It was business as usual for John Maybury's J109 Joker II in this afternoon's opening races of the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The triple class one ICRA national champion has moved to the top of the leaderboard in Ireland's biggest sailing event after scoring a first and second to be five points ahead in an extremely competitive class one fleet.
From a forecast for a dubious six–knots from the west, Dublin Bay instead produced a solid sea–breeze up to eight knots from the south–east for the first races in a total schedule of 290 races in 35 classes by Sunday.
2,500 sailors are racing in the four day regatta that has attracted sailors from across Ireland and the UK but also from Europe, America and Australia.
A near–record breaking fleet of 475 boats took to the water this afternoon for a 3pm start with some classes still racing well after 6pm.
A 29–boat class one – one of the most competitive of the regatta – could not resist the temptation of an early start on the North Course and race officer David Lovegrove was forced to signal a general recall in the unruly fleet.
With a 150–degree wind direction and an ebbing tide, Maybury, with tactician Mark Mansfield onboard, made sure of an early advantage off the start line in race one when he tacked inshore out of the tide to be in contention at the windward mark.
In class two, Afloat.ie's prediction of an early lead for the Andreau Half Tonner Trastada from Fairlye Yacht Club is bearing fruit. The Roddy Angus skippered vintage yacht has a four point lead over Johnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony with club–mate Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner third.
In Class three, Richard Colwell's Fusion of Howth Yacht Club took an early lead when he won both races in IRC Class three. The Corby 25 opened up a five–point lead over the X-302 GP Online-Viking Kevin Darmody on the southern course. Eight are competing.
Conditions could not have been more different than the first race this time two years ago when strong winds and big seas opened the biennial event.
Today was equally as testing but for completely different reasons as sailors dealt with light winds and tricky start lines that demanded a clear lane to get top boat speed.
In a 15–boat class four, Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club has opened up a four point lead from the Wicklow Sailing Club Modified Formula 28, Flash (Jonathan Flood).
Racing is being staged over six separate courses for a combined fleet of 480 boats, with over 180 visiting yachts from 70 different yacht clubs.
In the offshore class, the biggest of the regatta at 32–boats, Peter Dunlop's J/109 Mojito, the overall ISORA leader from Pwllheli Sailing Club, took a win in today's coastal race that featured a harbour finish off the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Second was Steve Haye's Beneteau First 34.7 Magic Touch from Bray Sailing Club with Paddy Gregory's sistership from Howth Yacht Club third.
In the Flying Fifteen one design keelboats, Neil Coleman from the National Yacht Club leads David Gorman's Betty. Niall Meagher's Ffantastic Mr Ffox is third in a fine 23-boat turnout that race today on the Salthill course.
In a debut Mixed Sportsboat class, 1720s are top of the 16–boat fleet. David Ryan's Big Bad Wolf from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Royal Cork's Heroes and Villians (Gary Rhodes. Third is Declan Curtin's J80 from the National Yacht Club.
Results are provisional and subject to protest. Full results in all 35 classes are available here.
Racing continues tomorrow (Friday). More light westerly airs are forecast with sea breezes also a possibility.