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An overwhelming display of dominance in the Star class from defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) made Bacardi Cup history, as according to event knowledge, never before has a team recorded an all-win scorecard. Today Kusznierewicz/Prada wrapped up their assault to defend their title by claiming two more race wins to walk away with the 94th Bacardi Cup on a 15 point advantage.

Kusznierewicz/Prada made achieving their second consecutive Bacardi Cup title look easy, but despite their record-breaking scorecard the race track didn’t always go their way, as twice they had to play catch up to secure their wins! Not today though, as they again led from start to finish in what can only be described as an unsurpassable event for the pair. To win with a win as a discard is simply once in a lifetime stuff!

Bruno Prada (left) and Mateusz KusznierewiczBruno Prada (left) and Mateusz Kusznierewicz

“Since we left Miami last year after a beautiful Bacardi Cup so many things happened and we were looking forward to come here again and we managed to do this,” said Kusznierewicz. “It was not easy to get to the United States for Bruno from Brazil and me from Poland, but we made it and we experienced such nice sailing conditions, such nice hospitality. Of course we are so happy to win the 94th edition of the Bacardi Cup, it is a great privilege. I just want to say that once you try Bacardi, you want it more and this is why I think we performed so well.”

Prada added, “Much bigger than our victory was the courage of the Bacardi team to run the Bacardi Cup. It was a super tough year last year and to 2021 and we would like to congratulate all the Bacardi team to make it happen.”

The battle going into race 7 was all about podium second and third and the two teams having the overnight hold on those places didn’t ease up. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise went into race 7 on 13 points, with Augie Diaz/Marcus Koy (USA) 5 points behind. Doyle/Infelise took the upper hand, scoring 4th to Diaz/Koy’s 9th, assuring them of second overall.

Star sailing in the 2021 Bacardi CupStar sailing in the 2021 Bacardi Cup

Onto the podium deciding race 8 there were now three teams, and four former Star Class World Champion sailors, vying for third place with just 2 points separating Diaz/Koy, John MacCausland/Phil Trinter and George Szabo/Guy Avellon.

Diaz/Koy knew they had to keep the pressure on to hold onto third place, as Diaz explained their road to the final spot on the podium.

“We had a really good race between three of us for third place. Our first race this morning was not very good, we ended up 9th and that was our throw out. So basically there were three of us to get third place and we had a really good start, so we were very fortunate that we were able to control the race. We were third at the weather mark and we were pretty much in second the rest of the way and we just felt really fortunate. It is just so nice to be able to sail in a Bacardi Cup under the conditions that are currently existing.”

A top performance from Star Class President Hubert Merkelbach and crew Kilian Weise, who unleashed their best day of racing, with a 2,5 bumping them up the leader board to finish in 6th overall and earn the Tammy Rubin-Rice Trophy.

As Kusznierewicz/Prada yet again shared the honor of sipping Bacardi Rum from the perpetual Bacardi Cup Trophy and the Tito Bacardi Cup, division prizes were also presented. Doyle/Infelise won the Masters (skippers age 50 through 59), Diaz/Koy the Grand Masters (skippers age 60 and above) and John Ferguson Dane III/Art Anisov the Exalted Grand Masters (skippers age 70 and above).


Star Class – Provisional Results after Race 8

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 7 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) - 22 pts
3. Augie Diaz / Marcus Koy (USA 8509) - 25 pts
4. George Szabo / Guy Avellon (USA 8528) - 28 pts
5. John MacCausland / Phil Trinter (USA 8448) - 32 pts

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The 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta is all set to welcome over seventy-five teams to compete at one of sailing’s most prestigious events from 7-13 March 2021 in Miami, USA.

Every year the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta attract a dazzling mix of professional rock star racers and super-talented Corinthian teams from around the globe. They are drawn to the stunning location, world class racing and fantastic hospitality, which guarantee an atmosphere perfectly epitomizing the spirit of sailing. For 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a scaled-down regatta, with local restrictions on entry levels and fleet quotas limiting racing to the Star Class, J/70 and Melges 24. The Viper 640 and VX One fleets have kindly stepped back and will re-join the racing in 2022.

First held in 1927 in Cuba, the iconic Bacardi Cup is steeped in history and has grown year on year in partnership with BACARDÍ® rum, who has been the proud patron and organizer since the regatta’s inception. Ranking as one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed sailing regattas, the Bacardi Cup has been a constant over the past nine decades, serving up sailing in the revered Star Class that has put teams and spectators on the edge of their seats with awe-inspiring race track action. Despite the event’s relaxed atmosphere and nostalgia, staking your place on the Bacardi Cup leader board remains as competitive as ever and the challenge for victory is as tough as the first edition back in 1927.

Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA, commented, “Although it hasn’t been easy to pull off this year’s event, Bacardi is immensely proud to host the 94th Bacardi Cup and 2021 Bacardi Invitational Regatta and I applaud everyone for working so closely together to follow the Covid-19 protocols and deliver a safe event for all. We expect to return to our usual hospitality and entertainment next year, so save the date as 2022 is going to be one heck of a party!”

Current travel restrictions and limits on fleet size have kept many at home, so we have a new look entry line up featuring only a few international faces who have been able to travel to join the mainly USA based teams. The commitment of sailors in making the journey to Miami demonstrates the huge popularity of the regatta and the Organizing Committee is very grateful for everyone’s participation.

“After a difficult past 12 months we are thrilled to welcome teams back to the 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta,” commented Sara Zanobini, Event Director. “The Organizing Committee thanks all the teams who have been able to enter this year and we appreciate your commitment to sail despite the challenges. The event has a new format for 2021 as we have adapted to Covid-19, introducing multiple protocols and safety measures in our aim to keep everyone safe, which means there will be none of the usual shore-side social events, although sailors still get to enjoy BACARDÍ® rum with daily cocktail kits to take home. We are very proud to be amongst the few major sailing events to take place this year and we are proof events can be held safely. We expect teams’ energy and focus will all be on the racing and we are super excited to see how the leader board shapes up.”

