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Wicklow Sailing Club Cancels Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020

27th July 2020
The 2018 Round Ireland Race start off Wicklow. August's 2020 race has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns The 2018 Round Ireland Race start off Wicklow. August's 2020 race has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns

In a decision which will resonate with the national and international sailing community, and following intensive meetings all day, organisers Wicklow Sailing Club in concert with their many stakeholders have decided at 1845hrs today (Monday) that the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic make it inadvisable and impossible to stage the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020, which had already been put back by two months to August 22nd in the hope of a significant improvement in the general health and hazard situation.

Organisers say a full statement on the cancellation will be issued later this evening (issued Tuesday am - web editor), but meanwhile, the thoughts of all sailors will be with the gallant little Wicklow club, which had been so keenly anticipating and working towards staging the 21st biennial Round Ireland some 40 years after founding the event with just 16 starters in 1980.

Over fifty entries had been received for August's race. Read all Afloat's race updates in the build-up to the 2020 race here.

Afloat is keen to hear sailors views on the cancellation at [email protected]

Update 08.38 Tuesday, July 28:

Press Statement from Wicklow Sailing Club

Global increase in Covid cases forces cancellation of rescheduled SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race

The sharp rise in global Covid-19 cases has forced Wicklow Sailing Club to cancel this year’s SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, due to start on Saturday 22nd August. The next staging of the blue ribband sailing event will now take place in June 2022.

As early as March of this year, the 21st edition of the race was headed for a record turnout in excess of 60 teams in what would have been the Round Ireland’s 40th Anniversary year.

Following the introduction of initial Covid-19 lockdown restrictions the original start date of June 2020 was postponed to 22nd August to allow time for virus counter-measures to take effect. Even with Covid restrictions in place, entry numbers for this year’s rescheduled race from Irish and international competitors held around the 50-boat mark.

In the months since the postponement, Wicklow Sailing Club has been consulting diligently with various stake-holders including race participants, sponsor SSE Renewables, Wicklow County Council and Irish Sailing among others to agree a range of mitigation measures onshore and offshore to allow the race event to proceed safely while adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.

However, despite these mitigations, Wicklow Sailing Club has taken the decision to cancel this year’s SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race in the best interests of participants and volunteer support crews, and in response to concerns around the recent sharp rise in global Covid-19 cases.

The next edition in 2022 of the 704-nautical mile race that has been dubbed “the Kilimanjaro of Sailing” is unaffected at this time.

“For a time, it seemed like we were on track to stage a successful race albeit with significant mitigation measures that people would understand,” commented Kyran O'Grady, Commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club. “But the global situation with the virus is precarious and while under some control in Ireland now, who knows where we might be in just a few weeks’ time.

“We could easily run the race for entries from the island of Ireland only and possibly restrict visiting international teams from coming ashore before and after the race. But this runs against both the spirit of this classic race and our tradition at Wicklow Sailing Club of welcoming all competitors. Our competitors need certainty as soon as possible and our first priority must always be the safety of participants and those supporting the delivery of this sporting event.”

Race title sponsor SSE Renewables has expressed its support for the decision by Wicklow Sailing Club. Barry Kilcline, Director of Development at SSE Renewables, said: “We have been hugely impressed at the great deal of work invested by Wicklow Sailing Club and other key national and local stakeholders to respond to the impact Covid-19 has had on this year’s staging of the Round Ireland. As the most prominent international offshore sailing event staged in Ireland, the decision to have to cancel this year’s event is clearly disappointing for everyone in the sailing community and in Wicklow in particular.”

“However, clearly in the context of the pandemic the decision to cancel is also the most appropriate and necessary response. As race sponsor Wicklow Sailing Club is assured of our full support in this regard and we will work with the club as it prepares plans for the next staging in 2022.”

Further information about Round Ireland 2022 will be issued in the coming weeks.

Published in Round Ireland
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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

FAQs

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 https://afloat.ie/sail/events/round-ireland/item/25789-round-ireland-yacht-race-tracker-2016-here.

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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