Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland

 Along the Atlantic seaboard and up in the hills, they call them high stool days. Such days are with us when the weather is so thrawn that a particularly harsh period is best spent in agreeable indoor surroundings, with good company if you so wish. Yet although the early part of the current season has at times had more than its fair share of less-than-perfect sailing conditions, every so often there have been days - usually one but sometimes two – when everything has been in alignment, providing blissful sailing and the vivid memories that will dominate the recollections of this developing summer.

For the word from some Met sources is that we may be about to experience the reverse of last year’s conditions. In 2023, late May and the first three weeks of June were good weatherwise, but as June drew to a close, the shutters came down and there were only the briefest spells of decent weather until something more normal returned in September.

GOOD WEATHER CAN BE MIXED BLESSING

Now, however, we hear that some meteorological models are indicating that it will continue unsettled for another couple of weeks, but then it will start to get better. Which may seem fine and dandy, but it can mean that evening racing in particular often peters out in a warm calm. And with the time-honoured evening racing programmes a backbone of our club sailing world, good weather can become a mixed blessing.

BUSY NEWS FROM CROSSHAVEN

Nevertheless at the moment the news is good and there’s an upbeat attitude, with the Royal Cork YC notably reporting a surge in their Thursday evening cruiser-racer fleets at Crosshaven, while they’ve a high quality and varied entry in place for Volvo Cork Week in five weeks’ time.

Making the best of one of 2024’s good weekend evenings – Sally O’Keeffe being a West Cork towel sail yawl in North Harbour, Cape Clear. Photo: James DevaneMaking the best of one of 2024’s good weekend evenings – Sally O’Keeffe being a West Cork towel sail yawl in North Harbour, Cape Clear. Photo: James Devane

Meanwhile as Spring unevenly becomes early Summer, while difficult weather meant we had the shortening of Kinsale YC’s Inistearaght Race to take the turn at the dentally-challenged Bull Rock instead, and an ISORA Race was blown out altogether, nevertheless the points are a-building for those local classes enthusiastic enough to get their sailing going when late Spring had seemed determined to stay in mid-winter.

Among such challenging gaps, there were some wonderfully clear periods, and there was one of them for the delivery cruise of the little 25ft Shannon Hooker Sally O’Keeffe from Kilrush to Baltimore on May 18th, well in time for the Wooden Boat Festival there in the last weekend of May.

Sally O’Keeffe voyages from the Shannon to Baltimore

BALTIMORE WOODEN BOAT FESTIVAL

One of the highlights of that gathering was the talk by Cormac Levis of Ballydehob about The Richard. Cormac Levis is a one-man knowledge repository and ideas machine for the benefit of traditional and classic boats in West Cork, and he gave an excellent outline of why The Richard was so important.

The Richard in her prime, on Regatta Day at SherkinThe Richard in her prime, on Regatta Day at Sherkin

When she was built in 1948 by Paddy Hegarty at Oldcourt on the Ilen River, her construction brought a new direction and location for a craft industry which continues today with Paddy’s grandson Liam. The recent output includes the Conor O'Brien phase ignited by Gary MacMahon with the restoration of the 56ft trading ketch Ilen of 1926 vintage, and the building for Fred Kinmonth of the new Saoirse, replicating the 42ft ketch which was in process of circling the world south of the great Capes exactly a century ago.

DERMOT KENNEDY’S ASGARD II VISION

The Richard was a working ketch whose best-known period was under the ownership of Dermot Kennedy of Baltimore, whose visions for Irish sailing were such that the ideas he enunciated for the new Irish sail training ship Asgard II way back in 1972 were seen to have been almost exactly implemented when she was finally sailing in 1981.

This powerful vision was clarified in various discussions during a cruise-in-company around Carbery’s islands for a lengthy visit to Cape Clear and then a wedding on Sherkin, with Dermot and the usual eclectic selection of friends and shipmates on The Richard showing what could be done with a squaresail in confined harbour manoeuvring, while we were on a spot of family cruising with the Galion 22 Ringhaddy, one of the cleverest and most gallant little boats of her day, and still a good ’un.

THE RICHARD DISAPPEARS IN THE AZORES

In Dermot’s ownership, The Richard was cruised extensively, and then he sold her in the late 1980s to a man who got as far as the Azores while returning from the Caribbean, but then seems to have run out of energy and resources. Thus when Liam Hegarty went to the islands in 1994 on family duty in search of this pioneering vessel which had started the contemporary Oldcourt story, it emerged that the island authorities had lost patience with an abandoned ship encumbered with unpaid bills, and all traces of The Richard had disappeared.

The Galion 22 Ringhaddy and the ketch Richard “slightly dried out” at North Harbour, Cape Clear, July 1972. Photo: W M NixonThe Galion 22 Ringhaddy and the ketch Richard “slightly dried out” at North Harbour, Cape Clear, July 1972. Photo: W M Nixon

Doing it in style – Dermot Kennedy brings The Richard into North Harbour under the square topsail. Photo: W M NixonDoing it in style – Dermot Kennedy brings The Richard into North Harbour under the square topsail. Photo: W M Nixon

Knowing just when to strike the topsail is crucial when running under sail only into a confined space like North Harbour. Photo: W M NixonKnowing just when to strike the topsail is crucial when running under sail only into a confined space like North Harbour. Photo: W M Nixon

Work time. Dermot Kennedy using the island phone on Cape Clear to keep tabs on his West Cork business empire while cruising the islands in The Richard. Photo: W M NixonWork time. Dermot Kennedy using the island phone on Cape Clear to keep tabs on his West Cork business empire while cruising the islands in The Richard. Photo: W M Nixon

Off to the island wedding – Dermot Kennedy (second right) setting the pace on Sherkin, with the Richard anchored in the cove. Photo: W M NixonOff to the island wedding – Dermot Kennedy (second right) setting the pace on Sherkin, with the Richard anchored in the cove. Photo: W M Nixon

An island wedding on Sherkin can attract a global attendance. Photo: W M NixonAn island wedding on Sherkin can attract a global attendance. Photo: W M Nixon

The happy bride on SherkinThe happy bride on Sherkin

Back in July 1972, the island wedding on Sherkin was recorded on film by the late Eamonn de Buitlear from atop a farm cart, with an assistant to hold the camera tripod in place. Photo: W M NixonBack in July 1972, the island wedding on Sherkin was recorded on film by the late Eamonn de Buitlear from atop a farm cart, with an assistant to hold the camera tripod in place. Photo: W M Nixon

Close quarter sailing with The Richard through the sounds of Carberry’s Hundred Isles, Dermot Kennedy in profile just forward of the mizzen mast. Photo: W M NixonClose quarter sailing with The Richard through the sounds of Carberry’s Hundred Isles, Dermot Kennedy in profile just forward of the mizzen mast. Photo: W M Nixon

Aboard The Richard in a breeze, with Georgina Campbell on the helm. The lacing on the mizzen luff was always Work in Progress. Photo: W M NixonAboard The Richard in a breeze, with Georgina Campbell on the helm. The lacing on the mizzen luff was always Work in Progress. Photo: W M Nixon

The Richard coming through the northwest entrance to Baltimore Harbour in July 1972. Once upon a time. we’d have said this was a sight we’ll never see again. But after the re-creation of Conor O Brien’s Saoirse, surely all things are possible?The Richard coming through the northwest entrance to Baltimore Harbour in July 1972. Once upon a time. we’d have said this was a sight we’ll never see again. But after the re-creation of Conor O'Brien’s Saoirse, surely all things are possible?

FASTNET ROCK AND NORTH HARBOUR CAPE CLEAR

But the effects of her building lives on in other boats, and while Sally O’Keeffe’s design is developed from Shannon traditions, she shows the same robust transom-stern hull concept. Then when she used last weekend’s superb weather (particularly on Saturday) to circle the Fastnet (getting our magic header pic) and have an overnight at North Harbour on Cape Clear, the Seol Sionna crew set up a tent arrangement over her open cockpit to emulate the local tradition of mackerel-fishing towel-sail yawls, where “towel” is an adaptation of the Irish word for shelter, and not an eccentric use of bathroom fabrics.

