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The Irish National Sailing Club hosts the RS Super Series for the 2018/19 Winter season. Racing takes place on 6 Saturday mornings beginning on Saturday 6th October and running 17th November, 15th December, 19th January, 23rd February and 23rd March. Entry for the series is €60.

Simple windward-leeward courses with a spreader at the top mark and leeward gate are in order, designed to maximise the fun from the full range of RS boats. It’s planned to hold starts for RS 200s, RS 400s, Fevas and an RS PY fleet, which will feature new Irish RS dealer Kenneth Rumball sailing an RS Aero. First gun is shortly before 10 am and with the aim to complete 5-8 races per Saturday morning.

Racing is being supported by the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School, with participants welcome to make use of the school’s facilities before and after racing. Boats can be trailered to coal harbour car park and launch off public slip or from one of the local clubs if you prefer.

"It’s planned to hold starts for RS 200s, RS 400s, Fevas and an RS PY fleet"

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School is making its fleet of 8 RS Fevas available for charter for the series, allowing young crews the opportunity to try out the boat in a race environment. The charter fee is €150. Kenneth Rumball also has an RS400 available for charter too.

Check out some of the previous series action below:

For Entry and Sailing Instructions here

Published in INSS

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in County Dublin is keen to help develop careers and opportunities within the marine industry.

There is a resurgence of interest in getting out and enjoying the water in Ireland and the demand for excellent sailing and powerboating instructors is on the increase. INSS say they understand that for many the job of training people on the water is something they have viewed as a weekend or summer job throughout college but the demographics have shifted, and no longer can training in these areas be considered something only for a couple of months in the summer, evidenced by our busy year-round schedule of teaching.

INSS optimistsINSS Optimist dinghies are used for junior sailing instruction

To help grow the talent pool, the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School has opened an internship programme for the period of September – May. To begin with, INSS are looking for two interns to join us for this training/internship programme. No prior instructing experience is required by any candidates, as all training will be provided as part of the internship programme. 

"The ideal candidates need only have a ‘can-do’ attitude"

While the main sailing season gets quieter after the busy summer months, the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School is still busy with schools group, yachting and much more. With a diverse fleet of nearly 300 craft, there is also a considerable maintenance schedule that cannot be underestimated. The ideal candidates need only have a ‘can-do’ attitude with an appetite for work in the sailing & powerboating industry.

The internships offered will give hands-on experience in all areas of a sailing & powerboat school. Experience is guaranteed in everything from office duties, to teaching both sailing and powerboating and will also include maintenance experience on all aspects of our fleet. The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School has grown to be one of the largest sailing and powerboat training centres on the British Isles and candidates will benefit immensely from the experience gained here.

Alongside all of this, INSS are offering professional qualifications including;

• Irish Sailing National Powerboat Certificate
• Irish Sailing Safety Boat Certificate
• Department of the Marine VHF SRC Certification
• First Aid at Sea Certification
• RYA Yachtmaster Theory Certification
• RYA Dayskipper Practical Certification
• RYA Dinghy Instructor Pre-Entry
• RYA Dinghy Instructor Certification

Other courses may be considered such as;
• ISAF Offshore Safety Certification
• Irish Sailing Advanced Powerboat Certification

Applications are now open, a cover letter and current CV should be emailed to [email protected] Please note places will be limited.

Published in INSS

To say that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is facing a period of administrative flux is an under-statement. This exceptionally complete and totally artificial haven, for so long such an integral part of Dublin Bay that people perceive it as a natural feature of the coastline, finds itself today in the throes of functional change writes W M Nixon.

It is moving on at last from being a commercial working ferry port, with a very strong recreational side, to a new identity as a leisure facility providing for multiple activities afloat and ashore. This arguably unique and undoubtedly massive granite structure is finally beginning the keenly-anticipated process of officially becoming a public amenity and a marine sport and general recreational area, with all the myriad challenges of finance, user priorities, accessibility, responsibility and day-to-day running and maintenance requiring a fresh way of thinking.

In the midst of this radical change, one noted Dun Laoghaire commercial recreational business – an operation which in its earlier days had something of a maverick reputation - is increasingly seen as a pillar of the new arrangements which will have to be developed to secure the Harbour’s future.

