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#icra – Support provided by Irish racers from ISORA and ICRA contributed to the success of last week's inaugural Welsh IRC championships. Forecasts for Pwllheli on the weekend of the inaugural Spinlock IRC Championships were predicting very light winds and many of the competitors wondered whether the full complement of races would be achieved. When the competitors emerged from the skippers' briefing they were greeted by winds of around 18 - 22 knots indicating that some good racing was on the cards for the Friday afternoon.

The Royal Dee Yacht Club Race Committee, lead by Mike Butterfield, ran two races on the first day with Cri Cri, Royal Irish Yacht Club skippered by Paul Colton, making a commanding start with a first in both races in Class 1, while Legless Again took 2nd and 3rd to take 2nd spot at the end of day 1. In Class 0, it was evident that Stratisfear, Imposter and Roxstar were serious contenders for the top spot with Stratisfear taking a 2nd and 1st, Imposter taking 1st and 3rd and Roxstar 3rd and 2nd.

Overnight the fleets were moored for the first time on the new visitor and events pontoons at Pwllheli. These pontoons are part of the £8.3m investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council in the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre that will open its doors in 2015. Friday night provided some legendary hospitality from Pwllheli with the Crews' dinner and a few beers.

Saturday started very wet and the wind again defied the forecasters by providing speeds in the high teens. The rain cleared in time for racing and, as it looked like it was going to be another good day on the water, the race committee capitalised by running four races. At the end of day two Stratisfear's consistent performance put them firmly in the lead adding a 3rd and another first to their morning results with Roxstar close on their heels.

In class 1, it was still all to play for with Molissa, Injenious, CriCri, and She Too in contention. However, Eazi Tiger's consistent performance had them in 3rd place overall with CriCri, who couldn't maintain Friday's excellent performance, slipping into 2nd place overall. After some consistent racing Injenious moored for the day in first place overall.

Sunday presented the fleets with higher winds for their coastal race with speeds of 27 knots being experienced in the shelter of the marina. Once out on the water, winds in excess of 30 knots were recorded and with wind over tide, boats were met by choppy seas in the bay. Many boats decided that the conditions were too much for them and didn't turn up to the start, including Roxstar and Stratisfear who realised that they had enough results to discard the last race and still win overall.

The race committee, having to endure those conditions themselves, decided that the smaller fleet, those boats with IRC handicaps less than 1.000, would not race and class 1 racing was abandoned. Local J109s Mojito and Sgrech got the best starts on the 24nm course and were off across the bay towards the St. Tudwal islands before some others had started as some were struggling to get sails up in the conditions.

Round the islands and through some challenging seas, Imposter took the lead and line honours with Mojito 2nd and Gringo (National Yacht Club skippered by Tony Fox) 3rd, but after handicaps were applied Mojito took first place, Imposter 2nd and Gringo took 3rd.

Guy Cowper, the skipper of winning boat Stratisfear, was delighted with the excellent sailing that was had by all at the Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships. He said: "This is the best bay I've ever sailed in; there's no tide, no commercial traffic and the scenery is second to none. Add to that the positive attitude of the Club's staff and volunteers and it would be difficult to have anything but a great event here. When the new Welsh National Sailing Academy building is opened next year this will be a World Class venue. I cannot wait to return to sail in Pwllheli."

The overall champion for both the Irish Crusing Racing Association (ICRA) and the Welsh Championship will be announced shortly.

The events team at Plas Heli and Pwllheli Sailing Club are currently consulting competitors regarding the format and timing of the 2015 championships which will be hosted in the new Academy facilities.

PSC Commodore Stephen Tudor said: "The Club was very proud to be offered the opportunity to host the first Welsh Spinlock IRC Championships and we are delighted that so many competitors from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Liverpool enjoyed their time in Pwllheli both on the water and ashore. The association ISORA and ICRA has strengthened the already established cross-channel link and hopefully this will continue to flourish and grow."

