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Displaying items by tag: Nicholas O'Leary

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Peter and Robert O'Leary are seventh overall after four races sailed at the 93rd Star Bacardi Cup in Miami, USA yesterday. The Cork Harbour duo scored an eighth in race four, their third top ten of the series so far. Meanwhile, the O'Leary's father, Anthony along with third brother Nicholas, have started racing in another fleet at the Cup and they are currently third overall in the Viper 640 class.

On Thursday, the Star Class was joined by the complete line-up of one-design classes racing at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta. Taking on their first day of racing were the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640, and, brand new for the race track this year, the VX One sports boat, AV8 and Windfoil classes. The blend of sailors battling it out for glory on Biscayne Bay is phenomenal, with a mix of professional rock stars and super-talented Corinthian teams.

For 2020, the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta have welcomed a record-breaking 175 entries and well over 500 sailors representing 19 nations, proving its status as the sport’s most popular Spring regatta. Racing is across four-course areas, with the Star Class on a dedicated track and course sharing for the Melges 24 and J70, Viper 640 and VX One and AV8 with the Windfoil.

The Bacardi Invitational Regatta was in full swing today and all of the classes were able to get a taste of the joy of racing on Biscayne Bay as Miami showcased its Caribbean genes of heat, humidity and a steady 9-10 knot breeze to sailors from around the world.

Mateusz Kusnierewicz (POL)/Bruno Prada (BRA) made it another big day in the Star Class, as they seized the bullet to make it three wins in a row and lead the fleet on a perfect scorecard of 3 points. The pair have shown classy form and today secured a critical points edge with just two races to go to crown the 93rd Bacardi Cup champions. Behind the order of play remains the same at the end of the day as at the beginning with Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin (NOR) and Augie Diaz/Henry Boening (USA) pushing hard in second and third. It will now take an epic assault to unseat the reigning Star Class World Champions Kusnierewicz and Prada from their top billing, but one the chasing teams are willing to try. Among them are Paul Cayard (USA)/Pedro Trouche (BRA), who sit in fifth overall after a disappointing 17th finish yesterday. But they rebounded to deliver their best day, a 2nd place, and proved they can still fight amongst the best.

“This might be my 25th Bacardi Cup, surely the first one was in 1980,” commented Olympian, multiple World Champion, Louis Vuitton Cup and Whitbread Round the World winner Paul Cayard. “We had a very bad day yesterday when I could not put us in a good position at the start, but I am happy about today, our best result so far. It’s just that Mateusz and Bruno are so fast, and with three wins, we can all just fight to be second best.” 

Out on the track first were the Melges 24 and J70 who raced in the south of the bay, starting out in a fluky 5-6 knots before the breeze steadied to 9-10 knots. Three races in the Melges 24 saw the big hitters out front early on, with Bora Gulari and his team of Kyle Navin/Norman Berg/Ian Liberty and match racing superstar Taylor Canfield setting the pace to secure two wins and a second place to lead overall. They know what it takes to win, having wrapped up victory in one of the Bacardi Winter Series warm-up events in January 2020. Just 2 points behind are KC Shannon/Jackson Benvenutti/Ben Lynchi/Tom Sawchuk/Elizabeth Whitener, with Peter Duncan/ Victor Diaz de Leon/Mattero Ramian/Carlos Robles/Willem Van Waay in third. Duncan and crew race in Miami fresh from their Melges 24 victory at last month’s 2020 NOOD Regatta where they nailed an all-win scorecard.

The aptly named ‘Eat Sleep J Repeat’ helmed by reigning J/70 World Champion Paul Ward (GBR) with crew of Ruairidh Scott/Ben Saxton/Mario Trindade were the pace setters in the J70 fleet, stamping their authority on the chasing pack with a 2,2,1 scorecard, but it was no easy racing. Ward’s crew boasts plenty of successes, but so do the other teams with World Champions and Olympians aplenty. Second to Ryan McKillen/John Wallace/Sam Loughborough/Mark Mendelblatt (USA) and third to Chile’s Pablo Herman/Luis Felipe/Felipe Echenique/Will Welles.

“It was a really, really good day and we finally started to work out how to sail out here,” grinned Paul Ward. “We always love coming to Bacardi Cup because it is cold, wet and miserable at home and the sun is shining here and we have some fantastic racing.”

Anticipating the races ahead, Ward continued, “There are two more days and there are a lot of fast boats, which is why we love coming out here as the competition is great. We’ve just got to see how we go and the boys are going well, everyone’s enjoying themselves and the bar is open, so life is good!”

Viper 640

In the Viper 640 fleet, it was Will Graves/Ryan Cox/Greg Dair who set the early running, with results of 1,2,3, but the defending Bacardi Invitational Champions Geoff Ewenson/Mary Ewenson/Tyler Bjorn soon settled into their groove to claim wins in races 2 and 3. This fleet is renowned for its camaraderie, so plenty of post-race analysis chat flows helped along with the Bacardi hospitality.

“Today was nice, a beautiful building breeze out of the east which took a bit longer than expected, but eventually it came in,” commented Geoff Ewenson who is a familiar face in Miami, counting fifteen appearances at the Bacardi Cup. “We were caught a little bit out of tune in the first race, but we figured it out throughout the race. We knew the boat didn’t feel quite right, so we worked hard after the first race and made some adjustments to the rig tune and were able to find our speed and were particularly fast downwind.” 

An all-American line up is contesting the VX One fleet, and reflecting the closeness of racing a different team won each of the three races. Matching scorecards to Ched Proctor/David Guggenheim/Monica Morgan and Sandra Askew/Kyle Kandt/Jason Curvie (USA) in the first two races was ultimately settled by a 2nd place finish for Proctor and crew in race 3 to give them the series lead. Second to Askew/Kandt/Curvie on tiebreak advantage over Bill Wiggins/Jeff Eiber/Farby Cappellin.

“Miami is my favourite place to go sailing,” smiled Proctor, before Guggenheim chipped in, “The water is warm, the breeze is strong!”

