So much happened during the brief and hectic Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2019 that the stories emanating from it will run and run for a long time writes W M Nixon.
And of course in trying to keep pace with it as it unfolded at breakneck speed, inevitably some boats which deserved a special mention slipped under the radar. Thus although Ken Cunnane’s Swan 46 Mynx was referred to in the previews as being the only Dingle-based boat in the entire fleet, during the race itself she never got a mention.
It happens easily enough with an active racing fleet of 43 boats all vying for attention. But for her rarity value alone, Mynx should have been in there with her solid 16th on line honours and 23rd overall, for this was definitely a case of being chucked in at the deep end.
Her owner lives in Listowel and had his 17-year-old son Paddy in the crew, which means that Listowel in North Kerry, a town more noted for its literary and horse-racing connections, had two father-son lineups in the Dingle dash, as Listowel is also of course the home town of Derek & Conor Dillon, seasoned campaigners of the Dehler 34 The Big Deal, in which they took fifth in the Two-handed Division.
When The Big Deal isn’t being actively campaigned she’s kept at Foynes, but the Cunnanes go for the longer haul to join their ship further west in the Big Country at Dingle, and among those racing with them from Dun Laoghaire was experienced Limerick sailor Frank Larkin, who recently gave himself a 73rd birthday present in the form of a Laser (not his first by any means ), which he sails from Killaloe on Lough Derg.
Another name which should have been mentioned was to be found aboard John O’Gorman’s Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie (NYC), to which Mark Mansfield added some of Ingredient X to give her an outstanding performance to be third overall. There was more of Ingredient X added by the visiting navigator, which was Lough Swilly’s Richie Fearon, no less, navigator of Tanit, the Round Ireland Race 2014 winner, and shot-caller on many other successes.
And the race runner-up Chris Power Smith who kept the Hot Cookie crew at bay has gone to the effort of documenting Aurelia's D2D voyage to Dingle in a three-minute vid (below) to the Stevie Wonder 'Superstition' soundtrack.
Meanwhile, the Dingle dash seems to have had its own invisible man, and a very active role he played too. In the reports and results, you’ll see the Mini 6.50 Port of Galway listed as raced by Dan Mill and Yannick Lemonnier. But Dan Mill sustained a debilitating knee injury the day before the race. With just hours to spare, Yannick Lemonnier took the chance of phoning a guy who’d sailed with him relatively briefly in Galway Bay, and had shown promise and real talent.
John Malone is originally from Clontarf and honed his sailing skills there and in Howth, but these days much of his sailing is done from Lough Ree YC as he lives in Mullingar with his wife Joanne with 2 boys and a girl aged 5,8 and 11, while his time-consuming career is as CEO of Provident CRM. You can imagine what it was like when he got Yannick’s phone call on the Tuesday evening - we let John take up the story:
“I got a last minute call from Yannick on Tuesday evening - Dan had a knee injury and after months of preparation could not sail - he was utterly disappointed as the forecast certainly looked favourable. A quick review of the weather routing ensured a phone call back to Yannick less than 5 minutes later to say yes………
Familiarisation with Yannick’s Mini was brief due to the 24hr window before the race started. It included visiting Viking Marine to purchase an Personal AIS beacon based on what I had learned at a talk in the Spring at Poolbeg Y & BC by the Jedi crew on their MOB experience in the 2018 Round Ireland (I also brought a PLB, but based on the info from the Jedi talk, they are more useful for finding bodies than recovering MOBs).
The Mini is a very complex little boat, but at the start while I helmed Yannick set up everything including the canting keel, which is controlled by manually-operated tackles athwartships which sometimes seem to take up half the accommodation (such as it is), and finding a space to sleep can be a mater of heaving sailbags into a “comfortable” pile forward of the canting gear, and getting sleep as best you can.
Once it was all set up, Port of Galway absolutely took off. We streaked away from the rest of the feet, and only the giant Windfall was ahead as we got out into St George’s Channel and conditions which suited us even better.
Our trip down the East Coast can only be described as a fire hosing - cruising at 17-18kts for extended periods with our largest available A-Sail, jib & reefed main, NKE & Racegeek speedo showing a brief 20kts SOG at least once - just before our gybe to Tuskar. A change of clothes and four hours in a survival blanket were required immediately after rounding Tuskar due to getting soaked head to toe by the torrents of water flowing over the decks & coach roof for close to 6 hours
In hindsight, we should have elected to go outside the Tuskar TSZ (longer but faster) - attempting to cross immediately north of the TSZ was hazardous with 4 ships in our pathway and a close call with a cruise liner.
The south coast was an amazing reach to Galley Head - carrying our favourite sail the Code-5 which we toasted with Dick Macs in Dingle - it was the making of our Mini 6.5 class win. We cruised at 10-12kts with this sail combination (code-5, jib & full main) for long periods passing many boats. The comfort of the sail setup afforded Yannick a 6½hr sleep - I'm not sure any other boat had such comfortable cruising conditions.
Becalmed in a convergence zone at Fastnet, the fast fun was over and we started the long beat which lasted all the way until the final approach from the Skellig to Dingle, which afforded a Code Zero and more speed.
We proved the YB tracker does successfully record a finish by sailing a few metres inside the lat-long co-ordinates for western end of line in the SIs - outside of the red line drawn on the YB tracker app - a subject of much discussion at the briefing and with only an eastern end buoy in the water we checked the app after crossing the virtual line to ensure we had digitally finished.
We were greeted by Yannick’s father-in-law Brian Farrell, the former Dingle HM who lives in Dingle, as did his daughter when the young Figaro sailor called Yannick came in search of some Irish culture all those years ago……
Warmest thanks to Yannick for a superb opportunity to experience the Mini in its optimal conditions, and his parents-in-law for the post-race shower, bed & great breakfast in their home only metres from the marina.
And special thanks to my long-suffering wife Joanne and my business partners at Provident CRM, Gary Cullen and James Forde, for their tolerant understanding of the very sudden absence of their CEO.”
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