Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland Yacht Race
The achievement of Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish YC in taking both Line Honours and the Overall Win in Wicklow’s Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 with the Ker 43 Baraka GP is put into its proper perspective when we remember that at the halfway stage, Baraka was way down the rankings despite a tactically brilliant performance.
Until then, conditions had been completely stacked against her, such that off the coast of Mayo, she was in lowly 24th overall. But then things started to turn in her favour, with brilliant tactics and sailing to take the fullest possible advantage of the slightest helpful slant. Having had a mountain to climb, they climbed it at speed and then skied down the other side to a runaway victory.
In this exceptionally busy period, Commandant Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces was arguably the most active sailor on our seas, as he skippered the Irish Defence Forces on the J/109 Joker 2 to second overall and victory in the Corinthian Division of the Round Ireland Race, and in Cork Week he not only played a key role in organizing the highlight event, the Beaufort Cup series for services crews, but he successfully defended it, again skippering Joker 2.
The many strands of Arklow’s maritime life, and its seafaring and boat-building traditions, have been getting together this week to celebrate the achievement of Darryl Hughes’ veteran ketch Maybird writes W M Nixon. Last week, the 1937-vintage Arklow-built Maybird became the oldest boat ever to complete the Volvo Round Ireland Race, and also the first setting the traditional gaff rig.
These days, the thriving Arklow Sailing Club includes some of the most modern sailing boats in Ireland, while its maritime traditions are most strongly expressed through the Tyrrell family’s busy Arklow Shipping company, which operates a fleet of 50 specialist vessels.
As well, the historic port is a centre of strength for the Sea Scout movement, in many cases providing the first steps afloat for the seafarers and ship managers of the future. But while there is this healthy regard for the present and the future, Arklow’s notable past associations with the sea and sailing are also respected, and the popular achievement of Maybird has provided an ideal focal point for a celebration of that heritage.
This week, the immaculately-restored veteran 81-year-old ketch has been back at her birthplace, and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday she took groups of local Sea Scouts out on sailing exercises, co-ordinated by leader Jimmy Mylor with former Sea Scouts Dylan Clancy, Cillian Kavanagh and Aaron O’Neill much involved.
Then on Wednesday evening after Arklow SC’s mid-week race, a celebratory reception was hosted in the clubhouse by Arklow SC’s Commodore Mark Fallon, with ASC Committee member Paul “Murph” Murphy organising a distinguished and convivial gathering at which the Guest of Honour was Miriam Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District Council, while Jimmy Tyrrel, son of Maybird’s builder Jack Tyrrell, was also present.
Maybird raced round Ireland with an eclectic crew of eight, and two of them – Pete Brennan and Eoin Quinn – have returned home to Florida and Switzerland respectively. But the remaining six – Darryl Hughes, Noeleen Hurley, Irene Reidy, Liam Quinn, Paul Carroll and Michael Clear, four of whom are ASC members – were very much there for this first reunion of a special group, and they’d the satisfaction of seeing their skipper and his fine little ship being presented by a commemorative turned wooden bowl crafted from the Arklow-built Asgard II’s first foremast, and inscribed with the Maybird name.
The word is that the party in ASC went on until about 0300 hrs, and after this memorable expedition to the Irish Sea and circuit of Ireland, Maybird will now return to her main base of Crosshaven on Cork Harbour.
When the 1937-vintage Tyrrell of Arklow-built 43ft gaff ketch Maybird (Darryl Hughes) finally crossed the line at Wicklow last week to record the longest-ever time for a Volvo Round Ireland Race, little did her crew of eight expect that their unique achievement would bring them popular fame writes W M Nixon.
But the fact that they kept gamely battling on against a wide variety of difficult sailing conditions, which had made the 704 miles course very challenging for even the most modern racing machines, gave the Maybird finish a special appeal. During the race, as the newer faster boats slipped away, Maybird was soon sailing a challenge of her own. Where the leaders had fair winds, she eventually found calm or headwinds. Where they’d had strong winds, by the time Maybird got there, conditions had become light – particularly off the West Coast, putting frustration amidst all the extra difficulties of sailing the Atlantic.