As always plenty have their eyes on the main prizes and returning to defend their 2020 titles are Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) in the Star Class and Bora Gulari (USA) and his team in the Melges 24 Class.

Kusznierewicz/Prada made winning the 93rd Bacardi Cup look easy, seizing victory with a race to spare, after which Kusznierewicz declared it ‘his perfect regatta’. They were chased hard by Augie Diaz, who for this year’s mission to displace the defenders has partnered up with Pedro Truche, who finished 5th last year with Paul Cayard. Local hero Diaz is massively experienced in sniffing out the breeze and Biscayne Bay current, but has yet to see his name etched in history on the iconic Bacardi Cup.

Strong contenders Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise won the warm-up at the Star Mid-winters last month ahead of Diaz, and won the 92nd Bacardi Cup in 2019 over Kusznierewicz. But touché, as Kusznierewicz/ Prada won the 2019 Star Worlds, with Diaz in 2nd, whilst Diaz won gold at the 2016 Worlds. And so it goes on in the highly talented Star fleet. Honoring its history, the Bacardi Cup remains firmly loyal to the initial concept of an event for all, with the sport’s luminaries, Olympic medalists, World Champions and America’s Cup legends on the same starting line as talented enthusiasts and weekend warriors. There is everything to play for with numerous well-known faces amongst the thirty teams taking on one traditional long race per day in the high octane battle for supremacy at the 94th Bacardi Cup and earn the honor of drinking BACARDÍ® rum from the winners’ trophy.

In the J/70 fleet, multiple teams hold impressive pedigrees in this well-honed pack who know each other well. Reigning J/70 World Champion Joel Ronning on ‘Catapult’ has to be a front runner with back to back wins in 2019 and 2018, although he dropped to 4th last year. In 2020 and 2019, Ryan McKillen and his team on ‘Surge’ had to settle for second place and will want the top step! Their target is firmly in sight, with a win at the recent Bacardi Winter Series 2, with new crew on board in the form of Olympian Lucas Calabrese, who may be the component to secure an upgrade. Always sitting high up the leader board is Brian Keane, although he posted an errant 22nd last year, but previously placed 7th and 3rd and well as securing top five finishes at the J/70 Worlds. Pamela Rose and her team on Rosebud have been steadily advancing up the leader board, rounding out Bacardi Winter Series 2 in 3rd place, and clearly have the skill to stake their claim on the podium.

Amongst the favorites aiming to displace Gulari in the Melges 24 Class are both the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from 2020, with ‘Raza Mixta’ driven by Peter Duncan and ‘Shaka’ helmed by KC Shannon. Gulari launches his defence fresh from a win at the Bacardi Winter Series 2, where another strong contender Laura Grondin and her team on Dark Energy were one point back in second place, with Duncan in third. Grondin is one of four women skippers in the fleet, from a provisional entry list of twenty-four boats, each of whom will pounce on every opportunity to be out front. Bruce Ayres and his team on ‘Monsoon’ have featured on the podium at the past three Melges 24 Worlds, and will be right up in the hunt too.

“Whilst the event this year will be a bit different, the stunning Biscayne Bay is sure to deliver its usual brilliance and close racing,” added Regatta Chairman Mark Pincus. “I know everyone is ready for some exciting sailing and are hotly anticipating their return to the race track. We are really pleased to welcome teams to our annual celebration of sailing and friendship.

During the Bacardi Cup there will be a special tribute to honor the life and legacy of James ‘Ding’ Schoonmaker who passed away on 19 January 2021. We owe it to the special friendship between Ding, Tito Argamasilla Bacardi and Frank Zagarino who in 1962 brought the Bacardi Cup to Miami from Cuba, thus saving our unique and special regatta.

The Star Class challenge for the 94th Bacardi Cup kicks off on Monday 8 March, with a 6-race series of one traditional endurance race per day through until Saturday 13 March. Racing for the J/70 and Melges 24 gets underway from 11-13 March with 3 races scheduled per day for a total of 9 races. Race activities are managed by Coral Reef Yacht Club, in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, US Sailing Center and Shake-a-Leg Miami.

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Piet Eckert (SUI) and Frederico Melo (POR) are the 2020 Star European keelboat Champions thanks to a great week of sailing in Riva del Garda, Italy, that translated into a winning scorecard. The silver medal goes to Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA), who didn’t start the week at their usual pace but were able to come back winning yesterday’s two races and finishing second in today’s final race. Sitting in third the Austrian duo Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer, after a very consistent week in which they have always been among the leading pack of the fleet.

“It’s been a very fun week of sailing – says European Champion Piet Eckert – we sailed well but mostly we had a good time finally sailing altogether here in Riva del Garda, we want to thank everyone who made this possible in such difficult times!” Eckert was here with young Portuguese crew Frederico Melo, who has been sailing the Star Class for years and his great experience is very valuable for any skipper he sails with.

2020 Star Europeans
In today’s final race the wind from the North blown from 12 to 15 knots and the Fraglia Vela Riva Race Committee, with PRO Giancarlo Crevatin, set yet another flawless course, the fleet was too eager to start though and after a general recall, three boats were over the line early, and only one team, Flavio Favini and Nicolas Serravalle, managed to come back inside. In the first beat, Enrico Chieffi and Nando Colaninno (ITA) were the first to round the mark, followed by Juan Kouyoumdjian and Fernando Rivero (ARG) and Hubert Merkelbach / Kilian Weise (GER). Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi rounded in fourth but were able, with Merkelbach/Weise, to improve over the following legs and finished the race first and third, with Chieffi/Colaninno between them in second. It was just another exciting and unpredictable race, like the six previous ones this week.

