Next week's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has 88 IRC entries so far, of which 18 have yet to provide rating certs. Of the remainder, figuring out the handicap breaks to make up five good IRC classes is no easy task. Afloat.ie sticks its neck out to give a best guess on the breaks, numbers and top performers at Ireland's biggest regatta.
A big problem in setting the rating breaks is the lack of larger Class Zero boats and the very large number of Class One boats.
So far there are only five large yachts, rating around 1.100 and higher. Many of the normal class zero yachts seem, for whatever reason (maybe not enough crew, feel they can’t compete in Class Zero or prefer to do longer races), have opted for the Coastal Division. This includes the likes of Wow, Lively Lady, Aurelia, Aqualina. Therefore VDLR organisers will likely need to extend Class Zero to include yachts right down to 1.039 to get the entry numbers in Class Zero up to say, nine. The low number turnout of traditional sized Class Zero boats at this regatta is nothing new, it continues from the very low turnouts of Class Zero boats also at the ICRA Championships (two competed) and the Sovereign's Cup (four competed). As previously mentioned on Afloat.ie, Class Zero in Dublin Bay – and elsewhere – is continuing to dwindle and providing separate class racing for such low numbers is hard for regatta organisers to justify.
The very high number of Class One yachts, including 13 x J109’s will make up a 24–boat fleet from a rating of 1.035 to 1.000.
Splitting Classes Two, Three and Four appear more straight forward, with natural breaks occurring and giving decent numbers in each class.
So here is Afloat.ie's guess on the breaks, numbers and top performers. Bear in mind, the 18 boats with no ratings yet may well change these figures.
Class 0 (rating 1.036 and above—9 entries) Eala of Rhu, a very well sailed Swan 45 from Scotland, won her class at Scottish series, and will be very competitive in this class where she will be out ahead and be able to sail her own race. Behind her are three very similar good boats (Dark Angel, Jump Juice and Aurora (ex Blondie). Dark Angel has had the better of Jump Juice in her last three Regattas and this will likely continue. Aurora will likely be competitive also. Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI, recent winner of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, if there are strong conditions, will be well to the fore, but in a mixed regatta, expect Eala of Rhu to take it from Dark Angel.
Class 1 (rating 1.035 to 1.000 – 24 entries) This is likely where the best racing will be in the IRC divisions. 13 J 109’s including the three times ICRA National Champion, John Maybury's Joker II. It will be interesting to see how Andrew Algeos Juggerknot and Andrew Craig's Chimera fare against her. Tim Goodbody's White Mischief will also be in the mix. Other notable Dublin entries are Colin Byrne's Bon Exemple and Anthony Fox’s Archambault 35, Gringo. There are a numer of Good Scottish boats of this size and one to watch out for would be Kevin Aitken's Animal which was very competitive in this years Scottish Series. Of course, if Olympian Mark Mansfield is aboard Joker II as tactician, expect it to take it with at least one other J109 on the podium.
Class 2 (rating .999 to .959 – 11 entries) This is likely to be a straight shootout between Ross McDonald's X332 Equinox who just won the 2017 ICRA Nationals in Cork and Stephen Quinn's J/97 Lambay Rules which recently won their class at the Scottish Series. If conditions are lighter, we would put our money on Lambay Rules, while if there is breeze, Equinox will be hard to beat. With the present long range forecast of mixed conditions we will just edge it to Lambay Rules.
Class 3 (rating .958 to .922 – 10 entries) Likely to be a battle of the Half Tonners, David Cullen's Checkmate V, Johnny Swan’s Harmony, and from Scotland, Roddy Angus’s Trastada. Trastada faired very well at Scottish Series, finishing ahead of Harmony before eventually being beaten by Lambay Rules. If the breeze is strong, expect the X302’s (Maximus, Dux and Xebec) to be to the front but in a mixed wind event we will put our money on Trastada to take it from Checkmate by a nose.
Class 4 (rating .922 and below –16 entries) A mixed bag including the three quarter tonners, Ken Lawless in Cartoon, Paul Colton’s Cri Cri and Jim Monaghan's Enigma. We would expect the winner to come from these three and with Cartoon finishing ahead of Enigma last week at Sovereign's we will go for Cartoon to win this class. Paul Colton Cri Cri could be a wild card, however, as he has done a lot of work to her over the winter and it is not fully known how this will effect her performance.