Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland
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.
The talk by Darryl Hughes of his veteran gaff ketch Maybird’s much-celebrated participation in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018, to be hosted by the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club on Tuesday 12th March, has been cancelled owing to the sudden serious illness of Darryl’s mother in North Wales. It is hoped to re-schedule the show in due course.
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”.
Anticipation is building ahead of Saturday’s talk in Wicklow Sailing Club about the Lesson learnt on board Jedi in the Round Ireland Yacht Race.
As Afloat.ie reported previously, the INSS Jedi team have been meeting frequently to ensure no detail of the story is left untold!
Wicklow Sailing Club has been busy too and have organised a flare demonstration to start at 1830hrs. For those that have been nervous about using flares up until now, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the different flares and learn how to operate them.
Food and refreshments will be served from 1830hrs with the talk commencing soon after.
If you cannot make the talk this weekend, then there is a further talk at the Royal Irish Yacht Club 1930hrs on 7th of February with Sailing Supper Afterwards, bookings with [email protected]
The contrast could not have been greater writes W M Nixon. On Friday, September 14th on Ireland’s relatively sheltered East Coast, 302 Laser dinghies came in from Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire’s elegant and busy harbour to conclude the penultimate day’s racing in the Laser World Masters 2018.
And away to the west at the head of Galway Bay, a lone Laser came into Rinville to receive the enthusiastic greetings of a welcoming flotilla, and the homely embrace of Galway Bay Sailing Club.
Richard Hayes had completed his solo epic, a round Ireland voyage which had seen him log a total of 1,324 sea miles (2,452 kilometres) in 54 sailing days.
But they were by no means 54 consecutive sailing days. For he had happened to hit on just about the most awkward summer for sailing a Laser round Ireland that we’ve had for a decade, with many days unsuitable for sailing for various reasons, ranging from prolonged flat calm to two named storms – Hector and Ernesto – and going on to include seven days of impenetrable fog and three capsizes.
He took his departure from GBSC at their Open Day on Sunday, May 27th, and sailed into an exceptionally lengthy period of windless high pressure. So totally calm was it that, with the need to find somewhere to stop each night, it took him ten days to get clear beyond Slyne Head from Galway Bay itself in order to start the first northward major stage of his clockwise circuit.
Already, it seemed likely that the circuit was going to take much longer than the eight-nine weeks he’d originally envisaged. That in itself would have deterred many, who would at the very least have postponed until a more favourable weather pattern began to develop. But this was no light-hearted venture undertaken on a whim – he was determined to simply keep going on until he got there.
Richard Hayes – as the photos show – seems a perfectly normal 40-something, as ready for a laugh and good company as the next man. Yet there’s a serious and thoughtful side to him, and two or three years ago, thanks in part to his work in Galway as a Chartered Physiotherapist, he became even more aware of the woeful lack of provision for cardio-vascular problems, and particularly the shortage of defibrillators and trained users at key locations. So the idea developed of a very special fund-raiser in support of the Galway-based CROI Heart & Stroke Charity, and it increasingly became something which had to be done before he could get on with the rest of his life.
Doing it through a very special sailing achievement seemed the most natural way. From Tipperary originally, he was introduced to sailing at the age of eight by his late mother on Lough Derg, and was soon in the thick of it, active on the junior racing front at events all over Ireland.
He showed a talent for teaching sailing, and in 1993 was signed on for a summer as Junior Instructor at Galway Bay Sailing Club. The West Coast soon had him in thrall, though his sailing experience was widening to include cruiser-racing in Galway, Cork and Dublin, while a spell in America saw him actively crewing several boats, the largest a fifty footer.
But Galway was always where it was going to be despite his ties to his boyhood home, such that even after 15 years of living and working in the western city, he still refers to Lough Derg YC as his “home club” and Galway Bay SC as his “home-from-home” club. He was drawn to the health field and particularly physiotherapy, an interest to which the fairly athletic Laser sailing gave an added edge. And the Laser in turn provided the vehicle to make his fund-raiser a manageable proposition. As the various sections of the project were worked into place, he received direct sponsorship support for the voyage itself from Homecare Medical, Galway Crystal, Optique and the renowned Mary’s Fish Shop in the city, while the national names which chipped in included CH Marine, Dubarry and Marine Parts Direct.
