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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


Boat Type

Sail No







Simon Costain









Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox




Pwllheli S.C.





Conor Fogerty

Sunfast 3600



Howth Yacht Club





Carpentier Patrice


FRA 38483







Irish National Sailing & Power 

Reflec 38

IRL 7386


Irish National Sailing Club





Chris & Patanne Power Smith




Royal Saint George Yacht Club





Kirsteen Donaldson





4, 6



Polished Manx2

Kuba Szymanski

Beneteau First 40.7

GBR 7003 T


Douglas Bay Yacht Club

3, 6



Wild Spirit

Paul Jackson (LYC Sea School)

Jeanneau 40







Quid non?

Nigel Philpott

Swan 40 (92)



Royal Naval Sailing Association




Arthur Logic

Sailing Logic

Beneteau First 40

GBR 7408R






Pegasus of Nortumberland

Ross Hobson









Darryl Hughes

Gaff Ketch

GBR 644R


Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club




Artemis Ocean Racing

Mikey Ferguson




Royal Ulster Yacht Club.. RORC





Tom McLuskie

Farrier F36



Port Edgar Yacht Club





Michael Boyd

First 44.7



Royal Irish Yacht Club/Royal Ocean Racin 




Wakey Wakey

Roger Smith




Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club




Paul O'Higgins

Paul O'Higgins

JPK 10.80








Kathy Claydon

Arcona 370



Weymouth Sailing Club





David Cullen




David Cullen





Mick Flynn

Sigma 400



DL Marina




Change of Course

Keith Gibbs

C & C 115



Channel Sailing Club





rob craige

Sunfast 3600

GBR 3657 L



3, 6




George David

Juan K canting keel 



New York Yacht Club





Keith Miller

Yamaha 36 c



Kilmoer Quay sailing Club




May Contain Nuts

Kevin Rolfe

Rogers Whitbread 30



Cardiff Bay Yacht Club





Rob Mably

Swan 47

GBR 1238


Royal Cornwall YC

3, 5




Ari Känsäkoski


GBR 38







Ben Korner

Class 40 Pogo S2



Team Masai




Fulmar Fever

Robert Marchant

Westerly Fulmar



Waterford Harbour Sailing Club




Lula Belle

Liam Coyne & Brian Flahive

First 36.7

IRL 3607



4, 6



Hissy Fit

Simon Baker

Dazcat 1495

GBR 788M


Saltash Saling Club




Cloud nine

Robert Jordan

Sigma 33



Holyhead sailing club




Port of Galway

Martin Breen and Nigel Moss

Dehler 37Cruising

IRL 5687


Galway Bay Sailing Club

4, 6



IOS Desert Star

Ronan O Siochru 

Jeanneau Sunfast 37

IRL 1397


Irish Offshore Sailing





Ronan O Siochru









Alan Hannon






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

During the Autumn it was quietly announced that Wicklow Sailing Club had secured longterm sponsorship from Volvo Cars Ireland to support the biennial Round Ireland Yacht Race. This week, the new relationship put its head formally above the parapet with a reception at Wicklow’s partnership club in Dun Laoghaire, the venerable Royal Irish. W M Nixon went along to test the waters.

Volvo Round Ireland Race”. There’s a harmonious sonority to it. Outside in the dark, it may have been the first really cold night of this winter. But within the elegant warmth of the world’s oldest complete purpose-designed yacht club building, people were enjoying the hospitality and savouring the new phrase as they rolled the freshly-minted title about their vocal cords, exploring its many rhetorical and operatic flourishes.

Okay, maybe we were all a bit over the top in the relieved realisation that the longest Christmas hiatus in living memory seemed at last to have drawn to a close. Whatever, this was real life again, bringing future prospects and sporting sailing challenges with the anticipation of summer right back to the top of the agenda, and not so much as a whiff of stale mulled wine about the place.

Officially, we can suppose that the new title is the “Volvo Cars Ireland Wicklow Round Ireland Yacht Race”. But the clearcut brand of Volvo Round Ireland Race is already so firmly embedded in sailing’s consciousness that you’d be on a hiding to nothing trying to promote the copyright-protecting legally-binding longer title. And with the obvious goodwill among the great and the good gathered in Irish sailing’s most gracious building, the shorter title just seemed so right.

The link with the Royal Irish began with the Round Ireland 2014, when it was felt that an alternative pre-race berthing option for the biggest boats at the Royal Irish YC’s unrivalled facilities within Dun Laoghaire marina would help to spread the load, for Wicklow Harbour can become very crowded in the lead-in to the start.

