#D2D - In Dingle of a warm summer Friday’s evening, the night has barely started at 9pm, writes W M Nixon. So the multi-talented crew of Paul O’Higgins’ JPK1080 Rockabill VI were in plenty of time for a leisurely winner dinner when they swept across the finish line in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 at 2048 hrs to stake what looks like an unassailable claim to have won just about everything in this race for which they’re eligible.
There have been Dingle Races in the past where the nearer you got to the finish, the more difficult it was to find enough breeze to close the race. But this time round, Rockabill VI has found such sparkling conditions towards the end that, with a warm yet brisk fair wind sweeping her up the majestic Dingle Bay, she covered the last nine miles in less than an hour.
Considering the miserable conditions everyone was enduring only 30 or so hours ago, it was an almost supernatural change to the weather. But with this crew and this rather special boat, Paul O’Higgins had the combination to make the best of the rough going, and yet have some real champagne sailing when the weather improved.
The crew who shared this victory with him were Conor O’Higgins, Mark Pettit, Ian O’Meara, Peter Wilson, William Byrne, Rees Kavanagh, and Ian Heffernan. Many have done the Dingle race before, with some of them winning in times past. Many will do it again. But the totality of Rockabill VI’s win — with line honours thrown in despite the fleet having started with many larger boats — is more than enough to be going along with for now.
The mainly southwest breeze is distinctly firmer the further north you go, and back at Mizen Head a surprisingly persistent flat patch has provided an obstacle at which nearly everyone has stumbled. Thus as Rockabill came careening into the finish, back at the Mizen, Rónán Ó Siochrú of Irish Offshore Sailing, with his school yacht the Jennneau 37 Desert Star, was finding the going very sticky at just 3.4 knots. It was very frustrating after the very businesslike way he came past the Fastnet to take the Racing 2 lead from Ian Hickey’s Granada 38 Cavatina, which is herself now (at 2100 hrs) at the Fastnet Rock, and back in the Racing 2 lead.
In the cruising division, the Tyrrell family’s J/112E Aquelina lost the lead to the Dufour 40 Pipedreamer (Paul Sutton) thanks to an unscheduled slowdown at Mizen Head. But there’s a long way to go yet for these mid-fleet boats.
Up in front, the Two-Handed Division leader Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty & David Cagney) is sailing in a style which befits a stately Spirit 54, and she’s there in a bunch with various J/109s of which the leader is Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), which now seems firmly placed to take second overall, but by this time quite a distance astern of Rockabill VI.
It has been, and continues to be, an intriguing edition of the Dingle race which will be worthy of further analysis. But for now, the night is Rockabill VI’s, and she won it well.
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