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It’s one thing to declare an interest in contesting an up-coming iteration of the biennial 704-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. But it is quite something else to divvy up an entry fee, and sign on the dotted line. But when a gathering of the great and the good assembled in the Wicklow County Council Campus in Rathnew on Monday morning this week to announce that the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on June 22nd was very much going to be a major part of the Irish sailing scene in 2024, there wasn’t one completed entry in existence. Yet Race Organiser and former Wicklow SC Commodore Kyran O’Grady was confident that the official opening of the entry list next day, Tuesday January 29th, would soon see tangible results.

At the launch of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2024 at the Wicklow County Council Campus in Rathnew were (left to right) Michael Nicholson (Director of Service at WCC), Senator Pat Casey, Aoife Flynn Kennedy (Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council), Karen Kissane (Commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club), Barry Kilcline (head of Offshore Ireland at SSE Renewables), Lorraine Gallagher (Director of Services at WCC), Kyran O’Grady (Round Ireland Committee, Wicklow Sailing Club) and Brian Gleeson (Head of Finance, WCC). Photo; Mkchael KellyAt the launch of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2024 at the Wicklow County Council Campus in Rathnew were (left to right) Michael Nicholson (Director of Service at WCC), Senator Pat Casey, Aoife Flynn Kennedy (Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council), Karen Kissane (Commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club), Barry Kilcline (head of Offshore Ireland at SSE Renewables), Lorraine Gallagher (Director of Services at WCC), Kyran O’Grady (Round Ireland Committee, Wicklow Sailing Club) and Brian Gleeson (Head of Finance, WCC). Photo; Mkchael Kelly

How right he was. And it was the Mother-Club it came from, in the form of the first entry being Royal Cork YC’s hype-keen Noel Coleman with his family’s Oyster 37 Blue Oyster. So if the senior club in Ireland – indeed, the senior club in the world - could come up with the first formal entry, how would others among the bigger clubs shape up in supporting this major assertion of Irish sailing identity.

First out of the box – Noel Coleman’s Oyster 37 Blue Oyster (Royal Cork YC) heads the entry list for the 2024 Round Ireland Race. Photo: Robert BatemanFirst out of the box – Noel Coleman’s Oyster 37 Blue Oyster (Royal Cork YC) heads the entry list for the 2024 Round Ireland Race. Photo: Robert Bateman

Well, as it happens, Entry 2 covered many bases, as it is the successful First 50 Checkmate XXV, which is raced by Nigel Biggs in partnership with Dave Cullen, who also happens to be Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, while both add Howth YC to their club affiliations.

 The First 50 Checkmate XX sweeps towards the finish line and victory in the coastal race in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien The First 50 Checkmate XX sweeps towards the finish line and victory in the coastal race in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Thus with just two entries, Wicklow Sailing Cub’s big race had already comfortably included Ireland’s senior yacht club in the RCYC, it had also brought in the premier club with the RIYC, and with that there was also the numerically largest club in HYC, while in addition they’d the active support of the national cruiser-racer organisation through the personal participation of its top honcho.

But fortunately this immediate and enthusiastic involvement of the talent from the heavy metal in the big club lineup does nothing to frighten off entries from smaller clubs. On the contrary, with Wicklow SC itself being smaller than many, sailors from the small clubs feel a special supportive affinity with it, and thereby with the Round Ireland. Thus a notable early entry is from Kilmore Quay Boat Club on the south coast of Wexford in the form of the Mills 36 Prime Suspect, in which the lead partner is the indefatiguable Keith Milller, supported by shipmates Tom O’Connor and Donal McLoughlin.

Prime Suspect from Kilmore Quay is a Mills 36 campaigned by Keith Miller with Tom O’Connor and Donal McLoughlinPrime Suspect from Kilmore Quay is a Mills 36 campaigned by Keith Miller with Tom O’Connor and Donal McLoughlin

The first Scottish entry is interesting on many counts, as Alan Crichton counts the Solway Yacht Club at Kippford on the north shore of the broad and often shallow Solway Firth as the home club for his Sun Fast 3300 Aqua Marine. With Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt of Kinsale doing remarkable things with their home-based Sun Fast 3300 Cinnamon Girl in home waters and a similarly-named sister-ship in Australia, the advent of another 3300 is always of interest, especially when it’s with a boat whose home club has to live with such a large tidal range that he also gives affiliation to the Royal Naval Sailing Association.