But in the end, you couldn’t help but notice in 2014 that it was switched-on owner-skippers like Brian O’Sullivan of Tralee Bay, with his 2013 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race winner, the Oyster 37 Amazing Grace, who seemed to get the most convenient advantage from the RIYC hospitality.

round ireland yacht race 2015 2The switched-on Kerryman…Brian O’Sullivan of Tralee Bay SC knew that his 2013 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle winner Amazing Grace would be most conveniently berthed at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire in the lead-in to the Round Ireland Race 2014. Photo: W M Nixon

However, looking to this year’s race, there’s no doubt that the expected presence of serious international heavy metal such as George David’s Rambler 88 and the IMOCA 60 Artemis will see a greater call on the RIYC welcome.

And it was made clear by Commodore Jim Horan that the welcome will be there. For although it’s 21 nautical miles from Dun Laoghaire to Wicklow, the links of friendship between these two very different clubs are strong in their shared belief that a major race round Ireland every second year is absolutely central to our identity as a sailing nation.

round ireland yacht race 2015 3At the Volvo Round Ireland Race reception in the Royal Irish YC were (left to right) Adrian Yeates (MD, Volvo Cars Ireland), Theo Phelan (Race Organiser), Andrew Doyle TD, and James Horan (Commodore RIYC). Photo: Ann Egan

round ireland yacht race 2015 4The morning of the start in Wicklow, June 20th 2014, with the RIYC and the Wicklow SC flags flying together. Photo: W M Nixon

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George David’s Rambler 88 was the first of the international entries to declare a formal interest in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016

This is a view which has been taken on board by Adrian Yeates, MD of Volvo Cars Ireland. He is already well accustomed to dealing with Irish sailing administrators at the top level, for Volvo sponsor both the Dun Laoghaire Regatta and Cork Week, as his brand has found it makes for a very neat yet dynamic fit with sailing. But taking on the Round Ireland Race is something a little bit different.

There may well be the powerful image already projected by the Volvo Ocean Race round the world to add an extra and invigorating dimension. Nevertheless the Round Ireland setup was a difficult proposition to assess, with this biennial 704-mile challenge being the pillar event – indeed, almost the raison d’etre - of a small local sailing club in a little port which has much of the country town about it.

Or at least, it was difficult to assess until the shrewd Wicklow folk persuaded Adrian Yeates to come to Wicklow to the club reception on the morning of the race on Saturday June 18th 2014. You would need a heart of frozen stone not to be caught up in the special mood of the colourful yet nervy carnival which is Wickow Harbour on race morning, and Adrian Yeates is far from stony-hearted.

So as a result, there we were in the RIYC with such luminaries as Nobby Reilly, Commodore of ICRA, Peter Ryan, Chairman of ISORA, Wicklow Dail representative Andrew Doyle TD, and Harry Hermon, CEO of the ISA, to see the seal being set on a welcome new linkup which is in for the long haul.

While Greystones, Dublin Bay and Howth sailing were well represented, the Wicklow men and women were there in strength - staging the Round Ireland Race is now part of their DNA. Their Commodore Hal Fitzgerald led a talented contingent which included Race Chairman Peter Shearer together with the man with whom the buck stops, Race Organiser Theo Whelan.

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Wicklow SC Commodore Hal Fitzgerald and Race Organiser Theo Phelan. Photo: Ann Egan

Although entries don’t officially open online until this Monday, 18th January, Theo was able to give us a hint of some of the boats they are already expecting, while revealing plans for new prizes and extra classes.

At the top end of the spectacularity scale, the introduction of a multi-hull division will be getting attention, particularly as Ned Collier Williams has confirmed that international challengers Team Concise will be bringing three boats, headed by their MOD 70 trimaran, but with their two Open 40 monohulls there as well.

But for the Open classes, top contender for the time being is Philip Johnston’s Open 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, whose crew will include Cork’s Figaro veteran David Kenefick. It will be very interesting to see how this specialised flying machine shapes up against the larger but more orthodox Rambler 88

However, for sailors who operate at a less rarefied height, perhaps the most interesting news is that there will now be a separate prize for Sailing School boats. Both of the Irish Offshore Sailing Jeanneau Sunfast 37s raced in the 2014 Round Ireland, and one of them got a podium place. But it was Ronan O Siochru’s overall victory in the 33-strong sailing schools division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 – winning the Roger Justice Trophy – which hit the publicity target spot on, and the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 now provides a worthwhile project for serious offshore sailing schools.

round ireland yacht race 2015 7The two Sunfast 37s of Irish Offshore Sailing, seen here on the morning of the start in 2014, will be going again, but this time they’ll be racing for a Sailing Schools Trophy. Beyond them on the outer pier are two Open 40s which will also be returning in 2016. Photo: W M Nixon

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The Irish National Sailing School’s Prima 38 Lynx did a previous Round Ireland Race sailed by NUIG.

