As Afloat previously back as 2016, the 5th edition of the IRC European Championship will take place in Cork Harbour over five days of racing from Monday 13th July to Friday 17th July 2020. The championship is expected to attract a record fleet of highly competitive IRC rated boats vying for the overall win and class honours.
On Wednesday 8th July, prior to the IRC European Championship, the Morgan Cup Race will start from Cowes, bound for Cork. Organised by the Royal Ocean Race Club (RORC) since 1958, this will be the first time that the course has been set across the Celtic Sea to Cork. The 324nm race is expected to attract a substantial fleet and will be a weighted race within the world's largest offshore racing programme, the RORC Season's Points Championship.
"With a large majority of Irish boats already holding IRC Endorsed certificates there is the prospect of many strong Irish entries"
"The Irish IRC fleet are highly competitive and with a large majority of Irish boats already holding IRC Endorsed certificates there is the prospect of many strong Irish entries," commented Director of Rating for IRC, Dr Jason Smithwick. "With this diverse range of boat types racing under the IRC rating system we have been working closely with the Royal Cork Yacht Club to create an exciting and varied race programme with a mixed range of courses. This balance of course types will allow all boats to have a chance and create a fair and interesting event for the competitors. The IRC rating offices have also been working with the organisers to have a thorough programme of equipment inspection to ensure good equipment control before and during the event," continues Smithwick.
Corinthian teams racing small and medium size boats have enjoyed tremendous success in the IRC European Championship. In 2016 the inaugural championship was hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht and was won overall by Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge. For the last three championships French teams have won overall. The 2020 IRC European Championship will feature high performance boats, including a number of FAST40+ teams expected to be racing under IRC. Prizes are also awarded to the best Corinthian team, as well as individual IRC Classes.
Overall winners of the IRC European Championship
- 2016 Paul Gibbons' Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge (Cork, Ireland)
- 2017 Guy Claeys' JPK 10.10 Expresso 2 (Marseille, France)
- 2018 Didier le Moal's J/112E J-Lance (Cowes, UK).
- 2019 Yves Ginoux's Farr 36 Absolutely II (San Remo, Italy)
For the 2020 IRC European Championship, competitors will enjoy wide-ranging and competitive racing afloat, as well as the Royal Cork's unique and historic celebration of their tricentennial.
"We're delighted to welcome the IRC European Championships back in 2020 where the fleet will enjoy a varied programme of races set in and around Cork Harbour," commented Cork Week Director of Racing, Rosscoe Deasy. "Shorter racecourses will be specially laid outside of Roches Point, a wonderful sailing area with open sea conditions and stable winds, while the famous 'Harbour Race' will bring additional navigational and tactical challenges. A 10-14 hour 'Coastal Race' is planned along the treacherously beautiful Irish headlands, providing a demanding test of crew focus and endurance. Admittedly the real test will be found ashore in Crosshaven where only the stoutest of hearts will be able to resist the siren call of the legendary Cork Week craic. It's going to be a great event!"
Irish Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield picks his big (and smaller) events coming up for the Irish cruiser classes in 2020
The 2019 season is only just coming towards its end and already owners and crew are looking ahead at what is in store next year. There are still some good events to finish this season, and among them, the Autumn Leagues in Howth and Royal Cork, The final ISORA race, with the spoils still not decided, the J109 Nationals, the final summer series DBSC races and of course the very popular DBSC Turkey Shoot series.
2019 was very much a front-loaded year with Scottish Series, ICRA Nationals, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Sovereigns Cup and Dun Laoghaire Regatta all happening within a seven-week period, and 2020 is not looking a whole lot different.
Below you will see the dates of the bigger events for 2020.
Without a doubt the two standout big boat events next year will be the Round Ireland Race in June and in July, Royal Cork Yacht Club host their special Cork Week, on the Munster club's 300th year anniversary. More on this later.
2020 'Big Boat' events
- Scottish Series, Tarbert - May 22nd to May 25th (Friday to Monday)
- Wave Regatta, Howth Yacht Club - May 29th to May 31st (Friday to Sunday)
- Round Ireland Race, Wicklow SC - Starts June 20th (Saturday)
- RORC Morgan Cup - Cowes to Cork - Starts July 8th (Wednesday)
- Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club (300 Year Celebration) - July 13th to July 18th (Monday to Saturday)
- Calves Week - Schul August 4th to August 7th - (Tuesday to Friday)
Other events that are building numbers are Bangor Week, commencing 25th of June and WIORA week (date not published yet). The very popular ISORA offshore series runs throughout the year and these dates are also eagerly awaited.
Here are some details of each of the larger events:
Always a very happy hunting ground for Irish boats wishing to sharpen themselves up for the new season. Numbers generally have been dropping for the Scottish Series except for the very popular RC35 class where Irish Boats took all podium places this year. Class 2 in 2020 might also show some increases with the biennial Classic Half-Ton Cup in Cowes bringing the competitive Half Tonners out to play early. This year there were two half tonners—expect more in 2020. Great racing and great pub craic around the beer tent and local pubs.
Only a new event in 2018 and is based around the Howth Yacht Club traditional June Bank Holiday Lambay Race. Wave Regatta is held every two years and if 2018 is anything to go by, it will be very well attended in 2020. It comes just a few days after the end of Scottish Series. A variety of courses over the three days, including the very popular round Lambay race. Well organised with great onshore facilities.
Round Ireland Race
The big one. 704 miles from Wicklow to Wicklow, clockwise around Ireland and its islands, turning corners all the way around. It goes from strength to strength. There is a rumour of a very large, very well known Maxi looking at taking on the challenge and the record in 2020. If you only plan to do one full-length offshore race, this is the one to do. I have done five Fastnet Races and I would always pick a Round Ireland over a Fastnet.
For those boats who have competed in the last two events, there is the added bonus of the chance to win a Volvo car for the best Boat over the 2016, 2018 and 2020 races. I’m sure we will be advised of the current pecking order very soon on this.