Solway YC at Kippford has lovely sailing water on one of Scotland’s few south-facing coasts of any significant length, but the tide does go out a very long waySolway YC at Kippford has lovely sailing water on one of Scotland’s few south-facing coasts of any significant length, but the tide does go out a very long way

Further up the size scale, another entry of special note is Simon Harris’s J/112E J’Ouvert, but as he limits his club affiliation to the RORC, we’ll need further info and time to find his real base. As it is, two of the bigger entries in this first tranche - Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood, and Hiroshi Nakajima’s Sparkman & Stephen 49 Hiro Maru – bringing enough club affiliations with them to cover half the globe.

Senior sailors will remember the younger Michael O’Donnell as a junior who had learnt his sailing in Kinsale before going on to crew with his father on the Oyster 37 Sundowner (a survivor of the 1979 Fastnet Race storm) out of the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

But these days he’s largely-based in the south of England, and is an active participant in the RORC programme with his successful J/121 Darkwood, while his club needs are met by the Royal Yacht Squadron (where he’s on the committee) in Cowes, the Royal Thames YC in London, and the RORC in both locations.

Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 tuning up to speed. You start with the outermost sail, and then work your way back through the other headsails to the main, when it’s time to start all over again.Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 tuning up to speed. You start with the outermost sail, and then work your way back through the other headsails to the main, when it’s time to start all over again.

However, that impressive quiver-full of club links is well-matched by the American entry, Hiroshi Nakajima’s S&S49 Hiro Maru, which first arrived in Europe with the New York YC’s Transatlantic Race to Cowes in 2019. Covid interrupted bits of the planned programme, but the vintage Hiro Maru managed some sailing in Europe and a lot of racing, notably in the Fastnet and the Round Ireland, which she sailed in 2022.

Hiro Maru reaches the finish at the RYS in Cowes in July 2019 after racing TransatlanticHiro Maru reaches the finish at the RYS in Cowes in July 2019 after racing Transatlantic

In it, they won the Maybird Mast trophy for the oldest boat to complete the course. But there was more to it than that, as they place a good 16th overall, well ahead of the next boats in line for the oldest boat award. And then there was a special completeness to it all, with Hiro Maru over-wintering in Crosshaven, for as Darryl Hughes had not commissioned Maybird that year owing to a major house renovation, the classic S&S sloop was able to enhance the Drake’s Pool anchorage by lying to the Tyrrell ketch’s all-seasons mooring.

Owner-skipper Hiroshi Nakajima in the midst of Hiro Maru’s crew in Wicklow after wining the Maybird Mast Trophy in 2022Owner-skipper Hiroshi Nakajima in the midst of Hiro Maru’s crew in Wicklow after wining the Maybird Mast Trophy in 2022

The llst of affiliated clubs that Hiro Maru brings to the Round Ireland is mind-boggling, as they include Stamford YC, Cruising Club of America, Storm Trysail Club, New York YC, Royal Thames YC, and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. But though she intends to sail back to America after the 2024 Round Ireland is completed, the time enjoying the US facilities could be brief enough, as June 2025 will see a West-East Transatlantic Race to Cowes to bring the cream of the American fleet to Europe for the Centenary of both the Fastnet Race and the RORC.

Former contender Eric de Turckheim has indicated that he will be returning to the Round Ireland with his NMD 54 Teasing MachineFormer contender Eric de Turckheim has indicated that he will be returning to the Round Ireland with his NMD 54 Teasing Machine

But meanwhile the movers and shakers in the RORC are putting their full support behind 2024’s Round Ireland Race, as a visit by Kyran O’Grady to the annual RORC awards dinner in December resulted in current Commodore Deborah Fish committing to take part with the Sun Fast 3600 Bellino, outgoing Commodore and Round Ireland veteran James Neville also committed with his Carkeek 45 Ino Noir, and the irrepressible Eric de Turckheim – no stranger to the Wicklow starting line – is on course to be with us with his NMD 54 Teasing Machine.

