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With entries scheduled to open on January 24 2022, the first formal document for the 2022 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race has been taken with the publication of the Notice Of Race document (downloadable below) by Wicklow Sailing Club organisers.

The Notice of Race for the June 18 event sets out the classes to race, the handicap and rating system that will be used and the classes to which it will apply, along with any recent changes to offshore regulations of which there have been some material changes as noted here.

The Irish offshore classic is the second-longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, held biennially, the fleet has grown steadily, attracting a record 64 entrants from all over the world.

A Mod 70 trimaran competing in the Round Ireland RaceA Mod 70 trimaran competing in the Round Ireland Race Photo: Afloat

There are several classes in IRC in which boats and their crews can compete, including IRC 1 – 4, Z class, ISORA, a 'Two-handed Class' and a Team Prize. The 2016 race saw the introduction of multihulls sailing under MOCRA rules. The 2018 race saw the introduction of a new Class40 category.

In the past, boats competing have ranged from a 98-footer former "round the world" maxi to club boats one third the size, with all sizes in between.

As Afloat reported earlier, an international fleet is eyeing the Round Ireland Race. It has also made the Class40 Calendar thanks to the pioneering efforts of race organiser Kyran O'Grady who has been promoting the race in France.

Published in Round Ireland

Wicklow Sailing Club was in France earlier this month to promote June's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race.

Wicklow Commodore Kyran O'Grady was welcomed by The Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL) President Anne de Bagneaux-Savatier to speak to the French yacht club's annual conference at the Paris Boat Show.

UNCL is the yacht club that created the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) - the IRC rule, the critical measured handicap rule, used on the most competitive and prestigious sailing events, such as the Fastnet Giraglia, Sydney-Hobart and the Round Ireland Race.

The Wicklow invitation marked a significant milestone for both clubs as the UNCL was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary and WSC its 21st Round Ireland Race in 2022. 

Thanks to Wicklow promotional efforts, the 704-mile Irish offshore race is now a race on the UNCL calendar for both double-handed and fully crewed yachts.

The Irish classic is also part of the RORC series and the Class40 series.

Wicklow Sailing Club's Kyran O'Grady and Denise Cummins at the UNCL Conference in Paris to promote the Round Ireland Race 2022Wicklow Sailing Club's Kyran O'Grady and Denise Cummins at the UNCL Conference in Paris to promote the Round Ireland Race 2022

As previously reported, after cancelling the 2020 race due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 edition is being planned with relevant precautions in place to ensure a safe experience.

"We were anticipating a fleet of close to 80 boats when we had to cancel our 2020 plans," said O'Grady. "Now that we are learning how to live with Covid-19, there is pent-up demand on top of a surge of interest in offshore racing, so a strong turn-out is on the cards."

The official Notice of Race document will be published shortly.

The 2022 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race starts from Wicklow on June 18The 2022 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race starts from Wicklow on June 18. Photo: Afloat.

Published in Round Ireland

“What would The Doyler do?” That was the question we asked here when writing with resigned sadness on 11th April about the pandemic-induced two-month postponement - from 20th June - of the Wicklow start of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020. At that time, some optimism still prevailed, and the majority of us really did hope and expect that the race would start on August 22nd, the question only was how on earth everyone would fit the new date into their beloved hyper-busy schedules.

It seemed a big quandary at the time, so we referred back to our moral compass, the great Denis Doyle of Cork. He may have died all of 19 years ago, shortly after completing his last Fastnet Race at the age of 81 with his beloved Crosshaven-built Frers 51 Moonduster. But his approach to life and sailing and business was a guiding star for all who knew him, or knew of him, and in those harsh circumstances of postponement, we reckoned he would have quietly re-prioritised his events for 2020, and Moonduster would have been there in Wicklow, ready to race on 22nd August

For in Irish sailing at national and international level, Denis Doyle’s most telling single gesture – among many actions whose moral and historical significances have come to be better appreciated with every passing year – was quietly arriving into Wicklow with Moonduster three days before the start of the second Round Ireland Race in 1982, and setting up base with his hugely supportive wife Mary in a nearby B&B in a positive indication of his recognition that the Round Ireland Race was a thoroughly good idea, indeed it was a great idea, and it was Wicklow’s own idea and character to doggedly persist at grass roots level with the concept after other grander places and organisations with vaguely similar notions had fallen by the wayside.

