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Yesterday, US businessman and life long-sailor and entrant in tomorrow's Round Ireland Race, George David, met one of the men who saved his life off the Cork coast five years ago.

George’s 100 foot yacht, Rambler 100, capsized during the 2011 Fastnet Race. See photos of Rambler100's capsize here

George and seven other of the 21 crew members were hurtled overboard, where they remained stranded in freezing waters for over three hours.

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US businessman and life long-sailor, George David, pictured right with Pat Collins, one of the Baltimore lifeboat crew, who saved his life after his yacht capsized during the 2011 Fastnet Race.

Following a dramatic air and sea rescue by the Baltimore RNLI and the Irish Coastguard, George vowed that he would one day return to Ireland to compete in the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race as a tribute to the people of Ireland.

He has come good on his promise and has arrived ahead of Saturday’s race start from Wicklow Bay with his latest racing boat, Rambler 88.

George joined the hundreds of crew from the record 64-strong Volvo Round Ireland fleet for a special welcome reception in Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Irish Yacht Club on Thursday evening.

He received a hero’s welcome, but remained philosophical about his experience:

“When you’re in trouble it is what it is. We had 21 people sailing and 21 people survived. We think about these things intellectually. It was very important that the entire team was amazingly calm in the face of adversity.”

Pat Collins was one of the Baltimore lifeboat team who rescued George and his crew. He recalled the difficulty in locating Rambler amid the foggy conditions on the evening: “Everything happened so fast. We were getting no response from Rambler. Five of the crew had drifted away and had spent hours in the water. The outcome could have been very different.”

George aboard Rambler is a strong contender to break the Volvo Round Ireland Race record of two days, 17 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds which was achieved by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 in 2008.

However George says that after many years in business he has learned to “under-promise and out-perform.”
“I have good expectations but actuals always exceed expectations. I would rather look back at a successful race than to promise something that might or might not happen. But I think we’re ready”

Race organiser Theo Phelan said George’s decision to return to Ireland for the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland is a huge honour for the race and for the people of Ireland.
“The efforts of the Irish rescue services in locating and bringing to safety George and his crew after three hours in the water, is a matter which raised his interest in finding a suitable offshore event for a return to the country for which he has enormous regard and appreciation.”


Published in Round Ireland
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Today sees the start off the Wicklow Pierheads of largest and most varied fleet in the 36-year history of the biennial Round Ireland Race from, which in its 19th edition takes on board sponsors Volvo Car Ireland for the first time. The fleet ranges in size from a trio of boats around the 31ft to 32ft band, right up to the 88ft–Rambler, with the three exceptional trimarans of the MOD 70 class next in size. But while attention will inevitably focus on the super-machines at the top end of the fleet, many of those taking part are club sailors from Ireland and overseas, racing standard craft which have only been modified where necessary to comply with the strict R0RC regulations which a race of this calibre requires. As well, the re-birth of local offshore racing in Irish waters is well-reflected with the presence of boats which have been giving a very good showing of themselves in weekend passage races, while boats which performed well in both last year’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June and the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in August are also very much in contention. W M Nixon gives his take on the mood of the moment, and shares a few pointers for possible top performers.

The international sailing superstars who have come here for the Volvo Round Ireland Race will have experienced many kinds of sailing weather - much of it glamorously and spectacularly sunny stuff - during their hectic careers afloat. But by the time the super-fast leaders are approaching the Wicklow finish line in the early days of next week, they’ll have been able to savour just about everything the Irish climate throws at us, summer and winter……

With most of the top boats assembling as pre-arranged within the ambit of the Royal Irish Yacht Club through this past week, they’ll have shared with the Irish people an almost freakish drop in the temperature as the low pressure area over England, which was in turn sending even worse weather into France for the European Football Cup, began to bring to us here in the Emerald Isle a wet and windy northerly airstream of quite remarkable coldness.

Thursday June 16th – Bloomsday by happy accident – was selected for the evening in which we all could get to know the legends of sailing at an evening reception at the Royal Irish. When the date was being set, you can so easily imagine the organisers visualising a balmy summer evening, with the scene augmented by the DBSC fleet returning to port from their regular Thursday fixture, while on the waterfront terrace of the elegant old yacht club, people could stroll in their summer finery – perhaps we’d even have a Bloomsday veteran or two still properly garbed – and it would be just such a perfect June evening.

But things happened otherwise. Within the already cold northerly airstream, through Thursday a small but always measurable balloon of hyper-cold air between 9 and 11 degrees appeared at the north end of Ireland’s east coast. It spent the day moving southward, remaining remarkably intact in size, and by party time on Thursday at the RIYC it was sitting plumb over Dun Laoghaire, with the temperature at its cold heart now persistently down at 9 degrees.

One of the favourites. Alan Hannon’s clean-lined Reichel-Pugh 45 Katsu in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday evening. Photo: W M Nixon

But anyone who reckons that such a situation would be the ultimate party pooper just doesn’t get it with the kind of people who do the round Ireland, and particularly those who come a long way to take part. They had themselves a ball, they had themselves a blast, and there more were twists and turns to the potential of the Dun Laoghaire-Dublin setup that even the locals would now of.

