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George Sisk's XP44 WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay leads the eight-boat Coastal Class in the O'Leary Life sponsored Sovereign's Cup off Kinsale after today's first race writes Bob Bateman.

Although the Dublin Bay boat leads, Kinsale yachts are second and third. Thomas Roche's, Salona 45 Meridian is second and Conor Doyle's Xp 50 Freya third.

Somewhat unusual easterly breezes for Kinsale and a lumpy sea with 16-knots provided Principal Race Officer Jack Roy with testing conditions for day one of the Cup across three courses.

Racing is scheduled to continue tomorrow morning at the Cup but easterly winds are forecast as gusting as high as 40 knots.

Results are here. All provisional and subject to protest.

Sovereigns Cup Coastal1Meridian is in second place

Sovereigns Cup Coastal1Conor Doyle's Xp 50 Freya crosses George Sisk's Wow at the start of the first Coastal Race

Sovereigns Cup Coastal1

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The fleet is in and Kinsale Yacht Club fires the first gun of its 2019 O'Leary Life Sovereign's Cup tomorrow writes Bob Bateman

Competitors gathered today at the club and a briefing was held in the evening sunshine.

Regatta Director, Bobby Nash is heading up a team that aims to build on the success of previous events both on and off the water. 

The regatta will have a turnout with entries nearing the 100-mark. Afloat previewed the entries and likely winners here

Sovereigns Cup1Nigel Biggs prepares leading Class Two contender Checkmate XVIII

Among the front runners are some of the new national title-holders who won their events at the recent ICRA national championships on Dublin Bay just a fortnight ago.

ICRA overall winner, Anthony Gore-Grimes’ X302 Dux from Howth Yacht Club will be a contender for the Sovereign's Cup that is decided on the international IRC rating system.

Sovereigns Cup1The Outrajeous J109 crew from Howth Yacht Club: Ben Colwell, David Cotter, Richard Caldwell, Mark Mansfield and John Murphy

Sovereigns Cup1

Sovereigns Cup1KYC Reception Committee: Ann Kelly, Lady Commodore Elma O’Sullivan and Michelle Kennelly

Sovereigns Cup1Windsor Lauden, Deborah Faherty and Fracnis Ennis

Sovereigns Cup1The Loch Greine crew with Tom and Declan O’Mahony

Sovereigns Cup1

Sovereigns Cup1Siobhan Keane Hopcraft and Denis Kieran

Sovereigns Cup1Dragon Skippers: Eamon Timoney, Rue Ferreira, Pat Murphy and Corinna Kiely

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The new Dublin Bay J99 Juggerknot II has withdrawn from the Sovereign's Cup on the eve of the Kinsale Yacht Club regatta.

The Royal Irish contender, skippered by Andrew Algeo, although entered for the south coast Grand Prix will not compete tomorrow.

In a packed 2019 racing calendar, the new marque debuted in Spi Ouest in April and has already taken in the  2019 ICRA Nationals and the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race, both in June.

It will be disappointing news for Kinsale's Class One IRC as the withdrawal weakens its already small fleet. Read our 2019 Sovereign's Cup preview here.

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The 2019 O'Leary Life Sovereigns Cup, hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club, is set to have a bumper turnout with entries nearing the 100-mark on Wednesday. As ever, the host club under Regatta Director Bobby Nash, is due to put on events two years in the planning ashore and on the water with three individual race areas requiring three full race officer teams. As Afloat reported previously, four days of racing commence on Wednesday and finish on Saturday for eight competing classes.

KYC Sovereigns JA2 8480Sovereign's Cup Regatta Director holding the Michelle Dunne Prix d' Elegance trophy with Kinsale Yacht Club Commodore Dave O'Sullivan; Brian Goggin and Hellen Kelly from sponsors O'Leary Life and celebrity chef Martin Shanahan of Kinsale's award-winning Fishy Fishy restaurant pictured at the launch of the O'Leary Life Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club Photo: John Allen

Weather conditions always determine both the winners and the enjoyment of an event, and so far Sovereign's Cup seems set to dish up warm sunny weather in predominantly stronger winds. A week ago, the forecasters were calling for light winds for all four days but in the last 48 hours, some systems have moved in with three of the four days, as we write this, due to be in the medium to strong winds. The only light day may be Friday, but some models are also showing for wind also on that day.