Rambler 88 turned up as promised in June 2016 at Wicklow, and it was worth it just to see her fantastic startAnother great owner-skipper who kept his word to Wicklow. After George David was rescued from the suddenly un-keeled Rambler 100 by the Baltimore Lifeboat in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2011, among many things he did in thanks was to state that, as soon as possible, he would bring his new super-boat to do the Round Ireland Race. Rambler 88 turned up as promised in June 2016 at Wicklow, and it was worth it just to see her fantastic start, somehow finding a gap through a clutter of smaller craft. As a bonus, she won overall and set a mono-hull course record which has stood ever since. Photo: W M Nixon

Although Denis was Cork city and the Port of Cork through-and-through, he had a clear perception of just how important it was for smaller places to be closely associated with special happenings. Even in all the pomp and glitter of Cowes Week, from his early visits he appreciated that behind it there was a small and not very prosperous town which was heavily reliant on income from sailing visitors in what was then a relatively short season.

Thus he made a point of ensuring that, when racing Cowes Week prior to the Fastnet or the post-Cowes Week long RORC Race in non-Fastnet years, he and his crew spent well and wisely to the greater benefit of the Cowes economy. This is something which was brought home to me a long time ago when I happened to meet Denis and Mary’s regular B&B landlady in Cowes, and she firmly stated that if there were more people like Denis and Mary Doyle and the crew of Moonduster taking part in Cowes Week, then the town would be a much better place.

This awareness of the benefits of the Doyle Seal of Approval was likewise appreciated as it developed over the years from 1982 in Wicklow. It has been said that in the final analysis in anything, the most important thing is simply to turn up, and over the years Denis Doyle and Moonduster simply turned up in an elegant act of doing good work by stealth, and the race organisation group in Wicklow who kept the round Ireland show on the road were profoundly appreciative of his support.

Denis Doyle was a man of few words, but they were all pure goldDenis Doyle was a man of few words, but they were all pure gold.

So in reflecting on what the Doyler would do when faced with Monday night’s unprecedented cancellation of the race in advance of its 21st staging at its 40th anniversary, those of us who were fortunate enough to know Denis Doyle know exactly how he would have reacted. He would have told Wicklow Sailing Club to retain his 2020 entry fee, and set it against his 2022 entry. For Denis Doyle was a man who could implement quick decisions while still taking the long view.

Although very much a man of action and little-known good deeds who said no more words than were necessary, he had extensive experience of all forms of sailing. When he settled on offshore racing as his central focus, it reinforced his international outlook in a way which gave him a special overview of the scene in Ireland, and he was quietly aware that the Round Ireland race is more than just a great sporting event – it is in a sense an act of worship, almost a sacrament, a peaceful acknowledgement of the shared nature of our diverse identity and the special qualities of our island home.

But now for 2020 at least, this special race is gone, cancelled, unavailable - as are most other pillar events. Indeed, in looking back at those events which have taken place, and looking forward to those which might take place, we should count ourselves lucky that there have been some relatively small sailing happenings which have managed to take place without – so far – any reported related spiking of the COVID-19 figures.

the unique Fastnet Rock is a symbolically-important turning point A steadying rock for us all in these uncertain times – the unique Fastnet Rock is a symbolically-important turning point for this weekend’s race from Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

Yet Thursday’s very worrying significant national increase of the new infection figures must give us pause for thought. The experts will need more detailed analysis, but the message seems to be that when restrictions are eased beyond a certain point, or people simply flout safety requirements out of frustration and boredom, then the figures after a certain time remorselessly rise.

