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The 2025 ICRA National Championships will be held at Kinsale Yacht Club it has been confirmed. 

Newly elected ICRA commodore Denis Byrne announced at Saturday's AGM that after examining several submissions, the cruiser-racer national championships would return to the biennial Sovereign's Cup in June 2025.

Up to 100 boats are expected to compete at the June championships, encompassing IRC boats in divisions Zero to Four, with White Sail fleet racing also included.

The ICRAs were most recently previously incorporated at the Sovereign's Cup in 2019 and 2015.

The 2025 edition of Kinsale Yacht Club's Sovereign's Cup and ICRA National Championships will be held from June 25-28, 2025.

The Irish event occurs a month before the resurrected Admiral's Cup takes place in Cowes, where Ireland is one of 11 countries that has registered an interest.

Published in ICRA

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Denis Byrne has been elected Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association at today's national cruiser conference and AGM and will lead the national cruiser-racer body for the next two years.

Byrne takes over from Howth Yacht Club's Dave Cullen, who has held the post since March 2022.

As Afloat reported earlier, Byrne also serves as Vice-Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Upon taking office, Byrne's first action was to commend his predecessor for skillfully steering the association away from COVID-related challenges. This resulted in a boost in IRC certificates issued to 332 boats in 2023.

At the Dun Laoghaire-hosted AGM, Byrne was elected along with a new 13-person executive committee that now includes John Minnis from Royal Ulster Yacht Club, representing Northern Ireland's Belfast Lough. It means ICRA is now represented on all four coasts of Ireland as well as on its inland waters.

ICRA Executive Committee 2024-5ICRA Executive Committee 2024-5

Also elected for the first time were Sam Hunt from Kinsale Yacht Club and Brian Jones from Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The new 2024 executive (pictured above) are: 

  • Dave Cullen (Howth YC)
  • John Leech (Lough Derg YC & Galway Bay SC)
  • Alice Shanahan (National YC)
  • Saoirse Reynolds (National YC)
  • Peter Ryan (National YC)
  • Liam Lynch (Tralee Bay SC)
  • Brian Raftery (Sligo YC)
  • Mark Mills (Wicklow SC)
  • Daragh Connolly (Royal Cork YC)
  • Sam Hunt (Kinsale YC)
  • Brian Jones (Royal Cork YC)
  • John Minnis (RUYC/RNIYC)
  • Denis Byrne (Royal Cork YC)

Byrne takes over the tiller when recruiting new sailors into the national fleet, including under-25 and female participation, is at the top of ICRA's agenda.

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The weather may have decided that winter is far from gone in the last couple of days, but in Dun Laoghaire this morning, the annual conference of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association at the Royal Irish YC remembers only sun-filled days, and perfect sailing breezes. And they’ll be thinking of it for the RORC Caribbean 600 in nine days’ time, and anticipating more of the same when the seasons turn.

That’s even though one of the Conference highlights is a presentation by Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt of Kinsale about their recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race campaign in a sister-ship of their home-based race-topping Sun Fast 3300 Cinnamon Girl, which was entered this week for the 2024 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race in June. Whatever weather that may bring, the Sydney-Hobart Race in the last week of December was favoured neither by fair winds nor sun-filled days.

So what was already a remarkable exercise in long-distance logistics and communication became a real challenge of crew spirit. But as has been shown in home waters, the Kinsale duo can give as good as they get in best Munster style, as seen here in Crosbie Lorimer’s two-part post-Hobart Race interviews:


MUNSTER PACE-SETTERS?

In fact, a casual observer might think that the greater Cork area is moving towards setting all the pace in the cruiser-racer sphere, for it’s no secret that by the time today’s gathering concludes, Denis Byrne of Royal Cork will have succeeded Dave Cullen of Howth as ICRA Commodore, while the meeting will include an affirmation of James Dwyer’s “Boat of the Year” title for his classic Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble from Crosshaven.

But a strong sense of Dun Laoghaire pride will rightly go into the meeting in the knowledge that last Sunday, the redoubtable team of Brian Mathews and Fintan Cairns on the Committee Boat reckoned that any capable crew should have been well able to cope with the decidedly brisk conditions on Dublin Bay.

