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Cork Harbour's Dave Hennessy is getting ready for his seventh Round Ireland race in two weeks time. The two times winner of the 704-mile offshore race in the vintage Granada 38 Cavatina gives some advice on what's involved in a successful circuit of Ireland.

Well we are off again on our seventh Round Ireland Yacht Race, this time with the very grateful sponsorship of CH Marine on board. We were asked for some ideas on tactics for the race, as we have been lucky enough to win it twice in the past.


I think tactics play a small part in this race.The choice of boat would be the first consideration. It is a 704–mile offshore race around Ireland. The boat needs to be able to sail to her handicap over a wide range of conditions over a six day period by night and day. Cavatina is a 1979 design, weighs nine tons, has a long, sharp overhanging bow, a narrow enough stern, and like many heavy displacement boats, can keep moving in light conditions as well as coming into her own in heavy winds. In this year's fleet we seem very much the tortoise among the hares but we have been there before! The overall Fastnet winner in 2005 was a French" tortoise" beating us into second place overall by 22 minutes.


The next 'tactical' issue is crew. We are 12 years campaigning Cavatina offshore and have almost the same crew lining out every year. Our average age would be in late 50s but the group bring a range of skills to the boat – experience, stamina, good humour, sailing ability, mechanical, electrical skills.


The 'good humoured' crew of Cavatina go for their seventh Round Ireland race later this month. Photo: Bob Bateman

We managed to finish the '07 Fastnet where 240 of the 300 entrants were forced to retire.This is fair testimony to the crew's seamanship. I recall a bad night a few years ago approaching Inistrahull off the north coast under spinnaker with a rising gale forecast. We needed to drop the kite, gybe to avoid Scotland, but when we went to ease the halyard we found it had jumped the sheave and jammed solidly in the block at the masthead.

There was no way under the conditions to go up the mast. There was talk of shooting it with a flare even, but it was John Murphy who had the idea to ease the sheets as the boat slid down a wave, causing the kite to rise and the halyard to sit right on the sheave once again.The plan worked, kite came down for a few hours, went up again meaning we reached the fair tide at Rathlin and went on to win that race overall!

Sail Wardrobe

Another "tactical" issue to plan for is your sail wardrobe.You need to look at your boat's strengths and weaknesses in order to sail at your best in all conditions. Eric Lisson is shrewd in this regard and saw that the point of sailing from being close hauled to when you can carry a kite on a tight reach was critical for us. With Des McWilliam they came up with a Code Zero which we are only supposed to carry up to 15-knots apparent. This sail has won races for us. We also have a big overlapping furling Genoa.This means we can easily "change gear" when other crews are dragging headsails on deck or putting off marginal calls. Our main is quite small and is only reefed when it really blows.This again is a setup I feel lends itself well to offshore racing.


Cavatina passes along the Wicklow coast at the start of the 2010 Round Ireland. Photo: Bob Bateman


Yet another issue to deal with at the planning stage is food.The crew need to be fed well to sail at their best over that time length. We pre-cook and freeze 6 main meals which are eaten in evening.We cook an FIB (full Irish breakfast) in the morning, usually served in sandwiches. Proper clothing is also essential. Thanks again CH Marine. We finished in Wicklow one year with two crew definitely hypothermic who would have been no good to us if there was another 50 miles in the race!

Lady Luck

Probably the most honest thing i can say re on the water tactics is that it is mostly luck.There are 4 tidal gates to negotiate. You sprint to Tuskar to find that gate open or closed. You slog to windward to Fastnet along the south coast, beating into the bays, risking being becalmed, or you take a chance on a long starboard tack to the south to avoid light winds.You push to reach the North Channel between Rathlin and Scotland with the gate open.This is the most critical piece of luck. We made it last year only to be completely becalmed towards Belfast Lough managing 6 miles in 10 hours! We didn't win that race! The final gate is approaching Wicklow itself. Many is the boat has come to a halt in view of the town lights, trying to sail against five knot tides in light night airs.

