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Day #3 - 8am  We concluded last night’s closing roundup of the continuing drama which is the 270-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2019 by noting that for some crews, the race only seemed to become serious once they’d put the Fastnet astern, and the real challenge was getting along that awe-inspiring Atlantic seaboard to the welcoming haven which is Dingle as efficiently and as tirelessly as possible writes W M Nixon

For by this stage, exhaustion is becoming a significant factor, and it’s a case of the tough old dog for the long road. Boats which had been showing well for much of the race just didn’t seem to have the energy in them any more to keep up the relentless pace, whereas boats with experienced crews who knew the focused bit would come in the final seventy miles seemed to keep something in reserve for the last push, while never letting themselves get out of contention as the race progressed.

Rockabill VI 2188The Rockabill VI crew

Thus having been always there or thereabouts throughout the race, Paul O’Higgins’ and his hardened team on board the defending champion Rockabill VI were fourth to cross the finishing line at 03:19 hrs this morning, and this immediately put them into the IRC lead, with second place IRC going Chris & Patann Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia which finished at 03.23, while third slot has been grabbed by John O’Gorman’s Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie, in which visiting rockstar Mark Mansfield has found new sources of formidable speed.

As suggested in our concluding report last night, Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya did indeed get through Andrew Hall’s J125 Freya to take second in line honours, but though they were in at 02:09 and 02:13 repectively, they have slipped to 5h IRC for Jackknife and 11th for Freya, with the upper placings on IRC currently held by the J/109 Ruth (Shanahan family) in fourth, Jakckknife fifth, and another two J/109s, Outrajeous and Mojito, in 6th and 7th.

There are still many boats out racing, but those early placings look increasingly firm.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

A last-minute entry for this evening’s 280-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race is a clear case of horses for courses writes W M Nixon.

Andrew Hall’s relatively new J/125 Jackknife from Pwllheli is renowned for her speed on a reach, and when her entry was finally confirmed on Monday, the weather forecasts were all suggesting a real drag race in brisk northerlies the full length of the south coast.

With her experienced crew beefed up by the addition of that noted ISORA stalwart Stephen Tudor, Jackknife has completed a very comprehensive three-boat challenge from the Pwllheli club, as her Welsh-based partners in the dash to Dingle will be the consistently successful J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) and the Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do (Mark Thompson).

While the J/109 is noted as an all-round performer which is good but not exceptional on all points of sailing, the Sunfast range is noted for its reaching abilities, so with Jackknife rating 1.143, Mojito on a very competitive 1.009, and Jac Y Do on 0.995, the Pwllheli club looks to have all options well covered for being there or thereabouts when the final handicap winner is announced.

That might be sooner rather than later, for aboard Mick Cotter’s mighty 94ft Windfall in a windy and rain-swept Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning, their computer model was optimistically showing that they could be finished some time between 2.0 pm and 6.0pm tomorrow.

windfall reaching2Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall – this morning her computers were suggesting she could reach Dingle by tomorrow afternoon
That’s fine and dandy for a big one carrying the blustery breeze all the way to the finish, with a minimum of beating at the end. But if the breeze goes round to the northwest, getting to the Fastnet Rock in a record speed will be a snare and a delusion for the smaller craft. For the 70 miles thereafter, from the Fastnet to Dingle, slugging along to windward on one of the most challenging coasts in Europe, can soon start to seem like the longest 70 miles in the world.

That said, the likelihood of Windfall seeing her line honours becoming the handicap win as well is surely a long shot. But don’t forget that George David’s Rambler 88 did that very thing in some style in the 2016 Round Ireland Race.

Nevertheless with a very solid phalanx of boats between the 40ft and 50ft mark including Jackknife, Chris & Patanne Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia (with ISORA boss Peter Ryan onboard), George Sisk’s Xp 44 WOW, and Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya, we have a group who might just manage the race’s win move of also carrying the best breeze the whole way.

freya from ahead3This is a sight very few boats in the Dingle Race will get to see – Conor Doyle’s Freya from ahead. For the dash to Dingle, her crew will include the special talents of Kenneth Rumball and Ryan Seaton. Photo: Robert Bateman

And then there are the flying outsiders such as Conor Fogerty’s utterly new Figaro 3 Raw. She’s so new his experience of making best use of her foils is minimal, but that could all change tonight. It will be intriguing to watch Raw’s progress, as the word from Stage 2 of the ongoing Solitaire URGO Figaro is that two of the boats had to pull out of the Kinsale-Needles Fairway-Roscoff course to head direct for Roscoff with “water ingress” problems around the casings for their foils.

All this talk of cunning club combinations, and biggies of 94ft, and solid phalanxes of 40-to 50ft boats - plus musings of whether or not the new Figaro 3 could still be reasonably described as Work in Progress - shouldn’t blind us to the fact that there are competitive boats at every level in this best-ever 44-strong Dingle fleet, and somewhere amongst them will be the defending champion, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI, quietly getting on with the business of getting to Dingle with the least fuss and in the shortest possible time.

rockabill racing4As your were……Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI on her way to the overall win in the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. Photo: O’Brien

But first, they all have to get cleanly way from Race Director Con Murphy’s start line in a vigorous onshore breeze on an evening of Arctic air with a lumpy sea coming every which way. At the start of the 2017 race in an easier-to-handle offshore wind, the adrenalin was pumping and sheer animal spirits led to some decidedly unorthodox manoeuvring. Having a significant sea running adds to the challenge. But it’s all part of the sport of this very special race, and it starts off Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier at 6.0pm this evening

Entries here 

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Will the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race next Wednesday find itself sailing with mostly fair winds asks W M Nixon. Will the presence of lows to the west of them, and other lows to the southeast, provide a line of favourable higher pressure down the course to give fair nor’easters in the early stages, and nothing too totally contrary thereafter?

