Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Wicklow Sailing Club

Ireland's only multihull entry in the 2016 Round Ireland Race is skippered by Dun Laoghaire sailor Hugo Karlsson-Smythe and crewed by Bowen Ormsby. The Trilogic is a record setting Multi 50 Trimaran and pulled into Wicklow Harbour for Saturday's race after an 1800 mile shake down trip from Gran Canaria.

After this first ocean race on the Tri, Hugo's long term objective is the single handed Route du Rhum transatlantic race 2018.

Having bought the boat in April this year Hugo has been busy recommissioning her and getting her back into racing spec. The trip up from Las Palmas gave him the opportunity to shake her down a little however, but he was 'hampered somewhat' as the sail wardrobe was not complete.


The Trilogic is a record setting Multi 50 Trimaran

Hugo told 'At the moment we are just getting used to sailing fast and recalibrating ourselves to a new normal, 10 kts now feels slow, a pause for coffee at 16kts is comfortable and 25kts feels like we are just getting going!'

'The Round Ireland is the perfect opportunity for us to get a better feel for the boat in a competitive environment before we move to France later this year for an optimization program to prepare the boat for the challenge ahead, he said. You can follow Trilogic at

Published in Round Ireland

Today sees the start off the Wicklow Pierheads of largest and most varied fleet in the 36-year history of the biennial Round Ireland Race from, which in its 19th edition takes on board sponsors Volvo Car Ireland for the first time. The fleet ranges in size from a trio of boats around the 31ft to 32ft band, right up to the 88ft–Rambler, with the three exceptional trimarans of the MOD 70 class next in size. But while attention will inevitably focus on the super-machines at the top end of the fleet, many of those taking part are club sailors from Ireland and overseas, racing standard craft which have only been modified where necessary to comply with the strict R0RC regulations which a race of this calibre requires. As well, the re-birth of local offshore racing in Irish waters is well-reflected with the presence of boats which have been giving a very good showing of themselves in weekend passage races, while boats which performed well in both last year’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race in June and the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 in August are also very much in contention. W M Nixon gives his take on the mood of the moment, and shares a few pointers for possible top performers.

The international sailing superstars who have come here for the Volvo Round Ireland Race will have experienced many kinds of sailing weather - much of it glamorously and spectacularly sunny stuff - during their hectic careers afloat. But by the time the super-fast leaders are approaching the Wicklow finish line in the early days of next week, they’ll have been able to savour just about everything the Irish climate throws at us, summer and winter……

With most of the top boats assembling as pre-arranged within the ambit of the Royal Irish Yacht Club through this past week, they’ll have shared with the Irish people an almost freakish drop in the temperature as the low pressure area over England, which was in turn sending even worse weather into France for the European Football Cup, began to bring to us here in the Emerald Isle a wet and windy northerly airstream of quite remarkable coldness.

Thursday June 16th – Bloomsday by happy accident – was selected for the evening in which we all could get to know the legends of sailing at an evening reception at the Royal Irish. When the date was being set, you can so easily imagine the organisers visualising a balmy summer evening, with the scene augmented by the DBSC fleet returning to port from their regular Thursday fixture, while on the waterfront terrace of the elegant old yacht club, people could stroll in their summer finery – perhaps we’d even have a Bloomsday veteran or two still properly garbed – and it would be just such a perfect June evening.

But things happened otherwise. Within the already cold northerly airstream, through Thursday a small but always measurable balloon of hyper-cold air between 9 and 11 degrees appeared at the north end of Ireland’s east coast. It spent the day moving southward, remaining remarkably intact in size, and by party time on Thursday at the RIYC it was sitting plumb over Dun Laoghaire, with the temperature at its cold heart now persistently down at 9 degrees.

One of the favourites. Alan Hannon’s clean-lined Reichel-Pugh 45 Katsu in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday evening. Photo: W M Nixon

But anyone who reckons that such a situation would be the ultimate party pooper just doesn’t get it with the kind of people who do the round Ireland, and particularly those who come a long way to take part. They had themselves a ball, they had themselves a blast, and there more were twists and turns to the potential of the Dun Laoghaire-Dublin setup that even the locals would now of.