But Maybird’s crew of Noeleen Hurley, Darryl Hughes, Michael Clear and Eoin Quinn in what became known as the Tyrrell Watch, and Irene Reidy, Liam Quinn, Paul Carroll and Pete Brennan in the Asgard Watch – they just kept going, and took it as it came, fair wind or foul, calm or strong.
The distinctive blue mizzen staysail – the lightest sail, in the ship – was up and down so many times that owner Darryl Hughes, who personally Project Managed the Maybird Restoration in 1909-1911, reckons that if he got €1 for every time it was set or stowed, he could buy a whole new set of sails. They also had plenty of work to use the floater set forward of the mainmast. But the real progress was made when Maybird was lucky enough to experience a good reaching breeze. She burned off the miles in style.
Shipboard routine set in. As anyone who has ever been aboard Maybird will attest, normally she is the very essence of style and tidiness below. But with eight people to be fed and slept, sometimes life became quite basic, but they fed well and as they settled down, slept well too when off watch.
And as they gradually ticked off the major headlands and getting back to Wicklow became a realisable dream, spirits continued to rise and they found a splendid and sunny fair wind from the northeast to sweep them towards the finish, coming into the most hospitable port of Wicklow town to find that the entire Round Ireland Race Committee, many WSC member, and an additional host of family and well-wishers, were all there to greet them.
As the reality of what had been achieved began to be fully realised, the celebrations and acknowledgement came thick and fast. Maybird is the oldest boat and the only gaff-rigged vessel ever to complete the Round Ireland course. And as she also completed the Fastnet Race in 2011, she has now registered a remarkable double.
Very soon word came that Pat the Postie, Wicklow’s waterfront artist who provides a painting of every visiting boat of special significance on the pier wall, was adding Maybird to the collection. And meanwhile, Arklow Sailing Club, based in Maybird’s birthplace and the provider of half of her Round Ireland crew, has been putting together a programme of celebration which gets underway this weekend.
Maybird’s achievement could not have been more timely, as the Tyrrell of Arklow Archives – collected by the late Michael Tyrrell – are currently being scanned in UCD for Criostoir Mac Carthaigh, Director of the Irish Folklore Commission, with the encouragement of maritime historian Hal Sisk.
"There’ll be the mother of all celebratory parties in Arklow Sailing Club"
This new focus on Arklow’s maritime traditions will be highlighted by Maybird’s time in the south Wicklow port next week. She’ll be in Arklow from Monday, July 23rd to Thursday, July 26th, and in addition to providing time for visitors, she’ll be taking Sea Scouts and other junior groups out sailing. But the highlight of the week will be on the evening of Wednesday, July 25th, when she’ll sail with the Arklow SC fleet in their weekly evening race, and afterwards, there’ll be the mother of all celebratory parties in the ASC clubhouse from 7.30pm onwards, when all will be welcome.
For those members of Maybird’s crew who were thinking that everything - the race completed and the celebrations planned - all seemed just too good to be true, this week’s Wicklow People – published on Wednesday – gives a big spread to the story, giving it added reality. And the true story is that Maybird and all the great seafaring and boat-building traditions of Arklow are indeed coming home.
Everyone thought that while the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 from Wicklow was one of the most interesting and unusual ever staged in the race’s 38-year history, it was assumed that no record had been broken writes W M Nixon. But that’s maybe not so. Darryl Hughes’ 43ft gaff ketch Maybird, originally built by Tyrrell’s of Arklow in 1937 and restored with the owner as Project Manager in a superb two-year job concluded in 2011, has finally got back to Wicklow in a time of nine days and 22 hours.