Piet Eckert is also winner in the Master category, Jorgen Shoenherr (DEN), sailing here with Markus Koy (GER), is the Grand Master winner – seventh overall – while young German Finn sailor Philip Kasueke is the best Junior skipper, and 13th overall.

The one and only Star Class Continental Championship was closed today in Riva del Garda, Italy, and everyone is already looking forward to a full schedule of racing for 2021, if the global pandemic will allow it. 

Full results here

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With lots of Europe countries in COVID lockdown, it is no surprise this year's Star European Championships at Lake Garda in Italy has drawn only 18 competitors.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Ireland's Peter O'Leary and Robert O'Leary from Baltimore Sailing Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club are regular International attendees but the sole Irish Star duo are not competing this year. 

The O'Leary brothers finished 14th overall in a fleet of 90 at the 2019 European Championship in Italy.

While this year's entry is low, the strength of the class is shown in the wide spread of ten European countries competing at Lake Garda.

Yesterday, two more extraordinary races sailed today in Riva del Garda, Italy, on the third day of racing. A strong wind from the North allowed the fleet to keep the schedule and close today Race Five and Six in the morning, granting the teams to throw out their worst score.

European Champion Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) were on fire yesterday, after a very slow start of the championship, winning both races with a huge margin over the rest of the fleet, and by discarding a 10th they jump up to fourth place, two points away from the podium. In third place, Croatian duo Tonci Stipanovic and Tudor Bilic, in second the Austrian team comprised of Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer and on top, after four days leading, Piet Eckert (SUI) and Frederico Melo (POR) who discarded today their worst score so far, a seventh.

One more day today, and only one more race allowed to reach the maximum of seven races scheduled by the Notice of Race. If Negri/Lambertenghi can still aim for podium, the mission looks almost impossible for the team in the provisional rankings, 2017 Star World Champion Eivind Melleby with Martin Hejlsberg (NOR), eight points away from third. Nonetheless, we might still see some changes among the top teams, and the fight for the title of 2020 European Champion will be fierce tomorrow on the water.

Full results here

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In spite of a scoresheet that features two race wins and four results from six in the top ten, such is the competition at the Star Class Bacardi Cup that sole Irish entry Peter and Robert O'Leary missed the podium and finished sixth overall.

In further top results for visiting Royal Cork crews, the brother's father Anthony sailing with third brother Nicholas O'Leary, who were competing in the Viper 640 class, took third overall sailing with Ben Field (see below). North Sails Ireland's Nigel Young was one place outside the Melges 24 top ten in 11th overall.

Rob O LearyNicholas O'Leary (centre) collecting the Winter Cup in Miami for Antix (IRL 296), the Viper 640 warm-up to the Bacardi Invitational Regatta Photo: Martina Orsini

Tough, rough and exhilarating conditions showed up in Biscayne Bay on the last day at the invitational regatta for the thrill of the 524 sailors gathered in Miami for this world-renowned event. An average 15 knots breeze, with gusts of over 20 knots, tested teams and served up a spectacular final day of racing for sailors and the spectator flotilla following the racing.

The 2020 Bacardi Cup Champions secured their title with a race to spare yesterday, but Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) still delivered an impressive final race. The pair led the fleet for the first half of the race, before they confused the upwind mark of another racecourse with the Stars’ bottom gate, giving the opportunity for Diego Negri (ITA)/Frithjof Kleen (GER) to overhaul them and extend to win the race by 150 metres. With it Negri/Kleen managed to climb to fourth overall.

“We were forcing on them on the last downwind,” commented Diego Negri, who was happy to conclude the Bacardi Cup with a race win. “We both had a bit of a misunderstanding about the marks, we have had a couple of changes of course during the race, but we luckily realised we were going in the wrong direction before they did and managed to gain over them and round the mark in front. They were fast on the last upwind for another very tight finish. I am happy we won the race, it always feels great, but it’s even better at the Bacardi Cup!”

With Negri/Kleen taking out the final race win, the fight for second and third on the podium unfolded between Paul Cayard (USA)/Pedro Trouche (BRA) who tamed the strong wind and the waves and finished race 6 in 3rd, Augie Diaz (USA)/Henry Boening (BRA) in 4th and Eivind Melleby (NOR)/Joshua Revkin (USA) who started the day in second place dropping to third overall after a 9th place finish. Claiming the glory of second place, by tiebreak advantage over Melleby/Revkin, were Diaz/Boening.

The Race Committees had predicted a full programme on the final day, and with the wind increasing as the afternoon progressed they delivered another day of outstanding racing for all eight classes.

Two races for the J70 fleet, where Eat Sleep J Repeat (Paul Ward/Ruairidh Scott/Ben Saxton/Mario Trindade) maintained their leading position with one win and a 7th, Surge (Ryan McKillen/John Wallace/Sam Loughborough/Mark Mendelblatt) ended their regatta in second overall and Midlife Crisis in third (Bruce Golison/Steve Hunt/Jeff Reynolds/Erik Shampain) after delivering the best race performance of the day, back to back 2nd place finishes. The other race win went to the team on Catapult (Joel Ronning/Patrick Wilson/Christopher Stoke/Paul Brotherton) who claimed fourth overall.

“It is great fun for us to come race up here,” commented Paul Ward, helm of Eat Sleep J Repeat who are the reigning J70 World Champions. “And winning is the icing on the cake or it’s the 10 year old Bacardi Rum on top of everything else! The hardest thing for us was to keep the boat going faster upwind with this kind of chop and the big gusts coming from the north. We don’t sail them much back home and we are not good with them. It was also tough to play catch up with our American friends.”