RORC's Morgan Cup
Rarely do Flagship RORC races end in Ireland, but on the 300th year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the RORC have graciously organised for one of their big races to finish in Cork, as a way of getting UK boats over for the Cork Week 300 regatta.
Approx 90 boats competed in the 2019 Morgan Cup edition this year, won overall by a J109. I suspect you may see some offshore orientated Irish boats decide to include this race in their calendar next year, which also serves as a way to get the boat to Cork in time for the Cork Week 300 Series.
Cork Week 300
From the Height of Cork Week in 2000 when boats competing topped 700, it has fallen somewhat. However, 2020, the 300th Anniversary of the club's founding, is all set to be special and interest from all corners of the world is evident with housing around Crosshaven and Carrigaline already starting to be booked up.
A number of classes are planning to use the week as their European Championships. The 1720 class, who had circa 75 boats at their 2000 event, are planning a big show in 2020 with already 10 boats confirmed from the UK with more likely to follow. A proper event Announcement is expected in September announcing some major classes and profile boats that will be competing.
The 2020 ICRA Nationals is being held as part of Cork week (three days only). Cork Week also incorporates a building fleet for the Beaufort Cup, which is a separate event within the week for associated national services (Army, Naval, Police, Firefighting, Coast Guard etc). This event incorporates an offshore race around the Fastnet and back.
Cork Week 2020 will be one not to miss. White Sail and coastal fleets will be included and the highlight is the all in Harbour race.
Numbers have held up very well for Calves Week. In 2019, there were 65 cruisers competing, with very competitive racing over the four days. A mix of windward-leeward courses, around the Islands and the Fastnet race keeps everyone interested. One race a day, with all the crews congregating after racing out in the streets between Newmans and Hackett's pubs. The Apres racing is as important as the racing with many sailors choosing to incorporate family holidays into the week. If you are doing Cork Week, and have not done Calves Week before, maybe you should consider leaving the boat in Cork and sliding down westwards a week or two later.
It was while crossing the Atlantic on the Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II during a celestial navigation module of his Naval Service education in 1999 that Barry Byrne had something of an epiphany writes W M Nixon. He’d been introduced to sailing through the welcoming approach of Wicklow Sailing Club in his home town. This led on to joining the Naval Service after he left school.
The thought of transferring to the Army had arisen. Yet it took a long voyage on Asgard II to make the decision for him. His enjoyment of it gave him back his love of sailing and he considered that maybe a career at sea might not be conducive to continuing sailing as a sport.
Thus he changed course, transferring to the Army and a successful career in which he has specialized in technology and served with the UN in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, rising to the rank of Commandant.
In sailing, Barry and his team in the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 won the Corinthian Class and placed second overall, and then went on to successfully defend the highly competitive Beaufort Cup in Cork Week just two weeks later.
Currently doing an intensive Masters degree in Leadership and Management in the military Staff College at The Curragh, he reflects on how military principles served his team well during last year’s sailing campaign.
While many top sailors achieve success by using proven business administration and motivational means, Commandant Byrne shares the ways in which the success of the J/109 Joker II and her crew might stand up to classic military analysis. He sets the scene:
“Half of the team that competed in the Round Ireland (June 30th) and Cork Week/Beaufort Cup (starting July 16th) had never sailed together before. Like many of us, I had just returned from overseas service with the United Nations in February. We had very little time to put together a campaign aimed at winning two of Ireland’s premier competitions. For this, we used military principles.
Plans are nothing, but planning is everything
General Dwight D Eisenhower is credited with this statement. The point here is that no plan survives first contact with the enemy (or the West Coast of Ireland in a rugged mood). But if you have been through an effective planning process, it will stand to you. We used the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and Mission Analysis, essentially breaking down the mission ahead of us by factor, deduction and task. This helped in allocating clear areas of responsibility and job ownership in a short timeframe.
The first event was the Volvo Round Ireland, and we set ourselves the goal of winning the inaugural Halpin Trophy, the armed forces trophy introduced by Wicklow Sailing Club. We would be up against international military teams, most notably the semi-professional British Soldier team who had their own race yacht, the X41 British Soldier, which went on to win the RORC annual series. We used the principle of SMART goals, with which many readers will be familiar (Editors' Note: SMART is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). This was an ambitious target, but we assessed it as achievable and it focused our efforts.
Weapon of Choice
There is no point assembling a team if you do not have the tools for the job, and thanks to John Maybury, we had our weapon of choice; the seasoned and very successful J109 Joker 2. John is himself an inspirational leader. He is very supportive of the Defence Forces, indeed some of his own crew of longtime friends have enduring connections to the three services.
The training we completed on Joker2 in such a short time had to be very specific. Every training session had a clearly defined goal and timeframe, and we conducted After Action Reviews following every session. We also enlisted the help of a professional coach, Mark Mansfield, who gave our training focus and direction and was a valuable source of knowledge on J109 rig set up. Mark’s experienced insights on the Cork coastal area were particularly helpful in the Beaufort Cup.
Much of the preparation involved getting the boat ready. Getting to the start line of a challenging Cat 3 Offshore Race is a marathon in itself. The safety regulations your boat must pass and the training - such as sea survival - is substantial. Clearly defined areas of responsibility (which emerged from our mission analysis) were key.
One secret weapon we had was Flight Sergeant Adrian Mulligan, an aircraft technician who led much of the boat preparation, particularly regarding instruments. Unfortunately, Adrian suffered a back injury prior to the race. Exemplifying the Defence Forces values of loyalty and selflessness, instead of dropping off the campaign completely, he actually increased his contribution shoreside to compensate for being unable to sail.
He brought another technical member of our race crew, Captain Wietse Buwalda, up to speed with all the instrumentation and power systems on the boat. This was later to prove vital in our success on the water. Other areas we focused on were nutrition, food and water. We had exactly the right amount of high energy military ration pack food, with Sergeant Paddy McGrath and Lt Richie O’Hagan leading the charge here.