The more thoughtful among sailing administrators will have noted this, and while the Royal Cork YC under the calm and competent leadership of Admiral Colin Morehead has emerged with just the right level of carefully-monitored club sailing and racing to begin recovery from the enormous communal shock of having to cancel the significantly international parts of the Royal Cork Tricentenary celebrations, the programme for August is quite ambitious, with the Optimist Nationals at mid-month a major happening, and detailed health safety provisions a priority as everyone realizes that the more friendly and familiar a crowd, then the greater its hazards despite the best social distancing efforts.

Small is Safe 

So whether we like it or not, the mousy little slogan SMALL IS SAFE seems to be our mantra for the time being. Last night’s (Friday) special offshore race from Kinsale round the Fastnet and back attracted 12 starters at the time of writing, and there may have been more when the start was signalled. But at the risk of seeming wimpish, it could be said that for now a dozen boats in an offshore race is just right, it’s a manageable group at race’s end in current circumstances.

And if it comes to other pop-up events coming up on the radar through August, such as a long race from Dublin Bay round the Fastnet to Cork for the RCYC At Home, then there’s certainly nothing so effective as setting an entry limit to attract participants……

1898 Howth 17 Leila (Roddy Cooper) rounds the Fastnet RockAmong the other events which have gone by the board is the Glandore Classics Regatta 2020. Normally an event of infinite possibilities, in 2003 it enabled the 1898 Howth 17 Leila (Roddy Cooper) to round the Fastnet Rock. In Glandore, Leila was a classic among classics – she was already six years old when the Fastnet light became operational in 1904. Photo: W M Nixon

The Fastnet race from Kinsale is enough to be going along with for the minute, what with the special symbolism of its turning mark, and the fact of it happening gives us an opportunity to use yet again this marvellous vid of Cian McCarthy’s new Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl being blasted along with Mark Mansfield on the helm, a boat we’ve drooled over since seeing her unveiled at MGM Boats in Dun Laoghaire way back in pre-history, which is what 6th March now feels like.

Back then, we were talking about this boat being just the job to make Irish sailing fun again. Fun is not something we’ve had much of since, and as for sailing, it has been in decidedly bite-size chunks taken from carefully-controlled portions. You can understand why some people simply can’t be bothered to commission their boats at all, claiming that sailing with so many restrictions in place, and the risk of further lockdowns imminent at any time, is just not free sailing as they know and love it, it’s just – so they say – not worth the hassle.

(Above) Dry sailing, not…..Olympian Mark Mansfield revelling in speed with Cian McCarthy’s new Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl, which is making her competitive offshore debut in the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale race

Maybe it’s simply not worth the hassle for some. But those who do make the effort have been richly rewarded with their sport, and we can be sure that Denis Doyle and Moonduster would be out and about and sailing, making the best of what’s available and permissible, and doing it without a word of complaint.

Published in W M Nixon

Irish offshore sailors Conor Fogerty and Susan Glenny have announced their two-handed entry into next month's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race from Wicklow.

The 704 nautical mile Round Ireland was postponed in June due to COVID-19 and is now scheduled to go ahead in August.

As Afloat has previously reported, Fogerty and Glenny have been sailing together since 2018 and this will be their second joint entry to the Round Ireland Race.

Last year it was announced that mixed pairs offshore keelboat racing would be a new class at the Paris 2024 Olympics and from its inception, the pair have expressed their intention to qualify to represent Ireland in 2024.

For August 22nd's Round Ireland Race, the duo will race aboard their state of the art foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 race yacht named “Total Produce” for the circumnavigation.

The 35-foot yacht was the first IRC foiling boat in Ireland and is one of a selection of yachts shortlisted for the 2024 Olympic event.

Conor Fogerty and Susan Glenny - Round Ireland Race entry in the doublehanded classConor Fogerty and Susan Glenny - Round Ireland Race entry in the doublehanded class

 It’s fantastic to be competing again in the Round Ireland Race after everything that has happened this year. We are delighted to have the support from Total Produce”, says Glenny.

“The Round Ireland Race is one of Ireland’s premier sailing events and like many sporting events, it has been unclear if it would be able to go ahead this year. Hopefully, the restarting of key sporting events will give confidence to community’s that we are moving towards a more normal way of life again.” Fogerty said.

