69 yachts have entered for the Cobh-to-Blackrock Race tomorrow writes Tom MacSweeney. This is the annual sailing race from Cobh to Blackrock which once marked the end of the sailing season in Cork Harbour. It no longer is that end-of-season fixture, because the sport has expanded its horizons into December for cruisers and year-round now for some types of dinghies. But the ‘Cobh/Blackrock Race’ as it is known is still a big attraction for all sailors, even those who would not normally be of the ‘racing fraternity.’ The race caters for all types of sailing boats, from dinghies to cruiser/racers. It is the day when a flotilla of boats of all shapes and sizes assembles off Cobh and sails to the city.
Some boats choose to take part as a cruise, but must carefully watch and avoid the racers for whom it is also part of the SCORA (South Coast Offshore Racing Association) League.
The history of the race goes back to before the time of Haulbowline Bridge being built when it started off Ringaskiddy where boats from Cobh, where the RCYC was then based and the Royal Muster YC in Crosshaven met. This was because the Crosshaven boats had access there via the ‘back channel’ past Spike Island. The building of the bridge to Haulbowline Island in the mid-60ds ended that and the race was then started from Cobh. Cork Boat Club once had a sailing section in Blackrock which raced in Lough Mahon and around Blackrock and had a ‘Home Regatta’ every year.
Until recent years the finish line of the race was off Blackrock Village which, depending upon the weather conditions, could be a struggle to reach having rounded Blackrock Castle! Afterwards boats moored against the Marina wall off Blackrock and the village was a colourful place as sailors gathered while the results were computed by Cove SC.
When Cork Port built its marina at the Custom House Quay and offered berthing after the race, the boats headed there after passing the finishing line set off Blackrock Castle.
That didn’t please the publicans in Blackrock, needless to say.
The race start will be off the Cobh Promenade. Cove Sailing Club are the organiser Mixed Dinghies and Dayboats will get their start gun first, at 1400 (2pm), followed by White Sail and then Class 1/2/3 cruisers and Sports Boats. The race is sponsored by Cork Port, Union Chandlery and the Sextant Bar.
The course is upriver from the start line at Cobh to the finish line at Blackrock Castle. “Competitors are advised to familiarise themselves with the navigation marks and depending upon weather conditions an extra leg may be included for specified Classes.”
The race time is chosen to suit the tide helping to carry boats towards Blackrock. But it has been known for some to go aground on mudbanks! From Lough Mahon there is the sight of Blackrock Castle, the delight of passing over the road traffic as it descends into the tunnel while the River Lee transports boats to the finish line.