For instance Brian Thompson, sailing master of Lloyd Thornburg’s all-conquering MOD 70 Phaedo 3, is up to speed on matters Irish, having been a crew-member when Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota established the Ireland circuit record of 1993 which stood for 22 years. So on Thursday night when he heard it was Bloomsday and that that Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man was on at the Pavilion Theatre just across the road, he showed his face for just long enough to be polite at the party in the yacht club, and then skedaddled across the road for a night of high culture.

Meanwhile, RORC Commodore and longtime RIYC member Michael Boyd was settling in very well in the midst of this throng in his home club, working the room and savouring the moment, for nearby on the pontoon was the First 44.7 Lisa which he’ll be skippering round Ireland. He already won the race in 1996 with the J/35 Big Ears, but for the 2016 race he definitely has the more comfortable boat with all mod cons.

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The Volvo Round Ireland fleet in stopover mode at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire. In the foreground are Michael Boyd’s First 44.7 Lisa, and Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI. Photo: W M Nixon

So when it was mentioned that the start of the race at Wicklow is exquisitely timed to exactly match the kick-off in the European Cup’s Ireland-Belgium match in Bordeaux, it didn’t take a feather out of the Commodore, as he cheerfully accepting that the first two hours of the race would be a little slow for Lisa “because only the helmsman will be on deck, the rest of us will be below watching the match”.

His brother Paddy, home from Canada and almost straight into the Round Ireland, will be sailing with Michael together with a formidable crew which incudes the likes of Barry Hurley and Tim Greenwood, so with Lisa well in the frame in the RORC points table, we can be sure that the points weighting of 1.4 which the Round Ireland provides will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Nevertheless the idea of watching football matches on a yacht in mid-race just wouldn’t go away, and Paddy recalled the race of 1994 which he did with Mark Mansfield as skipper aboard Brian Buchanan’s Frers 49 Hesperia (overall winner in 1988 with Dickie Gomes as skipper), the boat having become AIB for the duration of the race.

As it happened, that duration wasn’t very long. On the Saturday night they were pacing nicely with Moonduster with the Tuskar astern, both boats turning pleasantly to windward in classic Frers style in abut 15 knots of wind, and all well with the world with the watch off duty (and some of the watch on duty) glued to a little screen in the saloon, where Ireland could be seen playing Italy in the World Cup in the US.

Ireland scored a goal…... From the depths of AIB/Hesperia’s saloon, there erupted a mighty road of approval. And the mast fell down. Just like that. For no clear reason. This has led Paddy to develop a theory that just as an opera singer can shatter a wine glass with a particularly note, so the wild shout of Irish approval for a goal score can bring down a perfectly-tuned mast.

When you’re getting theories like that being learnedly discussed, you get the gist of the party, but there was much more to it than that. Every so often a blast of cold air would erupt into the clubhouse as some new international crew from some boat of legend swept into the party, and I have to tell you that top modern sailors are getting very tall. Not beanpole tall, either. Just big strong tall – maybe they have special breeding programmes to improve the line in France and the US, which is where most of them seem to have originated.

Thus it says much about the size and presence of George David of Rambler 88 that he still stood out in the midst of this crowd of sailing giants in the rather august setting of the RIYC’s stately rooms. He is some piece of work. It’s unlikely he’ll ever apply for the free bus pass for which he qualified a year or two ago, but if Wall Street was ever blown away, he could turn a bob or two as a stand-up comedian. Another option would be a writing a book abut his personal fitness regime, if he has one, for although he’s a big fellow he moves with the grace and ease of someone half his age. And while he’s at that stage in life when most us look at the world through a network of veins, his eyes are as clear as an Optrex ad.

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Modern building, very modern boat – Rambler 88 in her Dun Laoghaire berth at the Ferry Terminal. Photo: W M Nixon

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George David, owner-skipper of Rambler 88

As to the business of Rambler 88 breaking the Leopard (Mike Slade) Round Ireland course record of 65 hours from 2008, George David reckons it’s very much on the cards. 2008 was a messy race, with more wind than was useful, and Leopard’s average was only 10.8 knots. But for 2016, Rambler’s skipper figures that if they can make a reasonably efficient job of the uphill sailing to get to the Fastnet, they’ll be looking to average 25 knots along the western seaboard and north coast in strong sou’west to west breezes, and there’s even a chance than once they get near the Irish Sea, the wind will have veered a little more to give them a slant down to Wicklow.

“In most of our races, we expect an average of 13 to 15 knots, and though this can be a difficult course, it’s looking quite good at the moment”. With the Rambler 88 crew including sailors of the calibre of America’s Cup winning skipper Brad Butterworth and Andrew Cape on board, it is indeed looking good.

