weather which is making the 2019 ICRA Nationals hosted by the Royal St George YC such a fascinating challenge.

"this healthy increase by 33% is good going by anyone’s standards"

So whatever the weather, it looks as though enthusiasm is back in vogue. For when we last took a look at the potential D2D fleet in mid-May, confirmed entries stood at just 32 boats. But Race Chairman Adam Winkelmann was quietly confident that his fleet would be approaching the 40 mark as the race got nearer the top of the agenda in this extraordinarily crowded first half of the 2019 season. His instincts were right - this healthy increase by 33% is good going by anyone’s standards.

windfall sailing2The biggest boat in the Dingle race fleet – Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall

That said, the increased fleet size makes predictions even more difficult, for although there were good reasons to hope the weather will have settled down a bit by next Wednesday, the predictions change by the hour and the general instability of the Atlantic airmass could throw all sorts of optimistic expectations haywire.

But we take hope from the fact that, for some of the race, the indications are that the Jetstream will be to the north, whereas in recent days it has been sitting directly overhead, and in a particularly malignant mood too. However, more benign weather will tend to bring lighter winds, and while the fleet’s big one, Mick Cottter’s 94ft Windfall, will likely take line honours, the fact that the rest of the fleet might find the next weather deterioration is preceded by livelier breezes will see any chance of Windfall holding to her lead on handicap as no more than a very long shot.

But Windfall’s speed could be such that she’ll carry the mid-week nor’easters (should they arrive as currently predicted) all of the 280 miles crisply to the finish, leaving smaller craft still at sea dealing with the increasing likelihood of nor’westers on the nose in their latter stages of racing.

However, defending champion Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 1080 Rockabill VI is muted in his enthusiasm for any suggestions there might be benign weather on the way, as he has no doubt that his much-admired boat is at her best in a bit of a breeze.

“We don’t really do benign breezes,” he tells “We’re looking for good firm to brisk winds”. Certainly they had no lack of them in 2017’s race, and with regular shipmates including Mark Pettit, Kieran Tarbett and Ian O’Meara on the strength, Rockabill’s firepower is further beefed by Australian James Gunne, who has become a significant force in Dublin Bay sailing.

Outrajeous J109 1621The J/109 Outrajeous (Johnny Murphy & Richard Colwell, Howth YC) will be doing her first Dingle Race

As ever, Rockabill’s closest battles will be with the J/109s, of which there are six with boats from Holyhead, Pwllheli, Dun Laoghaire, Poolbeg and Howth. One of them, Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli) was runner-up to Rockabill VI last time out, and her form in this year’s ISORA shows she’s still up for it, while another, the Shanahan family’s Ruth (NYC), was overall winner in 2015.

But the more recent additions to the thriving J/109 fleet around Dublin Bay are champing at the bit, and last weekend in Howth’s annual Lambay Race, it was the home club’s Richard Colwell and Johnny Murphy’s Outrajeous which led the pack in Class 1 from Rockabill VI by 1 minute and 49 seconds, though Rockabill VI was back on top in DBSC racing on Thursday night.

The Lambay crew lineup on Outrajeous included Mark Mansfield, but for the D2D, the formidable Cork sailor is moving across to John O’Gorman’s Sun Fast 3600 Hot Cooky (NYC), and he’s keen for some offwind flying that will suit his 2019 mount very well indeed.

Sunfast 3600 Hot cookie 3815John O’Gorman’s Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie (NYC) will have former Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield on the strength for the Dingle Race. Photo O’Brien

Meanwhile Ireland’s former best-known campaigner of Sun Fast 3600s. OSTAR winner and 2017 “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth, has been battling against time in France with a team including Shane Hughes of North Sails to prepare his very new foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 Raw for the Dingle Dash, which he’ll be racing 2-handed with Susan Glenny.

