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#roundireland – While the official tracker has Inis Mor as the overall leader in the 2012 Round Ireland Race, it's going to be a nail biting few hours for the French boat.

As of 3pm, Inis Mor has 30.6 miles to go. To beat Tonnerre she needs to cover that distance in five hours and 34 minutes.  Simple math says she needs to average 5.49 knots and as she is making 5.7 knots just south of Lambay Island, it should work for her.

But, the 5.7 knots is not quite in the right direction – because the wind has headed her, she can only make 221° instead of the 190° she needs to reach Wicklow on one tack.  So while 5.7 knots looks good, her actual progress towards the finish or VMG, is currently 5.4 knots – just outside the 5.49 knots needed.

To make matters worse,  she is entering an area of stronger tides that will be directly against her for the last few hours into Wicklow.  She can mitigate some of this by hugging the coast, but at what cost windwise?

Fascinating stuff,'s money's on Tonnerre, at least in this battle.  Keep an eye on Cavatina though – she still has a day left to win!

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – As predicted by it looks increasingly likely as if Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3 will follow in the footsteps of the legendary Moonduster, by winning successive Round Ireland Races.

While the final few miles are painfully wet, misty and slow, particularly on Green Dragon, it is likely that Tonnerre will cross the finishing line at the turn of the tide around 0730 this morning.  This elapsed time of about 3 days 19 hours and 30 minutes will correct to 4 days 18 hours setting a tough target for the chasing pack.


Tonnerre, who struggled a bit at the top end of the North Channel, sailed a good race down the Irish Sea, maintaining pace with the much faster Green Dragon for a long period.  Her standing was enhanced considerably by the bad luck of long time leader Inis Mor, who, along with Noonmark VI and Maxvmg Fortissimo, encountered strong adverse tides and a period of calm.

Not that it's all over yet, far from it.  As the exclusive table shows (download attachment below as a pdf), there is still an opportunity for a number of boats to overtake Tonnerre. Inis Mor is the leading candidate, but Cavatina, Sgrech and NUI Galway all have an outside chance. To do so they will need  a number of things –stronger wind, minimal distance and luck with the tides.  Unfortunately, while they will enjoy freshening winds, it is the direction that is likely to kill off the challenge. Southerly forecasts mean it will be a noser for the rest of the way to Wicklow, forcing boats to beat to the finish, increasing the rhumb line distance.

So, with the battle continuing for the minor placings and class honours, it looks like another great success for Piet Vroon and his team, and possible heartbreak once again for Bernard Guoy and the Inis Mor crew.  Whatever the outcome, 200 or so tired and hungry sailors will remember this one for a long time to come.

The exclusive predictor shows that Inis Mor, if she can maintain the average speed to date, can catch Tonnerre.  All of the other boats have to improve on their average to date.

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – As the on-the-water leaders push down the north Irish Sea, the fleet can now be considered in four groups.

In group one, battling it out for line honours, is Green Dragon and Tonnerre and possible Lee Overlay Partners (not updating on the tracker), crossing tacks, in a southerly Force 4.  Under present conditions a finish in the small hours of Thursday morning is expected.


Group two, on the Antrim coast, where the current corrected time leaders reside, consist of Inis Mor, Noonmark VI and, a bit further back,  Maxvmg Fortissimo. This group has virtually no wind, but is not under huge threat from the similarly almost windless group three, spread from Instrahull to Aranmore.

Group four is a small group of backmarkers enjoying slightly better wind off the Mayo coast.

For those of us looking to predict a winner, the categorisation into groups allows us to consider the wind and tide effects on each group.

Of the first group, Tonnerre looks the most promising.  She could finish early Thursday and post a time for the others to chase, which could turn into the winning result if the wind doesn't fill in for the chasing  group.