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Musandam-Oman in record-breaking form

While Rambler is odds-on to be the first mono-hull to finish, it’s highly likely the oldest boat in the race, the beautifully-restored 43ft Tyrrell ketch of 1937 vintage, Darryl Hughes’ Maybird, will finish last on the water. He found himself in Dun Laoghaire marina berthed just ahead of Sidney Gavignet’s MOD 70 Musandam-Oman, and in the whirl of people up in the clubhouse, the Number One aboard Musandam, Derrynane’s favorite sailor Damian Foxall was relaxed in one of those constantly changing groups which at one stage included Darryl Hughes and northern sailing journalist Betty Armstrong, who is one of the few sailing journalists who has ever actually helmed a MOD 70.

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Maybird looking tiny amongst assorted exotica in Dun Laoghaire Marina on Thursday evening. Yet once upon a time in the late 1940s, her sister-ship Aideen (below right) was one of the biggest yachts about the place.

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Normally journos are padded up with safety gear like a sack of potatoes on the Mod 70s, for as we learned when one of them capsized in Dublin Bay in 2012, they’re so wide it’s dangerous to fall off them (the MOD 70s, that is…). But out in Valencia, when Betty was the journalist on board Musandam Oman for an inshore race, and she’d found herself a safe spot on the forward netting. Bur there was a straightforward sail back to the harbour, and Damian made his way forward and asked her back to the cockpit, and when she was there, he asked her would she like to helm: “There’s nothing to it”, said he.

So there was Mrs Armstrong of Bangor in County Down helming this wonderful machine at a very smooth 25–knots, and as she says: “Do you know what, there really was nothing to it. The boat was going so smoothly and there was so little feel in the helm that it was only the speedometer which could persuade me I was steering a sailing boat at 25 knots”.

In today’s Volvo Round Ireland 2016 race. they’ll be expecting more than 25 knots and conditions way beyond the “very smooth” once the big multihulls get the Fastnet astern and start to get a bit of north in their course. The weather pattern has moved on a bit from the conditions we were anticipating here on Wednesday, when there was talk of nor’easters at the start giving way to sou’westers by tonight. It now looks as though the ridge which was expected to cross Ireland during today will be slightly earlier than expected, and losing strength in its push to the northeast, thus at start time the underlying wind at Wicklow will be a slack nor’wester

Very soon, however, the weather will be dominated by a big wet low out in the Atlantic, though some comfort can be taken from the fact that pressure won’t become excessively low over Ireland. But the isobars will be close enough together to provide freshening breezes, and well before midnight tonight, the sou’westers will be established at the Tuskar, becoming strong during tomorrow all along the South and West coasts.

Thus getting to the turn in the Fastnet Rock/Mizen Head area is crucial (as it always is), but this year it’s especially the case. And of course while the MOD 70s and Rambler will be looking to have it ticked off well before noon tomorrow, anything much smaller will inevitably be facing a slugging match all the way from somehere north of the Tuskar Rock right down to Ireland’s great southwest capes.


With a fleet of 64 boats, it’s impossible to give a complete form guide, so we’ll take ten from the body of the fleet which provide the winning combination of good all-round boats with able crew:

KATSOU (Alan Hannon, RORC & RUYC) This Reichel-Pugh 45 attracted much favourable interested in one of the premier berths at the RIYC on Thursday night, and rightly so. She comes with a good track record, and for this race she has a formidable crew built around the very best of the northwest from Lough Swilly YC, with Richie Fearon navigating (he navigated the winner Tanit in 2014) the winning Clipper Race Skipper Sean McCarter (he also was awarded the Cruising Club of America Rod Stephens Trophy for seamanship last year after successfully dealing with a man overboard in the North Pacific), and also Diarmaid MacAuley, one of the north’s best offshore helms.

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Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly YC receives the Cruising Club of America Roderick Stephens Award from CCA Commodore Tad Lhamon in New York, March 2015. McCarter will be sailing on Katsu during the Volvo Round Ireland Race

LISA (Michael Boyd, RORC & RYC). RORC Commodore Boyd has form in the round Ireland, he won in 1986, and Lisa certainly has form this year in beingin the frame in the RORC Championship. A First 44.7, she should cope well with the expected conditions.

EURO CAR PARKS (Dave Cullen, HYC). Also known as the Kelly family’s J/109 Storm, she has been chartered for this race by World Half Ton Classics Champion Dave Cullen and he has assembled a crew of six champions (himself included) from last weekends ICRA Nats. When you’ve the likes of Mark Mansfield, Maurice “Prof” O’Connell and Johnny Murphy sharing boat space, then good results are expected.

MOJITO (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) They’d a good second in last year’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, they’re one of the most consistent J/109s around, and they draw their crew from both sides of the Irish Sea in the best traditions of ISORA.