It seems just possible, and would be very welcome. For there have been occasions racing to Dingle in conditions so obtuse that some easier ways of getting from Dublin Bay to West Kerry other than via the National Yacht Club’s biennial D2D have come to mind, such as walking backwards the whole way in your bare feet…….

On the other hand, it’s a race in which at some stage the sailing is inevitably sublime, yet even with the unsettled weather that Ireland is currently experiencing, as of this morning there are 43 sound boats signed up for next Wednesday’s 1800hrs start immediately eastwards Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier. And they include a goodly number of boats and sailors who are busy this weekend in dealing with the sometimes wayward weather which is making the 2019 ICRA Nationals hosted by the Royal St George YC such a fascinating challenge.

"this healthy increase by 33% is good going by anyone’s standards"

So whatever the weather, it looks as though enthusiasm is back in vogue. For when we last took a look at the potential D2D fleet in mid-May, confirmed entries stood at just 32 boats. But Race Chairman Adam Winkelmann was quietly confident that his fleet would be approaching the 40 mark as the race got nearer the top of the agenda in this extraordinarily crowded first half of the 2019 season. His instincts were right - this healthy increase by 33% is good going by anyone’s standards.

windfall sailing2The biggest boat in the Dingle race fleet – Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall

That said, the increased fleet size makes predictions even more difficult, for although there were good reasons to hope the weather will have settled down a bit by next Wednesday, the predictions change by the hour and the general instability of the Atlantic airmass could throw all sorts of optimistic expectations haywire.

But we take hope from the fact that, for some of the race, the indications are that the Jetstream will be to the north, whereas in recent days it has been sitting directly overhead, and in a particularly malignant mood too. However, more benign weather will tend to bring lighter winds, and while the fleet’s big one, Mick Cottter’s 94ft Windfall, will likely take line honours, the fact that the rest of the fleet might find the next weather deterioration is preceded by livelier breezes will see any chance of Windfall holding to her lead on handicap as no more than a very long shot.

But Windfall’s speed could be such that she’ll carry the mid-week nor’easters (should they arrive as currently predicted) all of the 280 miles crisply to the finish, leaving smaller craft still at sea dealing with the increasing likelihood of nor’westers on the nose in their latter stages of racing.

However, defending champion Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) with the JPK 1080 Rockabill VI is muted in his enthusiasm for any suggestions there might be benign weather on the way, as he has no doubt that his much-admired boat is at her best in a bit of a breeze.

“We don’t really do benign breezes,” he tells “We’re looking for good firm to brisk winds”. Certainly they had no lack of them in 2017’s race, and with regular shipmates including Mark Pettit, Kieran Tarbett and Ian O’Meara on the strength, Rockabill’s firepower is further beefed by Australian James Gunne, who has become a significant force in Dublin Bay sailing.

Outrajeous J109 1621The J/109 Outrajeous (Johnny Murphy & Richard Colwell, Howth YC) will be doing her first Dingle Race

As ever, Rockabill’s closest battles will be with the J/109s, of which there are six with boats from Holyhead, Pwllheli, Dun Laoghaire, Poolbeg and Howth. One of them, Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli) was runner-up to Rockabill VI last time out, and her form in this year’s ISORA shows she’s still up for it, while another, the Shanahan family’s Ruth (NYC), was overall winner in 2015.

But the more recent additions to the thriving J/109 fleet around Dublin Bay are champing at the bit, and last weekend in Howth’s annual Lambay Race, it was the home club’s Richard Colwell and Johnny Murphy’s Outrajeous which led the pack in Class 1 from Rockabill VI by 1 minute and 49 seconds, though Rockabill VI was back on top in DBSC racing on Thursday night.

The Lambay crew lineup on Outrajeous included Mark Mansfield, but for the D2D, the formidable Cork sailor is moving across to John O’Gorman’s Sun Fast 3600 Hot Cooky (NYC), and he’s keen for some offwind flying that will suit his 2019 mount very well indeed.

Sunfast 3600 Hot cookie 3815John O’Gorman’s Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie (NYC) will have former Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield on the strength for the Dingle Race. Photo O’Brien

Meanwhile Ireland’s former best-known campaigner of Sun Fast 3600s. OSTAR winner and 2017 “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth, has been battling against time in France with a team including Shane Hughes of North Sails to prepare his very new foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 Raw for the Dingle Dash, which he’ll be racing 2-handed with Susan Glenny.

