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54 Entries as 20th Round Ireland Race Launches at Royal Irish Yacht Club

23rd May 2018
Paul Egan's Platinum Blonde, a First 35 Carbon, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is one of 54 entries for this year's Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow Paul Egan's Platinum Blonde, a First 35 Carbon, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is one of 54 entries for this year's Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow Photo: Afloat.ie

A wide field of international entries from the United States, Finland, Norway, France as well as Irish and British crews are amongst the 54 entries to date for the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 that was launched this evening.

Additional enquiries are still being handled by the Wicklow Sailing Club organisers though the 2016 record entry of 64 boats is unlikely to be matched this year.

The race was previewed a fortnight ago by Afloat.ie here

Rockabill 2559Royal Irish JPK10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) was the winner of last year's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle offshore race and is a pre–race Round Ireland favourite Photo: Afloat.ie

In spite of the rugged 704 nautical-mile course facing the crews on the 30th June at Wicklow, a touch of glamour will be featured as Stephen O’Flaherty’s Soufriere, the elegant yacht from the James Bond movie Casino Royale is also entered. And Richard Loftus’s classic Swan 65 Desperado of Cowes will be the largest boat racing this year 

Soufriere 0495 2Stephen O’Flaherty’s classic Soufriere from Howth Yacht Club is going Round Ireland Photo: Afloat.ie

Several entries feature crews from Sailing Schools around the coast, many of whom are new recruits to the sport or fulfilling ‘bucket-list’ ambitions. The launch gathering heard from Elizabeth Birdthistle who sailed around Ireland in 2016 as one of a crew of ten such newcomers and she likened the race to the Camino de Santiago or a Mount Everest ascent.

“It was a very personal journey and I learnt about life doing it – it’s almost like a rite of passage for people who love the sea,” she told the audience gathered at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. “The Round Ireland Race IS the Wild Atlantic Way.”

Also, in the audience were a number of previous winners including former Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore Michael Boyd from Co. Meath, who won the race in 1996 and will be racing again this year.

Aurelia J122 1537Chris Power Smith's ISORA leader Aurelia, a J122, is a Round Ireland Race entry Photo: Afloat.ie

“This is a very attractive race for RORC sailors, not just because it’s an attractive course but also it earns bonus points in our annual series and we are delighted to see so many overseas entries for 2018,” Boyd said. “Every race is different and you never know until you’re back in the clubhouse just how you’ve done - there are very few double-winners.”

One such winner is Peter Wilson who won the 1994 race on Bridgestone and returned to win on Colm Barrington’s 1998 entry Jeep Cherokee. He shared memories of the highs and lows of the unique course with the audience. 

“The highs would be going up the West coast of Ireland in 40 knots of wind for 200 miles in 1994, a sleigh-ride that will stick in mind for the rest of my life,” he said. Wind or rather, the lack of it was a low point in 1996 on Bootlegger and losing the race after getting becalmed for five hours off Greystones and obliged to anchor to stem the flood tide within sight of the finish.

Round Ireland Ker 43Niall Dowling's Baraka GP Ker 43 is a pre-race favourite

Another past race winner will also be making a return to the Volvo Round Ireland Race next month. Ian Moore from Carrickfergus was the navigator on Eamon Crosbie’s Calyx Voice & Data, the Ker 32-footer than won the race in 2004. He will be amongst a pro line-up for Niall Dowling on Baraka GP, one of the candidates for this year’s overall race win.

Click to see the full list of 2018 entries here

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