The race is a key element in his buildup to the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 in August, and the word is Raw is on her way from the Bay of Biscay, but current conditions off western France and Land’s End have become decidedly rugged with Storm Miguel - having swept in close past northwest Spain with mayhem at sea including the rescue of five from the Irish boat Loa Zour 80 miles off the Galician coast - now moved into northwest Europe to further stir the meteorological witch’s brew.

raw rainbow5Conor Fogerty’s new Beneteau Figaro 3 Raw fitting sails under a rainbow in unsettled weather in France
storm miguel6A real witch’s brew of weather. Storm Miguel sweeps past northwest Spain. Small and fast moving – but decidedly vicious

Thus Raw will be well tested, but this same adverse weather may make it difficult for the oldest boat in the race, Paul Moxon of the UK’s classic yawl 50ft Amokura (a handsome 1938 Fred Shepherd design) to make the passage from Falmouth today – we keep our fingers crossed for him, he plans to leave Falmouth later this afternoon as conditions start to relent, and has set Tuesday at the NYC as his target.

Having completed the recent RORC Myth of Malham Race, the beautifully-restored Amokura is getting double value from the D2D 2-handed division, as her crew want to do the event in its own right, and it also adds up points to facilitate their Fastnet Race participation in pursuit of the Iolaire Cup presented for classics way back in 1975 (the Fastnet Race Golden Jubilee) by our own national nautical treasure, Don Street of Glandore.

Amokura sailing7The 1939-built Fred Shepherd classic 50ft Amokura (Paul Moxon) will be the oldest boat in the fleet

While Raw and Amokura represent the extremes in age and type in the Dingle Race and the J/109s are far and away the most numerous class type, the rest of the fleet are of so many different marques that it’s something of an active boat show afloat.

All of which is another way of saying that any one of at least a dozen craft is in with a good chance, and one to watch in particular is Chris and Patanne Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia, which won her class and placed third overall in last year’s Round Ireland during a notably consistent season in which she also came within a ace of winning the ISORA Championship.

Aboard for that round Ireland success was Maurice ‘The Prof’ O’Connell, and he’s re-joining the ship for the Dingle Race. Aurelia is an excellent all-rounder which is almost always in the frame, so maybe the 2019 Dingle Race is her long overdue turn in the gold spot. Either way it’s yet another chapter in the Mark Mansfield/Maurice O’Connell contest, last seen as recently as a fortnight ago in the Scottish Series when O’Connell won out on Andrew Craig’s Chimaera against the Ker 32 Hijacker with Mansfield on board.

Mansfield Prof 1183Harnessing competitiveness. For his successful 2016 Round Ireland Campaign, Dave Cullen managed to get Mark Mansfield (left) and Mark the Prof O’Connell to combine forces on the J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), and they became the only Irish class winner. Photo: O’Brien

Yet getting them on the same team can sometimes be achieved, as was seen to such good effect in 2016’s Round Ireland when Dave Cullen chartered the Kelly family’s superstar J/109 Storm, turned her into Euro Car Parks, and inveigled both Mansfield and O’Connell on board to share the tent and get the only class win by an Irish boat in that mighty staging of the big one.

There are three boats from the X Yachts stable in the lineup, Kinsale YC’s Cian McCarthy being the smallest one with the X362 EOS, while considerable distinction comes in the form of Conor Doyle’s Xp50 Freya from Kinsale, and George Sisk’s Xp44 WOW from Dun Laoghaire, with the latter’s crew becoming accustomed to the sad business of racing without their longtime shipmate the late and much-lamented Tom Power, whose contribution to so many aspects of Irish sailing spanned more than forty active years.