For instance Brian Thompson, sailing master of Lloyd Thornburg’s all-conquering MOD 70 Phaedo 3, is up to speed on matters Irish, having been a crew-member when Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota established the Ireland circuit record of 1993 which stood for 22 years. So on Thursday night when he heard it was Bloomsday and that that Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man was on at the Pavilion Theatre just across the road, he showed his face for just long enough to be polite at the party in the yacht club, and then skedaddled across the road for a night of high culture.

Meanwhile, RORC Commodore and longtime RIYC member Michael Boyd was settling in very well in the midst of this throng in his home club, working the room and savouring the moment, for nearby on the pontoon was the First 44.7 Lisa which he’ll be skippering round Ireland. He already won the race in 1996 with the J/35 Big Ears, but for the 2016 race he definitely has the more comfortable boat with all mod cons.

round ireland yachts3
The Volvo Round Ireland fleet in stopover mode at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire. In the foreground are Michael Boyd’s First 44.7 Lisa, and Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI. Photo: W M Nixon

So when it was mentioned that the start of the race at Wicklow is exquisitely timed to exactly match the kick-off in the European Cup’s Ireland-Belgium match in Bordeaux, it didn’t take a feather out of the Commodore, as he cheerfully accepting that the first two hours of the race would be a little slow for Lisa “because only the helmsman will be on deck, the rest of us will be below watching the match”.

His brother Paddy, home from Canada and almost straight into the Round Ireland, will be sailing with Michael together with a formidable crew which incudes the likes of Barry Hurley and Tim Greenwood, so with Lisa well in the frame in the RORC points table, we can be sure that the points weighting of 1.4 which the Round Ireland provides will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Nevertheless the idea of watching football matches on a yacht in mid-race just wouldn’t go away, and Paddy recalled the race of 1994 which he did with Mark Mansfield as skipper aboard Brian Buchanan’s Frers 49 Hesperia (overall winner in 1988 with Dickie Gomes as skipper), the boat having become AIB for the duration of the race.

As it happened, that duration wasn’t very long. On the Saturday night they were pacing nicely with Moonduster with the Tuskar astern, both boats turning pleasantly to windward in classic Frers style in abut 15 knots of wind, and all well with the world with the watch off duty (and some of the watch on duty) glued to a little screen in the saloon, where Ireland could be seen playing Italy in the World Cup in the US.

Ireland scored a goal…... From the depths of AIB/Hesperia’s saloon, there erupted a mighty road of approval. And the mast fell down. Just like that. For no clear reason. This has led Paddy to develop a theory that just as an opera singer can shatter a wine glass with a particularly note, so the wild shout of Irish approval for a goal score can bring down a perfectly-tuned mast.

When you’re getting theories like that being learnedly discussed, you get the gist of the party, but there was much more to it than that. Every so often a blast of cold air would erupt into the clubhouse as some new international crew from some boat of legend swept into the party, and I have to tell you that top modern sailors are getting very tall. Not beanpole tall, either. Just big strong tall – maybe they have special breeding programmes to improve the line in France and the US, which is where most of them seem to have originated.

Thus it says much about the size and presence of George David of Rambler 88 that he still stood out in the midst of this crowd of sailing giants in the rather august setting of the RIYC’s stately rooms. He is some piece of work. It’s unlikely he’ll ever apply for the free bus pass for which he qualified a year or two ago, but if Wall Street was ever blown away, he could turn a bob or two as a stand-up comedian. Another option would be a writing a book abut his personal fitness regime, if he has one, for although he’s a big fellow he moves with the grace and ease of someone half his age. And while he’s at that stage in life when most us look at the world through a network of veins, his eyes are as clear as an Optrex ad.