Another military principle is mission command. You pick the right person for a job and tell them what needs to be done, but not how to do it. A good friend, Captain Mick Liddy, was my navigator just as I had been his navigator on the last Round Ireland we did together. My brief to Mick was to win the Round Ireland… beyond this, I didn’t second guess him.
When we were off the West Coast in those extremely strong and very persistent north to northeast winds which kick up seas of special viciousness, we were way, way, further West than any other team on the racecourse. Joker 2 was enduring the worst of the weather in the hope of being first to find a suggested slight backing of the breeze. It has to be admitted my resolve was tested, but I’m glad to say I managed to keep my mouth shut. A team in the most recent Volvo Ocean Race fell foul of this inter-personal hazard, with the skipper and navigator second-guessing each other, which ultimately led to an overall slowing down and a harsh lesson for themselves and other offshore campaigners.
Our rough-and-then-some experiences far out to the westward further tested other areas of character.
The Defence Forces core values are Respect, Loyalty, Selflessness, Physical Courage, Moral Courage and Integrity. I saw all of these when things got difficult on the West Coast. Due to a sudden diesel leak and the violent conditions, the interior of the boat had become a hellhole and the cause of seasickness among those who had never succumbed before.
Far from strengthening and sustaining ourselves with all those carefully-selected rations, the team could not even keep water down without vomiting, yet everyone dug deep. Mick and I bailed the diesel out of the bilge with a rag and bucket while the boat was slamming into 35 knots of wind. We trusted the team to run the show while the skipper and nav were down there for several hours. My routine was to fill a bucket of sea-watery diesel, empty it over the side, vomit, go back down and fill another bucket. Every member of the crew was a leader that day. Everyone stayed on the rail. Even at 3 am, team members who had not eaten in 30 hours and were continually being drenched to the core with ice cold Atlantic waves, were volunteering to rotate to the bow.
It was a brutal two nights. Just a few miles from us, a crew had rescued one of their team who had gone overboard in pitch black horrific conditions. (Editor’s Note: In the stream of information coming through from the Round Ireland fleet, the J/109 Jedi, skippered by Michael Boyd with Kenneth Rumball of Irish National Sailing School as first mate, tersely reported an MOB situation. But very quickly, they followed it with a brief message to the effect that the man overboard was retrieved, there were no injuries, and they were immediately resuming the race. This calm approach was so redolent of the best traditions of offshore racing that the incident became just one of many in a tough race. But happily at the RORC Annual Prize Giving in London in November, that briefly-recorded achievement in the Atlantic received the special recognition it deserved, with Michael Boyd and Kenneth Rumball being awarded the RORC’s Seamanship Trophy).
Barry Byrne continues: While this kind of offshore sailing may sound grim, even dangerous, it is precisely why we do adventurous training in the military; to test leaders at all levels.
My dad always says there are no atheists in a foxhole. I don’t think there was an atheist on Joker 2 that night either. Not when we were in the thick of it, nor when we eventually converged with the fleet off northwest Mayo and checked to see where we had ended up in the rankings. Once we’d crossed Donegal Bay, our navigator continued to resist the temptation to hug the coast, and we were looking good approaching Tory Island.
The Final Stages
When the wind eventually eased, it did the worst possible thing - it died completely. Teams were left in tortuous drifting conditions off the North Coast of Ireland where tides would frequently send you backwards at five knots if local seabed conditions or sheer depth of water prevented kedging.
During this particularly trying time, our electronic instruments died completely, thanks to having taken such a hammering off the West Coast. But Captain Wietse Buwalda, a communications officer, who - as mentioned already - had closely studied the electronic systems with Flight Sergeant Adrian Mulligan prior to the race, effectively rebuilt the system in about four hours of relentless work.
As all this went on, a minke whale followed our boat for about 24 hours. I’m not sure if we were delirious with tiredness, but superstition got the better of us, and we took to sacrificing our tastiest treats from our ration packs to Minkie in the hope he would send some wind…
And - eventually – he did. We escaped the North Coast with a great spin down the East Coast in twenty knots of favourable breeze. But about fifteen miles from the finish line, we encountered yet more drifting conditions and a nail-biting finish after five days of nonstop racing and minimal sleep. Finally, we got there. The legendary welcome in the wonderful Wicklow Sailing Club was everything I had remembered in previous races.
The fact that we collected the Halpin Trophy meant Mission Accomplished, so it was icing on the cake to get first in the Corinthian Division, first Irish boat and place second overall, in all coming first in four divisions of the 56-strong international fleet of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018.
It was a hectic turnaround to get the boat ready for the Beaufort Cup in Cork just two weeks later. This was made even busier as I am involved with running the series itself and liaising with all the visiting teams. This was the second iteration of the event, and it was a huge success, involving 160 competitors and 30 Defence Forces sailors, making up 16 teams including the US Marines, UK armed forces and Irish emergency services teams including national champions and Olympians, with eight of the 16 boats being highly competitive J109s.
Central to the Beaufort race programme is the short offshore to the Fastnet Rock, a scenic 24-hour drag race down and back. We didn’t manage to get the lead until the last three hours. Until then, we had been schooled from ahead at different times by Simon Coveney, Stefan Hyde, Youen Jacob, Peter O’Leary and Fastnet expert Tim Goodbody.
However, we’d had a solid night race and our navigator Comdt. Ian Travers made a good decision to split from the pack and go offshore for breeze in the final miles. It was a winning move. My brother Teddy had raced with us for this offshore, and it was a great moment crossing the finish line.
The rest of the week was a tough battle, particularly the last race when we were over the start line and had to go back and re-cross the line in a double points race. But yet again, in adversity true teamwork came into its own. Huge performances were put in by the whole team, notably Ensign Marcus Ryan and Louis Malloy sailing a flawless race to get us back into the fifth position we needed to secure overall victory in the event.”
A €10,000 prize goes to the winning Beaufort Cup team, and we gave €5,000 of this to Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin, while the other €5,000 went to the RNLI, something special for us as the Baltimore RNLI crew skippered by Youen Jacob had run us a very close second in the overall series in Cork.