WOW sailing9Leppin’ along……George Sisk’s Xp44 WOW

Classic Beneteaus are well represented, with Paddy Cronin of Malahide skippering the First 40.7 Encore with which he and his father Dermot won the two-handed division in the 2015 Rolex Middle Sea Race, while there are two of those grand old war-horses, the First 44.7 in the form of the Martin brothers’ Lively Lady (RIYC) and Barry O’Donovan’s Black Magic which shares her home port between Dunmore East and Howth.

paddy dermot cronin10Father and son success. Paddy (left) and Dermot Cronin of Malahide after winning the Two-handed Division in the 2015 Middle Sea Race in their first 40.7 Encore, which Paddy will be skippering in the Dingle Race

The newer range of J Boats has interesting representation with a couple of J/112Es – James Tyrrell’s Aquelina from Arklow and Frank Doyle’s very new Cara from Crosshaven - while Andrew Algeo’s recently acquired new J/99 Juggerknot 2 will be observed with special interest, for although she’s smaller than his previous J/109 of the same name, Juggerknot 2’s rating of 1.014 puts her towards the top of the rating band shared by the J/109s.

In fact, the 1.000 to 1.020 rating band is going to see its own in-built competition, as it has many hot boats including one of the south coast’s most successful all-rounders, Denis Murphy’s family-campaigned Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from the Royal Cork, and Tom Roche’s Salona 40 Meridian from Kinsale.

nieulargo sailing11The Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo (Denis Murphy) was the Royal Cork YC’s “Keelboat of the Year” in 2018. Photo: Robert Bateman

"The sailing clubs of the southwest and western seaboards are making their pitch"

The sailing clubs of the southwest and western seaboards are making their pitch, with Noel Coleman’s Oyster 37 Blue Oyster racing for Schull, Kenneth Cunnane’s Swan 46 Mynx representing Dingle, Derek & Conor Dillon;s Dehler 34 The Big Deal sailing for Foynes, and Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal from Galway Bay SC racing - like The Big Deal - in the two-handed division.

Also from the west are the two Minis 6.50s, Louis Mulloy’s Blackshell Farm from Mayo SC, and Yannick Lemonnier and Dan Mill’s Port of Galway (GBSC). Small they may be, but they can’t half shift, and their rating of 1.052 reflects this.

justina sailing12A Grand Soleil in different style – Johnny Treanor’s GS 34 Justina (NYC) will be racing to Dingle. Photo: O’Brien
Which makes it interesting to round out this inevitably incomplete review with the lowest-rated boats, whose crews can always envisage a wind pattern developing to make it their day at the end. They include Keith Miller’s Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay at 0.937, Finbarr O’Regan’s Elan 33 Artful Dodger from Kinsale at 0.957, Peter Coad’s 1988-vintage Pocock 38 Blackjack from Dunmore East at 0.917, Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Start, skippered by Ronan O Siochru, on 0.952, Joe Conway’s Sigma 33 Elandra (RIYC) on 0.912, Ruper Barry’s JOD Red Alert from Greystones on 0.933, another Sigma 33, Ian Bowring’s Springer (RStGYC), on 0.912, top of the bunch Mark & Jo Thompson’s Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do at 0.997, and lowest rated of all, David Bolger’s Sadler 34 Lady Rowena (RStGYC) on 0.906.

Most encouraging of all, perhaps, is the range of clubs taking part, as they run from Carlingford (Declan Murphy, Hanse 370e Zuri) all the way round to Mayo SC (Louis Mulloy), with boats from the Welsh coast as well. It’s a cracker of a fleet - Adam Winkelmann’s quiet faith in his support base is fully justified. It’s going to get very interesting towards 1800hrs on Wednesday, June 12th.

Details of entries here

Published in W M Nixon

Two youth sailors from the race finish port of Dingle in County Kerry will be onboard two entries in this month's 320-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race (D2D) as part of a race promotion to encourage more young people to try their hand at offshore sailing. 

One of the boats taking the novice crew is the largest in the expected 45-boat fleet, Michael Cotter's Windfall, a SouthWind 94. Cotter of the Royal St. George Yacht Club will be looking to topple the course record he established with the 78ft Whisper in 2009. 

Read the D2D race update in Afloat's recent blog by WM Nixon here.