Overall standings for the weekend were as follows:

Class 1:
1st Injenious SCYC Hallworth Crompton
2nd CriCri Royal Irish Yatch Club Paul Colton
3rd Eazi Tiger Liverpool YC Connolly Kyffin Oliver

Class 0:
1st Stratisfear RDYC Guy Cowper
2nd Impostor SCYC Richard Fildes
3rd Roxstar Clyde Cruising Club Findlay and Anderson

Full results can be found here

Published in ICRA

#CelticRegatta - The inaugural Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships hosted by Pwllheli Sailing Club (PSC) is less than a fortnight away, with the Irish expected to make a strong showing in a competitive fleet over the weekend of 1-3 August.

And with a few free berths available in the harbour's new pontoons, there's still a chance to get involved in what's shaping up to be a strong weekend of racing.

Last year's successful J Cup at PSC was a springboard to launch the first 'Celtic Regatta', with the added award of the Spinlock IRC regional title.

The event will also showcase the recently completed visitor and event pontoons which form part of the £8.3m investment in the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre.

The Welsh Championships will be the first major event to make use of the new facilities, a year in advance of the Fireball Worlds scheduled for 17-28 August 2015.

Among the Celtic Regatta's supporters is the Irish Cruising Racing Association (ICRA), which has just completed its own successful championships hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

ICRA chairman and event organiser Norbert Reilly commented that the two events strengthen the ties already established across the Irish Sea. Indeed, a trophy will be awarded to the competitor with the best combined results in the two events.

And that's not to mention the Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli ISORA Race on 26 July, a feeder race to the Welsh Championships that counts as the seventh race in the ISORA 2014 series sponsored by Kona.

"The ISORA fleet regularly visits Pwllheli either for a race start or finish and the Welsh welcome is always warm and friendly," said ISORA chairman Peter Ryan. "The new facilities in Pwllheli will make the sailing waters easily accessible and a great destination for visiting offshore fleets, flotillas and for keel boat regattas and championships."

Among the other competitors readying for the regatta is Richard Fildes, a seasoned campaigner in Cork Week and Dun Laoghaire, notably successful in his recently sold Corby 37 Impetuous.

His home waters are in Cardigan Bay, and he says he's looking forward to competing in the Welsh IRCs in his recently acquired Corby 33 Impostor - as well as return the favour of the many great Irish welcomes he's received over the years.

Fildes and the rest will race a programme designed by international race officer Mike Butterfield, who heads the IRC Welsh Championships race management team and promised to provide the best possible competition on the water.

"The bay offers ideal race management opportunities with no commercial shipping to worry about and the tidal influence is not significant," said Butterfield.

Meanwhile, PSC Commodore Stephen Tudor - a former Irish Sea ISORA Champion himself - expressed his pride in his clubs hosting of the first Welsh IRC Championships and said he is "delighted to see competitors already entered from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Liverpool in addition to the local competitive fleet.

"Entries are still being received and we still have free berths available for the event on the new academy pontoons."

Published in ISORA

#scottishseries – Day one of the Silvers Marine Scottish Series got off to a slightly later start than billed due to light winds. IRC Class 1 left Gourock at 10.30am and, from the start, Steve Cowie's Zephyr and Jonathan Anderson and Murray Caldwell's Roxstar made the running.

Conditions seemed to favour the boats which chose to start from the Gourock shore and the other boats which had elected to start from offshore found they had to come back in, which cost them considerable time.

But it wasn't all plain sailing at the front as Roxstar led Zephyr round the wrong marker, on the wrong course which meant both boats had to go back and get on the right course. Today was a real hard, tactical day for the IRC Class 1 boats and this, combined with the navigational issues meant that Friday's racing was much closer than anticipated.
However, the day concluded with a win to Zephyr with Jamie McGarry and Colin Moore, of Silvers Marine, in Eala of Rhu claiming a well-deserved second and Jim Dick in Fortuna clinching third.