"Maybird finally got back to Wicklow in a time of nine days and 22 hours"
While she went well with the brisk fair winds of the first day, thereafter Maybird was frustrated at every turn. Calms stopped her, and headwinds held her back. At one stage, she did only 25 miles in 24 hours. But they never gave up, and she has been welcomed back to Wicklow with full honours, the race completed in compliance with the rules. Is it a record for the slowest Round Ireland Race ever? Maybe. Probably. But whatever it is, their dogged persistence has deserved much celebration, and it is certainly receiving it.
The Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow back in 2016 was something of a unicorn event writes W M Nixon. George David’s majestic Rambler 88 took mono-hull line honours, the new mono-hull course record, and the overall IRC win - all at the once. And three MOD70 trimarans provided something similar. Surely nothing could ever match such a cornucopia of excitement again?
Well, the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 has been different, that’s for sure. It became - as top Irish Sea offshore racing guru Peter Ryan correctly predicted two days in advance - just about the oddest Round Ireland Race ever sailed. And yet, at the end of it, the pre-race favourites were right in there on top, up on the podium where everyone had expected them to be.
So what’s so remarkable about that? Well, the fact is that as this crazy event - dominated weatherwise by unprecedented high pressure - went along its 700-mile course, there were times when the pundit’s predictions seemed woefully off the mark, as in completely askew.
None more so than with the ultimate overall winner, Niall Dowling’s Ker 43 Baraka GP. The leader on the water of the entire fleet once she’d got past the lovely new Class 40 Corum off the coast of Kerry, Baraka suffered all the pains of the pioneer battling into the wilderness. It was she who got to the Skelligs and then the Blaskets to find that what had been a brisk but very summery nor’easter was in fact gusting maybe even to 45 knots around those dark, majestic and often spooky rocky peaks.
When you’ve a racing boat tuned to the ultimate degree to be competitive with the 40+ squad in the Solent, you just wonder – as did Boat Captain Jim Carroll – how much that suddenly very spindly-looking rig and hyper-light hull can withstand as you are blasted by squalls and thrash your way through steep and breaking seas.
She was raced by a mixture of professionals and Niall Dowling’s old sailing mates
It speaks volumes for modern boatbuilders and sparmakers and sailmakers that Baraka GP sustained only minor and repairable damage. She was raced by a mixture of professionals and Niall Dowling’s old sailing mates, while navigated by the peerless Ian Moore of Cowes and Carrickfergus. Everything was as it should be, and nothing more could be done except get on with racing. But even so, off the grim north coast of Mayo on Monday, the all-conquering Baraka GP was lying 24th overall on corrected time, with an awful lot of work to do.
Yet why did some of us still have this inescapable feeling that in due course, she’d climb this mountain and come out on top? The answer seems to be that we were sensing that the Emerald Isle – visibly becoming the Brown Isle even while this drought-stricken sun-blasted event progressed – was divided diagonally in terms of favourable racing conditions.
The circumstances were there to be seen clearly, hidden in plain sight. Mostly northeast winds dominated the early part of the event, sometimes with very considerable strength, becoming nor’westerly and then southeasterly at the end.
Southeast of the line from Fair Head to Mizen Head, the conditions made for reasonably fair and manageable racing. But northwest of that line, out along the Wild Atlantic Way, it was unfair in every way, it was a slogging match in which whoever could slog the hardest and the mostest and the fastest and in the best direction was ultimately going to come out tops, because that meant they were soonest back into reasonable conditions where they could make sailing hay and live again.
It meant that at different stages, many boats had their moment in the sun of success in addition to being in Factor 50 conditions of bright if hazy ultra-sun from dawn to dusk. It is painful to look back on our 17 reports, churned out three a day such that I was totally in a round Ireland bubble, and see who was king for the hour, and yet now know just how cruelly they were treated in the final figures at the finish.
Of the many examples of falling from grace, the ultimate has to be the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI. Owner Paul O’Higgins could be forgiven for thinking that Donegal always has something malevolent in mind for him. Back in 2016, when it looked as though the brand new Rockabill VI was well set up for a class win, she ran into a flat patch at Inishtrahull and sat there for more than three hours in company with some other unfortunates, while boats ahead went on merrily towards the horizon, and boats astern closed up remorselessly over many miles.