"Expect warm sunny weather & strong winds"

As mentioned, some boats shine in the breeze and some in the light, so the winners that come of this week will likely need to be solid in the breeze, but be able to get through the light day without losing their hat. So here is Afloat's selected review of the Sovereign's Cup fleets.

Coastal Class

Nine entries, with five of these from the host club. The two fastest boats in the fleet will likely be the two X Yachts, Wow and Freya. Freya, An XP50 owned by Conor Doyle of the host club will likely lead the fleet around the marks. Will she, however, be able to hold her time on handicap with George Sisk's new XP44, a smaller sister to Freya.

Freya Conor doyle 1965Conor Doyle's XP 50 Freya

So far neither of the two have shined this season, but expect to see them perform this week. Wow, will have Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers aboard organising the crew and sails, which will be important on the likely long legs associated with this class.

Wow George Sisk 1549George Sisk's Xp 44 Wow from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Other than these 2, The J109 Justis of Dan Buckley of the host club, who has opted to race in this class, may look to overturn his larger rivals. We will go for Wow to take this one from Freya.

IRC Class 0

Only five entries in this class, as many of the larger boats, have opted to race in the Coastal Division. However, three good entries will contest the likely results. Frank Whelan's Eleuthera will likely be the favourite having won class 0 at last year's Cork Week and was very much in contention at the ICRAs except for rounding a mark the wrong way in a no discard series. However, Maurice O'Connell, from North Sails, who was with Eleuthera for ICRAs, will move over to Conor Phelan's, Jump Juice form Royal Cork for this event.

Eleuthera 1639Eleuthera's crew for the Sovereign's cup includes D2D winning "Rockabill VI" strategist Mark Pettit as tactician Photo: Afloat

Eleuthera beat Jump at Cork Week last year so depending on who is aboard, may do so again at Sovereigns.

"in stronger winds, she is well known for being a bit of a giant killer"

The third boat that could be in contention is Denis Murphys’ Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from Royal Cork. Denis competed in the ICRA National Championship two weeks ago at the Royal St George YC and did not do that well, but in stronger winds, she is well known for being a bit of a giant killer, if she can get off the line cleanly. The one light day, however, may prove a problem for her. We will tip Eleuthera to take this one.

Nieulargo 2944Denis Murphys’ Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo

IRC Class 1

12 boats in this class, with eight of these being J109’s. The only boat that could likely upset the J109 fest, is Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. This boat has been in Dublin since April and sometimes struggles to get the better of the J109’s, particularly the well-sailed ones. She also contested the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and again struggled to hold off the well sailed J109’s.

J99 2362Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2

However, she has a great turn of speed downwind in a breeze and with two days of around the cans on the programme, could revel in these races, if the angles are good for her.

Joker 2 2896John Maybury's Joker 2 from the Royal Irish

Of the eight J109’s, the ones to watch will likely be John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrajeous from Howth Yacht Club, John Maybury's Joker 2 from the Royal Irish, and Brian Jones's, Jelly Baby, from the Royal Cork. All three finished in the top four at this year's ICRAs at the Royal St George Yacht Club. There will be some disappointment that the Dublin J109s Storm II, White Mischief or May's Scottish Series winner, Chimaera are not competing.

Jelly Baby 2020Bill Jones's, Jelly Baby, from the Royal Cork

Jelly Baby will have Rob McConnell, owner of Fools Gold aboard. Fools Gold was the overall winner of Sovereign's Cup 2017.

We are not sure who will be aboard Joker 2, as John Maybury's regular tacticians, Mansfield and Killian Collins, are slated to sail on other boats.

Outrajeous 2982 John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrajeous

Outrajeous, new into Dublin in 2019, has been showing good speed and with Olympian Mark Mansfield aboard, will likely be the one to watch in this class, but Joker II will likely push her hard.

IRC Class 2

This class will have the remainder of the IRC Boats from about .975 rating right down to the smallest IRC boats. Normally there would be class two and three, but the organisers have decided to put them into the one class, thus the 20 entries.