Summertime in Wicklow, and in a couple of hours the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race will be under way. Photo: W M NixonSummertime in Wicklow, and in a couple of hours the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race will be under way. Photo: W M Nixon

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Only minutes after registration opened at 9 am this morning for the 2024 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race were the first entries received.

Despite the hype over some potent international campaigns, the first boats to register were returning Irish Round Ireland contestants. 

Nigel Biggs and Dave Cullen in the First 50 Checkmate XX from the Royal Irish YC and Howth YC confirmed they will be doing the circuit this time after the disappointment of withdrawing on the eve of the 2022 race due to COVID.

Despite that early Round Ireland setback, there has been no stopping the Biggs/Cullen partnership since, with a number of victories in 2023 at June's Sovereign's Cup and in the offshore class in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta last July. In explaining the formula for the 2023 successes, Biggs told Afloat that the boat was a 'platform for us to enjoy our sailing’.

A second 2024 Round entry this morning is Royal Cork Yacht Club campaigner Noel Coleman in his Oyster 37, Blue Oyster, which was second in IRC Class 4 in the 2022 race.

Simon Harris' J/112E J'Ouvert was the third entry received.

Noel Coleman in his Oyster 37, Blue Oyster Photo: Bob BatemanNoel Coleman in his Oyster 37, Blue Oyster Photo: Bob Bateman

As Afloat reported earlier, with just under five months to the June race start, entries opened for the 2024 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race at 9 am, tying in with this morning's official launch of Ireland's premier offshore race.

Organiser Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC) has set a high target for entries, but as Afloat reported previously, the club has also been quick off the mark to attract some early international entries.

The 2024 edition of the race marks the 22nd running of the biennial offshore sailing event that will start on Saturday, 22nd June 2024, with a hoped-for fleet of some 70 boats.

The race was launched this morning by WSC and sponsors SSE Renewables at County Wicklow's Local Enterprise Office in Rathnew.

Round Ireland entry is open here

Published in Round Ireland
21st June 2023

Piet Vroon 1930-2023

Irish sailing has lost one of its best international friends and loyal supporters with the death at the age of 93 of Piet Vroon, who was the very epitome of the reality that in The Netherlands, we find Europe's leading maritime nation. He pursued his enthusiasm for offshore racing in a succession of state-of-the-art offshore racers - nearly all called Tonnere de Breskens - with the same devoted energy and success that he brought to running a major international shipping business.

A longtime particpant on the RORC circuit and other events of similar calibre, his successes included the overall win in the 2001 Fastnet Race, line honours and the overall win in the 2010 Round Ireland Race, and the RORC overall championship in 2015.

Piet Vroon and his crew after winning the 2015 RORC ChampionshipPiet Vroon and his crew after winning the 2015 RORC Championship

A best friend of the similarly multi-maritime-minded late Denis Doyle of Cork, despite Piet's distinction on the international scene, he remained fiercely loyal to his home port of Breskens. It was very seldom that he
missed participation in the annual regatta there, while Breskens responded by giving him a proper welcome home every time he returned from campaigning, with the pace stepped up when he brought back even more trophies than usual.

To describe Piet Vroon as "life-enhancing" understates the situation. He was keen to the end, and our heartfelt sympathies are with his family, his close friends, and his many shipmates, consoled by the fact that he leaves so many wonderful memories.

WMN

Back in his happy place....Piet Vroon is welcomed back to Breskens after winning the 2001 Fastnet Race overallBack in his happy place....Piet Vroon is welcomed back to Breskens after winning the 2001 Fastnet Race overall

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Eve of race-positive COVID test results has ruled out the much-fancied First 50 Checkmate XX co-skippered by Nigel Biggs and Dave Cullen from tomorrow's 700-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. 

The Howth yacht was the winner of last weekend's 120-mile ISORA off the Dublin coast and on the first weekend of June, the 50-footer chalked up a fifth from eight in IRC Zero at her Irish debut at Wave Regatta in Howth. 

This morning, in her pre-Round Ireland Race predictions Afloat's Mystic Meg had put the – new to Ireland – Checkmate XX at 13/1 to win overall.

Published in Round Ireland
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In these hyper-communicated days, we can all follow developing weather situations on a 24/7 basis using input from many sources. Nevertheless, from time to time it puts things in some sort of snapshot focus to watch the scheduled broadcast TV weather programmes. And while as yet we have never ever heard a telly weather person admit that the forecast they gave the previous day turned out to be complete rubbish, it’s notable that at the moment they’re occasionally confessing they’re somewhat bewildered by the array of possibilities for the coming days.