rambler 88 4
Modern building, very modern boat – Rambler 88 in her Dun Laoghaire berth at the Ferry Terminal. Photo: W M Nixon

George david
George David, owner-skipper of Rambler 88

As to the business of Rambler 88 breaking the Leopard (Mike Slade) Round Ireland course record of 65 hours from 2008, George David reckons it’s very much on the cards. 2008 was a messy race, with more wind than was useful, and Leopard’s average was only 10.8 knots. But for 2016, Rambler’s skipper figures that if they can make a reasonably efficient job of the uphill sailing to get to the Fastnet, they’ll be looking to average 25 knots along the western seaboard and north coast in strong sou’west to west breezes, and there’s even a chance than once they get near the Irish Sea, the wind will have veered a little more to give them a slant down to Wicklow.

“In most of our races, we expect an average of 13 to 15 knots, and though this can be a difficult course, it’s looking quite good at the moment”. With the Rambler 88 crew including sailors of the calibre of America’s Cup winning skipper Brad Butterworth and Andrew Cape on board, it is indeed looking good.

Oman ro ire6a

Musandam-Oman in record-breaking form

While Rambler is odds-on to be the first mono-hull to finish, it’s highly likely the oldest boat in the race, the beautifully-restored 43ft Tyrrell ketch of 1937 vintage, Darryl Hughes’ Maybird, will finish last on the water. He found himself in Dun Laoghaire marina berthed just ahead of Sidney Gavignet’s MOD 70 Musandam-Oman, and in the whirl of people up in the clubhouse, the Number One aboard Musandam, Derrynane’s favorite sailor Damian Foxall was relaxed in one of those constantly changing groups which at one stage included Darryl Hughes and northern sailing journalist Betty Armstrong, who is one of the few sailing journalists who has ever actually helmed a MOD 70.

round ireland marina7
Maybird looking tiny amongst assorted exotica in Dun Laoghaire Marina on Thursday evening. Yet once upon a time in the late 1940s, her sister-ship Aideen (below right) was one of the biggest yachts about the place.

ro ire8

Normally journos are padded up with safety gear like a sack of potatoes on the Mod 70s, for as we learned when one of them capsized in Dublin Bay in 2012, they’re so wide it’s dangerous to fall off them (the MOD 70s, that is…). But out in Valencia, when Betty was the journalist on board Musandam Oman for an inshore race, and she’d found herself a safe spot on the forward netting. Bur there was a straightforward sail back to the harbour, and Damian made his way forward and asked her back to the cockpit, and when she was there, he asked her would she like to helm: “There’s nothing to it”, said he.

So there was Mrs Armstrong of Bangor in County Down helming this wonderful machine at a very smooth 25–knots, and as she says: “Do you know what, there really was nothing to it. The boat was going so smoothly and there was so little feel in the helm that it was only the speedometer which could persuade me I was steering a sailing boat at 25 knots”.

In today’s Volvo Round Ireland 2016 race. they’ll be expecting more than 25 knots and conditions way beyond the “very smooth” once the big multihulls get the Fastnet astern and start to get a bit of north in their course. The weather pattern has moved on a bit from the conditions we were anticipating here on Wednesday, when there was talk of nor’easters at the start giving way to sou’westers by tonight. It now looks as though the ridge which was expected to cross Ireland during today will be slightly earlier than expected, and losing strength in its push to the northeast, thus at start time the underlying wind at Wicklow will be a slack nor’wester

Very soon, however, the weather will be dominated by a big wet low out in the Atlantic, though some comfort can be taken from the fact that pressure won’t become excessively low over Ireland. But the isobars will be close enough together to provide freshening breezes, and well before midnight tonight, the sou’westers will be established at the Tuskar, becoming strong during tomorrow all along the South and West coasts.

Thus getting to the turn in the Fastnet Rock/Mizen Head area is crucial (as it always is), but this year it’s especially the case. And of course while the MOD 70s and Rambler will be looking to have it ticked off well before noon tomorrow, anything much smaller will inevitably be facing a slugging match all the way from somehere north of the Tuskar Rock right down to Ireland’s great southwest capes.