The race is a key element in his buildup to the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 in August, and the word is Raw is on her way from the Bay of Biscay, but current conditions off western France and Land’s End have become decidedly rugged with Storm Miguel - having swept in close past northwest Spain with mayhem at sea including the rescue of five from the Irish boat Loa Zour 80 miles off the Galician coast - now moved into northwest Europe to further stir the meteorological witch’s brew.

raw rainbow5Conor Fogerty’s new Beneteau Figaro 3 Raw fitting sails under a rainbow in unsettled weather in France
storm miguel6A real witch’s brew of weather. Storm Miguel sweeps past northwest Spain. Small and fast moving – but decidedly vicious

Thus Raw will be well tested, but this same adverse weather may make it difficult for the oldest boat in the race, Paul Moxon of the UK’s classic yawl 50ft Amokura (a handsome 1938 Fred Shepherd design) to make the passage from Falmouth today – we keep our fingers crossed for him, he plans to leave Falmouth later this afternoon as conditions start to relent, and has set Tuesday at the NYC as his target.

Having completed the recent RORC Myth of Malham Race, the beautifully-restored Amokura is getting double value from the D2D 2-handed division, as her crew want to do the event in its own right, and it also adds up points to facilitate their Fastnet Race participation in pursuit of the Iolaire Cup presented for classics way back in 1975 (the Fastnet Race Golden Jubilee) by our own national nautical treasure, Don Street of Glandore.

Amokura sailing7The 1939-built Fred Shepherd classic 50ft Amokura (Paul Moxon) will be the oldest boat in the fleet

While Raw and Amokura represent the extremes in age and type in the Dingle Race and the J/109s are far and away the most numerous class type, the rest of the fleet are of so many different marques that it’s something of an active boat show afloat.

All of which is another way of saying that any one of at least a dozen craft is in with a good chance, and one to watch in particular is Chris and Patanne Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia, which won her class and placed third overall in last year’s Round Ireland during a notably consistent season in which she also came within a ace of winning the ISORA Championship.

Aboard for that round Ireland success was Maurice ‘The Prof’ O’Connell, and he’s re-joining the ship for the Dingle Race. Aurelia is an excellent all-rounder which is almost always in the frame, so maybe the 2019 Dingle Race is her long overdue turn in the gold spot. Either way it’s yet another chapter in the Mark Mansfield/Maurice O’Connell contest, last seen as recently as a fortnight ago in the Scottish Series when O’Connell won out on Andrew Craig’s Chimaera against the Ker 32 Hijacker with Mansfield on board.

Mansfield Prof 1183Harnessing competitiveness. For his successful 2016 Round Ireland Campaign, Dave Cullen managed to get Mark Mansfield (left) and Mark the Prof O’Connell to combine forces on the J/109 Euro Car Parks (aka Storm), and they became the only Irish class winner. Photo: O’Brien

Yet getting them on the same team can sometimes be achieved, as was seen to such good effect in 2016’s Round Ireland when Dave Cullen chartered the Kelly family’s superstar J/109 Storm, turned her into Euro Car Parks, and inveigled both Mansfield and O’Connell on board to share the tent and get the only class win by an Irish boat in that mighty staging of the big one.

There are three boats from the X Yachts stable in the lineup, Kinsale YC’s Cian McCarthy being the smallest one with the X362 EOS, while considerable distinction comes in the form of Conor Doyle’s Xp50 Freya from Kinsale, and George Sisk’s Xp44 WOW from Dun Laoghaire, with the latter’s crew becoming accustomed to the sad business of racing without their longtime shipmate the late and much-lamented Tom Power, whose contribution to so many aspects of Irish sailing spanned more than forty active years.

WOW sailing9Leppin’ along……George Sisk’s Xp44 WOW

Classic Beneteaus are well represented, with Paddy Cronin of Malahide skippering the First 40.7 Encore with which he and his father Dermot won the two-handed division in the 2015 Rolex Middle Sea Race, while there are two of those grand old war-horses, the First 44.7 in the form of the Martin brothers’ Lively Lady (RIYC) and Barry O’Donovan’s Black Magic which shares her home port between Dunmore East and Howth.

paddy dermot cronin10Father and son success. Paddy (left) and Dermot Cronin of Malahide after winning the Two-handed Division in the 2015 Middle Sea Race in their first 40.7 Encore, which Paddy will be skippering in the Dingle Race

The newer range of J Boats has interesting representation with a couple of J/112Es – James Tyrrell’s Aquelina from Arklow and Frank Doyle’s very new Cara from Crosshaven - while Andrew Algeo’s recently acquired new J/99 Juggerknot 2 will be observed with special interest, for although she’s smaller than his previous J/109 of the same name, Juggerknot 2’s rating of 1.014 puts her towards the top of the rating band shared by the J/109s.

In fact, the 1.000 to 1.020 rating band is going to see its own in-built competition, as it has many hot boats including one of the south coast’s most successful all-rounders, Denis Murphy’s family-campaigned Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from the Royal Cork, and Tom Roche’s Salona 40 Meridian from Kinsale.

nieulargo sailing11The Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo (Denis Murphy) was the Royal Cork YC’s “Keelboat of the Year” in 2018. Photo: Robert Bateman

"The sailing clubs of the southwest and western seaboards are making their pitch"

The sailing clubs of the southwest and western seaboards are making their pitch, with Noel Coleman’s Oyster 37 Blue Oyster racing for Schull, Kenneth Cunnane’s Swan 46 Mynx representing Dingle, Derek & Conor Dillon;s Dehler 34 The Big Deal sailing for Foynes, and Liam Burke’s Farr 31 Tribal from Galway Bay SC racing - like The Big Deal - in the two-handed division.

