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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.

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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

Entries for the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 from Wicklow on June 18th have today sailed through the 62 mark to overtake the previous record established all of 26 years ago in 1990, when numbers totalled 61 writes W M Nixon.

Since then, a combination of changing patterns in sailing and sponsorships, and the prolonged economic recession, took a severe toll. So though in recent years the theoretical entry number of 39 boats has been reached, when it really came down to who was on the starting line, we’d three races in succession which had just 36 starters.

But now we’re looking at what is almost a doubling of the entry list, an extraordinary achievement which reflects great credit on Volvo Round Ireland Race Chairman Peter Shearer, organiser Theo Phelan, and their co-team and supporters who have kept the faith when the very existence of this iconic event was in doubt among pessimists.

While the underlying economic improvement is undoubtedly a playing a key role in the recovery, four other factors – all of international significance but completely unrelated to each other – have also played their part.

Back in August 2011, all Ireland showed its sympathy and concern when the canting keel of George David’s Rambler 100 snapped off just after rounding the rock during the Fastnet Race of that year. This resulted in a disastrous though non-fatal capsize, and in the emotional aftermath, the gallant and popular owner mentioned that some time in the future he’d like to do the Round Ireland Race as a token of his appreciation. That seemingly throwaway remark came good last year when Wicklow Sailing Club first received intimations that the new Rambler 88 had the Round Ireland Race 2016 very much in her programme, which immediately raised the event’s profile at international level.

Meanwhile the RORC had acquired its second Irish Commodore in the person of Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, and as he’d been a winner of the Round Ireland Race of 1996 himself, he wasted no opportunities to promote this special event within his club’s programme, and he is an entrant for 2016 in the First 44.7 Lisa

Then the autumn of 2015 brought two further boosts. Wicklow SC decided to provide an additional division for multihulls just as the MOD 70s – the stars of 2012 in Dublin Bay and around the coast of Europe - re-invented themselves as the pace-setting class in major offshore events. The Round Ireland could have been invented with his class in mind, they have responded with enthusiasm to the new dispensation, and the event now has genuine international multihull credibility.

Finally, without any undue fanfares, it was almost coyly revealed that Volvo Cars Ireland had come aboard as sponsors. While the official title of the race would be cumbersome were we to deploy it in full, the Volvo Round Ireland Race was tripping lightly off sailing tongues from the moment it was made official in its longer form, giving the Wicklow project even greater credibility.

As of this morning, there were 60 entries recorded in the official list. By this afternoon, it had climbed to 62, as two days of negotiations have resulted in the Open 40s being allowed to race as a separate class while also being in IRC. We give you the list of 60 to study in the knowledge that the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 starts in just four weeks and one day’s time, and in those four weeks we’ll all be analysing the entries in detail.