In summary, military tools for campaign planning combined with values of teamwork and resilience stood to the Defence Forces sailing team throughout last year’s ambitious campaign”.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer, Mission Blue Foundation
Volvo Cork Week 2018 has been awarded Gold Certification by the International ‘Sailors for the Sea’ Clean Regatta programme with the event sustainability partners MaREI Centre for Marine & Renewable Energy and An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme.
The Clean Regattas programme is the world’s only sustainability certification for water-based events. The initiative helps people run more environmentally friendly events to protect local waters and beyond, raising the bar for ocean health around the world. “We are thrilled to support Volvo Cork Week in their efforts to educate participants on environmental protection by serving as a model for responsible sailing” says Robyn Albritton, Sustainability Director, Sailors for the Sea.
The world’s oceans are in crisis. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean from land and 40% of the oceans are heavily affected by human activity, including pollution, overfishing, destructive fishing practices and the loss of coastal habitats.
For Volvo Cork Week the Royal Cork Yacht Club implemented a range of Clean Regattas Best Practices to reduce the environmental impact, including the provision of reusable water bottles and hydration stations, compostable food and coffee containers, paper straws, energy conservation, online registration forms and an information campaign on reducing single-use plastics and marine litter.
Aoife Deane, Communications & Public Engagement Manager for MaREI said “our collaboration with Clean Coasts on supporting Volvo Cork Week in their efforts to run a cleaner, greener, regatta represented an important opportunity for us to engage the sailors and members of the public on sustainability issues such as ocean degradation, marine litter and plastics”
The Royal Cork Yacht Club is dedicated to protecting the waters on which we sail.
In this exceptionally busy period, Commandant Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces was arguably the most active sailor on our seas, as he skippered the Irish Defence Forces on the J/109 Joker 2 to second overall and victory in the Corinthian Division of the Round Ireland Race, and in Cork Week he not only played a key role in organizing the highlight event, the Beaufort Cup series for services crews, but he successfully defended it, again skippering Joker 2.
With the best score of any of the 120 boats over the past week, Rory Fekkes’ Fn’Gr8 (Carrickfergus Sailing Club) has been confirmed as the overall winner of Volvo Cork Week following an intense three-race final day. The Antrim boat was a convincing overall winner to the week despite several other strong performances in other classes but Fekkes had accumulated an impressive 19-point lead in his eleven-boat fleet.
Read more on this in W M Nixon's Cork Week review here.
“Best week ever! It’s the closest racing we’ve ever had,” Fekkes said even before learning of his overall event win. “We were hoping to get the overall win so we kept going to the end even though we only had sixth place to discard.” As for the 300th anniversary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 2020, Fekkes reckons “It’s a class event so we’ll be back!”
"Fekkes had accumulated an impressive 19-point lead in his eleven-boat fleet"
A thrilling climax transpired on the final day of Volvo Cork Week with numerous classes decided in the very last race of an exciting and fun-filled regatta. With all of the IRC Classes and the Beaufort Cup hanging in the balance, three races were held for most of the classes. The high pressure, that had delivered warm weather all week, had changed to 12 knots of cold moist air from the Atlantic.
After over 40 hours of intense racing, Barry Byrne's Irish Defence Forces team, racing J/109 Joker 2, have successfully defended the Beaufort Cup. Youen Jacob's Baltimore RNLI team, racing J/109 Juggerknot, put the defending champions under serious pressure, taking the gun for the first race on the last day, but finished runner-up by just two points. Simon Coveney's Irish Defence Forces Team, racing Jedi, recovered from a starting penalty in the first race of the day to make a tenacious comeback taking the final podium spot for the Beaufort Cup, just ahead of Denis & Annamarie Murphy's Crosshaven RNLI team, racing Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo.
“We’re over the moon, it’s more than we ever dreamed of,” said Byrne. “It’s a tough event to win, especially against the calibre of people we were up against – Olympians, All-Ireland champions and people like Tim Goodbody and other great sailors.”
Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera (Greystones SC) staged the 'come back of Volvo Cork Week'. On the penultimate day, Eleuthera had scored two victories to move up to third and then smashed out three straight bullets today to win the class. Whelan's young Greystones dinghy crew were the most adept at turning corners on the inshore courses today. Eleuthera crew boss Paddy Barnwell told Afloat.ie: 'A combination of Olympic and windward leeward really suited the boat and crew, and as always we got some good breaks. The crew pulled liked dogs and really smashed it!"
Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks (East Down YC), which had led for much of the regatta was runner-up, and Jonathan Anderson's J/122 El Gran Senor (Clyde Cruising Club) was third.
Dunlop & Cox's J/108 Mojito (Pwllheli SC) won the last two races of Volvo Cork Week to climb from third to first for a dramatic class win by a single point from Ronan Harris' J/109 Jigamaree (Royal Irish YC). Brian & Mary Jones J/109 Jelly Baby (Royal Cork YC) could well have won the class, save a steering problem in the penultimate race, which put the local team back to third, just two points away from victory.
There was high drama from the start with the overnight leader, Jonny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony (Howth YC), disqualified in a Black Flag start at the beginning of the last day. Ronan & John Downing's Half Tonner Miss Whiplash (Royal Cork YC), took full advantage taking a bullet in the first race of the day and scoring a second place in the final race to clinch the class. Kieran Collins Olson 30 Coracle IV (Royal Cork) was third. A special mention to Volvo Cork Week's biggest fans, Paul & Deirdre Tingle's X-34 Alpaca (Royal Cork YC), which finished the regatta in style with a win in the last race.
Fn'Gr8 (Carrickfergus SC) was the winner, James Mathews' Ed Dubois Diamond (RCYC/KYC), won a close battle for runner up from Paddy Kyne's X-302 Maximus, who was third, just a point ahead of Denis Byrne's Trapper 25 Cracker (Royal Cork YC).