As we shall see, solo-sailed Lasers have been taken round Ireland before. Indeed, there’s even a boat a tiny bit shorter in overall length which had done the circuit, albeit with two on board for most of the venture, and a shorter circumnavigating sailboard too. But there’s something about the perfection of the 4.2 m (13ft 9in) Laser which chimes so well with the unique demands of a round Ireland voyage that when it is done with a Laser, it is always as though it is being done for the first time.
You’re so closely in touch with nature, and yet still seeing it from the slightly separated world of a boat, that sailing a Laser round Ireland is to a significant extent a spiritual thing. It’s probably as near as a modern boat can come to providing a meaningful link to the voyaging monks of our ancient history, and their astonishing achievements along and away from the Irish coast in frail currachs.
It’s something which seems in no way diminished by the availability of modern communications, because for very long periods, no matter how much shore support you’re receiving, you’re inevitably very much on your own. This was emphasised in Richard Hayes’ case, for although his father Michael gave over his summer to driving a well-used campervan along the coast to be there when his son came into port, the roads by no means closely follow the shore, and some of the tiny gaps in the cliffs the Laser had to seek shelter in were unreachable by road.
Unlike his friend Gary ‘Ted’ Sargent of Howth, who did the Laser Ireland circuit from Schull to Schull in 2016 as a fund-raiser for the charity ChildVision with an on-water support team somewhere nearby with a RIB, Richard Hayes’ voyage for CROI was done without any support team afloat, though from time to time along the coast, he would get friendly supportive company from other boats.
Basically, he’d decided it would be more manageable on his own at sea, with his father Michael as near as possible (and sometimes it’s not really near at all) with the Campervan. Thus the planning beforehand included the detailed study of aerial photos of the coast, particularly the many sections dominated by cliffs, where prior knowledge of even the tiniest possible landing place hidden in the coastal wall could be a life-saver in the event of a sudden deterioration in the weather.
Although he was on his own at sea, it was very much a family effort, with his sister Libhin continually monitoring him remotely on a choice of two tracking devices, while his other sister Michelle was on admin and is continuing with the fund-raising, which is ongoing and eventually hopes to raise €15,000 for CROI – you can contribute to it here
Along the coast, his father Michael’s patience and supportive enthusiasm was a great strength, for the voyage gathered its own momentum, and Richard found himself being conveyed to interviews with local radio stations and other centres of communication, such that he has arrived back with an even stronger belief in the good heart of Ireland’s smaller communities, and the complete, generous and unquestioning kindness of strangers who took him into their homes and provided for his every need, reinforced by the way in which they readily accepted that he and his family should be doing a thing like this.
Speaking to him through this past week has possibly been too soon after the experience to expect his thoughts and recollections to be fully processed. Perhaps they never will be fully processed – maybe he’ll always find that there’s some new angle on a thought or experience which will develop beneficially. But certainly in speaking with him it seemed that here indeed was someone whose body had moved through so much experience that it was still waiting for his soul to catch up……
That catching-up of the soul will be an enriching experience. But as it is, his memories – a colourful bundle of contrasts – tumble out. Although he started in what became an all-pervading calm over most of Ireland, up in northwest Mayo and Donegal he found – as many have before – that they have their own weather systems entirely. But one of the joys of sailing a Laser on a project like this is that you can simply go inside islands inshore and offshore which have to be taken on the outside by deep-draughted high-masted boats, and thus he blithely went through Achill Sound without needing to wait for a bridge-opening, and equally he was able to avail of the almost-forgotten fact that there’s a canal at Belmullet inside the Mullet peninsula, closed off to most boats by a road bridge, but no problem for a Laser.
However, north of Belmullet the heavily-cliffed Mayo coast is daunting in the exteme, and it looked so grim with visibility closed in that Richard said the best thing was to put looming cliffs out of his mind for a whole, concentrate on the sailing and find a safe haven in Portacloy, which he duly did. If you’ve ever been to the remote cliff haven of Portacloy, you’ll know it’s not the sort of place you’d associate with the fun sailing of a little Laser.