“It was pretty nice today, as the first two races were fully powered up,” continued Proctor, “although the last race we were a little depowering. It was a pretty perfect day for sailboat racing. This is the best place in North America to sail in the winter.”

Brazil’s Gabriel Browne produced a punishingly accurate performance to claim four back to back race wins in the Windfoil Class. Hunting him down in each race with four second places was Alexander Temko (USA) with Justin Ahearn (USA) in third overall.

“We have a lot of participation at this event, as it is our first time with the big boat fleet,” commented Alex Morales, representative of the Windfoil Class. “We have some of the top guys from Brazil and the USA, plus some juniors from the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club who are doing their first event in this Olympic windsurfing class. We are super excited, we feel really welcome and are really pleased to be part of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta.”

Plenty of kite racing pedigree in the hydrofoil Cabrinha AV8 Class and joining the AV8 are legends Damien Leroy and Jon Modica, who make their AV8 racing debuts amongst the normal class veterans. Leroy was fast off the start and superbly foiled his way to knock out four race wins. Second to Brendan Healy (USA) with Kent Marcovich (USA) in third.

The Bacardi Invitational Regatta marks the third major event of the season for the Cabrinha AV8 class. The AV8 is a strict one-design hydrofoil racer, positioned as an affordable and accessible form of hydrofoil kite racing. Racing is tight, tactical and fast with speeds easily reaching the 30-knot range in as little as 10 knots of wind speed.

Tonight teams will enjoy another memorable party night hosted by Bacardi at Shake a Leg Miami. Racing continues on Friday 6 March, with one race for the Star Classes and three to four races for all other fleets.

Bacardi Cup 2020 – Star Class Top 3 – After 4 races

Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) – 5 pts
Eivind Melleby / Joshua Revkin (NOR 8234) – 10 pts
Augie Diaz /Henry Boening (USA 8509) – 14 pts

J70 – Top 3 – After 3 races
Eat Slepp J Repeat (GBR 1127) – Paul Ward / Ruairidh Scott / Ben Saxton / Mario Trindade – 5 pts
Surge (USA 179) – Ryan McKillen / John Wallace / Sam Loughborough / Mark Mendelblatt – 12 pts
New Wave (USA 456) – Pablo Herman / Luis Felipe / Felipe Echenique / Will Welles – 17 pts

Melges 24 – Top 3 – After 3 races
USA 420 (USA 420) – Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berg / ian Liberty / Taylor Canfield – 4 pts
Shaka (USA 801) – KC Shannon / Jackson Benvenutti / Ben Lynchi / Tom Sawchuk / Elizabeth Whitener – 6 pts
Raza Mixta (USA 820) – Peter Duncan / Victor Diaz de Leon / Mattero Ramian / Carlos Robles / Willem Van Waay – 15 pts

Viper 640 – Top 3 – After 3 races
USA 293 (USA 293) – Will Graves / Ryan Cox / Greg Dair – 6 pts
Evil Hiss (USA 297) – Geoff Ewenson / Mary Ewenson / Tyler Bjorn – 8 pts
Antix (USA 296) – Anthony O’Leary / Ben Field / Nicholas O'Leary – 17 pts

VXOne – Top 3 – After 3 races
VX1 – (USA 187) – Ched Proctor / David Guggenheim / Monica Morgan – 6 pts
Flying Jenny(USA 277) – Sandra Askew / Kyle Kandt / Jason Curvie – 10 pts
Send it (USA 160) – Bill Wiggins / Jeff Eiber / Darby Cappellin – 10 pts

Cabrinha AV8 – Top 3 – After 4 races
Damien Le Roy – 4 pts
Brendan Healy – 10 pts
Kent Marcovich – 14 pts

Open Windfoil – Top 3 – After 4 races
Gabriel Browne – 3 pts
Alexander Temko – 6 pts
Justin Ahearn – 9 pts

Published in Star

Anthony O'Leary and his Cork Harbour crew of David Hassett and Niall Rafferty in Antix have finished seventh overall at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in Miami at the weekend in the 19-boat Viper 640 class. His sons Nicholas and Robert, sailing 'Brotherly Love' under the burgee of Baltimore Sailing Club and competing in the Star class, finished 12th overall in their 64-boat fleet.

Overall results are here.

Biscayne Bay showcased the best day of racing as this iconic racing venue said good-bye to the 500 sailors who competed. A great Easterly breeze of around 10 knots, sun shining warm and wave chop a lot less than the previous days made for a perfect race day. All of the classes finished their scheduled races at this the best spring sailing yacht racing event in the North Hemisphere.

In the Star Class, the charge for the 92nd Bacardi Cup victory came down to an American Gold Star battle. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) presented a flawless scorecard with results always in the top 4, but Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA) managed a brilliant come back from a 27th in race 1 and earned a chance to steal the win from Doyle/Infelise. But only if they could maintain the momentum that gave them wins in Race 4 and 5. Both teams started on the right side, with Doyle keeping an eagle eye on Cayard who was almost on pin end and kept following that track. The Southern California partnership of Doyle/Infelise were first to the windward mark, whilst in a surprise turn of form North California legend Paul Cayard rounded at the back, in about 20th position.

The order of play continued at the downwind gate and up the second windward leg. At this point, Doyle/Infelise realized they were safely ensconced as winners of the 92nd Bacardi Cup and could abandon the race and head ashore! Even though Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedal were slowly climbing back through the fleet, there was no hope of them overhauling Doyle/Infelise’s points advantage. Then, on the second downwind, they broke their mast and were forced to be towed back in. Scoring a DNF penalty, they had to re-count their 27th from day 1 and plummeted down the leaderboard to finish in 7th overall.

Standing alongside Doyle/Infelise on the podium were Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Firithjof Kleen (GER), who also gave themselves an uphill start after a UFD in race 1, but won two races from the remaining five and finished only 2 points behind the winners. Another two points back were bronze medalists Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA). In fourth were defending champions Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy and in fifth the French Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot.