Two races for the Melges 24 and two stunning wins for USA 820 (Bora Gulari/Taylor Canfield/Kyle Navin/Norman Berg/Ian Liberty) to win overall by a 13 point margin. Second to Raza Mixta (Peter Duncan/Victor Diaz de Leon/Mattero Ramian/Carlos Robles/Willem Van Waay) and Shaka (KC Shannon/Jackson Benvenutti/Ben Lynchi/Tom Sawchuk/Elizabeth Whitener) remained in third overall despite being black flagged in the last race.

“It was a glamor day out there today,” said Taylor Canfield helm of the winning crew. “Biscayne Bay is great in this condition and we had two wins to close the event. I am sailing with a great team, they are really sharp and make my work a lot easier. This was a great tune up for the 2020 Worlds that will take place in Charleston in May. We have learned a lot. It’s my first event in the class after some time and I loved it.”

In the Viper 640, no change to first and second overall with the overnight leaders on USA293 (Will Graves/ Ryan Cox/Greg Dair) claiming a 1,4 to win by 11 points over last year’s champions on Evil Hiss (Geoff Ewenson/Mary Ewenson/Tyler Bjorn), while Antix (Anthony O’Leary/Ben Field/Nicholas O’Leary) climbed up the leader board to finish in third overall.

The team on Caterpillar (Peter Ill/Alec Chicoine/Austin Powers) took out the final race of the day to wrap up in 7th overall.

No change in the top three in the VX One, as Sendit (Bill Wiggins/Jeff Eiber/Darby Cappellin) maintained their form, to win by 2 points over Flying Jenny (Sandra Askew/Kyle Kandt/Jason Curvie) and just 1 point behind in third was VX1 (Ched Proctor/David Guggenheim/Monica Morgan). Today’s only race was won by LM Realty (Tim Pitts/Rachel Daye/Ethan Hanley), who lost out on a podium place on tiebreak and had to settle for fourth overall.

In the new Olympic windsurf class, it was a challenging day out on the track as the foilers tackled the gusty wind and chop. Gabriel Browne (BRA) again demonstrated his speed in the Open Windfoil to take out another win, ending his debut here in Miami with 7 race wins and two 2nd places to easily secure victory. Justin Ahearn (USA) finished in second overall and Alexander Temko (USA) in third.

An eight-race series for the Cabrinha AV8, the flying kiteboards, saw Damien LeRoy win both of today’s concluding races and the overall series. It was an all-American podium, with Brendan Healy in second and third to Kent Marcovich.

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Royal Cork Star sailing brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary scored their second bullet of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta in Miami, Florida and are now in striking distance of the podium, placed in third overall as they enter the last race today.

After a very stormy morning, with gusts of wind weaving through from all directions and a short postponement ashore for some classes, 542 sailors headed out to the water for the penultimate day of racing at the .

The wind eventually settled on all racecourses and the race committees made final course adjustments in response to the shifty breeze, which increased from around 6-7 knots to 10-12 knots. The building breeze backed up the forecast of a strong northerly front for Saturday’s final race day.

On the Star course magic happened and this year’s heroes were born as the 2020 Bacardi Cup Trophy was claimed. The leaders of the series, Polish Finn Olympic Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Brazilian five-time Star World Champion Bruno Prada (BRA) rounded the first windward mark in the unusual position of 10th, a place they had not found themselves in all week. Tack after tack they worked their way through the tough opposition to put in another powerful performance and cross the finish line in second, securing the 2020 crown of one of the oldest trophies in the sailing arena with a race to spare.

“I’ve attended the Bacardi Cup for so many years in my Olympic career but have never managed to win it,” said an enthusiastic Kusznierewicz, who is also the reigning Star Class World Champion. “It is an unbelievable feeling to finally win this after finishing runner-up last year. Bruno and I had an amazing week, three bullets and two seconds, I can’t remember having had a regatta so perfect in my life. I think I am ready for the Tokyo Olympics,” he laughingly concluded.

With the iconic Bacardi Cup trophy securely in the hands of the Polish-Brazilian partnership, attention now turns to the fiery battle for second and third on the podium. The Irish brothers, Peter and Robert O’Leary scored their second bullet of the series and are now in striking distance of the podium, placed in third overall. They engaged in an intense fight with the USA’s Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise, who opened their day with some boat damage and just made it ashore and back out in time for the start of race 5. Doyle/Infelise had to settle for a 3rd place score to place seventh on the leaderboard. Despite scoring their worst result of the series, a 9th place, Eivind Melleby (NOR)/Joshua Revkin (USA) sit firm in second place. Tomorrow’s last race will be a gruelling battle to complete the 93rd Bacardi Cup leaderboard, with the top seven teams separated by just 12 points and all in reach of a podium finish.

“Sailing with Bruno Prada is fantastic, I enjoy it so much,” continued Kusznierewicz. “We had an amazing year together, we won the Star Worlds last June, then the qualification round for the SSL Finals and now this epic race. Of course, it’s easier to enjoy it when you are winning, but I loved this event so much, and I love sailing, I don’t ever want to stop!”

Three races were sailed in the J70, Melges 24, Viper and VXOne classes, four in the Open Windfoil, but no racing for the AV8 kite boards.

In the J70 fleet, holding firm as leaders are the team on Eat Sleep J Repeat (Paul Ward/Ruairidh Scott/Ben Saxton/Mario Trindade), who despite an unusually up and down scorecard remain the most consistent in the fleet. Second and third respectively are the teams on Surge (Ryan McKillen/John Wallace/Sam Loughborough/Mark Mendelblatt) and NINE (Oivind Lorentzen/David Shreiner/Lucas Calabrese/Ian Coleman), who each claimed a race win and showed great form around the track. The opening race win of the day went to the corinthian team on Dime (Mallory Loe/Andrew Loe/Cardwell Potts/Brian Shores) who are 15th overall and second in their division.

