Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Ireland's Biggest Sailing Event on Dublin Bay
The VDLR  Ladies Lunch fundraising cheque was presented to Philip Ferguson (left) on behalf of Dun Laoghaire RNLI this week by Gina Luizzie and Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Chairman, Don O'Dowd
Ireland's largest regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta boasted almost 500 entries in July, that raised €1,888 for the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat charity at its sell-out Dubarry Ladies Lunch. One of the social highlights of the four day regatta, the…
A new level of performance has been drawn from John Minnis’s stylish A35 Final Call II in Dublin Bay
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The resumption of the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta after the pandemic involved even more leadership and administrative effort than usual for a 400 boat fleet, but longtime committee member and current chairman Don O’Dowd saw it through to success
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John Minnis and his Final Call II crew were the top performing Northern Ireland boat at Ireland's biggest regatta at Dun Laoghaire Harbour
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Shane McCarthy and Alan Green on their way to overall victory in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's Flying Fifteen class
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Co-skipper Dave Cullen steers the First 50 Checkmate XX from Howth Yacht Club to victory at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in the offshore class
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Ger Owens and Mel Morris (14256) were the overall winners of the GP14 Leinsters at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
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Third overall in the Dublin Bay Mermaid class of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta were Dermot O'Neill's Aideen (21), with crew John and Andrew Redmond racing against Royal Irish's Jill (134) sailed by Paul Smith, Patrick Mangan and Ailbhe Smith
The Dublin Bay Mermaids only sailed two races at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, with Skerries visitors Paul, Frank and Chloe Browne in Cara II coming out on top in the eight-boat fleet.  The Royal Irish's Jill, sailed by Paul Smith, Patrick…
Josh Porter and Cara McDowell were the overall winners of the Fireball class at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay
Fireballs enjoyed spectacular sailing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta over the last three days. Sixteen Fireballs entered the event, and only injury and family commitments prevented a full turnout. Especially impressive was the number of youth teams competing, and…
Ireland’s largest sailing event ended on Sunday after four exciting days of racing in Dublin Bay, with 400 boats and almost 2,000 sailors competing
The bulk of the silverware stayed in Dublin after the curtain came down on an epic four days of sailing at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Sunday evening.  Ireland’s largest sailing event came to a breezy close this afternoon after an exciting…
Overall Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta ILCA 6 winner Tom Fox (183109) of Rush Sailing Club leads off the startline with second overall Darren Griffin (219867) pictured right
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Jonathan Craig's J80 Lisney Sotheby's competing in the J80 class of the 2023 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta
The Royal Irish's Austin Kenny, Simon Redden and Austin Burke were the overall winners of the J80 class at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. In an all-star Irish fleet, that included Clontarf's Pat O'Neill, the 2021 J80 World Bronze medalist, 12…
The Pwhelli Sailing Club, J109 Mojito of Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop, on their way to winning the Royal Dee (RDYC) Offshore Championship series
The Pwhelli Sailing Club, J109 Mojito of Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop, were the winners of the Royal Dee (RDYC) Offshore Championship series raced for as part of this weekend's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. As regular Afloat readers know, the…
John Minnis's IRC One winning crew from Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough were one of many prizewinners at Sunday's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta prizegiving at the National Yacht Club. Scroll down to view the gallery of all winners
As sailing events go, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is big by any measure, so there is no surprise that this year's National Yacht Club hosted VDLR prizegiving on Sunday evening was an equally big affair with hundreds of sailors gathered…
Michael O’Leary’s DuFour 425 Act Two
The Elan marque maintained a primary placing to the end, with Johnny Philips Elan 33 Playtime (NYC) making a thing of it in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Non-Spinnaker 1 with nothing but firsts after taking his discard on his single…

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates six separate courses for 21 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of Ireland's largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best. Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together. Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries. A flotilla of 25 boats regularly races from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

No other regatta in the Irish Sea area can claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay Weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes."The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends."We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added. The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – closes temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of six separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta FAQs

Dun Laoghaire Regatta is Ireland's biggest sailing event. It is held every second Summer at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Dublin Bay.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta is held every two years, typically in the first weekend of July.

As its name suggests, the event is based at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Racing is held on Dublin Bay over as many as six different courses with a coastal route that extends out into the Irish Sea. Ashore, the festivities are held across the town but mostly in the four organising yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta is the largest sailing regatta in Ireland and on the Irish Sea and the second largest in the British Isles. It has a fleet of 500 competing boats and up to 3,000 sailors. Scotland's biggest regatta on the Clyde is less than half the size of the Dun Laoghaire event. After the Dublin city marathon, the regatta is one of the most significant single participant sporting events in the country in terms of Irish sporting events.

The modern Dublin Bay Regatta began in 2005, but it owes its roots to earlier combined Dublin Bay Regattas of the 1960s.

Up to 500 boats regularly compete.

Up to 70 different yacht clubs are represented.

The Channel Islands, Isle of Man, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland countrywide, and Dublin clubs.

Nearly half the sailors, over 1,000, travel to participate from outside of Dun Laoghaire and from overseas to race and socialise in Dun Laoghaire.

21 different classes are competing at Dun Laoghaire Regatta. As well as four IRC Divisions from 50-footers down to 20-foot day boats and White Sails, there are also extensive one-design keelboat and dinghy fleets to include all the fleets that regularly race on the Bay such as Beneteau 31.7s, Ruffian 23s, Sigma 33s as well as Flying Fifteens, Laser SB20s plus some visiting fleets such as the RS Elites from Belfast Lough to name by one.


Some sailing household names are regular competitors at the biennial Dun Laoghaire event including Dun Laoghaire Olympic silver medalist, Annalise Murphy. International sailing stars are competing too such as Mike McIntyre, a British Olympic Gold medalist and a raft of World and European class champions.

There are different entry fees for different size boats. A 40-foot yacht will pay up to €550, but a 14-foot dinghy such as Laser will pay €95. Full entry fee details are contained in the Regatta Notice of Race document.

Spectators can see the boats racing on six courses from any vantage point on the southern shore of Dublin Bay. As well as from the Harbour walls itself, it is also possible to see the boats from Sandycove, Dalkey and Killiney, especially when the boats compete over inshore coastal courses or have in-harbour finishes.

Very favourably. It is often compared to Cowes, Britain's biggest regatta on the Isle of Wight that has 1,000 entries. However, sailors based in the north of England have to travel three times the distance to get to Cowes as they do to Dun Laoghaire.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta is unique because of its compact site offering four different yacht clubs within the harbour and the race tracks' proximity, just a five-minute sail from shore. International sailors also speak of its international travel connections and being so close to Dublin city. The regatta also prides itself on balancing excellent competition with good fun ashore.

The Organising Authority (OA) of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is Dublin Bay Regattas Ltd, a not-for-profit company, beneficially owned by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), National Yacht Club (NYC), Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC).

The Irish Marine Federation launched a case study on the 2009 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's socio-economic significance. Over four days, the study (carried out by Irish Sea Marine Leisure Knowledge Network) found the event was worth nearly €3million to the local economy over the four days of the event. Typically the Royal Marine Hotel and Haddington Hotel and other local providers are fully booked for the event.

©Afloat 2020