DUBLIN BAY RISES ABOVE ADVERSE WEATHER

They put through the weekly race of the Spring Chicken Series in some style even if, in other parts of the country, the citizenry were more concerned with avoiding their neighbourhood’s airborne chimney pots and tiles.

Dave Cullen speaking for Ireland’s large and varied cruiser-racer fleets. He stands down today after the standard two years as Commodore of ICRA, but will continue as an active Committee memberDave Cullen speaking for Ireland’s large and varied cruiser-racer fleets. He stands down today after the standard two years as Commodore of ICRA, but will continue as an active Committee member

Beyond that, the good news is that today (Saturday’s) ICRA conference has attracted pre-registered numbers in significantly larger numbers than experienced for years, and is certainly way ahead when set against the post-covid turnouts. So clearly not only is the association meeting a real need, but members feel that their voice is heard at Conference, and they can usefully affect the direction and speed of the course ahead.

Yet even with fine tuning and change at various levels of policy, continuity is part of the formula. Despite two busy years in the post in which he saw the Howth-based J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans) and the Crosshaven-based Swuzzlebubble take the “ICRA Boat of the Year” title, Commodore Cullen is by no means retiring completely, as he reverts to being a Committee member. And it’s not just in the ex officio style of traditional clubs – he’ll be a proper working member for as long as he’s willing.

Denis Byrne of Crosshaven is multi-tasking in 2024 as Commodore of ICRA, and Vice Admiral of the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Robert BatemanDenis Byrne of Crosshaven is multi-tasking in 2024 as Commodore of ICRA, and Vice Admiral of the Royal Cork YC. Photo: Robert Bateman

Coming up into the top post from the other direction, Denis Byrne has likewise been an ICRA Committee member for some time, but now - within less than three weeks - he will have been catapulted into positions of power in two major yet very different sailing organisations.

In addition to today’s elevation to the top post in ICRA, on Monday January 21st the orderly re-arranging of the senior roles in the officer board of the Royal Cork YC saw Denis Byrne take on the role of Vice Admiral in support of newly-elected Admiral Annamarie Fegan. And for those who would seek inter-links in everything, Admiral Fegan is co-skipper with husband Denis Murphy in the Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, ICRA “Boat of the Year” in 2021.

RCYC Admiral Annamarie Fegan’s co-skippered Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo was ICRA's “Boat of the Year” in 2021.RCYC Admiral Annamarie Fegan’s co-skippered Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo was ICRA's “Boat of the Year” in 2021

These every-which-way networks might make some folk dizzy, but that’s the way it is with sailing in Ireland, and the ICRA mix provides a growing body of knowledge of what works, and who is interested. Thus one of the topics that will surface today is a clearer and possibly broader definition of what makes for an ICRA boat. As it is purely a day racing organisation – leaving overnights to the likes of ISORA, SCORA, Wicklow SC and the RORC for the Round Ireland, and the National YC for the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle – it could encompass boats which otherwise don’t have a home, such as Michael McCann’s lone Etchells 22 Don’t Dilly Dally, which is usually in the frame in the Royal Cork’s handicap racing.

ICRA PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO THE SUCCESS OF BOAT TYPES

What’s for sure is that the incoming and outgoing Commodores between them provide much insight into how different boat types appeal. Dave Cullen became internationally known with his vintage Half Tonner Checkmate XV winning the Half Ton Classics Cup at Nieuwpoort in Belgium in 2018, but more recently he has been dealing with something more substantial in the form of the First 50 Checkmate XX, which he campaigns successfully in partnership with Nigel Biggs.

The hefty First 50 Checkmate XX (Dave Cullen & Nigel Biggs) developing full power. Young sailors see it as a special challenge to get top performance out of such a notably comfortable boat. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe hefty First 50 Checkmate XX (Dave Cullen & Nigel Biggs) developing full power. Young sailors see it as a special challenge to get top performance out of such a notably comfortable boat. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Speaking to Afloat.ie this week, Dave admitted that when they moved up several steps at once into Checkmate XX, they feared the keen young sailors would reckon they’d gone too far into the Comfort Zone. But on the contrary, it emerges that skilled young sailors – particularly the helmsmen – get special satisfaction from squeezing the best possible performance out of the “floating bungalow”.