But as he gradually made his way along the much indented coast of Donegal, monumental coastlines became part of the daily visual diet – it’s big country. And it by no means fades to domestic scale as you get on to the north coast – everything is rugged until you get right round to Belfast Lough, when the prosperously green County Down coast is such that sometimes the Mountains of Mourne seem more like garden ornaments than the real thing.
There was much windward work, and with his professional training, he was well aware that maintaining a virtually fixed position for hours and end in order to keep the Laser at optimum speed was physiotherapy hooliganism, so there were times, such as on a long leg on the wind laying along a coast, that he simply had to tack for a while for all that it wasn’t making ground, simply to let his muscles and bones stretch in a different direction. Then at other times with wind strengths fluctuating wildly, he’d have to be prepared to put into any nearby beach to change down the rig size.
But then at the end of a day’s sail along less challenging coasts, he would shape his course for a useful little bay with a beach, and having passed the entrance to Cork Harbour he “made port” at Fountainstown, linked up with his father, and found ready new friendships ashore among those who live by the beach, including Sue McWilliam, wife of the recently-retired Des of the sail-making clan.
Such moments of friendly contact ultimately emphasised how necessary it was to press on if conditions suited next day, but in time he got round the Old Head of Kinsale and down to West Cork, stopping among other places at Tragumna and then next day on west through Gascanane Sound and into Crookhaven, where everything came to a stop for days with dense fog and weather warnings.
The season was getting late by this stage, and the window was becoming very narrow by the time he got past the Mizen and on -with various stops - for the most westerly point at Blasket Sound, by which time Richard and his team might reasonably have hoped they were approaching the home stage. But County Clare was determined to severely test this Tipperary man with his Galway notions, and along the cliffs between Loop Head and Kilkee – an unbroken wall of rock you might well think – he was grateful to have the knowledge of a tiny cove from his prior research, for he came out of a capsize badly in need of somewhere to recover, and this secret ‘Hayes Haven’ was nearby and just the job for those in peril on the sea.
Eventually he got to Liscannor in North Clare with September well upon him, and no progress with Small Craft Warnings in abundance. But there was only a passage of just under fifty miles left. Admittedy it was along the Cliffe of Moher and past Doolin and along the Burren round Black Head and into Galway Bay past Ballyvaughan. Spectacular stuff. But he felt that with just one clear day he could knock it off.
On Wednesday, September 12th, that day came, a brief day of sailing perfection - fair winds and many accompanying dolphins friendlier than he’d seen at any time during the voyage, and the 48 fantastically varied and dramatic sea miles to Galway city knocked off in less than eight hours, the passage of a lifetime.
There was a day to gather himself, and then the welcome home on Friday evening to Galway Bay Sailing Club. Richard Hayes had done his bit and then some, but the fund-raising continues.
That’s the way it is with sailing epics in the 21st Century. Charitable fund-raising is a given. It was the same with Gary Sargent’s circuit for ChildVision in 2016. And in both cases, it was also the Laser which was the gift itself which just kept on giving. For in 2016, the Laser also gave us Annalise Murphy’s Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics. And in 2018, in addition to Richard Hayes’ great voyage, the little boat gave us the Laser Masters Worlds, an event in the utmost spirit of generosity.
It all makes life in the 20th Century and way back in the previous Millennium seem almost buccaneering, for want of a better word. Back in the 1900s, if some somebody wanted to sail a small boat round Ireland, they just went off and did it, telling as few people – if any – as possible. Partly this was because the admittedly much more sparse officialdom of those days might have tried to prevent it, but it was also to save one’s parents from worry, because the west coast of Ireland in particular had a scary reputation.
Thus among young sailors it was thought quite something in 1961 when Kevin and Colm MacLaverty and Mick Clarke went round Ireland in three-and-a-half weeks in the 18ft Belfast Lough Waverley Durward. A Waverley is a bit like a carvel-built Mermaid made just one foot longer, and with a keel, which made Durward the smallest keelboat ever to go round Ireland.