“It’s been great, fun, fabulous weather, it all came together nicely, we had great speed, a fantastic team work, good starts and it’s great to be in this excellent field with incredible champions,” smiled a very satisfied Eric Doyle. “It is our first win even though I have sailed here for 20 times. One time we had a big fight then Ross McDonald came ahead I lost my points; it doesn’t matter now, it’s great we won it! And we are happy to win 2500 points of the Star Sailors League. We plan to go to the Europeans/SSL Breeze Grand Slam in May and then to the Worlds in Porto Cervo in June, so plenty of racing coming ahead!”

On the race courses closer to shore, action was unfolding for the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and the Flying Tigers 7.5 who contested their last two races of the series.

In the J/70, the winners were the team on Catapult (USA), featuring Joel Ronning, Victor Diaz del Leon, Patrick Wilson and Chris Stoke. They were the most solid and consistent of the fleet with every score inside the top 3, after discarding their 11th in race 3. They racked up a 16 point advantage over second placed Americans onboard Surge with Mark Mendelblatt calling tactics, and in third was Italy’s Calvi Network with Carlo Alberini driving.

“This was a very fun team to sail with we all got along very well,” commented Joel Ronning of Catapult. “This group of people are very good at what they do. We had tremendous fun, we were able to minimize mistakes by keeping the dialogue open and if there were any issues they were taken care of right away. It’s a phenomenal event and one of the premier series in the world. It’s very well organized. We love Shake A Leg, we love Bacardi, everybody is so welcoming and we will definitely be coming back.”

A big fight in the Melges 24, where, despite domination from a 19 boat American team line-up, it was the Italians on Italian Bombarda who claimed the win. Their super crew was all home-made in Italy: Andrea Pozzi, Carlo Zermin, Matteo Ivaldi, Nicholas Dal Ferro and Stefano Ciampalini. Full Throttle (USA) with Olympic tactician Jonathan McKee finished in second and Monsoon (USA) in third, with just 1 point between each of the top three teams.

“We loved the conditions here,” said Andrea Pozzi of Bombarda. “It’s the ones we love and perform better with. The crew has been working together for a long time, even though we are coming back together after a year’s break. Miami is a fantastic spot, we love it and we loved the event. It combined the sport of sailing to the fun in the after sail, we want to thank Bacardi for this!”

Evil Hiss stepped up today to win the super competitive Viper 640 class: Mary and Geoff Ewenson with Star Olympian Tyler Bjorn won the last three races of the series leaving no doubts as to who was the best in the fleet. Great Scott!slang (USA) came in 6 points behind in second place, and first Corinthian team, and Choppy Seas (USA) completed the podium in third.

“We got better as the days progressed. Choreography on the boat was just perfect,” said Geoff Ewenson. “The crew was very experienced and we were able to make good decisions. I’ve sailed in Miami enough so that it almost feels like sailing in my home waters. I remember coming down to Miami to sail the Bacardi Cup in Stars and now, the last three times as part of the Bacardi Invitational in Vipers. Love the organization, love Biscayne Bay and I can’t wait to come back next year.”

The best of the Flying Tigers 7.5 was Neun (CAN) with Geoff Becker, Richard Griffin, Sabine Griffin, Joe Mele and Adam Spiegel onboard. Finishing in style, they won the last race of the series. Just one point behind, Grassy Manatee (CAN) finished in second, with J.A.C.K.ed (USA) is third.

“We just had awesome team work,” explained Geoff Backer of Neun about their win. “Beautiful clear conditions, warm water, warm air, everything was fantastic. We had such great fun and we’ll definitely come back next year!”

As the curtains prepare to drop on the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, tonight it is all about the big Prize Giving Ceremony and dinner party at Shake-A-Leg Miami to officially close the 2019 edition. Bacardi is already planning the 2020 edition with the 93rd Bacardi Cup for the Star class, the event that launched this all in 1927 in Havana, Cuba.

Published in Star

Cork Harbour pair Nicholas and Robert O'Leary have moved up to 11th overall after the second raced sailed of the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in Miami yesterday.

The new Baltimore Sailing Club combination are the only Irish crew competing in the Star class in Florida but as Afloat.ie previously reported their father Anthony will be racing in the Viper class at the same venue starting today.

Results are here

As the fleet departed from the Coral Reef Yacht Club, day three of the 92nd Bacardi Cup delivered a brisk northerly breeze day under a clear blue sky and bright light.

A 15/18 knot breeze from the north-east, with very choppy seas gave an exhilarating if challenging ride for the 64 teams, with one bent mast the only recorded damage. The Committee hoisted the AP flag to wait for the wind to settle and a little after midday the starting sequence began with U flag up for security reasons.

After a rough upwind leg, Norway’s World Champion Eivind Melleby with his American crew Josh Revkin were the first to round the mark, followed by Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA), both chased hard by Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA). The iconic partnership of Cayard/Liljedahl knocked out a fantastic and fast paced downwind leg, accelerating to be first at the gate, leaving Melleby/Revin second and Olympic Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) still pushing hard in third.

Making their break, the newly formed Kusznierewicz/Kleen team opted for the right side of the upwind leg and eased into the lead, extending their margin further on the second downwind leg, with Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise now in second, and Cayard/Liljedahl third. Moving into the fifth and last leg, Kusznierewicz/Kleen controlled their lead, whilst behind Cayard/Liljedahl advanced to second, passing Doyle/Infelise who had to be satisfied with a 4th place finish. But their consistent two-race scorecard of 3,4 rewarded Doyle/Infelise at the top of the leaderboard and the team to now oust.

“It would have been nicer to keep the lead and win a bullet for Magnus’ birthday,” grinned Paul Cayard. “But it was very shifty out there and we had to battle with some very good sailors. Second is good, we are pleased with the result and look forward to tomorrow.”

“Winning always feels nice,” reflected Mateusz Kusznierewicz after their dominance. “We missed Race 1 yesterday for being UFD, so today was our first day racing together and it was fun. I liked sailing with Frithjof and in these great conditions.”