As for Denis Byrne, although there are whispers of a size upgrade, he has long been associated with the Trapper T250 Cracker. She’s a rare bird, as few enough were built before the producers went out of business. But that was not the fault of this real zinger of an Ed Dubois design descended from the Starflash, as Cracker combines remarkable performance with excellent cockpit and downstairs accommodation. And all in an overall length of just 25ft – in other words, the same LOA as a Glen OD.

Incoming ICRA Commodore Denis Byrne’s TP250 Cracker revelling in a good breeze of wind in Cork Harbour. An Ed Dubois design, she ticks many boxes for anyone seeking a versatile cruiser-racer of manageable size, as she packs it all into an overall length the same as a Glen OD. Photo: Robert BatemanIncoming ICRA Commodore Denis Byrne’s TP250 Cracker revelling in a good breeze of wind in Cork Harbour. An Ed Dubois design, she ticks many boxes for anyone seeking a versatile cruiser-racer of manageable size, as she packs it all into an overall length the same as a Glen OD. Photo: Robert Bateman

It was precisely boats like Cracker that Jim Donegan of Cork, Denis Kiely of Kinsale, and Fintan Cairns of Dun Laoghaire had in mind when they brought the Irish Cruiser Racing Association into being 22 years ago. Back in the day, despite their significant numbers these boats and owners could scarcely be heard in the cacophony of sound – or noise if you prefer – from advocates of One-Designs, dinghy sailing, Olympic racing, and Junior and Adult training. But thanks to the insight of the founding fathers, the ICRA conference is now one of the hottest tickets in town, a true gathering of kindred spirits in which one good idea builds on another.

(Above) This is what it’s all about – Cinnamon Girl showing what she can do when the going is good.

RORC CARIBBEAN 600 PROSPECTS

We begin with a request. Coverage of the recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race as an escape from mid-winter glooms was much enhanced by knowing which boats Irish sailors were to be found aboard, and so too will coverage of the up-coming 15th RORC Caribbean 600 on Monday February 19th, so please let us know of any Lone Rangers to be found on other boats.

We’re aware that Simon Knowles (of the J/109 Indian) and a Howth group will be racing the J/122 El Ocaso. We know too that Andrew & Sam Hall of Pwllheli will be racing their intriguing Lombard 45 Pata Negra, a boat which has brought Caribbean 600 success for Irish crews in times past.

And Pata Negra certainly gets around, but not always exactly placed as she might like to be, as this photo from last year’s Fastnet from on board Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood shows one of those moments that don’t need words, as the owner-skipper’s expression says it all.

Magic moment. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood crosses ahead of the higher-rated Pata Negra while beating towards the Fastnet RockMagic moment. Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood crosses ahead of the higher-rated Pata Negra while beating towards the Fastnet Rock

BIG BOAT RACE?

But nevertheless it’s a moot point whether or not it’s worthwhile for any boat under 50ft to take on the Caribbean 600, as this week’s listing of the overall IRC winners clearly shows that in the top winning category, the smallest boat to have done the deed is a Cookson 50

RORC CARIBBEAN 600 - IRC OVERALL WINNERS:

2023 - Roy P. Disney, Volvo 70, Pyewacket (USA)
2022 - Christopher Sheehan, Warrior Won, Pac52 (USA)
2020 - Tilmar Hansen, Outsider, TP52 (GER)
2019 - David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
2018 - George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
2017 - Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
2016 - George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
2015 - Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
2014 - George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
2013 - Ron O'Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
2012 - Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán (GBR)
2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)

For sure, the winds of the Caribbean are warm, and so too are the seas. But at this time of the year, you can get a lot of both, which wears down any crew, and more so in smaller craft. Having zoomed among the islands with great enjoyment in a 72ft performance ketch some time ago, Sailing on Saturday is inclined to think that Big is Best in exploring those magic waters.

So we wish the best to those who are contemplating this challenge in anything smaller, while noting from that list just what an astonishingly successful boat was the Cookson 50 which started life as Ger O’Rourke’s Chieftain, and went on to become Adrian Lee’s Lee Overlay Partners.

Under the latter title, she won the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600 in 2009. But before that, as Chieftain, she won her class in the Sydney-Hobart race, and then went on to be overall winner of the 2007 Fastnet Race. These are unmatched peaks of achievement, a shining light of inspiration for cruiser-racer enthusiasts gathered today in Dun Laoghaire.