ROCKABILL VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC). Still something of an unknown force in her own right, Rockabill VI has the flawless pedigree of being a JPK 10.80 (Fastnet Race winner, Hobart Race class winner etc etc), so as they settle in the O’Higgins crew should move up the rankings

TEASING MACHINE (Eric de Turckheim, France). One of the world’s most sporting offshore racers, this 13m Archambault hs a go at everything from the Commodore’s Cup to the Sydney-Hobart, with a Fastnet thrown in for good measure. She’s always in the frame, she’s an amazing boat, and she and her crew will give of their best.

DESPERADO OF COWES (Richard Loftus, RYS) This vintage Swan 65 would be a good heavy weather selection. And she has a surprisingly competitive rating. She’ll be able to keep going with her crew in relative comfort while smaller craft are bouncing around with crew fatigue becoming a major problem.

AURELIA (Chris & Patanne Power Smith, RStGYC). The Power Smith’s J/122 is the Steady Eddy of the Dun Laoghaire fleet. She was the top-placed non-J/109 in last year’s Dun Laoghaire-Dingle in a race which might have been designed with the J/109 in mind, she has already won ISORA’s biggest race this year, and in all she is a boat which exudes competence.

BAM! (Conor Fogerty, HYC) Athough the Sunfast 3600 Bam! won her class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February, with her owner subsequently sailing her single-handed from the Caribbean to the Azores when homeward bound, she is not a boat which is suited to the restrictive Irish Sea courses. But the wide open spaces of the Atlantic with winds abaft the beam will enable her to fly – it’s just getting down to the Fastnet that will be the hard bit.

CAVATINA (Ian Hickey, RCYC) The veteran Noray 38 Cavatina is the multiple Round Ireland winner most associated with Eric Lisson, but with her low rating and renowned staying power, if a flat patch happens to slow the whole fleet back, she’s always there, ready to pounce. While it seems unlikely this year, people have got Cavatina’s results prediction wrong before now.

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Ian Hickey’s Cavatina (RCYC) off Wicklow Head. She probably holds the record for most Round Ireland races sailed

The Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 with its record fleet has the task of prediction made more complicated by the many sub-divisions, one of the busiest being the Open 40 Class which is within IRC, yet also races on its own, and for good measure some of the boats are fully-crewed while others are in the Two-Handed Division.

One of the most interesting of the latter is Roaring Forty 2, doing this race as Visit Brussels under the command of Belgian skipper Michael Kleinjans, who also happens to be the holder of the Round Ireland Single-Handed Record, which you can’t really compete for any more, as single-handed record sailing is now officially illegal in Irish waters. But it may well be that Kleinjans and his crew Ian Wittevrongel will set a two-handed Round Ireland Record in this race which will be worthy of future attention.

Michael Kleinjens  Open 40 11Michael Kleinjens’ Open 40 Visit Brussels will be a favourite for line honours in the two-handed division. She is seen here zapping between two Figaro Solos

Meanwhile, we’ll be carrying regular updates and comment on Afloat,ie HERE as the race progresses, based on the Race Tracker. We very much hope that by the time the time the prize-giving comes round in Wicklow on Friday evening, we’ll have mentioned every boat in the fleet at least once. But now, after partying on Thursday night (and a very good party it was too), there’s work to be done today, both off Wicklow and southward down the coast.

And in the end, it will all be in honour of the memory of the great Denis Doyle and his crew for their beautiful 1984 win and course record.

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Denis Doyle and his crew aboard Moonduster after their great win in 1984. This photo was taken through glass in Wicklow SC, where it is on display in the Round Ireland Room. Has anyone any idea where the original neg might be sourced?

Published in W M Nixon

Following its arrival into Dun Laoghaire on Monday evening, maxi Round Ireland race entry Rambler 88 has been moored on St. Michael's Wharf, close to the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The special berth was arranged because the 23–tonne yacht's keel is nearly 20–feet deep, meaning she is just too big to go alongside the Dublin hosts at the Royal Irish Yacht Club or the town marina, both of which are currently catering for nearly half of the 65–boat Round Ireland fleet.

The boat is owned by American businessman George David, who made headlines off the Irish coast five years ago when an earlier boat Rambler 100 capsized off the Fastnet rock in August 2011. 

His new boat has a powerful hull shape with a giant chine running the full extent of the hull and similarly a hull-deck chamfer running the length of the hull, it also has a substantial bowsprit. The boat has a canting keel and there is a VO70-style cuddy over the companionway. Her all carbon 135-foot mast can be seen from afar, towering over other yachts in the harbour.

Rambler 88's results last season included; Voiles de St Barths – overall winner, RORC Caribbean 600 – line honours winner (3rd overall), Rolex Middle Sea Race – line honours winner (7th overall) and the Rolex Sydney-Hobart – 3rd over the line.

According to website, The Daily Sail, The 88–ft long boat is too big to be called a 'Mini Maxi' and is also not a maximum length 'maxi' (ie 100ft) either. 

The exotic yacht that has competed all over the world, has already drawn many admiring glances from local boats competing in last night's DBSC races.


