Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Mind The Gap – Round Ireland Race 2016 Is Now A Race Of Two Fleets

22nd June 2016
The French Teasing Machine crew sailed back into Wicklow this morning The French Teasing Machine crew sailed back into Wicklow this morning Credit: Teasing Machine/Facebook

Day 5 1000: With Eric de Turckheim’s beautifully-sailed A13 Teasing Machine finally finished in Wicklow at 0859 this morning to retain her second overall in IRC in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 writes W M Nixon, the current outstanding feature of the race is the huge gap between the group of boats currently approaching Wicklow, and the bulk of the rest of the fleet well back to the north, sailing off the County Down and County Antrim coats.

Like it or not, tides are what it’s all about that this stage. First time Round Ireland racers sometimes find it difficult to get their heads round the fact that at the south end of the great pond which is the Irish Sea, the ebb tide runs south through St George’s Channel. But at the north end, it runs north out through the North Channel.

For anyone simply looking at an Irish Sea chart, it’s bleedingly obvious that this is the only way it can happen. But of you’ve done your early sailing years on the shores of either channel, the directions of the local flood or ebb will inscribed in your childhood mind. Yet with the narrow sea-level outlook and weather-obsessed mindset which participation in the Volvo Round Ireland Race induces, there are times when tired sailors, and sometimes even their awfully sagacious navigators too, find themselves having to make a conscious effort of memory to clarify the way the flow will be going.

However, after the fourth night of racing - much of which has seen the bulk of the fleet sailing their little hearts out between Rathlin Island on Ireland’s northeast corner and the finish line at Wicklow Harbour 150 miles away to the south - we can be reasonably sure that an awful lot of people now have the directions of relevant tidal streams centrally inscribed in their thinking. Because since about 0130hrs, the was roaring north for six hours against the fleet in the North Channel. But away to the south, those boats which had managed to get themselves to the latitude of Skerries found themselves on an increasingly positive magic carpet of south-going ebb tide which helped to overcome the adverse effects of light headwinds, and carried them down to finish at Wicklow in time for breakfast.

The result is a huge gap in the fleet still racing. Indeed. there’s only one boat to be found in the 65 miles between County Wicklow and Dundrum Bay, and that’s Joy Fitzgerald’s Class 40 Concise 2 (pictured below) about twenty miles due east of Lambay, second in Open 40 and making good better than 7 knots to windward even if the new flood tide is increasingly slowing progress towards the finish 32 miles away.

Joy Fitzgerald’s Class 40 Concise 2

There is then a clear gap of 40 miles and more back to the next boat, Michael Boyd’s First 44.7 Lisa (pictured below). But despite the night’s foul tide which moved crewman Paddy Boyd to send us an 0400 text outlining the challenge they faced, Lisa has long since managed to break clear of the narrow bits of the North Channel, and her target now will be to get to the latitude of Skerries in time for the new south-going ebb around 1400hrs.

Michael Boyd’s First 44.7 Lisa

Meanwhile she continues to lie second in IRC 1 and fourth overall, but seventy miles away at Wickow, Teasing Machine’s race is finally finished, and a great race it has been too. Since midnight her crew had been playing a cat-and-mouse game down the Dublin and Wicklow coasts with Ross Hobson’s much-larger Open 50 Pegasus. While there’d never been any doubt that Teasing Machine would beat the much higher-rated Pegasus on handicap, the sport was such that beating her boat-for-boat became the target, and Teasing Machine confirmed herself in the on-the-water lead in the final three miles to Wicklow, crossing the line ahead of Pegasus at 0859hrs.

Admittedly it was akin to bear-baiting, as the big Pegasus is in the two-handed division, and aboard her Ross Hobson and Chris Briggs were boggle-eyed with exhaustion. But the crew of Teasing Machine had given their all as well, and if we – just for a moment – discount the celestial performance of George David’s Rambler 88 to claim what is now a fabulous new quartet which includes mono-hull line honours, course mono-hull record, open mono-hull round Ireland record, and overall win on IRC, then we see that Teasing Machine has also done something very exceptional, as the distance gap between her and next in line is big in miles if not in corrected time, so with lighter winds the likelihood is it will get bigger.

Patrice Carpentier’s Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 GROUPE 5

That said, maybe we shouldn’t count the Machine’s chickens just yet, as currently the second overall is Patrice Carpentier’s Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 GROUPE 5 (pictured above), which also leads the two-handed division, Clearly this is another exceptional performance in a race featuring many exceptional performances.

It has been a night of extremely challenging conditions in the dark heart of the North Channel, yet out of it GROUPE 5 had done extremely well, and she is currently off the north side of Belfast Lough, making eight knots with 115 miles to the finish with the new south-going flood tide under her. But rather painfully for Irish supporters, two miles astern and sailing at a slightly better 8.2 knots is Dave Cullen’s J/109 Euro Car Parks (pictured below).