The Irish National Sailing School is celebrating forty years of existence in 2018. Yet it still seems to operate with that special energy of the new game-changers who are determined that their vision of a properly developed sailing future for Dun Laoghaire – and for Dublin Bay and Ireland too – is seen as one of the right ways to go.

dun laoghaire harbour2Powerpoint for training – from its premises (lower right foreground) in the inner recesses of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the activities of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat school radiate successfully seawards. Photo: Peter Barrow

So there’s a certain surprise in realising that founder Alistair Rumball has been involved in running the school for all of those forty years - and he was in other marine teaching enterprises even before that. And it speaks volumes for the dynamics of the Rumball family that he has had the full-hearted and often actively involved support of his wife Muriel, who in shore life also found the time to be a primary school teacher who went on to be a principal.

The underlying strength of the family is underlined by the fact their son Kenneth (30), is now fully in charge of the process of taking the INSS into the new era, developing its products and widening the already extensive scope of its operations as the largest sailing school in Ireland, and probably Britain too.

Yet Kenneth is by no means just an inheriting successor. He may have been working full-time with the school for eight years with the priceless talent of being a good teacher, but he is very much his own man, and is a leading figure in sailing far beyond the routine boundaries of a basic sailing school, with a string of international offshore racing successes in his CV both as crew and skipper. 

alistair muriel kenneth rumball3Alistair, Muriel and Kenneth Rumball in 2015, when the INSS was putting increasing emphasis on having racing in its curriculum. Photo: W M Nixon

This reached a new peak last August when the INSS’s J/109 Jedi, skippered by Rumball and crewed by INSS trainees and alumni, won both her class in the Rolex Fastnet Race in the Open Division, and the Roger Justice Trophy for the highest-placed sailing school boat from a total of 33 entrants.

The glamour of the sunny Solent during the hectic summer day of a Fastnet start seemed like another planet when your columnist visited the INSS on a wet afternoon this week. Yet the school’s shoreside premises in that snug southwest corner of the innermost reaches of Dun Laoghaire Harbour were busy with people coming and going and early season courses under way, with Kenneth Rumball himself a bundle of energy and enthusiasm, actively involved at every level on and off the water.

jedi fastnet4A long way from Dun Laoghaire on a wet April afternoon……..the INSS J/109 Jedi (left) making a cracking start in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 with Kenneth Rumball on the helm. Photo Rolex

Although other waterfront organisations in Dun Laoghaire may still be warily assessing the new situation in port administration, the INSS is busily moving ahead. Just the previous week, they’d signed on to acquire the keys to the upper floor of the marine training building where for years they’ve had to make do with crowded facilities on the ground floor. Their now self-contained and very extended premises have been given a mighty facelift in record time, and this week, the feeling of potential, the sense of newly available and much-needed space, and the reassuring aroma of fresh paint, would have put anyone in an optimistic frame of mind.

"The Irish National Sailing School is celebrating forty years of existence in 2018. Yet it still seems to operate with that special energy of the new game-changers"

Yet this building with its re-born vitality is only the centre for a spread-out sort of shore base, with the INSS having had to create sailor and boat facilities as and where they could find them in the Inner Harbour area. Ideally, they’d have liked to move to one of the quays in the former Coal Harbour and set up a larger and more centralized base there. But the INSS has survived and thrived through being fleet-footed and flexible, and when the possibility came up less than two months ago of taking over the upper floor of their then-shared premises, they entered negotiations and moved in last week upstairs to set to work on renovating the place.

inss building5As of last week, the Irish National Sailing School now occupies all of this building, originally the premises of the Irish Nautical College in the 1950s. Photo: W M Nixon

inss squibs6The INSS has modified standard Squib keelboats to make them into a very useful flotilla of basic training workhorses Photo: W M Nixon

inss floating boatpark7Space can become so restricted that, to expand activities, the INSS uses its pontoons as floating boatparks

inss starter fleet8The range of training offered by the INSS is total – from these first tentative steps afloat, right up to major offshore race competition.