LOA 27.00m/88ft 7in

Beam 7.10m/23ft 4in

Draught 6.00m/19ft 8in

Mast height 41.47m/135ft 10in


(lightship) 22,890kg/50,463lb

Sail area:

upwind 512/638m2/5,511/6,687ft2

downwind 980m2/10,548ft2

mainsail 318m2/4,423ft2

IRC rating 1.88

Designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian Yacht Design

Built by New England Boatworks, RI, USA

Mast/boom Southern Spars

More on this extraordinary boat from Yachting World here

Published in Round Ireland

An early arrival for the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland race arrived under bare poles and engine into Dublin Bay this morning, eight days ahead of the start off Wicklow on Saturday, June 18th.

US sailor, Lloyd Thornburg brought his MOD 70 Phaedo 3 into Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning following an incredibly successful run of world records and regatta wins. The world-famous superfast multihull, capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots, has already set multiple speed records on the international circuit. Double Volvo Ocean Race winner Justin Slattery will join Thornburg for the Irish classic. The 70–footer has undergone a new paint job for the Irish race. 

In addition,  the Sultanate of Oman is sending its flagship trimaran, the Mod 70 Musandam-Oman Sail, to compete in this year’s race and Kerry offshore champ Damian Foxall will be on board.  A third trimaran the Mod 70 Concise Ten from the UK is also contesting the race, the biggest ever race since the Round Ireland was founded in 1980 with a record 65 entrants from small private sailing boats right up to the massive trimarans.

Published in Round Ireland

The world’s senior offshore racing club has been pulling out all the stops to boost the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland race which starts from Wicklow on Saturday June 18th, and Race Organiser Theo Phelan of Wicklow Sailing Club feels that the level of background support from this premier organisation deserves to be more widely known and enthusiastically acknowledged writes W M Nixon.

“I’m not sure that the race would have survived at all” says Phelan, “were it not for the continuing very positive support from the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The reality is that we’re a small rural sailing club, though with a great course to be raced. But in promoting this challenging event on this great course, we’re definitely competing with large organisations in the major league when trying to attract entries”.

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Theo Phelan, organiser of the Volvo Round Ireland Race

“Yet since 1982 when Denis Doyle first gave the race international credibility by entering Moonduster, the RORC has included the Round Ireland in its programme. However, the recession hit the race of 2012 and entries fell back to just 36 boats, I knew we were facing a poissible wipe out. So I went to London after 2012's race and had a serious conversation with RORC CEO Eddie Warden–Owen about what we might do to make the event more attractive to an international fleet".

“As everyone will know, there’s no way the start is going to be staged anywhere other than at Wicklow. However, we ran the idea of a link–up past the Dun Laoghaire clubs, and in the end it was the Royal Irish Yacht Club which went most enthusiastically with the idea of supporting us in the event. It became possible to propose that we could now offer the RIYC as an associate pre-race reception club to accommodate larger boats".

To an outside observer, it seems that the RORC were testing the mettle of the Wicklow team during the 2014 event, for although it also attracted only 36 starters, there was no doubting Wicklow’s uncrushable determination to keep this particular show on the road. And once it was over, it became clear that in future the RORC support would be even more positive than it had been before.

Admittedly Wicklow now had an avid supporter at the heart of things, as 1996’s Round Ireland winner Michael Boyd of the RIYC was steadily rising through the officer ranks in the RORC, such that in December 2014 he became Commodore. Be that as it may, a plan of campaign to boost the Round Ireland was already being developed, and this went full ahead with the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015, when the almost-400 information packs being given out to each competing boat included a flyer for the Round Ireland 2016.

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Michael Boyd, Commodore RORC, and Eddie Warden-Owen, CEO

On top of that, both Theo Phelan and Michael Ryan (the Wicklow-based campaigner of Monster Project, line honours winner in the 2014 Round Ireland) were invited to be in Plymouth as guests of the RORC for the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race prize-giving on Friday 21st August 2015, and they came away inspired both by the event, and by the level of interest already being shown in the Round Ireland Race 2016, not least because it was being shouted from the rooftops that it carried a points weighting of 1.4 for the coveted RORC Championship.

Most Irish sailors will be well aware of all that has happened since. In the Autumn, George David confirmed that he would indeed be racing round Ireland in 2016 in his new Rambler 88. And then the Wicklow committee confirmed that the event would also be open to multi-hulls. This was likewise an occurrence of international interest, for almost immediately it seemed that we had three of the wonderful MOD 70s lining up to take part, and it is part of a natural and inevitable progression that our own international sailing superstars should be aboard them, with Damian Foxall on Musandam-Oman sail and Justin Slattery on Phaedo 3.

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Phaedo 3 streaks past the Needles Lighthouse

Then came the announcement that Volvo Cars Ireland were aboard as sponsors, while at the same time the interest from within Ireland was much more positive than it had been for six years. Thus in January Theo Phelan felt sufficiently confident to predict that entries would be between the 36 and 50 marks, and he and his team were making their management arrangements accordingly.

