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Fleet gathers in Dun Laoghaire

17th June 2008

As the start date for the Round Ireland draws near, much of the fleet is gathering in Dun Laoghaire to undergo final checks and preparation.

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Already the two largest boats in the fleet are in. Ger O'Rourke's Volvo 70, McConnell's Chieftain, sits at the outer corner of the marina, still emblazoned with its Ericsson livery. For anyone who has secretly thought to themselves 'I'd be grand on one of those', a close-up inspection is instructive.

With a carbon construction that looks solid as concrete, and the deckware to match, the VO70 up close resembles an item of American military hardware. Even tethered to the dock, the latent power of this beast is palpable. It sits high in the water like a dinghy, with its hard chines cutting agressive lines along its length.

O'Rourke will join the crew later in the week, with training runs planned for Thursday and Friday in Dublin Bay, before heading south to Wicklow for the Saturday start. O'Rourke has also cancelled the planned official launch of the boat until after the Round Ireland, with preparation time at a premium.

In Berth Number One, the deep-water berth beside the Stena Line ferry terminal, lies the giant 100-ft maxi ICAP Leopard 3. Its 5.5 metre draft and overall length of 90 metres means it cannot physically get into the marina. To see how it dwarfs even the VO70, click here.

A regular in the marina is Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners. The former Chieftain, Lee Overlay is one of Ireland's biggest and highest-spec regular racers, yet is just half the length of its Class Super Zero competitor Leopard.

The remaining Class Super Zero boats have yet to arrive, but will all be inspected in Dun Laoghaire, as will most of the Dun Laoghaire-based entrants. Currently sitting on a cradle in the Royal Irish YC is Slingshot, Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling's J105, a recent arrival from the Solent and the hot favourite for the double-handed class win.

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