Yet a significantly smaller boat was to make the circuit unaccompanied in 1976. Thus was the unstoppable, inimitable James Cahill of Clew Bay, who took an open 13ft 6ins clinker sailing dinghy - which he’d built himself - right round Ireland, usually with one crew, but at some stages he was on his own. He not only survived, he subsequently thrived and made an Atlantic circuit cruise with a 42ft steel cutter Ricjak which he’d also built himself, and these days he cruises in a Maramu 54 ketch and is renowned for his extensive collection of Irish currachs, representing every known type.
But then in 1981, Belfast Lough came centre stage again with Rob Henshall of Cultra, who went round Ireland alone in a canoe. There are other canoeists who have circled Ireland, but doing it solo is still in a class of its own. However, Rob Henshall was only getting started, for nine years later in 1990 he went round solo on a Laser. Not only was he unaccompanied by a support boat, but he had no means of non-visual contact with the shore, and no shore team either.
He set himself very high if slightly crazy standards, for after the Laser episode he got to thinking of doing it on a sailboard. By this time he was a water-specialist instructor at the Gortatole Outdoor Education Centre in Fermanagh, but heaven alone knows what the powers-that-be might have made of his plan. For the core of it when he did it in 1992 was total self-reliance both afloat and ashore if need be, though when he reached shore he often found that kindness of strangers which is very much part of the Irish coastal experience.
He took a 3.7 m Bic sailboard which at 12ft 1in is the shortest vessel to have made the circuit, and despite loading himself with a backpack and the board with minimal but essential gear in a mainpack on the “foredeck”, he got round in 45 self-reliant days, losing two stone in weight in the process although he was definitely carrying no spare flab before he went.
Since then, he too has settled down, but there was a flash of the old Rob Henshall a few years ago when the dollar was in freefall and the internet made the availability of bargain boats in America very accessible. So he nipped over in the Autumn and bought a 40ft ketch and simply sailed her straight across the ocean to his new sailing home in Lough Swilly. A Transatlantic passage in a medium-sized sailing boat when October is veering towards November does not accord with received opinion, but then very little of Rob Henshall’s seaborn activities ever did.
The fact that we are considering them again is thanks entirely to Richard Hayes’ great achievement. Think what you like about his voyage being made unaccompanied by a support boat, but it achieved its purpose in style. It showed courage and determination of a high order, it gave us a privileged glimpse into the life and dynamics of a very special family, and it was for a very worthy cause – that donation link again is www.idonate.ie/solosailireland
We can be quite sure that he and the others who made these special voyages endured considerable hardship and struggle at times. But now and again the conditions smiled on them, and we end on a high note with the vid from Richard’s final 50 mile passage from Liscannor round into Galway Bay. Shortly after he got to Galway Bay SC itself, the weather shut down completely, and has been going totally haywire ever since, so this glimpse of that vital final weather window is doubly precious here
As to the future, there’s a whisper that the three Laser solo circumnavigators may be having a get-together before Christmas. You’d guess that Comfort Zone Sailors need not apply…..
On Friday 13 July last the duo set a provisional time of 18 hours and 12 minutes — some 25 minutes faster than Philip Fitzgibbon and Mike Shanahan’s RIB record of 18:38:50 set in 2009.
And Lyne claims the time could have been more than two hours’ better “if we had not been beaten up for the last 40 miles from Cork to Crookhaven”.
While Team Hibernia set a sub-13-hour time with their wave-piercing powerboat in 2016, the record for under-30ft boats was still standing. And that’s the time on which Lyne and Watson put their sights after breaking the Round Anglesey time, in Watson’s home waters, back in 2015.
Over the next three years, the pair set about preparing their boat, a Scorpion 8.5m RIB dubbed Ocean Devil, to make the most of its Yanmar 315HP inboard engine.
That involved a series of main prop modifications, as well as the installation of new fuel tanks with 400 litres’ capacity in addition to the 363l main tank, all while still getting as close as possible to the RIB’s top speed of 51 knots without revving over 3,750 rpm.