Desmond, Ivers and Deasy's Sunfast 32 Bad Company (Royal Cork YC), finished Volvo Cork Week with a win in the last race for the IRC Coastal Class, but the class win went to Denis Hewitt's Mills 37 Raptor (Royal Irish YC), which dominated the class winning three out of five races. Steve Hayes' Magic Touch (BSC/GSC) scored a second today to move up to runner-up for the regatta. Patrick Burke's First 35 Prima Luce (Royal Irish YC) was third.
In IRC 1 Non-Spinnaker, Broadhead, Collins & Stuart's Sigma 38 Persistance (Royal Irish YC) won the first race of the day to extend their lead, but Aidan Heffernan's Dehler 36 Indulgence (Schull Harbour SC), answered the call with two race wins to take victory in the class by a single point. Clodagh O'Donovan's Roaring Forties (Royal Cork YC) scored three podium finishes today, to place third for the regatta.
In IRC 2 Non-Spinnaker, there was a photo-finish, as the top three boats, all from the Royal Cork YC, finished the regatta with the same score. After discard, Tom McCarthy's Impala 28 Whistlin' Dixie, was still on level points with Pat Vaughan's Contessa 33 Aramis. Whistlin' Dixie was declared class winner by virtue of more first places in the 8-race series. The O'Mahony's Hanse 31 Loch Greine (Royal Cork YC), which had led for much of the regatta, was just a point of the win in third place, after discard.
1720s & Dragons
The International Dragon enjoyed three races today. Their respective Southern Championships will conclude tomorrow. Daniel Murphy's Serafina (Kinsale YC) leads the class but the second day of the championship belonged to Peter Bowring's Phantom (Royal St.George YC), which scored a 2-2-1 today elevating the team to second for the series. Cameron Good's Littla Fella (Kinsale YC) is third. After five races, Anthony O'Leary's Antix (Royal Cork YC) is the clear leader for the 1720 Southern Championship. Brian Twomey's Dark Side (Royal Cork YC) is second after scoring three podium finishes today. Brook & Griffith's Luvly Jubbly (SCYC & PSC) is third. Racing for the 1720 and International Dragon Southern Championships will conclude tomorrow, Saturday 21st July.
Click for Afloat.ie's Cork Week 2018 coverage in one handy link
If you set out to explain to a stranger to sailing everything that has been going on afloat and ashore at Volvo Cork Week 2018 (and we refer only to the official events), then you’d find yourself warbling away until Christmas and beyond writes W M Nixon.
Admittedly it may often seem like that in this comment section in any case. But in the matter of Cork Week in all its manifestations over the years, we carry a lot of baggage, having raced in the very early first mini-version which was staged in 1970 as part of the Royal Cork’s Quarter Millennial celebrations.
Following that, after 1974 when the RCYC opened the first stage of its new marina, the club could put on the welcome in a big way, and fresh possibilities were revealed with hosting ISORA Week 1976 at Crosshaven. Thanks in part to that, from 1978 onwards, the biennial RCYC Cork Week was born.
At its height in terms of numbers, the fleets were prodigious. But that was before the age of a cash-rich time-poor society, when doing anything for more than four days is seen as being too much of the long haul, with life today lived as a tasting menu of sports and recreations, changing almost from day to day and almost certainly from one weekend to the next.
As well, for cruiser-racers, the “Ryanair effect” has surely played a role in reducing active numbers in Ireland. Back in the day when Cork Week was young, only an elite few kept their boats in the Med. It cost a lot to get there, and facilities were relatively sparse.
Yet now, if you get to a harbour in Croatia or Northwest Spain or Malta or wherever via one of the many cheap flights, you might well find more Irish cruiser-racers in active use than you do at home. There are also those who have copped on to the fact that the government-subsidised marinas in France (thanks to its heavily-taxed citizens) offer extremely good value. And like all those other places mentioned, the very fact of being on your boat in those distant places means you really are on holiday, whereas at home, even when on a boat it’s difficult to drop life’s everyday hassle.
Then, of course, the weather is another factor, with us now having to deal with the notion that too much “good” weather is actually very bad for Ireland and her economy. People managed to elude going into work in the recent heatwave, while our agricultural industry is much distressed. The fact is, the last thing we need is a Mediterranean climate, and if you want to sail in one, it’s much better that you have to go there to find it.
But in this time of rapid change, you have to makes some allowances for those of us who knew Cork Week when it was the liveliest sailing show in Europe. In the early 1990s, we’d a 35ft cruiser-racer which really did the business of being able to race and cruise, and when we went to Cork Week it was in the expectation of living on board, and somehow making the boat race-ready each morning.
We rather looked down our noses at those hyper-keen owners who rented a house in the village to accommodate their crew, and kept their boat in a stripped-out full-on racing conditions. Nevertheless, when I woke up one morning and found that there were eleven people sleeping aboard a boat which had only seven berths, there was a feeling that maybe things were going a bit too far. But we grabbed breakfast, piled superfluous gear onto the pontoon, and went out to race in heavy weather, getting fifth out of 25 in a reasonably competitive class.
Then it was ashore to hit the scene in the compound, the complete regatta village. We’d all sorts of passes to allow us to go everywhere within it, but when I had to go out the front gate on the Friday night, the security man asked me did I realize that everything indicated I hadn’t gone beyond the confines of the compound for the entire week. After due thought, it didn’t really surprise me at all.
But these days, we seem to have a Volvo Cork Week which, for the early part of the week at least, had two distinct focal points. The main scene is still in Crosshaven, but for one night – Tuesday – the glitzy bit was further up the harbour in the time-hallowed surroundings of the Naval Base in Haulbowline, where they held a Gala Dinner for all the Beaufort Cup competitors.
As they’d been racing round the Fastnet the night before, maybe it was excusable that some of the civilian participants made a rather feeble effort at complying with the black tie requirement. But the naval, military and air force types cleaned up a treat with some very classy dress uniforms in evidence, stylishly reinforcing the evening’s purpose of celebrating camaraderie and the challenges of offshore racing in surroundings about as different as you can get from the spooky atmosphere which surrounds the Fastnet Rock as night comes on.