Thus both Irish Offshore Sailing’s boats are going again, but as well the word is that the Irish National Sailing School’s Prima 38 Lynx is being kitted out for proper racing in 2016 after spending 2015 as the school’s yachtmaster workhorse. And as this boat provided success for NUIG in a previous Round Ireland Race, there’s already a real race in the making before we know which sailing schools boats are coming from from Britain and France.

All these possible and probable entries are under the microscope before we have even begun to consider the huge number of “ordinary” club and offshore sailors who like to have at least one Round Ireland Race in their sailing CV, while for many it’s impossible to see an even-numbered year go past without giving some though to a serious campaign for the Round Ireland.

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A well-presented boat – Richard Harris’s Sydney 36 Tanit heads out for the start of the Round Ireland Race 2014, which she won overall by seven minutes from the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth. Photo: W M Nixon

Included among these will of course be the Shanahan family of the National YC whose J/109 Ruth missed the overall win in 2014 by just seven minutes to Richard Harris’s Sydney 36 Tanit from Scotland. And with the J/109s undergoing a further increase in fleet numbers in their natural home of Dublin Bay, it could well be that, as it was with the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race last year, there’ll be enough J/109s to constitute a class within themselves.

Certainly J Boats have a good record in the round Ireland story, with both Peter Wilson of Howth and Michael Boyd of RIYC winning overall in their J/35s. The latter – now Commodore of the RORC – did it with Big Ears in 1996, and he plans to compete again this June twenty years down the line with as many of his 1996 crew as can be persuaded aboard, but it will be with a boat at least slightly larger than a J/35.

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Game On! Immediately after the start of 2014 race, the Volvo 70 Monster Project (on charter to David Ryan of Wicklow SC) comes powering through the fleet: Photo: W M Nixon

Doubtless as ever there will also be a strong contingent from the Cork Harbour and Kinsale fleets too, for although the Round Ireland race was inaugurated in 1980, it was the arrival of Denis Doyle from Crosshaven to participate with the new Frers 51 Moonduster in 1982 which set the stage for the Round Ireland Race becoming central to Irish sailing.

Entry numbers have waxed and waned since, with the peak being reached in 1990 with 61 starters, though the greatest number of finishers was 54 in 1994. Through the grim years of the recent recession, the Wicklow enthusiasm kept the show on the road, but for the last three stagings of the Round Ireland, the entries have flatlined at 39 boats – it’s quite a good show in the circumstances, but there’s room for more.

With the new mood of optimism and enterprise, and an ideal new sponsorship setup, we can expect to see numbers rising again. However, for those who had acquired a taste for the traditional setup with the widespread finishing times being accommodated by holding the prize-giving at a gala dinner in Wicklow in the Autumn, be aware that Theo Phelan and his team are now thinking in terms of scheduling the prize-giving within the week of the race, staging it on the night of Friday June 24th. It will certainly add some extra excitement to see if all the results can be done and dusted in time……

round ireland yacht race 2015 11The Volvo Round Ireland Race includes a two-handed division, which in 2014 was won by father-and-son duo Derek and Conor Dillon of Foynes YC with their Dehler 34 Big Deal, one of the smallest boats in the fleet. Photo WSC

Published in W M Nixon

Michael Boyd, the Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and current holder of the Commodore’s Cup, will return to compete in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland race, marking the 20th anniversary of his win, with many of the same crew from his 1996 winning yacht, Big Ears.

The 18th Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race is set to be one of the most heated editions in the race’s history say organisers with a number of prestigious international sailing champions announcing they will contest this year’s edition.


Michael Boyd's choice of a J/35 as his first serious offshore racer was a shrewd decision 20 years ago. He won the Round Ireland in style with Big Ears and more recently the J/35 model has been one of the few exceptional boats to be inducted into American Sailing's Hall of Fame. In the 1996 race Boyd and his crew, minus one removed to hospital off Kerry with fractured ribs, played every tiny gain to beat Roy, Dickson's Beaumont Spirit on Channel handicap, the deciding system for determining the overall race winner.

Twenty years later, the race received a major boost before Christmas with Volvo Cars Ireland coming on board as title sponsor this year after four years without sponsorship.

Phillip Johnston has also confirmed that he will be entering the impressive Open 60 Artemis-Team Endeavour, the current holder of the Round Great Britain and Ireland Race, under skipper Michael Ferguson.

The current holder of the Fastnet Race's Roger Justice trophy Rónán Ó Siochrú has also confirmed that he will be back to contest the Round Ireland for the fourth time.

At the end of 2015 internationally renowned sailor and US businessman, George David also announced his intention to enter his yacht Rambler 88 into the 2016 race. The canting keel maxi yacht would be a strong contender to break the Volvo Round Ireland Race record of 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds which is held by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 achieved in 2008.