Tomorrow PRO Carl Schellbach will aim for two races for the Star fleet by starting an hour earlier at 11:00. Embarking on their first race day on Biscayne Bay will be the other classes invited to the Bacardi Invitational Regatta, as the J/70 fleet appears here for its second consecutive year, the Melges 24 returns after a short break and the Viper 640 and Flying Tigers 7.5 fleet make their debut at this the best sailing week in Miami.

Plenty of talent in the J/70 including defending title holder Joel Ronning (USA) on Catapult, and his rival Brian Keane (USA) on Savasana. Also eyeing the podium will be 2018 J/70 Worlds gold medal winning crew Lucas Calabrese, who features on the starting line in Miami as a key component of the team on the USA’s Mr Pitiful, skippered by Kevin Downey. Calabrese was also part of the silver medal J/70 team at last year’s Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, so brings plenty of experience to the race track. Add to that Calabrese’s bronze medal in the 470 at the 2012 Olympic Games, eleven years after being crowned Optimist World Champion, and you have a player who knows how to succeed under pressure.

The 2018 Worlds bronze medallists are the class act to watch in the Melges 24 fleet. Under the super-competent eyes of Bruce Ayres, they are brimming with confidence fresh from wrapping up their second consecutive Melges 24 Winter Series win in Miami at the start of this year.

Whilst Canadian teams dominate the Flying Tiger 7.5 entry list, with 6 teams from Oakville taking to the race track, the leaderboard is wide open as to who will secure victory. Over in the 19-boat Viper 640 fleet competition is also hard to forecast, but eyes for sure will be on Brad Boston (CAN) and his team on Jackpot who wrapped up victory at last year’s North Americans, and also well up in the mix will be Mary Ewenson who finished third.

An 11:00 start is scheduled for all fleets tomorrow on Biscayne Bay. The Star fleet is targeting races 3 and 4 of the Bacardi Cup, while J/70, Melges24, Viper 640 and Flying Tigers 7.5 will face their first three races of the series. The weather forecast should see a return to classic Miami conditions, embracing the usual warm temperatures and steady mid-range breeze.

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Nicholas and Robert O'Leary were 13th in race one of the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in Miami yesterday. It was a new departure for the O'Leary campaign with 2020 Vendee Globe hopeful Nicholas taking the place of Peter on the tiller of the family's Star keelboat IRL 8527, named 'Brotherly Love'.

The new Baltimore Sailing Club combination is the only Irish crew competing in the Star class in Florida but as Afloat.ie previously reported their father Anthony is racing in the Viper class this week at the same venue.

Results after day one are here

A sunny and very hot South of Florida morning welcomed the 128 Star sailors at Coral Reef Yacht Club for the first day of the 92nd Bacardi Cup.

The regatta is one of the most appreciated competitions in the sailing calendar, with a long and celebrated history starting in Havana, Cuba in 1927. Since then, with only ten boats in the line-up, the Bacardi Cup has grown into one of the world’s major sailing events with peak records of more than 100 entries. In 2018, the Bacardi Cup Organizing Committee extended an invitation beyond the Star Class, to embrace other high-profile one-design fleets, making the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta one of the most attended spring sailing events. The J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and Flying Tiger 7.5 will begin their racing on Thursday, March 7th, but today it was all about the Star Class.

Star sailingStars go downwind in Miami Photo: Martina Orsini

After the skippers briefing, the 64 teams headed to the Biscayne Bay race course for a 11:55 hours start. No surprise the fleet was eager to get going, with PRO Carl Shellbach giving two general recalls before Race 1 got underway. The black flag played its deterrent role and only three boats were over the line, among them Polish Olympic Gold and Star World Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz, racing with World Champion crew Firthjof Kleen.

The upwind leg opened with a light breeze of 6/7 knots from ashore, with most of the fleet opting for what they predicted was the favourable left side. First to the windward mark was Italy’s Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi, winner of the 2018 Bacardi Cup, followed by the Norwegian World Champion Eivind Melleby with Josh Revkin (USA). The two exchanged positions in a tussle to the downwind gate, before Negri/Lambertenghi stepped up their pace to reclaim the advantage in a tricky second upwind leg. Behind, Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada came through, in a masterclass of ‘right place at the right time’ as the wind began its big shift to the right. A few boat lengths into the last leg saw the morning wind drop, giving way to a different breeze from the land to give the race an unexpected reaching finish.

Letting the fleet know they have every intention of defending their 2018 title, Negri and Lambertenghi kept their lead in front of Augie Diaz/Bruno Prada, with Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise finishing in third. After starting strong, Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin could only hold onto an eighth place.

“It is such a great feeling to be leading this excellent fleet,” smiled Diego Negri after racing. “The day was really tricky with two pressures fighting each other, so the first half of the race the left side was favourite while on the second half it was the right that ended with a reaching finish. We kept eyes well open, we kept control and we managed to finish with a bullet in a first beautiful race.”

Tonight, teams are guests of Eddie Cutillas at the beautiful Bacardi Building for the traditional welcome cocktail, where the BACARDÍ rum team will greet and host the competitors. BACARDÍ has sponsored the event since its inception in 1927. The nightly parties make sure the fun continues long after the finish line. Next social event will be the Mid-Week Party at Shake-a-Leg Miami on March 6th to mark the half-way stage of the event and the Prize Giving Dinner on Saturday, March 9th.

Before that, tomorrow another sailing day awaits the 64 teams for Race 2 of the 92nd Bacardi Cup, with an 11:55 starting sequence and more head to head battles set to unfold.

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Arriving back into Cork Harbour today, Nicholas O'Leary's IMOCA 60 has had a Winter make–over and looking very much more Irish than when she last sailed these shores as the former Great American IV.

Sporting some prominent 'Ireland.com' decals, the logo of Tourism Ireland, this is the agency responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas as a holiday destination.

As Afloat.ie readers will be aware, Ireland Ocean Racing, the team behind rookie Nicholas O'Leary's 2020 Vendee Globe Challenge, first sailed into Dun Laoghaire last November, with the IMOCA 60 racing yacht. 