On Saturday May 12th they’ll hold an Open Day when everyone can get some sense of the extraordinary range of services and courses which the INSS offers for potential sailing enthusiasts of “all ages from 4 to 84”, and for powerboat fans too. They’ve a fulltime staff of 8, and at the summer’s peak will have an extra 65 seasonal instructors using a fleet of 250 boats. Mostly these are small craft, but they also have a fleet of special training Squibs and six 1720s while the main development introduced by Kenneth while he was still running the school in tandem with Alistair was particularly into offshore racing, and he also got the more competitive trainees into involvement with the local racing fleet.

rumball 1720 yoke9The INSS have projected the services they provide in several ways – this is how they offered full-on 1720 racing

Like everyone else, the INSS felt the pain during the recession years, but the show was kept on the road by carefully managed cutbacks and a continuing profitable dalliance with Tinseltown. Yes, the film business. In addition to his demanding sailing school duties, for years Alistair Rumball had been the man to go to if you wanted anything to do with boats, ships and the sea for movies being made in Dublin and up at the big studios in Wicklow.

So when the making of the Vikings TV series loomed over the horizon in Wicklow just as the rest of the economy fell off a cliff, Alistair Rumball found himself up to his ears in profitable Viking ships and Norse lore. Meanwhile, down by Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the INSS came through the thin times, and has emerged as a strengthened pace-setter in waterfront potential and the development of Irish sailing.

Dun Laoghaire West Pier 0060Viking ship on a lake in the Wicklow Mountains – few would have guessed the connection to a Dun Laoghaire sailing school

Now it is Kenneth Rumball on the helm, and his personal sailing career goes some way to explain why he is of such significance in the development of Irish sailing in general, and Dun Laoghaire Harbour in particular. The oldest of three – sister Alison is 28 while brother Alexander is 22 – the basics of his background are standard south Dublin, even though his father Alistair was born and bred in Malahide, while his mother Muriel is from a Carlow farming family.

"Now it is Kenneth Rumball on the helm, and his personal sailing career goes some way to explain why he is of such significance in the development of Irish sailing in general"

He went to Sandford Park School and then took a commerce degree in University College Dublin, going on to work briefly as an accountant before deciding at the age of 22 that his life was in sailing. With a less congenial family, you could well imagine that having one’s childhood so dominated by a sailing school that had to be nurtured through some difficult times might have been a turn-off for everything to do with boats and sailing. But Kenneth cheerfully admits that sailing got him completely at the age of five or six, and it has had him ever since.

He can even remember the exact occasion when it happened. His father was experimenting for a season with a second training outlet across Dublin Bay at Sutton Dinghy Club, and the very young Kenneth was brought along one day to see how he would respond to the introduction of beginners Topper sailing. He recalls vividly a growing sense of excitement at personally realising how sailing a Topper worked, and though he’d had his first capsize before the day was out, that sense of excitement has never left him.

He joined the Junior Section in the Royal St George YC, and particularly recalls the enthusiasm of Junior Training officer Peter O’Reilly in keeping a boisterous group of kids on the right sailing track – today, he fondly lists the people who have mentored him in his sailing development, and Peter O’Reilly is right up there with his father and mother in shaping those very early sailing days.

rumball oppy corpus christi11Personal peak of Optimist achievement – Kenneth Rumball aged 14 racing as an Irish Team Member at the Optimist Worlds in July 2002 at Corpus Christi in Texas

He got deeply involved with the Optimists even though his parents’ situation meant they couldn’t do the complete Oppy Parents thing, but he did get in some top level overseas racing, with the highlight being the worlds in Corpus Christi in Texas in 2002, before moving on to the International 420 and a partnership with Dave Moran, whose father Shay had been a noted Fireball and offshore sailor who was to become the Commodore of the RStGYC.

Being in a two-crew situation was much more to Kenneth Rumball’s taste, and he immersed himself even further in competitive sailing, while his first steps towards being a fully-involved teacher/instructor in the INSS had long since been taken. With the 420 racing bringing good results, at the age of 16 he made the decision that all other sports were secondary and only for keep-fit purposes - sailing was his one and only participant sport.

420 youth worlds korea12Dave Moran (right) and Kenneth Rumball, Irish Team Members in 420 Youth Worlds in Korea 2005

He and Dave Moran got involved with the 420 circuit in Ireland and Britain with such enthusiasm that for two winters they used the “nursery waters” of Broadmeadow in Malahide for continuous training, while on the competitive front they not only took the top place ever for an Irish 420 at Kiel Week in 2004, but were top Irish boat that same year in the Euros in Croatia.