VOLVO ROUND IRELAND YACHT RACE 2016 - ENTRIES 18 - 05 - 2016

Boat Name Entrant/Skipper Boat Type Sail No TCC Club Class

1 Xanadu Simon Costain X-50 GBR905R 1.149 RAFYC RORC 1

2 Mojito Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox J/109 GBR9047R 1.018 Pwllheli S.C. 3

3 Bam Conor Fogerty Sunfast 3600 IRL1471 1.047 Howth Yacht Club 2

4 Groupe 5 Carpentier Patrice SUN FAST 3200 FRA 38483 0.996 SN LA TRINITE SUR MER 4

5 Lynx Irish National Sailing & Powerbaot SchoReflec 38 IRL 7386 1.049 Irish National Sailing Club 3

6 Aurelia Chris & Patanne Power Smith J122 IRL35950 1.077 Royal St George Yacht Club 2

7 Pyxis Kirsteen Donaldson X332 GBR5963T 0 RORC 4, 6

8 Polished Manx2 Kuba Szymanski Beneteau First 40.7 GBR 7003 T 1.049 Douglas Bay Yacht Club 3, 6

9 Wild Spirit Paul Jackson (LYC Sea School) Jeanneau 40 GBR8799T 0.983 RORC, JOG 4

10 Quid non? Nigel Philpott Swan 40 (92) GBR7384T 1.005 RNSA 6

11 Arthur Logic Sailing Logic Beneteau First 40 GBR 7408R 1.07 RORC 3

12 Pegasus of Nortumberland Ross Hobson Open50 GBR715R 0 RORC 6

13 Maybird Darryl Hughes Gaff Ketch GBR 644R 0 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club 5

14 Artemis Ocean Racing Mikey Ferguson IMOCA 60 GBR100 1.6 Royal Ulster Yacht Club.. RORC CK

15 Heimatau Tom McLuskie Farrier F36 GBR708M 0 Port Edgar Yacht Club M

16 Lisa Michael Boyd First 44.7 GBR4947R 1.103 Royal Irish Yacht Club /RORC 1

17 Wakey Wakey Roger Smith J109 GBR5909R 1.015 Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club 3

18 Rockabill VI Paul O'Higgins JPK 10.80 IRL10800 1.045 RIYC 2

19 Arcsine Kathy Claydon Arcona 370 GBR8643T 1.01 Weymouth Sailing Club 6

20 Euro Car Parks David Cullen J109 (Storm) IRL1141 1.015 Howth Yacht Club 3

21 Change of Course Keith Gibbs C & C 115 GBR9070R 1.031 Channel Sailing Club 3

22 Bellino Rob Craige Sunfast 3600 GBR 3657 L 1.039 RORC 3, 6

23 Rambler George David Juan K canting keel USA25555 1.827 New York Yacht Club CK

24 Andante Keith Miller Yamaha 36 c IRL375 0.947 Kilmoer Quay sailing Club 5

25 May Contain Nuts Kevin Rolfe Rogers Whitbread 30 GBR9030 1.014 Cardiff Bay Yacht Club 3

26 Sarabande Rob Mably Swan 47 GBR 1238 1.034 Royal Cornwall YC 3, 5

27 Fuji Ari Känsäkoski CLASS 40 CC40 GBR 38 1.223 RORC 1

28 Masai Ben Korner Class 40 Pogo S2 109 12345 Team Masai 1

29 Fulmar Fever Robert Marchant Westerly Fulmar FR14 0.858 Waterford Harbour Sailing Club CK

30 Lula Belle Liam Coyne & Brian Flahive First 36.7 IRL 3607 0.998 Wicklow Sailing Club 4, 6

31 Hissy Fit Simon Baker Dazcat 1495 GBR 788M 1.22 Saltash Saling Club M

32 Port of Galway Martin Breen and Nigel Moss Dehler 37Cruising IRL 5687 0.952 Galway Bay Sailing Club 4, 5, 6

33 IOS Desert Star Ronan O Siochru Jeanneau Sunfast 37 IRL 1397 0.968 Irish Offshore Sailing 4

34 Katsu Alan Hannon Reichel-Pugh RP45 1.241 RORC 1

35 Fortify Simon M Brady Sunfast 3200 GBR4545N 1.005 RORC 6

36 Albireo David A Simpson Swan 371 IRL 3435 0.939 RIYC 4

37 J Taime Christopher Dowd Palmer J109 GBR6709R 1.011 RORC 3

38 Musandam - OmanSail Sandrine Pelletier MOD70 OMA 07 1.971 AL Mouj - Muscat M

39 Concise 10 Tony Lawson MOD 70 GBR 70 1.971 RORC M

40 Pipedreamer VI Paul Sutton Dufour 40 GBR 2271L 1.016 Holyhead Sailing Club 3

41 Just Plain Krazy Ian Knight JPK 1010 GBR3789L 1.008 Royal Western 3, 6

42 Teasing Machine Teasing Machine A13 FRA 38757 1.169 SRR 1

43 BigDeal Derek & Conor Dillon Dehler nova IRL 3492 0 Foynes YC 4, 6

44 Fortissimo Dream or Two Sailing Ltd Class 40 - Akilaria RC1 GBR 97 1.257 Portchester Sailing Club 1

45 Desperado of Cowes Richard Loftus Swan 65 GBR1665 1.101 RORC 1

46 Denebola Alain Poncelet Mount Gay 30 modified BEL1265 1.01 RNSYC 3, 6

47 Persistance Jerry Collins Sigma 38 2.08 IRL 8237 0.978 Royal St George 4

48 Cavatina Ian Hickey Granada 38 IRL3861 0 Royal Cork yacht Club 4, 5

49 Colombre XL Massimo Juris Class 40 Pogo S2 FRA 101 1.26 Compagnia Della Vela Venezia (CDV Venezia) 1, 6

50 Suenos Rupert Kidd Dazcat 1195 GBR741M 1.168 Royal Western Yacht Club M, 6

51 Bare Necessities Bruce Sutherland Dazcat 1150 GBR 725 M 1.221 Saltash Sailing Club M

52 AJAX Paul Macro J109 GBR 6908R 1.009 RACYC 3

53 roaring forty2 roaring forty2 class 40 kiwi fc bel 107 0 RYCB / RBSC 1

54 Phaedo^3 Lloyd Thornburg MOD70 03 1.971 New York Yacht Club M

55 Medicare First Aid Joe Conway Beneteau First 40 FRA39886 1.096 Royal Irish Yacht Club 2

56 Adelie Peter Hall Beneteau First 34.7 IRL 9631 0.987 National Yacht Club 4

57 Crackajack Philip Quinn Beneteau First 40.7 GBR7664T 12345 SLYC 3, 6

58 Lambay Rules Stephen Quinn J97 Irl 9970 0.971 Howth Yacht Club 4