The door is still very much open in the J70 fleet for any number of teams to step up to the podium, making tomorrow’s final day a challenge for control of the fleet. Ending their day just two points off the podium is the team on Midlife Crisis, with Bruce Golison on the helm.

“Today was a very tricky day on the racecourse,” said Golison. “The wind was coming from all over the place with lots of gains and losses for everyone. We had an ok day, not too good and not too bad. We are looking forward to the big breeze tomorrow, it should be a lot of fun and a great way to end the Bacardi Invitational Regatta”.

In the Melges 24 fleet, overnight leaders USA 820 (Bora Gulari/Kyle Navin/Norman Berg/Ian Liberty/Taylor Canfield) had to surrender the track performance of the day to Raza Mixta (Peter Duncan/Victor Diaz de Leon/Mattero Ramian/Carlos Robles/Willem Van Waay), who claimed two firsts and a second, but USA820 holds onto first overall on tiebreak advantage. Realistically, unless there is a major change in form, the fight for first and second will be between these two teams. On an 11 point deficit to the leaders and in third overall going into the final day is Shaka (KC Shannon/Jackson Benvenutti/Ben Lynchi/Tom Sawchuk/Elizabeth Whitener). Claiming the third race win of the day was Team Sebaajo (Jan Frederik Dyvi/Jan Boro/Herman Horn-Johannessen/Malin Rorvik-Sundelin/Stian Ness Rorvik), who elevate themselves to be first corinthian team and 11th overall.

Tight margins in the Viper 640 fleet, with just 3 points separating the top three teams, led by USA 293 (Will Graves/Ryan Cox/Greg Dair) on 14 points, second to Evil Hiss (Geoff Ewenson/Mary Ewenson/Tyler Bjorn) on 15 points and in third is Ness (Mark Zagol/Tim Desmond/Arielle Darrow) on 17 points, who won the day’s opening race. Bullets also went to Gnixe (Bill Vickers/Chip Steiner/V Vickers) and Antix (Anthony O’Leary/Ben Field/Nicholas O'Leary).

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Royal Cork Yacht Club's Peter and Robert O'Leary are seventh overall after four races sailed at the 93rd Star Bacardi Cup in Miami, USA yesterday. The Cork Harbour duo scored an eighth in race four, their third top ten of the series so far. Meanwhile, the O'Leary's father, Anthony along with third brother Nicholas, have started racing in another fleet at the Cup and they are currently third overall in the Viper 640 class.

On Thursday, the Star Class was joined by the complete line-up of one-design classes racing at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta. Taking on their first day of racing were the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640, and, brand new for the race track this year, the VX One sports boat, AV8 and Windfoil classes. The blend of sailors battling it out for glory on Biscayne Bay is phenomenal, with a mix of professional rock stars and super-talented Corinthian teams.

For 2020, the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta have welcomed a record-breaking 175 entries and well over 500 sailors representing 19 nations, proving its status as the sport’s most popular Spring regatta. Racing is across four-course areas, with the Star Class on a dedicated track and course sharing for the Melges 24 and J70, Viper 640 and VX One and AV8 with the Windfoil.

The Bacardi Invitational Regatta was in full swing today and all of the classes were able to get a taste of the joy of racing on Biscayne Bay as Miami showcased its Caribbean genes of heat, humidity and a steady 9-10 knot breeze to sailors from around the world.

Mateusz Kusnierewicz (POL)/Bruno Prada (BRA) made it another big day in the Star Class, as they seized the bullet to make it three wins in a row and lead the fleet on a perfect scorecard of 3 points. The pair have shown classy form and today secured a critical points edge with just two races to go to crown the 93rd Bacardi Cup champions. Behind the order of play remains the same at the end of the day as at the beginning with Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin (NOR) and Augie Diaz/Henry Boening (USA) pushing hard in second and third. It will now take an epic assault to unseat the reigning Star Class World Champions Kusnierewicz and Prada from their top billing, but one the chasing teams are willing to try. Among them are Paul Cayard (USA)/Pedro Trouche (BRA), who sit in fifth overall after a disappointing 17th finish yesterday. But they rebounded to deliver their best day, a 2nd place, and proved they can still fight amongst the best.

“This might be my 25th Bacardi Cup, surely the first one was in 1980,” commented Olympian, multiple World Champion, Louis Vuitton Cup and Whitbread Round the World winner Paul Cayard. “We had a very bad day yesterday when I could not put us in a good position at the start, but I am happy about today, our best result so far. It’s just that Mateusz and Bruno are so fast, and with three wins, we can all just fight to be second best.” 

Out on the track first were the Melges 24 and J70 who raced in the south of the bay, starting out in a fluky 5-6 knots before the breeze steadied to 9-10 knots. Three races in the Melges 24 saw the big hitters out front early on, with Bora Gulari and his team of Kyle Navin/Norman Berg/Ian Liberty and match racing superstar Taylor Canfield setting the pace to secure two wins and a second place to lead overall. They know what it takes to win, having wrapped up victory in one of the Bacardi Winter Series warm-up events in January 2020. Just 2 points behind are KC Shannon/Jackson Benvenutti/Ben Lynchi/Tom Sawchuk/Elizabeth Whitener, with Peter Duncan/ Victor Diaz de Leon/Mattero Ramian/Carlos Robles/Willem Van Waay in third. Duncan and crew race in Miami fresh from their Melges 24 victory at last month’s 2020 NOOD Regatta where they nailed an all-win scorecard.