Intense summer for GP14 Leinsters at Howth, with serial championship winner Sean Craig (Royal St George YC) adding another notch to his belt. Photo: HYCIntense summer for GP14 Leinsters at Howth, with serial championship winner Sean Craig (Royal St George YC) adding another notch to his belt. Photo: HYC

NEW MELGES 15 FLEET AT HOWTH

Meanwhile on the other side of Ireland, last weekend’s marvellous weather provided ideal condition for an historic time at Howth. There, having only just recovered from staging the three-day Wave Regatta, they hosted the GP 14 Leinsters with serial boat championship winner Sean Craig of Dun Laoghaire taking the honours (it’s easier now to list the classes in which he hasn’t won), while at the same time as Howth Yacht Club’s new fleet of fifteen Melges 15s arrived ready to be unwrapped in a successful initiative steered by Cormac Farrelly.

OFFSHORE ACTION

With ISORA, this weekend sees a classic – the Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire. However, last season’s champion, Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC), had been sitting it out in much of the offshore stuff this year (though she’s now entry Number 53 in the Round Ireland in two weeks time) but powerfully demonstrated his commitment to the inshore scene with a win in DBSC on Thursday, and doubtless after the Round Ireland she’ll catch breath and then spread her wings with Volvo Cork Week in July and Calves Week at Schull in August.

Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 ROckabill VI is Entry 53 in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland race 2024 in a fortnight’s time. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienPaul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 ROckabill VI is Entry 53 in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland race 2024 in a fortnight’s time. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

GETTING THE FLEET TO CORK

To get the fleets south and west, ISORA are committed to full support of the Kingstown to Queenstown Race on July 12th, which is anachronistically named in this style as that’s the way it was first sailed way back in 1860.Thus it’s one of the oldest passage races in the world, and was sailed from Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour three times in the 1860s.

THE BIG ONE ON JUNE 22nd

Before the K2Q, there is the big one, the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race (now with 58 entries) from Wicklow on June 22nd. Our focus will be almost totally zooming in on that through the next two weeks, but its start just happens to be plumb in the middle of the weekend when some weather gurus say the real summer is going to arrive. This will be viewed with mixed feelings by the old hands, as they know only too well that good weather and light winds along the Atlantic coasts make for excruciatingly slow progress.

THE WORD ON THE WATERFRONT

The word on the waterfront among the old salts who have raced the ocean coasts in winds strong and light is that even in strong winds with the boat zipping along, the coastal scenery (if you can see it) is on such a majestic scale that you scarcely seem to be moving. So in light airs you have to be instrument-glued to believe you’re moving at all.

BERMUDA RACE GETS WARMER ALL THE TIME

This is one of the challenges of racing around a land-mass, whereas a true ocean race puts the focus on the boat without such distractions. Ironically the day, before the Round Ireland, across the pond the 636 mile CCA/RBYC Newport-Bermuda Race gets going on Friday June 21st, and it very quickly puts the fleet out of sight of land as they set off across the Gulf Stream in search of the elusive Onion Patch.

A gas man - Kenny read getting in the sprit of things at the Volvo World Race stopover in Galway in 2012. On Friday June 21st he’ll be leading the commentary team for the new spectator-friendly start of the biennial Newport-Bermuda Race. Photo: VWRA gas man - Kenny read getting in the sprit of things at the Volvo World Race stopover in Galway in 2012. On Friday June 21st he’ll be leading the commentary team for the new spectator-friendly start of the biennial Newport-Bermuda Race. Photo: VWR

Those who have thought the biennial Bermuda Race was always 635 miles are quite right, but this year – partly inspired by the in-harbour start of the Sydney-Hobart - they’ve added an extra mile to start in Newport Harbor at Fort Adams for spectator interest, and with Kenny Read on the commentary team, there’ll be meaningful general spectator interest for the first time.

For decades, the start of the Newport-Bermuda Race was immediately seaward of Newport, Rhode Island’s natural harbour, and every mile sailed took the fleet south towards warmer waters Photo: CCA/Daniel ForsterFor decades, the start of the Newport-Bermuda Race was immediately seaward of Newport, Rhode Island’s natural harbour, and every mile sailed took the fleet south towards warmer waters Photo: CCA/Daniel Forster

The Royal Bermuda YC marina with the Newport-Bermuda fleet in port, basking in sub-tropical conditions. Photo: CCAThe Royal Bermuda YC marina with the Newport-Bermuda fleet in port, basking in sub-tropical conditions. Photo: CCA

But the USP of the Bermuda Race continues to be the fact that it gets into warmer climes every mile of the way. The Fastnet Race and the Round Ireland both involve significant distances sailing in higher latitudes than their starting line. And the Sydney-Hobart is pure murder, as you’re bashing along towards Antarctica every inch of the way. But the Bermuda Race starts in the agreeable summer weather of New England at Rhode Island, and concludes in the sub-tropical climate of Bermuda.

Thus one of the challenges – every bit as demanding as your racing sails selection – is hitting on the right cut and length for your essential-for-cooling Bermuda shorts. An experience - now some years ago admittedly – of staying in the New York Yacht Club discovered that they expect you to wear a necktie for breakfast, (plus of course jacket, shirt, trousers and shoes, though one member assured us socks were optional).

It takes confidence to wear Breton red Bermuda shorts with style, but after winning the top trophies in the Newport-Bermuda Race 2022 with the Pac 52 Warrior Won, owner Chris Sheehan (centre) is on target. Photo: CCAIt takes confidence to wear Breton red Bermuda shorts with style, but after winning the top trophies in the Newport-Bermuda Race 2022 with the Pac 52 Warrior Won, owner Chris Sheehan (centre) is on target. Photo: CCA

The Irish response, when eligible, is to wear the Royal Cork YC tie, as the Royal Cork’s ancestral Water Club was founded 124 years before the NYYC came into being in 1844. But any links to the Royal Cork are of little use in hitting the right note with your Bermuda shorts in the Royal Bermuda YC, so naturally we got to thinking: What would Captain Thomas Fleming Day have done?

Thomas Fleming Day’s 38ft Tamerlane, winner of the first Bermuda Race in 1906, when the general opinion in the sailing establishment was that you need a boat at least 80ft long to race confidently to Bermuda from the New England coast.Thomas Fleming Day’s 38ft Tamerlane, winner of the first Bermuda Race in 1906, when the general opinion in the sailing establishment was that you need a boat at least 80ft long to race confidently to Bermuda from the New England coast.

But any formal photos of the Editor of The Rudder magazine, who was the key figure in staging the first Bermuda Race from the US in 1906 (with the gallant support of the Royal Bermuda YC), tend to show a serious person for whom such trivia as the details of menswear would have been of little interest.

But Thomas Fleming Day merits more study. The name seems pure American WASP (though “Day” might have Irish origins way back), yet he was born in the rather non-nautical shire of Somerset in England in 1861, but his formative years were spent on the shores of Long Island Sound as his parents emigrated to America whole he was a young boy.

So he became ultra-American - and boat-bonkers with it - throughout his 66 years which ended when he died in Harlem in New York in 1927. He was opinionated and drew the attention of supporters and opponents with equal zeal, but the usual formal photos of the era make it difficult to imagine an easy-going interest in male attire.

ONE COOL DUDE

But then we stumbled on this unusually informal pic of Tom Fleming Day in relaxed mode on a beach. It’s astonishing for the time. This is one cool dude. He could wear anything with style. But his Breton-red Bermuda shorts would inevitably be well weathered to a very pale pink shade. And they would be strangers to a Corby hosenbugler.

One cool dude. Thomas Fleming Day defied the expectations of his time afloat and ashoreOne cool dude. Thomas Fleming Day defied the expectations of his time afloat and ashore

Published in W M Nixon

Wicklow Sailing Club has officially launched its 2024 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race with entries coming in as soon as race registration opened.

Event details were announced on Monday, January 29th, at the official launch in the Wicklow County Campus, Clermont House, Rathnew.

The 704-nautical mile-race, which has been described as the Kilimanjaro of Sailing will commence on Saturday, 22 June 2024.

SSE Renewables, a leading renewable energy developer, owner and operator, continues to provide its support as the title event sponsor for the 2024 event.

The race will offer both competition and personal achievement for boat owners and crews alike. Since the success of the 2022 event, significant interest has grown in the race with a promising level of pre-entry enquiries already submitted to the race organisers.

Berthing facilities at the pier and quays close to Wicklow Sailing Club's base will be available, in addition to marina options at Greystones and Dun Laoghaire Harbour for big boat entries.

The course for the classic biennial offshore event follows the traditional route first contested in 1980 that states - “leave Ireland and its islands to starboard - while starting and finishing at the scenic port of Wicklow on the East Coast of Ireland”.

Kyran O’Grady, Round Ireland 2024 race organiser, Wicklow Sailing Club said: “The race event in 2022 was very successful, with close to 50 vessels entering. This year, we are looking forward to an even larger turnout. With less than six months to go before the 2024 race, we look forward to welcoming an array of both national and international competitors across the various classes seeking to complete in one of the bucket-list events in the sailing calendar.”