The race will have approximately 45 boats racing varying in size between 30 and 100 feet long with crews of between 2 and 20 sailors on board. The first D2D race took place in 1993 and the race has grown to become one of the great mini offshore sailing challenges in the UK and Irish waters. Underlining this growth in status is the fact that the D2D race now forms part of both the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association's 2019 series.

"The race starts from Dun Laoghaire on June 12th"

The Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Yacht Race starts from Dun Laoghaire on June 12th and is scheduled to arrive into Dingle Harbour over the weekend of June 15th and 16th. Volvo Car Ireland is the title sponsor of this offshore race that takes place every two years. They are supported by the Tralee based dealer Billy Naughton Motors who represents Volvo Cars in the region. The race has also had a long association with the Dingle Skellig Hotel where the gala prizegiving will take place on the evening of Saturday, June 15th.

The race will test crews’ skills in terms of fast sailing, accurate navigation and tactics and great teamwork. Crews include both male and female top sailors and there is a separate prize to encourage this growth of women in the race which mirrors the Volvo Ocean Race ethos. “We are delighted to be involved with and support the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in 2019, as we did two years ago. We wish all participating sailors safe sailing and encourage all supporters to visit Dingle and enjoy the great atmosphere surrounding the finish in the town.”

The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is the race organiser and provides the starting and finishing teams for the race management. The yachts can be tracked live online using the YB Tracking system which can be found both through the or through from the start on Wednesday, June 12th.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

You’ll seldom if ever hear anyone who has actually done the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race dismissing it in an offhand way as some sort of Round Ireland Lite writes W M Nixon.

It may only be 280 miles or so in length. But the D2D19 – which starts on Wednesday June 12th – will as ever be punching way above its weight with its complexities of strategy and tactics in early dealings with tides, the sheer varieties of the coastlines you have to race along, and the fact that while the final stage may be along one of the most magnificent seaboards in Europe, you’re now in the open Atlantic where the ocean-generated swell can acquire an extra dimension of confusion through the underlying backwash from the unforgiving cliffs.

By the finish, you’ll almost inevitably have sailed more than 300 miles - often by quite a substantial amount. So when you get the final impressive turning mark of Skellig Michael astern to head on into Dingle Bay and through the welcoming arms of Dingle’s fine natural harbour, you’ll know you’re within a few minutes reach of a convenient fully-facilitated port with its own specially Irish yet cosmopolitan flavour, and a palpable sense of reward for anyone who has sailed all the way from Dublin Bay.

liam shanahan skellig22015 D2D winner Liam Shanahan helming the J/109 Ruth in that magic moment as Skellig Michael is put astern, and the Dingle welcome beckons
Liam ShanahanRuth’s win in the D2D 2015 made Liam Shanahan the “Sailor of Month” for June of that year, and continuing success in several further contests made him “Sailor of the Year” 2015. He is seen here receiving his citation from John Treacy (left) CEO of the Sports Council (now Sport Ireland), and David Lovegrove, President of the ISA (now Irish Sailing)

This sense of achievement is reinforced by the way that Dun Laoghaire and Dingle both contrast and complement each other.

Dun Laoghaire is “Official Dublin comes to the Sea”. But Dingle is the independent spirit of the far southwest, and to some extent the essence of Kerry. Yet not totally so. For Dingle is so completely and utterly its own wonderfully entertaining and hospitable self that it defies categorization. Dingle is Dingle, that’s really all we need to know about it – and you have to experience it personally (and preferably at leisure) before trying to fully understand what being Dingle means.

The way that the race from Dun Laoghaire brings finishers into port with their senses heightened provides exactly the right mood to appreciate the hospitality Dingle has on offer. And the National Yacht Club’s Race Organisers – with Adam Winkelmann (himself a veteran of four D2D and six Round Ireland races) as Chairman, while Con Murphy is Race Director – are particularly keen to develop this vital aspect of the race’s continuing success.

dingle harbour marina4Dingle’s attractive harbour provides one of Europe’s most westerly marinas

They make the point that without the added local support of Dingle Skellig Hotel, Dingle Harbour & Marina, Dingle Crystal, Dick Mack’s Brewhouse, and Murphy’s Ice Cream – plus Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin and the Bretzel Bakery – then the overall package wouldn’t be so attractive for would-be challengers.