So if it is really down to luck why do so many do it? Yes it is a challenge heading off south past Wicklow Head into the "unknown" but for me it is the indescribable sense of achievement in "completing the circle". DO IT!

Good luck to crew of Eric Lisson, Ian Hickey, Lennie Donnery, Sean Hanley, Kelly and Dave Hennessy!

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – There will be more British than Irish entries in this month's Round Ireland race that has been boosted by a number of last minute entries.

Only last week race organiser Dennis Noonan told the Irish Times Sailing Column he expected only 33 entries but a surge of entries at the weekend has brought that figure tantalisingly close to the 2010 fleet size of 40. 37 boats are now entered and Noonan says there is a prospect of at least two more by the race start on Sunday, June 24th.

There are only 12 Irish boats compared to 18 English entries. The balance of the international fleet is made up with two boats from Northern Ireland, two from France,  the defending champion from Holland and one from the USA.

Among the Irish starters is last week's winner of the ISORA race from Pwllheli to Wicklow, the yacht Lulabelle is being sailed as a double-handed entry by Liam Coyne and Fireball dinghy champion Brian Flahive.

Coyne and Flahive will count victory in last weekend’s Lynxmet mast-sponsored race as a major boost. Lula Belle is one of a handful of double-handed entries for the Round Ireland Race.

36 Entries at June 10th

Peter HallNYCAdelieFirst 34.7IRL 9631
James TyrrellArklow SCAquelinaJ 122IRL 1281
Ian HickeyRCYCCavatinaGranada 38IRL 3861
Steven AndersonRORCCracklin’ RosieCorby 40 GBR851R
Nick MartinRORCDiablo-jJ 105GBR 9205R
Catherine PourreSNT (France)EarwenClass 40FRA 88
Payne & YoungPoolbeg BCEnglish MickBeneteau First 47.7GBR 4771R
Rod StuartCCCEOSElan 10GBR 9192R
Diarmuid GoodRCYCExhaleX362 SportIRL 8991
Nigel ColleyGuernsey YCFastrak VIIISunfast 3200GBR 4690R
Nicholas BateArmy SAFujitsuArchambault A40RCGBR 1429L
Laurent GouyClifden BCInis MorKer39FRA 35439
Ronan O’SiochruDMYCIOSS- Desert StarSunfast 37IRL1397
Andrew SarrattRIYC & RStGYCJediJ1098088
John MayburyRIYCJoker 2J109IRL 1206
Neil EatoughR St.G YCLancasrtianStarlight 46GBR 7682T
Coyne /FlahiveWSCLC Tyres LulabelleBeneteau 36.7IRL3607
Adrian LeeRORC RStGLee Overlay PartnersCookson 50IRL
Paul EganRStGLegally BlondeBeneteau 31.7IRL 3175
Julian MetherellR Thames YCMaxvmg FortissimoAkilaria Class 40GBR 97
Peter DunlopPwllheli SCMidnight MojitoElan 350GBR 1549R
Tom SperreyRORCNightfallArcona 430GBR 6643
Sir Geoffrey MulcahyRTYC/RSYCNoonmark VISwan 56GBR 5698R
Cathal ClarkeWIORA-NUIGSCNUI GalwayReflex 387386
Mike JaquesRORCNunatakJ120GBR9604R
Floate & NortonIOM YC & WSCOcean TangoDehler 34GBR 6848T
Jerry CollinsRStGPersistanceSigma 38IRL 8237
Kirsteen DonaldsonRORCPyxisX332GBR 5963T
Michael CreedonNYCSarinaS & SIRL 2260
Stephen TudorCH Pwllheli SCSgrechJ109GBR 9319R
A, B & J DouglasCarrickfergus SCSpirit of JacanaJ 133IRL 1335
Dan WalshAmerican YC NYTeam Wild GooseOwenClarke Class 40GBR 38
P W VroonRORCTonnerre de Breskens 3Ker 46NED 46
T. Fair & D. FletcherBallyholme YCTwisterBeneteau 31.7GBR 1505R
Sailing LogicRORCVisit Malta PumaReflex 38GBR 7383R
Paul JacksonRORC -JOGWild SpiritJeanneau 40SOGBR 8799T
Published in Round Ireland

#ROUND IRELAND RACE – Adrian Lee's Cookson 50 in the big boat division of this year's Round Ireland race along with Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's, Noonmark VI, a Swan 56 with a top crew, are just two of 25 entries received so far for Ireland's top offshore fixture that starts in six weeks time.

