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Round Ireland Race Is Becoming A Concentrated Test Of Light Airs Sailing Stamina

21st June 2022
The Fastnet Race-proven French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) has never been out of the top ten overall since the race got into its stride, but never – until now – had she been in and out of the top three frame
The Fastnet Race-proven French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) has never been out of the top ten overall since the race got into its stride, but never – until now – had she been in and out of the top three frame

Round Ireland Race Day Four (Tuesday) 1500 hrs  Down Wicklow way, they sell their SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race as the Race With Everything. They can say that again. After some ferocious sailing through Sunday off the Kerry coast, when the Commodore RORC had to retire his thoroughbred boat because those weird Kerry waves – all fronts and no backs – had caused the hull to begin de-laminating, the leaders are now at the other end of the island, and are little more than playthings of the tides on a flat sea as the wind fades and weaves in an increasingly maddening manner.

Yet with the tide past Rathlin Island and on down the North Channel running favourably for the fleet until about 16:30hrs or perhaps a little later this afternoon, the last 150 miles towards the finish at Wicklow are gradually being chipped away. But far from being conditions in which crew can restore their energy levels, we’re now in the kind of sailing where a new kind of stamina is required if every last ounce of benefit is going to be squeezed out of each and every little line of wind.

Some crews are better at this intense-focus type of long haul than others. The Fastnet Race-proven French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) has never been out of the top ten overall since the race got into its stride, but never – until now – had she been in and out of the top three frame. Yet after a particularly effective performance off the Donegal coast, she is very much a force to be reckoned with in IRC CT overall, and is almost within striking distance of the leaders on the water, Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood and Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom.

Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 SamatomRobert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom Photo: Afloat

Samatom had slipped slightly behind Darkwood going up the west coast, but knowing that the North Coast around Malin Head is home waters for navigator Richie Fearon of Lough Swilly, her performance getting past Inishtrahull had been watched with special interest, and the Rendell boat duly obliged by getting back in the hunt.

Way down the North Channel after sitting paralysed off Red Bay for longer than was comfortable as the Volvo 70 Green Dragon closed up from astern, the on-water leading Cookson 50 Kuka3 (Franco Niggeler, Switzerland) is off Mew Island, almost entirely reliant on tide for her 5 knots SOG, but she’s making a little more speed than Green Dragon which is now ten miles astern.

Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC)Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) Photo: Afloat

Meanwhile in the big picture, up on the north coast Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC) is approaching Malin Head on a very soft broad reach, making 5.5 knots but currently showing a formidable set of statistics. She’s First in IRC Overall, First in IRC 3, First in ISORA entries, and First in ICRA entries.

Six years ago, when making her debut in the 2016 Round Ireland Race, Rockabill VI was similarly listed in the overall rankings. But immediately east of Iniishtahull, she and two other boats sailed into a local and very total blank spot in the wind. And there they sat for three hours while what seemed like half the fleet sailed past them simply by keeping a couple of miles further out at sea, and Rockabill’s huge lead melted away. So while we ashore sit watching screens and giving out all sorts of pseudo-wisdom, out there off the north coast of Donegal, Rockabill VI is entering haunted territory, and only she alone can find her own way through it.

Race tracker below

Published in Round Ireland

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

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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, June 18 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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