The partnership with Wicklow Sailing Club continues as the company works to develop Arklow Bank Wind Park 2 off the coast of Arklow, Co. Wicklow, which will seek its third and final planning consent from An Bord Pleanála later this year.

Barry Kilcline, Head of Offshore (Ireland) at SSE Renewables said: “We are delighted to partner again with Wicklow Sailing Club to deliver an eagerly anticipated event, which we hope will offer the domestic and international sailing community an exciting competition and something to look forward to in June. This event reflects the potential that the Irish maritime space offers, and we look forward to seeing competitors sail past our proposed development site at Arklow Bank in Wicklow.”

Entries will be accepted from 29 January to 31 May 2024. Enter here

Published in Round Ireland
Tagged under

The sailing scene in Ireland has lost three significant figures this past week with the deaths of Liam Shanahan of Dun Laoghaire, Mick Hunt of Howth, and Sean Flood of The Baily overlooking Dublin Bay. They were very much distinctive individuals, as they expressed themselves afloat mainly through different areas of sailing – sometimes very different. Yet all had a “can do, let’s get on with it” approach to life and to boats, with a level of commitment that is increasingly rare in these tasting menu times, in which those of us still on the planet find ourselves in a painfully new era.

For sure, the three men had plenty of other interests. But all three were increasingly out of sync with today’s casual approach of hopping from one thing to another in as short a space of time as possible. They were men for the long haul and total dedication, with Liam Shanahan a pillar of Irish cruiser-racing, Mick Hunt a pace setter and exemplar in the traditional boat revival movement, and Sean Flood actively dedicated in multiple areas afloat, with much of his maritime attention in later years given to sail training.

 Tall ships at sea. In his later years, Sean Flood gave sail training the same longterm undivided attention he’d given to dinghy racing and then cruiser-racers earlier in his extensive sailing career Tall ships at sea. In his later years, Sean Flood gave sail training the same longterm undivided attention he’d given to dinghy racing and then cruiser-racers earlier in his extensive sailing career

FOCUS ON BEST USE OF BOATS

Thus while family and friends were everything to them, somehow they also found the mental space and energy to run successful businesses while still being able to re-focus on boats and their best use. They did so in a way that may have been time-consuming, but not a moment of that time was wasted, and the result was three sailing careers of international standard.

FROM THE LONG HAUL TO THE BRIEF BUZZ

Yet today, the expectation is of instant fulfillment and the glitter of fame in a minimum of time. We have moved from the long haul to the brief buzz. And in sailing this becomes most painfully obvious when our sport - which is best experienced and observed as an active participant - twists itself into unnatural formats in order to comply with live television coverage requirements.

Thus the more interesting the televised sport becomes to the casual viewer, then almost inevitably the less interesting it is to those who really do go out sailing. The classic case in point - and one to which we’ve referred several times in this connection - is the America’s Cup series of 1987 at Perth. In it, a genuine deeply-involved sailor can be fascinated by footage of one 12 Metre gradually and ever-so-slowly inching ahead of another while racing to windward at the top end of the permissible wind strength.

 Breezy windward work for match-racing 12 Metres makes for fascinating viewing for a dedicated sailor, but the casual observer’s interest soon wanes Breezy windward work for match-racing 12 Metres makes for fascinating viewing for a dedicated sailor, but the casual observer’s interest soon wanes

BORING FOR CASUAL VIEWER

But the casual viewer almost immediately finds that boring, yet might be drawn to a modern America’s Cup race where the decidedly un-boatlike foiling machines race round a tame course at ludicrous speeds, and it’s all done and dusted within half an hour.

However, it’s only with limited success in viewing numbers. For if you’re trying to pitch sailing into the top-end viewable sports category, then why try to rival Formula 1 racing when people can quickly turn to the latest and very real incident-filled Formula 1 event?

Now this did make them sit up and pay attention. The MOD 70 Trimaran Spindrift capsizes while racing in Dublin Bay in September 2013. But it was publicity with a serious cost – a crewman spent a prolonged period in a Dublin hospital with a severely fractured pelvisNow this did make them sit up and pay attention. The MOD 70 Trimaran Spindrift capsizes while racing in Dublin Bay in September 2013. But it was publicity with a serious cost – a crewman spent a prolonged period in a Dublin hospital with a severely fractured pelvis

Equally, there’s the eternal fascination of human interest. In an intensely-covered, successfully-televised arena sports event, you’ll find that the key moments are when the cameras focus on the faces of those most actively involved, with some faces and people much more watchable than others. Thus in his glory days, many fans would have preferred to watch Tiger Woods playing golf badly rather than view some characterless nonentity playing it well. There was powerful interaction between spectators and the high-visible star. Yet modern America’s Cup helms and crews really have become the faceless men, and it’s difficult for their personalities to emerge after the event, when all you can see during the racing is a protective helmet.

Playing to the gallery – Volvo World Race skipper Ken Read hits the right note during the Galway stopover. Photo Tourism IrelandPlaying to the gallery – Volvo World Race skipper Ken Read hits the right note during the Galway stopover. Photo Tourism Ireland

THE UPWARD TREND TOWARDS SIGNATURE EVENTS

But difficult and all as it is for sailing to find a foothold in the crowded space of sport’s top levels, within the sport there is this clearly discernible upwards trend in event success in terms of boat numbers. As Peter Ryan of ISORA had dolefully pointed out in contemplating the very muted interest in last night’s concluding race of the offshore season, signature events like the Round Ireland, the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, and ultimately the Fastnet Race are sucking the energy and oxygen out of ordinary offshore racing.

ISORA’s Peter Ryan of the National YC reckons that signature events suck the oxygen and energy out of “ordinary” racing.ISORA’s Peter Ryan of the National YC reckons that signature events suck the oxygen and energy out of “ordinary” racing

There are those who would point out that staging an overnight offshore race in the weekend of the Autumn Equinox is almost a guarantee of interest failure, particularly when the Championship is already decided with Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) the overall winner.

“We are the Champions”. Even with a final race scheduled for last night, Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) of the Royal Irish YC were already the 2023 ISORA Champions. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien“We are the Champions”. Even with a final race scheduled for last night, Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) of the Royal Irish YC were already the 2023 ISORA Champions. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

But in this case, Peter Ryan is drawing attention to a rather extreme instance in order to highlight a season-long trend. Cruiser-racer crews are only human, and many share the widespread enjoyment of possibly seeing their name up in lights if they can work their way onto the podium in even one race in a major highly-publicised series such as the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

That’s highly-publicised by sailing standards, which inevitably is not very high at all unless there are serious accidents involved. But it’s the best that’s going. Yet meanwhile, as a longterm and very keen offshore racer, Ryan becomes the complete iconoclast by also lamenting the adverse effect that modern technology can have on his branch of the sport.

DRAWBACKS OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY

The detailed efficacy of weather forecasts means, he says, that crews may not make the final commitment to taking part until very near the event, as they have no wish to go to sea in order to be becalmed for a long time in zero wind, or battered – sometimes expensively – by too much of it.

Then in warming to his theme, Ryan takes a swipe at Race Trackers, claiming that in the old days you often hadn’t a clue at the finish as to how well you’d done in that over-crowded profession of doing the best you can. It was a fascinating situation which greatly added to the liveliness of the post-race party when the results were finally issued. But with YellowBrick and its rivals in general use, you have a fair idea by mid race.

 Back in the day, navigation with sextants was seen by some as part of the proper package for offshore racing Photo: Valery Vasilesvky  Back in the day, navigation with sextants was seen by some as part of the proper package for offshore racing Photo: Valery Vasilesvky 

Remembering the battles there used to be as to whether or not the now-quaint Decca navigation system was permissible on offshore racers, there’s no escaping the trend. Indeed, it could be argued that it is all leading to AI bots racing remotely-controlled boats while the rest of us savour the experience through various electronic ways.

Yet surely the ultimate artificiality is trying to stage events with a ban on the best of modern equipment? Even the setting of spending limits has a phoney air to it. And like it or not, there’s something sad about re-enactments, even if we’ve had them back the beginnings of civilisation with the theatrical dramas of ancient Greece.

At least those involved in acting and theatrical re-enactments will ultimately acknowledge they are actors. In fact, they make a profession out of pretending to be someone else. But Liam Shanahan snr, Mick Hunt and Sean Flood had no doubt that they were themselves, and lived their lives ashore and afloat accordingly.