59 Applegreen Sail for Kids Stephen Mullaney Beneteau First 375 IRL7963 0 Howth Yacht Club 4, 5

60 Dear Prudence c/o Barry Lyons J109 IRL 1095 1.004 RIYC 3

Published in Round Ireland

The Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race, one of the most challenging offshore races in the world, has become even more attractive to sailors with the announcement that there is a luxury Volvo car up for grabs for one lucky skipper.

Following the recent decision by Volvo Car Ireland to become title sponsor of the classic off-shore race from June 2016, they aim to further develop the race by encouraging sailors to return to complete the epic 704 mile contest over the next three races.

The skipper who has accumulated the best overall points' results on corrected time, over the next 3 Volvo Round Ireland races 2016, 2018 and 2020, will be presented with a brand new Volvo V40 at the Prizegiving for the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland Race.

With nearly 50 yachts already signed up for the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland, a significant number of skippers will already be in the running for the brand new Volvo V40 upon completing the race this June.

Run by Wicklow Sailing Club, the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race is the only RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) race based in Ireland and is one of the longest off-shore races in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar, taking up to 7 days to complete. The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats.

The 2016 Volvo Round Ireland departs Wicklow Bay on Saturday 18th June 2016 with the first start at 13.00 hours. 

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Yacht Race entry Phaedo3, one of three MOD70 entries into June's Irish offshore classic, have just set off from Bermuda with the intention of setting a World Record Run to Plymouth in the UK. Lloyd Thornburg has on board for this record, Brian Thompson, Simon Fisher, Sam Goodchild, Paul Allen, Pete Cumming and Fletcher kennedy. They hope to make it to Plymouth in 5 days. They are being timed by the WSSRC. Once the boat is in Plymouth it is well positioned for its Irish debut in seven weeks time.

MOD70s are the fastest craft in the world, and three of these 70–foot trimarans entered the race when Wicklow Sailing Club organisers changed the rules of the race to permit multihull entries for the first time in 2016.

Entries for the June 18 race look set to break records with 44 already received. The latest is Just Plain Krazy, a JPK 1010 by Ian Knight from Royal Western Y.C, entered into Class three and the two–Handed class.

Published in Round Ireland

In precisely eight weeks’ time from this morning, adrenalin levels around Wicklow Harbour on Saturday June 18th will be rising as the final countdown begins to the start of the 19th Round Ireland Race. With new sponsorship for Wicklow Sailing Club’s main event from Volvo Car Ireland, and an unprecedented level of international interest, this year’s staging of the biennial 704-mile RORC-supported classic looks like being one of the best ever in the definitive race’s already vibrant history. W M Nixon takes the pulse on the current state of play with one of Irish sailing’s core spectaculars.

The Antigua to Bermuda Sailing Record over an ocean sprint course of 935 miles would normally be of no more than tangential interest to Irish sailors. Indeed, as the very idea of it is only a relatively recent concept, it had barely started to figure as a handy challenge in the international sailing consciousness. But this morning it’s of particular interest in at least two constituencies – Irish sailing and big time multihull offshore racing - as Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 trimaran Phaedo 3 has been taking on the AB challenge in recent days, having left Antigua at noon local time on Wednesday.

In fact, as you consume both the full Irish and this comment-conglomeration of a cool clear Spring Saturday morning, the new record may well be already set. For so far as is known, whatever time is set will be the record, and may remain so until there’s a new challenge race going off officially from Antigua to Bermuda, and that’s not scheduled until May 2017. It appears that heretofore, nobody seems to have been trying to get from Antigua to Bermuda in a true record time, even if any reasonable seaman would want to make the passage in as efficient a style as possible in a manner in which speed is compatible with safety.