Subsequently, he won the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race last year in convincing style, so this time Rockabill VI went forth in the round Ireland more strongly crewed than ever, and all was going fine until the Curse of Donegal struck again. They were turning to windward on starboard well to the west of Rossan Point in general company with the J/122 Aurelia (Chris Power Smith) and the X41 Team Fujitsu (British Army), when – shortly after 11am on Tuesday morning (July 3rd) - Rockabill decided to take a stab inshore. They sailed into a flat patch off Loughros More Bay, that wicked flat patch spread to envelop them in its deadly clutches, and there they sat for six hours while Aurelia and Team Fujitsu and many others bustled on past Aranmore towards Bloody Foreland and Tory Island and rapidly out of sight to very respectable placings at Wicklow.
In that same area but in complete contrast, father-and-son team Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes on the little Dehler 34 Big Deal were later to begin to get going properly. They knew that Ian Hickey and his race-hardened crew on the veteran Noray 38 Cavatina from Cork would probably end up being their rivals for the chance of a low-rated boat doing exceptionally well if the race panned out in a certain way. And off Donegal, Cavatina was ahead.
Yet suddenly, it was as though Big Deal, only doing rather so-so at that stage, had became a boat transformed. Thereafter, she never really put a foot wrong. She played the best possible way with whatever hand she was dealt, just like Baraka GP was doing way up ahead.
Thus, by the time they got into the more sensible racing conditions southeast of Fair Head, Big Deal was positioning herself very neatly. She was making good steady progress, nothing spectacular but good and regular, slowly picking off boats.
On Thursday night, she followed Cavatina past the South Rock, but while the Cork boat found herself being forced in towards Carlingford Lough, Big Deal found her own private line of breeze from the southeast which enabled her to make weathering up towards her desired route of being on the direct South Rock – Wicklow line, and it proved a winning formula to bring her in yesterday morning, propelling her right into fourth overall and runaway victory in the two-handed division.
Big Deal arrived into a Wicklow Harbour seemingly serene and now quite crowded with boats already finished yesterday morning, but there was a minor storm brewing. We reported on Thursday evening how the Defence Forces racing the J/109 Joker sailed heroically to the finish, both to win the Services Division, and possibly even snatch second overall from Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia. On Thursday night, it seemed that they’d succeeded in one aspect, but nevertheless were back in third behind Aurelia overall. It has since transpired that owing to some glitch, Joker II was shown as racing with a rating 0.002 points higher than it actually was. She had in fact closely beaten Aurelia. But that was only by the way for the gallant duo on Big Deal. They’d sailed a race of perfection for the latter third of the event, and all was good with their world.
So now it’s a matter of tidying up the loose ends, but basically the Volvo Round Ireland Race has shown itself yet again to be the inevitable mixture of the expected and the unexpected, of conditions fair and foul, and of tidal gates becoming tidal alleys down which people find themselves going the full tidal tubes.
It has shown itself to be an event which can include a two-handed division, and as for the two-handed Mini 6.5s, we can only conclude that some were reluctant to include them because, despite being just 21ft long, they have an embarrassing habit of out-sailing larger boats. And it means that the Mini 6.5 Port of Galway is now the smallest boat ever to have sailed round Ireland non-stop.
Reduced to their most basic, the results as we understand it are that Baraka GP (Niall Dowling Royal Irish YC) took line honours and won overall, the J/109 Joker II raced by Commandant Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces with Mick Liddy as navigator was second overall, Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia (Royal St George YC) was third, the Dehler 34 Big Deal (Derek & Conor Dillon, Foynes YC) was fourth overall and won the two-handed division, the X41 Team Fujitsu racing for the British Army and skippered by Captain Donal Ryan of Howth YC was fifth overall, the Noray 38 Cavatina (Ian Hickey, Royal Cork YC) was sixth, and Nicolas Pasternak from France was first of the Continental competitors with the JPK 10.10 Jaasap in seventh.