The next day, it was back to the racing with the pressure on for those afloat, but there was also an opportunity to see how our predictions from a week ago were holding up, and as the series progressed through its early days, the results were very encouraging for the soothsaying department.
But that said, you’d need to have been a stubborn contrarian to expect anything other than success for Rory Fekkes’ little all-black F’nGr8 from Carrickfergus in Class 4, which came to Cork laden with successes from the Scottish Series in May, the Howth Wave regatta in June, and the Bangor Town Regatta at the beginning of July.
The boy has form, as tipsters would say – his father Paul was International GP14 World Champion in 1991, and Rory is no slouch himself on the dinghy circuit. But with this little keelboat which he bought in need of TLC for 8,000 sterling, he seems to have found the perfect outlet for Northern Irish technological ingenuity, and she has given a performance of almost chilling excellence in a class which is by no means lacking in boats of known high performance, discarding a sixth to finish first at 9.0pts, out of sight on James Matthews’ Kinsale-based Dubois Quarter Tonner Diamond on 26 points, with Paddy Kyne’s X-302 Maximus from Howth just one point behind in third.
From northern waters, we also mentioned Jonathan Anderson’s impressive J/122 El Grand Senor from Scotland as one to watch in Class 1, and she likewise has risen to the challenge. But a boat from within Strangford Lough which had to be content with third in class at Bangor, Jay Colville’s First 40 Forty Licks, was also tipped and she found new speed at Cork with the likes of Russell McGovern in her crew, and was right there at the top of the podium. However, in Friday’s final races, Frank Whelan’s very swift Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones seldom put a foot wrong to notch three wins to take the overall prize, with Forty Licks second and El Grand Senor third.
When the fleet is usually in several classes that seem to be going every which way, there’s something very reassuring about a big come-all-ye event which sends everyone across the same starting line at the same time to race round the same course, and Cork Week’s cherished Harbour Race on the Wednesday does that in style.
It could be a Race Officer’s nightmare, but PRO Jack Roy (El Presidente to his friends) was taking no nonsense. After one false start, the back flag rule was invoked, they were as good as gold, and in an intriguing event, a Howth boat took first overall, while another one was third.
You may think I make a point of this because Howth is my home port. But on the contrary, it’s because it’s such an odd outcome. Howth is an artificial harbour on the end of a peninsula jutting out into the Irish Sea, and its race courses are set between two islands well clear of the coast. In other words, Howth boats race at home on courses about as different as humanly possible from the twists and turns and mud-hopping of Cork’s in-harbour course. Yet Jonny Swan from Howth with the pretty little classic Half Tonner Harmony came first in the Harbour Race, and while Rory Fekkes was second, Paddy Kyne from Howth with the X-302 was third ahead of Jay Colville in Forty Licks in fourth, the Simon Coveney crew in the J/109 Jedi in fifth, and Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces sixth in Joker II.
In other words, although Wednesday’s Harbour Race may be considered something of a fun event, those results are very much for real - these are serious contenders. And for Thursday and yesterday’s concluding races, it was back to set courses, Olympic stuff and all that, so how did it all pan out?
Well, for a while it looked as though Harmony would hang onto the overall lead in IRC 3 as well, but Jonny Swan was too eager on Friday morning and got the black flag, and in the afternoon he was fifth. But meanwhile the local Andrieu-designed Half Tonner Miss Whiplash (Ronan & John Downing) was in very smooth form, taking a first and second to move into a two point lead over Harmony in second, while Kieran Collins’ very interesting Olson 30 Coracle IV (a Californian speed design which originated in 1978, believe it or not) was third.
So much attention was focused on the many J/109s in the Beaufort Cup series (with which we conclude this report) that it’s easy to overlook the fact that several others sister-ships were racing as standard entrants in Class 2, and this concluded with a battle for the class overall win between two of them, Ronan Harris’s Jigamaree from the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire, and the 2017 ISORA Champion Mojito (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop, Pwllheli SC). In the end, Mojito got it by a whisker, 14 pts to Jigamaree’s 15, which in turn was just one point ahead of sister ship Jelly Baby (Brian & Mary Jones, Royal Cork YC).
Come Thursday, and the One Designs came out to play - the 1720s and International Dragons - modern-looking boats you might well think, of a recent type. But in the case of the Dragon, you’d be much mistaken. Our main page for the night of Thursday July 19th and the morning of Friday July 20th had a sunny photo of the Dragons racing at Cork juxtaposed with the classic gaff ketch Maybird finishing the Round Ireland Race. Modern and ancient, you might well have thought. But the fact is the Dragon design by Johan Anker of Norway first appeared in 1929, while the design of Maybird by Fred Parker first appeared as Aideen in 1934, then was refined to become Maybird in 1937.
But while Maybird has remained true to her roots, the only thing still original about the Dragon (which was first conceived as a small cruiser-racer) is the hull shape – everything else has been changed, and she still seems as modern as tomorrow. Certainly the class got a tremendous welcome back to Crosshaven, where they used to be very strong in the 1950s and 60s, and by yesterday evening’s conclusion, the overall winner was Daniel Murphy’s Serafina from Kinsale, with Peter Bowring’s Phantom (RIYC) second and Cameron Good’s Little Fella (KYC) third.
As for the 1720s, which originated in Crosshaven in 1994 and take their name from the RCYC’s foundation date as the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork, we mentioned in Tuesday’s Afloat.ie story, in reference to the classic 50ft sloop Northele recently bought by Anthony O’Leary, that for Volvo Cork Week, he’d be racing his 1720 Antix. He has indeed been doing that, and with a real flourish – four firsts and a second to put him out of sight on second-placed Dark Side (Brian Twomey) with the Welsh boat Luvly Jubbly third.
At a perhaps slightly more leisurely pace, a select group of ten boats chose to sail the entire regatta on daily coastal courses, though they also did the Harbour Race. Overall, they’d a historic winner – Denis Hewitt & partners of the RIYC on the Mills 36 Raptor, which was originally Aztec, built in 1996 by David Harte and Garrett Connolly for Peter Beamish. With a crew including Fintan Cairns, Nobby Reilly and Barry Rose, we can be quite sure that many issues had been fully discussed by this gathering of the Wise Men by the time Raptor concluded her successful series on a scoreline of 3,1,1,1, & 4.
