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Offshore investments pay racing dividends

6th May 2008

Fastnet-winning sled Chieftain, renamed Lee Overlay, will take part in the first race of the new RAYC/Lee Overlay Partners offshore schedule this weekend.

The canting-keel Cookson 50 has been bought by Dun Laoghaire sailor Adrian Lee and will be skippered by Kiwi Scott Wilson, providing further evidence that Irish offshore racing is alive and well.

Growing from just a handful of long-distance races sprinkled lightly around the calendar, Ireland's offshore schedule continues to improve and attract higher and higher profile entries.

In conjunction with the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) the Royal Alfred YC/Lee Overlay Partners series is already attracting plenty of entries.

The first race in the RAYC/Lee Overlay Partners series takes place this weekend, a day race to Arklow and back, but eight entries are already in for the signature June event, an overnight race around the Tuskar Rock off Ireland's south-east corner.

The resurgence in offshore racing is down to a concerted effort on the part of committed enthusiasts, beginning with a smattering of coastal races added to club schedules, but now building into a race series in its own right.

While not every boat can commit to something as grand as the Round Ireland, the new series strike the balance between a desire to race offshore and the time pressures of modern living - short, sharp coastal sprints that call on the tactical navigation skills and ability to endure that make offshore racing appealing.

The organisers of the Lee Overlay series are also billing it as the perfect way for crews to build towards the Round Ireland and stretch their offshore muscles.

Adding the ex-Chieftain, last year's Fastnet winner and RAYC boat of the year, to the list of entries is sure to boost the profile of the opener condiserably. We'll have more on this as it develops.

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