In the Special Divisions, Port of Galway (Yannick Lemonnier & Cathal Clarke) topped the Mini 6.5s, while Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire scored a remarkable double in the sailing Schools Division, taking first with Desert Star (Ronan O Siochru) and second with Sherkin 2 (Daniel Smith).
Finally, the charismatic new Class 40 Corum was her division winner by a good margin in the end. And though as we post this there are still boats racing with the veteran gaff ketch Maybird (Darryl Hughes) off what must be the very tempting attractions of Inishbofin in Galway, the hotshot racers have already moved on. Maurice the Prof O’Connell has taken his leave from Aurelia to head off for today’s (Saturday) Round the Island Race starting in the Solent with the vintage Quarter Tonner Quest, an event in which - if close-knit plans dovetail neatly enough - he’ll find the opposition includes Baraka GP.
Others will reckon that today’s Royal St George Yacht Club Annual Regatta on Dublin Bay is just the ticket. But there’ll possibly be others who, after so very many miles of blue sea and brisk wind and very bright sun, might well wonder if it could just be still possible to find somewhere a nice green field or a pleasantly shaded bit of forest for some quiet contemplation.
Afloat.ie Round Ireland updates in this one handy link HERE
Wicklow Sailing Club says a 'clerical error' on the tracker site for its Volvo Round Ireland Race that provisionally showed the Dublin J122 Aurelia in second place overall on IRC Handicap has now been 'rectified'.
The recalculation puts the Defence Forces team on the J109 Joker II into second place and drops Chris Power Smith's team from the Royal St. George from second to third overall.
It is understood no other finishing positions are affected.
Wicklow Sailing Club's David McHugh told Afloat.ie: 'A clerical error on the tracker site led to an incorrect rating for Joker II. This has been rectified in the overall results".
A disclaimer on the tracker site says "These results are provisional - refer to the race website for official results".
Official results from the race have been published on the RORC site here.
The final 90-mile leg of the Round Ireland course, from the South Rock off the County Down coast direct to the Wicklow pierheads, is often the most frustrating writes W M Nixon. You feel the finish is almost within sight, yet the Irish Sea often seems to go out of its way to serve up calms and wayward headwinds.
Certainly, this was the expectation of those still racing last night, with the two Mini 6.5s, in particular, going into the gathering dark expecting that their remaining energies would be sapped by endless windward work and wind-seeking as high pressure returned to an upward trend.
Yet this morning, Mini racers Yannick Lemonnier and Cathal Clarke on the 21ft Port of Galway, and Louis Mulloy and Arthur aboard Blackshell Farm, together with the others who were around them to seaward of St John’s Point, find themselves, for the most part, finished in Wicklow, and job done.
And none have done this final stage better than father-and-son two-handed team Derek and Conor Dillon on the Dehler 34 Big Deal from Foynes. Their home waters of the Atlantic seaboard may have treated them harshly to have them at times back among the also-rans. But the Irish Sea was kindness itself, everything fell neatly into place, and they rocketed up the rankings to finish fourth overall, slotting in neatly between the Irish Defence Forces in Joker II and the British Army in Team Fujitsu.
As for Lemonnier and Clarke on Port of Galway, it’s job extra well done. They now hold the record for the smallest boat ever to have sailed round Ireland non-stop, as they got into Wicklow at 0645 hrs this morning, an hour and 40 minutes ahead of the Mayo entry Blackshell Farm. For those only following the race on the tracker, Port of Galway literally came out of the blue. Her tracker packed it in at Malin Head, but Cathal Clarke’s cheery phone calls kept supporters informed.
The message from that long final leg was was: Keep to the straight and narrow. Whatever the wind was doing, don’t stray too far from the long direct line from the South Rock to the Wicklow pierhead. Those who did, such as Paul Kavanagh with the Swan 44 CoOperation Ireland who went way southeast into the middle of the Irish Sea in search of a win move, found themselves hung out to dry.