An unmatched record. As Lee Overlay Partners, this Cookson 50 was overall winner of the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600 Race in 2009, and before that - as Ger O’Rourke’s Chieftain - she was overall winner of the 2007 Fastnet Race after winning her class in the Sydney-Hobart Race.An unmatched record. As Lee Overlay Partners, this Cookson 50 was overall winner of the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600 Race in 2009, and before that - as Ger O’Rourke’s Chieftain - she was overall winner of the 2007 Fastnet Race after winning her class in the Sydney-Hobart Race

• The 2024 ICRA Conference begins at 10.30 am at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire this morning (February 10th) and is also available online (registration required). More details here

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Kinsale's Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt who competed in the Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl in December's Sydney Hobart will be keynote speakers at next weekend's (Saturday, February 10th) ICRA conference at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

As Afloat previously reported, it was 'quite a brutal experience' in parts, as Sam recalls here:

CINNAMON GIRL GOES TO HOBART

We really enjoyed the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race 2023, a brilliant but quite brutal experience for us. We found it considerably more challenging than expected, with some particularly intense moments in the closing stages – 45+ knot gusts, 6 mtr swells breaking over the boat, a large volume of water down below, swamped and broken electrics, and one functioning life jacket between two brow-beaten sailors.

The predominance of upwind (~90%) was not what we had hoped for, and meant our chances of a great result were limited but we knuckled down and enjoyed the challenge. We want to come back in the future and give it another red-hot crack.

PREPARATION: One of the largest challenges for competing in the Sydney Hobart is the pre race admin, particularly the personal safety requirements. We both had to do a High Frequency Long Range Radio Course as the CYCA insist on HF radios being used with all competitors participating in 2 radio scheds every 24 hours. We found this one a little difficult to comprehend, seeing as we had both Yellow Brick Trackers and AIS, but we respected the CYCA requirements and worked hard to meet them, for if you missed a Sched you can be disqualified.

Naturally, we also had to meet the standard Cat 2 requirements (Sea Survival and First Aid etc.) The CYCA run a very impressive admin operation in this regard, I think we had to answer 80+ emails from various admin people in the 2.5 months building up to the race.

The required first aid kit included 40+ items with many items under prescription. Without having a local assisting with collating these items, it would have been very challenging. The CYCA run a great event though and were very helpful, including assigning us a local member contact to help with things.

BOAT: We chartered a Sunfast 3300 from Lee Condell of Performance Yachting at Pittwater, NSW. He was exceptionally helpful from start to finish, and we would strongly recommend him to others considering taking on this challenge. Without his support, I don't think we would have managed to navigate the vast amount of pre-race requirements.

The “back home” Cinnmon Girl, showing her extra-long bowsprit at the start of the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2023, in which she placed second overall and first in the Two-HandersThe “back home” Cinnmon Girl, showing her extra-long bowsprit at the start of the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2023, in which she placed second overall and first in the Two-Handers

SAILS: We predominantly use Doyle sails and shipped ours from Cork to Sydney via air freight. We received great support in the build-up from Nicholas O'Leary at Doyle Ireland, along with his colleagues in Doyle New Zealand. Cian commissioned a new No 3 for the race that could reef to a No 4. It was delivered at short notice, along with a new A2.

The No 3 jib is reefable to a No 4 via a zip and heightened tack and clew position. It was simple to action and worked very well. The A2 we found fast and stable, a better setup we believe than the symmetrics flown by many of the other double handed entries. The A2 helped us sail into first in two handed and 6th overall in the first 12 -18 hours of the race, but unfortunately it hardly got any use after that as beating to windward was the modus operandi thereafter.

WEATHER: The initial race start went well. We were on the Third Start Line, and it was a reaching start very similar to a Kinsale start in a SW, where we rolled out the Code 0 on the gun. Despite receiving some surprising unsolicited verbal abuse from a competitor in the moments before the gun (which shocked us a little and gave them the advantage), we were 4th boat to Mark 1 from a busy line of +25 boats. However, the amount of spectator wash and dirty air from the Maxis and other bigger boats after Mark 1 made it tough going, and we seemed to slide backwards fast in the chop and variable wind as we sought to exit the Heads to Mark 2.