But they’re also emphasising the fact that Dingle itself continues to develop as a sailing centre in its own right, and they’re ensuring that young sailors coming up through Dingle Sailing Club’s Junior Programme are going to get a chance to take part in this remarkable race.

Their means of doing so are greatly increased by the astonishing variety of the 2019 fleet. At the moment, with just three-and-a-half weeks to go to the start, there’s a solid entry of 32 boats. But with the compressed nature of 2019’s early season fixtures and the inevitable element of last-minutism, it’s strongly reckoned they could be looking at 40 boats lining up for the start on Wednesday, June 12th immediately east of Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier and highly visible in Scotsman’s Bay.

d2d course5Deceptively simple – there’s much more to the D2D course than meets the eye in a simple overview
Even as it is, the current line-up has to be one of the most comprehensive ever seen in any Irish offshore race, as it ranges from two Mini-Transat 6.50 mighty atoms – both from Connacht – right up to the stylish splendour of Dun Laoghaire owner-skipper Mick Cotter’s 94ft sloop Windfall.

Normally, Windfall is working assiduously for her living on the charter yacht circuit. But the D2D has enough unfinished personal business about it for Mick Cotter to give his Superyacht a break, and take her racing himself along the wayward coasts of his home island.

Back in 2009, he raced his previous biggie, the 78ft Whisper, in the D2D. But though their time still stands as the course record, it was 43 tantalising minutes outside the coveted 24 hours. You might think it no big deal to race a 285-mile course in a 78-footer within the 24 hours, but the Whisper experience shows just how cussed this course can be. Because you can be assured that Whisper was no woofer – later that season, she placed 5th overall and first of the Superyachts in the big-fleet 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race, a placing so good that many commentators latched onto it as one of that Fastnet’s most notable achievements.

2009 whisper6The 78ft Whisper shortly after the start of the 2009 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. She was to set a Course Record which still stands, and then went on to win her class and be top placed Irish boat (at 5th overall) in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2009. Photo: O’Brien
Having a 94-footer moves the course record challenge onto a new plane, and this is serious stuff when the crew are dealing with sails of Windfall’s size, as this vid of her racing in the Loro Piana Regatta reveals.

Windfall’s crew will include a top young sailor from Dingle Sailing Club whose roles will include maintaining contact through various media channels to give people ashore - and particularly in Dingle - a flow of information on how the race is progressing, a mission which will be reinforced by having fellow Dingle sailors placed in various boats throughout the fleet, while will be playing a key role in constant updates.

The fleet includes several previous winners, with the defending champion Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI (RIYC) - victor of a notably tough race in 2017 - lining up again, while the 2015 winner, the J/109 Ruth of the Shanahan family from the National YC, is also back in the hunt, this time with a third generation entry.

rockabill vi d2d7Paul O’Higgins’ winning JPK 1080 Rockabill VI in Dublin Bay shortly after the start of the 2017 Volvo D2D. Photo: O’Brien
rockabill vi fastnet8A brief moment of relaxation for Rockabill VI’s crew as they approach the Fastnet Rock with their lead firmed up after a punishing beat along the length of the South Coast. Owner Paul O’Higgins on right

In addition to Dingle crewmen throughout the fleet, there’s a significant Dingle-based entrant in Kenneth Cunnane’s Swan 46 Mynx. Other western entries include father-and-son team of Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC with their much-raced Dehler 34 Big Deal, while the two gallant Connacht Mini 6.5s are Blackshell Farm (Louis Mulloy of Mayo SC) and Port of Galway (Dan Mill & Yannick Lemonnier).

