Three of the primary positions are now resolved in the 20th Round Ireland Race writes W M Nixon. Niall Dowling (Royal Irish YC) has repeated the remarkable George David/Rambler 88 double of 2016 by taking both Line Honours and the overall IRC win with the Ker 43 Baraka GP. And the attractive new Class 40 Corum from France – completely fresh out of the wrappings when she arrived in Ireland a week ago – has ended with a comfortable 2 hours and 17 minutes lead in class over Norway’s Hydra.
A small cluster of boats made the finish as mid-day drew near, but with the north-going flood tide at full flow, there’s a gap with the 58ft American sloop Patriot next in line to get there, and she is currently off Dublin Bay while managing 7.9 knots in the moderate northwest to north wind.
Other contests now include the Services win, and who will be the first Mini 6.5 to sail round Ireland non-stop. The British Soldier entry Team Fujitsu, a high-rated X41 skippered by Donal Ryan of Howth, may have already finished in close company with second overall in IRC Aurelia (Chris and Pat Anne Power Smith). But there’s still a chance that Wicklow’s own Commandant Barry Byrne with the J/109 Joker II could pull it off for the Irish Defence Forces, as he has time in hand and is currently off Lambay making 7.0 knots despite the adverse tide.
However, it’s a moot point as to just how long this helpful fair wind will last, and the two Mini 6.5s, currently off the County Down coast and running smoothly, are doing so in the expectation of having some windward work before they finally get to Wicklow.
Port of Galway (Yannick Lemonnier and Cathal Clarke) has a good lead over the Mayo entry Blackshell Farm (Louis Mulloy), but the Galway sailors are quick to point out that it’s a miracle the Mayo boat is in any sort of serious contention at all, as she broke her spinnaker pole on the first night out. They had to do a complete on-board carbon and epoxy repair job, and whatever a Mini 6.5 may be, it is not the ideal spar repair workshop. But they managed nevertheless.
Whoever finishes first of this dynamic duo if little ’uns will automatically become the smallest boat ever to have sailed round Ireland non-stop, so they’ve added an extra interest to their private contest.
Another specialist contest is the two-handed division, which has gallantly persisted in its ability to surprise everyone by providing the overall leader from time to time. Nine boats started, and the two outstanding ones have been very different craft - Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 CoOperation Ireland, and Nicolas Pasternak’s JPK 10.10 Jaasap. At the moment, it is Jaasap which is carrying the two-handed banner to the best effect, so much so that she could well be third overall at the finish, but CoOperation Ireland is right in on the hunt, and is currently rated as being sixth overall.
Finally, an area of special interest is the Sailing Schools, with six boats racing. The spreading in through the night of the new wind from the northwest did Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire no end of good, and Ronan O Siochru’s organisation has the 37ft Desert Star (which he skippers himself) in first, while sister-ship Sherkin 2 (Daniel Smith) is second. If they can keep this up, it will look very good indeed in the End-of-Term reports…….
Race Tracker and Leaderboard here