2005 was their best year, with progress through the season taking in Kiel Week, the Volvo Youth Worlds in Korea, and the European Juniors on Lake Garda, where they found themselves winning races and finishing equal second at the end, but the countback put them in the Bronze Medal position.

rumball lake garda13Supreme moment for Kenneth Rumball and Dave Moran in International 420 competition – winning a race in the Euro Juniors Championship on Lake Garda in 2005. They went on to take the Bronze Medal

Throughout this International 420 campaigning, they were notably meticulous in analysing performance and equipment functioning, an approach which has provided longterm benefit in all subsequent boats both for the school and personal campaigns, and particularly with the offshore racers.

"Rumball first moved into offshore racing in 2006 aged 18 – that awkward age in sailing when the support of the highly-structured youth sailing scene suddenly falls away"

Rumball first moved into offshore racing in 2006 aged 18 – that awkward age in sailing when the support of the highly-structured youth sailing scene suddenly falls away. He became tactician and helm on the Half Tonner Blue Berret Pi both inshore and offshore. But he and Dave Moran had far from forsaken the dinghy scene - in 2007 they took delivery of a custom-built Fireball which they campaigned with success at home and abroad over several seasons until they exited in style by winning the Irish Nationals at Sligo in 2013.

rumball fireball exit14Kenneth Rumball and Dave Moran exiting the International Fireball Class by winning the Irish Nationals at Sligo in 2013. Photo Gareth Craig/fotosail

By this time his readiness to commit with total dedication to any sailing campaign when time was available had brought him into the orbit of offshore star Barry Hurley, another of his key mentors whose range of contacts saw young Rumball gain experience of the offshore majors such as the Fastnet, Middle Sea, and Sydney-Hobart Races and drawing on the wisdom of the calibre of Jochem Visser, while at home he soon found himself shaping up for the Round Ireland.

Their most notable success abroad was second overall in the 2014 Middle Sea Race, by which time Kenneth Rumball was a recognized offshore racing professional. And even though after his first decidedly rough Fastnet Race in 2011 he had promised himself he wouldn’t do it again, and he definitely wouldn’t do it in a “little” J/109, his seemingly unquenchable enthusiasm for sailing revived itself, and his most notable success to date is the 2017 class win in that selfsame Fastnet Race, achieved in……well, what else but a J/109?

jedi at fastnet rock15Supreme moment – with the Fasnet Rock astern in 2017’s race, the INSS’s J/109 Jedi – crewed entirely by INSS instructors and trainees – is in the lead.

His level of enthusiasm for sailing would be understandable in someone who works in an intensive job deep in some financial district, far out of sight or sound of the sea. Yet this level of activity is maintained by a man who spends much of his time teaching people to sail and handle powerboats at all levels from absolute beginner to top standard.

This it was altogether typical that on the day I met him he’d first been afloat at 7.30 am, and between further classes afloat and ashore, he didn’t expect to leave the premises until about 9.30pm.

He exudes energy, but relaxes a bit when he talks of the people who have mentored him, and the great specialists who make the sometimes awkward Dun Laoghaire waterfront work in their own private way, despite the fact that shore-oriented planners and rule-makers tend to think totally in a land-based mindset.

Realising that he needed to know about sails, at an early stage he go himself a six week job with Des McWilliam in Crosshaven. “Des was a one-man sail-making academy” he fondly recalls, “and I have seldom enjoyed an intensive learning course so much. You couldn’t have a better or more entertaining sail mentor than Des’.

des mcwilliam16Sailmaker Des McWilliam of Crosshaven – one of Kenneth Rumball’s most helpful mentors

As to how today’s plastic boats are repaired or modified, he had his own in-house teacher – his late uncle Arthur Rumball had made it his speciality to maintain the INSS’s hugely varied fleet, and in Arthur’s crowded and busy workshop, there was much to be learned about working with glassfibre in all its forms.