The aptly named ‘Eat Sleep J Repeat’ helmed by reigning J/70 World Champion Paul Ward (GBR) with crew of Ruairidh Scott/Ben Saxton/Mario Trindade were the pace setters in the J70 fleet, stamping their authority on the chasing pack with a 2,2,1 scorecard, but it was no easy racing. Ward’s crew boasts plenty of successes, but so do the other teams with World Champions and Olympians aplenty. Second to Ryan McKillen/John Wallace/Sam Loughborough/Mark Mendelblatt (USA) and third to Chile’s Pablo Herman/Luis Felipe/Felipe Echenique/Will Welles.

“It was a really, really good day and we finally started to work out how to sail out here,” grinned Paul Ward. “We always love coming to Bacardi Cup because it is cold, wet and miserable at home and the sun is shining here and we have some fantastic racing.”

Anticipating the races ahead, Ward continued, “There are two more days and there are a lot of fast boats, which is why we love coming out here as the competition is great. We’ve just got to see how we go and the boys are going well, everyone’s enjoying themselves and the bar is open, so life is good!”

Viper 640

In the Viper 640 fleet, it was Will Graves/Ryan Cox/Greg Dair who set the early running, with results of 1,2,3, but the defending Bacardi Invitational Champions Geoff Ewenson/Mary Ewenson/Tyler Bjorn soon settled into their groove to claim wins in races 2 and 3. This fleet is renowned for its camaraderie, so plenty of post-race analysis chat flows helped along with the Bacardi hospitality.

“Today was nice, a beautiful building breeze out of the east which took a bit longer than expected, but eventually it came in,” commented Geoff Ewenson who is a familiar face in Miami, counting fifteen appearances at the Bacardi Cup. “We were caught a little bit out of tune in the first race, but we figured it out throughout the race. We knew the boat didn’t feel quite right, so we worked hard after the first race and made some adjustments to the rig tune and were able to find our speed and were particularly fast downwind.” 

An all-American line up is contesting the VX One fleet, and reflecting the closeness of racing a different team won each of the three races. Matching scorecards to Ched Proctor/David Guggenheim/Monica Morgan and Sandra Askew/Kyle Kandt/Jason Curvie (USA) in the first two races was ultimately settled by a 2nd place finish for Proctor and crew in race 3 to give them the series lead. Second to Askew/Kandt/Curvie on tiebreak advantage over Bill Wiggins/Jeff Eiber/Farby Cappellin.

“Miami is my favourite place to go sailing,” smiled Proctor, before Guggenheim chipped in, “The water is warm, the breeze is strong!”

“It was pretty nice today, as the first two races were fully powered up,” continued Proctor, “although the last race we were a little depowering. It was a pretty perfect day for sailboat racing. This is the best place in North America to sail in the winter.”

Brazil’s Gabriel Browne produced a punishingly accurate performance to claim four back to back race wins in the Windfoil Class. Hunting him down in each race with four second places was Alexander Temko (USA) with Justin Ahearn (USA) in third overall.

“We have a lot of participation at this event, as it is our first time with the big boat fleet,” commented Alex Morales, representative of the Windfoil Class. “We have some of the top guys from Brazil and the USA, plus some juniors from the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club who are doing their first event in this Olympic windsurfing class. We are super excited, we feel really welcome and are really pleased to be part of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta.”

Plenty of kite racing pedigree in the hydrofoil Cabrinha AV8 Class and joining the AV8 are legends Damien Leroy and Jon Modica, who make their AV8 racing debuts amongst the normal class veterans. Leroy was fast off the start and superbly foiled his way to knock out four race wins. Second to Brendan Healy (USA) with Kent Marcovich (USA) in third.

The Bacardi Invitational Regatta marks the third major event of the season for the Cabrinha AV8 class. The AV8 is a strict one-design hydrofoil racer, positioned as an affordable and accessible form of hydrofoil kite racing. Racing is tight, tactical and fast with speeds easily reaching the 30-knot range in as little as 10 knots of wind speed.

Tonight teams will enjoy another memorable party night hosted by Bacardi at Shake a Leg Miami. Racing continues on Friday 6 March, with one race for the Star Classes and three to four races for all other fleets.

Bacardi Cup 2020 – Star Class Top 3 – After 4 races

Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) – 5 pts
Eivind Melleby / Joshua Revkin (NOR 8234) – 10 pts
Augie Diaz /Henry Boening (USA 8509) – 14 pts

J70 – Top 3 – After 3 races
Eat Slepp J Repeat (GBR 1127) – Paul Ward / Ruairidh Scott / Ben Saxton / Mario Trindade – 5 pts
Surge (USA 179) – Ryan McKillen / John Wallace / Sam Loughborough / Mark Mendelblatt – 12 pts
New Wave (USA 456) – Pablo Herman / Luis Felipe / Felipe Echenique / Will Welles – 17 pts

Melges 24 – Top 3 – After 3 races
USA 420 (USA 420) – Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berg / ian Liberty / Taylor Canfield – 4 pts
Shaka (USA 801) – KC Shannon / Jackson Benvenutti / Ben Lynchi / Tom Sawchuk / Elizabeth Whitener – 6 pts
Raza Mixta (USA 820) – Peter Duncan / Victor Diaz de Leon / Mattero Ramian / Carlos Robles / Willem Van Waay – 15 pts

Viper 640 – Top 3 – After 3 races
USA 293 (USA 293) – Will Graves / Ryan Cox / Greg Dair – 6 pts
Evil Hiss (USA 297) – Geoff Ewenson / Mary Ewenson / Tyler Bjorn – 8 pts
Antix (USA 296) – Anthony O’Leary / Ben Field / Nicholas O'Leary – 17 pts

VXOne – Top 3 – After 3 races
VX1 – (USA 187) – Ched Proctor / David Guggenheim / Monica Morgan – 6 pts
Flying Jenny(USA 277) – Sandra Askew / Kyle Kandt / Jason Curvie – 10 pts
Send it (USA 160) – Bill Wiggins / Jeff Eiber / Darby Cappellin – 10 pts

Cabrinha AV8 – Top 3 – After 4 races
Damien Le Roy – 4 pts
Brendan Healy – 10 pts
Kent Marcovich – 14 pts

Open Windfoil – Top 3 – After 4 races
Gabriel Browne – 3 pts
Alexander Temko – 6 pts
Justin Ahearn – 9 pts

Published in Star

Royal Cork's Peter and Robert O'Leary, Ireland's sole entry in the lead the sixty-five boat Star Class fleet have slipped back to sixth overall after scoring 18th in race three at the halfway stage of the 93rd Bacardi Cup in Miami, USA.