LEADERSHIP NEEDED, RATHER THAN FICKLE FASHION

As we face into this weird new world of reality intertwined with artificiality in every aspect of our lives, we need the firmly-based example of such people simply to cope. And we need to be able to discern between populism and leadership. In sailing as in other sports, there are those who operate on the system of “I am their leader, which way do they want to go?”

An impressive force for the good in Irish sailing - the late Denis Doyle of CorkAn impressive force for the good in Irish sailing - the late Denis Doyle of Cork

But there are, and always have been, those who know when to step in and give clear unequivocal leadership. One of the best examples was the late Denis Doyle of Cork, who has been gone from among us for far too long. It was he who, when others dithered, stepped in and provided space in his boatyard for Tim Severin to built his St Brendan Currach in 1976. And when the Round Ireland Race was struggling to gain acceptance after its inauguration in 1980, Denis brought Moonduster round from Cork to Wicklow for the 1982 race, and his example then - and in subsequent races – set up the Round Ireland as a major fixture.

Admittedly, that meant that in the long run, he was encouraging a signature event which in due course, might weaken other races. But that’s the way it is. When choices have to be made, they have to be made thoughtfully and firmly, and then adhered to in a way which provides true leadership.

Putting the new Round Ireland show on the road to success – Denis Doyle’s Moonduster approaching Wicklow to take line honours in the second Round Ireland Race in 1982. Photo WSCPutting the new Round Ireland show on the road to success – Denis Doyle’s Moonduster approaching Wicklow to take line honours in the second Round Ireland Race in 1982. Photo WSC

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

You could over-analyse the many attractions of a round Ireland cruise. Apart from being a romantic yet manageable act of homage to our island home, it appeals equally to the adventurous - in that you are always outward bound – and the homebodies, in that you’re headed for your home port from the moment you leave it. And in those circumstances, it’s a rather dull approach to the project to work out exactly where the halfway mark will be in relation to your start point. For although everyone does of course do such calculations, often the specific point slips by unnoticed, as the interest of the moment is in the fresh coastlines and islands up ahead still waiting to be enjoyed

The ambition to cruise or race or set records for sailing round our island is something nurtured by probably a majority of Irish sailors, and it has been achieved by thousands since the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow was introduced in 1980. It’s a healthy straight line distance at 704 miles, but if you’re cruising and diverting to the more interesting places along the way, you’ll very quickly run up a total of a thousand nautical miles, and often it’s 1,200.

The harbour at Rathlin Island, Ireland’s most northeasterly outpost, and a very handy port in a round Ireland cruise. Antrim coast is beyond, with Knocklayd above Ballycastle prominentThe harbour at Rathlin Island, Ireland’s most northeasterly outpost, and a very handy port in a round Ireland cruise. Antrim coast is beyond, with Knocklayd above Ballycastle prominent

But far from familiarity with the circuit through the Round Ireland race reducing the sense of challenge in such a round Ireland cruise, it has on the contrary increased it. For all recent Round Ireland Races have had a volatile weather pattern which has heightened the perception of our Atlantic seaboard as being an often very seriously rugged place to sail.

ARE WEST COAST SAILORS BONKERS?

For some, this merely reinforces the notion that West Coast sailors must be bonkers. But for others, it makes the appeal of cruising the Atlantic Ocean frontier that much greater. For only the most totally concentrated raceaholic would see the great headlands and islands of the west coast as nothing more than marks of the course.

Anyone with the slightest spark of human curiosity will muse at least for a moment on the kind of life lived in these places. And as you approach some great headland, you’ll notice the local fishing boats – often astonishingly small craft – working in the lee of the cliffs.

Even as you’re taking a quick glance, one or two of those little boats will peel off and disappear towards a hidden harbour entrance nearby. You’d be less than human if you didn’t feel a tiny urge to return some day and sail into that harbour at leisure. And it’s a yearning which is increased while racing at night, for even as you pound along in late evening, closing in on another line of darkening coastline, the house lights will start to come on – sometimes in the most unexpected and remote places, and in others often in surprising abundance – giving you that very human urge to know what manner of folk live there.


Few images so successfully capture the challenge of sailing Ireland’s spectacular West Coast as this video of Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3 making a record round Ireland time at the Blaskets in 2016.

For sure, if you live in Ireland you can readily and easily visit such places by land and occasionally ferry. But sailing to them in part of a properly-fulfilled round Ireland cruise sometimes feels - at its very best - to be an act of performance art, a nautical narrative in which everyone met ashore in welcoming harbours, or on another boat in a sociable anchorage, seems to have been sent out by Central Casting to enhance the experience.

HIGH STOOL DAYS

After living through this, you’ll readily agree with the statement that cruising in Ireland is the best in the world when the weather is good, and it’s still the best in the world when the weather is bad and you’re weatherbound in port on what the locals call “a high stool day”, for then the absorption of the local culture is invariably entertaining.

Two boats sailed in round Ireland cruises – the 1912-vintage 9-ton J B Kearney yawl Ainmara (left) did the circuit in 1964, and the Doug Peterson-designed Contessa 35 Witchcraft of Howth went round in 1995 and 1999, and also raced round in 1992 and 1994, getting second and third respectively in class, and 13th overall out of 54 boats in 1994. Photo: W M NixonTwo boats sailed in round Ireland cruises – the 1912-vintage 9-ton J B Kearney yawl Ainmara (left) did the circuit in 1964, and the Doug Peterson-designed Contessa 35 Witchcraft of Howth went round in 1995 and 1999, and also raced round in 1992 and 1994, getting second and third respectively in class, and 13th overall out of 54 boats in 1994. Photo: W M Nixon

And though it’s more convenient than ever to leave a boat in mid-cruise at some distant marina, or join a boat in mid-cruise at somewhere conveniently reached in a morning’s overland travel, there’s still nothing quite so satisfying as The Full Monty, the three to four weeks continuous round Ireland cruise in which the boat becomes your true home.

EATING THE ELEPHANT

That said, the reality of modern life is such that sometimes the Ireland circuit has to be done the way you eat an elephant – one bit at a time. And if you utilise public transport to get back to base at the beginning and end of each bite-size saiing chunk, it’s part of the entertainment if approached in the right way.

Back in 1995, when our hefty Contessa 35 still had sails of sufficient newness to be a racing proposition, we’d already managed a three week cruise to northwest Spain and back when we did the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race as yet another ding-dong against Jim Donegan’s similarly-rated Hustler 36 White Rooster from Cork.

We’d left Jim and his team for dead at Tory Island during the previous year’s Round Ireland Race, thereby pushing him off the class podium in Wicklow, so in racing to Dingle he was flat out to reverse the situation, and he did so in a real nail-biter finish.

You always leave somewhere unvisited for another time….Typical round Ireland cruise, in this case antic-clockwise. It resulted in ICC Vice Commodore Derek White of Strangford being awarded the club’s Round Ireland Cup for 2022.You always leave somewhere unvisited for another time….Typical round Ireland cruise, in this case antic-clockwise. It resulted in ICC Vice Commodore Derek White of Strangford being awarded the club’s Round Ireland Cup for 2022.

But with the boat in Dingle it made sense to leave her there for a week or two in the care of Brian Farrell and the excellent then-new marina, and continue northward on a round Ireland cruise. Re-joining the ship involved a gloriously long train journey in the dear dead days beyond recall when you could spend the entire Dublin to Tralee rail journey on an extremely leisurely lunch in the well-appointed dining car, and then get to Dingle via a 45 minute taxi journey over the Connor Pass, with arrival being celebrated at Flahive’s.

ARAN ISLANDS

Our distance objectives for that leg were modest, as we were headed for Clifden with plenty of time for a detailed visit to the Aran Islands on the way. This was duly managed even if one of the crew did leave his enormous wallet behind on the bar counter at Inish Meain, but it was brought over by the evening plane to catch up with us at Kilronan.

We’d other things on our mind by then, as a full southerly gale was forecast, and in those pre-harbour development days the limited and very tidal quayside at Kilronan and the anchorage off it were likely to become rather lively places.

But fortunately in re-purposing the boat for multiple use back in 1991, we’d transformed her cruising potential with ground tackle fit for a 45-footer, installing a vertical self-stowing chain locker beside the mast and learning to live with having the chain come right across the foredeck to a substantial chain winch beside the mast by having a removable channel on top of the forehatch.