With a fleet of 64 boats, it’s impossible to give a complete form guide, so we’ll take ten from the body of the fleet which provide the winning combination of good all-round boats with able crew:

KATSOU (Alan Hannon, RORC & RUYC) This Reichel-Pugh 45 attracted much favourable interested in one of the premier berths at the RIYC on Thursday night, and rightly so. She comes with a good track record, and for this race she has a formidable crew built around the very best of the northwest from Lough Swilly YC, with Richie Fearon navigating (he navigated the winner Tanit in 2014) the winning Clipper Race Skipper Sean McCarter (he also was awarded the Cruising Club of America Rod Stephens Trophy for seamanship last year after successfully dealing with a man overboard in the North Pacific), and also Diarmaid MacAuley, one of the north’s best offshore helms.

Sean McCarter9
Sean McCarter of Lough Swilly YC receives the Cruising Club of America Roderick Stephens Award from CCA Commodore Tad Lhamon in New York, March 2015. McCarter will be sailing on Katsu during the Volvo Round Ireland Race

LISA (Michael Boyd, RORC & RYC). RORC Commodore Boyd has form in the round Ireland, he won in 1986, and Lisa certainly has form this year in beingin the frame in the RORC Championship. A First 44.7, she should cope well with the expected conditions.

EURO CAR PARKS (Dave Cullen, HYC). Also known as the Kelly family’s J/109 Storm, she has been chartered for this race by World Half Ton Classics Champion Dave Cullen and he has assembled a crew of six champions (himself included) from last weekends ICRA Nats. When you’ve the likes of Mark Mansfield, Maurice “Prof” O’Connell and Johnny Murphy sharing boat space, then good results are expected.

MOJITO (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox, Pwllheli SC) They’d a good second in last year’s Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, they’re one of the most consistent J/109s around, and they draw their crew from both sides of the Irish Sea in the best traditions of ISORA.

ROCKABILL VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC). Still something of an unknown force in her own right, Rockabill VI has the flawless pedigree of being a JPK 10.80 (Fastnet Race winner, Hobart Race class winner etc etc), so as they settle in the O’Higgins crew should move up the rankings

TEASING MACHINE (Eric de Turckheim, France). One of the world’s most sporting offshore racers, this 13m Archambault hs a go at everything from the Commodore’s Cup to the Sydney-Hobart, with a Fastnet thrown in for good measure. She’s always in the frame, she’s an amazing boat, and she and her crew will give of their best.

DESPERADO OF COWES (Richard Loftus, RYS) This vintage Swan 65 would be a good heavy weather selection. And she has a surprisingly competitive rating. She’ll be able to keep going with her crew in relative comfort while smaller craft are bouncing around with crew fatigue becoming a major problem.

AURELIA (Chris & Patanne Power Smith, RStGYC). The Power Smith’s J/122 is the Steady Eddy of the Dun Laoghaire fleet. She was the top-placed non-J/109 in last year’s Dun Laoghaire-Dingle in a race which might have been designed with the J/109 in mind, she has already won ISORA’s biggest race this year, and in all she is a boat which exudes competence.

BAM! (Conor Fogerty, HYC) Athough the Sunfast 3600 Bam! won her class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February, with her owner subsequently sailing her single-handed from the Caribbean to the Azores when homeward bound, she is not a boat which is suited to the restrictive Irish Sea courses. But the wide open spaces of the Atlantic with winds abaft the beam will enable her to fly – it’s just getting down to the Fastnet that will be the hard bit.