Inis Mor has been the leader almost since the start of the race and is the most likely boat of the second group to feature on the poium.  However, much will depend on the duration of the light winds in the North Channel and having to include an extra adverse tide in this section could prove very costly.  Nooonmark VI has been featuring on the leaderboard and one tide could prove to be the separating factor from Inis Mor.

In the third group, the J-109s Jedi and Sgrech, the Reflex 38 NUI Galway and the J-105 Diablo J are the leading contenders to upset the current leaders, and don't rule out Cavatina making one of her charges for the rear.

Its all with the gods of the environment right now.

Assuming that Tonnerre finishes in Wicklow just after 4am on Thursday, the attached table speculates on leaderboard showing what each boat needs to do to match Tonerre's time.

Could it be a third time for Cavatina?

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – Inis Mor, Tonnerre and Noonmark VI are still podium boats as the fleet races across the North coast but the outcome of the next 24 hours may well decide the 2012 Round Ireland race.

While often the graveyard for Round Ireland success, the tide in the North Channel can not only be a boost to progress over the ground but can also boost a boat up the leaderboard.  The trick is to have the luck to arrive at the east side of Rathlin close to Low Water Dover and ride the flood as far as the wind permits.  If the stars align, the 68 mile passage to South Rock can be done in one tide and the lucky yacht will avoid adverse tides in the North part of the Irish Sea.

Unfortunately for Green Dragon and Tonerre, it looks like they are nearly 100% out of phase and are heading over towards the Mull of Kintyre to benefit from lesser tide on the Scottish side of the North Channel.  The news isn't much better for the handicap leaders either, some 50 miles to the west, as with the lessening breeze they are down to less than three knots. At the moment it is looking good for the chasing pack some 80 miles further back, but making speeds in excess of 6 knots.  But the pack looks sure to encounter the lighter winds before too long.

The variable factors and a fleet spread from Rathlin to Loop Head, render leaderboards and predictions extremely unreliable. Inis Mor, Tonnerre and Noonmark VI are still the podium boats at this stage and if they can get through the light patch, may be able to hang on until the finish in Wicklow, but notable movers behind are NUI Galway, Sgrech, Aquelina and, with a sense of inevitably, two time winner Cavatina.

The light airs will be creating extreme frustration amongst the leaders and with no major increase in wind speed in the future, thoughts of food rationing may well be entering the sailor's minds.

It's going to be an interesting 24 to 36 hours! Check back with during today for the very latest leaderboard news.

Meanwhile here's the estimated leaderboard at 20.30 last night (Tuesday) with corrected handicap time lapse on leaders shown in days: hours: minutes: 

1 Inis Mor
2 Tonnerre de Breskens 3. 00 days: 00 hours: 46 minutes
3 Lee Overlay Partners 00:03:12
4 Noonmark VI 00:03:26
5 NUI Galway 00:10:00
6 Maxvmg Fortissimo 00:10:30
7 Sgrech 00:10:56
8 Spirit of Jacana 00:11:00
9 Diablo-j 00:11:01
10 Fastrak VIII 00:11:37
11 Jedi 00:11:45
12 Visit Malta Puma 00:11:50
13 Joker 2 00:12:01
14 Fujitsu 00:12:46
15 Aquelina 00:13:30
16 LC Tyres Lulabelle 00:13:31
17 IOSS- Desert Star 00:13:46
18 Pyxis 00:13:47
19 Cavatina 00:14:07
20 Wild Spirit 00:14:42
21 Twister 00:14:53
22 Persistance 00:14:57
23 Exhale 00:17:10
24 Cracklin' Rosie 00:17:20
25 EOS 00:17:33
26 Adelie 00:18:05
27 Midnight Mojito 00:18:22
28 Nunatak 00:19:11
29 Lancasrtian 00:20:11
30 Legally Blonde 00:20:26
31 Green Dragon 00:20:31
32 Pink Panter 00:22:47
33 Team Wild Goose 00:23:23
34 English Mick 01:03:14
35 Sarnia 01:05:48
36 Ocean Tango 01:09:55

Published in Round Ireland

#VOR – Six of the world's fastest sailing boats will race from Lorient to Galway next week to compete the final dramatic leg of the 39,000 nautical mile round the world Volvo Ocean Race; the trophy they have battled across the globe to get their hands on will make an equally dramatic arrival in Galway.