Also from the west are the two Minis 6.50s, Louis Mulloy’s Blackshell Farm from Mayo SC, and Yannick Lemonnier and Dan Mill’s Port of Galway (GBSC). Small they may be, but they can’t half shift, and their rating of 1.052 reflects this.

justina sailing12A Grand Soleil in different style – Johnny Treanor’s GS 34 Justina (NYC) will be racing to Dingle. Photo: O’Brien
Which makes it interesting to round out this inevitably incomplete review with the lowest-rated boats, whose crews can always envisage a wind pattern developing to make it their day at the end. They include Keith Miller’s Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay at 0.937, Finbarr O’Regan’s Elan 33 Artful Dodger from Kinsale at 0.957, Peter Coad’s 1988-vintage Pocock 38 Blackjack from Dunmore East at 0.917, Irish Offshore Sailing’s Sunfast 37 Desert Start, skippered by Ronan O Siochru, on 0.952, Joe Conway’s Sigma 33 Elandra (RIYC) on 0.912, Ruper Barry’s JOD Red Alert from Greystones on 0.933, another Sigma 33, Ian Bowring’s Springer (RStGYC), on 0.912, top of the bunch Mark & Jo Thompson’s Sunfast 3200i Jac Y Do at 0.997, and lowest rated of all, David Bolger’s Sadler 34 Lady Rowena (RStGYC) on 0.906.

Most encouraging of all, perhaps, is the range of clubs taking part, as they run from Carlingford (Declan Murphy, Hanse 370e Zuri) all the way round to Mayo SC (Louis Mulloy), with boats from the Welsh coast as well. It’s a cracker of a fleet - Adam Winkelmann’s quiet faith in his support base is fully justified. It’s going to get very interesting towards 1800hrs on Wednesday, June 12th.

Details of entries here

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Two youth sailors from the race finish port of Dingle in County Kerry will be onboard two entries in this month's 320-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race (D2D) as part of a race promotion to encourage more young people to try their hand at offshore sailing. 

One of the boats taking the novice crew is the largest in the expected 45-boat fleet, Michael Cotter's Windfall, a SouthWind 94. Cotter of the Royal St. George Yacht Club will be looking to topple the course record he established with the 78ft Whisper in 2009. 

Read the D2D race update in Afloat's recent blog by WM Nixon here.

The race will have approximately 45 boats racing varying in size between 30 and 100 feet long with crews of between 2 and 20 sailors on board. The first D2D race took place in 1993 and the race has grown to become one of the great mini offshore sailing challenges in the UK and Irish waters. Underlining this growth in status is the fact that the D2D race now forms part of both the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association's 2019 series.

"The race starts from Dun Laoghaire on June 12th"

The Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Yacht Race starts from Dun Laoghaire on June 12th and is scheduled to arrive into Dingle Harbour over the weekend of June 15th and 16th. Volvo Car Ireland is the title sponsor of this offshore race that takes place every two years. They are supported by the Tralee based dealer Billy Naughton Motors who represents Volvo Cars in the region. The race has also had a long association with the Dingle Skellig Hotel where the gala prizegiving will take place on the evening of Saturday, June 15th.

The race will test crews’ skills in terms of fast sailing, accurate navigation and tactics and great teamwork. Crews include both male and female top sailors and there is a separate prize to encourage this growth of women in the race which mirrors the Volvo Ocean Race ethos. “We are delighted to be involved with and support the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in 2019, as we did two years ago. We wish all participating sailors safe sailing and encourage all supporters to visit Dingle and enjoy the great atmosphere surrounding the finish in the town.”

The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is the race organiser and provides the starting and finishing teams for the race management. The yachts can be tracked live online using the YB Tracking system which can be found both through the or through from the start on Wednesday, June 12th.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

You’ll seldom if ever hear anyone who has actually done the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race dismissing it in an offhand way as some sort of Round Ireland Lite writes W M Nixon.

It may only be 280 miles or so in length. But the D2D19 – which starts on Wednesday June 12th – will as ever be punching way above its weight with its complexities of strategy and tactics in early dealings with tides, the sheer varieties of the coastlines you have to race along, and the fact that while the final stage may be along one of the most magnificent seaboards in Europe, you’re now in the open Atlantic where the ocean-generated swell can acquire an extra dimension of confusion through the underlying backwash from the unforgiving cliffs.

By the finish, you’ll almost inevitably have sailed more than 300 miles - often by quite a substantial amount. So when you get the final impressive turning mark of Skellig Michael astern to head on into Dingle Bay and through the welcoming arms of Dingle’s fine natural harbour, you’ll know you’re within a few minutes reach of a convenient fully-facilitated port with its own specially Irish yet cosmopolitan flavour, and a palpable sense of reward for anyone who has sailed all the way from Dublin Bay.

liam shanahan skellig22015 D2D winner Liam Shanahan helming the J/109 Ruth in that magic moment as Skellig Michael is put astern, and the Dingle welcome beckons
Liam ShanahanRuth’s win in the D2D 2015 made Liam Shanahan the “Sailor of Month” for June of that year, and continuing success in several further contests made him “Sailor of the Year” 2015. He is seen here receiving his citation from John Treacy (left) CEO of the Sports Council (now Sport Ireland), and David Lovegrove, President of the ISA (now Irish Sailing)

This sense of achievement is reinforced by the way that Dun Laoghaire and Dingle both contrast and complement each other.

