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Big Winds Start Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

7th July 2011
Big Winds Start Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Unexpected strong winds got the fourth Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta off to a stunning start on Dublin Bay yesterday even though a number of boats in the massive 420-boat fleet got into difficulties as the southerly breeze hit 25 knots. SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO AND PICTURES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS STORY.

Nearly 3,000 sailors and 420 boats are afloat for the four day regatta that is the biggest sailing event in the Irish Sea area.

An impressive line up of 14 Class Zero boats has made Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta the biggest turnout this year for the 40-footers and it was appropriate that Howth's well campaigned Crazy Horse should make the running in the big sea conditions.

madmax

Mighty Max, a Prima 38, a visitor to Dublin Bay from Liverpool

The Chambers/Reilly skippered Mills 36 beat Fairlie visitor Christine Murray's Elf too, a Beneteau First 40 on the windward leeward course. Third was another visitor Grand Cru (Jamie McGarry) from the Clyde.

crazyhorse

Crazy Horse takes a wave in the first race. Photo: Gareth Craig

Anthony O'Leary put on a David vs Goliath performance in the dramatic opener. Surfing conditions gave his modified 1720 a real chance to show her speed downwind against some boats seemingly twice the size in IRC One.

The gutsy performance would have put the Royal Cork yacht 'Antix Beag' top of the 19-boat fleet except the Cork crew lost their rig. It is still unofficial but Debbie Aitken's Elan 380 Animal from Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club is the probable winner. Second is the locally based Sigma 38 Errislannan skippered by Paul Kirwan.

Late last night O'Leary got a new mast through one of the local sailing school's 1720 fleet and thanks to school principal Alistair Rumball the customised 1720 hopes to be back on the water  this morning.

mermaiddismasted

A Mermaid dinghy is dismasted in the strong winds

In class two Sligo visitor Ruthless, a Corby 26, sailed by Conor Ronan beat the locally based half tonner Dick Dastardly from the DMYC. Another vintage half tonner, King one, from Howth and skippered by Dave Cullen was third.

Last year's winner of the overall Volvo trophy Flor O'Driscoll is back in contention again. His J24 Hard on Port was the winner of the regatta's biggest fleet taking a win from Ken Lawless's Supernova in the 38-boat class three division.

In the one design divisions there were plenty of familiar names at the top top of the fleets given the testing southerlies that prevailed.

whitemischief

Sigma Supreme - White Mischief prepares for a hoist

Tim Goodbody leads the Sigma 33s, David Gorman the Flying fifteens, Patrick Boardman the Mermaids, Colin Galavan the SB3s, first race winner Ben Duncan did not sail the second race. Pat Kelly's Storm leads the 10 boat J109s who are also racing for national championship honours.

vdlr_supernova

Supernova takes a tack in Class Three

 

vdlr_wow2

George Sisk's brand new J111 Wow
Photos by Gareth Craig on the Afloat Gallery HERE
Published in Volvo Regatta

 

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Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 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 its 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. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

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.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced 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.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could 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 – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight 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.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

The 2021 Regatta runs from 8-11 July

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021

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