In IRC Class 2 Kevin Aitken in Animal goes into tomorrow ahead after winning their class by 7 minutes, making yachts such as Neill Sandford's Now or Never 3 and John Corson's Salamander XXI playing catch up.
As well as the Clyde Passenger Challenge Race the MalinWaters fleet which includes the one design Sigma 33's, Sonta's and sport boats had four very successful races on upper Loch Fyne. In the Sigma's it's very tight at the front with Donald McLaren in Sigmatic followed by Harold Hood in Odyssey II and Roy Summers in Rajah.

In the Sonata's Murray Caldwell in Red Hot Poker goes into tomorrow with a comfortable ten point lead over Mark Taylor in Saraband and Mark Bradshaw in Mostly Harmless.
Today has seen some very tight racing but there's one certainty – it's great to see Scottish Series underway on Loch Fyne!

Published in Racing
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#cruiserracing – The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) has dropped plans to create a new handicap division at the bottom end of class 1 and the top of class 2 for its IRC national championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) next month, one of the biggest events of the Irish sailing calendar.

The ICRA event, that is aiming for a record entry of over 110 boats, is a handicap based regatta which means any decision affecting rating bands and in what class boats sail can be a contentious issue.

ICRA's handicapping chief Denis Kiely explained yesterday 'there wasn't enough interest/entries and while this is somewhat disappointing we have to work with what we have not what we would like to have'.

The turnaround means the championships will have a more traditional configuration of Divisions 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 in spite of the class band shake–up that was hinted at November's annual conference.

The non-spinnaker boats [Corinthian Cup] will most likely be in 2 divisions and they will be numbered 5 and 6.

In an up date to skippers yesterday Kiely said arrangements are still provisional until remaining entries are in but it is very unlikely that the divisions configuration will change hereafter - individual boats at the margins may be a different matter.

Published in ICRA

#corby25 – A Corby 25 IRC cruiser–racer built by Harley Yachts, is on market, just in time for competition at the ICRA Nationals in Dun Laoghaire in June and Cork Week in July.

Thunderbird has been well maintained and stored inside every winter. The 2004 build is advertised on Afloat Boats for Sale site through Northern Ireland broker Whyboats Northern Ireland.

One of the most successful designs drawn by John Corby, these 25–footers have been extremely successful in Ireland, the UK and wins include the Irish IRC nationals Class 2 from 2007 to 2001 and Cork Week - IRC 5 in 2010 and 2008. The Corby 25 was awarded Yacht of the Year in 2009.

On sale at €25,000, Thunderbirds are go! Full advert here.

Published in Boat Sales

#IRC – A brand new Welsh IRC championships dubbed the 'Celtic Regatta' is to be staged at the Welsh National Sailing Academy in Pwllheli. It will be promoted in Dun Laoghaire this weekend by Stephen Tudor, an Irish Sea ISORA Champion and the Commodore of Pwllhelli Sailing Club.

The event flyer (downloadable below as a jpeg file) carries the logos of the National Yacht Club and ISORA.

Tudor says there has been a very strong and positive response to proposals for the 2014 IRC Welsh National Championships following the previous announcement regarding the date for the event - 1st to 3rd August 2014. (4th is a bank holiday in Ireland).

Tudor comes to Dun Laoghaire this weekend for the ISORA agm and black tie prizegiving at the National Yacht Club tomorrow and aims to recruit as much interest from this side of the Irish Sea as possible.

The event aims to build on the long established links between Ireland and Wales and in particular between the Clubs on each side if the Irish Sea.

So far Tudor has produced an initial promotional flyer for the three day event and a copy is attached below as a jpg document for download.

The IRC National Championship is an open event and will use the facilities of the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre and will draw on the skill and experience of the Academy's event team who regularly run World and European Championships.

Work on the £8.3M Academy facilities starts in the new year.

This work says Tudor will enhance and extend the events capacity in Pwllheli and will improve access to the world renowned sailing waters of Cardigan Bay with the provision of new dedicated visitor and events berths with cranes located adjacent to the Marina.

The substantial dredging work is expected to be completed before the start of the sailing season. The iconic and new state of the art Academy building will be ready for the 2015 season and will incorporate a café/restaurant and club house all of which will have views of the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia and mid Wales will provide a spectacular backdrop.