He has learned about rigging with the one and only Gerry Doyle, in fact the only area where he hasn’t had hands-on experience is in spar-making, but doubtless that will happen in due course. Meanwhile, his thoughts switch to The Brotherhood, the Dun Laoghaire Mafia as his father calls them, the real people who keep the waterfront functioning effectively and who - like Kenneth Rumball himself - seem to maintain an eternal affection for boats and the sea.

mark mcgibneyMark McGibney, Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Cox’n and Sailing Manager of the Royal Irish YC, is one of the key people who make Dun Laoghaire’s intricate waterfront function effectively.

He could make a long list of them, but says that if you wanted to name somebody who symbolizes the real Dun Laoghaire waterfront spirit, you can find no-one better than Mark McGibney, the fulltime Sailing Manager of the Royal Irish Yacht Club who is also the Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Cox’n.

In this private world, Kenneth Rumball is happy and at home, a key member of a very special community. Yet he transcends the limits of a sailing school with the direct links he gives his hundreds of trainees to the bigger world of international sailing and top-level offshore racing.

phelan and boyd18Race organiser Theo Phelan of Wicklow and RORC Commodore Michael Boyd immediately after the latter had finished the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race to become highest-placed Irish boat. Michael Boyd, the overall winner of the 1996 Round Ireland Race with the J/35 Big Ears, will be skippering the INSS’s J/109 Jedi in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018

As we head into the weekend, it can be confirmed that Jedi is still very much on the strength, and for the Volvo Round Ireland Race on 30th June, she and Kenneth Rumball have been chartered as a complete package by former RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, who not only was top-placed Irish skipper in the 2016 Round Ireland, but he won it overall in 1996 in the J/35 Big Ears, which will add some intriguing connections this year when Jedi starts the 704-mile course this year at Wicklow

The INSS’s pioneering offshore flagship, the veteran Reflex 38 Lynx, has been sold to David O’Connor’s outfit Wild West Sailing at Mullaghmore in Sligo, and she has been replaced by an ideal all-rounder, the First 36.7 Lula Belle formerly owned by Liam Coyne, and overall winner of the two-handed division and much else in the Round Britain and Ireland race.

lula belle19The First 36.7 Lula Belle at the start of the 2014 RORC Round Britain and Ireland Race, in which she won the Two-handed Division for owner Liam Coyne sailing with Brian Flahive. This week, Lula Belle has become the latest addition to the INSS fleet. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

As for the INSS’s in-house club, the Irish National Sailing Club, its inshore keelboat campaigning options have been broadened by the acquisition of an SB20, and the INSC will be very much in contention in Greystones this weekend in the SB20 Westerns.

We’ll leave it to the SB20 class to explain how their Westerns are being held in that most easterly of sailing centres. For now, it’s enough to know that with their extended clubhouse coming on stream this weekend and a recruiting drive under way for extra instructors as trainee bookings are very much on the up-and-up, the INSS in Dun Laoghaire is on a real roll of success in every area of sailing and powerboat instruction, from absolute beginners to top level competition inshore and offshore.

Once upon a time, the Irish National Sailing School was seen by the sailing establishment as being the outsiders, the rebellious new boys on the block. But now, with the entire future of Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s administration in a state of flux, it is the old sailing establishment which finds itself having to adjust to new and changing circumstances.

In this new world on the waterfront, it is the expanding, confident and high-achieving Irish National Sailing School which finds itself in the unlikely role of being seen by some percipient observers as a key part of the new sailing establishment of Dun Laoghaire - the real pace-setter. Truly, we live in interesting times……

Published in W M Nixon

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School at Dun Laoghaire is celebrating it’s 40th birthday this year, having been established by Alistair Rumball in 1978. From very humble beginnings above a charity shop on George’s Street in Dun Laoghaire, the school has grown to be one of the largest water sports centres on the British Isles. Now the school is looking to get back in touch with all the staff and course graduates who’ve been through their doors!

On Wednesday the 18th of April at 8pm, school founder and centre principal Alistair Rumball will deliver a talk titled “A life in the Irish National Sailing School”. Reflections on 40 years of teaching, the highlights and plenty of entertaining tales all are on the agenda.

Alistair will also share his views on the future of sailing, both in Dun Laoghaire and more generally. All are invited to attend.