Seven of this class will comprise the very competitive tricked-up Half Tonners, who are also having their Irish Championships as part of this event.

Artful Dodger, Elan 333Artful Dodger, Elan 333 Photo: Bob Bateman


With strong winds forecasted, there are, however, three non-Half Tonners, that will not allow the Halves to have it all their own way. Finbarr O'Regan's Elan 333, Artful Dodger, from the host club won this class two years ago in strong winds against the Half Tonners and is a flyer upwind. Expect her to contend on the strong wind days. Also, Ciaran Collins's Coracle VI from Royal Cork, with son Mel steering loves the strong winds, particularly downwind where the boat will plane, and will most certainly contend.

coracle Ciaran Collins's Coracle VI from Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

Finally, the X302 of Anthony Gore-Grimes from Howth, who won his class at the recent ICRAs, will love the stronger winds.

Dux 3322Anthony Gore-Grimes's Dux from Howth

If a Half Tonner doesn’t win, one of these three likely will do so.

Checkmate 2320David Cullen's Checkmate XV has a crack crew for the Sovereign's Cup including UK tactician Lou Varney Photo: Afloat

Of the Half Tonners, it depends on who will be aboard each boat, to work out who will take the spoils. David Cullen's Checkmate XV will be there or thereabouts, particularly if Nin O' Leary is aboard. Nigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII will contend, as will Johnny Swann's Harmony. Neil Makley from North Sails UK, will be racing with Biggs. Makley is a regular visitor here and was mainsheet trimmer on Eamon Rohan's Blondie in 2006 and 2008 Commodore's Cups teams. The Wright Brothers from Howth have just taken the 2019 ICRA Nationals at Royal St George with Mata and with Olympian Killian Collins and Shane Hughes from North Sails aboard, expect her to be up there as well. We will tip Mata to take it again, but not by much.

Mata 3645The Wright Brothers from Howth, among her crew for the Sovereign's Cup, is Sam O'Byrne, a D2D winner on board the JPK10.80 Rockabill VI

Dragon Class

The 2019 Dragon Nationals will be taking place at Sovereigns Cup and has 16 entries. We would expect the trio of Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing team from Royal St George, Peter Bowring's Phantom and the host club's Little Fella (Good, Ferney, Kingston) to contend for overall honours, with local knowledge giving an edge to Little Fella.

1720 Class

Just nine entries here to contend the 1720 European Championships. Expect this to be a two way battle between Anthony O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork and Ross and Aoife McDonald's Rope Dock/Atara from Howth Yacht Club. Too close to call between these two.

1720 OLeary 1616Anthony O'Leary's 1720 Antix

White Sail Fleets

25 boats will contest these two fleets. Demelza" from Howth Yacht Club (Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis) must be a hot favourite to win White Sails 2 after a clean sweep in ICRA's a few weeks ago. They are also previous winners in Kinsale. Bite The Bullet, also from HYC must also be a hot favourite for White Sails 1. Colm Bermingham's team have won numerous times in Kinsale before in this class and, like "Demelza" have won ICRA's previously.

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The O’Leary Life Sovereign’s Cup regatta could top 100-boats when the first gun goes in ten days time at Kinsale Yacht Club. Among the front runners are some of the new national title-holders who won their events at the recent ICRA national championships on Dublin Bay a fortnight ago.

ICRA overall winner, Anthony Gore-Grimes’ X302 Dux from Howth Yacht Club will be a contender for the Sovereign's Cup that is decided on the international IRC rating system.

Dux X302 3337ICRA overall champion, the X302 Dux will race again this month at the Sovereign's Cup Photo: Afloat
The 13th edition of the biennial event runs from Wednesday 26th to Saturday 29th June.

Freya D2D Race start 1978Conor Doyle’s Freya that finished the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race in 11th place in a 44-boat fleet races again at Sovereign's Cup Photo: Afloat
Also in action will be Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice from the Royal Cork Yacht Club who missed the national championships due to family exam commitments while a showdown can be expected between two of the largest boats in the event, Conor Doyle’s Freya from the Kinsale Yacht Club and George Sisk’s WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, both racing in the coastal division.