Yesterday afternoon, Phaedo 3 was well to the west of the rhumb line as she curved around the course to try and keep herself in the best available wind pressure for the final 200 miles to Bermuda. But whatever inaugural record emerges from Phaedo 3’s Antigua to Bermuda sprint, the links to sailing round Ireland and the up-coming Volvo Round Ireland race seem to build on us from every side, as Phaedo is being skippered by Brian Thompson.

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Brian Thompson, round Ireland record holder 1993–2015, and skipper of the MOD 70 Phaedo 3 which is entered for the Volvo Round Ireland Race

He was of course the main man when Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota set a very enduring round Ireland record back in September 1993. And that record stood until May 2015, when it was finally bettered – though not by the expected large margin – by Sydney Gavignet’s MOD 70 Musandam-Oman.

So good was Lakota’s record that it was Gavignet’s fourth attempt at it when he finally toppled the Fossett/Thompson time. The irony here is that Gavignet had become obsessed by the round Ireland challenge through being introduced to it by our own international sailing superstar, Kerryman Damian Foxall. Yet despite being on the three previous attempts, Foxall was unavoidably absent when Musandam-Oman finally brought the time down, as the Irishman had been drafted in to put right a crewing weakness in a Volvo Ocean Race contender.

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Damian Foxall

But Foxall will be very much on the strength when Oman Sailing comes to the line for the Volvo Round Ireland start at Wicklow on Saturday June 18th. And the broad scenario is for an utterly heroic drama, as Brian Thompson will be there was well with Thornburg’s Phaedo 3, as too will be another MOD 70, the Ned Collier-Wakefield-skippered Concise 10 which Phaedo 3 pipped for line honours in the RORC Caribbean 600 at the end of February.

When the Volvo Round Ireland Race organising team of Theo Phelan and WSC Commodore Peter Shearer and their colleagues announced last year that multi-hulls would be encouraged to take part in 2016’s staging, it was considered a good idea. But you would have been thought wildly optimistic to suggest that three MOD 70s would throw their hats into the ring. But now, with that achieved, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility there could be even more, for with competition like this already indicating that they’re on the way, others will want to join. And the reality of the big multihulls’ fantastic speed is that the boats can get here from their heartlands in France in barely a day’s sailing if their managers are inclined to send them on a race round Ireland.

As for Irish sailing generally, it’s great value as we now have two Round Ireland Races for the price of one, for experience shows that with a significant multi-hull presence, they and the mono-hulls are only seriously competing with comparable craft.

But as it is, the mono-hull division is exciting in is own right. We knew that George David’s impressive Juan K-designed Rambler 88 was showing strong interest a long time ago. But sometimes it’s quite a step from showing interest to actually signing on the dotted line. But as of yesterday, with an impressive 39 boats signed up and many more “on the way”, Rambler 88 had for some time been very much on the strength, fully-signed-up as entry Number 25.

So it could well be that when push comes to shove, we’ll be looking at a star-studded fleet somewhere north of the 50 mark - the best for some years. As ever, the bulk of it will be made up of the usual diverse offshore racing fleet averaging around the 35-45ft mark, and it includes many talents.

Defending champion Richard Harris, the Scottish owner of the Sydney 36 Tanit, indicated some time ago that he wouldn’t be defending, as he made it fairly clear that his overall win in the 2014 Round Ireland by seven minutes from the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth was his swan-song. But Tanit has been sold to an Isle of Man owner, and she has already been listed as an ISORA contender for 2016, so who knows, but she may be persuaded into an event which clearly suits her so well with the Volvo Round Ireland Race.

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The Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth, runner-up (by seven minutes) in the 2014 Round Ireland Race, and overall winner of the 2015 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race

As it is, today’s ISORA seasonal opener of a 50-miler from Dun Laoghaire down to the Arklow buoy and then back up to finish at Wicklow (it’s matched by another day race across on the Welsh coast), will see all sorts of enthusiasms being stirred. Volvo Round Ireland Race organiser Theo Phelan is a seasoned old ISORA hand – he did his ten years and more on the circuit with the Stuart Kinnear- organised partnership on the Humphreys Three-Quarter Tonner Scenario Encore – and if conditions are as good as promised by the met men, the post-race buzz in Wicklow should see a mild dose of round Ireland mania, with Theo there to manage it as he meets old friends and former competitors from the ISORA ranks.