But he had underestimated the beneficial effects of having the RORC machine at full power supporting the event. As the Spring of 2016 came upon us, the magic 60 mark was passed. This would have presented logistical and administrative difficulties were it not for the complete commitment and experience which the RORC team brought with their support for the event.

“At a practical level” reports Theo Phelan, “they’ve organised it so that sixteen boats which are based in the main sailing centres in the south of England are now in process of receiving their mandatory inspections before they come to Ireland. This means that with final entries confirmed at 64 boats, in Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire we’ll only have to deal with 48 boats in that crucial count-down and inspection period, which is within the parameters we’d originally envisaged back in January”.

“But it’s at a personal level that the RORC support is something which is even more helpful. Nothing is too much trouble for them, and CEO Eddie Warden-Owen, International Racing Manager Nick Elliott, his deputy James Bremridge, and the RORC’s hugely experienced Race Management Consultant Janet Grosvenor are always readily available, while Nick Elliott himself will be in Wicklow for the race.”

“The amount of documentation and certification which is now required would smother us here in Wicklow, but the RORC have taken on the basic work in administering all of that, while being meticulous in ensuring that any decision required is referred back to us here in Ireland”.

The system is in place and working well, so now we can stand back and consider the biggest-ever race round Ireland as a major sporting event to be analysed in increasing detail in the days ahead. Of the 65 probable entries of a fortnight ago, only one has been withdrawn - the Open 60 Artemis being campaigned by northern sailor Mikey Ferguson.

But the north will still be strongly represented. Mr Seven Minutes is going again. It was navigator Richie Fearon of Lough Swilly Yacht Club who – in 2014’s race – persuaded his Scottish skipper Richard Harris on the Sydney 36 Tanit to hold offshore for the final 20 miles to the finish, thereby beating the Shanahan family with their J/109 Ruth by just seven minutes for the overall win.

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One for a flutter…..with that Richie Fearon tactical expertise available, Katsu could be one of the favourites on June 18th at Wicklow

This time round, Richie Fearon is navigating Katsu from Scotland, the Reichel-Pugh 45 entered by Alan Hannon who sails in many waters, so he lists the RORC as his club. As for 2014’s handsome winner Tan It, she is now owned by Robert Floate of the Isle of Man, and races round the bigger island of Ireland again on June 18th.

They’ll be hoping for a little more breeze than she and the rest of the fleet experienced in last Friday’s ISORA Dun Laoghaire to Douglas Race. Even the winner, round Ireland entrant Aurelia, the J/122 owned by Chris and Patanne Power Smith of RStGYC, could manage an average speed of no better than 4.905 knots. Yet that put her ahead of Andrew Hall’s J/125 Jackknife from Pwllheli in second and Derek Martin’s First 44.7 Lively Lady (RIYC) in third. But with the winner only achieving a speed like that, we’d best draw a veil over the average knottage achieved by the many other round Ireland contenders taking part in the race to the Isle of Man, and look forward with hope for better breezes on June 18th.

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There’s nothing quite like a Round Ireland start at Wicklow, and this one for the 2014 race has all the ingredients, with Line Honours Winner Monster Project in the centre, and overall winner Tanit right foreground

Published in Round Ireland

A recrod breaking trimaran has added Ireland's double Volvo Ocean Race winner Justin Slattery to its crew for Volvo Round Ireland Race in just over a fortnight's time.

The MOD 70 Trimaran Phaedo 3 competes in the 700–miler  in just over a fortnight  and the tri has been getting some pre–race attention at Venture Keys in Cowes on the Isle of Wight being given some attention. She was re-launched on the weekend with a new design of vinyl wrap. The boat will leave Cowes in a few days to head to Dun Laoghaire for the start of the Round Ireland Race off Wicklow on Saturday, June 18. The crew onboard for the race will be: Lloyd Thornburg, Brian Thompson, Miles Seddon, Rob Greenhalgh, Pete Cumming, Sam Godchild, Paul Allen and new crew member for the race Slattery.


Published in Round Ireland

Despite light conditions off Sicily, George David and the crew of his racing maxi Rambler 88 succeeded in not only demolishing the record for this year’s Volcano Race, but also won line honours and the overall prize based on corrected time: The coveted ‘triple crown’. The American maxi will be in Irish waters in less than a month for the coveted Volvo Round Ireland Race trophy that start off Wicklow on June 18th. 

Organised by the International Maxi Association in conjunction with the Yacht Club Gaeta and hosted by the Base Nautica Flavio Gioia, the Volcano Race has an exceptional course: South down the west coast of Italy, from Gaeta, across the Tyrrhenian Sea. It then leaves to port the Aeolian Islands - Alicudi, Vulcano itself and finally Stromboli, one of Europe’s few active volcanos – to the northeast of Sicily before returning, past the Sorrento peninsula, Capri and Naples, to Gaeta. The event is the second of four events in the IMA’s inaugural Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

For this sixth edition of the Volcano Race, the Maxis sailed a 398 mile course. Setting off on Wednesday, Rambler 88 finished at 03:25:18 CET Friday in a time of 1 day, 14 hours and 20 minutes. This beat the previous record set in 2015 by Igor Simčič’s 100ft European-flagged maxi Esimit Europa 2 by a massive six hours and 42 minutes.