Jelly Baby 2022Brian Jones' J109 Jelly Baby crew for the Sovereign's Cup will include Rob McConnell on mainsheet trim, the winning skipper of the 2017 Cup. Photo: Afloat

Meanwhile, the J109 fleet in Division 1 sees the Waterford Harbour skipper of Fool’s Gold, the overall winner of the 2017 Sovereign’s Cup join Brian Jones’ Jelly Baby from the Royal Cork Yacht Club for the regatta. Rob McConnell will be the mainsheet trimmer on the Cork yacht for the four-day event. It will be a closely-contested class that includes four-times Division 1 Irish champion John Maybury on Joker II from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Mata Half Tonner 1707Michael and Darren Wrights’ Mata from Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat
The O’Leary Life Sovereign’s Cup will also include the Irish Half-ton championships that will see the new Division 2 national champions in action. Michael and Darren Wrights’ Mata from Howth Yacht Club leads a pack of contenders for the title with a repeat of the extremely close racing of the nationals likely to be repeated off the Old Head of Kinsale next week.

Another Howth entry and regular competitor in Kinsale is Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis’ Demelza that was the top White Sails entry at the national championships winning the ICRA Corinthian Cup and is a previous winner in Kinsale.

Anthony Oleary 1720East Coast Championships winner Anthony O'Leary at the helm of his 1720 Antix during May's RIYC hosted event in which the Cork Harbour entry clocked 16-knots on a downwind leg. Photo: Mark McGibney/RIYC
Among the one-designs, good turn-outs in both the 1720 Sportsboat and International Dragon classes are expected with the latter preparing for the Gold Cup to be hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club in September 2020. Martin Byrne of the Royal St. George Yacht Club on Jaguar leads the field in the Dragon class while James Matthews of Kinsale Yacht Club returns to the class with a new boat. Anthony O’Leary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club with Antix is the boat to beat in the 1720 event with a fleet of mostly south coast boats but with added flavour from Dublin, Galway and Britain.

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Kinsale is known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland and was recently voted one of the top ten most colourful towns in Ireland so it's entirely appropriate that Kinsale Yacht Club (KYC) has announced that midweek regatta prizes of the Sovereigns Cup 2019 will be sponsored by the Kinsale Good Food Circle.

The KYC marina, where the regatta fleet will be berthed, is just a short stroll from all the members of the Good Food Circle.

Old Head Links to Sponsor Permanent KYC Racing Mark

Kinsale Yacht Club has also announced that the Old Head Links are to sponsor a permanent racing mark. It will be in 'Hole Open Bay' - which sits right under the golf course on the Old Head of Kinsale.

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Kinsale in the summertime…..If you set out to create the dream harbour as the perfect location for a regatta which captures the essence of the many pleasures of sailing and racing on Ireland’s south coast, then you’d end up with somewhere very like Kinsale writes W M Nixon. The characterful and hospitable old town climbs picturesquely above the bustling facilities-blessed waterfront, complete with its friendly yacht club. It makes for the ideal setting for the biennial Sovereign’s Cup, sponsored again by O’Leary Life, with the dates for 2019 being Wednesday June 26th to Saturday June 29th).

The impressive larger craft at the head of the cruiser-racer divisions inevitably draw the eye, with a distinct X-factor at the top of the fleet where Conor Doyle’s impressive XP 50 Freya will sail for the honour of the home fleet against such challengers as George Sisk’s new-acquired XP 44 WOW from Dun Laoghaire, and Robert Rendell’s XC 45 Samatoma from Howth - all of them electing to race with the Coastal Fleet.

X-Yachts of Denmark have a good track record at the Sovereign's, as main trophy winners in times past such as the Gore-Grimes family’s X-302 Dux from Howth will be very much in the fray, in against craft like D-Tox and Alpaca in 2019, while their club mates from the north Dublin port’s noted Half Ton Classics flotilla will be strongly represented, as will the popular J/109s from several different ports.

For those who prefer their racing at a slightly less high-powered level, the attractive racing waters between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Sovereign’s Islands off Oysterhaven will be the location for the White Sail Fleet, while nearby the race areas of the International Dragons and the International 1720s will be seeing some very intense sport.