CAVATINA (Ian Hickey, RCYC) The veteran Noray 38 Cavatina is the multiple Round Ireland winner most associated with Eric Lisson, but with her low rating and renowned staying power, if a flat patch happens to slow the whole fleet back, she’s always there, ready to pounce. While it seems unlikely this year, people have got Cavatina’s results prediction wrong before now.

cavatina 10
Ian Hickey’s Cavatina (RCYC) off Wicklow Head. She probably holds the record for most Round Ireland races sailed

The Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 with its record fleet has the task of prediction made more complicated by the many sub-divisions, one of the busiest being the Open 40 Class which is within IRC, yet also races on its own, and for good measure some of the boats are fully-crewed while others are in the Two-Handed Division.

One of the most interesting of the latter is Roaring Forty 2, doing this race as Visit Brussels under the command of Belgian skipper Michael Kleinjans, who also happens to be the holder of the Round Ireland Single-Handed Record, which you can’t really compete for any more, as single-handed record sailing is now officially illegal in Irish waters. But it may well be that Kleinjans and his crew Ian Wittevrongel will set a two-handed Round Ireland Record in this race which will be worthy of future attention.

Michael Kleinjens  Open 40 11Michael Kleinjens’ Open 40 Visit Brussels will be a favourite for line honours in the two-handed division. She is seen here zapping between two Figaro Solos

Meanwhile, we’ll be carrying regular updates and comment on Afloat,ie HERE as the race progresses, based on the Race Tracker. We very much hope that by the time the time the prize-giving comes round in Wicklow on Friday evening, we’ll have mentioned every boat in the fleet at least once. But now, after partying on Thursday night (and a very good party it was too), there’s work to be done today, both off Wicklow and southward down the coast.

And in the end, it will all be in honour of the memory of the great Denis Doyle and his crew for their beautiful 1984 win and course record.

Denis doyle moonduster 12
Denis Doyle and his crew aboard Moonduster after their great win in 1984. This photo was taken through glass in Wicklow SC, where it is on display in the Round Ireland Room. Has anyone any idea where the original neg might be sourced?

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race competitor Phaedo3 came through Dalkey Sound under full sail this morning, touching speeds of 17–knots. The MOD70 skippered by American Lloyd Thornburg was on a training for Saturday's Volvo Round Ireland race start off Wicklow Head. Scroll down for 30–second video clip.

Onboard for Phaedo3's race is Justin Slattery, a Cork offshore sailor who is a double winner of the Volvo Ocean Race. Also onboard the giant trimaran is British sailor Brian Thompson, the first Briton to break the Round the World sailing record twice. He is also the first to sail non stop around the world four times.

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race J/109 crew consisting of six national champions from three classes from last weekend's ICRA championships at Howth Yacht Club is setting its sights high for Saturday's race start.

The well known Howth based J/109 Storm has been chartered for the 700–mile circumnavigation and rebadged as 'Euro Car Parks'. The entry is skippered by ICRA class two champion Dave Cullen from the half–tonner Checkmate V.

Cullen's crew line up is: Mark Mansfield (currently at the Quarter Ton Cup in Cowes), Maurice O’Connell, John Murphy, Eddie Bourke, Aidan Beggan, Franz Rotschild and Gary Murphy. 

As a further boost to race hopes, last night Cullen's campaign announced Windward Hotels as a 'major sponsor'.

Windward Management is one of Ireland's leading hotel operators owning and managing hotels both in here and abroad. The company has just completed the purchase of the Hilton Dublin Airport Hotel.

Euro Car Parks joins a fleet of 65 boats, nearly double the 2014 entry, for Saturday's Round Ireland start off Wicklow at 1pm.

Published in Round Ireland

There’s a problem with the Round Ireland sailing record if you’re hoping to set a new one in the Volvo Round Ireland Race when it starts from Wicklow at 1300hrs this Saturday, June 18th writes W M Nixon.

The problem is set by that very specific date and that time. It in turn has been set for a long time now, two years and more. But the absolute unlimited round Ireland has become refined to such an extent that you have to allow flexibility and a very broad window of time in which to make your start, and within that arc of time you wait for conditions to come just right.

Yet even then, as all your ducks of wind and weather come into the required neat row, it could well be that a few minutes either way in actually getting the record challenge on track may ultimately make a difference. It has become as sophisticated as that.