That we’re in such a situation is emphasised by the amount of sailing of considerable Irish interest that is heading down the line. Although it will be experiencing a completely different weather situation to Irish circumstances, Friday’s Newport-Bermuda Race in this the Centenary Year of the organising Cruising Club of America will be in the thoughts of anyone with an awareness of the global development of offshore and ocean racing.

Nearer home, the 60th Anniversary Ailsa Craig Race from Royal Ulster YC in Bangor starting Friday evening is for an 80-mile there-and-back sprint across the North Channel. The distance may be modest enough, but rough weather conditions over this particular race course can be immodest in the extreme.

SB20s ON LOUGH REE, NATIONAL YC REGATTA ON DUBLIN BAY

Then on Saturday, the SB20s gather on Lough Ree for their two-day Westerns. As Irish top crew of Michael O’Connor, David Taylor & Ed Cook are currently racing the Portuguese Nationals at Cascais, it’s reckoned Andrew Deakin with Sonic Boom is the boat to beat.

In a busy sailing weekend, the SB20s will be back in action – as seen here - on Lough ReeIn a busy sailing weekend, the SB20s will be back in action – as seen here - on Lough Ree

Meanwhile, on Dublin Bay, it being a non-Dun Laoghaire Regatta year, Saturday is Regatta Day at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. Strawberries and cream may not be quite the special treat they were in times past, but if there has been a decent breeze to give some good sport afloat before hitting the social scene ashore, then the day is special.

Pre-start manoeuvres for the inaugural Round Ireland Race from Wicklow in 1980. Photo: W M NixonPre-start manoeuvres for the inaugural Round Ireland Race from Wicklow in 1980. Photo: W M Nixon

And all these events are in addition to the fact that, at 1300 hrs off an already very festive Wicklow, the gun fires to mark the start of the 21st SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race. Even with 2020’s cancellation, we’re looking at 21 stagings of a great race since its foundation in 1980 by Michael Jones of Wicklow Sailing Club. And in the 42 years, since it has deservedly acquired its own rich culture and mythology of seafaring and competition, an extraordinary tapestry of Irish maritime experience.

ROUND IRELAND COUNTDOWN ACCELERATES IN UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER

Thus in the countdown to the race, and in the week of its happening, interests in the wind patterns around our island are running at an exceptional level. Participants afloat, and race followers ashore alike – we all become met experts. Yet at a time when the real official met experts admit to being bewildered, we home-schooled types are left wondering if this is all down to Climate Change, or is the unpredictability of the next few days’ wind and weather just a bit of a fluke which unfortunately coincides with a period when an exceptionally large number of people would appreciate a bit of meteorological precision.

And yet no matter how the winds turn out, a sage observer will generally be able to reduce the favourites to about 50% in what – for 2022’s race – is turning out to be a 45-strong fleet. For the fact is that no matter what the situation is at mid-race, by that time the really hot boats and crews will have got a proper handle on the situation, and when it all finishes, there they are – at the front of the fleet yet again.

In the previous race of 2018, Niall Dowlng’s Baraka GP was back in 23rd overall on CT off the Mayo coast, yet she managed line honours and the overall win by the finish. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienIn the previous race of 2018, Niall Dowling’s Baraka GP was back in 23rd overall on CT off the Mayo coast, yet she managed line honours and the overall win by the finish. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

MOORE MAGIC GETS TO THE FRONT OF THE FLEET

A classic case in point was the 2018 race, when Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka was lying 23rd overall while off the North Mayo Coast. But Baraka had a not-so-secret weapon in the person of international navigator Ian Moore - originally of Carrickfergus – who sussed out what was needed to get Baraka back to Wicklow as quickly as possible as the weather developed in the way he anticipated. And as a result of the Moore Magic, Baraka took line honours and the corrected overall win as well.

Looking to 2022, we have admittedly given a daunting hostage to fortune by saying it’s Rockabill’s turn, particularly when she’s up against boats which have already – like the O’Higgins boat herself - proven themselves in this year’s races, such as RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XX, Andrew Hall’s J/125 Jackknife, the new First 50 Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs & Dave Cullen), and the Sunfast 33000 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy).