In its early years, the Sovereign’s Cup was very much a cruiser-racer event. But the revival in popularity of the 1702 Sportsboats - and this year’s 90th Anniversary of the ever-young International Dragons - makes the addition of these rather special One-Designs seem like an appropriate and invigorating spicing-up of the Sovereign’s Cup 2019.

Early Bird 2 Closing date is April 26th so enter here

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Sovereigns Cup entries for the 1720 European Championships at Kinsale Yacht Club are well on target for what should be a very competitive and entertaining event this June.

Sailing as part of the O'Leary Life Sovereigns Cup from 26 - 29 June, the one design course will also host the Irish Dragon National Championships, all under the control of International Race Officer Peter Crowley.

Avail of early entry deal online by 26th April by clicking HERE.

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With almost four months remaining to the start of racing, the fleet entered for the O’Leary Life Sovereign’s Cup regatta already stands at more than 50 boats, an increase of 10 per cent compared to this time in 2017.

Organisers at Kinsale Yacht Club have confirmed that overseas entries have been received from the UK and The Netherlands as well as from all around the Irish coast.

Contingency planning has started to accommodate a 100-plus boat fleet with at least 600 crew-members expected while visiting family and friends should boost the attendance to 1,000 people each evening of the four-day event.

The event was launched on Wednesday evening (27th February 2019) by celebrity chef Martin Shanahan of Kinsale’s award-winning Fishy Fishy restaurant. Local councillors Alan Coleman and Kevin Murphy were also in attendance representing Cork County Council who have confirmed sponsorship of the event.

"The biennial regatta aims to showcase Kinsale as the gateway to the West Cork"

The biennial regatta aims to showcase Kinsale as the gateway to the West Cork region by combining spectacular and unspoilt natural race courses afloat with world-class hospitality and entertainment ashore.

The open waters around the Old Head of Kinsale offer numerous racing areas for the Irish Half-Ton Cup and as previously reported on, the Dragon National Championships while the 1720 Sportsboat fleet gather for their European title.

The resurgence in offshore racing means added demand for a coastal course and daily races of up to six hours in duration are planned for the bigger entries such as George Sisk’s WOW! and Conor Doyle’s Freya that will have scenic routes as far west as the Seven Heads and back to the Sovereigns located just off Oysterhaven Bay.

Shoreside, Kinsale offers beautiful beaches, children’s playgrounds and the spectacular Charles Fort amongst the attractions while the Old Head Golf Links have sponsored an ‘offshore mark’ located on Hole Open Bay to link two sports synonymous with Kinsale.

The O’Leary Life Sovereign’s Cup Regatta organised by Kinsale Yacht Club will take place from Wednesday 26th to Saturday 29th June 2019. Full details and updates on's dedicated Sovereign's Cup pages here and the Sovereign's Cup website here

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For the first time, Dragons will sail in the Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale this June, even though they have been part of the club for over 20 years.

“Yes, it’s surprising that they haven’t been in it before, but they are this time and it is great that they are participating,” Kinsale Yacht Club Commodore Dave O’Sullivan told me at the launch of the Cup programme where Regatta Director, Bobby Nash, said that 53 boats had already entered, including two from the UK and one from the Netherlands.

"From June 26-29 Dragons will sail at the Sovereigns Cup"

Dragons are a major section of the club even though I learned at the launch that they could trace their history back to Cork Harbour, something I hadn’t known. There are no boats of the class in that harbour now. From June 26-29 they will sail with the 1720s, who will be holding their European Championships in conjunction with the Sovereigns regatta, on courses set specially for the one-designs.

Kinsale Yacht Club is partnering with the Old Head of Kinsale Golf Club which is sponsoring a mark under the Old Head for the regatta.

Dragon racing at KinsaleDragon racing at Kinsale Photo: Bob Bateman

“Community involvement is very important to us,” KYC Commodore Dave O’Sullivan said. “That makes a great atmosphere in the town during the regatta.”

The O’Leary Life-sponsored Sovereigns Cup will be sailed from June 26-29.

• Listen to the Podcast below where Regatta Director, Bobby Nash and Commodore, Dave O’Sullivan outline the schedule and discuss the racing arrangements.

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