Dun Laoghaire is “Official Dublin comes to the Sea”. But Dingle is the independent spirit of the far southwest, and to some extent the essence of Kerry. Yet not totally so. For Dingle is so completely and utterly its own wonderfully entertaining and hospitable self that it defies categorization. Dingle is Dingle, that’s really all we need to know about it – and you have to experience it personally (and preferably at leisure) before trying to fully understand what being Dingle means.

The way that the race from Dun Laoghaire brings finishers into port with their senses heightened provides exactly the right mood to appreciate the hospitality Dingle has on offer. And the National Yacht Club’s Race Organisers – with Adam Winkelmann (himself a veteran of four D2D and six Round Ireland races) as Chairman, while Con Murphy is Race Director – are particularly keen to develop this vital aspect of the race’s continuing success.

dingle harbour marina4Dingle’s attractive harbour provides one of Europe’s most westerly marinas

They make the point that without the added local support of Dingle Skellig Hotel, Dingle Harbour & Marina, Dingle Crystal, Dick Mack’s Brewhouse, and Murphy’s Ice Cream – plus Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin and the Bretzel Bakery – then the overall package wouldn’t be so attractive for would-be challengers.

But they’re also emphasising the fact that Dingle itself continues to develop as a sailing centre in its own right, and they’re ensuring that young sailors coming up through Dingle Sailing Club’s Junior Programme are going to get a chance to take part in this remarkable race.

Their means of doing so are greatly increased by the astonishing variety of the 2019 fleet. At the moment, with just three-and-a-half weeks to go to the start, there’s a solid entry of 32 boats. But with the compressed nature of 2019’s early season fixtures and the inevitable element of last-minutism, it’s strongly reckoned they could be looking at 40 boats lining up for the start on Wednesday, June 12th immediately east of Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier and highly visible in Scotsman’s Bay.

d2d course5Deceptively simple – there’s much more to the D2D course than meets the eye in a simple overview
Even as it is, the current line-up has to be one of the most comprehensive ever seen in any Irish offshore race, as it ranges from two Mini-Transat 6.50 mighty atoms – both from Connacht – right up to the stylish splendour of Dun Laoghaire owner-skipper Mick Cotter’s 94ft sloop Windfall.

Normally, Windfall is working assiduously for her living on the charter yacht circuit. But the D2D has enough unfinished personal business about it for Mick Cotter to give his Superyacht a break, and take her racing himself along the wayward coasts of his home island.

Back in 2009, he raced his previous biggie, the 78ft Whisper, in the D2D. But though their time still stands as the course record, it was 43 tantalising minutes outside the coveted 24 hours. You might think it no big deal to race a 285-mile course in a 78-footer within the 24 hours, but the Whisper experience shows just how cussed this course can be. Because you can be assured that Whisper was no woofer – later that season, she placed 5th overall and first of the Superyachts in the big-fleet 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race, a placing so good that many commentators latched onto it as one of that Fastnet’s most notable achievements.

2009 whisper6The 78ft Whisper shortly after the start of the 2009 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. She was to set a Course Record which still stands, and then went on to win her class and be top placed Irish boat (at 5th overall) in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2009. Photo: O’Brien
Having a 94-footer moves the course record challenge onto a new plane, and this is serious stuff when the crew are dealing with sails of Windfall’s size, as this vid of her racing in the Loro Piana Regatta reveals.

Windfall’s crew will include a top young sailor from Dingle Sailing Club whose roles will include maintaining contact through various media channels to give people ashore - and particularly in Dingle - a flow of information on how the race is progressing, a mission which will be reinforced by having fellow Dingle sailors placed in various boats throughout the fleet, while will be playing a key role in constant updates.

The fleet includes several previous winners, with the defending champion Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 1080 Rockabill VI (RIYC) - victor of a notably tough race in 2017 - lining up again, while the 2015 winner, the J/109 Ruth of the Shanahan family from the National YC, is also back in the hunt, this time with a third generation entry.

rockabill vi d2d7Paul O’Higgins’ winning JPK 1080 Rockabill VI in Dublin Bay shortly after the start of the 2017 Volvo D2D. Photo: O’Brien
rockabill vi fastnet8A brief moment of relaxation for Rockabill VI’s crew as they approach the Fastnet Rock with their lead firmed up after a punishing beat along the length of the South Coast. Owner Paul O’Higgins on right

In addition to Dingle crewmen throughout the fleet, there’s a significant Dingle-based entrant in Kenneth Cunnane’s Swan 46 Mynx. Other western entries include father-and-son team of Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC with their much-raced Dehler 34 Big Deal, while the two gallant Connacht Mini 6.5s are Blackshell Farm (Louis Mulloy of Mayo SC) and Port of Galway (Dan Mill & Yannick Lemonnier).

