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Kinsale’s Cinnamon Boys On A Boat In A Hurry In Countdown To Round Ireland Challenge

14th June 2022
Sam Hunt and Cian McCarthy of Kinsale aboard the latter’s Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl on the morning of the start of the Inishtearaght Race, which they won
Sam Hunt and Cian McCarthy of Kinsale aboard the latter’s Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl on the morning of the start of the Inishtearaght Race, which they won

Kinsale’s top two-handers Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt with the Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl seem to have already put in enough successful sailing in the season of 2022 to fulfil the ambitions of many crews for a whole year. And all that even if now - at mid-June - the Summer itself seems remarkably unenthusiastic about putting in an enduring appearance, whereas a cold and blustery Spring doesn’t realise that it has long out-stayed its welcome.

Back on the 20th May, when the new 240-mile Inishtearaght Race went off from their home port, the two shipmates and their fully-crewed rivals were sailing on what looked like a gloomy March day. And though they found some sunshine off the southwest seaboard while using rock-bound Inishtearaght for the first time as a race turning mark, by the time they got back to Kinsale the murk had closed in again. But the Cinnamon boys scarcely noticed, as they finished second on the water, took a good first on Corrected Time, and rounded out the month of May by becoming the “Sailors of the Month”.

Job done. Cinnamon Girl back in Kinsale after being round the Blaskets, closing in on winning the Inish Tearaght race overall. Photo: Robert BatemanJob done. Cinnamon Girl back in Kinsale after being round the Blaskets, closing in on winning the Inish Tearaght race overall. Photo: Robert Bateman

But they were only getting going, for like all Sunfast 3300 crews, they’re campaigning the high-profile new boat whose public debut was most adversely affected by the pandemic. For sure, Cinnamon Girl and other hyper-keen Cork and Dublin Bay offshore boats did manage some sport with carefully restricted events like the Fastnet 450 during the easings of the lockdown. Yet these were almost under-the-radar happenings, not at all like the hell-for-leather competition you relish when putting a new boat of clearly great potential through her paces.

Thus this coming Saturday’s SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has added appeal, with its sense of the last of the restrictions being thrown to the winds. And for the Cinnamon Girl and boys, this past weekend saw the buildup accelerating, with a record-breaking positioning passage from Kinsale to the East Coast in which they were whizzing along for hour after hour at speeds of 15 to 21 knots, even managing to see a sunset – albeit a rather watery one – as they made speed along the Wicklow coast.


(Above) Cinnamon Girl at the weekend, making 15-21 knots on passage from Kinsale to the East Coast

They’re a formidably experienced team. Cian McCarthy – having learned the ropes with Denis Doyle on Moonduster - has raced the Mini Transat. He got fourth in the first leg, but broke the forestay on week one of transatlantic second leg, yet raced on without a forestay for the rest of the crossing - perhaps a first Transatlantic crossing without a forestay. He also won the BT Global Challenge, raced open 40's as well as many Commodores Cup and Admirals Cup, and has five Round Irelands done previously - two of the double-handed.

Sam Hunt is also a Kinsale native, with broad background in dinghies and keelboats. He was the only civilian in the crew on the British Army boat for the last four Round Irelands. Additionally, he’d lots of wins in Match and Team racing, did a 470 Olympic campaign with Gerbil Owens in 2005 - 06, and has also raced with the Mumm 30's on Mammy, and the Melges with Team Barbarians, while logging successful experience in SB20s and 1720s, and racing the legendary Tiamat in IRC and Commodores Cup series.

While this will be Sam’s fifth Round Ireland, it will be his first double-handed, and he and Cian McCarthy seem to be melding as a formidable duo. They’ve optimised their prospects with in-depth input on sails from Nin O’Leary, and now all they need going round Ireland is more of the conditions they experienced this past weekend to made Cinnamon Girl even more of a force to be reckoned with.

Kinsale in the morning, Wicklow sunset in the evening – that’s the sort of passage-making the Sunfast 3300 can achieve when conditions suit.Kinsale in the morning, Wicklow sunset in the evening – that’s the sort of passage-making the Sunfast 3300 can achieve when conditions suit.

Published in Round Ireland, Kinsale

Round Ireland Yacht Race Live Tracker 2022

Track the progress of the 2022 Wicklow Sailing Club Round Ireland Race fleet on the live tracker above and see all Afloat's Round Ireland Race coverage in one handy link here

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


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