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Displaying items by tag: Offshore Sailing

Mark Mansfield, Olympian and Professional sailor and a member of this year's Fastnet 450 Race organising committee reckons lessons learned in this COVID-hit 2020 sailing season means there can still be good compliant big boat racing even in these strange times.

The success of the 'Pop up' Fastnet 450 race and the ongoing success of the ISORA series this year is showing the way forward for what can be done in the future—if COVID 19 continues to be an issue next season and even beyond that. We only have to look at the season gone by to see the litany of cancelled events due to the pandemic and changing Government regulations.

First, there was the early and correct postponement (until July 2022) of the huge 300-year celebrations of the Royal Cork at Cork week 2020. Then Wave Regatta at Howth and the Round Ireland at Wicklow moved their dates to September, where eventually both had to cancel. The Scottish Series, an event always well represented by Irish Boats was next to go, then Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough, then Calves Week in Schull and WIORA in Tralee followed. Most of these had issues with too many numbers gathering after racing, as Government COVID regulations were eased, then tightened again.

Clearly, with social distancing and maximum numbers allowed to gather at events, the social type big 3/4/5/ day regattas are going to be in doubt, perhaps even into next year, until this pandemic can be arrested.

Club racing and, in particular, Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing at Dun Laoghaire was able to go ahead, with the emphasis on the sailing and not gathering afterwards and keeping within Pods and maintaining Government Guidelines. On this point, Dun Laoghaire benefits over other venues in dealing with COVID ashore because of the enormous footprint that contains four separate clubhouses all neatly in a row in order to disperse sailors, 

George Sisk's WOW, an XP44, was an early leader in this year's ISORA Series from Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatGeorge Sisk's WOW, an XP44, was an early leader in this year's ISORA Series from Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

The clear winners, however, have been the success of coastal and offshore racing this year. ISORA has always been the driving force for offshore racing in Ireland, pushed on hard by Peter Ryan in Ireland and Stephen Tudor in Wales. The intermingling of the two fleets was not allowed to happen, but a fix was put in place and on this side of the Irish Sea, great racing has been had by Irish based boats, with the series winding up in a week or two.

The Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo of the Murphy Family from Cork

The Round Ireland race was to have been one of the year's highlights with over 50 entries received, 30 from Ireland, but for various reasons, this was not possible to proceed. With many crews locked and loaded for this race, it was easy to see how a new pop up race, the Fastnet 450 could get 20 entries in just at two-week time frame. This turned into a very competitive, though tough 270-mile race from Dun Laoghaire around the Fastnet and into Cork, with the eventual winner being the Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo of the Murphy Family from Cork. About 12 of the fleet were ISORA regulars who had honed their skills during the season on the shorter Coastal and overnight races. This event ensured COVID compliance with the emphasis on the racing and no before and after gatherings. Crews stayed in Pods. Zoom briefings, Zoom prizegivings and no social occasions meant no large gatherings.

So what about Next Year? 2021 already has some big events planned.

  • Scottish Series –Tarbert May – 2021
  • ICRA Nationals, NYC, Dun Laoghaire – May 2021
  • Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – 9th June
  • 2021 Dun Laoghaire Regatta  – July 2021
  • Bangor Town Regatta – July 2021
  • Sovereign's Cup, Kinsale – July 2021
  • Calves Week, Schull – Aug 2021
  • Perhaps another Fastnet 450 Race – to link in with D to D, ISORA and other big events?

The all conquering JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI was the ISORA champion for 2019 and leads again in 2020   The all-conquering JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI was the ISORA champion for 2019 and leads again in 2020

Clearly a lot happening in Ireland, with some events even overlapping presently with each other, which I am sure will get resolved. Add to this, 2021 is a Fastnet Race year with a new finishing venue in Cherbourg, France.

Will it all happen?  This is the Question. Will COVID 19 be suppressed to such an extent that large gatherings will again be able to happen? Only time will tell.

What is clear however is that Coastal and Offshore racing require fewer gatherings of people allowing social distancing to be maintained. These races are more about the sailing and not the socialising as often boats arrive at the finish well apart, and crews tired but satisfied, head home. So if an owner was going to pick and choose events to concentrate on, offshore and coastal races are more likely to happen than the inshore series. That has been made clear this year.

So what Offshore and Coastal racing is there next year?

South Coast

Kinsale had a very successful Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale race this year and that will happen again in 2021. The very successful Fastnet 450 is being debriefed as we speak and an annual event likely to link in with other events. Who knows, it could be a Cork-Fastnet-Dun Laoghaire race next year (maybe less beating) to link in with Volvo DL week. Or maybe even the same course as this year to get boats down for the Sovereigns Cup?

SCORA’s Fastnet 450 team for the inaugural race were Johanna Murphy (Commodore), article author Mark Mansfield, and Annamarie Murphy (Rear Admiral, Royal Cork YC)SCORA’s Fastnet 450 team for the inaugural race were Johanna Murphy (Commodore), article author Mark Mansfield, and Annamarie Murphy (Rear Admiral, Royal Cork YC)

There is also some talk of a Coastal/Offshore series down south, similar but smaller than ISORA, where a number of Day Coastal races would be run, along with the two larger offshore races between Cork and Kinsale clubs with an overall series winner. This might encourage boats from as far away as Kilmore Quay to the East to be involved, and Foynes to the West.

East Coast 

Clearly ISORA does a great job of arranging good coastal and offshore night races from Dun Laoghaire. Cross-Channel Irish Sea racing may still prove a problem in 2021 (we hope not) but if numbers are anything to go by, even an Irish based series in 2021 is likely to attract larger entry numbers.

Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race - The flagship event run by the National Yacht club can, with the benefit of hindsight from what happened in 2020, run a successful and compliant race in June, with the sailing being the important area and not the socialising. Hopefully, the COVID 19 situation will have improved to allow some socialising, but the important thing is to be able to pull back to a compliant race.

Northern Ireland

Why not arrange some Coastal and Offshore races between Dublin and Northern Ireland ports in 2021, maybe to link in with their big events? A race to get boats from Northern Ireland down to Dublin for Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta in Early July, followed by a race to get boats up to Bangor week a week or so later.

When John Harrington's IMX 38 Excession from Royal Ulster Yacht Club made the Dun Laoghaire Harbour start line in August, he became the first Northern Ireland yacht to compete in ISORA racing in many yearsWhen John Harrington's IMX 38 Excession from Royal Ulster Yacht Club made the Dun Laoghaire Harbour start line in August, he became the first Northern Ireland yacht to compete in ISORA racing in many years

The bottom line—there is more likelihood that offshore and coastal events will happen in 2021 than the large inshore events that are centred around Yacht clubs. Let's plan for the Coastal and offshore events in 2021 and hope the big inshore events can still happen.

Great sailing to everyone for the rest of the year—there is still plenty of time to get some good racing in with clubs planning on extending the 2021 season later than normal.

2021 can be great, maybe a bit different, but great all the same.

Published in WIORA
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World Sailing has cancelled the 2020 Offshore World Championship, due to be held alongside October’s Rolex Middle Sea Race in Valletta, Malta, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The many uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the postponement of the one-design L30 charter boat production and distribution across Europe, and have disrupted the ability of Member National Authorities (MNAs) to run qualification events to decide who may enter the event. In light of these difficult circumstances, World Sailing’s Board of Directors decided it is prudent and fairer to cancel the 2020 edition of the Offshore Worlds. The event was expected to feature teams of mixed sailors from 20 nations, including Ireland, from each continent. The inaugural edition of the Offshore World Championship will now take place in 2021.

In the meantime, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is continuing its preparations for the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race, while closely monitoring developments with COVID-19 and following the advice and guidance from the World Health Organisation and the Maltese government. At this point, the club has every intention to run the 606nm offshore race should circumstances permit.

World Sailing and the Royal Malta Yacht Club are also in discussion about holding the 2021 Championship alongside the 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Published in World Sailing
Tagged under

Last Friday, the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire saw a gathering of NYC members who raced in ISORA in the 1980’s. The dinner was attended by over 40 members and guests, representing the skippers and crew of six boats.
Represented there were:
• “Lightening” – Liam Shanahan Snr
• “Emircedes” – Michael Horgan Snr & Peter Ryan
• “Humphrey Go Kart “- Vincent Farrell
• “Eliminator” - Peter Cullen.
• “Boomerang” – Paul Kirwan
• “Avanti “ - (Brendan Briscoe)


Peter Cullen, Liam Shanahan Snr and Anita Begley

The night was organised by Anita Begley who raced on “Avanti”, owned by the late Brendan Briscoe. Anita also raced on “Emircedes” and “Eliminator”. The dinner was a great social event with amusing anecdotes of taking part in ISORA races being recounted in the many casual after dinner speeches.

Liam Shanahan recounted the fierce competitiveness between “Lightening” and Peter Cullen’s “Eliminator” during races when boats crossed the Irish Sea three times in the race!! Despite the competitiveness during the race, the famous “Spirit of ISORA” was always present when the boats finished.

Present Chairman of ISORA, Peter Ryan, reiterated that is was great to see the keen and constant interest in ISORA by those members who sailed in races over 30 years ago. The memories of those incidents that occurred during and after the races years ago, as recounted by those after dinner speeches, was a testament to the future longevity and success of ISORA.

The evening was such a success that there were suggestions that the dinner could become an annual event and involve all previous skippers and crew who sailed in ISORA in the past.


Published in ISORA
Next weekend's Foyle Days (21 and 22) is set to welcome the return of the Johanna Lucretia, a two masted wooden schooner built in 1945, along with other vessels which are to visit the north-west city, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The annual maritime festival will bring the sailing boats upriver on the River Foyle and berth at the Queen's Quay. The public are invited to come on board free of charge and explore the vessels. The largest being the 96ft Johanna Lucretia, which was built originally as a fishing boat but never used for that purpose.

Over the years she has changed hands between Dutch and UK interests for recreational use. Several years ago she starred in the RTE TV reality show 'Cabin Fever' where she replaced the show's first ship Camaret of Cornwall (branded as 'Cabin Fever') after it ran aground off Tory Island.

During the two-day festival (11am-5pm) the boating community at the event will include the Coleraine Yacht Club, Foyle Paddlers, Foyle Punts, Lough Foyle Yacht Club, Lough Swilly Yacht Club, Moville Boat Club, RNLI and the Foyle (SAR) Search and Rescue.

Visitors to Foyle Days can call to the Clipper stand and learn more about the city's entry of the Derry~Londonderry boat in the 2011-2012 Clipper Round the World Race. Learn more about the countries the crew will visit and also how to get involved in the event. For more information about the race, at 40,000 miles is the world's longest race go to

Running alongside the festival a continental market with 40 stalls will be open to all at the recently revamped Guildhall Square. For further details about Foyle Days click here.

Published in Maritime Festivals

About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures on the planet, also regarded as one of its toughest endurance challenges. Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors. Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to train drivers, nurses and firefighters, farmers, airline pilots and students, from age 18 upwards, to take on Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions. There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date is 76.

Now in its twelfth edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race started from London, UK, on 02 September 2019.


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