"School founder Alistair Rumball will deliver a talk titled “A life in the Irish National Sailing School”

Then on Saturday the 12th of May the school will host an open day where past staff and graduates are invited to return to get as many of the 250–boat fleet on the water at one time, followed by a small celebration back ashore.

Alistair is looking to see as many old faces, and new ones, as possible on both Wednesday 18th and Saturday 12th May. Let the school know if you're coming along by contacting the school’s office on 01 284195 or [email protected]

Even if you’re not able to make either event, Alistair’s still looking to hear from you and see where your sailing skills or instructing qualification has taken you.

Published in INSS

Go–ahead sailing school, the Irish National Sailing School based in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, that has already opened a new base in Malahide for 2018, announced this week it will stage a new cruiser–racer training programme designed to bridge the gap between introductory sailing courses and competence to a basic level on aboard a cruiser-racer racing predominately inshore.

The course will run on Sunday 8th April and Sunday 15th April (10am-5pm each day). The programme fees are €249.

The comprehensive tweo day course will cover Sailing racing terms and definitions, Layout of a racing boat, General racing etiquette, Rigging of a racing boat, Safe use of winches, Safe use and operation of clutches and cleats on a racing boat and procedures for basic manoeuvres such as tacking, gybing, spinnaker hoists and spinnaker drops. 

This course will be held on an appropriate racing boat based in Dublin Bay. The course will be primarily practical with some small areas covered on the boat in a theory style basis.

Basic racing rules, outline sailing instructions and racing courses, the importance of communication and crew safety topics are also  covered.

More details and to book click here

Published in INSS

The Irish National Sailing School (INSS) on Dublin Bay have published a video showing their highlights from August's 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race on board the Dun Laoghaire School's J109 Jedi.

Skippered by Kenneth Rumball, Jedi (now for sale on here) finished first in IRC 3B and won the Roger Justice Trophy, as reported at the time here for the top placed sailing school yacht.

Listen in to Kenny and the crew onboard below:


Published in INSS

Go–ahead Irish Sailing School, the INSS, are planning to moor a 50–foot Viking Ship in front of their Dun Laoghaire Harbour premises at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire.

In August, School Principal Kenneth Rumball co-ordinated a 'Battle of Dun Laoghaire Harbour' fought By 'Viking invaders'. It was a free and family–friendly event that featured battles, longboats and a Viking village that was a collaboration between Dun Laoghaire Harbour, actors from the Viking TV series and the INSS to celebrate the harbour's bicentenary.

As well as sailing instruction, the leading Irish sailing school also provides marine location services, including logistic work for the hit TV series 'Vikings', filmed in Wicklow.

The success of August's battle has led the school to develop plans to moor one of the longships in Dun Laoghaire's Coal Harbour as a water-based tourist attraction.

Read more from WM Nixon here: Dun Laoghaire Sailing's Cage Rattled By Malahide Boating Dynamo

Published in INSS

The final results of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 show that Kenneth Rumball with the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi has won in IRC 3B, where third place has been taken by ISORA’s J/109 Mojito. And RORC Commodore Michael Boyd has been second in IRC 2 with the First 44.7 Lisa.

Clearly, the Irish contingent in this great classic have had a successful time of it despite some extraordinary fluctuations of fortune. But how are such twists of fate to be explained? The Rolex Fastnet Race of modern times can be analysed by the latest technology in so many different ways that, even with the best computers, it can sometimes take much longer to deduce what precisely happened than it took in real time out at sea. So perhaps if we just select a few salient facts, we might be able to get a better overall picture. W M Nixon gives it a try.

If the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 had finished at the Fastnet Rock itself, with the fleet adjourning into Baltimore and Schull to have a party or three, there would have been much for the builders of the successful JPK range to celebrate. And several crews with strong Irish connections would have been quite right in partying to beat the band as well.

nikata at fastnet2Glad morning again….the biggest boat in the race, the JV 115 Nikata (Tom Brewer) rounds the Fastnet Rock at 7 o’clock on Tuesday morning. Photo Rolex

For after an increasingly rugged windward slug the whole way from the start, the overall leader at the Rock was 2013’s winner, the French JPK 10.10 Night & Day, whose achievement was further heightened by the fact that she was being sailed two-handed by father-and-son crew Pascal and Alexis Loison.