The 'new' boat for O'Leary is the former Great American IV, an Owen Clarke designed boat from 2006 aboard which Dominique Wavre took part twice in the Vendée Globe (retired in 2008/2009, 7th in 2012/2013). This 60-footer has clocked up an impressive number of miles. She has taken part in two Barcelona World Races, the double-handed round the world race and one Route du Rhum.

Bought by the American solo sailor Rich Wilson in 2013, the boat underwent an important refit in late 2014-early 2015 after being struck by lightning.

For his debut Vendée Globe, the young Irish skipper has a boat which has shown herself to be reliable if he intends doing the race in her or just using her for a training boat. Aboard this very same boat, Dominique Wavre completed the race in 90 days in 2013.

As the boat arrived into port this afternoon. Ireland Ocean Racing tweeted: Check out our new look! "A great summer of sailing and events lined up#ior2020, #tourismireland, #irelandoceanracing, #seafest"

Listen to ‘Nin’ O’Leary on the podcast from last August here and to Stewart Hosford, CEO of ‘Ireland Ocean Racing,’ formally launched in Cork  to “increase the profile of competitive Irish ocean sailing and racing, inspire a new generation of competitors and deliver future Irish champions in the sport.”

Published in Vendee Globe
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The rapidly-developing partnership between solo offshore veteran Alex Thomson and proven star of fully-crewed boats Nin O’Leary of Cork has been the focus of much attention this week as they visit Cork and Dun Laoghaire.

Thomson’s eye-catching IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss was leader for significant stages in the 2016-2017 Vendee Globe Race, and placed second at the finish in January. During August, his linkup with Crosshaven’s Nin O’Leary and the new Cork-based set–up of Ireland Ocean Racing has had the rumour mills running in overdrive, with much speculation and comment. W M Nixon found that the unique position of Dun Laoghaire provided a special occasion and a relaxed setting in which the prospects for this new and dynamic sailing relationship could be quietly and usefully discussed.

Every so often, the rest of us who sail from other ports are reminded that, in the final analysis, Dun Laoghaire is our sailing capital. Cork Harbour may be very much the national maritime centre, with Galway also making notable research input. But the extensive nature of Cork Harbour is such that it has several places and organisations which could claim to be its main focal point, so the effect is diffused. And while Galway successfully punches way above its weight, the fact that as a city it is only a fraction of the size of Dublin inevitably counts in rating its influence.

Thus Dublin is very much the capital, the place where major decisions are taken in all national areas including the maritime sphere. Dublin Bay is the main area for its sailing, well ahead in the numbers game. And Dun Laoghaire is uniquely the focal point for that sailing, a remarkable and historic artificial harbour through which the pulsing metropolitan energy interacts with the sea and recreational seafaring.

huge boss riyc2The brooding presence. The all-black IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss berthed at the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet at a different level, it is also the home port of many hobby sailors who simply see it as the conveniently-located local harbour which has ample facilities for their own sailing needs. Admittedly the affluence of the area in which it is located has meant that Dun Laoghaire has seen a significant influx of new non-woooden boats over the years, and it has lost some of the historic local One-Design classes which were once the bedrock of its highly-developed sailing scene. But even here, once it became clear that an important heritage was under threat, there has been a growing movement to preserve and expand the most historic class of all.

That has succeeded with the current great good health of the Dublin Bay Water Wag, the world’s first One-Design class, which started life as a simple double-ended little slip of a lug-rigged 13ft sailing dinghy in 1887, but by 1900 was in process of changing itself into a heftier transom-sterned gunter-sloop-rigged clinker-built boat 14ft 3ins long and 5ft 3 ins beam, with a heavy centreplate.

The new design commission was entrusted to boatbuilder J. E. Doyle in what was then Kingstown, but it’s generally reckoned the real designer was his daughter Maimie Doyle, whose talent lay in putting manners on her father’s extremely rough and often nonexistent sketches.

Whatever the design origins, the new boats were soon popular. But with other larger One-Designs available locally, each with its own adherents, it was thought good going if the racing turnout for the new Water Wags climbed above the fifteen mark before the Great War of 1914-1918.

water wags on port3Race on! The Water Wags and Dun Laoghaire Harbour seem made for each other. Photo: W M Nixon

Dublin Bay proved to be ideal for the encouragement of several One-Design classes, but over the years the classic larger wooden boats left the stage to be replaced by more modern plastic boats, with the Dublin Bay 21s exiting in 1986, while in 2004 the Dublin Bay 24s sailed their last race, yet today it could be argued that they’ve been replaced by the growing Dublin Bay J/109 fleet.

A couple of post-World War II timber-built classes are still active in the Glens and the IDRA 14s, but the 17ft Dublin Bay Mermaids of 1932 provenance which originated in Dun Laoghaire are only a token presence, even if they thrive elsewhere. So now the main thrust of Dun Laoghaire enthusiasm for genuine classics sailing has devolved on the Water Wags, which today prosper as never before, and in 2017 with noted maritime historian Hal Sisk as the very active Class Captain, it was hoped they might finally achieve a racing turnout of 30 boats on the starting line.

One hundred and thirty years to become an overnight success? It could only happen in Dun Laoghaire. But as the Water Wags have been such a key part of the sailing fabric of this great harbour for so long, those in the know were well aware that the evening of Wednesday 30th August was the date set for the very special big push, the extra effort towards topping the thirty mark with the racing for the Captain’s Prize, with the fleet including helms and crews with Olympic experience.

mixed water wags4With the class rules’ insistence that spinnakers be set classical style entirely to weather, speed of setting varies enormously. Photo: W M Nixon

That racing in turn would be rounded out by a dinner held in the Captain’s own club to end the season’s evening racing. The Water Wags’ home bases are spread along the three older waterfront clubs, so the Captain’s Prize dinner 2017 was already scheduled for Hal’s own club, the Royal Irish, when news emerged that the mighty Hugo Boss, with the new Thomson/O’Leary combo on board, hoped to visit Dun Laoghaire for a couple of days in the last week of August, and could the RIYC accommodate their promotional needs to be seen, be accessible, and provide a base for shore entertainment?