It worked, it still works, and it meant we could carry a grown-up amount of five-sixteenth calibrated chain, something like 83 metres because we wanted good old-fashioned 45 fathoms, and a Bruce or Rocna or CQR anchor at the end of it. Thus the prospect of a bouncy night off Kilronan with others boats dragging around us in the rain-sluiced dark didn’t arise, as we went across to the much more snug anchorage close in off Killeany, dug the anchor well in and gave it plenty of chain, and then settled down to let the chef du jour give of his best for dinner while the sheer weight of the boat – the Contessa 35 chimes in at 7.5 tonnes in cruising trim – kept us comfortable.

Outside O’Dowd’s in Roundstone, with the Twelve Bens beyondOutside O’Dowd’s in Roundstone, with the Twelve Bens beyond

Next day was still bumpy, so we took the Inner Passage from Golam Head (where Golam Harbour was to provide a memorable visit some years later) through to Roundstone, where O’Dowd’s (the PNP or “Pub Next The Pier”) already had a very special place in the Round Ireland Cruising Memory Bank.

PERFECTION OF ROUNDSTONE

Our first cruising visit there had been in 1982, going round Ireland anti-clockwise with the sweet little Hustler 30 Turtle, and by that stage – as seems to have occurred so often in those days – we’d become engineless. Despite that, we transitted the Joyce Sound Pass inside Slyne Head for the first time, and then anchored close in off the peerless beach at Gurteen Bay for a swim in surprisingly crisp water before heading in for Roundstone.

We anchored off in such a way that we could relax in the window seat of O’Dowd’s while savouring pints, with the view of the pink light of the sunset illuminating the Twelve Bens to provide a perfect background for our beloved little boat swinging gently to her anchor. But the spell seemed to be broken when a Frenchman parked his 4X4 quite legitimately right outside the pub - no double yellow lines in those days. However, when he came in and ordered a drink, the O’Dowd leaned across the bar and whispered in his ear, and s’help me didn’t he go out and remove his view-blocker to another parking place, leaving us to resume our enchanted reverie.

Little boats at season’s end – Autumn 1982 at the pier on Lambay, with the Ireland-circling Turtle (left) and John Gore-Grimes’ Nich 31 Shardana recently home from the ArcticLittle boats at season’s end – Autumn 1982 at the pier on Lambay, with the Ireland-circling Turtle (left) and John Gore-Grimes’ Nich 31 Shardana recently home from the Arctic

Fast forward to 1995, and this time we took the Joyce Sound the other way, and in Clifden - as planned - laid a mooring at Ardbear at the head of the bay, and then adjourned to King’s in the heart of town to choose our bus to Galway. For in those day, if you missed the 3 o’clock bus, there was another one at 3.15pm.

METHOD IN BUS MADNESS

There was method in their madness. Along the winding road from Clifden to Galway, there’d be enough people to fill two buses waiting at various stops - some of them decidedly offbeat places - to get to town. So the two buses would leap-frog each other all the way and finish over-filled, thus the winners would be the shrewd folk who’d made judicious choices to get their favourite seat in one of the buses in Clifden.

You didn’t find that bit of information in the increasingly informative Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, and I don’t think we passed it on as there was talk of reducing the Clifden service. But there were ICC Sailing Directions reminders on our first invariable stopover from Clifden in 1995, as the next stage northabout was first stop at Inishbofin, Ireland’s ultimate glue-pot cruising destination. We’d become enchanted with Bofin during the first Round Ireland Cruise in 1964, an anti-clockwise venture with the 9-ton yawl Ainmara, and have remained enchanted ever since.

But eventually we tore ourselves away in 1964, for our time was limited and – like it or not – we were doing the circuit under sail only, which meant that we spent a bumpy night far out in the Atlantic as a “yachtsman’s southwest gale” went through, and the next day seeming to slug for ever to windward towards the increasingly enormous peak of Mount Brandon, which loomed majestically over us when we finally anchored in big country off the tiny village of Brandon on the west side of Brandon Bay.

Big country. Ainmara in Brandon Bay in 1964 after a long spell of windward work from Inishbofin. Photo: W M NixonBig country. Ainmara in Brandon Bay in 1964 after a long spell of windward work from Inishbofin. Photo: W M Nixon

The Sailing Directions weren’t encouraging, saying there were no facilities ashore when we were dying for a big feed of pub grub. But through the binoculars there did look like there might be at least one pub of sorts, so we rowed ashore in the little clinker dinghy to the miniature pier, and found three pubs.

Very basic establishments maybe, certainly not trendy watering holes, but hospitable and available nevertheless. One of them even had a welcoming fire lit despite it being June, and the woman of the house rustled up a marvellous meal of hearty fish broth followed by classic bacon and cabbage with new season Kerry potatoes.

It was food for a king, so as a diligent new member of the Irish Cruising Club, when we got home I sent a letter to Paul Campbell, editor of the Sailing Directions, saying that as far as we were concerned Brandon had become a gourmet destination port. In response, Roger Bourke of Limerick, the ICC member who covered the area for the Directions, replied to say that he was well aware that Brandon had three pubs, but he didn’t think they were quite the sort of places that ICC members would wish to patronize.

Brandon village as it is todayBrandon village as it is today

Nevertheless the next edition of the South & West Book was favourably amended according to our info. But it was a long time before I felt sufficiently established as a member to reveal to anyone else that a Limerick sailor had once presumed to pass judgment on the quality of Kerry hospitality.

THE ISLAND HOPPERS

Mention of Inishbofin is also a reminder that there are those who think that the only proper cruise round Ireland is a matter of sailing from one of the offshore islands to another, without calling at any mainland port or anchorage. Indeed, I once knew fastidious owner-skipper who had his substantial yawl so comfortably organised and well-victualled that he once did a Round Ireland cruise with a dozen stops without bothering to go ashore at all.

And certainly the islands are there, with three of the most interesting being at crucial corners, with Tory at the northwest, Rathlin at the northeast, and Cape Clear at the southwest. Only the Great Saltee at the southeastern corner is an island where you’d be doubtful about overnighting, but all the other three now have good if sometimes crowded harbours for secure berthing, and this is a reminder of a curious trans-Ireland link.

For in Rathlin, you find the main families are – or used to be – the McCurdys and the McCuaigs, with the McCuaigs the hereditary publicans who famously built a large new pub on a completely new harbourside site because the old pub “got wore out”.

Quite what the McCurdys specialized in I don’t know, but some went to America, and if you’re on Cape Clear and near the Fastnet Rock, you’ll very quickly remember that Jim McCurdy, having worked with yacht designer Phil Rhodes who created Dick Nye’s legendary all-conquering yawl Carina II, then branched out with Rhodes’ son Bodie to set up a new design company, and they created the mighty Carina III for the Nye family in 1968-69, still going strong under Rives Potts’ ownership, and for my money one of the greatest boats that ever sailed the high seas.

Rathlin man makes good….Jim McCurdy and Dick Nye aboard Carina III in the 1972 Transatlantic Race to Spain, when they read the weather towards the finish so well that they won overall by an enormous margin. Photo courtesy Sheila McCurdyRathlin man makes good….Jim McCurdy and Dick Nye aboard Carina III in the 1972 Transatlantic Race to Spain, when they read the weather towards the finish so well that they won overall by an enormous margin. Photo courtesy Sheila McCurdy

Subsequently Jim’s daughter Sheila became Commodore of the Cruising Club of America, and she’s currently compiling the complex story of that extraordinary organization as it becomes accustomed to being a hundred years old. But the fact that this is being mentioned in some rambling reminiscences about cruising round Ireland is par for the course. For in making such a cruise, the only certainty is that you’re always outward bound for your home port. Beyond that, all things are possible, and connections emerge every which way

Rathlin sunset – getting here on a round Ireland cruise, you’re both outward bound and headed for home. Photo: Al CraigRathlin sunset – getting here on a round Ireland cruise, you’re both outward bound and headed for home. Photo: Al Craig

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

Round Ireland Race Day Six (Thursday) 1700 hrs -  In the end, it was just about two miles of the Wicklow coast that did for them. Mike and Richie Evans with the J/99 Snapshot knew they’d to be at the finish on the Wicklow Harbour pierheads at 16.33 hrs to hold their overall SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race lead in IRC which – if added to their overall victory last year in the Sovereigns at Kinsale – would have made for two years of mega-achievement.

But even though in the final ten miles of flukey windward work they made mincemeat of all the boats around them, it wasn’t quite enough, 16:33 came and went, but though the finish line was clearly in sight, it was a case of oh so very near, but oh so very far. And now it looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies skippered by Laurent Charmy is going to be the overall winner. (Wicklow organisers confirmed on Thursday at 10 pm the Clubhouse winner is French J/111 SL Energies -Ed).

