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Sovereign's Cup 2019: The Runners & Riders at Kinsale Yacht Club

25th June 2019
IRC racers competing at Kinsale include (clockwise from top left) the XP44, Wow, the XP50 Freya, the Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera, the Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo, the J109s Outrajeous and Jelly Baby IRC racers competing at Kinsale include (clockwise from top left) the XP44, Wow, the XP50 Freya, the Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera, the Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo, the J109s Outrajeous and Jelly Baby Photo: Afloat/Bob Bateman

The 2019 O'Leary Life Sovereigns Cup, hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club, is set to have a bumper turnout with entries nearing the 100-mark on Wednesday. As ever, the host club under Regatta Director Bobby Nash, is due to put on events two years in the planning ashore and on the water with three individual race areas requiring three full race officer teams. As Afloat reported previously, four days of racing commence on Wednesday and finish on Saturday for eight competing classes.

KYC Sovereigns JA2 8480Sovereign's Cup Regatta Director holding the Michelle Dunne Prix d' Elegance trophy with Kinsale Yacht Club Commodore Dave O'Sullivan; Brian Goggin and Hellen Kelly from sponsors O'Leary Life and celebrity chef Martin Shanahan of Kinsale's award-winning Fishy Fishy restaurant pictured at the launch of the O'Leary Life Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club Photo: John Allen

Weather conditions always determine both the winners and the enjoyment of an event, and so far Sovereign's Cup seems set to dish up warm sunny weather in predominantly stronger winds. A week ago, the forecasters were calling for light winds for all four days but in the last 48 hours, some systems have moved in with three of the four days, as we write this, due to be in the medium to strong winds. The only light day may be Friday, but some models are also showing for wind also on that day.

"Expect warm sunny weather & strong winds"

As mentioned, some boats shine in the breeze and some in the light, so the winners that come of this week will likely need to be solid in the breeze, but be able to get through the light day without losing their hat. So here is Afloat's selected review of the Sovereign's Cup fleets.

Coastal Class

Nine entries, with five of these from the host club. The two fastest boats in the fleet will likely be the two X Yachts, Wow and Freya. Freya, An XP50 owned by Conor Doyle of the host club will likely lead the fleet around the marks. Will she, however, be able to hold her time on handicap with George Sisk's new XP44, a smaller sister to Freya.

Freya Conor doyle 1965Conor Doyle's XP 50 Freya

So far neither of the two have shined this season, but expect to see them perform this week. Wow, will have Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers aboard organising the crew and sails, which will be important on the likely long legs associated with this class.

Wow George Sisk 1549George Sisk's Xp 44 Wow from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Other than these 2, The J109 Justis of Dan Buckley of the host club, who has opted to race in this class, may look to overturn his larger rivals. We will go for Wow to take this one from Freya.

IRC Class 0

Only five entries in this class, as many of the larger boats, have opted to race in the Coastal Division. However, three good entries will contest the likely results. Frank Whelan's Eleuthera will likely be the favourite having won class 0 at last year's Cork Week and was very much in contention at the ICRAs except for rounding a mark the wrong way in a no discard series. However, Maurice O'Connell, from North Sails, who was with Eleuthera for ICRAs, will move over to Conor Phelan's, Jump Juice form Royal Cork for this event.

Eleuthera 1639Eleuthera's crew for the Sovereign's cup includes D2D winning "Rockabill VI" strategist Mark Pettit as tactician Photo: Afloat

Eleuthera beat Jump at Cork Week last year so depending on who is aboard, may do so again at Sovereigns.

"in stronger winds, she is well known for being a bit of a giant killer"

The third boat that could be in contention is Denis Murphys’ Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from Royal Cork. Denis competed in the ICRA National Championship two weeks ago at the Royal St George YC and did not do that well, but in stronger winds, she is well known for being a bit of a giant killer, if she can get off the line cleanly. The one light day, however, may prove a problem for her. We will tip Eleuthera to take this one.

Nieulargo 2944Denis Murphys’ Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo

IRC Class 1

12 boats in this class, with eight of these being J109’s. The only boat that could likely upset the J109 fest, is Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2, from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. This boat has been in Dublin since April and sometimes struggles to get the better of the J109’s, particularly the well-sailed ones. She also contested the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and again struggled to hold off the well sailed J109’s.

J99 2362Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2

However, she has a great turn of speed downwind in a breeze and with two days of around the cans on the programme, could revel in these races, if the angles are good for her.