But already the fleet in prospect is impressive, as it includes 1996 overall winner Michael Boyd, Commodore of the RORC and leading member of the RIYC, with the First 44.4 Lisa which he has chartered as a stand-in until his new JPK 10.80 is ready. It will make for mixed feelings, as the first JPK 10.80 ordered for Dun Laoghaire by Paul O’Higgins, who formerly campaigned the Corby 33 Rockabill V, is going to be race ready for the VRIR (for which she’s entered) by June 18th, and she’ll be very closely watched.

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Le Bateau du Jour – the JPK 10.80 showing what a good all-round performer she is, going at speed yet beautifully under control with her twin-rudder configuration.

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The First 36.7 Lula Belle, winner of the two-handed division and two fully-crewed classes in the Round Britain & Ireland 2014, will be raced round Ireland by Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive

Also in the hunt are 2014 Round Britain & Ireland Two-handed winners Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive of Wicklow SC with the First 36.7 Lula Bell. And fresh from his Class IV win in the RORC Caribbean 600 is Howth’s Conor Fogerty with his Jeannneau Sunfast 3600 BAM - he’ll have semi-direct competition as a smaller sister in the same style, Groupe5 entered from France (Patrice Carpentier) is a Sunfast 3200.

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Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 BAM from Howth on her way to a class win in the Caribbean 600 in February.

The new Inter Schools trophy has competition, as the winner in the 32-strong schools division in the 2015 Fastnet, Ronan O Siochru’s Sun Odyssey 36 Desert Star of Irish Offshore Sailing, will be going, as too will be the Reflex 38 Lynx of Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire, where Kenneth Rumball had his complete round Ireland crew together last weekend for intense training, and today we’ll see the results as Lynx takes on the ISORA fleet.

And the two Dun Laoghaire sailing schools will have outside competition in the Round Ireland, as Paul Jackson of LYC Sea School from across the Irish Sea has entered with the Jeanneau 40 Wild Spirit.

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The adrenalin time……the two Sun Odyssey 37s of Irish Offshore Sailing in Wicklow Harbour before the start of the Round Ireland in June 2014.

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Learning curve. The Irish National Sailing School’s Reflex 38 Lynx will be training towards the Volvo Round Ireland Race on June 18th with today’s inaugural ISORA Race, which starts in Dun Laoghaire and finishes in Wicklow

As for the eternal J/109, expect their already significant numbers to increase as the start time draws closer. But as it is, last year’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle runner-up, the J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) is already entered, after today’s race it is expected that the 2014 Round Ireland runners-up and 2015 Dingle Race winners, the Shanahans with Ruth, will also have signed on the line to race round Ireland again, and in the near future we expect to have it revealed just which J/109 it is that World Half Ton Classics Champion Peter Cullen of Howth has chartered to race round Ireland.

Meanwhile it can be confirmed that the winner of the two-Handed Division in the 2015 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, the Elan 340 Blue Eyes (Colm Buckley, Howth YC) is already signed up, and so too is the oldest boat ever to do the Round Ireland Race.

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Colm Buckley’s Elan 340 Blue Eyes (left) won the two-handed division in the 2015 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

This is one of the best-restored classics currently sailing in Irish waters, Darryl Hughes’ 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow-built 43ft gaff ketch Maybird, During the time since Darryl began to make Ireland the focus of his sailing four years ago (he’s a Yeats fan, and is believed to be the only person who regularly sails to the Yeats Summer School in late July each year in Sligo, where he lives aboard for the duration), he has cruised round Ireland at least twice, so racing round should be taken in Maybird’s stride, as she also did the Fastnet back in 2011.

It will be a matter of time. Maybe quite a lot of it. But she’s no slouch when conditions suit. And there’s form here too – her 1934-built sister-ship Aideen was raced to a class win in the 1947 Fastnet by her original owner, the great Billy Mooney, Commodore of the Irish Cruising Club at the time.

Maybird’s entry is made through Poolbeg Y&BC, which is her home base when she’s up in Dublin. She’s currently in Crosshaven in the final stages of re-fitting, but when she does do the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June, it’s hoped that her crew will include a signficant element from Arklow Sailing Club - it may even include people who can claim descent from the men who built Maybird eighty years ago.

