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Round Ireland Day 5. 9.45pm: Hung Up On Tides Of Rathlin & ‘Un-Fair Head’ As New Nor’wester Spreads In

4th July 2018
Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, has kedged just east of Rathlin’s northeast point this evening Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, has kedged just east of Rathlin’s northeast point this evening Photo:

Yesterday evening, the all-conquering Baraka GP had enough breeze and hull speed to break through the foul tide at Rathlin Island and Fair Head in some style, writes W M Nixon.

But tonight (Wednesday 4 July), there has been no breeze in the same area, yet the foul tide is there with equal vigour, and Round Ireland Yacht Race boats have been ground to a halt.

Paul O’Higgins’ Rockabill VI has kedged just east of Rathlin’s northeast point. Slightly to the south, off Fair Head, the biggest boat in the fleet, the Swan 65 Desperado of Richard Loftus, may be shown as making 3.2 knots, but it’s in a northerly direction and she has no steerage way, so not for the first time, ‘Un-Fair Head’ is in the Round Ireland lexicon.

Swan Desperado 4314Swan 65 Desperado Photo:

It will be 11pm by the time there’s any easing of the adverse stream. Meanwhile, down off the southeast corner of Belfast Lough, Chris Power Smith’s J/199 Aurelia may have to work to windward, but she’s registering 4.6 knots in more or less the right direction, and is well placed in the role of leader of the ‘real’ Round Ireland Race.

Aurelia Chris power smith J122The J122 Aurelia - in the role of leader of the ‘real’ Round Ireland Race Photo:

However, with boats well slowed off the north coast, the British Services crew racing the X41 Team Fujitsu beside Aurelia have moved up the rankings despite their high rating, and they’re now next in line, but still nearly two hours behind Aurelia on corrected time.

Fujitsu British soldier 4103The X41 Team Fujitsu British Soldier are next in line behind Aurelia, but two hours behind on Corrected Time. Photo:

Up ahead, there are two Class 40s close in off the Co Down coast, with Corum showing clear in front again after being challenged for some time by Hydra. Between them is the very high-rated Ker 40 Hooligan, which may improve her overall standing now that she has got through the worst of the tides by putting the South Rock astern, but her stratospheric handicap number still means she’s way back at 29th overall.

Round Ireland Hooligan VI 4058Ker 40 Hooligan Photo:

Much further south, and out on her own approaching Lambay, is the Volvo 690 Libertalia Team Jolokia from France, enjoying the brisk sou’easter which is localised in the Greater Dublin region, but she still is at a lowly 38th overall despite being well on track to take second in line honours.

So there’s no doubt that, as Peter Ryan of ISORA sagaciously predicted before the start, this is turning out to be the oddest Round Ireland race that has yet been staged in the 38 years history of the event.

Yannick lemonnier Mini650 4517Yannick Lemonnier in the Mini 650 Port of Galway Photo:

By tomorrow, the northern half of the country should be experiencing the northwest to north winds which are already bringing the two Mini 6.5s Port of Galway (Yannick Lemonnier) and Blackshell Farm (Louis Mulloy) scampering up towards Malin Head under spinnaker. But it’s a moot point how far the new winds will get before they peter out.

We will see in the morning, but for now here’s the Race Tracker and Leaderboard for the current crazy state of play.

Published in Round Ireland
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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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 2022

Race start: Off Wicklow Harbour date to be announced, most likely end of June 2022

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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