Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland speed record

The all-categories Round Ireland two-handed sailing record-holders, Greystones' Pamela Lee and shipmate Catherine Hunt, have been nominated as contenders for the Team of the Year Prize 2020 by, thereby renewing sailing's position at centre stage in national womens' sport.

When the determined duo headed south in the early morning light of Tuesday 13th October to start across the official Round Ireland Record Line from the Kish Lighthouse to Dun Laoghaire pierhead with their foiling Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanata provided by RL Sailing, their only stated aim was to establish a competitive time for a 700-mile round Ireland circuit by a two-handed female crew, as such a thing didn't exist at the time.

When the going was good………steady fast sailing like this was great for record-making, but the round Ireland challenge will always include a menu of frustrations to be overcome When the going was good………steady fast sailing like this was great for record-making, but the round Ireland challenge will always include a menu of frustrations to be overcome

But when they swept back across that same line again in the small hours of Saturday, October 17th, their time of 3 days 19 hrs 41 mins 39s proved to be a new all-categories two-handed record, as they'd bettered the previous best – an all-male two-handed crew in a larger Class 40 – by three hours and two minutes.

It had been a tough sail, with total-concentration hard-driving interrupted by occasional frustrating calms. And while the Irish sailing community following them every inch of the way on Yellowbrick tracker would have been well pleased if they'd got round within four days, a final mad sprint through the dark down the North Channel and Irish Sea to the finish put them very firmly into the record books across all listings.

Commenting on their nomination, Pamela Lee said yesterday evening: "We're very proud to have been able to bring sailing and offshore sailing in particular into this conversation for 2020 – may it be the first of many".

The determined duo. Cat Hunt and Pam Lee proved to be the ideal double team throughout a carefully-orchestrated challengeThe determined duo. Cat Hunt and Pam Lee proved to be the ideal double team throughout a carefully-orchestrated challenge

The new Round Ireland Two-handed Record Holders, RL Sailing's Pamela Lee of Greystones SC and Catherine Hunt, are acclaimed as October's "Sailors of the Month" after a superbly-executed circuit of our island home which went way beyond their initial challenge of establishing a significant speed for a female two-handed crew.

Their time of 3 days 19 hours and 45 minutes in the Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeantata was not only many hours clear of previous comparable circuits by any crews of two-handed sailors, but was impressively close to record times set by fully-crewed larger boats - and it was all done so stylishly that this was sailing as performance art.

Read more on this record here

Published in Sailor of the Month

Early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, the foiling Figaro 3 Magenta Project - double-handed by Greystone's Pamela Lee and Cat Hunt - will blast south from the official Round Ireland Records line, which is eight miles long between the Kish Lighthouse and the Dun Laoghaire East Pier Lighthouse. And when they return in due course - coming in from the north - they'll at the very least have established the Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record, for the simple reason that at the moment it doesn't exist.

In time, this record will acquire increasing significance. So the official Round Ireland Records Commissioner Chris Moore has secured the use of the DBSC Committee Boat Freebird through the good offices of Commodore Jonathan Nicholson, and he'll be stationed on the long line at the optimum position, which is in the region of the South Burford Buoy.

What Chris Moore and his COVID-19-compliant team are precision timing is much more than just an attempt by two determined co-skippers to get round Ireland in one piece in everything that October's weather has to throw at them. For it happens that, at the moment, the weather is shaping up very well for an impressive circuit speed which could stand as the record for many years.

As they zoom down the east coast of Ireland through Tuesday morning, the fresh to strong nor'wester is expected to veer and freshen further, and it should be veering even more as they head along the south coast as Wednesday moves in. It may then ease as they sweep past the Fastnet and find themselves reaching in an easterly in the early stages of the west coast, but a new veering means the disturbed waters of the Atlantic will provide the challenge of continuing to sail fast in a period of very favourable sou'easterly, yet without breaking boat or crew in the inevitable confused seas.

Cat Hunt and Pamela Lee are facing into volatile October weatherCat Hunt (left) and Pamela Lee are facing into volatile October weather that might provide the magic formula for a formidable round Ireland time

Unfortunately late on Thursday what is now a sou'easter is forecast to back, and in time they may find themselves with a dead beat along the North Coast. But a further backing could ease things once Inishtrahull is passed, and they might just find themselves with a beam reach in an easterly from Rathlin down past the South Rock and on back to Dublin Bay.

It may be a clean slate challenge, but with the weather in such an "interesting" and inevitably volatile sequence, any sailor will find it fascinating to follow, particularly the thousands who have now sailed round Ireland - whether racing, cruising or straightforwardly record-breaking – and are well aware of the special challenges which a sailing circuit of our island home can pose.

And though comparisons with established times set in the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow – one of the highest-profile coronavirus-cancelled events from the 2020 programme – have to take into account that it's over a marginally different course and is a set-time happening, nevertheless delving into its records comes up with some fascinating figures.