No big Deal 4451Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC in the Dehler 34 Big Deal Photo:

In recent Dingle races, the boat which has most frequently been there or thereabouts at the head of the fleet has been the J/109, and in all there are three of them currently entered for 2019, with Indian (Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles, Howth YC) and Jaydreamer (Paul Sutton, Holyhead SC) going along the sharpen things up for the Shanahans on Ruth.

Juggerknot II 2566Sweet and simple…..2018 J/109 Champion Andrew Algeo (pictured left) will be racing to Dingle in his new J/99 Juggerknot 2. Apart from the two Min 6.50s, she will be one of the smallest boats in the race

As an interesting comparison, 2018 J/109 National Champion Andrew Algeo (RIYC) has thrown his hat into the ring with his new J/99 Juggerknot 2, while comparisons in another direction can be made the presence of James Tyrrell’s J/112E Aquelina from Arklow and sister-ship Cara (Frank Doyle, Royal Cork YC).

Cara, Frank Doyle's J112 from Royal Cork Yacht Club Cara, Frank Doyle's J112 from Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

The South Coast challenge is strong, with Royal Cork also providing the Murphy family’s notably successful Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, while Kinsale – with its own Sovereigns Cup series coming up at the end of the month – has a powerful presence with Conor Doyle’s Xp5 Freya, Thomas Roche’s Salona 42 Meridian, and Finnbarr O’Regan’s Elan 333 Artful Dodger.

xp50 freya10All boat, and handsome with it – Conor Doyle’s Xp50 Freya from Kinsale. Photo Bob Bateman

Still on the south coast but well to the east, Waterford Harbour SC at Dunmore East is flexing its Dingle muscles with Peter Coad’s veteran Pocock 38 Blackjack, and the O’Donovans’ First 44.7 Black Magic (co-registered with Howth), while we have another of those tried and trusted First 44.7s from Dun Laoghaire in the form of Rodney and Keith Martin’s Lively Lady (RIYC).

Lively Lady 0613Regular ISORA competitor Rodney and Keith Martin’s Lively Lady races through Dalkey Sound on Dublin Bay at the start of coastal race Photo:

The constantly updating entry list is available here

Whichever way you look at it, the newest boat of all is undoubtedly 2017 “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth’s foiling Beneteau Figaro 3. She’s so new that at the time of writing she has yet to go afloat, making her name of Raw all-too-appropriate. Her debut has been delayed for a couple of weeks by the glitch in the Figaro 3 production programme, caused by specialist energies having to be re-directed to sorting the mast and rigging problems in the new Solitaire Urgo Figaro fleet, tense enough as the 50th Anniversary Figaro itself gets underway from Nantes on June 2nd, and will be in Kinsale from June 6th to 9th.

conor fogerty11Conor Fogerty – “Sailor of the Year” for 2017 – is staying remarkably calm in the face of delivery delays as he awaits his new foiling Figaro 3 Raw, which is entered for both the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June, and the Rolex Fastnet Race in August.

Meanwhile, Conor Fogerty stays remarkably calm despite the narrowing window and the importance of taking part in the Dingle Race, for apart from the attraction of the challenge of the D2D in itself, it is also his qualifier for August’s Rolex Fastnet Race, where his entry has already been accepted. But then, when you’ve been an OSTAR winner, keeping calm while battling on is an integral part of the psychological makeup.

Published in ISORA

The National Yacht Club has announced dates for its biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle (D2D) Race in 2019.

The 2019 mini offshore race, that is also a fixture on the international RORC calendar, will start on Wednesday, 12th June off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

At almost 300 miles, the race has proved popular with offshore crews because, say the organisers, it is the 'perfect length', typically taking the whole fleet between 30 and 50 hours to get to Dingle in County Kerry.

The defending champion is Paul O'Higgins' well-sailed JPK10.80, Rockabill VI.

It is the second headline 2019 sailing event to announce dates this week. Earlier, Kinsale Yacht Club announced it will stage its 2019 Sovereign's Cup regatta from June 26th to 29th.

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

#D2D - In Dingle of a warm summer Friday’s evening, the night has barely started at 9pm, writes W M Nixon. So the multi-talented crew of Paul O’Higgins’ JPK1080 Rockabill VI were in plenty of time for a leisurely winner dinner when they swept across the finish line in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 at 2048 hrs to stake what looks like an unassailable claim to have won just about everything in this race for which they’re eligible.

There have been Dingle Races in the past where the nearer you got to the finish, the more difficult it was to find enough breeze to close the race. But this time round, Rockabill VI has found such sparkling conditions towards the end that, with a warm yet brisk fair wind sweeping her up the majestic Dingle Bay, she covered the last nine miles in less than an hour.

Considering the miserable conditions everyone was enduring only 30 or so hours ago, it was an almost supernatural change to the weather. But with this crew and this rather special boat, Paul O’Higgins had the combination to make the best of the rough going, and yet have some real champagne sailing when the weather improved.

The crew who shared this victory with him were Conor O’Higgins, Mark Pettit, Ian O’Meara, Peter Wilson, William Byrne, Rees Kavanagh, and Ian Heffernan. Many have done the Dingle race before, with some of them winning in times past. Many will do it again. But the totality of Rockabill VI’s win — with line honours thrown in despite the fleet having started with many larger boats — is more than enough to be going along with for now.

