Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Up–Down Round Ireland Race Sees Battle Of The Bulge

22nd June 2016
How about one of these to shake up your local club racing? Despite being in the Two-Handed Division, Patrice Carpentier’s Sunfast 3200 GROUPE 5 currently has the overall lead on all the boats still racing in the Volvo Round Ireland race 2016. How about one of these to shake up your local club racing? Despite being in the Two-Handed Division, Patrice Carpentier’s Sunfast 3200 GROUPE 5 currently has the overall lead on all the boats still racing in the Volvo Round Ireland race 2016.

Day 4 1800 An intriguing Round Ireland Race tussle has been taking place this afternoon and evening along Ireland’s most easterly coastline where County Down bulges out towards both Galloway in Scotland and the Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea writes W M Nixon.

Four boats – three Irish, one French – have been trying to trade places in the southwest to south winds as they dodged the north-going ebb tide across the mouth of Belfast Lough, and then rock-hop on down the outer coastline of the Ards Peninsula and beyond to where – well south of the entrance to Strangford Lough – the bulge comes to a sudden stop at St John’s Point with its very conspicuous lighthouse.

st johns point

Sentinel of the East Coast – St John’s Point in County Down with the Mountains of Mourne beyond

There are of course many more than just four boats in the area as the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 continues on its way. And far to the north, there are other boats which have been hung up in the strongest tides in the Rathlin Island area, and they probably deserve a report to themselves. But really, all they’ll want to do is get on with it again as the tide finally turns again in their favour around 1900hrs.

At this stage of the race, however, followers of the fleet have identified these four particularly interesting crews and boats of broadly comparable size still racing. And in these final stages of the biggest Round Ireland Race ever, it’s fascinating for race addicts to see how they play their hands as the game draws to a close.

The four boats, with their IRC ratings in brackets, are Paul O’Higgins new JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (1.046), Dave Cullen’s J/109 Euro Car Parks (1.016), Patrice Carpentier’s Sunfast 3200 GROUPE 5 (0.995), and Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules (0.971).

In terms of distance from the finish they’re widely spread, as Rockabill is 58 miles from Wicklow, Euro Car Parks is 67, Groupe 5 is at 80 miles, and the smallest one, Lambay Rules, is 102. Thus it must hardly seem a race at all to anyone accustomed to the One-Design scene. But believe me, there’s a ding-dong going on out there, and from now to the finish at Wicklow some time tomorrow, it’s neck-and-neck on the figures, even if they’re barely in sight of each other.

Currently in the overall placings, allowing for the fact that both Rambler 88 (George David) and Teasing Machine (Eric de Turckheim) are well finished in first and second and secure in their placings, this Battle of the Bulge has GROUPE 5 in third overall, Euro Car parks is fourth, Lambay Rules is sixth, and Rockabill VI is seventh.

Out in a race of her own well to the south is the fourth-placed boat, Michael Boyd’s much larger First 44.7 Lisa. But although Lisa has been milling her way at a fine pace towards the finish line all through the afternoon, at a position 7 miles east of the Baily on Dublin Bay she is about to run out of favourable tide with 22 miles still to sail to the finish. And though the M2 weather-buoy ten miles to the eastward is still showing 12 knots of good southerly breeze, inevitably Lisa’s crew are going to have a difficult evening of it with a foul tide and winds all over the place off Wicklow itself.


By contrast, the smallest boat in our select group, Stephen Quinn’s Lambay Rules (pictured above), is off the southeast corner of Belfast Lough, and the new flood tide which is going to hinder Lisa in St George’s Channel will be a favourable tide for Lambay Rules. It will give her a mighty push through the remainder of the North Channel and out into the Irish Sea, where her three closest rivals are already working on tactical decisions which will stay with them for the remainder of the race.

Leader of the pack Rockabill VI is close-hauled on port well off Carlingford Lough, hanging in very well with Chris and Patanne Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia, which is tough on Aurelia but good news for Rockabill. Next in line is Euro Car Parks, which hugged the coast more on the leg from South Rock Light to St John’s Point, but is now striking out in open water in some style, though on the 1800hrs fix, Rockabill is shown as slightly faster.

Early in the afternoon. Patrice Carpentier on the two-handed GROUPE 5 became disenchanted with staying with the rest of the fleet as they held close along the shore from the South Rock to St John’s. So he took what now looks like a flyer on starboard, but it may have been a good one, as he’s back on port and making a useful 6.2 knots.

GROUPE 5’s low rating puts her very much in the frame, as too does the even lower rating of Lambay Rules which is currently off Ballywalter showing only 4.9 knots over the ground, as the tide has still to turn. It’s very much Game On for a long night. We’ll take up the story again with our next report in the morning.

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

Track the progress of the 2022 Wicklow Sailing Club Round Ireland Race fleet on the live tracker above and see all Afloat's Round Ireland Race coverage in one handy link here

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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

© Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Round Ireland Yacht Race 2024

Race start: Off Wicklow Harbour on Saturday, June 22 2024

There will be separate starts for monohulls and multihulls.

Race course:  leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard.

Race distance: is approximately 704 nautical miles or 1304 kilometres.

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