Want to know a sure winner? Maritime Mystic Meg can point the way Want to know a sure winner? Maritime Mystic Meg can point the way 

MARITIME MYSTIC MEG PUTS DOWN THE MARKERS

So at this juncture, it’s timely to consider the general predictions of Maritime Mystic Meg, Afloat.ie’s ultimate insight into future developments. This fount of wisdom, which may be as a real as the miasma which does be on the bog, is actually only interested in our sacred round Ireland Race as a means of profitable betting. And while it all may be more refined by Friday night when we’re putting the final touches to this week’s Sailing on Saturday, here are the preliminary odds from Mystic Meg for the overall winner of Corrected Time:

Round Ireland entriesRound Ireland Race entries at June 15

5/1
Rockabill, Aurelia, Darkwood, Nieulargo, Jackknife, Cavatina, Teasing Machine, Checkmate XX, Ino XXX

10/1
Cinnamon Girl, Samatom, Pyxis, YOYO, Bellino, Indian, Phosphorus II, More Mischief, Mojo,

20/1
Luzern eComm U25, Snapshot, Shindig, Artful Dodjer,

30/1
Bijou, Wild Pilgrim, Asgard, Finally, Prime Suspect, Jezebel, SL ENERGIES Groupe Fastwave, Blue Oyster, Sherkin Irish Offshore Sailing, Lynx Wild West Sailing, StateChassis, Elantic, Kite, Peregrine, Ca Va, Fuji, Arthur, Influence, Black Magic, Hiro Maru, KUKA3, L'ESPRIT D'EQUIPE, Green Dragon, Telefonica Black, Pen Duick VI

 The Volvo 70s Telefonica and Green Dragon getting themselves race ready in Dun Laoghaire Marina this week. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien The Volvo 70s Telefonica and Green Dragon getting themselves race ready in Dun Laoghaire Marina this week. Photo: Afloat

Published in Round Ireland
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Kinsale’s top two-handers Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt with the Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl seem to have already put in enough successful sailing in the season of 2022 to fulfil the ambitions of many crews for a whole year. And all that even if now - at mid-June - the Summer itself seems remarkably unenthusiastic about putting in an enduring appearance, whereas a cold and blustery Spring doesn’t realise that it has long out-stayed its welcome.

Back on the 20th May, when the new 240-mile Inishtearaght Race went off from their home port, the two shipmates and their fully-crewed rivals were sailing on what looked like a gloomy March day. And though they found some sunshine off the southwest seaboard while using rock-bound Inishtearaght for the first time as a race turning mark, by the time they got back to Kinsale the murk had closed in again. But the Cinnamon boys scarcely noticed, as they finished second on the water, took a good first on Corrected Time, and rounded out the month of May by becoming the Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month”.

Job done. Cinnamon Girl back in Kinsale after being round the Blaskets, closing in on winning the Inish Tearaght race overall. Photo: Robert BatemanJob done. Cinnamon Girl back in Kinsale after being round the Blaskets, closing in on winning the Inish Tearaght race overall. Photo: Robert Bateman

But they were only getting going, for like all Sunfast 3300 crews, they’re campaigning the high-profile new boat whose public debut was most adversely affected by the pandemic. For sure, Cinnamon Girl and other hyper-keen Cork and Dublin Bay offshore boats did manage some sport with carefully restricted events like the Fastnet 450 during the easings of the lockdown. Yet these were almost under-the-radar happenings, not at all like the hell-for-leather competition you relish when putting a new boat of clearly great potential through her paces.

Thus this coming Saturday’s SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has added appeal, with its sense of the last of the restrictions being thrown to the winds. And for the Cinnamon Girl and boys, this past weekend saw the buildup accelerating, with a record-breaking positioning passage from Kinsale to the East Coast in which they were whizzing along for hour after hour at speeds of 15 to 21 knots, even managing to see a sunset – albeit a rather watery one – as they made speed along the Wicklow coast.