And second overall was another seasoned French campaigner, Noel Racine with his JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew. But it’s when we get to third slot that Irish eyes light up, as it was comfortably held by our own Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan. She was all of 11 minutes ahead of yet another French boat, Giles Fournier’s J/133 Pintia, which was fourth overall at the Fastnet.

But close behind in sixth overall was the classic S&S 41 Winsome (Harry Hiejst) helmed by Laura Dillon, Irish Champion Helm in 1996. Winsome had experienced her ups and downs since the start, but when it comes to grown-up windward work, there are still very few boats that can do it like the best 1972 Sparkman & Stephens design, and Winsome had been making hay since Land’s End, marching her way up through the fleet.

However, before we move on to see how these leaders-at-the-Rock finally ended in the rankings in Plymouth, casting an eye further down the Fastnet times continues to be rewarding, as we find that the hot ISORA J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) was lying 9th overall as she made the turn on Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock, and Kenneth Rumball in command of the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi was only a quarter of an hour later, correcting into 11th overall, which put him one place ahead of our RORC Commodore Michael Boyd in the First 44.7 Lisa.

jedi fastnet3Cheerful times aboard Jedi after rounding the Fastnet, where she’d been placed 11th overall of the entire 312-strong IRC fleet. Photo INSS

nikata volvo65s4Nikata at the start with three of the Volvo 65s. The new Volvo boats had a very close Fastnet Race, with Dongfeng winning by 54 seconds from Mapfre. And they’re being kept busy – on Thursday they raced away from Plymouth, bound for St Malo and Lisbon

Yet of the boats which are now figuring at the top twelve of the overall leaderboard in Plymouth, only Pintia, Lisa and the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam were in the top twelve at the rock. The JNA 39 Lann Ael 2 (Didier Gaudoux), which seemed to come out of nowhere at the finish to snatch the overall lead from Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, was only 29th at the Fastnet Rock.

As for Privateer, she was well back, in 40th. Yet the way the winds, weather and tides developed for the final 247 miles from Fastnet to finish meant the placings continued to be shaken up until the very end, and it looked for long enough as though Privateer has the big prize until Lann Ael 2 came out of the dark in the small hours of Thursday morning, and took it.

lann ael5The JDA 39 Lann Ael making knots on the way to Plymouth

lann ael6The look of a winner. Lann Ael was not showing up on the Race Tracker for some tehnical reason, but she was very definitely right there, zooming past the Isles of Scilly on her way to the overall win

This means that for the third time in a row, the overall Rolex Fastnet Race winner is French. There’s no doubt about it, but La belle France is on a roll on the offshore scene these days, for if they aren’t themselves actually sailing the winning French-built boats, the chances are they were the designers and builders.

This is an impression which is reinforced by going into the class details, and particularly among the smaller boats. In IRC 3 it’s French-produced boats dominant, with two JPK 10.80s – Dream Pearls and Timeline - separated by just two minutes on corrected time, with Timeline having finished first, but losing through a higher rating.

It’s not until we got down to 9th place in IRC 3 that we break the French stream, and even here the 9th placed Irish J/109 Jedi – which wins IRC 3B - may have been designed in America by the Johnstone team, but I’ve a feeling she was built in France.

The placing means that Jedi got through Mojito in the sometimes wild romp back from the Rock, but all around them positions were changing, and the solid Sparkman & Stephens veterans such as Pomeroy Swan and Winsome, which had shown so well on the dead beat, were losing time all the way while the loghter boats were surfing.

However, while the two overall leaders at the Fastnet, Night & Day and Foggy Dew, slipped down the overall rankings, they maintained their class leads in IRC 4, and let it be noted that Poweroy Swan wasn’t entirely out of the hunt, as she is 4th in IRC 4. But Winsome slipped back to 12th in class.