So how did she do it? Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon we referred to the better southeast breeze that seemed in evidence deep into in the big bight on Ireland’s east coast between Howth Head and St John’s Point. Which was all very well if you happened to be in a position to avail of it. But the only boat properly placed to do so was SL Energies, and it enabled her to go from zero to hero.

it looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies is going to be the overall winnerIt looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies is going to be the overall winner Photo: Afloat

As had been pointed out in our previous report, she was so becalmed off the County Down coast in the region of the entrance to Strangford Lough that at one stage she’d lost steerage way completely, and was pointing in the opposite direction to her intended course. But once she got the properly into the edge of this handy little breeze, she held on and stayed on port tack going well, and going further west than any other boat in the fleet, only finally tacking south of Drogheda in order to leave Rockabill to starboard.

It was the second time during the race that SL Energies had made such a remarkable recovery from being in the crabgrass. But this time she was near enough to the finish to carry the benefit of it all the way to Wicklow, and when she crossed the line at 0845 this (Thursday) morning, we knew that we were looking at a time which was going to take a lot of beating.

It was all put into perspective with Afloat.ie’s subsequent publishing later this morning of the times SL Energie’s challengers had to beat at Wicklow to topple her from her perch. And it has made for an excruciating day as boats from one’s own port have been putting in a performance which could do the job, but then faded again as the life went out of some temporarily helpful breeze.

So now at least the agony of watching and waiting is over. How on earth do people do this every week with their favourite football team? About once a year is enough for civilised folk. But my goodness, what a race it has been, and still is as the final stages of the drama are played out. A race which broke people’s boats off the west coast, and broke their hearts off the east coast. Time for over-involved observers to lie down in a darkened room…….

Race Tracker & Data below

Published in Round Ireland
Tagged under

As more boats cross the finish line at Wicklow and celebrations of completing the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race's 700-mile course get underway, the clubhouse leaders  – the French crew of the J111 SL energies Groupe Fastwave – are watching the clock ticking down and keeping an eye on nearby rivals in the hope that none of them can outwit the light airs and tides out on the Irish Sea. 

Afloat has compiled an (unofficial) list of times required for boats to beat the J111 in the race for Round Ireland 2022 overall IRC honours.

Mike and Ritchie Evans's J99 Snapshot has until 1630 to finish the race and win overallMike and Ritchie Evans's J99 Snapshot has until 1633 to finish the race and become the new clubhouse leader See table below. Photo: Afloat

Already the first four boats (below) have been unable to eclipse the Fastwave time. And at 11.30 am it is looking extremely tight for the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins, RIYC) and her lunchtime (12.26) deadline.

The IRC 2 boat, the French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) finished the 2022 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race this Thursday morning at 0845 and is the club house leader in WicklowThe IRC 2 boat, the French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) finished the 2022 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race this Thursday morning at 0845 and is the club house leader in Wicklow Photo: Afloat

(Unofficial) times to Finish to Beat SL Energies Groupe Fastwave

In the race for round Ireland overall honours, double winner Cavatina (Ian Hickey, Royal Cork) has until 0425 on Friday morning to beat the clubhouse leader Photo: AfloatIn the race for Round Ireland overall honours, double winner Cavatina (Ian Hickey, Royal Cork) has until 0425 on Friday morning to beat the clubhouse leader Photo: Afloat

For an update on the current weather try threelive Dublin Bay webcams to give an idea of the conditions.

See race tracker and data below

Published in Round Ireland
Tagged under

The white smoke has gone up from the chimney on a lonely cottage high in the Wicklow hills, and the word has come down from Maritime Mystic Meg on potential betting movements in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race:

"Based on the updated forecast, it looks like a slow race, bringing the smaller boats into the mix. I've updated odds with this in mind and thrown in a bit of my gut feeling".

  • 8/1 - Cavatina, Rockabill
  • 10/1 - Nieulargo, Darkwood, Aurelia
  • 12/1 - More Mischief, Pyxis, InoXXX
  • 13/1 - Checkmate XX
  • 15/1 - Mojo, Indian, Cinnamon Girl, Bellino, Jackknife, Shindig, ArtfulDodjer
  • 20/1 - Samatom. Luzern eComm U25
  • 30/1 - Blue Oyster, Sherkin Irish Offshore Sailing
  • 35/1 - The field
Published in Round Ireland
Tagged under

After 42 years of the 704 miles biennial Round Ireland Yacht Race from Wicklow, there must be hundreds – indeed, possibly thousands - of sailors throughout Ireland and beyond who will be pausing thoughtfully from time to time during the coming days before the start on Saturday, June 18th’. What they’re feeling will be reinforced by the fact that the 2020 race was pandemic-prevented to make for a four-year gap. For they’ll be pausing, these old Round Ireland veterans – let’s call them Orivs - to remember again that special feeling of slightly dry-mouthed anticipation which was and is an inevitable part of the total experience.

It never quite leaves you, no matter how many times you’ve qualified to be an Oriv. And a quick scan of the entry list – which we’ll look at in full detail nearer the race start – reveals it to be currently over the 50 mark, but with one or two of the earlier entries no longer quite so rock solid. Nevertheless, the list indicates that there will be many competitors who are going yet again, some of them in boats with such a record of regular round Ireland competition that they could probably find their way round unaided.

Entries here

Ian Hickey’s successful multiple-circuiteer Cavatina (RCYC) could probably find her way along the Round Ireland course unaidedIan Hickey’s successful multiple-circuiteer Cavatina (RCYC) could probably find her way along the Round Ireland course unaided

ROBOT ROUND IRELAND RACING?

Perhaps it’s tempting fate even to mention such a possibility, as the world of electronics must be on the cusp of making an un-manned round Ireland race a viable proposition. And heaven knows but there have been times in races past when – running down on the coast of northwest Donegal for instance, on a rising gale in the gathering night, with blocks and sheaves exploding under overload left and right - that you’d be wishing such a stage of technological advance had been long since reached.

But then somehow you emerge into the dawn to find yourself on a smooth spinnaker reach from Tory Island towards the outer end of those saw-toothed rocks off Malin Head, with That Certain Boat With The Same Rating now tucked increasingly further astern, clearly not finding this particular point of sailing so much to her liking. And then you wonder that your enthusiasm for Round Ireland racing could ever have become even slightly muted the night before.

The new First 50 Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs & David Cullen, HYC) will be a Round Ireland debutante on June 18th. Photo: Afoat.ieThe new First 50 Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs & David Cullen, HYC) will be a Round Ireland debutante on June 18th. Photo: Afoat.ie

Yet there’s no doubting it’s a specialist passion. Beforehand, it’s toughest of all for the owner-skippers doing their first race. Despite the need for the completion of qualifying races, smaller boats in those days were obliged to be in Wicklow at least three days in advance for decidedly serious scrutineering. Significantly larger craft could opt for that in their home port or in Dun Laoghaire, and of course, Greystones has also been conveniently available for several years now, but back in the day, the debut-making little ’uns had to report to Wicklow time to spare.

In port, you experienced all the joys of transforming one’s quite well-equipped little cruiser-racer into a state-of-the-art offshore racing machine compliant with the strictest dictates of the RORC. This was done by the transfer of significant funds from an already severely over-drawn Boat Account into the trading account of a noted Dublin chandlery company.

AN ASTONISHING SAILING CLUB

This company had found it well worth its while to have an equipment-laden van stationed on Wicklow’s very busy and often dusty quayside. For although every effort was made to give the impression that Wicklow was and is an international yachting centre, despite the best efforts of Wicklow SC’s large group of tireless and patient volunteers it’s still basically a workaday little freight, commodities, windfarm-servicing and fishing port with an astonishing sailing club which works a biennial miracle to stage a great race.

Dream starting conditions. Barry Byrne gets clear away in the J/109 Joker II – and was well in the frame at the finish. Photo{ Afloat.ie/David O’BrienDream starting conditions. Barry Byrne gets clear away in the J/109 Joker II – and was well in the frame at the finish. Photo: Afloat.ie

And for Round Ireland participants, it’s so utterly worthwhile, for there is simply nothing in sailing that I know of to compare with the feeling of closing in on Wicklow for the finish, sailing those final miles along the incomparable Wicklow summertime coast for the totally-focused hospitality of the finish, when everyone’s a winner though some admittedly are evidently more clearly winners than others. But that’s a matter of rather prosaic interpretation of finishing times and the application of ratings while it’s a very important part of the race, no figures for the FG Factor will appear in the final listings, even though the Feel Good Factor is really what it’s all about.