 


(Above) Cinnamon Girl at the weekend, making 15-21 knots on passage from Kinsale to the East Coast

They’re a formidably experienced team. Cian McCarthy – having learned the ropes with Denis Doyle on Moonduster - has raced the Mini Transat. He got fourth in the first leg, but broke the forestay on week one of transatlantic second leg, yet raced on without a forestay for the rest of the crossing - perhaps a first Transatlantic crossing without a forestay. He also won the BT Global Challenge, raced open 40's as well as many Commodores Cup and Admirals Cup, and has five Round Irelands done previously - two of the double-handed.

Sam Hunt is also a Kinsale native, with broad background in dinghies and keelboats. He was the only civilian in the crew on the British Army boat for the last four Round Irelands. Additionally, he’d lots of wins in Match and Team racing, did a 470 Olympic campaign with Gerbil Owens in 2005 - 06, and has also raced with the Mumm 30's on Mammy, and the Melges with Team Barbarians, while logging successful experience in SB20s and 1720s, and racing the legendary Tiamat in IRC and Commodores Cup series.

While this will be Sam’s fifth Round Ireland, it will be his first double-handed, and he and Cian McCarthy seem to be melding as a formidable duo. They’ve optimised their prospects with in-depth input on sails from Nin O’Leary, and now all they need going round Ireland is more of the conditions they experienced this past weekend to made Cinnamon Girl even more of a force to be reckoned with.

Kinsale in the morning, Wicklow sunset in the evening – that’s the sort of passage-making the Sunfast 3300 can achieve when conditions suit.Kinsale in the morning, Wicklow sunset in the evening – that’s the sort of passage-making the Sunfast 3300 can achieve when conditions suit.

Published in Round Ireland

The rescheduled Offshore Racing Academy Weather Routing Lecture will run this Wednesday 15th June 2022 at 7 pm, just two days before the Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

Originally it was envisaged to run this programme focusing solely on Expedition and Adrena, however, with the upcoming Round Ireland Race on the 18th of June it has been decided to run this course with a focus on routings for this race and look at other apps and online programs that can also help you achieve superior performance in the Round Ireland race this year.

Kenny RumballKenny Rumball

Weather routing software to be accurate requires a combination of highly accurate computer-generated information including;

  • Wind Data Models, know as GRIBS
  • Tide and Current information
  • Polars
  • Accuarate Navigational Hazards

Not only will the lecture cover the software, but it is also equally important to discuss the pitfalls of some hardware options! Kenny will reveal the secret solutions that are tried and tested in the professional offshore sailing scene in France.

The seminar is free to those that have already signed up to this lecture in the past and also the lecture on ‘Getting the most from your Offshore Racing’ but the modest cost of €30 will apply to new sign-ups.

To sign up, please follow this link here

Published in INSS

Ireland is among 70 teams from eight different nations that have entered this weekend's Royal Ocean Racing Club Myth of Malham Race.

Irish crews include Michael O'Donnells's team on the J121 Darkwood that are now officially entered for the Round Ireland Race in just over two weeks' time. 

As regular Afloat readers know, O'Donnell is sailing with Michael Boyd, Kenny Rumball, and a crew some of Ireland's top offshore sailors in the 700-miler from Wicklow. The crew first raced this season on Darkwood for last month's Cervantes Trophy. 

Also on Myth of Malham duty this weekend is Dublin Bay's Paul Bradley who swaps his berth on the Cruisers One Mills 33 Raptor for the somewhat larger V70 Telefonica Black, pictured below.

The first start is at 1300 BST from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line on Thursday 02 June.

The course mirrors the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, taking the fleet around notable headlands with complex tides, including Portland Bill and Start Point. The Eddystone Lighthouse, nine miles off the Cornish Coast, is the turning point for the 230-mile race with a finish just outside the Solent. This weekend, celebrations will take place all over the United Kingdom for Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. After IRC time correction, class winners and the overall winner of the Myth of Malham, will have their own cause for celebration.

IRC SZ & Zero

Lance Shepherd's Volvo 70 Telefonica Black will be making its first Squadron Line start for the RORC Season's Points Championship and on paper the pro-am crew have the fastest IRC rated boat. However, Racing in IRC Zero, the favourites for Line Honours must include the long-awaited debut for the Swedish CF-520 Rán 8. Niklas Zennström's Rán Racing team returns to offshore racing with the RORC with a stunning new design. RORC Commodore James Neville will be racing his HH42 INO XXX , a solid performance in the Myth of Malham will put INO XXX into the season lead for IRC Zero. VME Racing's CM60 Venomous is the largest boat in IRC Zero, skippered by James Gair.