Billed by the hosts as one of Europe's major yacht racing events next month's Round Ireland Yacht Race 2012, which starts in Wicklow Harbour on 24th June, is being held for the 17th time since the biennial, non-stop, 704–mile circumnavigation of this island started in 1980.

Twenty five starters, to-date, have confirmed entry with anticipation high for further additions before the closing date for entries on the 8th June.

The Round Ireland Yacht Race is run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the largest yacht racing organisation in the world. The RORC include the Round Ireland Yacht Race as one of the premier challenges in their calendar of seventeen international races this year.

In the class 1 entries, one to watch will be Piet Vroon, in Tonnerre de Breskens 3 from Holland, who has dominated the RORC racing calendar from Fastnet to the Caribbean and is making a welcome return to Wicklow Sailing Club. Round Ireland also welcomes Dan Walsh, from the USA, together with six of his fellow sailors from the American Yacht Club of New York, who have chartered the yacht, Fujifilm, which will sail under the name of "Team Wild Goose", a Class 40 which also comes with an international racing pedigree.

Having left Howth a few years ago, Cracklin' Rosie is now returning under the helm of Londoner, Steven Anderson while the intrepid ladies, Kristeen Donaldson and Judith Eastwood, have entered their yacht PYXIS in the gruelling two-handed class. While on the subject of the ladies keep an eye on Allie Smith aboard Visit Malta Puma who won her class in the 2010 race and is determined to take the trophy back home again.

The west of Ireland is well represented with Inis Mor from Clifden BC, and NUI Galway from Galway University Sailing Club while Cork and Dun Laoghaire have lately shown a stronger interest. Of local Wicklow interest is the return this year of club member, Brian Flahive, to the two handed class in LC Tyres Lulabelle to be sailed under the WSC burgee.

Approximately half of the yachts entered in the Round Ireland Yacht Race are RORC racers based in England and include entries from the RAF and the Army Sailing Clubs. Boats from Scotland, Wales and Guernsey will also join the fleet in Wicklow. All in all a formidable entry of top rated racers, even at this early date.

"To win the Round Ireland Yacht Race, your crew have to race consistently well, all day and all night, every day; given the challenging Irish coastline, it is not an easy course. Three thousand miles for open seas to build up before they hit you on the West coast can be daunting. I have no illusions, winning against good opposition is never easy but it makes racing the Round Ireland Yacht Race all the more rewarding" said Theo Phelan, Race Organiser for the Round Ireland 2012 Yacht Race.

Entries received to May 10th 2012

EntrantCLUBBoat NameBoat Type
Mike Jaques RORC Nunatak J120
Simon Costain RAFYC Fortitude Pogo Class 40
Nicholas Bate Army Sailing Association Fujitsu Archambault A40RC
Laurent Gouy Clifden BC Inis Mor Ker39
Kirsteen Donaldson RORC Pyxis X332
Steven Anderson RORC Cracklin' Rosie Corby 40
Nigel Colley Guernsey YC Fastrak VIII Sunfast 3200
Neil Eatough R St.G YC Lancasrtian Starlight 46
Cathal Clarke WIORA-NUIGSC NUI Galway Reflex 38
Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy R Thames YC R SouthernYC Noonmark VI Swan 56
Rod Stuart CCC EOS Elan 10
Dan Walsh American YC NY Team Wild Goose OwenClarke Class 40
Paul Jackson RORC -JOG Wild Spirit Jeanneau 40SO
P W Vroon RORC Tonnerre de Breskens 3 Ker 46
Ian Hickey RCYC Cavatina Granada 38
Adrian Lee RORC RStG Lee Overlay Partners Cookson 50
Derry Good RCYC Exhale X362 sport
Mark Denton Maxvmg Fortissimo Akilaria Class 40
Stephen Tudor Pwllheli Sgrech J 109
Bruce Douglas Carrickfergus Spirit of Jacana J 133
David Fletcher Ballyholme YC Twister First 31.7
Allie Smith RORC Visit Malta Puma Reflex 38
Ronan O'Siochru NYC /RORC Irish Offshore Sailing School Sunfast 37
Nick Martin RORC Diablo-j J 105
Coyne /Flahive WSC LC Tyres Lulabelle Beneteau 36.7
Published in Round Ireland