In the Wicklow Round Ireland, the two-handed division was first introduced in 2004, and it had a rocket-assisted launching, as Yannick Lemonnier (now of Quantum Sails in Galway) and Aodhan Fitzherald (of Galway, but they were racing DoDingle) secured one of the then-new Figaro 2s designed by Marc Lombard, and they streaked round to win the two-handers (and beat many others) in just 102 hours.

Mark Mansfield and Yannick Lemonnier Mark Mansfield and Yannick Lemonnier of Quantum Sails. Since 2004, Yannick Lemonnier with Galway's Aodhan FitzGerald, now of the Martine Institute, have held the Two-Handed Round Ireland Record within the Round Ireland Race structure.

The most astonishing part of that performance was from The Blaskets to Rathlin Island, sailed in just 24 hours in even more sou'wester then they might have liked. Indeed, Yannick's recollection is of trying to hold back Aodhan – one of the most easy-going people you could meet ashore - as he sailed like a man possessed along Ireland's two most challenging coastlines in just one day, with his co-skipper – no stranger to hard driving himself - having to hold him back now and again.

It was a crewing dynamic which saw DoDingle logging 270 miles "daylight sight to sight", they'd a top speed of 23.5kts, and for a long period were averaging 17-18kts.

Having helped in establishing a two-handed record which still stands, Aodhan Fitzgerald was back into Wicklow from Galway with the fully-crewed First 40.7 Ireland West in 2008, and they won overall. Meanwhile, Yannick has since been ever more deeply into the two-handed scene, and particularly the promotion of the Mini 650 class in Ireland.

Although the father-and-son team of Derek and Conor Dillon from Foynes with the Dehler 34 Big Deal have been regular top performers in the two-handed division, in the last outing in 2018 it was Yannick Lemonnier and Cathal Clarke of Galway (a crewman with Aodhan Fitzgerald in 2008's win) with the Mini 650 Port of Galway who led the Minis (and many others), getting round in 5 days 16 hours and 30 minutes.

It was an impressive showing in what had been a difficult race, but it was still a very long way from the Lemonnier-Fitzgerald blitz of 2004. Admittedly that was in a bigger boat, but two-handed round Ireland in four days and six hours was and is quite something, and while the developing weather pattern is looking good for Magenta Project, sailing round Ireland in record time is never easy.

Sometime after October 12, British skipper Cat Hunt and Greystones, County Wicklow sailor Pamela Lee aim to sail a Figaro Bénéteau III racing yacht around Ireland, in an attempt to set the first record for an all-female, doublehanded sailing circumnavigation.

They are undertaking the challenge in partnership with The Magenta Project, a collective set up to support women at the highest level of sailing.

The two sailors are taking on this challenge with the hope of inspiring girls in Ireland and the UK to move into offshore sailing after graduating from dinghies and to aspire to skippering large boats.

The offshore circumnavigation of Ireland is approximately 700 nautical miles, which will take about five days and nights.

Hunt and Lee say they wanted to set this record as an all-female crew, to demonstrate that women are not part of the shorthanded and fully crewed offshore sailing scene just because of a mixed crew requirement, with the likes of the Olympic and Ocean Race rules, but because they are strong, motivated sailors in their own right.

“Shorthanded racing is a great discipline because it demands that each skipper is skilled in all aspects of offshore sailing – from navigation to helming and sail trimming,” says Hunt, a 21 a 21-year-old British sailor, focused on offshore shorthanded sailing

“It is fantastic for females to be involved in particular because it offers opportunities to learn and take the lead onboard that are often harder for women to fulfil on a fully crewed boat, where roles are more compartmentalised.” says,  Lee a co-skipper with RL Sailing, an Irish team formed with Kenneth Rumball.

“There is talent, enthusiasm and potential among young, female sailors in Ireland and the UK, but often a lack of awareness about the avenues for participation for women,” say the skippers. “We hope our record attempt will help to break down some of the stereotypes, related to accessibility and male dominance, and will generate excitement – encouraging other girls to get out and try to break the record we set!”

From France to Ireland

Following delivery of the boat from Lorient, France the hub of offshore sailing and a quarantine period in Ireland, from the 12 October they will be ready and waiting to set sail, once a suitable window materialises. professional navigator will be working alongside them to find the optimum window.

Record Route

The original plan for Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) was to follow the classic route of the biennial Round Ireland Race. That route begins off Wicklow Sailing Club and heads south, keeping Ireland and all its islands and rocks to starboard (to the right of the boat). However, soon after the launch of the record bid, the girls switched to the World Sailing Record route that begins and ends off the Kish light on Dublin Bay and can be navigated either north or south about, as Afloat reports here.

As there are only two of them and they will be sailing without stopping for up to five days and nights, they will run a two-hour rotation of being ‘on watch’ (so the longest break each will have over the duration of the journey for rest, sleep or food will be two hours). A watch needs to be maintained at all times not only for safety reasons, but because there are constant adjustments required to maintain speed and react to changing weather conditions. The skippers will also work together as a team on deck whenever manoeuvres such as sail changes are required.

Published in Offshore

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating