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Round Ireland Racers for Defence Forces Make the Grade in Final Miles to Wicklow

5th July 2018
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Commandant Barry Byrne (right) with his father Shea in Wicklow Sailing Club, May 2017. Photo: Angela Higgins Commandant Barry Byrne (right) with his father Shea in Wicklow Sailing Club, May 2017. Photo: Angela Higgins

Along the Leinster coast, the summer sea breeze from various points in the east can get a boost from the enormous heat storage unit that is the Greater Dublin area writes W M Nixon. But it’s not something to be relied on. There’ll be unexpected and enormous changes in direction. It can sometimes just disappear as though some giant hand has simply switched off an electric fan. And as evening draws on, it becomes ever more fickle and finally fades altogether.

Joker II defence forces Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces took third overall and won the inaugural Round Ireland Services Challenge Photo: Afloat.ie

But while the sea breeze still made in over the city and the afternoon ebb got going with full vigour, a rush of boats today in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 made every effort to get themselves across Dublin Bay and down to that elusive finishing line before the evening calm set in.

As ever, there’s much at stake. Ireland’s Defence Forces are represented by Commandant Barry Byrne (originally from Wicklow) and navigator Mick Liddy with the J/109 Joker II. Like every other boat in this demanding 700-mile race, Joker II has had her moments of glory and her times of frustration. But this afternoon she was going mighty well, and closing in by this evening with a strong likelihood of securing the winning slot among the Services crews, and possibly even the chance of snatching the second overall position from Chris & Pat Anne Power Smith’s already-finished J/122 Aurelia.

Fujitsu British soldier 4103British Army boat Team Fujitsu, skippered by Donal Ryan of Howth

On top of that, she had nearly two hours in hand on her closest rival for the Services prize, the already-finished but significantly larger and higher-rated British Army boat Team Fujitsu, skippered by Donal Ryan of Howth. In such an inter-port and inter-unit setup, talk of “special rivalry” is scarcely adequate…..

So there was Joker II making her way ever closer to the line, but all the time her speed was fading. Inexorably, she slipped down the Corrected Time rankings. Soon, she was irretrievably behind Aurelia. But Joker II crawled on, clinging to third overall. 4.3 knots over the ground. With just 3 miles to cover. Agony.

8.0pm. Less than a mile to go. Now making 4.7knots. Hang in there, lads. Just do it by sheer will power……8.09 pm: Joker II has finished……Let there be rejoicing

What with Niall Dowling of the Royal Irish YC winning overall, and Chris Power Smith of Royal St George YC getting second overall, and now Barry Byrne of the Defence Forces getting third overall and winning the Services Challenge, things are stacking up quite neatly for the home team in this 20th Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018.

Race tracker and leaderboard HERE

Afloat.ie Round Ireland updates in this one handy link HERE

Afloat.ie Team

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Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team.

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The Round Ireland Yacht Race is Ireland's classic offshore yacht race that 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 page.

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