The visit would clash either with the Water Wags special race on Wednesday, or with the regular big-turnout Dublin Bay Sailing Club keelboat racing on Thursday. It fell to the RIYC’s Rear Commodore (House) Jacqueline McStay to decide how to play it, and she played a blinder.

Where others saw a problem, she saw an opportunity. She suggested that the planned dinners for the Water Wags and those involved with Hugo Boss should be turned into one single free-form event, using the RIYC’s historic dining room and spreading into the drawing room next door. She further suggested that as the Water Wags had seniority, Hal Sisk should be the main – indeed, possibly the only - speaker at the actual dinner.

But then, with a touch of genius, she suggested that while the Water Wags were out racing, it would be ever so obliging if Alex, Nin, and their genius boffin-organiser Stewart Hosford could give a little presentation to an audience of members and friends, in the club’s extensive basement room, about themselves, their own plans, and the boat’s movements in the weeks, months and maybe years ahead.

water wags spinnaker5The leaders begin to emerge from the pack, with eventual winner Moosmie leading from Eva (33, Katie Tingle & Dermot O’Flynn), Swift (38, Guy Kilroy, sailed by David Somerville) and Pansy (3, Vincent Delany) Photo: W M Nixon

It was a masterplan for non-stop nautical entertainment for about six hours, beginning with the sniff around the Hugo Boss (“mighty machine” is an inadequate phrase here) followed by seeing the early stages of the Water Wags’ historic race, then breaking away to take in the presentation by the Talented Three in the basement, followed by the dinner when history and modernity got together, with the enjoyment of this providing a relaxed atmosphere for the exchange of information.

Pessimists would reckon this complex programme for one night in one club had endless opportunities for the wheels to come off, but it went so well you’d swear they did this sort of thing at least five nights a week. As with all Irish events of an outdoor/indoor nature, the Great Imponderable was the weather, and the forecast 24 hours earlier wasn’t at all cheerful. Yet despite that they managed to rouse out a world record of 31 “new” Water Wags, and the photos say everything about perfect conditions for the last evening race of the summer.

st michael rowing club6A shared harbour. Trainee crew out for the evening with St Michael’s Rowing Club.Photo: W M Nixon

It also provided ideal circumstances for a consideration of the current condition of Dun Laoghaire. The place isn’t helped by being in a state of limbo. I’d optimistically hoped that I could get a good shoreside overview of the race by somehow getting myself to the end of St Michael’s Pier at mid-harbour, but it’s still all blocked off as they battle back and forth about the provision or otherwise of a liner berth.

In other words, the shoreside of the harbour is basically inaccessible to the public except down the marina breakwater, but even that limited viewpoint showed that this was a race in a million. And the quality of construction of the main harbour is such that it’s a joy to behold on such an evening, while within it the Water Wags shared the space with skiffs of St Michael’s Rowing Club and boats out from the Irish National Sailing School. Conditions improved as the race went along, with a freshening breeze sharpened up by a long black cloud which moved slowly over towards Howth, leaving crisp evening sunshine behind it, and a markedly veering breeze for the final beat of a four leg windward-leeward course.

moosmie water wag7Moosmie (15) seems to have it nicely under control going over to the tricky west side of the harbour…….Photo: W M Nixon

moosmie water wag8……but finds herself at the weather mark temporarily behind Swift (38, Guy Kilroy sailed by David Somerville) and Pansy (3, Vincent Delany) Photo: W M Nixon

moosmie water wag9Moosmie clear ahead again. Photo: W M Nixon

swift water wag10Modern sail-making materials have greatly improved the appearance of the Water Wags. With cotton sails, they often had a starved look, but today’s sailplan looks well fed. This is Guy Kilroy’s 2001-built Swift raced on Wednesday to fifth place by David Somerville. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus although David and Sally MacFarlane in the 107-year-old Moosmie (no 15) had overcome a setback or two to retain the lead and sometimes show well clear ahead, the finish came with a bit of a rush of boats in from the right hand side of the beat. While Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy were second across in her new Mariposa, finish signal came there none - they’d been OCS. But it was the night of nights for the class’s only Howth owners, Ian & Judith Malcolm with the 102-year-old Barbara. They’d been 21st round the leeward mark, but went onto port and headed straight at that black cloud sitting plumb over their house on the southwestern flanks of the Hill of Howth.

They got themselves a mighty freeing for the tack to starboard, and came roaring in toward the finish picking off places by the handful, and finding that the leaders for much of the race were in a bit of a tangle towards the line. So they weathered the lot of them and swept in to take a neat second, making it non-Dun Laoghaire sailors in two of the top places for this Race of Races, as Katie Tingle of Cork was third and winner of IB with Eva, crewed by Dermot O’Flynn.

hugo boss and winning wag11 Back to base. Hugo Boss waiting to welcome William Prentice & Moiselle Hogan’s Tortoise (42, built 2006, placed 4th) and winner Mousmie (built 1910) as they return to the Royal Irish YC. Photo: W M Nixon

wags on slipway12Help is always welcome when hauling a Water Wag on the slip, even at high water. Photo: W M Nixon

moosmie on terrace13The perfect evening. The winner Moosmie (foreground) is un-rigged after being the first to win from 30 other boats, and Hugo Boss is there to see it all happen. Photo: W M Nixon

It’s a good idea to do well in the racing, as it lessens your queuing time to get up the club slips. The atmosphere around the Water Wags is so basically light-hearted – even when they’re hauling these quite heavy little boats back up the slip – that it took a while to adjust to the next mood-stage of the evening, the underlying utter seriousness involved in racing an IMOCA 60 like Hugo Boss, and particularly in such totally extreme sport as the Vendee Globe Race. Alex Thomson does a wonderful line in light-hearted patter, but what he does is mind-blowingly all-involving, and as he talked us through the financial, physical and most importantly psychological requirements for anyone even beginning to contemplate such a thing, you were left in bewilderment in grasping the scale of it all.