Meanwhile, following the announcement that 2016 will be the first time that multihulls will be invited to compete, Team Concise have already indicated their intention to enter their world-class fleet. Ned Collier Wakefield, Team Director and Skipper for Team Concise, has indicated that they intend entering their 3 boats into the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland – the MOD 70 and their 2 Class 40 boats.

The Race only officially opens for entries next Monday (18th January 2016), however with the quality of entries already at such competitive levels, Race organisers expect the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland to be one of the most competitive and exciting races ever, attracting serious quality sailors and some of the finest yachts from across the world.

Race organiser Theo Phelan:

“We have further expressions of interest from some really exciting names that we hope to be in a position to announce in the coming weeks. Already the competition is heating up and we expect many previous race entrants to return to contest what is set to be one of the most exciting races ever.”

“The new Volvo Cars title sponsorship is a paramount development in the expansion of the race, which allows us to plan ahead for the significant growth of the race in the coming years.”

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

Volvo Car Ireland has added June's Round Ireland Yacht Race to its Irish sailing sponsorships. The car brand adds the 700–mile offshore race to its existing sponsorship of Ireland's other Grand Prix biennial sailing events; Dun Laoghaire Regatta and Cork Week

While no official figure has been released, in previous years the title sponsorship of the race has been valued upwards of €50,000, according to an RTE report.

Run by Wicklow Sailing Club, the Round Ireland Yacht Race is the only RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) race based in Ireland and is one of the longest offshore 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. Since then, held biennially, the fleet has grown steadily, attracting a record sixty boats.

The Race is regarded as near equivalent in terms of rating points to the Fastnet Race, the classic offshore race, which runs in alternate years to the Round Ireland. The course, starting and finishing in Wicklow, brings entrants through widely different sea types and coastlines, from the Atlantic Ocean to the more sheltered Irish Sea, with difficult tidal gates, particularly around the North Eastern coast and navigational challenges requiring day and night tactical decisions at every change of forecast.

The Volvo sponsorship comes at a pivotal time in the Race’s development. Last year saw the establishment of a Dún Laoghaire base through a partnership with the Royal Irish Yacht Club, providing facilities thereby allowing larger yachts to compete. Race organisers have also just announced a further expansion to include a multi-hull category for the first time ever in its 36 year history.

Since the multi-hull expansion was announced, a UK giant 70-foot trimaran is already planning to compete in the 2016 edition of the race.

Adrian Yeates, Managing Director Volvo Car Ireland commented:

Volvo Car Ireland is proud to be so closely involved with such a prestigious sailing event as the Round Ireland Yacht Race. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s leading offshore race and is a truly global event, involving state-of-the-art boats and high-performance competition sailing on the world’s roughest seas. The Round Ireland offers clear points of connection with Volvo’s image, including a long-term commitment to safety, a readiness for adventure and a deep passion for design.”

Race Organiser Theo Phelan says Wicklow Sailing Club is delighted to announce Volvo as title sponsor of the race:

“Volvo represents our ultimate choice of sponsor for the Round Ireland Yacht Race, an alignment of the ideologies of strength, longevity, trusted reputation and determination. Volvo has a long heritage in sailing and an intricate understanding of the sport. Over the past four years, the focus of Wicklow Sailing Club has been to develop and expand the race and Volvo has come on board at an important time in the consolidation of this expansion. 2016 is set to be an epic year for the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race.”

The 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race will set sail on Saturday June 18th 2016. The Race will officially open for entries on the 18th January 2016.

Published in Round Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Round Ireland

#roundsireland – The 2016 Round Ireland Yacht Race is scheduled to start from Wicklow Bay at 14:00 hrs on Saturday 18th June 2016 and organisers are seeking early interest.

The Round Ireland is a biennial 704 mile circumnavigation of the island of Ireland, starting and finishing in Wicklow. The 2016 race will be the 19th of the series, with the first race having been sailed in 1980.

The race is organised by Wicklow Sailing Club, in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

The race provides spectacular scenery around the coastline of Ireland. There is a series of challenging tidal gates and varying sea conditions. Finally, there is the massive welcome home at Wicklow Sailing Club.

The Preliminary Notice of Race is attached; enquiries have already been received at the race office from interested boat owners.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has confirmed that the race will continue to merit bonus points (1.4) for participants and the Royal Irish Yacht Club will once again provide a base for those boats who wish to use Dun Laoghaire as a base.

In 2014, the overall winner was Tanit (Richard Harris and team from Glasgow), while line honours went to Monster Project (Andy Budgen and local WSC sailor David Ryan). The overall record of 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds is held by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 achieved in 2008.

The race officially opens for entries in January 2016 but seek early enquiries. Download the preliminary NOR below.

Published in Round Ireland
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