While all the One Design racing was getting into gear in the final two days, the Beaufort Cup was reaching its climax. This inter-services event now outshines everything else in Volvo Cork Week, and it has acquired such momentum it virtually has a life of its own. Although 2016’s inaugural staging was impressive, 2018’s has blown everything else away in its ability to capture popular imagination, and the way that the outcome went contested right to the end.
So what more can we say about Commandant Barry Byrne’s achievement in retaining the trophy? One of my favourite skippers always says that he would rather be lucky than good, and while I never discussed with him whether he meant good by moral or performance standards, every racing sailor knows exactly what he means.
Either way, in the Beaufort Cup, Barry Byrne and his Defence Force’s team sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2 carried off the Houdini act more than once, starting his campaign by coming from behind to win the Fastnet Race by four minutes and 11 seconds on the water, and then going on through the week to fight off challenges from Youen Jacob with the Baltimore RNLI in Andrew Alegeo’s J/109 Juggerknot, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and his Defence Forces crew on the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi, and Dennis & Annamarie Murphy and the Crosshaven RNLI on their Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo.
The pressure was kept up to the very end. With three race sailed yesterday (Friday), Youen Jacob gained a point with a first to Byrne’s second in the first race. But then Barry Byrne got back in the saddle with first in the second race while Jacob was fourth.
While the Byrne crew were ninth in the final race which was won by Tim Goodbody with Simon Coveney second, Youen Jacob was held back to sixth, and Commandant Barry Byrne and his crew had retained the Beaufort Cup only a fortnight after winning the Corinthian Division and taking second overall in the Volvo Round Ireland Race.
So there it goes, Volvo Cork Week 2018. Nail-biting finish to the Beaufort Cup with victory again for Barry Byrne, and a complete tour de force by Rory Fekkes and his little black boat from Carrick. Roll on 2020 and the Tricentenary.
Click for Afloat.ie's Cork Week 2018 coverage in one handy link
The full fleet of 120 yachts was out for the fourth day of Volvo Cork Week. After a delayed start, a warm sea breeze blew to give over a thousand sailors champagne conditions in outside Cork Harbour. Leaders in all classes are emerging but many of them will be going to the wire.
Dragons were racing at Cork Week for the first time ever and were the second largest fleet (14 entries) after the Beaufort Cup Services fleet.
14 Dragons and 11 Cork 1720s started their Southern Championships today, taking part in two races with a building sea breeze off Power Head on a windward-leeward course.
The Dragons were flying by the second race, with 15 knots of wind over tide powering the fleet up to full tilt. The racing was exceptional close, and by the end of two contests, three teams were tied at the top. Daniel Murphy's Serafina and Cameron Good's Little Fella, both from Kinsale YC, and Denis Bergin's Sir Ossis of the River (Royal Irish YC).
Daniel Murphy's Serafina and Cameron Good's Little Fella were having a pint at the Royal Cork Yacht Club after racing, and both agreed: “In recent years, the Irish Dragons have organised their own events but we decided that we wanted to have a bit of a change from that and take part in bigger regattas. Volvo Cork Week has a much bigger social scene, and we know many of the sailors taking part in the other classes, which makes for great socialising after racing. The Royal Cork has made us feel very welcome, mooring us all together, and the race management and courses today were excellent.”
For the first day of the 1720 Southern Championship, Anthony O'Leary's Antix (Royal Cork YC) won both races. A late crew replacement for Tommy Murphy due to illness, led to 11 year-old Harry Moynan from Templebreedy National School Crosshaven, stepping on board Antix for his first taste of Volvo Cork Week. “It was great racing with my dad and such great sailors, I race in the Opi class at the Royal Cork, but I have never raced like that before. I was pumping the main downwind in the first race, and helped get the main in at the bottom mark.” commented Harry Moynan.
"Dragons have not been racing here for some time, and they have received a warm welcome"
“It is great to see the 1720s and Dragons out for Volvo Cork Week.” commented Anthony O'Leary. “The 1720s are naturally part of this event but the Dragons have not been racing here for some time, and they have received a warm welcome by the Royal Cork. The race committee put on a very good course for us today. We were a little under crew weight, which helped in the first race as the wind was light, but for the second race, we paid the price when the wind got up. David Love (Mini-Apple) was pushing us very hard.”
For the Beaufort Cup, Barry Byrne's Irish Defence Forces team, racing J/109 Joker 2, still lead the series but their lead has been cut down to just three points after two races today. Youen Jacob's Baltimore RNLI team, racing J/109 Juggerknot, moved up to second place, and could have gone into the lead, but for a headsail problem in the first race. Denis & Annamarie Murphy's Crosshaven RNLI team, racing Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, won both of today's races to move up to third for the series.
“We sat down as a team at last night's Gala Dinner, and talked long and hard about giving it our all for the rest of the regatta, and everything went very well today,” commented Dennis Murphy. “ Nieulargo is heavier than the J/109s so we love a bit of breeze, and we hope that will continue tomorrow.”
Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera (Greystones SC) revelled on today's Olympic Course, winning both races to move up to third. After five races sailed, Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks (East Down YC) leads the class by five points from Jonathan Anderson's J/122 El Gran Senor (Clyde Cruising Club).
Ronan Harris' J/109 Jigamaree (Royal Irish YC) was in sparkling form, winning both of today's races to go top of the class after five races. Brian & Mary Jones J/109 Jelly Baby (Royal Cork YC) scored two podium results, but dropped to second, just two points off the lead. Dunlop & Cox's J/109 Mojito (Pwllheli SC) and Jean Francois Nouel's Sunfast 3200 Hakuna Matata (CN Pornic) are tied on points for third.