No big Deal 4451Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC in the Dehler 34 Big Deal Photo:

In recent Dingle races, the boat which has most frequently been there or thereabouts at the head of the fleet has been the J/109, and in all there are three of them currently entered for 2019, with Indian (Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) and Jaydreamer (Paul Sutton, Holyhead SC) going along the sharpen things up for the Shanahans on Ruth.

Juggerknot II 2566Sweet and simple…..2018 J/109 Champion Andrew Algeo (pictured left) will be racing to Dingle in his new J/99 Juggerknot 2. Apart from the two Min 6.50s, she will be one of the smallest boats in the race

As an interesting comparison, 2018 J/109 National Champion Andrew Algeo (RIYC) has thrown his hat into the ring with his new J/99 Juggerknot 2, while comparisons in another direction can be made the presence of James Tyrrell’s J/112E Aquelina from Arklow and sister-ship Cara (Frank Doyle, Royal Cork YC).

Cara, Frank Doyle's J112 from Royal Cork Yacht Club Cara, Frank Doyle's J112 from Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

The South Coast challenge is strong, with Royal Cork also providing the Murphy family’s notably successful Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, while Kinsale – with its own Sovereigns Cup series coming up at the end of the month – has a powerful presence with Conor Doyle’s Xp5 Freya, Thomas Roche’s Salona 42 Meridian, and Finnbarr O’Regan’s Elan 333 Artful Dodger.

xp50 freya10All boat, and handsome with it – Conor Doyle’s Xp50 Freya from Kinsale. Photo Bob Bateman

Still on the south coast but well to the east, Waterford Harbour SC at Dunmore East is flexing its Dingle muscles with Peter Coad’s veteran Pocock 38 Blackjack, and the O’Donovans’ First 44.7 Black Magic (co-registered with Howth), while we have another of those tried and trusted First 44.7s from Dun Laoghaire in the form of Rodney and Keith Martin’s Lively Lady (RIYC).

Lively Lady 0613Regular ISORA competitor Rodney and Keith Martin’s Lively Lady races through Dalkey Sound on Dublin Bay at the start of coastal race Photo:

The constantly updating entry list is available here

Whichever way you look at it, the newest boat of all is undoubtedly 2017 “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth’s foiling Beneteau Figaro 3. She’s so new that at the time of writing she has yet to go afloat, making her name of Raw all-too-appropriate. Her debut has been delayed for a couple of weeks by the glitch in the Figaro 3 production programme, caused by specialist energies having to be re-directed to sorting the mast and rigging problems in the new Solitaire Urgo Figaro fleet, tense enough as the 50th Anniversary Figaro itself gets underway from Nantes on June 2nd, and will be in Kinsale from June 6th to 9th.

conor fogerty11Conor Fogerty – “Sailor of the Year” for 2017 – is staying remarkably calm in the face of delivery delays as he awaits his new foiling Figaro 3 Raw, which is entered for both the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June, and the Rolex Fastnet Race in August.

Meanwhile, Conor Fogerty stays remarkably calm despite the narrowing window and the importance of taking part in the Dingle Race, for apart from the attraction of the challenge of the D2D in itself, it is also his qualifier for August’s Rolex Fastnet Race, where his entry has already been accepted. But then, when you’ve been an OSTAR winner, keeping calm while battling on is an integral part of the psychological makeup.

Published in W M Nixon

The National Yacht Club has announced dates for its biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle (D2D) Race in 2019.

The 2019 mini offshore race, that is also a fixture on the international RORC calendar, will start on Wednesday, 12th June off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

At almost 300 miles, the race has proved popular with offshore crews because, say the organisers, it is the 'perfect length', typically taking the whole fleet between 30 and 50 hours to get to Dingle in County Kerry.

The defending champion is Paul O'Higgins' well-sailed JPK10.80, Rockabill VI.

It is the second headline 2019 sailing event to announce dates this week. Earlier, Kinsale Yacht Club announced it will stage its 2019 Sovereign's Cup regatta from June 26th to 29th.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
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