PEN DUICK VI SCATTERS STARDUST

Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick VI looked quite special when she first appeared 49 years ago – and she still does.

That, and the strong international element. It was 1974 when the late great Eric Tabarly’s 73ft ketch Pen Duick VI made perhaps her only previous visit to Ireland, and in so doing she won the RORC Cowes-Cork Race. Nearly 50 years later, this great boat is still going strong under the command of Tabarly’s daughter Marie, and Pen Duick’s presence on the Wicklow start line will spread stardust which will be augmented by another noted French entry, Eric de Turkheim’s 54ft Teasing Machine.

Marie Tabarly wil be skippering Pen Duick VI in her first Round Ireland RaceMarie Tabarly will be skippering Pen Duick VI in her first Round Ireland Race

As the start time approaches, weather forecasts for the round Ireland will begin to become more precise, but at the moment there’s a reasonable hope that in a week’s time, we’ll be in a period of more settled weather. Meanwhile, the dominating feature in recent days has been the presence to the northwest of the very deep and slow-moving centre of decaying tropical storm Alex. Intense bubbles of tropical air – however much “decayed” - are a course of meteorological uncertainty, and they’ve made things distinctly nervous for the tail-enders in the four-stage RYWC Round Britain and Ireland Race.

THE TENTACLES OF STORM ALEX

The last boat to depart the 48-hour Galway stopover, the veteran 25ft Vertue MEA (Matteo Richardi, Italy) found that the big southerly winds of Alex were getting very close as she ran along the Connacht coast, so she took shelter on Wednesday night in Broadhaven in Mayo before a slight easing on Thursday enabled her to sail along the Donegal coast until the next wave of wind caused her to seek shelter at the Ard Priory anchorage in Sheephaven on the north coast of Donegal on Thursday night.

Lou Boorman and Elin Jones in good spirits aboard their Contessa 32 White Knight after a long and difficult race from Plymouth to Galway. They have since been making the best of much more favourable conditions from Galway to the Shetland Islands. Photo: GBSCLou Boorman and Elin Jones in good spirits aboard their Contessa 32 White Knight after a long and difficult race from Plymouth to Galway. They have since been making the best of much more favourable conditions from Galway to the Shetland Islands. Photo: GBSC

Meanwhile, the female crew from Wales, Lou Boorman (19) and Elin Jones with the Contessa 32 White Knight, had got away from Galway in Sunday evening in time to take advantage of the rising southerlies before they became a threat, and they’ve had a fantastic if arduous passage from the Aran Islands to Muckle Flugga in the Shetlands to get them right back in the hunt, for they’d a better recorded time in this long Atlantic leg than several of the multi-hulls, which had found themselves doing this stage before the strong but favourable breezes had set in.

Storm Alex may be slowly fading away to the northeast, but he continues to dominate our weather for the early part of this weekend, and already Kinsale YC’s planned race last night to Glandore has been cancelled, though today’s 120-mile ISORA Race on Ireland’s east coast round various marks between Dun Laoghaire and Dunany on Dundalk Bay, with the finish (probably in the small hours of Sunday) in Howth an acknowledgement of the fact that ISORA in its present form is 50 years old in 2022, and it was first proposed in Howth in August 1971.

FRESH WINDS IN BRITISH IRC CHAMPS

The tentacles of a storm of the power of Alex spread far and wide even when he is decaying, and thus it’s expected to bring fresh to strong winds to the ongoing IRC British Championship in the Solent in which the Irish squad used to be a force with the likes of Davie Dwyer’s Mills 39 Mariners Cove and Anthony O’Leary’s various boats called Antix, all this being back in the crazy boom years when at one stage Ireland had no less than three teams – and all competing against each other – racing in the Commodore’s Cup, with teams led by Anthony O’Leary finally winning in 2010 and again in 2014.

But while we’re dealing with the current effects of Storm Alex and hoping for the chance of some gentler weather for the Round Ireland in a week’s time, across the Atlantic they’re ahead of our weather in new systems and starting to gather in Newport, Rhode island for the start of the 217 boat 635-mile Newport-Bermuda Race, one of the great classics.

Only one of them is going to win……this year’s biennial Newport-Bermuda Race (starting next Friday) is incorporated in the Centenary Celebrations of the Cruising Club of America. Thanks to the wayward conditions of the Gulf Stream, despite it being a straight line race the tactical choices seem as numerous as the boats in the fleet, which this year will be 217. Only one of them is going to win……this year’s biennial Newport-Bermuda Race (starting next Friday) is incorporated in the Centenary Celebrations of the Cruising Club of America. Thanks to the wayward conditions of the Gulf Stream, despite it being a straight line race the tactical choices seem as numerous as the boats in the fleet, which this year will be 217. 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE CRUISING CLUB OF AMERICA

It’s doubly classic this year, as the organising Cruising Club of America is celebrating its Centenary. The CCA is a “cruising” club like no other, as it’s a wide-ranging maritime organisation which is into everything – research, exploration, safety initiatives and so forth - in a very positive way. But inevitably the race to Bermuda is its flagship event, and with its hundred years history intertwined with the biennial “dash to the onion patch” across the bewildering waters of the Gulf Stream, the CCA is in process of clarifying is complex history.

In some versions, it sounds like a story out of Damon Runyon or P G Wodehouse in his New York years, with a sailing journalist called Bill Nutting gathering his buddies in a Manhattan speakeasy called Beefsteak John’s (I’m not making this up) to set up a seafaring and offshore racing club.

CCA IRISH AWARDS

However it may have come into being, the CCA is now a Good Thing, and in 1923 it established the Blue Water Medal for outstanding international seafaring achievement. There have been no less than four Irish awardees over the years – Bill King, John Gore-Grimes, Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunnane - and more recently the CCA’s international Rod Stephens Trophy for seamanship was awarded to two Irish sailors.

Cruising Club of America Blue Water Medallists Paddy Barry, Bill King and John Gore-Grimes at an ICC gathering in 1992.Cruising Club of America Blue Water Medallists Paddy Barry, Bill King and John Gore-Grimes at an ICC gathering in 1992

Gregor McGuckin received it in 2020 for his heroic part in the rescue in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, while Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly for successfully saving an MOB in the Pacific in the Clipper Race. Thus in this its Centenary year there’s a definite Irish interest in the CCA, and in the circumstances, they’re allowed to have their Bermuda Race start the day before our SSE Renewables Round Ireland race from Wicklow.

Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly receives the 2014 Rod Stephens award from CCA Commodore Tad Lhamon in the New York YC.Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly receives the 2014 Rod Stephens award from CCA Commodore Tad Lhamon in the New York YC.

2020 award of CCA Rod Stephens Trophy for Seamanship to Gregor McGuckin by Commodore Bob Medland.2020 award of CCA Rod Stephens Trophy for Seamanship to Gregor McGuckin by Commodore Bob Medland

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

The 50th entry into June's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race is the potent Welsh J/125 Jackknife, the weekend winner of ISORA's cross channel race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead. 

The Andrew Hall skippered yacht won the line honours, overall and Class Zero prizes in the 60-mile race that drew a strong entry of 20 boats. 

As Afloat's WM Nixon reported recently, the 50 boat fleet reflects a strong international interest in the biennial Irish ocean classic. This latest Pwllheli Sailing Club entry is one of several hotly tipped visiting race teams.

ISORA Race six, the second cross-channel of the season, was considered a critical warmup ahead of June 18th's 700-mile race from Wicklow. The light air race included Round Ireland Race local favourites such as Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI of the Royal Irish Yacht Club and Chris Power Smith's Aurelia – this month's Inishtearaght Race line honours winner – from the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

After six races sailed, Saturday's result puts Jackknife at the top of the Musto ISORA scoreboard. Full ISORA results here

Jackknife is no stranger to Irish waters is a regular ISORA contender and also a top-ranked Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race competitor.

The next ISORA race is on June 11th, just a week before the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

Published in ISORA

The 40th entry to the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race is Ross Farrow’s Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 Asgard from the Hamble.

The milestone was reached this week with just over eight weeks to go to the 700-mile race starting off Wicklow. 

Farrow's entry follows the high-quality entry of Mike and Ritchie Evans Sovereign's Cup Champion J/99 Snapshot from Howth Yacht Club.

As Afloat's WM Nixon reported previously, entries doubled in late March as competitors availed of the early bird entry fee discount and now this week the fleet has hit the big Four O.

But it's not only the quantity of boats assembling off Wicklow on June 18 but also the quality with Mark Emerson's, Archambault A13, Phosphorus II, from the RStGYC also in the lineup.