After six races sailed the discard rule has come into force for the class. John Swan's Half Tonner Harmony (Howth YC) has maintained their lead, but only by a single point from Kieran Collins Olson 30 Coracle IV (Royal Cork). Both teams scored race wins today. Ronan & John Downing's Half Tonner Miss Whiplash (Royal Cork YC) won the last race of the day, staying in touch, just two points off the lead.
Rory Fekkes's Quarter Tonner Fn'Gr8 (Carrickfergus SC) was in fine form on today's windward leeward course, smashing out two bullets to take a stranglehold on the series. Denis Byrne's Trapper 25 Cracker (Royal Cork YC) is in second place, but only on countback from Paddy Kyne's X-302 Maximus, which won the first race of the day.
Denis Hewitt's Mills 37 Raptor (Royal Irish YC) looks unstoppable in the Coastal IRC Class, scoring their third win of the series Raptor has ten point lead over Patrick Burke's First 35 Prima Luce (Royal Irish YC). Henry Hogg's Lisador (Garrykennedy Sailing Club) is just a point behind Prima Luce in third.
In IRC 1 Non-Spinnaker, a two-horse race has developed between the leading yachts. Broadhead, Collins & Stuart's Sigma 38 Persistence (Royal Irish YC), and Aidan Heffernan's Dehler 36 Indulgence (Schull Harbour SC), are locked in a battle royale. The two teams have won every race in the class so far, but Persistence has held onto the lead, after scoring two bullets today. Clodagh O'Donovan's Roaring Forties (Royal Cork YC) is third.
In IRC 2 Non-Spinnaker, the O'Mahony's Hanse 31 Loch Greine (Royal Cork YC) still leads the class, but two other Royal Cork YC teams are applying the pressure. Tom McCarthy's Impala 28 Whistlin' Dixie is just a point off the lead, after winning two of today's races. Pat Vaughan's Sigma 33 Aramis is third.
Racing for the IRC Classes at Volvo Cork Week will conclude tomorrow, Friday 20th July, The 1720 and International Dragon Southern Championships will race through until Saturday 21st July.
Thursday Photo Gallery below by Tim Wright
Full results here
Still with two days of racing to go, Volvo Cork Week staged a spectacular gathering of all the racing yachts today for the iconic Harbour Race that included a massed start and sail past the historic town of Cobh.
Photographer Tim Wright captured the action below.
Overall leaders have emerged in all classes at Volvo Cork Week today after 85 yachts formed an impressive single starting line for the regatta's signature race in the beautiful surroundings of Cork Harbour for day three of the week long event.
The race is on across all 17–classes to establish overall leads going into the final two days that will feature three intense races per day.
After a General Recall the fleet readied themselves for a Black Flag restart today, which was far from conservative, many of the massive starting line up hitting the line on the 'B' of the Bang!
A kaleidoscope of spinnakers made for an amazing sight as the fleet entered Cork Harbour for close quarters racing past Spike Island and Cobh. Race Officers Jack Roy and Rob Lamb were roundly applauded at the daily prize giving for their teams' efforts in producing a great day of racing.
The Beaufort Cup switched to inshore mode for the Harbour Race. Barry Byrne's Irish Defence Force team, racing Joker 2, pulled off a Harry Houdini Act to win the race by just seven seconds from Simon Coveney's Irish Defence Forces Team, racing Jedi. Joker 2 was deep down in the class rounding in front of Cobh but came back with some tenacity. The two J/109s were overlapped going through the finish line, Jedi took the gun by one second but Joker 2 was the victor after time correction. Youen Jacob's Baltimore RNLI team, racing J/109 Juggerknot was third. Joker 2 now has a three-point lead in their defence of the Beaufort Cup. Jedi and Juggerknot are tied for second place.
In IRC One, day one leader Jay Colville's Forty Licks with Russell McGovern among the crew from East Down Yacht Club was the winner of the Harbour Race to go back on top overall of the nine boat fleet. Jonathan Anderson's El Gran Senor, a J122E, was third to give the Clyde entry second overall. Swansea's Dark Angel, with Robert O'Leary helming, is now third overall after a second in today's harbour race.
In IRC Two, Brian & Mary Jones' J/109 Jelly Baby (Royal Cork YC) put in a strong performance to win the Harbour Race and in doing so lead the class for the series after three races but only on countback from Dunlop & Cox's J/109 Mojito (Pwllheli SC).
In IRC Three, Jonny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony (Howth YC) took a game-changing win to go top of the class, scoring the fastest corrected time under IRC from all of the 85 starters.
“We got a great start and that put us in clear air after the top mark, which really helped us position the boat for good downwind speed.” commented Harmony's Jonny Swan. “In Cork Harbour the boys did a great job on the manoeuvres, so it really came together well.”
In IRC Four, Rory Fekkes' Quarter Tonner Fn'Gr8 corrected out to win the Harbour Race to go top of the class. Denis Hewitt's Mills 37 Raptor (Royal Irish YC) scored their second win of Volvo Cork Week in the Coastal IRC Class, just ahead of Brian Twomey's 1720 Dark Side (Royal Cork YC), which showed terrific pace.
“Great racing today, absolutely perfect conditions and a great course.” commented Raptor's, Denis Hewitt. “I have done this race so many times and always messed it up somewhere but we have some top local knowledge on board from Barry Rose and great sailors like Fintan Cairns. To be honest, I just did what they told me, and we hardly put a foot wrong."
Aidan Heffernan's Dehler 36 Indulgence (SHSC) corrected out to win the Harbour Race in Non-Spinnaker IRC One, ahead of Broadhead, Collins & Stuart's Sigma 38 Persistance (Royal Irish YC), which leads the class with the lowest net point score for the regatta. Pat Vaughan's Sigma 33 Aramis (Royal Cork YC) was the winer of Non-Spinnaker IRC Two.
Volvo Cork Week continues tomorrow, Thursday 19th July, with three short sharp races scheduled for most of the IRC Classes, as well as the start of the One Design Southern Championships for the 1720 Class and the International Dragons.
Photo Gallery from today's in–harbour race by Bob Bateman below:
Full results here