Dave Cullen’s J/109 Euro Car Parks

The fact that Groupe 5 got through the Cullen boat during the night shows just how crazy a place the Antrim coast can be for racing in headwinds and against the tide. But otherwise things are good for Euro Car Parks, as she has got back to first place in IRC 3. Former IRC 3 leader Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) is currently 8 miles ahead of Euro Car Parks, and getting past Mew Island as we write, but her higher rating has her lying second in IRC 3.

Overall in IRC, the placings confirm Rambler 88’s win, and it’s unlikely that Teasing Machine will be disturbed from her second place, though GROUPE 5 should not be discounted for some time yet, and her potential to upset the rankings will be of interest to the betting fraternity. But as of 0945 the rankings were 1st Rambler 88 (finished), 2nd Teasing Machine (fnished). 3rd GROUPE 5, 4th Cavatina (Ian Hickey), 5th Euro Car Parks, 6th Lisa, 7th Lambay Rule (Stephen Hyde), 8th Tockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins), 9th Bam (Conor Fogerty), 10th Sarabande (Rob Mabley).


The arrival of the extremely low-rated veteran Cavatina (pictured above) in the top ten rankings will come as no surprise to seasoned round Ireland observers – it’s the fact of simply being right here at the end of the race which has seen Cavatina record Round Ireland overall wins in times past, and while it’s impossible for her to do it this time round, she is in line for quite a respectable showing nevertheless.

See Round Ireland tracker here and keep to up to date with the fleet's progress with Afloat's regular Round Ireland 2016 updates here

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Yacht Race Live Tracker 2022

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Round Ireland Yacht Race Information

The Round Ireland Yacht Race is Ireland's classic offshore yacht race starts from Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC) and is organised jointly with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC). This page details the very latest updates from the 2008 race onwards including the race schedule, yacht entries and the all-important race updates from around the 704-mile course. Keep up to date with the Round Ireland Yacht Race here on this one handy reference page.

2020 Round Ireland Race

The 2020 race, the 21st edition, was the first race to be rescheduled then cancelled.

Following Government restrictions over COVID-19, a decision on the whether or not the 2020 race can be held was made on April 9 2020 to reschedule the race to Saturday, August 22nd. On July 27th, the race was regrettably cancelled due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

Because of COVID-19, the race had to have a virtual launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club for its 21st edition

In spite of the pandemic, however, a record entry was in prospect for 2020 with 50 boats entered with four weeks to go to the race start. The race was also going big on size and variety to make good on a pre-race prediction that the fleet could reach 60. An Irish offshore selection trial also looked set to be a component part of the 2020 race.

The rescheduling of the race to a news date emphasises the race's national significance, according to Afloat here


704 nautical miles, 810 miles or 1304 kilometres

3171 kilometres is the estimate of Ireland's coastline by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.

SSE Renewables are the sponsors of the 2020 Round Ireland Race.

Wicklow Sailing Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London and The Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin.

Off Wicklow Harbour on Saturday, August 22nd 2020

Monohulls 1300 hrs and Multihulls 13.10 hrs

Leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard.

It depends on the boat. The elapsed record time for the race is under 40 hours but most boats take five or six days to complete the course.

The Race Tracker is

The idea of a race around Ireland began in 1975 with a double-handed race starting and finishing in Bangor organised by Ballyholme Yacht Club with stopovers in Crosshaven and Killybegs. That race only had four entries. In 1980 Michael Jones put forward the idea of a non-stop race and was held in that year from Wicklow Sailing Club. Sixteen pioneers entered that race with Brian Coad’s Raasay of Melfort returning home after six days at sea to win the inaugural race. Read the first Round Ireland Yacht Race 1980 Sailing Instructions here


The Round Ireland race record of 38 h 37 min 7 s is held by MOD-70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail and was set in June 2016.

George David’s Rambler 88 (USA) holds the fastest monohull race time of two days two hours 24 minutes and 9 seconds set in the 2016 race.

William Power's 45ft Olivia undertook a round Ireland cruise in September 1860


Richard Hayes completed his solo epic round Ireland voyage in September 2018 in a 14-foot Laser dinghy. The voyage had seen him log a total of 1,324 sea miles (2,452 kilometres) in 54 sailing days. in 1961, the Belfast Lough Waverly Durward crewed by Kevin and Colm MacLaverty and Mick Clarke went around Ireland in three-and-a-half weeks becoming the smallest keelboat ever to go round. While neither of these achievements occurred as part of the race they are part of Round Ireland sailing history

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