The first 8 hours were predominantly downwind and we went particularly well connecting the dots of breeze lines and sailed through a good portion of the fleet until the thunderstorms (constant lightning and heavy rain) sucked all the wind away around 2am on night 1. By that stage we had lined ourselves up quite well to sit in the south going current circa 30km offshore. It was running at about 3 knots – often more than the wind strength – for an uncomfortable but effective means of making miles south.

The Sydney-Hobart Course may look straightforward, but it gets colder with every mile, and the weather changes more quickly than it does in IrelandThe Sydney-Hobart Course may look straightforward, but it gets colder with every mile, and the weather changes more quickly than it does in Ireland

The bearing to Tasman Island waypoint ~ 600 miles south - is 183. Due to unpredictable weather and the fact that many of the weather models were not aligning, we had bow out on the long tack imprinted into our strategy for many portions of the race. This seemed to work well due to the unusual weather systems and predominance of southerly winds in this year’s race. For strategy we used Predict Wind Pro, some Expedition routing, and race specific weather briefings from Roger “Clouds” Badham and Peter Isler. This year's weather was pretty unstable and hard to get your head around. Thre’s a good article here on the challenges in the build up.

UPWIND EMPHASIS

Unfortunately, the majority of the race transpired to be upwind, and without water ballast and carrying the higher rating for our bigger kites, we were up against it. The Bass Strait was okay, a tight reach/fetch, but with some breeze exceeding 40 knots for 4 – 6 hours, we got a more-than-reasonable kicking there.

The weather is just more extreme and faster to change than in our local waters of Ireland and Europe. In all fairness, the Aussies are a hardy bunch and well-practiced at putting up storm sails. Seamanship skills for those conditions are rarely required or practiced in Ireland. In 20 years of offshore racing in Europe and US, neither Cian nor I have seen conditions close to the weather we “enjoyed” off Tasman Island on Day 4 -5 0 knot gusts, large breakers, and 6mtr swells.

HYPOTHERMIA RISK

Thankfully the water breaking over the boat is warm ~18c around Sydney. But the constant wetness takes its toll, and temperatures drop as you head south. Despite drysuits and HPX, we were both suffering cold fatigue by end of Day 3, and with the boat totally sodden below deck, sleeping on day 4 became a bit inadvisable due to likelihood of going hypothermic as a result of body temp dropping while asleep. But at that stage, with less than 24 hours to go, you can manage without the sleep.

ISSUES: At Tasman Island (furthest southerly point of race) , we had one major issue. The main cockpit hatch seal was not keeping water out throughout the race and breaking waves on deck were seeping down below. This ramped up by Tasman Island with the breaking seas, and we had circa 350 litres of water down below deck, which was helping to send the boat more sideways than forward in the bigger gusts.

The electric bilge pump was not working, and much of the water was below floor boards that were screwed down, so you couldn't get a pipe in to pump it out. Unfortunately with no windward water ballast to counteract this, it meant we lost a lot of time to other competitors going to windward, most of whom had positive righting water ballast unlike us.

ELECTRICS PROBLEMS

The water issue became more severe in that it caused a minor fire with the electrics going out altogether, 2 miles north of Tasman island. Simultaneous with this, 2 of our lifejackets auto inflated due to the constant water, we had 1 spare but it left Sam without a lifejacket in 45+ knots and 6 mtr breaking waves.

Cinnamon Girl at sea – the further south they went, the colder and greyer it becameCinnamon Girl at sea – the further south they went, the colder and greyer it became

In some ways, it felt like a wild day surfing/kitesurfing in Garretstown Beach more than a boat race for a while - this is fine if you are happy to be out there and feel confident, but not so much if you don't, are sleep deprived and very cold.

The Red Bulls were cracked open, and we chose to bend our mindset to embrace the extreme conditions and the water/electrics issue. Condition description language was changed onboard from 'horrendous' to 'next level', and we just cracked on, making slow but steady progress to windward up to and around Tasman Island.

Luckily it was bright with good visibility. There was considerable relief when we finally got well to windward of Tasman and tacked onto port and put some north into our course to head on a tight reach for Iron Pot and the Derwent River. With no instruments we locked visuals of a few boats ahead, and kept a bearing on them. Unfortunately, with so much water onboard we continued to lose ground to competitors on the downwind final leg, as we were not surfing under our Code 0.