Published in ICRA
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#welshircnationals – At their annual meeting on 12th September, the GBR IRC Committee approved the IRC GBR Regional Championships for 2014 to be held in Pwllheli.
The date proposed for the Championships is to coincide with the Pwllheli Regatta between 1st and 4th August 2014. An 'Event Organising Committee (EOC)' is now been setup and anyone wishing to contribute should contact Stephen Tudor at Pwllheli SC

Published in ICRA

#RORC - The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Rating Office is launching an international competition next week to select the photograph that will grace the front cover of the 2014 edition of the RORC IRC Yearbook, published by Yachting World.

Entry to the 2014 Yearbook Competition, which kicks off on 15 July, is restricted to two submissions per person to be submitted by 30 August 2013.

A shortlist selected from all the entries will then be judged by Yachting World's racing and technical editor Matthew Sheahan, RORC's technical director Mike Urwin, award-winning photographer Ian Roman and marine leisure PR consultant Peta Stuart-Hunt.

The judges will be looking for an exciting image that reflects the club racing ethos of IRC rating. This may be round-the-mark action from one of your local club weekend races, a fleet shot from a weekday 'twilight' race, or perhaps a lucky catch from one of the offshore classics.

They will not be looking for the 'glamour shot' of a exotic, high-tech racing boat so much as something that encompasses everything IRC stands for - competitive racing for all.

The winner will be notified by 30 September 2013 and will receive a certificate, and have their photo featured on the cover of the 2014 RORC IRC Yearbook, with appropriate credit as agreed with the winner. There is no monetary prize.

The competition rules are available on the RORC Rating Office website HERE.

Published in RORC

RORC British National Champions are decided, but Ireland's sole contender, Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39, Antix has to make do with seventh after a frustrating conclusion to the weekend series yesterday, writes Louay Habib.

Race 6 provided the final twist in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's IRC National Championship. There was a tense end to a fascinating encounter for 54 yachts from seven different countries competing at the regatta. All classes got away off Gillkicker Point but a substantial shift in the light breeze was too much to provide fair racing and the race was abandoned shortly after the start.

Several yachts will have been frustrated by the decision, especially, the Irish national champion, Antix, Tim Thubron's First 40.7, Puma Logic, and Adam Goslings, Corby 36, Yes!. However the wind shift was more than 50 degrees and ending the championship in that manner would have been unfair.

At 1200 the Race Committee put an end to racing for the RORC IRC National Championship and as the gun sounded a big cheer went up from Andrew Pearce's British Ker 40, Magnum 3, which won a highly competitive Class One. Andrew Pearce and his crew were all smiles at the prizegiving especially as Magnum 3 was also crowned Overall RORC IRC National Champion 2013.

"Absolutely thrilled we have had two cracking days of racing," smiled Andrew at the prizegiving. "Despite the light weather the wind direction over the two days we raced was consistent and everybody has had a really good time. We are just so very pleased to have won against the best opposition we have ever encountered. The boat and the crew have done so well and in conditions that aren't favourite for a Ker 40. Last year we won our class on the last race, this year to lead from the start and win overall has been a dream come true."

Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens, was second in IRC One and received the Jackdaw Trophy for second overall under IRC. Magnus Leask's British Swan 42, Magical Mystery Tour, was third in class.

The battle of the British TP52s went to Johnny Vincent's Pace scoring four wins out of five against Sir Keith Mills' 5 West. "We started this regatta as the underdogs so it has been very satisfying to win," commented Johnny. "We have also seen how well the crew and the boat are performing. No doubt we will be racing against 5 West at Cowes Week next month and we expect just as good competition."

The French flag was proudly flying from Olivier Pesci's Grand Soleil 40, Beelzebuth 3, after winning IRC Two. Former RORC Commodore Peter Rutter racing British Grand Soleil 43, Trustmarque Quokka, was second and Adam Gosling's Cowes based Corby 36, Yes! was third.