Vincent Dolan, Group Marketing Mánager, of Total Produce said he wishes Conor and Susan the best of luck with race and "he will be keeping track on their progress.”

Fogerty from Howth was Afloat Sailor of the year in 2017 and Glenny is the highest-scoring female skipper in the RORC global offshore sailing series 2019. Between them, they have sailed 35 transatlantic crossings.

Published in Round Ireland

With just four weeks to go to the proposed re-scheduled start of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020 on August 22nd, the word is that a final decision as to whether it is going ahead – and indeed, if it is still going ahead, then in what form – will be given next Monday, July 27th.

Most of those who have the resources, experience and energy to mount a practicable Round Ireland campaign will themselves be either sailing professionals with a realistic sense of how difficult it is to put an event of this complexity together while complying with Pandemic regulations which are mainly aimed at shoreside circumstances which cover the entire population, or else they will be successful business entrepreneurs who function all the time in a challenging and changing environment.

Either way, they will be well aware of the difficulties faced by those running an event which, while it may have been first sailed forty years ago and is being staged for the 21st time this year, is in effect a one-off happening each time round, with an in-built requirement to bring a wide-ranging selection of stakeholders along in concert with the organisers to fit in with the circumstances of the time, which are difficult in coronavirus-haunted 2020.

Mach 3 Corum with Ian Lipinsky on the strength as she breaks clear to lee of Eric de Turkheim’s Teasing Machine at the start of the 2018 Round IrelandOne of the most recent entries for the Round Ireland is Christopher Opielok’s Class 40 RockallC40 from Germany, a sister-ship of the Mach 3 Corum, seen here with Ian Lipinsky on the strength as she breaks clear to lee of Eric de Turkheim’s Teasing Machine at the start of the 2018 Round Ireland. Photo: W M Nixon

The key organisers in 2020 - Wicklow SC Commodore Kyran O’Grady with former commodore Hal Fitzgerald as Race Director - are dealing with a situation in which they are not only facing a non-level playing field, but the angle of pitch’s inclination is changing constantly, and for good measure it feels as though the goalposts are being moved all the time as regulations as to who and from what country can and cannot visit Ireland without needing quarantine seem to acquire different interpretations, depending on which official agency you most recently consulted.

The Ker 43 Baraka GP (Niall Dowling RIYC) making fast progress towards Wicklow HeadThe Ker 43 Baraka GP (Niall Dowling RIYC) making fast progress towards Wicklow Head in 2018, when she took line honours and won overall. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

With its traditional mixture of a week-long shoreside Maritime Festival in Wicklow town in advance of the race, coupled with the need for a fleet of 50-plus boats –some of them quite large ones - to be RORC-scrutinized beforehand, there are social distancing infringements possible at every stage. All of this is allied to the extraordinary crowding of the town on start day, with its harbour area and the coast nearby packed with spectators to create a nightmare situation for infection control, even if the worst of the current outbreak can be shown to have long passed in Ireland by August 22nd.

It is of course perfectly feasible to dictate viable shoreside controls and starting arrangements which would by-pass all this. But then, the resulting event and lack of a sense of occasion ashore would be at variance with the mythology and spirit of this race. Yet most sailors would be prepared to accept this. But inevitably, no matter what way a race is run in today’s special circumstances, the potential for friction with the non-sailing people of Wicklow town is a real cause for concern.

With a strong fair wind and a sluicing favourable ebb tide, the 2018 Round Ireland start had its moments of drama With a strong fair wind and a sluicing favourable ebb tide, the 2018 start had its moments of drama. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

The current reality for sailing in merging from COVID-19 is that the more run-of-the-mill, sea-oriented and non-spectator-related your event is, the more likely it is that you can resume something approaching your normal sailing programme while still being regulation-compliant.

Ordinary club racing – and the more ordinary the better – ticks all the boxes. It’s a closed world almost entire unto itself. And it’s an activity which reaches its apotheosis in the Thursday night cruiser-racing in Dublin Bay, a specific nautical-and-neighbourhood phenomenon which some day will surely merit a proper sports sociology study.

Thus this week it mustered 112 boats, which is near enough a thousand sailors. Yet despite the numbers, it was broadly regulation-compliant. But as for attracting vast crowds of closely inter-acting infective droplet-spreading spectators – forget about it. People go down Dun Laoghaire pier on a pleasant Thursday evening for walks of varying energy levels, and if the sunlit sails of yachts add to the attraction of the scene, that’s fine and dandy.

The veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Cork has twice won overall for owners Eric Lisson and Ian Hickey, with Dave Hennessy aboard on both occasions The veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Cork has twice won overall for owners Eric Lisson and Ian Hickey, with Dave Hennessy aboard on both occasions. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

But very few would go down to actually watch yachts race, for of course, that’s something best done while actually taking part in the race yourself, as it gives it much more meaning, whereas those strolling down the pier have better things to do, such as agreeing who is to put the bins out in the morning.

At a different level of sailing organisation, the nimbleness of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association in working around the Lockdown requirements has been praised here in Afloat.ie several times, and this past week the YellowBrick tracker people piled in with their support on Twitter.

In effect in 2020, the ISORA programme is shaping up to be like virtual sailing, except that those little boaty shapes moving across the screen are real boats. It’s just that after the tracked finish, they don’t do traditional offshore-racing boaty things like heading straight for the berth nearest yacht club bar - on the contrary, they head for their compliant home berth, even if it involves sailing back across the Channel.

The JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC, right) is current ISORA and Dun Laoghaire-Dingle ChampionThe JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC, right) is current ISORA and Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Champion, and in August she hopes to add the Round Ireland title to her trophy list. On Thursday evening, she was a class winner in the DBSC’s big turnout weekly cruiser-racer event. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Admittedly ISORA has started 2020’s shortened season modestly enough with coastal races for their Irish fleet run on this side of the Channel, with an overnight Dun Laoghaire to Dun Laoghaire starting last night (Friday). But things step up on the 8th August with the Dun Laoghaire-Pwllheli Race which, if all the ducks are in a row, will lead into the Welsh IRC Championship when fleets on the other side can start to build up their points total.

Keith Miller’s veteran family-raced Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay in Wexford Keith Miller’s veteran family-raced Yamaha 36 Andante from Kilmore Quay in Wexford has been re-rigged and fitted with new UK Crosshaven sails in anticipation of this year’s Round Ireland Race. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

The trans-national functioning of ISORA involves a useful mixture of very sharp minds together with more emollient folk who are able to get things done, and the Association’s Back to Boating Protocol – published on 10th July and mainly compiled by ISORA Hon. Sec. Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli – is an educational indication of just how determined the really keen sailing people are to get their sport back up and running, within the limits set by people who know little or nothing of the world of boats and the people who sail them. You can download the protocol below as a PDF document.

In fact, for those of us who are in sailing but perhaps have an overly relaxed attitude towards it, a look at the ISORA Protocol here is a reminder of how much has been put in place over the years to make our sport so attractive in normal times:

A programme for safe sailing in the time of COVID-19 – the ISORA Protocol A programme for safe sailing in the time of COVID-19 – the ISORA Protocol  - download the full protocol below

After the mental miasma of months of Lockdown, people are extremely keen to do the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race. So much so that, for instance, those involved with the Darren Wright (HYC) charter of the Lombard 45 Pata Negra have been actively looking at the possibility of bringing the boat to Ireland from the Solent a fortnight in advance of the race to comply with quarantine regulations, should it be necessary.

On the other hand, boats with “alien” status may find their needs met by going to Holyhead or Pwllheli for pre-race prep, and then simply sailing across channel to the start without going anywhere near an Irish quayside or pontoon berth.

The J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power-Smith, R StGYCThe J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power-Smith, RStGYC) at the start of the 2018 race, when they finished third overall. In 2020 they hope to improve on that. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

In all, fifty boats are currently entered, all of them good ones, and we’ve shown some in the photo line-up. Particularly interesting in the list is one of the most recent, Christopher Opielok’s Class 40 RockallC40 from Germany, which is a Class 40 sister-ship of Corum from France, a star in the 2018 race with the noted talent of Ian Lipinsky on board. The new boat is named Rockall in line with a family tradition, Rockall III having been the former Rosy, the Corby 36 which was the successful swansong boat of the late Roy Dickson in his long and distinguished offshore racing career.

In many parts of Europe, and particularly in France, there are Class 40 boats just itching for a major race, and they hope the Round Ireland will be it. But if it is not to be, then it’s perfectly possible that the Class 40 boats will give themselves a round Ireland race. But it will start and finish in France, and Ireland will be no more than the marks of the course.

Let us hope it doesn’t come to that. On the plus side, we note that as sailing gradually resumes, there has been no report whatsoever of one of the new COVID clusters being associated with some sailing event. On the contrary, the sailing community are generally a healthy bunch who have accepted the severe limitations on their sport in the interests of protecting much more vulnerable cohorts of society.

A pair of Class 40s looking deceptively peaceful, berthed outside Eric de Turkheim’s A13 Teasing Machine in Wicklow Harbour A pair of Class 40s looking deceptively peaceful, berthed outside Eric de Turkheim’s A13 Teasing Machine in Wicklow Harbour before the start in 2018. In 2020, Class 40 will be a special feature. Photo: Afloat.ie/David OBrien

As they have been prepared to do that, they will, in turn, be prepared to sail a Round Ireland Race even if starts with a very diminished sense of occasion, for as the race progresses, the very grandeur of the course will give the event its proper status.

It is likely that over the weekend, the race organisers will continue widespread consultations, and those consulted will, of course, include the entrants. Of all people, they will most readily understand the quandary that Wicklow Sailing Club and their sponsors and fellow stakeholders face. Nevertheless, the feeling in the sailing community, particularly as they increasingly enjoy the health benefits which the gradual resumption of sailing is bringing, is that a Round Ireland Race in the age of YellowBrick is very do-able, even within strict shoreside limits.

And with sixteen high-powered overseas entries to balance the thirty-six from the home fleet, the high regard in which the Round Ireland is held internationally is clearly evident.

Published in W M Nixon

Looking ahead to next month's Round Ireland Yacht Race, last weekend's French Drheam Cup that proved so successful for Tom Dolan in the Figaro Duo class also provided offshore pundits with plenty of results to pore over.

The Cherbourg fixture, the first major French sailing event of this COVID hit season, was a winning one for Ian Lipinski, a host nation competitor who also has ties to Ireland as a 2018 Round Ireland Race competitor in the Class 40, Corum.

The Drheam Cup's two-handed IRC class has dished up some results that may provide some insights for next month's Irish 700-miler.

For example, the top five boats in the 400-mile Drheam two-hander class all crossed the finish line within seven minutes of each other in the 26-boat fleet.

Three of the Top five were JPK designed boats and two were the New Sunfast 3300 designs, the same as Cian McCarthy's Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale, that will be racing fully crewed in Round Ireland and was captured at full speed below and here three weeks ago.

The Doublehanded IRC class overall winner was Xpresso a JPK 10.30, which was just 17 seconds ahead on corrected from the Sunfast 3300 Gentoo. This will be a feather in the cap of Jeanneau's designers, who came to the Royal Irish Yacht Club for the unveiling of the Cinnamon Girl, as Afloat's WM Nixon's described here.

Another Sunfast 3300, Leyton was third, a JPK 10.30 was fourth, and in Fifth was a JPK 10.80, Raging Bee, (similar to Irish yacht of the year, Rockabill VI).

Published in Round Ireland

When the then-new Lombard 45 Pata Negra was racing with a Dutch charter crew in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race and carving her way through the fleet with style and winning speed, Howth YC’s offshore team manager Kieran Jameson was closely monitoring her progress.