However, when it’s a matter of the gun firing and the race going off at a pre-ordained time, while it’s the same for everyone, equally the possibility of a new record – other than for the race itself – is very much in the lap of the Gods.

Yet it was the 704-mile Round Ireland Race which first began serious interest in an open record time. After Denis Doyle with the great Moonduster – a Frers 51 – set an astonishing time of 3 days 16hrs 15mins and 43 seconds in the race of 1984, it became open season for an open record.

People inevitably speculated what might be done, going for it exactly when you wanted when wind expectations were optimised, and going with a multi-hull too. But if anything, the times initially recorded served only to emphasise what an astonishing achievement The Doyler with The Duster had made in 1984. Yet within a decade, a new plateau had been reached when Steve Fossett, with the 60–ft trimaran Lakota, enticed to Ireland by Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey who crewed with him, rocketed round in 1 day 20 hours 42 minutes and 20 seconds in September 1993.


Lakota departs Dublin Bay on her record challenge in September 1993

That open record stood for 22 years – it was only finally bested by Sidney Gavignet with the MOD 70 Musandam-Oman Sail in May 2015 with a time of 1 day 16 hours 51 minutes and 57 seconds. The fact that the MOD 70’s crew didn’t come anywhere near knocking the ten hours they’d expected off the Lakota record tells us what a fantastic performance it had been in the first place, but equally it means that it’s unlikely that anyone will be trying to better Musandam’s time any time soon, unless the wind and weather chips fall exactly the right way during a Volvo Round Ireland Race.

Oman sail MOD 70 3
The MOD 70 Musandam-Oman off the Irish coast for her successful record challenge in May 2015

But with Saturday currently forecast to see light nor’easterlies giving way to fresher sou’westers, while conditions aren’t entirely unfavourable, they could be much better. Everyone will have to take it as it comes, knowing that for a speedy round Ireland you need either nor’westers or sou’easters, not too much, not too little, and holding up well. It’s a big ask.

However, we’ve plenty of other stats to be going along with, as the Volvo Round Ireland Race will almost certainly see a Race Course Record for multi-hulls established, for although a little cruising catamaran went off with the original pre-RORC fleet from Wicklow in the first race of 1980, nobody seems too sure that she even finished, and if she did, she certainly wasn’t first.

But as the race developed its own mythology over the year, its own record elapsed times became interesting. That said, it took a long time to do better than Moonduster, but Lawrie Smith finally managed it in 1990 with the 83–ft Maxi Rothmans, shaving the Doyler’s time downwards by just three hours to set a time of 3d 12h 56m 06seconds.

Rothmans Maxi 4
The 83ft–Rothmans (Lawrie Smith) finally shaved a bit off Denis Doyle’s monohull record time of 1984 during the Round Ireland Race of 1990

Interestingly enough, Gordon Maguire was aboard Rothmans when she set that time in 1990, and he was aboard Mike Slade’s 100ft Leopard when she set what is still the current course record of 2d 17h 48m 47s.

But there was another course record in between those two times, in 1998 when Colm Barrington raced round Ireland with the Whitbread 60 Jeep Cherokee, and did it in a time of 3 days 4 hours 23 minutes and 53 seconds.

When we remember that the Barrington time with a 60-footer was sandwiched between the times of an 83-footer and a 100-footer, it gives the Jeep Cherokee record an added lustre. But this Saturday, the MOD 70s and the likes of Rambler 88 will know that they have to be looking at a time of less than 2 days and 17 hours if they’re going to be making any sort of a dent in Leopard’s record.

ICAP leopard 5
Mike Slade’s 100ft Leopard currently holds the course record for the Volvo Round Ireland Race after taking line honurs in 2008

And for those looking for fresh records to conquer, you can forget about the single-handed record of 4 days 1 hour and 52 minutes established by Michel Kleinjans of Belgium in the Open 40 Roaring Forty in October 2005, for if you tried to do the same, you’d probably get arrested, as ambitious single-handed sailing is officially frowned upon in Irish waters. But there is a growing area of interest, the two-handed record, so we’ll watch what this year’s race serves up in that department.