As to the matter of how and why he moves about the boat without being apparently concerned about being directly attached to her, he created a certain silence by saying that as you’re often sailing at 25 knots, going overboard on the end of a wire or something similar would bring the certainty of getting dragged to a particularly nasty drowning death.

Only a hundred or so people have managed to sail round the world non-stop, so there’s a real sense of community among those who have done it, and they in turn respect those who have made a whole-hearted attempt to do the same. A real high-point came when Enda O Coineen burst out of the audience and went forward to present his old mate Alex Thomson with a replacement cap for one which had been exchanged a long time ago.

alex with enda cap14Alex Thomson with his new cap from Enda O Coineen. Photo: W M Nixon

Stewart Hosford didn’t quite bewilder us with science, but he has such mental energy that there are times you think he’s operating on a different planet, while as for Nin O’Leary, he talked of their hopes and how he is finding it all coming together - or not. He faces a monumental challenge.

Certainly fund-raising is something that all these sailing superstars seem to gravitate towards pretty quickly, and it was in the Water Wags/Hugo Boss dinner afterwards that we could ask real questions, for the gathering in the basement room had been a pubic presentation and emphatically not a press conference. Come to that, nor was the dinner either, but things gets said across a table, and an early revelation from a notable Man Who Knows in the RIYC was that the next America’s Cup will be in skinny 73ft monohulls with enormous canting keels, which would seem to indicate that the Alinghi man who was the real backer of Team NZ is carrying the day.

Then, in his Water Wag Class Captain’s speech, Hal Sisk was in fine form, handing out the prizes with style, and taking the opportunity to present Alex Thompson with his fascinating book which convincingly argues that Dublin Bay was the cradle of modern yacht racing. Knowing that Baghdad was the cradle of civilisation, I’m not too sure that being the cradle of anything is necessarily a good thing for future prospects, but doubtless the book will have a special place in Hugo Boss’s on-board library.

As a very pleasant evening wore on, the talk became more relaxed, and in chatting about the lack of Fastnet Race success, Nin O’Leary confirmed that the construction of Hugo Boss is so specialised that any modification to fit ordinary dagger boards instead of foils would be prohibitively expense, and of limited use in hitting the overall target of a boat designed specifically for Vendee conditions, which are 90% offwind.

Thus in that frustrating upwind slog from Land’s End to the Fastnet, when holding on port tack was soon the only choice because of the huge Traffic Separation Zone, they were making ten degrees of leeway. And once they finally got to the Fastnet, there just weren’t enough miles left in getting to Plymouth to take more than one place in the IMOCA 60 class.

hugo boss at fastnet15Hugo Boss with the fan club as she arrives at the Fastnet. The extreme offwind foil configuration means she makes about ten degrees of leeway when hard on the wind

The problem is that with such a purpose-designed boat, the number of useful events is limited. In the interim, between races which suit, they have to make do with what’s available, so their next outing will be the Middle Sea Race on 28th October. The winds in that are notoriously all over the place, but who knows, they might get lucky, and it’s all experience even though they’re allowed to carry extra hands. But it won’t be more than three at most, as more bodies just get in the way in a cockpit optimised for one.

For Alex Thomson, the Hugo Boss sponsorship, with major support from Mercedes, is in place for 2020, but his team are willing to take in any extra interest, as the boat we were being amazed by at the Royal Irish cost a basic of €5 million, and a new one won’t be any cheaper. As for Nin O’Leary, he seems to be aiming for a boat he can initially secure for €3.6 million, but will need continuing investment thereafter.

stewart and nin16Stewart Hosford and Nin O’Leary

You cannot but be intrigued by the Hugo Boss setup. The boat looks and is the quintessential expression of modern German industry and commerce. Yet she’s sailed by a jolly Englishman whose main performance theatre is provided by France. And the technical management behind it all is provided by a peripatetic Corkman.

Into this whirling maelstrom of possbilities and challenges has stepped a 31-year-old Irish sailing star who is learning just as fast as he can by sailing as co-skipper on Hugo Boss, yet the logic is that he in time will have to think of his own boat. In fact, everybody is taking a very mature approach to this. The only relative certainty is that they’ll be doing the Middle Sea Race together in eight weeks time. Beyond that, the ideal might be the two-handed Barcelona World Race in May 2018, but if Nin O’Leary has his own boat by that time, then he’ll be going with that, and Alex Thomson will have to find another co-sailor.

It’s a world of long-term goals in which you have to be prepared for changing situations from minute to minute, or even second to second. We’re astonished by the sheer challenge of the big events, without thinking of the shoreside work. The bigger the sponsorship, the more demanding the sponsor will expect to be of the star’s time.

Set against the innocent amateur sport of Water Wag racing, the contrast was total. You really couldn’t have asked for a better way of grasping the enormity of what these guys take on.

Published in W M Nixon

The nation’s first offshore racing entity, 'Ireland Ocean Racing', made its Dublin landfall last night at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire to announce its 2020 Vendée Globe campaign to an RIYC gathering.

Only 100 people have sailed single handed non-stop around the world and no Irish sailors have yet completed the Vendée Globe event but if Royal Cork's Nicholas O'Leary has his way, he'll be the first, the sailing crowd at the RIYC heard last night.

The club was buzzing with sailors as a world record turnout of Water Wags was achieved during the Captain's Prize race staged at the RIYC.

As Afloat.ie has previously reported, leading Irish sailor 'Nin' O’Leary will skipper the Irish entry and he aims to be the first Irish sailor to complete this exciting and incredibly arduous sporting challenge.

His boat for the campaign, Hugo Boss sped across Dublin Bay yesterday afternoon with both Alex Thomson and O'Leary onboard. More Dublin Bay sails are planned to day and tomorrow.