IRC One

Jean-Eudes Renier & Rob Bottomley's MAT12 Sailplane and Michael O'Donnell's J/121 Darkwood with a top Irish crew, will both be in action. Both teams are challenging for the season lead in class. Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader returns to racing in the UK after a great performance in the RORC Caribbean 600. In form teams in IRC One include Astrid de Vin's Dutch JPK 1180 Il Corvo, overall winner of the North Sea Race, and Derek Shakespeare's J/122 Bulldog, class winner for the de Guingand Bowl Race. Four British First 40s will be in action including Ronan Banim's Galahad Of Cowes, the London Corinthian Sailing Club's Tango and two entries from Hamble based race training school, Sailing Logic: Lancelot II and Arthur.

Published in RORC
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Two top UK-based yachts expected to enter June's Round Ireland Race scored significant wins in the UK’s offshore season opener in a race across the English Channel on Saturday.

It's a weekend result that raises the stakes for overall honours in the biennial Irish ocean classic that gets underway in a little over six weeks' time with a quality fleet of more than 40.

The first race of the domestic season for the RORC Season’s Points Championship was a tricky light airs 100-mile dash across the English Channel to Le Havre. RORC Commodore James Neville, racing HH42 INO XXX was the standout performer scoring a hat-trick of wins: The Cervantes Trophy for first overall after IRC time correction, race line honours, and IRC Zero. 

The Cowes boat has declared for June 18s significantly longer 700-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race and with the Cervantes Trophy in the bag, Neville is likely to be very much in contention for the Wicklow race that includes quality ISORA, RORC, Class 40 and Volvo 70 yachts.

Yet to enter the Round Ireland Race but sailing with a strong Irish crew for Saturday's fixture, Michael O'Donnell’s UK-based J/121 Darkwood was second overall and the winner of IRC One.

As Afloat reported previously, Dubliner O'Donnell was joined for the race to France by Irish offshore sailors Kenny Rumball, Michael Boyd, Barry Hurley, and Conor Kinsella.

The Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points ChampionshipThe Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, skippered by Henry Foster was the winner of IRC Two.

Tim Goodhew & Kelvin Matthews racing Sun Fast 3200 Cora had a superb race, taking third overall, and winning IRC Three and IRC Two-Handed.

The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British SoldierThe Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier Photo: Rick Tomlinson

“It was hard work getting out of the Solent in light shifty conditions,” commented James Neville. “Taking a more easterly line offshore worked well for us, staying in better pressure, and making sure we weren’t swept west on the tide. The crew did a great job concentrating in the cold air. The reaching conditions really suited our four-sail set with the Fro, jib, staysail and main all in the air.”

After the finish of the race RORC racing teams arriving at Société des Regatés du Havre, received nothing short of a spectacular welcome with a carnival atmosphere laid on by the oldest yacht club in France, including a dancing girls cabaret and a sumptuous dinner at the renowned restaurant.

The Cervantes Trophy Race is part of the 2022 RORC Season’s Points Championship, the world's largest offshore racing series comprising of 16 testing races. Every race has its own coveted prize for the overall winner and famous trophies for IRC class honours. The fifth race of the championship is the De Guingand Bowl Race, which is scheduled to start on Saturday 14th May from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line with an overnight race in the Solent and adjacent waters.

Additional race report by Louay Habib

Published in RORC
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Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore James Neville has confirmed he will be back in Irish waters again this season and racing his Solent-based HH42 INO XXX in June's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race.

As Afloat reported earlier, Neville and his crew embark on their first offshore since the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race this weekend at the season opener to France for the Cervantes Trophy.

RORC Commodore James Neville Photo: Courtesy RORCRORC Commodore James Neville at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Courtesy RORC

“We are excited to get back racing, it has been a long break, but we have had time to focus on this year,” Neville said. “We will compete in the RORC series including the Round Ireland Race and culminating inshore with the IRC Europeans in Breskens.

The Hudson/Hakes built 42’, a Judel/Vrolijk design, and took line honours and first place in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race IRC One Class.

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