A key element of their set-up was using gravity to tap into the main tank through the service hatch by the helm, to avoid the use of battery-sapping pumps adding unnecessary weight.
With 45 knots achievable when fully loaded, and the engine mount put through rigorous sea and wake trials in the Solent, the next step was to reduce the overall weight. That meant new batteries, courtesy of DMS Technologies, and replacing the heavy A-frame with a removable radar post and a carbon post for the VHF antenna.
Safety remained paramount in their modifications, with all navigation lights replaced by LEDs, a new radio with built-in AIS from Raymarine, and a full set of offshore flares.
With the new and improved Ocean Devil ready for action, what Lyne and Watson needed next was a winning strategy. Cue a consolation with Mike Deacon, a RIB speed record breaker in his own right, who offered a list of suggestions — the most important of which was to wait till the weather was just so.
“The reason he and David his son had never attempted the Ireland world record was that you had to get the weather exactly right, and that would mean having the boat in Ireland and ready to go at 24 hours’ notice,” Lyne says. “So really, the people best placed to attempt the record were already in Ireland.”
Fast forward to summer 2018 — the best experienced in Ireland for years — and all the pieces were in place for a record run.
Dillon put the duo in touch with Justin McInerney, a previous Round Ireland record holder with Team Pulsar Racing, who would be their official timer on the day. His advice on the best stops to avoid busy slipways would prove crucial to their success.
With their boat and safety equipment checked over, and the passage plan forward to Ireland’s four main coastguard stations, Lyne and Watson made an early start at 4am on Friday 13 July.
That date would be true to its reputation as the duo rounded their first headland and ploughed headlong into a confused three-metre sea, halving their speed to 25 knots.
Thankfully that struggle was only for the first hour, and the rest of the day would prove to be an exceedingly lucky one, with flat seas and quick refuelling stops most of the way from Kerry to Portrush to Rosslare.
Spirits were high as the duo neared Cork late on Friday afternoon to complete their loop, only to run into that confused sea state once more — and a mishap on leaking hydraulic fluid that saw Watson bash his knee on top of a strained hip.
Lyne recalls of those dreaded final hours: “We can’t get any speed without getting hit hard occasionally which is taking its toll on both of us as we have been going for 16 hours. We duck behind the headlands, get some speed, then get beaten up as soon as we have to round the next headland.
“We remember to cut outside of all charted land as there are a few very small islands marked in some of the bays. We are losing a lot of time; rough calculations show us matching the current record – no!”
A little further on, and their situation improves: “I have the heading line on the plotter set to 12 miles, and can see the length of the line versus Fastnet Rock, which we are to round and then head towards Mizen Head,” Lyne remembers. “It’s three line lengths and we are down to 25 knots … that’s an hour and a half, that means we will equal the record.
“Dean moves to sit behind me so he can use his legs efficiently to cushion any impact without slipping.
“All good, we are on top of it now, back up to 35kt, then 40kt. The waves are getting smaller and more regular as we get to Fastnet Rock, round Fastnet, to finish at Mizen Head, torch in hand.
“Justin is on the radio: ‘Congratulations lads, you have done it.’”
Attempting and breaking this record “has taught me a few other things about life, boating and Ireland,” Lyne says, singling out Justin McInerney and “superstar” Denis Dillon for their assistance.
“I started a conversation with Denis over a year ago, and once he knew we were serious for July 13th, he did everything in his power to make it happen.”
McInerney, meanwhile, put in a call to Philip Fitzgibbon, one of the record holders Lyne and Watson have tentatively dethroned, to tempt a comeback challenge somewhere along the line.
As for Lyne and Watson’s trusty Ocean Devil, and how it fared from those 18 hours at sea? Nothing broken, though a handful seals need replacing — surprising little needed after so long flat out around the island of Ireland.
Besides Denis Dillon at Irish Sailing, and Justin and Antoinette McInerney, Lyne and Watson also expressed their tanks to Raymarine, DMS Technologies, Stena Line, BIBOA (Mike Deacon, Chris Strickland, Neil McGrigor), Claire at Marconi House in Crookhaven, and Mark at the Barleycove Beach Hotel near Mizen Head.