#OFFSHORE – A number of significant announcements for Irish offshore sailing are expected at tonight's launch of the Round Ireland yacht race in Wicklow Sailing Club including a number of key international entries for June's 704-mile race. Already a strong entry from the UK has been received.

ISORA Commodore Peter Ryan will also announce a new title sponsor Lynx Metmasts for the Irish Sea Race from Pwllheli to Wicklow, a race in ISORA's 2012 programme. It is hoped that the weather will allow the course to be around the Arklow bank wind turbines when it sets sail on June 2nd, just three weeks before the start of Ireland's biennial offshore classic. Lynx Metmasts MD, Michael Martyn will present a perpetual trophy to the overall winner at Wicklow Sailing Club.

Meanwhile Arklow Sailing Club's fourth race round the Windmills will follow the ISORA race on Sunday, June 3rd. The 34-mile race is open to IRC and ECHO classes as well as white sail fleets.

Published in Offshore

#RIR – Early British offshore entries account for 50% of the yachts entered so far for next month's Round Ireland Yacht Race from Wicklow, an offshore offshore fixture that for the first time counts for the same points as the Rolex Fastnet race in the international Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) season. It's an indicator the 2012 Round Ireland is quietly taking shape inspite of the recession.

16 boats are already entered say Wicklow Sailing Club, eight are subject to confirmation but another 17, including many of the Irish Sea's 18-boat ISORA fleet are highly likely, giving the 2012 race a healthy 30-40 boat turnout when it sets sail just over six weeks time from Wicklow Bay. In particularly Welsh and Dublin Bay J109 yachts are setting the pace in the first two Irish Sea races to Wicklow and Holyhead respectively.

Although event chairman Dennis Noonan would not reveal the identity of an Open 60 today it is expected the boat and skipper will be confirmed at tomorrow night's official launch in Wicklow town. It will add spice to a fleet that has among its number the Round Ireland defending champion, Dutch entry Tonerre de Breskens skippered by Piet Vroon.

No official entry list has yet been published for the 2012 race but notable entries include a woman's double-hander for the first time. A New York based Open 40 Wild Goose is also debuting on the 704-mile course. Other boats include a regular Round Ireland entry that has been so close to an overall win but never won it;  Laurent Gouy's Inismor. Simon Costain's Fortitude, a Pogo Class 40 is in as well as the British Army Sailing Association 40 footer Fujitsu; Paul Egan's Legally Blonde from Dun Laoghaire is sailing again. Nigel Colley's Fastrak VIII, a new Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 is also entered. Another UK entry is Round Ireland veteran Mike Jacques of Nunatak.

One of the earliest campaigns to declare was a crew of NUI Galway students and graduates who are campaigning a 38-foot yacht in the non–stop race. The student's first training session, around the Aran Islands is carried as a youtube clip above.

This year, the Round Ireland start gun goes at 12:00 on Sunday, 24 June.

Published in Round Ireland
As reported previously on the Bridget Carmel (WD-39) which was in a collision with the tanker Ocean Lady off Anglesey on Monday, not only appears occasionally in RTE's Angelus but also as a mural in Wicklow Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 24m long green-hulled Wexford registered trawler, with a crew of three was escorted by the Wicklow lifeboat and safely secured alongside the ports East pier where she is superbly depicted at the same location. She is one of over a dozen vessels painted in great skill across an uneven surface along the pier's promenade wall and the work of local postman and shipping enthusiast Pat Davis.