Rockabill VI by Rebecca HayterRockabill VI coming into dock earlier this evening | Photo: Rebecca Hayter

The mainly southwest breeze is distinctly firmer the further north you go, and back at Mizen Head a surprisingly persistent flat patch has provided an obstacle at which nearly everyone has stumbled. Thus as Rockabill came careening into the finish, back at the Mizen, Rónán Ó Siochrú of Irish Offshore Sailing, with his school yacht the Jennneau 37 Desert Star, was finding the going very sticky at just 3.4 knots. It was very frustrating after the very businesslike way he came past the Fastnet to take the Racing 2 lead from Ian Hickey’s Granada 38 Cavatina, which is herself now (at 2100 hrs) at the Fastnet Rock, and back in the Racing 2 lead.

In the cruising division, the Tyrrell family’s J/112E Aquelina lost the lead to the Dufour 40 Pipedreamer (Paul Sutton) thanks to an unscheduled slowdown at Mizen Head. But there’s a long way to go yet for these mid-fleet boats.

Up in front, the Two-Handed Division leader Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty & David Cagney) is sailing in a style which befits a stately Spirit 54, and she’s there in a bunch with various J/109s of which the leader is Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), which now seems firmly placed to take second overall, but by this time quite a distance astern of Rockabill VI.

It has been, and continues to be, an intriguing edition of the Dingle race which will be worthy of further analysis. But for now, the night is Rockabill VI’s, and she won it well.

Read all's 2017 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race coverage in one handy link here

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
Tagged under

“Anybody who finishes this race deserves a prize......” So said one battered yet usually successful old salt after retreating into Dunmore East writes W M Nixon. And for a while early this afternoon, retirals were coming so thick and fast that it looked like there’d be enough official prizes for everyone - maybe even with some to spare - in Dingle at Saturday night’s prize-giving.

But in fact there are still 25 boats out there racing into the night in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017, and they’re a bizarre mixture. For instance, the battle for the two-handed Division is now between Derek & Conor Dillon, Father and Son from Foynes with the Dehler 34 Big Deal, and Stephen O’Flaherty and David Cagney, the Odd Couple from Howth with the stately Spirit 54 Soufriere.

big deal1With the two front runners beaten by the early afternoon’s rough weather, the lead in the Two-Handed Division was taken by Derek and Conor Dillon from Foynes on the Dehler 34 Big Deal from Foynes, and they still hold it going into the second night. Photo: W M Nixon

Former leaders Indian (J/109) and Lambay Rules (J/92) have both given it best, with one retired to Dunmore East and the other shaping a course back towards Arklow. But down off the South Coast, Soufriere and Big Deal are still doing the business, and with the headwinds at last showing signs of slackening, they’re likely to stay doing it.

Up at the front of the fleet, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI still leads on the water, overall and in Racing I as she nears Ballycotton. But she’s having the devil’s own job in putting any truly significant distance between herself and the pesky trio of J/109s Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), Juggerknot (Andrew Algeo), and Ruth (Shanahan family), while in the midst of this bunch of leaders, the powerful First 44.7 Lively Lady (Derek Martin) is clearly having a fine old time, and going well enough to have the potential to move into second on the water.

Port of Galway Mini Yacht(Above and below) Life ain't a bed of roses onboard a Mini in the 2017 D2D

IMG 0707

In such conditions, size really does matter, so spare a thought for the two little Mini 650s which are still battling along, with Port of Galway Green (Yannick Lemonnier & Dan Mill) leading from Port of Galway Black (Marcus Ryan). They’re certainly punching way above their weight, and their ability to do so should result in more Mini 650s next time round.

Meanwhile for now, other successes include the Tyrrell family’s very attractive J112E Aquelina leading the Cruiser Division, while the tough team from Cork on Ian Hickey’s Cavatina continue to lead in Racing 2.

CavatinaThe vintage Granada 38 Cavatina, a double Round Ireland winner

After today’s blood-letting, we’d expect at least two dozen boats to make it to Dingle. It’s more than enough to form a quorum. But as for now, in searching every source for news of any imminent improvement in the weather, we note that Met Eireann have alerted the farming community to be ready for hay-making next week.

Quite. Could we suggest that, in 2019, the date of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is placed in a fortnight-long time slot, but the actual date isn’t finally set until that very welcome alert is given?

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Although a fairly consistent southwest breeze gave the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race fleet a useful slant from Arklow southwards through the night, they’re currently rounding the Tuskar with the expectation of a dead beat most of the way to the Fastnet being confirmed writes W M Nixon

Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) has taken the lead on the water and IRC from clubmate George Sisk’s Farr 42 WOW in the open division, while Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles (Howth YC) lead the two-hander in the J/109 Indian, and Ian Hickey’s Granada 38 Cavatina (Royal Cork YC) is right there in the lead in Racing 2.

But the way that the ferocious tides of the southeast have taken their toll on overall handicap placings is fascinating to observe. The reality is that if your boat was of such a size that she arrived at a headland while the tide was still adverse, you were losing no matter what you did, and the pattern seems to have suited the J/109s better than anyone else.