It is understood the starboard-hand wheel collapsed when the former Irish yacht of the year was leading in IRC One. On safety grounds, the decision was taken to retire.
According to the race tracker, the George Sisk owned boat is now in Galway. All crew and boat are safe.
Seven boats from a starting fleet of 56 have now been forced out of the Race, mostly due to gear failure in the testing conditions experienced on the West Coast.
One boat retired for a precautionary medical check for a crew-member who received a minor shoulder injury after a fall on board.
As Afloat.ie previously reported the sole trimaran in the race, Hugo Karlsson Smyth was an early loss on the south-west coast.
Also out are Mark Emerson's A13 Phosphorus II, Brian McMaster's Cookson 50 Riff Raff, Paul Jackson's Sun Odyssey 40 Wild Spirit, Johnny and Jamie Ritchie's Dufour 41 Classic Mingulay, and Glyn Sheffield's Farr 40 Espresso Martini Too.
Race tracker HERE
Afloat.ie Round Ireland updates in this one handy link HERE.
In the days leading up to the Volvo Round Ireland Race start at Wicklow yesterday, there were predictions of boats being delayed by calms, struggling for sea breezes by day and land breezes by night writes W M Nixon. But the always interesting setup at XCWeather.co.uk – which works from the basis of existing conditions at strategically-located recording sites – doggedly continued to suggest that the further west the fleet got, the more wind they’d find, and such has proven to be the case.
The only problem is that the winds they so doggedly predicted had a lot of north in them. And now that the leaders are scorching out past Dursey Head - the furthest point of West Cork - they continue to find that XCW is right on the money – their accurately forecast wind is starting to provide a king-size dose of rugged windward work.
But thanks to the favourable conditions down as far as Mizen Head, which provided something veering on drag racing along the south coast, the leading nine boats on the water are going to have logged better than the magic 200 miles by the time the first 24 hours of the race has elapsed at 2.0pm today, and the front runners are going to be well past that figure.
Now, however, things are different. The formerly fleet-leading trimaran Trilogic (Hugo Karlsson-Smyth, Netherland) may have put Dursey Head astern but - faced with a true windward challenge - she is no longer cutting the mustard, her track is sliding to lee, and it is the new Class 40 Corum which is managing best to hold up to the line for the next waypoint to shape them up for getting past Skellig Michael.
In fact, with indications of slight but positive tendencies for the brisk headwinds off the southwest and western seaboards to veer, the imperative is to keep to the right and if need be take a short tack on port every so often. As this afternoon goes on, it will be interesting to see how often this move is deployed.
"Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP continues in awesome style at the head of IRC on the water and in the frame on handicap"
Meanwhile, Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP continues in awesome style at the head of IRC on the water and in the frame on handicap, though for the moment the JPK 10.10 Jaasap from France is overall IRC leader. Baraka is currently passing Dursey Head and making 10.1 knots, so the going is good. She’s going good in near proximity to the Class 40 Sensation, which has had a good night of it, and is showing that Corum’s lead in class may not be invincible after all.
However, while that’s the way it is with the bigger boats, let’s hear it for the little ‘uns in the two-boat Mini-Transat division. They may have been sent off after everyone else in their own separate start in order not to offend official sensibilities, but Yannick Lemonnier in Port of Galway in particular has been racing like a man possessed. His tiny boat has gone down along the south coast like a scalded cat, and is currently off Baltimore, narrowly ahead of George Sisk’s Farr 42 WOW.
For now, Port of Galway is the star, the mighty atom and then some. As for the other Mini, there was a charming meeting at Wicklow in the pre-race festivities when Mini-Transat superstar Ian Lipinsky, doing this race in exalted style on Corum, called by to encourage Louis Mulloy of Westport and his crewman Arthur on their tiny craft 303 Blackshell Farm. Blackshell may not be achieving quite the same performance as Port of Galway, but she’s going some nevertheless, and is currently off Glandore and making 8.3 knots with a lot of very much larger boats tucked in well astern.