However, as for the open mono-hull record independent of the race, here again we have the same kind of time, in its way, as was set in 1993 by Lakota. It was in 2006 that the fully-crewed Open 60 Cityjet/Solene (Jean-Philippe Chomette) went round in 2 days 9 hours and 41 minutes, and even the mighty Leopard in 2008 took eight hours longer than that.

Solune 6
CityJet/Solene established an very impressive unrestricted monohull record in 2006. Photo: David O’Brien

CityJet/Solene had ace meteorologist Chris Tibbs calling the strategic and tactical shots, and he got it so right that it has an unbeatable look about it, but then they used to say the same about the Lakota figure. Be that as it may, here’s a shortened tabulation of sorts, and it all starts from Moonduster’s performance of 1984, the Great Mother of All Round Ireland records.

Round Ireland Race Record times:

1984 Moonduster (D. Doyle, RCYC) 3d 16hrs 15mins 43s.

1990 Rothmans (L Smith, LTSC) 3d 12hrs 56mins 06s

1998 Jeep Cherokee (C. Barrington, RIYC) 3d 4h 23m 57s

2008 Leopard (M Slade, RORC) 2d 17h 48m 47s

Round Ireland Open Record Times

1984 Moonduster (D Doyle, RCYC) 3d 16h 15mins 43s

1986 British Airways (R Knox-Johnston) 3d 4h 5m 36s

1986 Novanet (R Gomes, RUYC) 2d 22h 25m 16s

1993 Lakota (S Fossett) 1d 20h 42m 20s

2015 Musandam-Oman Sail (S Gavignet) 1d 16h 51m 57s

Round Ireland Monohull Record Times

1984 Moonduster (D Doyle, RCYC) 3d 16h 15m 43s

1990 Rothmans (L Smith, LTSC) 3d 12h 56m 06s

1998 Jeep Cherokee (C Barrington, RIYC) 3d 4h 23m 57s

2005 CityJet/Solene (Jean-Philippe Chomette) 2d 9h 41m

Published in Round Ireland

Damian Foxall and Oman Sail’s crew on the Sultanate of Oman’s giant trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail are determined to fly the flag for Oman (and Foxall's home county Kerry) in Wicklow Sailing Club's Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race this Saturday by beating the two other Multi70s and defending their Round Ireland world record.

When the race starts in Wicklow on Saturday, Sidney Gavignet’s team will have their sights on defeating Phaedo 3 and Concise 10, the two other 70–foot trimarans competing for honours.

Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 has on board some Irish talent too. Double Volvo Ocean Race winner Justin Slattery is on board. Also on Phaedo3 is the UK's Brian Thompson, one of the most famous sailors in the world. He was the first Briton to break the Round the World sailing record twice. He was also the first to sail non stop around the world 4 times.

Despite a win over Team Concise in the recent Myth of Malham Race, they will have to pull out all the stops to achieve their aim, according to Gavignet, but after some intensive preparations, they were savoring the opportunity to compete.

“We see this as the most important race of our season,” said skipper Gavignet who will share helming duties with Omani Fahad Al Hasni and Irish offshore heavyweight Foxall over the two to three-day challenge.

“We do not know how we will get on against the other two but we really want to finish ahead of them both! They have done a lot of sailing this year and from the Myth of Malham, I’d say that Team Concise are sharp and we understand that Phaedo has had a complete refit with new 3D sails.

“But we know from when we set a new Round Ireland world record last year that this is a difficult course.

“We want to retain that record because achieving it meant so much to us and we were very happy to hear that the Round Ireland race has attracted the largest ever entry this year with teams motivated to beat our record. It feels like there’s been a renewal which makes us even more determined to win.”