"those who emulated overall winner Baraka GP in finding a leading breeze which enabled them to hold to the basic track were well rewarded"
But those who emulated overall winner Baraka GP in finding a leading breeze which enabled them to hold to the basic track were well rewarded, with Big Deal coming down the line as though on rails at a steady 4.5 to 6.5 knots, with only a short bit of tacking at the end.
Last night, we concluded our report with the leaders in, and a certain East Coast emphasis in the results. But this morning, the West’s awake.
Afloat.ie had over 30,000 unique visitors to its dedicated Round Ireland Race section of the national boating website for the 2018 race. According to site analytics, readers have been seeking out the in-depth analysis contained in this week's 16-race reports by Afloat's W M Nixon as well as an archive of Round Ireland stories on previous editions.
This week Afloat.ie brought morning, noon and evening race updates for the 29, 376 visitors from the 700-mile course together with race imagery on all aspects of the 54–boat fleet's progress as well as 'enews' and social media bulletins in a free lunchtime email service (sign up on the homepage).
Popular stories included last Saturday's fantastic start from Wicklow, featuring the shredded spinnaker of Niall Dowling's overall race winner plus pre-race features on race launches, developments and entries from Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC) and Royal Irish co-hosts.
Afloat.ie's Round Ireland stories were also accessed via the official Volvo Round Ireland site on an RSS feed collaboration with WSC.
The national boating website had over 1.2m unique visitors in 2017 and is on course for a further increase in visits this year. In the six months to June 30th, Afloat.ie recorded 670,000 visits and 1.2m page views.
Online coverage in Afloat's dedicated Round Ireland Race section dates back to 2008's edition and there are plans to digitize earlier race coverage, going back to the first race in 1980, from the original print editions in a new magazine online archive on Afloat.ie
Read Afloat.ie's Round Ireland coverage is here.
Along the Leinster coast, the summer sea breeze from various points in the east can get a boost from the enormous heat storage unit that is the Greater Dublin area writes W M Nixon. But it’s not something to be relied on. There’ll be unexpected and enormous changes in direction. It can sometimes just disappear as though some giant hand has simply switched off an electric fan. And as evening draws on, it becomes ever more fickle and finally fades altogether.
But while the sea breeze still made in over the city and the afternoon ebb got going with full vigour, a rush of boats today in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 made every effort to get themselves across Dublin Bay and down to that elusive finishing line before the evening calm set in.
As ever, there’s much at stake. Ireland’s Defence Forces are represented by Commandant Barry Byrne (originally from Wicklow) and navigator Mick Liddy with the J/109 Joker II. Like every other boat in this demanding 700-mile race, Joker II has had her moments of glory and her times of frustration. But this afternoon she was going mighty well, and closing in by this evening with a strong likelihood of securing the winning slot among the Services crews, and possibly even the chance of snatching the second overall position from Chris & Pat Anne Power Smith’s already-finished J/122 Aurelia.
On top of that, she had nearly two hours in hand on her closest rival for the Services prize, the already-finished but significantly larger and higher-rated British Army boat Team Fujitsu, skippered by Donal Ryan of Howth. In such an inter-port and inter-unit setup, talk of “special rivalry” is scarcely adequate…..
So there was Joker II making her way ever closer to the line, but all the time her speed was fading. Inexorably, she slipped down the Corrected Time rankings. Soon, she was irretrievably behind Aurelia. But Joker II crawled on, clinging to third overall. 4.3 knots over the ground. With just 3 miles to cover. Agony.
8.0pm. Less than a mile to go. Now making 4.7knots. Hang in there, lads. Just do it by sheer will power……8.09 pm: Joker II has finished……Let there be rejoicing
What with Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish YC winning overall, and Chris Power Smith of Royal St George YC getting second overall, and now Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces getting third overall and winning the Services Challenge, things are stacking up quite neatly for the home team in this 20th Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018.
Race tracker and leaderboard HERE
Afloat.ie Round Ireland updates in this one handy link HERE