Rambler 88’s record time came as a shock as a zone of high pressure had been long forecast as lying over the Aeolian Islands, with conditions expected to turn wind-less in this area. George David explained: “I am surprised because the conditions were supposed to be light around the race course, but we averaged 10 knots. Normally we would say that we wouldn’t go so well [when it’s light], so we made a special effort to lighten the boat. The problem is that we have a lot of wetted surface at the back end because the boat is so wide. But we kept going pretty well – I was quite surprised. Part of it may have been down south [when we kept moving] due to some wind shear and some wind aloft.”

While the Volcano Race is renowned for proving crews with the opportunity to see ‘Mother Nature’s fireworks display’ around the Aeolian Islands, this year the excitement overhead continued as Rambler 88 encountered an intense lightning storm. As David recounted: “It was pretty exciting between Capri and Ischia with thunder and lightning as the front came through and the breeze built to 25 knots.”

As usual Rambler 88’s crew comprised many yacht racing A-listers on this occasion including legendary America’s Cup tactician Brad Butterworth, veteran round the world navigator Andrew Cape and New Zealand multiple Volvo Ocean Race winner, Brad Jackson.

Second home in two days, one hour and 32 minutes was Wild Joe, of Marton Jozsa, while on the Hungarian Mini Maxi’s heels was Carlo Puri Negri's Atalanta II, freshly returned to the water this season after an extensive ‘restyling’ by Felci Yacht Design.

"It was a big beat,” explained Atalanta II helmsman, Gabriele Benussi, of their Volcano Race. "I'd say three quarters of the race were upwind in winds varying from six to 18 knots. After Capri the wind went through 180°, which allowed us to close on Wild Joe, but she still finished half an hour ahead of us. It was good race, with beautiful scenery, a close-knit crew on board, including some veterans of Atalanta.”

The welcome home for Fra Diavolo, the Mylius 60 of Vincenzo Addessi, President of the Yacht Club Gaeta, didn’t come until 20:41 CET on 20 May. "Off the Aeolian Islands we saw dolphins, whales and sea turtles,” recounted Addessi. "And the weather…we experienced everything - squalls and calms, lightning storms and hours of pleasant spring breeze."

The defending champion of the Volcano Race, Giuseppe Puttini’s classic Swan 65, Shirlaf, skippered by former America’s Cup helmsman Paolo Cian, crossed the finish line a few hours later at 02:20 on 21 May.

Cian confided: "Our race was above expectation. Recently we made some improvements to Shirlaf. Our problem in this race was our timing, reaching key points of the race course, like Alicudi, before the wind shifted and then disappeared. We lost contact at Volcano, but en route to Capri we were doing well again.”

Sadly after making 9 knots up the course, the wind shifted again and they found themselves having to beat back to Gaeta. “Our crew was perfect, made zero errors, and all the sail changes were precise,” concluded Cian.

For the first time this year, in addition to the Maxi entries, smaller boats with an IRC rating down to 1.102 were allowed to compete in the Volcano Race. They sailed a shorter course of 329 miles, rounding Stromboli and Strombolicchio. The IRC was won by Eddie de Villiers’s Welbourn 46 Hi-Fidelity.

The Gianfranco Alberini Challenge Trophy is awarded to the crew in the Volcano Race showing the best sportsmanship. This year the Trophy was presented to Wild Joe skipper Marton Jozsa, who has competed in all six editions of the Volcano Race, while the Challenge Trophy donated by Base Nautica Flavio Gioia went to Hi-Fidelity.

George David enthused about the race: “It is early in the season so a great time of year and a beautiful race course. We have been around it several times in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and it just seemed even better rounding Volcano, Alicudi and Stromboli, which is such a distinctive island. It is just a great place to race. And Gaeta is a great little town. It is highly recommended –a great place. So we can declare the race a success. There was a good fleet, a mix of boats, good conditions and great scenery. I’ve had a great time here.”

Published in Round Ireland

Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland Yacht Race organisers have announced that for the first time in the history of the event multihulls will be included when the 700–mile offshore classic sets sail next June. Already, a giant trimaran – similar to one that holds the current Round Ireland speed record – has expressed an interest in competing.

The UK's Ned Collier- Wakefield, Team Director and Skipper for Team Concise, has indicated that they intend entering their three boats into the 2016 Round Ireland – the MOD 70 and their twp Class 40 boats.

It's a major shot in the arm for the Wicklow club who have already signed up a world beating monohull for the 2016 race too. American yacht Rambler 88, one of the world's most sophisticated racing machines, will also be on the Wicklow line on June 18 at 2pm in what could yet be a bumper turnout for the 19th race eclipsing the 35–boat fleet that competed in 2014.