It’s ironic that of the two former Champion Helms of Ireland whom we know to have been doing the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017, one of them – Laura Dillon – was in a boat which went superbly to windward but wasn’t so competitive downwind, while the other. Nin O’Leary, was in a boat which seemed woeful to windward, but was fastest of the lot as soon as she bore off at the rock.

hugo boss at fastnet7Hugo Boss finally reaches the Fastnet Rock at 3.0pm on Tuesday. Within minutes, she was speeding downwind, up on her foils and making 22 knots
Quite why Nin’s co-skippered IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss was just so poor to windward, even by comparison with other IMOCA 60s, is something for further study. But she’s very much a boat for the wide open spaces, and the relatively short 247 miles from the Fastnet to Plymouth wasn’t nearly long enough for her foils to pick her up properly, and let the big black boat really go like the wind.

It was clearly a race of horses for courses, and while it might be going too far to describe Hugo Boss as a one trick pony, in a complex race like this there were some superb all-round boats which gave a master-class in successfully dealing with a wide variety of conditions and finishing with a mileage which suggested that some other boats were sailing a different race entirely.

malizia racing8The Yacht Club de Monaco’s IMOCA 60 Malizia placed third in class

To re-phrase the great Damon Runyon, the race may not always be to those who sail the shortest distance, but that’s the way the smart money bets. However, the smart money isn’t always completely right. The Fastnet Race course is somewhere between 603 and 608 miles (those pesky Traffic Separation Zones must have changed the classic distance), and it’s of interest to note that the boat which was recorded as sailing the fewest miles, the Italian Mylius 15E25 Ars Una which placed 11th overall, got round in just 655 miles.

pintia start9The French J/133 Pintia (Gilles Fournier) at the start. One of the most consistent boats in the fleet, she was well placed overall at the Fastnet, and went on to win Class 2 while placing fourth overall at the finish

But Winsome, back in 75th overall after being so handsomely placed at the rock, got round in only 656 miles. She pointed higher than most other boats, and made the right tactical choices on the open water outward bound windward leg. But coming back on the fast run, her classic hull shape militated against her no matter how neat a course they sailed.

The detailed results are here

As for the winner Lann Ael 2, she sailed 662 miles, but for the Fastnet-Plymouth stages she had conditions which clearly suited her perfectly, while the Cookson 50 Privateer sailed all of 687 miles, but she sailed them so well she retained second overall. And the great pioneer, the pathfinder in the lead on the water and testing condtions for all those astern, was George David’s Rambler 88. She may have taken line honours in convincing style, but she sailed an astonishing 730 miles to do so, and slipped back to 65th overall when the basic sums were done.

These sums will be re-worked for a long time yet, for this was one very special Rolex Fastnet Race. Our own Michael Boyd captured it so perfectly in his role as Commodore RORC, shortly after he had finished to take second in class, that it’s worth re-running the vid we posted last night, for he did us proud.

Read all of's 2017 Fastnet Race coverage here 

Published in W M Nixon

Irish National Sailing School's Kenny Rumball, normally found at the sharp end of Ireland's dinghy, one design and offshore fleets, will jump ship this Summer to play his part in a Viking invasion of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The August 20th event, as part of Dun Laoghaire Harbour's 200th anniversary celebrations, will see Viking Longships, as seen in the historical drama TV Show Vikings, assemble at the East Pier.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Irish National Sailing School's connection with the TV drama is well documented on The Dun Laoghaire school provides marine technical support for the show.

Published in INSS

The powerboat business in Ireland seems to be getting busier so the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School are appealing for more powerboat instructors. School Principal Kenneth Rumball says the Dun Laoghaire–based school is also looking for some full time admin staff to help in the office. 

The Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School has an ever-expanding powerboat market and requires enthusiastic instructors to help deliver these courses from our main base in Dun Laoghaire however we also deliver courses in other locations on request. We have a unique opportunity this year for those persons who may be interested in teaching powerboating.


The INSAPS is offering to cover the cost of training for powerboat instructors and then give these instructors the chance to teach on our busy courses that run year round in our state of the art RIBs as seen in many of our promotional videos. Previous instructing experience is not necessary however previous powerboat experience is required.

As our powerboat and other courses continue to grow, we are also looking for a charismatic enthusiastic office administrator to join our busy bookings and enquiries team. Applicants should have a keen interest in sailing. Instructing experience is not necessary for this position however computer literacy and willingness to help in sales is required.

If you are interested in teaching powerboat courses this year or joining our busy office team, do not hesitate to contact [email protected] for more information.

Published in Jobs
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