The change in wind pressure gave no change in performance from the series leaders Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) who racked up another win.

The weather conditions served up an altogether different race track on day 3, with the light and unsettled breeze postponing the start until 1330 hours. An initial wait ashore in the environs of the beautiful Coral Reef Yacht Club was followed by an on-water postponement, before the light and very warm southerly breeze filled in.

The reigning Star Class World Champions, Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA), repeated and improved on yesterday’s race track domination, this time breaking away to lead the fleet from the first mark to the finish by a solid margin. The partnership dismissed the assault put up by Americans George Szabo and Guy Avellon, who delivered their best race of the series so far but had to be satisfied with a 2nd place finish and a leader board climb of five places to fifth overall.

Robert OlearyRobert O'Leary (second from left) enjoys a Bacardi with competitors at Coral Reef Yacht Club Photo: Martina Orsini
Steadily chipping away through the fleet were Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Josh Revkin (USA), who excel in breezier racecourses but today found their mojo in the tricky breeze and improved their game from 8th at the first mark to 3rd by the finish to hold steady in second overall.

“It’s going alright but we still have a little catch up to do if we want to lead this,” reflected Eivind Melleby after racing. “When the wind comes from the south in Miami it’s quite steady and it’s hard to get it wrong, we are doing our best and are happy to be up there.”

“We are half way through the regatta,” added Josh Revkin, “and we still have three more races to move on up, which we are planning to do by winning as many of these as possible.”

Whilst the pair has the series leaders well in sight, with the series discard kicking in after Thursday’s race 4, there will be numerous other teams who will work their way up the leader board and edge closer to the podium slots.

Claiming a 3rd place finish and moving up one place to third in the overall standings were the 2019 Star World silver medallists Augie Diaz (USA) and Henry Boening (BRA). The partnership executed yet another immaculate race, always holding their position in the leading pack to be one of only three teams carrying a scorecard of top 10 finishes. Diaz knows Biscayne Bay and its winds and currents better than anyone else in the fleet, and is mission focused to lift not only the Grand Master title but the iconic Bacardi Cup Trophy come Saturday 7 March.

The 2018 Bacardi Cup winner Diego Negri (ITA) racing with 2014 Star World Champion crew Frithjof Kleen (GER), secured another solid finish, staking a 6th place to sit in fourth overall. Six points behind are the winners of the first race, the Irish brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary, with the legendary Paul Cayard (USA) and his 2018 Star Sailors League Finals winner Pedro Trouche (BRA) in seventh.

From Thursday 5 March to Saturday 7 March the Star Class will be joined by the full line-up of classes at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta with the J70, Melges 24, Viper 640, VXOne sports boat and the foiling AV8 and Windfoil sailors joining the event. Tonight their regatta kicks off with the welcome party at Shake a Leg Miami, host of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta village.


Provisional Top 10 – After 3 Races

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 4 pts

2. Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin (NOR 8234) - 10 pts

3. Augie Diaz/Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 14 pts

4. Diego Negri/Frithjof Kleen (ITA 8533) - 17 pts

5. George Szabo/Guy Avellon (USA 8129) - 20 pts

6. Peter O'Leary/Robert O'Leary (IRL 8458) - 26 pts

7. Paul Cayard/Pedro Trouch (USA 8466) - 29 pts

8. Jørgen Schönherr/Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 31 pts

9. Brian Ledbetter/Magnus Liljedahl (USA 8203) - 32 pts

10. Manu Hens/Joost Houweling (BEL 8379) - 38 pts

Published in Star

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Peter and Robert O'Leary are third overall after two races sailed at the 93rd Star Bacardi Cup in Miami, USA yesterday. 

On the second day, the sixty-five teams were greeted by warmer temperatures and a cloudy sky at Coral Reef Yacht Club, the now home of the event which was first held in Havana, Cuba, in 1927.

With a tricky 8-10 knots of breeze from the southeast, the 165 sailors left the dock ready for the starting sequence at 1155 hours to battle it out in one endurance race per day, as per the traditional format of the Star Class. The Race Committee hoisted the ‘U’ flag but that didn’t cool down the spirits of the fiery teams kicking off the line, as the first start ended up in a general recall. Principal Race Officer Carl Schellbach opted for the penalty threat of the black flag for the second attempt and got race two off to a clean start.

The starting line-up boasts one hundred and thirty sailors from over fifteen nations and a fleet packed with former and reigning World Champions, who are easily spotted by the gold star on their mainsail, and Olympic medalists. With such massive depth in elite performance, numerous teams can mount a credible bid for victory and most of the big names opted for the Committee end of the line. Only local super hero Augie Diaz (USA) sniffed out a preference for the left side of the track, but by the windward mark all the best players were in the leading pack anyway. The light air guru George Szabo (USA) with crew Guy Avellon (USA)rounded the mark first, hunted down by the Danish/German team of Jorgen Shoenherr and Markus Koy, then the reigning Star World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada, and in 4th Diaz and Henry Boening (BRA). By the downwind gate the order of play was the same, with the addition of Star Class newcomer Manu Hens (BEL), who is usually found racing a Snipe, showing his talent at the helm and gearing up to sixth. Ever present in attackKusznierewicz and Prada took control of the fleet ahead of mark three and extended to the finish line to conquer race two. Adding a win to their second place from yesterday places them at the top of the leaderboard.