So that’s how it’s shaping up for the Volvo Round Ireland race 2016. The current Round Ireland Record-holder Musandam-Oman and her fantastic sisters at one end . The eternal seventy-nine-year-old beauty Maybird at the other. And in between, an already fabulous fleet, with more to come. This is going to be a vintage year.

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She’ll be the oldest boat ever to sail the race. But when Darryl Hughes 79-year-old Arklow-built Maybird comes to the line for the start of the Volvo Round Ireland Race on June 18th at Wicklow, her crew will know that since her restoration in 2009-2011, she has completed one Fastnet race and two round Ireland cruises.

Round Ireland 2016 Entries to date (April 22)

RIYR Entry No

Wufoo Entry ID

Boat Name

Entrant/Skipper

Boat Type

Sail No

TCC

Club

CLASS

1

2

XANADU

Simon Costain

X-50

GBR905R

1.149

RAFYC RORC

1

2

3

Mojito

Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox

J/109

GBR9047R

1.018

Pwllheli S.C.

3

3

4

Bam

Conor Fogerty

Sunfast 3600

IRL1471

1.047

Howth Yacht Club

2

4

5

GROUPE 5

Carpentier Patrice

SUN FAST 3200

FRA 38483

0.996

SN LA TRINITE SUR MER

4

5

6

LYNX

Irish National Sailing & Power 

Reflec 38

IRL 7386

1.049

Irish National Sailing Club

3

6

7

Aurelia

Chris & Patanne Power Smith

J122

IRL35950

1.077

Royal Saint George Yacht Club

2

7

8

Pyxis

Kirsteen Donaldson

X332

GBR5963T

0

RORC

4, 6

8

9

Polished Manx2

Kuba Szymanski

Beneteau First 40.7

GBR 7003 T

1.049

Douglas Bay Yacht Club

3, 6

9

10

Wild Spirit

Paul Jackson (LYC Sea School)

Jeanneau 40

GBR8799T

0.983

RORC, JOG

4

10

11

Quid non?

Nigel Philpott

Swan 40 (92)