Beneteau_44.7_Lively_lady_Dingle_raceDerek Martin's Lively Lady, co-skippered by sons Rodney and Keith, is a Beneteau 44.7 from the RIYC Photo:

Thus Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) has shunted up into 3rd in IRC at the 0800 Thursday placing, while J/109 sister-ship and Pwllheli clubmate Sgrech (Stephen Tudor) is showing fifth, with Derek Martin’s First 44.7 Lively Lady between them.

On this first morning of the race with the underlying trend to towards more summery weather being maintained, the hectic pace Paul O’Higgins set himself in campaigning Rockabill VI in the ICRA Nats last weekend in Crosshaven, then getting her home to Dublin Bay simply to start this race back to the southwest, is being amply justified. But those J/09s will take some watching. As will the race results system. It’s still seems to be in process of settling down to give us a true picture of the placings.

Read also: 

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race Tracker

Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race Form Guide: D2D Could Be Another J/Boats Triumph

Five Reasons Why Volvo 'D2D' is The Perfect Mini-Offshore Race

Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race Entry 'Exceeds all Expectations'

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Yacht Race Gets National Yacht Club Turbo Power

WM Nixon will be posting regular race updates on here

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

The interest and resulting entry for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle D2D Race has exceeded all our expectations, writes race organiser Adam Winkelmann.

We now have 39 confirmed entries and expect to have close to 45 boats on the start line on Wednesday June 14th. Janet Grosvenor from RORC will be here to observe the start on June 14th and race management procedures with a view to our ambition to be a RORC endorsed race in 2019. I think with these numbers we are on a good path to that. There is no doubt that the resurgence in ISORA has been a significant factor in the growth and composition of the racing class. By adding RORC in the future we can expect other boats to enter to qualify their crew for the Fastnet Race later in the same year.

We have had a very positive reaction from sailors to our revised schedule of a Wednesday evening start and a Prizegiving Party in Benners Hotel in Dingle on Saturday June 17th. We have included a time limit of 18.00hrs on Saturday in the Sailing Instructions to ensure that we can proceed with prizes later that evening. This facilitates the sailors crew planning for a return to Sovereigns Cup or to work on Monday! We will be giving each boat a crate of Crean’s Beer on arrival in Dingle. Many boats have also booked accommodation with our long term partner the Dingle Skelligs Hotel and no doubt much of the post race analysis will take place in the bar there.

We are looking forward greatly to the start from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire on June 14th at 19.00hrs (starting area in Scotsmans Bay) and encourage as many as want to come out either on the pier or in boats to wave the fleet off on its journey. Yellow Brick tracking of the race will be available so families and supporters can follow the race from start to finish. If the crews bring the trackers to the pub with them as happened last time you will even be able to locate them there!

UPDATE: Comment From Sgrech skipper Stephen Tudor:

Sgrech is committed to the 'D2D' classic offshore race and will be on the starting line on June 14th.
The race provides offshore challenges at 270 miles but also some of the most spectacular scenery from the start in Dublin Bay, southwards down the banks along the east coast of Ireland, Tuskar Rock Light with her South Hen and Chickens. Along the south coast to Fastnet and onwards into the Atlantic.
The next corner the Bull, The Cow and The Calf - spectacular and it does look like a bull.
Next the Great Skellig - truly magnificent but watch out for the Washerwoman Rock - she is vicious!
Then north east to Dingle, the welcome from Fungie the resident dolphin.
Then there is Dingle - a fantastic destination and the high street pubs worth a visit before a party and a gentle cruise home! - Classic join us.

ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan adds: After the Round Ireland Race, it is one of the best offshore races in these waters. After the race, nothing matches the craic in Dingle.

Class divisions breakdown as follows: 

11 Cruiser Class
3 Mini 650 Class
5 2 Handed Class
19 Racing Class

39 D2D entries to date are below: 


DuFour 425



AJ Wanderlust

Jeanneau 45.2 Sun Odyssey

IOM 8931 R




IRL 1507



J Boats




Bruce Roberts

IRL 756



Granada 38




SIgma 33

IRL 4536




IRL 6695


Fulmar Fever

Westerly Fulmar

FR 14



Mini 650 Dingo 1

FR 699


Golden Fleece

Sigma 41



Harriet Marwood

Farrow & Chambers,   Collins 40 Tandem Keel







IOS Desert Star


irl 1397




IRL 8088




IRL 3660


Lady Rowena




Lively Lady

Beneteau First 44.7




Two Ton Dubois

IRL 7077



Shepherd design built by Jack Terrell in 1937

GBR 644R








IRL 1177



Discovery 55



Pipedreamer VI

Dufour 40

GBR 2271L


Platinum Blonde

Beneteau 35 First

IRL 3516


Port of Galway Black

Mini 6.50/ Proto



Port of Galway Green

Mini Transat 6.5 Proto



Prima Luce

Beneteau First 35

IRL 3504


Rockabill VI

JPK 10.80IRL

IRL 10800




IRL 1383



Spirit 54

IRL 1974


Spirit of Jacana





Sigma 400




Nicholson 32

IRL 1530


Wakey Wakey




White Tiger

Beneteau First 44.7




Sunfast 37




Austral Yachts




Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle
Page 1 of 4

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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