The striking blue and silver Volvo Ocean Race trophy - which weighs 9 kilos and stands 70cms high - will drop from the skies during a spectacular parachute display to be staged by the Air Corp's Black Knights parachute team.

The five member team, carrying the flags of the ten countries that have participated in the race, will parachute from an Augusta Westland AW 139 helicopter to a to a waterfront landing zone close to the Global Village in South Park at 5pm on Thursday July 5th.

The national flags will be will be displayed in formation on the beach as the helicopter lands to deliver the trophy to Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knud Frostad and John Killeen, President of the local organisers "Let's do it Global" in the presence of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Macnas drummers will add a dash of Galway street carnival atmosphere to the occasion.

As with the Olympic Games there is no financial reward for winning the Volvo round the world race and the beautifully designed trophy has been created to symbolize the glory of winning what is still one of the most extreme challenges in the world of sport.

According to the world's most famous yachtsmen and women just competing in the race represents an achievement with success meaning everything to those who have achieved it.

Mike Sanderson, skipper of ABN AMBRO ONE the winner of the 2005-06 race said after crossing the line in Gothenburg " This is my Olympic Gold, my Mount Everest, my childhood dream"

The Volvo Trophy will be handed to Knud Frostad by a member of the helicopter flight team . It comprises of 11 wave shaped rings - each ring representing one of the 11 races held so far. The 11th ring will be engraved when the boat which finally claim victory in the 2011-2012 race takes podium honours in Galway.

And the eventual winner of the gruelling round the world race will now be decided in the seas off the Irish west coast or perhaps in Galway Bay with four of the six participating boats still separated by just a handful of points.

The French entry Groupama, the current race favourite, is on 219 points, but only has a 23 point lead on the US challenger Puma on 196, New Zealand's "Camper" is on 191 with Spain's "Telefonica" also on 191 points. The other two boats Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is on 122 and the Chinese entry, Sanya, which is being part sponsored by Failte Ireland, is on 39.

The second last in port race will take place in Lorient on Saturday and the fleet then set out on the final 485 nautical dash to Galway battling for the vital 30 points a leg win carries. The Lorient in port race and the Galway in port race both carry 6 points

Race followers will have an opportunity to see another air display at Salthill as the final in port race takes place On Saturday July 7th. The race begins at 11am and is due to finish about 4pm. The air display is scheduled for 2.45pm weather permitting.

It will involve formation and solo flights by four Air Corp Pilatus PC-9M aircraft and by an Augusta Westland AW 139 helicopter that will take part in a maritime display and a winching operation in conjunction with the naval vessel L.E. Niamh. A number of coastguard helicopters are also expected to join in the display.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#roundireland – It's been a really interesting 24 hours on the south and west coast of Ireland as the leaders converge on Mayo, while the slower boats approach the Fastnet. On corrected time, the Ker 39 Inis Mor retains her lead over Tonnerre de Breskens 3, a 46–footer from the same designer, with Noonmark VI, a Swan 56 in third place.


Fickle winds have dogged the fleet, with flat spots near the coast and better winds offshore.  As the leaders cleared the south west corner and freed their wind, the larger boats were able to set more canvas and stretch their legs.  The top rated boat in the fleet, Green Dragon, didn't like the initial dead downwind course and was forced, once again, to add distance in an attempt to get a good sailing angle.