Apart from the mural of the trawler (click HERE) there are a wide variety of vessels represented from general cargo-ships and the inclusion of STV Asgard II and the World's last ocean-going paddle-steamer P.S. Waverley. These vessels have too berthed alongside the adorned eastern breakwater where spectators flock to see the start of the biennial Round Ireland Yacht Race which was held last year.

The photo of the trawler was taken on a previous call at the Packet Quay, Wicklow and not Arklow as stated. The Packet Pier is the most used commercial quay in the Co. Wicklow port, where timber and scrap-metal cargoes are relatively common. For example the Arklow Rebel which loaded scrap-metal bound for Liverpool, to read more click HERE.

Published in Fishing

Reporting on the latest race news and regatta information is the one of the most important aspects of the website. This page covers everything from round the world race stopovers, the arrival of the Tall Ships as well as domestic boat shows and a calendar of events.

Published in Landing Pages
Well-known Irish adventurer Mark Pollock is in a stable but serious condition in the Royal Berkshire Hospital this evening after a fall from an upper floor window.
The Belfast-born explorer fell 25 feet from a bedroom window in a house where he was staying Henley on Friday night.
Pollock, 34, is in intensive care, having sustained multiple broken bones and internal injuries in the fall on Friday night.
Pollock won silver and bronze medals in rowing at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, and was attending the Henley Royal Regatta as a spectator. He had returned home early from Leander Club at 10.30pm and went to bed.
Some time after that, Pollock was sleepwalking and fell 25 feet into the front garden, where friends immediately came to his aid.
Pollock's fiancée Simone George credits his friends' quick reactions with saving his life.
"We want to say thank you to his friends for saving his life. We cannot express what we feel for them. Mark is focusing on getting better. He would like to thank everyone for their love and their prayers and their thoughts."
Pollock was still recovering from having completed the Round Ireland Yacht Race, becoming the first blind man to co-skipper a boat in the race. He sailed the race with Air Corps Captain Mick Liddy, and the pair suffered severe electrical failure in the race, disabling their autohelm which meant they were unable to sleep for nearly four consecutive days in a row.
For the last decade, Mark Pollock has been racing in the world’s harshest environments. He has survived the sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica as he raced to the South Pole over 43 days.
He suff ered the scorching heat of the Gobi Desert, completing six marathons in one week in “The Race of No Return”. He has competed in races on the frozen Arctic Ocean at the North Pole, through the desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley to the Dead Sea and at altitude in the Himalayas.”
Mark has competed against professional explorers like Sir RanulphFiennes, Olympic gold medalists and special forces personnel.
Mark lost his sight when his retina detached aged just 22, at that stage a promising business and economics student at Trinity College and an international rower. Once over the shock of blindness, Mark was challenged to redefifi ne his life framed by his new circumstances. He moved back to Dublin and resumed post-graduate study and rowing, winning two Commonwealth Games medals.
He now makes his living as a professional adventure athlete and as a public and motivational speaker.
If more detail is required, please contact Markham Nolan on +353 86 2570 320

Blind adventurer and Round Ireland competitor Mark Pollock is in a stable but serious condition in the Royal Berkshire Hospital this evening after a fall from an upper floor window.

The Belfast-born explorer fell 25 feet from a bedroom window in a house where he was staying in Henley on Friday night.

Pollock, 34, is in intensive care, having sustained multiple broken bones and internal injuries in the fall.

Pollock won silver and bronze medals in rowing at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, and was attending the Henley Royal Regatta as a spectator. He had returned home early from Leander Club at 10.30pm and went to bed.

Some time after that, Pollock was sleepwalking and fell 25 feet into the front garden, where friends immediately came to his aid.

Pollock's fiancée Simone George credits his friends' quick reactions with saving his life.

"We want to say thank you to his friends for saving his life. We cannot express what we feel for them. Mark is focusing on getting better. He would like to thank everyone for their love and their prayers and their thoughts."