GBR7384T

1.005

Royal Naval Sailing Association

6

11

12

Arthur Logic

Sailing Logic

Beneteau First 40

GBR 7408R

1.07

RORC

3

12

13

Pegasus of Nortumberland

Ross Hobson

Open50

GBR715R

12345

RORC

6

13

14

Maybird

Darryl Hughes

Gaff Ketch

GBR 644R

12345

Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club

5

14

15

Artemis Ocean Racing

Mikey Ferguson

IMOCA 60

GBR100

1.6

Royal Ulster Yacht Club.. RORC

CK

15

16

Heimatau

Tom McLuskie

Farrier F36

GBR708M

0

Port Edgar Yacht Club

MH

16

17

Lisa

Michael Boyd

First 44.7

GBR4947R

1.103

Royal Irish Yacht Club/Royal Ocean Racin 

1

17

18

Wakey Wakey

Roger Smith

J109

GBR5909R

1.015

Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club

3

18

19

Paul O'Higgins

Paul O'Higgins

JPK 10.80

IRL10800

1.045

RIYC

2

19

20

Arcsine

Kathy Claydon

Arcona 370

GBR8643T

1.01

Weymouth Sailing Club

6

20

21

TBA

David Cullen

J109

IRL1141

1.015

David Cullen

4

21

22

Thalia

Mick Flynn

Sigma 400

IRL733

1.06

DL Marina

2

22

23

Change of Course

Keith Gibbs

C & C 115

GBR9070R

1.031

Channel Sailing Club

3

23

24

Bellino

rob craige

Sunfast 3600

GBR 3657 L

1.039

rorc

3, 6

24

25

Rambler

George David

Juan K canting keel 

USA25555

1.827

New York Yacht Club

CK

25

26

Andante

Keith Miller

Yamaha 36 c

IRL375

0.947

Kilmoer Quay sailing Club

5

26

27

May Contain Nuts

Kevin Rolfe

Rogers Whitbread 30

GBR9030

1.014

Cardiff Bay Yacht Club

3

27

28

Sarabande

Rob Mably

Swan 47

GBR 1238

1.034

Royal Cornwall YC

3, 5

28

29

Fuji

Ari Känsäkoski

CLASS 40 CC40

GBR 38

1.223

RORC

1

29

30

Masai

Ben Korner

Class 40 Pogo S2

109

12345

Team Masai

1

30

31

Fulmar Fever

Robert Marchant

Westerly Fulmar

FR14 

0.858

Waterford Harbour Sailing Club

CK

31

32

Lula Belle

Liam Coyne & Brian Flahive

First 36.7

IRL 3607

0.998

WICKLOW SAILING CLUB

4, 6

32

33

Hissy Fit

Simon Baker

Dazcat 1495

GBR 788M

1.22

Saltash Saling Club

M

33

34

Cloud nine

Robert Jordan

Sigma 33

201

0.912

Holyhead sailing club

4

34

35

Port of Galway

Martin Breen and Nigel Moss

Dehler 37Cruising

IRL 5687

0.952

Galway Bay Sailing Club

4, 6

35

36

IOS Desert Star

Ronan O Siochru 

Jeanneau Sunfast 37

IRL 1397

0.968

Irish Offshore Sailing

4

0

37

Cancelled

Ronan O Siochru

Cancelled

Cancelled

Cancelled

Cancelled

Cancelled

36

38

KATSU

Alan Hannon

Reichel-Pugh

RP45

1.241

RORC

1

Published in W M Nixon

Two Round Ireland yacht race contenders are smashing records on the far side of the Atlantic Ocean this week, on the Antigua race circuit. And the Carribbean records come just days after a Dun Laoghaire sailor also set a new record for sailing Round Antigua in a Laser dinghy.

Big winds, big speeds and the fastest ever times ever recorded made the 80th anniversary Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, one of the most spectacular in history with a total of five records broken, and each team winning their skipper's weight in rum.

Racing was over staggered starts commencing at 0700 with a good mix of yachts ranging from Classics including the stunning duo - The Blue Peter and Galatea - Ruth, the locally built 33m schooner, and a competitive group smaller boats including three J/24s. However, the stars of the show that set off last and raced 60nms round the island neck and neck were undoubtedly the two world-class MOD70s - MS Barbados Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, and Phaedo3 co skippered by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson. They promised to thrill, and indeed they did.

They jostled for dominance all the way round the course and ended their battle with MS Barbados Concise 10 claiming victory by just 12 seconds. They completed the course in a staggering 2 hours, 37 minutes, 38 seconds, shaving under two hours off the previous Multihull record.

Lloyd Thornburg co skipper of Phaedo3 added: "It was a great race but after sailing 60 miles flat out it was a tiring one. Well done MS Barbados Concise 10."

Another great record-breaking achievement came from local sailor, Trevor Hunte, who not only smashed the Windsurfer record he set in 2014 by an impressive 2 hour, 41 minute margin but also led the entire fleet all the way round the course to take line honours. He completed the course in 5 hours, 34 minutes, 16 seconds.

2016 records

Multihull - MS Barbados Concise 10 course time: 2 hours, 37 minutes, 38 seconds
Previous record: 4 hours, 42 minutes, 20 seconds

Windsurfer - Trevor Hunte course time: 5 hours, 34 minutes, 16 seconds
Previous record: 7 Hours, 59 minutes, 10 seconds

One-Design J/24 - Team College Funds course time: 8 hours, 37 minutes, 26 seconds
Previous record: 9 hours, 6 minutes, 38 seconds

60ft and Under - TP52 Conviction course time: 5 hours, 34 minutes, 16 seconds
Previous record: 6 hours, 7 minutes, 6 seconds

Singlehanded Monohull - J/24 Bunga-Bunga course time: 9 hours, 46 minutes, 42 seconds
Previous record: 9 hours, 49 minutes, 58 seconds. 

Published in Round Ireland

The world record beating multihull skipper Lloyd Thornburg has entered his MOD70 Phaedo 3 in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race. The boat is currently in Barbados for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.

It is the second MOD70 to enter the race and follows Ned Collier-Wakefield who confirmed Team Concise last November.

Thornburg has been campaigning his MOD 70 Phaedo 3 for over a year  and has notched up an incredibly successful run of world records and regatta wins.

This year, after several Caribbean events Thornburg will be heading back to Europe. 

Yesterday, saw the opening of online entries to the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland and ISORA veteran Kuba Szymanski was first to register. Kuba will race his new boat Polished Manx 2 , a First 40.7.

Boats from France, UK and Ireland have been registering thus far with anticipation building that Volvo Round Ireland 2016 will be an epic one.

Published in Round Ireland
Page 6 of 13
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