"This was our first time at the IRC Championship and we are very happy, the organisation and the sunny weather has been a real joy. We are delighted to have won and proud to represent France at the regatta," commented Olivier Pesci.

James Chalmers' Weymouth crew on board J/35, Bengal Magic, scored the lowest net points of any yacht at the regatta and was crowned IRC National Champion for IRC Three. Last year's overall winner David Franks' JPK10.10, Strait Dealer from Cowes, was second in class just half a point ahead of Peter Morton's Lymington based Corby 33, Salvo.

"It has come as a complete surprise to win our class!" commented an ecstatic James Chalmers. "We have been racing against some well sailed boats but now and again everything clicks together and that has been the case this weekend. We are absolutely thrilled to be national champions. I have just spent a fortune with Spinlock, so I am delighted to hear that we will be receiving some prizes from them, as well!"

National Champion in IRC Four was awarded to Nick and Adam Munday racing J/97, Indulgence, who won three of the five races sailed. Richard Sparrow's J/92, Who's to No and Michael Kershaw's Half Tonner, Chimp, tied on points but second place was awarded to Who's to No on countback.

A packed crowd attended the RORC IRC National Championship prizegiving where class winners were awarded with RORC decanters and event sponsor Spinlock, represented by James Hall, provided Spinlock Deckvest LITE liejackets, Deckpacks and Kneepads as prizes.

Full results here 

Published in RORC
Tagged under

The Irish Cruiser Racing Associtation (ICRA) has been given a ringing endorsement of the scoring system deployed at the cruiser national championships in Tralee by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London who see the Irish dual scoring system 'providing balance and parity'.

Even though Kerry was judged as a remote venue from the major cruiser-racer centres of Dublin and Cork it still managed to pull bigger numbers than for example those who contest the British IRC nationals. A fact Water Rat refered to last week in a piece on Ireland's event sustainability. 

"In Ireland, all races are dual scored under both IRC and ECHO, the Irish national performance handicap system. ECHO is then 'managed' to ensure that the keen racers don't win under both systems. It works - Ireland has the largest number of boats racing per capita, per mile of coastline, or any other way you measure it. " said the RORC's Mike Urwin.

Of course it is something Irish cruiser racer followers have known for sometime. WM Nixon refered to it recently in his Afloat.ie blog (Echoes of the Republic up North) in April. 

It is no secret that RORC's Rating Office, the technical arm of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and gatekeeper for the IRC rating rule in the UK, supports the use of local and national performance handicaps. Far from being in competition with IRC, properly administered handicap systems complement it by bringing new people into the sport and igniting their competitive spirit.

The Rating Office is optimistic that owners move into IRC when they feel they have 'outgrown' performance handicap racing, and recognises that it provides an ideal introduction to the sport. However, if your club usually splits boats between local handicap and IRC classes, this can mean unsatisfactory racing in small, fragmented fleets with large variations in performance.

One option for overcoming this is what Mike Urwin, RORC Technical Director, refers to as 'the Irish solution' and the joint use of ECHO and IRC.

Urwin contends that this allows those new to racing to compete in a larger, mixed fleet with a handicap that is adjusted to reflect their performance. As they become more experienced and their handicap increases, those sailors become less interested in the handicap result and more interested in getting an IRC result. It encourages newcomers, (especially if they beat the local favourite!) and produces better racing, as Urwin explains:

"Instead of splitting the fleet into 'club' and 'IRC', everybody races together with class splits based on speed if there are enough entries. Everyone gets a result in the handicap class, and those with an IRC certificate also get a result in the IRC class. Both classes have the same status on the noticeboard and the same prizes."

For performance handicaps and dual scoring to work well, the handicap system must be administered progressively and updated on a weekly, race by race basis. It does not work if a handicap is set at the beginning of the season but never changed!

For handicap racing and dual scoring in the UK, the RORC Rating Office recommends the new RYA National Handicap for Cruisers (NHC) alongside IRC. The Rating Office is very happy to advise clubs on dual scoring.

Published in ICRA
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