By the time she finished at Plymouth well in the frame, he had Pata Negra chartered for the up-coming February 2018 RORC Caribbean 600, with it all neatly zipped-up for serial international offshore campaigners Michael and Darren Wright of HYC. It was a shrewd move – by sealing his deal before the boat finished, it emerged that Jameson had got in ahead of nine other keen bidders.

In that Caribbean 600, Pata Negra with the Howth crew had a scorcher of a race, and despite multiple Code Zero damages in one of the toughest race yet sailed around the island course, she placed third in class. The Wright/Jameson team then took a break from the Northern hemisphere to campaign a First 40 with success in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race 2019, which was Howth all the way with Gordon Maguire winning overall in Ichi Ban. But now with life returning to something vaguely like normal for the time being (or as normal as it can be with coronavirus still not completely nailed), a long-held notion that Pata Negra would make an interesting challenger for the Round Ireland has re-emerged, and Pata Negra (Darren Wright, Howth YC) is entry No 51 in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2020 from Wicklow on August 22nd.

Read all the latest news on the build-up to next month's race in Afloat's dedicated SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race section

Published in Round Ireland

Having come so close to overall victory in 2018, Chris Power Smith revealed the depth of his ambition when the Royal St. George skipper of J122 'Aurelia' became the Round Ireland Yacht Race's 50th entry at the weekend. 

Power Smith who posted third overall in the 2018 race and is a consistent top ISORA performer will be back on the Wicklow line on August 22nd for the 700-mile race and will be a force to be reckoned with in the international fleet.

Aurelia, a name that translates from Latin as 'The Golden One', is the only J122 in the 2020 Round Ireland fleet so far.

A keen J Boat exponent, Aurelia is Power Smith's sixth J Boat. The self-taught Dun Laoghaire Harbour skipper has also previously raced a J24 and then through, a J92, J92S, two J109s, Jetstream and the very successfully campaigned Rollercoaster in which we won two Dublin Bay Championships. Hew spoke previously about his sailing to Afloat here.

Published in Round Ireland

Two more international entries into August's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race brings the fleet total to just under 50 registered entries so far.

Franz Bouvet's Yoda from Caen, France and Greg Leonard's Mach 40.3, Kite brings to four the number of Class 40s now racing Round Ireland this summer.

Entered last week was the Lorient based Mach 40.3, Taras Boulba skippered by Charles-Louis Mourruau. The first Class 40 in was Antoine Magre's Palanad 3 from La Trinite sur Mer back in early June.

Class 40 is a monohull sailboat primarily used for short-handed offshore and coastal racing and popular in France.

With six weeks still to go, the first gun at Wicklow Harbour, preparations are well underway for the 700-mile classic and it is unlikely the Class 40s will be the last of the international entries with half a dozen Welsh yachts from the ISORA fleet still expected to enter.

Round Ireland preparations get underway in earnest off Dun Laoghaire this Saturday as ISORA gets its first coastal race of the Viking Marine mini-series underway, an important shakedown on the way to August's biennial classic.

Published in Round Ireland

Another international entry for August's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race adds extra spice to a growing French Class 40 division with the arrival of the Lorient based Mach 40.3, Taras Boulba skippered by Charles-Louis Mourruau.

Overall, it brings entries to the Irish classic to 47, just days before the early bird entry expires and seven weeks before the race start on August 22nd.

Mourruau's Taras Boulba is the second Class 40 boat to enter joining Antoine Magre's Palanad 3 from La Trinite sur Mer.

Class 40 is a monohull sailboat primarily used for short-handed offshore and coastal racing and popular in France.

The French interest is a satisfying return on investment by Race organiser Kyran O'Grady whose pioneering efforts at the Paris Boat Show last December now bear fruit with a bumper international Round Ireland fleet still in prospect.

It is understood the cancellation of Class 40s Transatlantic race due to COVID-19 in May has also led the French sailors to look further afield for racing this year.

Meanwhile, as Afloat previously reported, the Welsh ISORA fleet can still swell Round Ireland Yacht Race entry further with up to six or seven Pwllheli boats yet to enter.

Published in Round Ireland
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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