Pollock was still recovering from having completed the Round Ireland Yacht Race, becoming the first blind man to co-skipper a boat in the race.

He sailed the race in a Class 40 with Air Corps Captain Mick Liddy, finishing first on the water in the double-handed division, but further down the rankings on handicap.

The pair suffered severe electrical failure in the race when their alternator gave out. That disabled their autohelm which meant they were unable to sleep for nearly four days in a row.

Pollock's previous adventures have taken him to the South Pole, the Himalayas, the Dead Sea and elsewhere.


Published in News Update

In this week's podcast, you could win one of two spaces on one of the Clipper Yachts for the sail from Kinsale to Cork this Wednesday. Plus we talk to the young guns from Schull Community College and the Pride of Wicklow about their victories in recent days. 

Published in Clipper Race

As the leaders of the Conway Media Round Ireland Yacht Race enter the northern end of the Irish Sea, today will be all about current affairs, so be prepared to watch the teams' fates ebb and flow with the vagaries of Northern Irish tides. Tonnerre de Breskens and Spirit of Rosslare Europort are currently being hurried around the north-east corner by the end of a flood tide. However, Larne saw high water come and go at 08.11 this morning. That means that the leaders and those in their wake (Inis Mor and have maybe an hour of slack water before things turn against them and they end up jogging on a nautical treadmill. Adding to the impending misery, those east of Malin Head are in light airs, whereas those off the Donegal coast and even further back have stronger following winds whisking them up the rankings in handicap terms and helping them battle the tide. Tonnerre and Rosslare are past Rathlin, but not out of the woods yet.

Low Water at Larne is at 1418hrs, and how much the fleet will compress before then could well define how the results pan out when the finishers hit Wicklow.

One curiosity now will be who gets line honours. 

Favourite before the race was the Open 60 Spirit of Rosslare Europort, the one boat in the fleet with the potential for greatest speed. However they've failed to make gains when the conditions were in their favour, and now face upwind conditions, or a fetch at best, down the Irish Sea. Open 60s are built for downwind sailing, and this will do them no favours.

They're duelling with the Dutchmen on Tonnerre de Breskens, who have sailed a near impeccable race so far, in line with their winning form on the RORC circuit, and led the IRC rankings at the last mark. From the Spirit of Rosslare Europort blog earlier this morning: "Passed Rathlin Island and chasing Tonnerre de Breskens 3 hard.  We are set for a great duel down the Irish sea.  We are sailing with 3.4knts of favourable tide but this is due to change at about 09.30 this morning as the tide turns foul.

"While we are on a IMOCA 60  - We have to take our hats off to the Guys on “Tonnerre de Breskens 3”  - They are sailing that Ker 46 to her max."

Further back, Inis Mor is the main challenger for the overall title, with Visit Malta Puma pushing hard and the pair of them battling with the youngsters on Pride of Wicklow who have put in a valiant debut performance in a race that has thrown up ideal conditions for an opening foray into offshore sailing. 

Psipsina continues to hold onto her double-handed lead, and could do some further damage to's lead on the water around the top. have been struggling with their on-board alternator, meaning that their on-board electronics have been used sparingly. This may have made things difficult for blind sailor Mark Pollock, reliant on a power-hungry audio nav system to help him steer the boat while Mick Liddy sleeps. (UPDATE: Mark Pollock just tweeted to say that their backup autohelm cut out during a gybe, and they report a suspected cracked spreader. Kite is down and they are assessing what to do)

Boats can now call in race reports from the water direct to our webmaster's voicemail for use as podcasts, just dial 08652570320 and leave your report after the beep, and we'll get it up online as soon as possible.

Have your say on the racing in our forum thread HERE.

The race tracker is HERE, and the official site is HERE.

More on the Round Ireland Yacht Race:

Round Ireland Yacht Race 2010 Review

Round Ireland Yacht Race, Ireland's top offshore fixture

A Round up of 80 stories on the 2010 Round Ireland Yacht Race
Published in Round Ireland
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