Having shown Cork what the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss can do, and even scored a photo op with the Durcan brothers, Nin O’Leary sailed into Dun Laoghaire yesterday morning on a mission that could define his Vendée Globe campaign. Speaking to Tom MacSweeney, he tells of his dream to race a “Formula 1” yacht in 2020, adding “I’m a very competitive guy”. But can he win his first battle to sup from the small sponsorship pot? That, admits team manager Stewart Hosford, is the €3million question. Listen to the full interview here

Nin has competed across a range of sailing and racing events from an early age and has raced with his father, Anthony O’Leary, and brothers, Olympic sailor Peter O’Leary and Irish Champion sailor Robert O’Leary, to many victories. His achievements include winning the prestigious All Ireland ‘Champion of Champions’ an unprecedented three times, as well as being part of the Yes! Racing team.

Nin added his thoughts on his recent announcements: 

“This is an important day for Irish offshore sailing and for me personally to lead the first Ireland Ocean Racing project . The campaign over the next 4 years building up to the Vendée Globe offers sponsors and investors a perfect partnership platform including branding, hospitality and dramatic content. I have just completed the Fastnet race with co-skipper Alex Thomson and now the real work starts in order to achieve the biggest challenge of all – the 2020 Vendée Globe.

Published in Vendee Globe

I got to helm Hugo Boss for a while on Tuesday off Cork Harbour. The tiller surprised me. I thought, with the size and length of this IMOCA 60 round-the-world ocean racer, I would be holding a heavy tiller, requiring a lot of effort. It was light and the boat quickly responsive. The grinder, which I tried later, was different, heavy and demanding effort for the main and headsails, with serious sheet loads. A very impressive boat, a foiler, “nothing too complicated in the equipment,” I was told, everything capable of repair by the solo sailor.” The boat designed and built in weight for maximum speed achievement.

I was aboard to meet Cork sailor Nicholas ‘Nin’ O’Leary and Alex Thomson who raced it around the world in the last Vendee Globe, finishing second in January after 74 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes at sea alone, becoming the fastest British solo sailor ever.

Royal Cork Yacht Club member ‘Nin’ O’Leary intends to become the first Irishman to complete the race when he sails the next one in 2020. “I’m a very competitive guy,” he told me aboard, “I’m going to do it.”

He has been sailing with Thomson working-up to that aim. They sailed the Fastnet Race last month and may do the Barcelona World Race next year. 

Listen to ‘Nin’ O’Leary on the PODCAST and to Stewart Hosford, CEO of ‘Ireland Ocean Racing,’ formally launched in Cork this week to “increase the profile of competitive Irish ocean sailing and racing, inspire a new generation of competitors and deliver future Irish champions in the sport.”

Hosford managed the Hugo Boss Alex Thomson campaign of which he has been CEO, so brings to the Irish campaign significant experience and expertise. “This is the start of a journey,” he told me. “It will need sponsors and investors. What can be achieved is huge.”

Only 100 sailors have succeeded in sailing single-handed non-stop around the world and no Irish sailor has yet completed the Vendée Globe. A Cork sailor could do that, if the project gets the support needed.

Hugo Boss left Cork heading for Dublin to spread the word and the prospects for ‘Ireland Ocean Racing.’

LISTEN to the PODCAST here:

Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION maritime programme on radio stations around Ireland

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The new offshore racing entity, 'Ireland Ocean Racing', that will put Royal Cork Yacht Club's Nicholas O'Leary (31) at the helm of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss on the 2020 Vendée Globe start line is sailing off Cork Harbour.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, the demo sails are part of the launch of the world–girdling project that will arrive into Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Wednesday or Thursday. O’Leary, son of Royal Cork's Anthony and Sally O'Leary, wants to be the first Irish sailor to complete the non–stop round the world challenge. He'll be following in the wake of plucky Enda O'Coineen's ill–fated Kilcullen that was dismasted in the last race off New Zealand in December.

Hugo Boss 3852(Above and below) The Ireland Ocean Racing Team onboard Hugo Boss. Photos: Bob Bateman

Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1Hugo boss OLeary cork harbour1

O'Leary's team say he is expected into Dublin Bay on August 30. 

Read more in WM Nixon's blog: How Much in the Sponsorship Pot for all These Irish Offshore Sailing Superstar Hopefuls?

Published in Vendee Globe

It was the coolest thing so far in all of 2017's sailing. In the midst of the Royal Cork DinghyFest which he was organising, Nin O’Leary took off for just one day to skipper Adam Gosling’s new JPK 10.80 Yes! In the huge-fleet Round the Island Race writes W M Nixon. In such a turnout, winning overall by a few seconds is the norm. But young Nin did it in style, something like eight minutes clear, an astonishing performance.

It was a massive achievement which did no harm at all in distracting attention from another project brewing up in the O’Leary camp in as much secrecy as could be managed. The Vendee Globe 2020, no less. This is very serious stuff. This afternoon, Afloat.ie can reveal that the first public step has been taken on the campaign trail, with Nin signing up to race as co-skipper with Alex Thompson on Hugo Boss in the Rolex Fastnet Race on August 6th. Now that - that is super cool. For those still gasping, here’s the Press Release:

British skipper Alex Thomson will compete in the Fastnet Race with Irish sailor Nin O’Leary which starts on Sunday 6th August. Thomson, who finished second in the Vendee Globe earlier this year stated ‘I am looking forward to taking part in the Fastnet again and to have Nin as my co-skipper. It is great to be able to support the new generation of offshore sailors.’ O’Leary, a young, talent in offshore sailing has been training with the Alex Thomson Racing team this summer and assisted the team in preparations ahead of the Vendee Globe in 2016 where he completed over 1500nm onboard HUGO BOSS. O’Leary stated ‘I am thrilled about the opportunity to race with Alex and onboard HUGO BOSS.Alex has set the benchmark in offshore sailing and being chosen to co-skipper the boat with him is a huge honour and allows me to start the preparation for my own Vendee Globe campaign in 2020. We are looking forward to a great race together.’

Published in Fastnet
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