Nigel Young of North Sails Ireland sent this vid (below) of the sole Irish duo leaving the dock yesterday. Young himself is competing at the Bacardi Cup tomorrow in the Melges class.

“It feels great,” said five-time Star World Champion and Olympic medalist Bruno Prada. “In today’s conditions our boat is super fast and that makes our job much easier, but also today we executed what we had planned and this always feels very rewarding.”

Five-time Olympian Kusznierewicz, who also counts Olympic and World Championship medals in the Finn Class to his tally of successes, added, “I can only say that we have great communication onboard. From the minute the flags are hoisted we know exactly what to do both upwind and downwind, and the tactics come easy as we move on the racecourse. It’s a really good feeling and winning the race only shows it’s all working well.”

The 2017 Star Class World Champions Eiind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA) added a 3rd to their scorecard and leap to second overall, with overnight leaders Peter and Robert O’Leary (IRL) dropping to third after their 7th place. The ‘king of the bay’ Augie Diaz, racing with Henry ‘Maguila’ Boening, finished in 2nd to advance to fourth overall. Keeping in fighting distance of the leaders are the 2019 Bacardi Cup winners, Eric Doyle and Payson Infelise (USA),who count two top 10 finishes to sit in 9th overall.

Provisional Top 10 – After 2 Races

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 3 pts
2. Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin (NOR 8234) - 7 pts
3. Peter O'Leary/Robert O'Leary (IRL 8458) - 8 pts
4. Augie Diaz/Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 9 pts
5. Diego Negri/Frithjof Kleen (ITA 8533) - 11 pts
6. Paul Cayard/Pedro Trouch (USA 8466) - 12 pts
7. Jørgen Schönherr/Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 12 pts
8. Manu Hens/Joost Houweling (BEL 8379) - 17 pts
9. Eric Doyle/Paison Infelise (USA 8423) - 17 pts
10. George Szabo/Guy Avelon (USA 8129) - 18 pts

The Star Class is scheduled to contest a six-race series and tomorrow the fleet will head back out on the bay for race three, with the conditions forecast to be just a little windier.

Alongside overall victory in the Bacardi Cup, teams in the Star Class are also jostling for wins across the Masters (aged 50-59 years), Grand Masters (aged 60 and above) and Exalted Grand Masters (aged 70 and above) divisions.

From Thursday 5 March, the Star Class will be joined by the J70, Melges 24, Viper 640, VXOne sports boat and the foiling AV8 and Windfoil classes. The welcome party for these classes will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Shake a Leg Miami, where the Bacardi Invitational Regatta village will officially open.

Published in Star
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Cork Harbour brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary from Royal Cork Yacht Club have won the first race of the Star class Bacardi Cup Cup one on a typical Biscayne Bay day in Miami, USA.

The annual Cup kicked off today with a beautiful and very typical Biscayne Bay day which saw the 65 boat race get underway in a south-easterly breeze of about 16 knots.

Today it was all about the iconic Star Class, with the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and the newly welcomed VXOne sports boat and AV8 and Windfoil classes beginning their competition on Thursday 5 March.

As Afloat previously reported, Ireland will be represented in the Viper and Melges classes by Anthony O'Leary and Nigel Young respectively.

After the skippers briefing at Coral Reef Yacht Club, the 130 sailors headed to the water for a scheduled 1200 hours start. Principal Race Officer Carl Schellbach hoisted the U-Flag after the first general recall, which saw over half the fleet cross early, and got the fleet off on the second attempt in stunning race track conditions.

"The Irish brothers delivered a superb downwind strike to claim the lead"

Paul Cayard (USA) and his Brazilian crew Pedro Trouche had a dominant start on the pin end but couldn’t break away and were soon overhauled by the Italian-German partnership of Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen who led round the first mark. They were closely pursued by Danish skipper Jorgen Shoenherr and his German crew Markus Koy, winners of the Star Midwinter regatta in January on the same race track, and the ‘king of the bay’ Augie Diaz (USA) with Henry Boening (BRA). The Irish brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary were not far behind and delivered a superb downwind strike to claim the lead going into the gate and maintain ownership of the race through to the finish.

“It’s good to be back in Miami, and it is a very good way to start the regatta, even though it is a long series with five more races. We just have to keep working hard and see how it goes,” commented Peter O’Leary. “I think it was good to get out of the pack early and just be clean. Downwind we were pretty quick, we went to the left gate at the bottom which took us to the right hand side of the course for the second upwind and we defended the lead from there.”

While the Irish team secured a significant win, it was neck and neck for second and third and hard to separate Paul Cayard with Pedro Trouche and the 2019 Star World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA). They were super close, but the Race Committee had no doubt in awarding second place to the Polish-Brazilian partnership.

Pushing hard in the final downwind were early race leaders Negri and Kleen, but they fell foul of the jury who flagged them for rocking and a penalty turn just before the finish handed fourth place to Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Josh Revkin (USA).

The sixty-five Star Class teams will kick off race 2 of the 93rd Bacardi Cup with a scheduled start time of 1200 hours for another intense day of race track duels on Tuesday 3 March. Before that, tonight all sailors and officials will be hosted by Eddie Cutillas at the magnificent Bacardi Building for the traditional welcome cocktail, where the BACARDÍ rum team will serve up cocktails and fun. The nightly parties ensure the enjoyment continues long after the finish line. The next social event will be the Mid-Week Party at Shake-a-Leg Miami on 4 March to mark the half-way stage of the event and the Prize Giving Dinner on Saturday 7 March

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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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