Race tracker here
Day 2 of the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 finds the fleet enjoying freshening offshore breezes along the south coast to provide drag racing conditions and good speeds writes W M Nixon. But enjoyment is muted by the knowledge that beyond Mizen Head the wind is indicated as still from the north but stronger – 25 knots plus is currently shown for at least this morning along the Kerry coast.
Off the big country and out in the Atlantic, 25 knots plus right on the nose with the notoriously lumpy sea is much more than most boats’ optimal windward conditions. But for now, the going is good, and the overall leader on the water is the only multi-hull, Hugo Karlsson-Smythe’s trimaran Trilogic from the Netherlands. She’s nearing Toe Head in West Cork with 16.2 knots on the clock.
But almost level-pegging with her is one of the emerging stars of the show, the new Class 40 Corum from France being sailed in style by the three musketeers - Nicolas Trousel, Ian Lipinski and Aymeric Belloir. The classy Corum is currently registering 16.4 knots further out to sea, and already shaping up to put the Fastnet Rock astern.
Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP (Royal Irish YC) has put in a tremendous performance all the way down the south coast from the Tuskar Rock, and is currently fourth on the water, close astern of Sensation (France) the Class 40 Extreme. Due south of Galley Head with 11.4 knots currently on the clock, Baraka leads IRC on the water, and is third overall on corrected while leading IRC Class Z.
However, it’s that pesky J/109s which had continued to trade the IRC overall handicap lead among themselves through the night, the most recent being Joker II skippered by Barry Byrne. But for now, the Joker is back in second overall as the IRC CT lead is held by the French Sunfast 3200 SNSP Hakuna Matata (Jean)Francois Nouel) with Joker II second, Baraka GP third, the JPK 10.10 Jaasap fourth, Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 CoOperation Ireland (aka Pomeroy Swan) fifth (good going for a two-hander), Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules from Howth sixth, Michael Boyd’s J/109 Jedi seventh, and Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI eighth.
It has been a fast race so far, and even the most senior boat in the fleet, the 81-year old 43ft gaff ketch Maybird (Darryl Hughes), is south of Waterford and on course to put the Fastnet astern before nightfall.
By that time, way out beyond that iconic rock out in the open Atlantic, or seeking what smoother water they can find in towards the majestically rugged Kerry coast, the hotshots in the fleet will have been finding yet again that serious windward racing off Ireland’s western seaboard is tough going, for the vigorous north to northeast breezes currently are not forecast to ease significantly until this evening.
However, the current fast straight line progress sees the close placings changing frequently, and even as we post this Baraka GP has moved into the IRC overall lead.
Race Tracker here
It’s said that the boat which has made the best start is not always the one which seems first over the line, but rather it’s the boat which is in the lead five minutes after the kick-off writes W M Nixon. On those terms, the new Mach 40 Corum gave a master-class at this afternoon’s Volvo Round Ireland start in Wicklow by staying well clear of the kerfuffle out at the Guardship, and coming out of the line at the optimum angle.
Maybe she was lucky, with Niall Dowling’s Baraka GP shredding her kite to spoil the Ker 43’s otherwise perfect start. But then Corum also had to deal with Mark Emerson’s Phosphorous II (she looks to be the former Teasing Machine II, and therefore no stranger to the Ireland circuit) going like a train. But the guys on Corum had been susssing the area down towards Wicklow Head beforehand, and they read it to perfection, reckoning big-kite-setting was too much of a gamble, and getting their nose in front and holding the lead on the water while the crowds were watching.
So having kept her total appearance a semi-secret until now, we could all see Corum is one gorgeous boat. But gorgeous boats and ordinary ones alike, they’re faced with the inevitability of adverse tides, even as the leaders are closing towards the Tuskar. This evening, the breeze is holding up quite well, and Michael Boyd with the J/109 Jedi is currently leading IRC overall, while on the water the former Volvo 60 Libertalia from France is narrowly ahead of the pack. But for the spectators, the new Corum won the start.
See Race tracker here.