Top performing ISORA offshore yacht Sgrech skippered by Stephen Tudor from Wales is in seventh place to be the first J109 in the Round Ireland fleet. She lies 9:13 off the leader (download full leaderboard below).  Sgrech's crew inlcudes ISORA Commodore Peter Ryan (in red oilskin trousers) from the National YC. Photo: Bob Bateman

With the big boats now making good progress northwards and the patchy breezes affecting the smaller tail enders, there has been some movement on the leader board.  Green Dragon and the Class 40 Maxvmg Fortissimo have benefitted the most, moving from the back to mid fleet, while the smaller X332 Pyxis has moved into the top ten.  Tracking shows the Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners making progress as well, but the data for this boat seems unreliable right now.


The two hander Lulabelle with Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive has fallen to 20th place overall after a great start Photo: Bob Bateman

Losers in the fickle breezes overnight and early in the morning were the two Beneteaus – the 31.7 Twister and the 36.7 LC Tyres Lulabelle, whose skipper, Liam Coyne, reported gooseneck problems as well as falling into a wind hole.


Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy's Swan 56, Noonmark VII, is third overall on handicap, just 2: 44 off the leader. Photo: Bob Bateman

Currently the forecast suggests the leaders will run into calms along the north coast within next 24 hours, which might help the smaller boats close the corrected time gap.

For all our Round Ireland 2012 coverage use this page

Next update tomorrow morning, stay tuned!

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – (Monday morning, June 25th). There is an element of déjà vu about the early leaderboard as the yachts make slow progress along the south coast in the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race.  Inis Mor, second in 2010, leads on corrected time from Noonmark VI with the 2010 winner Tonnerre de Breskens III in third place.

Light and variable head winds make this edition very unpredictable at this early stage, and it is unlikely that we will see any clear definition until the larger boats round Blackrock on the Mayo coast sometime on Tuesday.

Top rated boat and on-the-water leader, the Volvo 70 Green Dragon, took a more offshore route down the Irish Sea, tacking well south of the Tuskar before tacking back out again at the Hook.  The extra distance covered has not served her well and as she leads the fleet past the Old Head this morning, she lies 21st on corrected time.


NUI Galway crew work hard after the start yesterday. Photo: Bob Bateman

As is usual in the early stages, the faster boats tended to benefit from passing the Tuskar before the stronger flood tide set in and consequently dominated the early leaderboard.  However, lighter heading winds balanced the equation and the medium sized boats have started to progress up the correct time rankings.  Notable among these are Kirsten Donaldson's X332 Pyxis, Liam Coyne's Beneteau 36.7 LC Tyres Lulabelle from the host club and James Tyrell's Aquelina – the J122 from Arklow Sailing Club.


Although light winds prevail, there is good gusts near rain showers, here's Scottish entry EOS (an Elan 310) skippered by Rod Stuart going well after the start. Photo: Bob Bateman

Two-time Winner Cavatina (Granada 38), skippered this time by Royal Cork's Ian Hickey, lies mid fleet after taking the offshore route, but is enjoying some breeze advantage over those boats that stayed inshore.  Whether this will last long enough to overcome the greater distance sailed, is yet to be seen.

Cavatina yacht in Round Ireland

Double winner Cavatina is in a mid fleet position this morning but there is still 600 miles to go. Photo: Bob Bateman

With most boats still having 600 mile to the finish, it would be foolhardy to predict finishing times and finishing order – like all Round Ireland races it won't be over until the  bar in Wicklow Sailing Club is adorned by a large lady exercising her vocal chords.

Stay tuned for Afloat's next Round Ireland update this evening. 

Meanwhile a selection of photos from yesterday's Round Ireland start from Gareth Craig are in our gallery below

Published in Round Ireland

#RoundIreland– Sole Dutch entry Tonnerre de Breskens skippered by Piet Vroon looked every inch the defending champion when she won the reaching start of a crowded Round Ireland start line in Wicklow this afternoon. SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS BY BOB BATEMAN.

Vroon took six or seven gybes for more breeze before reaching Wicklow head just minutes after the start.

The Dutch yacht , a Ker 46, was followed closely by Laurent Gouy's Ker 39 Inismor and the J133 Spirit of Jacana from Carrickfergus. Also taking the route closest to the shore was Adrian Lee's canting keel Cookson 50 Lee Overlay.

Legendary Irish round the world yacht Green Dragon (the biggest in the fleet) took advantage of the light to medium north westerly winds to hoist a spinnaker and went immediately offshore to clearer air after a congested start of the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race start.  There was at least one collision at the committee boat end of the line just moments before the gun.

round ireland race start

The start of the 2012 Round Ireland. Photo: Bob Bateman

The international 38 boat Round Ireland fleet departed as per schedule at noon, ahead of them up to a week long 700-mile sailing odyssey all the way round the coast of Ireland.

The fleet were tightly packed at Wicklow head on a shy port reach with most setting spinnakers.

Old warhourse and double race winner Cavatina took up her position at the rear of the fleet, settling in for her first night at sea and the first tactical challenge presented at Tuskar rock.

Next Round Ireland fleet update tomorrow morning as the fleet move along the Cork Coast

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – The Galwegians are rattling the round Ireland cages. Tomorrow's noon start of the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow will see a strong mid-fleet challenge from Galway University with a college-crewed Reflex 38, boosted by a front-of-the-pack show by the veteran Volvo 70 Green Dragon, captained by intrepid Galway skipper Enda O Coineen, the moving force behind the western city's involvement with the Volvo Ocean Race.

No-one would now claim that the gallant old Green Dragon is the fastest Volvo 70 that ever floated. But even the slowest Volvo 70 is potentially much faster than the next quickest racer in tomorrow's 38-boat lineup. So if we were in for a few days of normal Irish summer weather with a bit of breeze now and again, the expectation would be that the course record established by Mike Slade's 100ft Leopard back in 2008 could be knocked sideways.

But whatever the weather is, normal it isn't. It may well be that global warming is to blame. And it is true that even the rain is warmer these days. But there's a lot of it. That in turn has had all sorts of peculiar effects on the wind and weather patterns. Or maybe it's the other way round. Whatever, a couple of days ago we weren't looking at a record breaking scenario, with the possibility of light northerly headwinds off the west coast by Monday. But now it's looking slightly more hopeful with a good possibility of southerlies off the west coast by Monday evening, and only a mercifully small dollop of rain with it – the precipitation may have to be elsewhere, it has an annual week-long date at Wimbledon.

This modest change in the predicted conditions could generate enough power to get the Dragon moving. But meanwhile in the rest of the fleet there are plenty of boats which can give a fair show in any weight of winds, and it's a healthily international fleet now that the RORC have given it the same points status as the Fastnet Race itself – in fact, for the first time, Irish entries are outnumbered by visitors.

Defending champion Piet Vroon of the Netherlands is back with his extremely effective Ker 46 Tonnere de Breskens, while the leading French contender is Laurent Gouy (he has Connacht connections, and lists Clifden BC as his club) with his Ker 39 Inismor, which has already been in successful contention this season in RORC events between France and England.

If reasonable breezes appear, the most fancied of the home contingent would have to be Dun Laoghaire's Adrian Lee with the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, which as Ger O'Rourke of Limerick's Chieftain was overall winner of the breezy 2007 Fastnet Race. In Lee's ownership, this boat secured herself a special place in sailing history by winning the inaugural Caribbean 600 race, an annual event which now has a central role in the international sailing programme. But light airs are not a Cookson 50's favourite conditions, though with a bit of bite to the breeze, this canting keel machine becomes a flyer.

The Reflex 38 NUI Galway was the winner of last year's Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race, and with Cathal Clarke as skipper has the obvious potential, with her pacing being marked by sister ship Visit Malta Puma (James Gair).

Slightly down the size scale there are three J/109s which will sharpen each other's performance – Jedi (Andrew Sarratt) and Joker II (John Maybury) from Dun Laoghaire, and the Pwllheli challenger Sgrech (Stephen Tudor), whose crew lineup includes top ISORA honcho Peter Ryan of the NYC. Further up the J Boat range, the senior northern entry, Bruce Douglas's Spirit of Jacana from Carrickfergus, is a J/133 with a good racing record – she was top Irish boat in last year's Fastnet.

With light winds expected in the northeast part of Ireland on Wednesday, the smaller craft still trundling up the west and northwest coasts in the southerlies my be doing best, and yet again it could be the evergreen Noray 38 Cavatina (Ian Hickey, Royal Cork) which does the business. Lowest rated of all is the oldest boat in the fleet, the 1966 Sparkman & Stephens 36 Sarnia (Michael Creedon, National YC). One of the Italian-built fore-runners of the Swan 36 (same hull lines, different coachroof), Sarnia is something of a classic, and could do very well if the food doesn't run short and they simply keep plodding along. Let's hear it for Sarnia and vintage Italian style.

The Round Ireland Race will be just about done and dusted next weekend as the Volvo Ocean Race gears up in Lorient for the final stage to Galway on July 1st, where it's possible that the concluding inshore race will decide the top places. Ireland's brightest hopes are riding with Damian Foxall of Kerry aboard Franck Cammas's French entry Groupama. They now have a fairly comfortable points lead after the continuing implosion of Spain's Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez. But as the Telefonica experience has painfully demonstrated, a couple of gear breakages and one mistaken tactical call are all that is needed to knock the wheels off even the most promising effort. Current points: Groupama (Franck Cammas, France) 219; Puma (Ken Read, USA) 196; Camper (Chris Nicholson, NZ) 191; Telefonica (Iker Martinez, Spain) 191; Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker, GBR) 122; Sanya (Mike Sanderson, NZ) 39.

The revival of the old International Quarter Ton class continues apace (people simply have to do something in times of recession), and there's a strong Irish contingent of restored little boats in the three-day Coutts Quarter Ton Regatta starting in Cowes on Monday, headed by current Irish "Sailor of the Year" George Kenefick of Cork with Tiger – he's defending the Corinthian title. With more than thirty boats from several European countries, it's shaping up to be a cracker. So maybe this is where it's at in these straitened times. Certainly it looks much healthier than the Commodore's Cup in late July, which is basically just four British teams taking on Hong Kong, France and Benelux – it's far indeed from a cast of thousands in a blockbuster production.

W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays

Published in Round Ireland

#roundireland – Galway sailor Enda O'Coineen will skipper the Green Dragon in Sunday's Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. The last minute Volvo 70 entry (that is awaiting an IRC handicap cert) has been confirmed by Wicklow Sailing Club and brings the fleet size to 38 boats, just two boats less than the 2010 fleet. 

Green Dragon project director Cillian McGovern has confirmed a 16-strong crew for the boat with Irish 49er sailor Ben Lynch, Kiwi professional sailor Alistair Moore and Commodore of the New Zealand Yacht Squadron Ross Masters on board.


The Green Dragon crew get in some last minute training with old salt Mr. Tayto in Dun Laoghaire

An exotic fleet contains not only the 2009 Irish Round the world yacht but also eight double-handers, a number of canting keelers and three Class 40 yachts.

Sunday's start will also include more British than Irish entries, it is the first time the Irish offshore fixture counts for the same points as the Fastnet race in the 2012 Royal Ocean Racing Club programme.

Race organiser Dennis Noonan reports that the defending champion Tonnerre de Breskens from Holland who competed last weekend in Cowes at the British IRC Championships is currenlty on her way to Wicklow.  Modifications to the Dutch entry for the 700-mile race include a deeper keel.

A large proportion of entries for the race are due to be inspected in Dun Laoghaire using the convenience of the town marina over the next 48 hours.

Published in Round Ireland
Page 14 of 16

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