The multihull yachts will compete against each other for a new race trophy and course record. In May of this year, the Omani trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record for the circumnavigation of the island of Ireland by sail – 1 day 16 hours 51 minutes and 57 seconds - but this was not in a race setting. The Round Ireland race record (for monohulls) is held by Mike Slade who completed the race in 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds in ICAP Leopard 3 in 2008.

Wicklow Sailing Club organises the Round Ireland Yacht Race under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. As in 2014, the 2016 race is being jointly hosted with the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. This association with the Royal Irish ensures that there will be ample space for larger monohulls and now also multihulls which wish to compete in the race.

Race organisers in Wicklow are also in contact with the Multihull Offshore Cruising and Racing Association. The organisation welcomes this development and a number of boats have already expressed interest in competing in the race.

In an additional development, the race organisers are introducing another new trophy which will be awarded for the best sailing school boat on corrected time. The Round Ireland is a popular race with sailing schools and this new trophy means that they can compete against each other in a more meaningful way.

The race officially opens for entries in January 2016 but expressions of interest are welcome at this stage.

Published in Round Ireland

As the sun rose over Stromboli on the third day of the offshore Rolex Middle Sea Race, close to half of the 111-strong fleet had passed the active volcano on the northeastern most point on the 608-mile course. American Maxi, Rambler 88 –  that will sail in next June's Round Ireland race – was the first monohull to pass Stromboli, just before sunset. Skipper, George David was reminiscing about the last occasion he passed the 'Lighthouse of the Mediterranean'.

“It could not be a nicer afternoon than it is, with 11 knots of wind speed, VMG sailing.” commented George David from the helm of Rambler 88. “The sun is about an hour from setting, Stromboli is over our left shoulder, it must be about 25,000 feet high and didn’t realise there was a village on the north shore. Last time I was here in 2007, we passed at around 1am, we were having a much faster race then, that’s the year we set the record and Stromboli lit up with a proper eruption in the middle of the night, so there is not a nicer place to sail anywhere than right here, right now.”

At 0800 CET on Day 3, Lloyd Thornburg's MOD 70 Phaedo3 was passing Pantelleria, 220 miles from the finish. The American trimaran is expected to arrive at the Royal Malta Yacht Club early tomorrow morning but that could easily change with the wind speed. Rambler 88 was just two hours behind Phaedo3 at 0800 CET, both yachts are experiencing upwind conditions, which are expected to continue throughout today.

54 yachts had passed Stromboli this morning, giving an accurate picture of the overall leader racing under IRC for the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy and for the six individual IRC Classes. Lee Satariano and Christian Ripard's Maltese J/122 Artie was the overall leader at Stromboli this morning, an hour ahead of the Czech Republic team racing Xp-44, Vikesha II, sailed by Igor Skalin. Costantin Manuele's Italian First 40.7, Canevel Spumanti was third after time correction.

At 0800 CET on Day Three of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the fleet was extremely well spread out, 250 mlles separating the front to the back of the fleet. Two Italian yachts with highly experienced crews are performing well. Michele Galli's Italian TP52, B2 was just three miles from Vincenzo Onorato's Italian Cookson 50, Mascalzone Latino. The two yachts were negotiating an area of little breeze off Palermo. 50 miles away reaching the fresh southerly breeze at Favignana will be the next goal and by estimation only, these two yachts are in a strong position for the overall win.

On board Mascalzone Latino Italian tactician, Flavio Favini has won eight world championships in various classes and taken Line Honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race on two occasions with Esimit Europa II. Mascalzone Latino Irish navigator, Ian Moore, was tactician with Bella Mente, winning last month's Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. Ian has also won the Rolex Middle Sea Race as navigator with Lucky in 2010.

On board B2 Italian tactician, Francesco de Angelis, has won six world championships in different classes and the Louis Vuitton Cup. B2's Spanish navigator, Nacho Postigo has won five world championships and the TP52 Mediterranean championship. Francesco and Nacho formed the after-guard for B2's overall win of the Rolex Middle Sea Race in 2013.

IRC Class leaders at Stromboli

IRC 1: Hungarian RP60, Wild Joe, sailed by Marton Jozsa. 44 minutes from Jan-Henrik Kisteit's German Maxi 72, Momo.

IRC 2: Mascalzone Latino. 17 minutes from TP52, B2.

IRC 3: Bastiaan de Voogd Dutch team racing Sydney 43 Coin Coin. 14 minutes from the Turkish Ker 40, Arkas Flying Box, skippered by Serhat Altay.

IRC 4: Vikesha II, nearly two hours from Giuseppe Puttini's Swan 65, Shirlaf. Maltese First 45, Elusive II BOV, skippered by Christoph Podesta, was third.

IRC 5: Artie was over an hour ahead of Canevel Spumanti.

IRC 6: Milan Hajek's Czech Republic team racing First 40.7, Three Sisters 45 minutes from Peppe Fornich's Grand Soleil 37, Sagola-Biotrading.

Published in Offshore
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