There are two ex-Volvo Racers, as the gallant warhorse Green Dragon (Conor Ferguson/Enda O Coineen, GBSC/RIYC) will be lining up against Lance Shepherd’s Volvo 70 Telefonica Black. And two ICRA “Boats of the Year” have joined the hunt, with current title-holder Nieulargo (Grand Soleil 40, Denis & Annamarie Murphy, Royal Cork YC) up against, Paul O’Higgins’ well-proven JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC).

See the current entries here.

Published in Round Ireland
Tagged under
Page 1 of 24

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Information

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is the second port for Dublin and is located on the south shore of Dublin Bay. Marine uses for this 200-year-old man-made harbour have changed over its lifetime. Originally built as a port of refuge for sailing ships entering the narrow channel at Dublin Port, the harbour has had a continuous ferry link with Wales, and this was the principal activity of the harbour until the service stopped in 2015. In all this time, however, one thing has remained constant, and that is the popularity of sailing and boating from the port, making it Ireland's marine leisure capital with a harbour fleet of between 1,200 -1,600 pleasure craft based at the country's largest marina (800 berths) and its four waterfront yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bye-Laws

Download the bye-laws on this link here

FAQs

A live stream Dublin Bay webcam showing Dun Laoghaire Harbour entrance and East Pier is here

Dun Laoghaire is a Dublin suburb situated on the south side of Dublin Bay, approximately, 15km from Dublin city centre.

The east and west piers of the harbour are each of 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) long.

The harbour entrance is 232 metres (761 ft) across from East to West Pier.

  • Public Boatyard
  • Public slipway
  • Public Marina

23 clubs, 14 activity providers and eight state-related organisations operate from Dun Laoghaire Harbour that facilitates a full range of sports - Sailing, Rowing, Diving, Windsurfing, Angling, Canoeing, Swimming, Triathlon, Powerboating, Kayaking and Paddleboarding. Participants include members of the public, club members, tourists, disabled, disadvantaged, event competitors, schools, youth groups and college students.

  • Commissioners of Irish Lights
  • Dun Laoghaire Marina
  • MGM Boats & Boatyard
  • Coastguard
  • Naval Service Reserve
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • Marine Activity Centre
  • Rowing clubs
  • Yachting and Sailing Clubs
  • Sailing Schools
  • Irish Olympic Sailing Team
  • Chandlery & Boat Supply Stores

The east and west granite-built piers of Dun Laoghaire harbour are each of one kilometre (0.62 mi) long and enclose an area of 250 acres (1.0 km2) with the harbour entrance being 232 metres (761 ft) in width.

In 2018, the ownership of the great granite was transferred in its entirety to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council who now operate and manage the harbour. Prior to that, the harbour was operated by The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, a state company, dissolved in 2018 under the Ports Act.

  • 1817 - Construction of the East Pier to a design by John Rennie began in 1817 with Earl Whitworth Lord Lieutenant of Ireland laying the first stone.
  • 1820 - Rennie had concerns a single pier would be subject to silting, and by 1820 gained support for the construction of the West pier to begin shortly afterwards. When King George IV left Ireland from the harbour in 1820, Dunleary was renamed Kingstown, a name that was to remain in use for nearly 100 years. The harbour was named the Royal Harbour of George the Fourth which seems not to have remained for so long.
  • 1824 - saw over 3,000 boats shelter in the partially completed harbour, but it also saw the beginning of operations off the North Wall which alleviated many of the issues ships were having accessing Dublin Port.
  • 1826 - Kingstown harbour gained the important mail packet service which at the time was under the stewardship of the Admiralty with a wharf completed on the East Pier in the following year. The service was transferred from Howth whose harbour had suffered from silting and the need for frequent dredging.
  • 1831 - Royal Irish Yacht Club founded
  • 1837 - saw the creation of Victoria Wharf, since renamed St. Michael's Wharf with the D&KR extended and a new terminus created convenient to the wharf.[8] The extended line had cut a chord across the old harbour with the landward pool so created later filled in.
  • 1838 - Royal St George Yacht Club founded
  • 1842 - By this time the largest man-made harbour in Western Europe had been completed with the construction of the East Pier lighthouse.
  • 1855 - The harbour was further enhanced by the completion of Traders Wharf in 1855 and Carlisle Pier in 1856. The mid-1850s also saw the completion of the West Pier lighthouse. The railway was connected to Bray in 1856
  • 1871 - National Yacht Club founded
  • 1884 - Dublin Bay Sailing Club founded
  • 1918 - The Mailboat, “The RMS Leinster” sailed out of Dún Laoghaire with 685 people on board. 22 were post office workers sorting the mail; 70 were crew and the vast majority of the passengers were soldiers returning to the battlefields of World War I. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat near the Kish lighthouse killing many of those onboard.
  • 1920 - Kingstown reverted to the name Dún Laoghaire in 1920 and in 1924 the harbour was officially renamed "Dun Laoghaire Harbour"
  • 1944 - a diaphone fog signal was installed at the East Pier
  • 1965 - Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club founded
  • 1968 - The East Pier lighthouse station switched from vapourised paraffin to electricity, and became unmanned. The new candle-power was 226,000
  • 1977- A flying boat landed in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, one of the most unusual visitors
  • 1978 - Irish National Sailing School founded
  • 1934 - saw the Dublin and Kingstown Railway begin operations from their terminus at Westland Row to a terminus at the West Pier which began at the old harbour
  • 2001 - Dun Laoghaire Marina opens with 500 berths
  • 2015 - Ferry services cease bringing to an end a 200-year continuous link with Wales.
  • 2017- Bicentenary celebrations and time capsule laid.
  • 2018 - Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company dissolved, the harbour is transferred into the hands of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

From East pier to West Pier the waterfront clubs are:

  • National Yacht Club. Read latest NYC news here
  • Royal St. George Yacht Club. Read latest RSTGYC news here
  • Royal Irish Yacht Club. Read latest RIYC news here
  • Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. Read latest DMYC news here

 

The umbrella organisation that organises weekly racing in summer and winter on Dublin Bay for all the yacht clubs is Dublin Bay Sailing Club. It has no clubhouse of its own but operates through the clubs with two x Committee vessels and a starters hut on the West Pier. Read the latest DBSC news here.

The sailing community is a key stakeholder in Dún Laoghaire. The clubs attract many visitors from home and abroad and attract major international sailing events to the harbour.

 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Dun Laoghaire's biennial town regatta was started in 2005 as a joint cooperation by the town's major yacht clubs. It was an immediate success and is now in its eighth edition and has become Ireland's biggest sailing event. The combined club's regatta is held in the first week of July.

  • Attracts 500 boats and more from overseas and around the country
  • Four-day championship involving 2,500 sailors with supporting family and friends
  • Economic study carried out by the Irish Marine Federation estimated the economic value of the 2009 Regatta at €2.5 million

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021. More details here

Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Offshore Race

The biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is a 320-miles race down the East coast of Ireland, across the south coast and into Dingle harbour in County Kerry. The latest news on the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race can be found by clicking on the link here. The race is organised by the National Yacht Club.

The 2021 Race will start from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday 9th, June 2021.

Round Ireland Yacht Race

This is a Wicklow Sailing Club race but in 2013 the Garden County Club made an arrangement that sees see entries berthed at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for scrutineering prior to the biennial 704–mile race start off Wicklow harbour. Larger boats have been unable to berth in the confines of Wicklow harbour, a factor WSC believes has restricted the growth of the Round Ireland fleet. 'It means we can now encourage larger boats that have shown an interest in competing but we have been unable to cater for in Wicklow' harbour, WSC Commodore Peter Shearer told Afloat.ie here. The race also holds a pre-ace launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Laser Masters World Championship 2018

  • 301 boats from 25 nations

Laser Radial World Championship 2016

  • 436 competitors from 48 nations

ISAF Youth Worlds 2012

  • The Youth Olympics of Sailing run on behalf of World Sailing in 2012.
  • Two-week event attracting 61 nations, 255 boats, 450 volunteers.
  • Generated 9,000 bed nights and valued at €9 million to the local economy.

The Harbour Police are authorised by the company to police the harbour and to enforce and implement bye-laws within the harbour, and all regulations made by the company in relation to the harbour.

There are four ship/ferry berths in Dun Laoghaire:

  • No 1 berth (East Pier)
  • No 2 berth (east side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 3 berth (west side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 4 berth  (St, Michaels Wharf)

Berthing facilities for smaller craft exist in the town's 800-berth marina and on swinging moorings.

© Afloat 2020