The 704nm race clockwise round the Emerald Isle, as it is known, is a mix of coastal and offshore challenges so French navigator Jean Luc Nelias will have his work cut out while everyone is prepared for heavy weather along the way.

“Ideally it will not be too bad on the west coast - we do not want to be hammered by a massive low,” said Al Hasni.

“And if we could pick a breeze, we would go for fast reaching conditions because we are difficult to beat in that mode. We have good boat speed on Musandam-Oman Sail and a good crew especially with Sidney and Damian who seem to be able to put on extra knots!”

Gavignet will leave it until Friday when the team assembles in Wicklow for final training to announce his six strong crew for the race but his options will include debutant Raad Al Hadi, the 95kg powerhouse known as ‘Thunder’, after he participates in delivering Musandam-Oman Sail from Lorient to Wicklow.

Also available are Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili who were on board for the record-breaking voyage in 2015 when Musandam-Oman Sail smashed the Round Ireland record completing the course in 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, slicing four hours off a record that had stood for 22 years.

All have been in France competing in the J80 class at Normandy Race Week which has helped with refining boat handling skills and building on a strong team spirit in preparation for the Round Ireland Race and also for the 2016 Transat Quebec-St Malo race across the Atlantic in July.

Published in Round Ireland

Some of the world's top offshore sailors in some of the world's top racing machines from both monohull and multihull disciplines are heading for the Irish east coast this week in advance of Saturday's Volvo Round Ireland Race off Wicklow.

Over half of the fleet are gathering in Dun Laoghaire harbour this week to avail of Wicklow Sailing Club's new tie–in with the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the facitlities of the town marina. 33 boats will prepare for the 700–mile cricumavigation at Dun Laoghaire but not even Ireland's biggest deep–water marina can host the biggest yacht in the fleet. The world's fastest monohull, the supermaxi Rambler 88, will use a mooring in the outer harbour for reasons of depth. The George David skippered super–yacht is expected to be the star of the 2016–fleet.

Wicklow Sailing Club will host an eve–of–race fleet recepton at the Royal Irish Yacht fleet reception on Thursday when it is understood most of the fleet will be in–harbour. Some yachts have already arrived. The world record breaking Phaedo 3 trimaran, skippered by Lloyd Thornburg, has already been spotted out on training runs on Dublin Bay last Saturday. Also in port is the oldest boat in the fleet, the 1936 Maybird skippered gaff–ketch that will race in class five. Katsu, a Reichel-Pugh design, has been entered in class one by Alan Hannon of the RORC and she is alongside at the RIYC. One of two Concise Class 40 Class 40 yachts are on the marina along with the Phaedo3 tri.

Early arrivals for Round Ireland 2016

Katsu round ireland Katsu, a Reichel-Pugh, at the RIYC slipway, has been entered in Class 1 by Alan Hannon of the RORC. Scroll down the page to see some of the other early arrivals

class40 concise

UK Class 40 Team Concise entry at Dun Laoghaire marina

Maybird ketch

Darryl Hughes's Maybird, a 1936 Gaff Ketch racing in Class 5 at Dun Laoghaire Marina 

Phaedo3 round ireland

Phaedo 3, a MOD70 entry in the multihull class has been practising on Dublin Bay

rambler88 arrives

Supermaxi Rambler 88 arrives in Dun Laoghaire late on Monday evening

round Ireland dunlaoghaire

Half of Wicklow Sailing Club's 65-boat Round Ireland fleet will be in Dun Laoghaire harbour by Thursday for the pre–race reception at the RIYC clubhouse. 

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.

round irl2
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.

round irl3
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.

round irl4
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.

round irl5
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.

round irl6
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.

round irl7
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.

round irl8
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.

round irl9
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.

round irl10
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.

round irl11
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 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

round ireland yacht race 2015 5
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.

round ireland yacht race 2015 6
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

round ireland yacht race 2015 8
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.

round ireland yacht race 2015 9
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.

round ireland yacht race 2015 10
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 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
Page 2 of 5

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating