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Heavy Windward Work Takes Its Toll on Dingle Fleet

15th June 2017
The new pontoon at Dunmore East as it was recently with visitors in from Cork. Tonight, it will be hosting some visitors from Dun Laoghaire, casualties of the rough race towards Dingle The new pontoon at Dunmore East as it was recently with visitors in from Cork. Tonight, it will be hosting some visitors from Dun Laoghaire, casualties of the rough race towards Dingle Photo: Harry McLoughlin

If you want to choose an especially rugged piece of water in which to make to windward into a southwesterly which is a solid Force 6-7 plus, then the southeast corner of Ireland would come up tops on all search engines writes W M Nixon.

Tide-riven with an uneven seabed, it can produce its own uniquely obnoxious sea state. And if it isn’t knocking the stuffing out of even the most experienced crews, chances are its breaking boats and gear. So although the likely improvement in the weather tonight is helping the toughest teams to keep plugging on regardless, those who were lulled into the expected summer sailing joys of the biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race have had their hopes dashed as a brooding spell of rough weather hangs on well past its supposed expiry date.

Lambay Rules J97Stephen Quinn's Lambay Rules J97 retired and heading home to Howth Photo: Afloat.ie

The new visitor pontoon at Dunmore East has proven an attraction, while the simple release of upping helm and going back the way you came has appealed to others. Either way, we’re now looking at a total retirement list of fourteen boats out of 43 starters, and as it includes seasoned veterans like George Sisk and his crew on the Farr 42 WOW, and proven round Ireland racers like Stephen Quinn and Dave Cotter in the two-handed division in the little J/97 Lambay Rules, clearly retirement is a decision which has not been taken lightly.

INSS JediINSS Jedi – a pitstop in Dunmore East for Kenny Rumball and the sailing school crew Photo: Afloat.ie

There have been other reasons for diverting towards Dunmore. The Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi has headed there with a crewman with an injured back, but skipper Kenneth Rumball hopes to continue with the race.

Meanwhile up ahead, the astonishing JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) continues now leading both on the water and on IRC with 154 miles to race, coming past Mine Head outside Dungarvan with a very nice slant of breeze off the land, and making 7.2 knots. But she still has a race on her hands as the zippy J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) may be six miles astern, but she’s racing hard and Rockabill gives her time.

Andrew Algeo’s JuggerknotAndrew Algeo’s Juggerknot Photo: Afloat.ie

Mojito in turn has to keep an eye on two more J/109s close with her, Andrew Algeo’s Juggerknot and the Shanahan family’s Ruth, The latter represents an extraordinary commitment to this event, as skipper Ben Shanahan is a third generation Dingle racer, his father and grandfather – both Liam – having been there before, with Liam Jnr of course winning in 2015.

Ruth J109The Shanahan family’s Ruth, with Ben Shanahan on the wheel Photo: Afloat.ie

With the best of the afternoon already past, it’s likely enough that the prospect of another rough night and the welcoming embrace of Dunmore East and Waterford nearby will see some more retirals. There may be every prospect of summer by the weekend, but we’ve another night of winter to get through before it arrives, and some crews are simply getting too tired for their own safety in continuing at sea.

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