“ANCILLARY CHALLENGES”: During the race we also had ancillary challenges reefing the main with the bolt rope pulling out - this meant we were constantly concerned that in putting the 4th reef in during extreme breezes we would risk losing the main altogether, and so stayed under 3 reefs which was just too much for 6-8 hours in the final beat to Tasman. The mainsail had already sustained considerable damage with a number of puncture holes appearing in the mid leech due to flailing reefing lines as we struggled with the bolt rope during a reefing exercise on the 3rd night.

Kinsale in Hobart – Sam Hunt, Stephanie Lyons and Cian McCarthy in the Tasmanian sunshine. Only a day earlier, Sam and Hunt had been living with hypothermia risks in pemanently wet conditionsKinsale in Hobart – Sam Hunt, Stephanie Lyons and Cian McCarthy in the Tasmanian sunshine. Only a day earlier, Sam and Hunt had been living with hypothermia risks in pemanently wet conditions

CONCLUSIONS; Post the race, we have now made a decision to use sliders on the mainsail going forward, and are in the process of designing an offshore hatch for Cinnamon Girl so “downstairs” stays protected and dry in big seas.

RESULT: All in all we were happy enough with the way we sailed. On reflection we probably only made one self-inflicted mistake with a wrapped kite in a gybe, other than that we don't believe we made any significant errors that cost us time. While we had moded the setup of the boat for downwind, the race had the most upwind in approximately 15 years (~90%), and having spoken to a number of veterans of 20+ races, it was one of the toughest for the smaller boats in their memory.

While 2nd Corinthian IRC overall and 3rd in our class and 4th double handed was respectable, we would love to come back and see if we can improve on that,

Huge thanks to our families for supporting us on the mission, to Cian for his brave ambition and being the real driver of the campaign, and to Eden Capital for their support and flexibility, which enabled Sam to participate.

ICRA Conference 2024

All members are invited to attend the ICRA AGM which immediately follows the conference.

The AGM will include a vote for a new Executive Committee, and any cruiser racer boat owner, or boat owners’ representative, can apply to become a member. Please note that two other cruiser racer boat owners are required to nominate you; get in touch with [email protected] with any queries about the process.

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The Notice of Race and online entry has been published for the Unio-sponsored ICRA National Championships 2024 at the Royal Irish Yacht Club this August.

Organisers plan to split fleets into Class 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Non-Spinnaker for the event that runs from 30th August- 1st September. Up to 100 yachts are expected to compete.

The Notice of Race is downloadable below.

There will be a maximum of four races on any day. Seven races are scheduled.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this year’s ICRA Nationals mark the beginning of a unique series of major sailing championships hosted by the Royal Irish in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The closing date for entries on this link is 19th August 2024.

Published in ICRA

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) has provided more details of its 2024 conference, which will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Saturday 10 February.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Jason Smithwick, director of the RORC rating office who will discuss the ongoing works being undertaken by RORC to enhance the IRC handicap rating system.

Also speaking will be Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt of Kinsale, on the highs and lows of travelling to the other side of the world to compete in the double-handed class in the recent Sydney-Hobart Race.

These special guests are in addition to updates from the hosts of the major events planned for the 2024 season, not to mention the Sailors Forum — where you will have your chance to discuss and debate the big issues in our sport.

The conference starts 10:30am and will close at lunchtime. Register via the ICRA website to attend in person or remotely via Zoom.

All members are also invited to attend the ICRA AGM which immediately follows the conference.

The AGM will include a vote for a new Executive Committee, and any cruiser racer boat owner, or boat owners’ representative, can apply to become a member. Please note that two other cruiser racer boat owners are required to nominate you; get in touch with [email protected] with any queries about the process.

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The chance to discuss and debate the big issues in Irish cruiser racing is on the table in February at the ICRA National Conference and AGM on Saturday, 10th February 2024

The Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, which recently unveiled three major championship cruiser racer events for 2024, will host the annual pow-wow.

As Afloat previously reported, ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen has already been looking forward to a busy sailing calendar in 2024.

Last Friday, the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA) debated what defines a cruiser-racer at its AGM at Royal Cork Yacht Club, and that's an issue that may raise its head again in Dun Laoghaire.

 ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen ICRA Commodore Dave Cullen

As well as main speakers and the sailor's forum there will be updates from the major events planned in the year, and an update on ICRA activities, followed by the AGM.

The conference will start at 10:30 am, followed by the AGM, and close at lunchtime.

The full agenda and more details will be issued later this month says Cullen.

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Following a busy and successful racing season of Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) events nationwide, the legendary Half-Tonner Farr-designed yacht, Swuzzlebubble, raced by David and James Dwyer under the burgee of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, was deemed the 'clear and comprehensive winner 'of the ICRA Boat of the Year Award.

ICRA say the Swuzzlebubble campaign claimed victory by 4.25 points from her nearest rivals, Rockabill VI and ValenTina in Class 0, “Snoopy” in Class 3, and Black Velvet in Class 1.

The winning yacht has a fascinating history and story, from near abandonment in Greece in 2012 to being the top yacht in Ireland in 2023. 

ICRA Yacht of the Year 2023, the Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble, pictured winning Class Two of the ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club in September 2023 Photo: AfloatICRA Yacht of the Year 2023, the Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble, pictured winning Class Two of the ICRA Nationals at Howth Yacht Club in September 2023 Photo: Afloat

The season produced mainly changeable and unsettled weather for most of the events, which made this competition more challenging and added greatly to the competitiveness of the fleet.

The ICRA Committee says it is disappointed with the overall participation in the ICRA events during the season, mainly due to poor weather and a full sailing calendar of events nationwide. But they look forward to 2024, where we hope to see more cruisers compete in these highly competitive events, in hopefully better weather.

2024 ICRA season

As previously reported by Afloat, the 2024 National ICRA Championships will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) between Friday, 30th of August, and Sunday, 1st of September. This will be followed by the “Key Yachting J Cup Ireland” championships, from Friday the 6th of September to Sunday the 8th of September. For the more determined and intrepid cruiser sailors they will further enjoy the IRC European Championships from the 12th to the 15th of September, all in the RIYC. "What a wonderful carnival and festival of cruiser racing, seldom seen in one club on our island nation, don’t miss it. Something for all of us cruiser sailors to look forward to in 2024," ICRA's John Leech told Afloat.

ICRA Commodore David Cullen is looking forward to a busy 2024ICRA Commodore David Cullen is looking forward to a busy 2024

 2024 ICRA Conference

Commodore David Cullen will present the annual ICRA Boat of the Year Award at the forthcoming ICRA Annual Conference, which will take place on Saturday, February 10th 2024, kindly hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire. Further details will follow.

ICRA say all cruiser sailors, crews and skippers are welcome to this event, which promises to be an interesting, engaging and motivating event, especially to new members who want to give that team spirit of sailing a go and enjoy the sociability that cruiser racing enjoys, they will all receive a warm welcome to ICRA from our committee and members.

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After a weather-challenged year for events in 2023, ICRA Commodore David Cullen is looking forward to a busy calendar in 2024.

Key events for ICRA members include the Wave Regatta at Howth Yacht Club over the weekend of 24-26 May, the WIORA Championship (12-15 June) and Round Ireland Yacht Race (22 June), followed by Cork Week from 15-19 July.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the ICRA Nationals (30 August-1 September) and the IRC Europeans will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, which will also host the 2024 IRCA Conference on Saturday 10 February (details to come).

Cullen expressed his appreciation for the “great response” to the ICRA survey earlier this year “and there are certainly learning and suggestions that we will be tabling at the ICRA Conference”.

He added: “We believe that we need to be more inclusive of non-spinnaker and Corinthian racing together with reviewing what types of boats are eligible to be an ICRA boat”

“We look forward to representing all cruiser racers and always welcoming Committee members if you are interested in joining.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all on the ICRA Committee for their time and efforts put in behind the scenes.

“It just leaves me to wish you a very happy Christmas and great sailing New Year.”

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As the 2023 season draws to a close with the news of three major keelboat events in Dun Laoghaire in September 2024, the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) is seeking members’ view on cruiser racing and events during the past year.

ICRA says the feedback will help it ensure that the association represents the views of its members, participants and non-participants alike, and makes targeted efforts to improve cruiser racing in Ireland.

Click HERE to access and complete the short online survey, and share with your crew and any other interested parties.

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