Joker 2 2896John Maybury's Joker 2 from the Royal Irish

Of the eight J109’s, the ones to watch will likely be John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrajeous from Howth Yacht Club, John Maybury's Joker 2 from the Royal Irish, and Brian Jones's, Jelly Baby, from the Royal Cork. All three finished in the top four at this year's ICRAs at the Royal St George Yacht Club. There will be some disappointment that the Dublin J109s Storm II, White Mischief or May's Scottish Series winner, Chimaera are not competing.

Jelly Baby 2020Bill Jones's, Jelly Baby, from the Royal Cork

Jelly Baby will have Rob McConnell, owner of Fools Gold aboard. Fools Gold was the overall winner of Sovereign's Cup 2017.

We are not sure who will be aboard Joker 2, as John Maybury's regular tacticians, Mansfield and Killian Collins, are slated to sail on other boats.

Outrajeous 2982 John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrajeous

Outrajeous, new into Dublin in 2019, has been showing good speed and with Olympian Mark Mansfield aboard, will likely be the one to watch in this class, but Joker II will likely push her hard.

IRC Class 2

This class will have the remainder of the IRC Boats from about .975 rating right down to the smallest IRC boats. Normally there would be class two and three, but the organisers have decided to put them into the one class, thus the 20 entries.

Seven of this class will comprise the very competitive tricked-up Half Tonners, who are also having their Irish Championships as part of this event.

Artful Dodger, Elan 333Artful Dodger, Elan 333 Photo: Bob Bateman


With strong winds forecasted, there are, however, three non-Half Tonners, that will not allow the Halves to have it all their own way. Finbarr O'Regan's Elan 333, Artful Dodger, from the host club won this class two years ago in strong winds against the Half Tonners and is a flyer upwind. Expect her to contend on the strong wind days. Also, Ciaran Collins's Coracle VI from Royal Cork, with son Mel steering loves the strong winds, particularly downwind where the boat will plane, and will most certainly contend.

coracle Ciaran Collins's Coracle VI from Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

Finally, the X302 of Anthony Gore-Grimes from Howth, who won his class at the recent ICRAs, will love the stronger winds.

Dux 3322Anthony Gore-Grimes's Dux from Howth

If a Half Tonner doesn’t win, one of these three likely will do so.

Checkmate 2320David Cullen's Checkmate XV has a crack crew for the Sovereign's Cup including UK tactician Lou Varney Photo: Afloat

Of the Half Tonners, it depends on who will be aboard each boat, to work out who will take the spoils. David Cullen's Checkmate XV will be there or thereabouts, particularly if Nin O' Leary is aboard. Nigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII will contend, as will Johnny Swann's Harmony. Neil Makley from North Sails UK, will be racing with Biggs. Makley is a regular visitor here and was mainsheet trimmer on Eamon Rohan's Blondie in 2006 and 2008 Commodore's Cups teams. The Wright Brothers from Howth have just taken the 2019 ICRA Nationals at Royal St George with Mata and with Olympian Killian Collins and Shane Hughes from North Sails aboard, expect her to be up there as well. We will tip Mata to take it again, but not by much.

Mata 3645The Wright Brothers from Howth, among her crew for the Sovereign's Cup, is Sam O'Byrne, a D2D winner on board the JPK10.80 Rockabill VI

Dragon Class

The 2019 Dragon Nationals will be taking place at Sovereigns Cup and has 16 entries. We would expect the trio of Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing team from Royal St George, Peter Bowring's Phantom and the host club's Little Fella (Good, Ferney, Kingston) to contend for overall honours, with local knowledge giving an edge to Little Fella.

1720 Class

Just nine entries here to contend the 1720 European Championships. Expect this to be a two way battle between Anthony O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork and Ross and Aoife McDonald's Rope Dock/Atara from Howth Yacht Club. Too close to call between these two.

1720 OLeary 1616Anthony O'Leary's 1720 Antix

White Sail Fleets

25 boats will contest these two fleets. Demelza" from Howth Yacht Club (Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis) must be a hot favourite to win White Sails 2 after a clean sweep in ICRA's a few weeks ago. They are also previous winners in Kinsale. Bite The Bullet, also from HYC must also be a hot favourite for White Sails 1. Colm Bermingham's team have won numerous times in Kinsale before in this class and, like "Demelza" have won ICRA's previously.

Published in Sovereign's Cup Team

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