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Maybury's Joker II Out in Front As Dun Laoghaire Regatta Kicks off in Style

6th July 2017
Not hangin' around – The SB20 Sea Biscuit (Marty Cuppage) is racing for Southern Championship honours as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Not hangin' around – The SB20 Sea Biscuit (Marty Cuppage) is racing for Southern Championship honours as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo:

It was business as usual for John Maybury's J109 Joker II in this afternoon's opening races of the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The triple class one ICRA national champion has moved to the top of the leaderboard in Ireland's biggest sailing event after scoring a first and second to be five points ahead in an extremely competitive class one fleet.

From a forecast for a dubious six–knots from the west, Dublin Bay instead produced a solid sea–breeze up to eight knots from the south–east for the first races in a total schedule of 290 races in 35 classes by Sunday.

2,500 sailors are racing in the four day regatta that has attracted sailors from across Ireland and the UK but also from Europe, America and Australia.

Naval shipThe Navy patrol vessel LE Orla was on hand to take Yacht Club Commodores and invited guests on a tour of the six race courses. Tea and scones were served on deck during the round Dublin Bay trip. Photo:

A near–record breaking fleet of 475 boats took to the water this afternoon for a 3pm start with some classes still racing well after 6pm.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Race officer David Lovegrove 'named and shamed' premature starters in the 29–boat class one today. The RO claimed some boats were over the line by as much as 11 seconds in one start that was recalled. Photo:

Class zero VDLR....but there were no such problems for the five boat class zero fleet

A 29–boat class one – one of the most competitive of the regatta – could not resist the temptation of an early start on the North Course and race officer David Lovegrove was forced to signal a general recall in the unruly fleet.

Dear prudenceJay Bourke's Dear Prudence (foreground) and Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI at the pin end of the second start of the first race for class one. Photo:

With a 150–degree wind direction and an ebbing tide, Maybury, with tactician Mark Mansfield onboard, made sure of an early advantage off the start line in race one when he tacked inshore out of the tide to be in contention at the windward mark.

The ICRA champion from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Scottish entry Banshee Charlie Frize. Third is June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner Paul O'Higgins in the JPK 10.80, Rockabill VI.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 12Gently does it – there are no sudden movements on Joker II. Crew are positioned on the leeward rail as skipper John Maybury gets up to speed at the start of race one. Photo:

Joker rockabillAt the top mark, Dear Prudence lead with Rockabill VI (to leeward) and Joker II in hot pursuit downwind Photo:

In class two,'s prediction of an early lead for the Andreau Half Tonner Trastada from Fairlye Yacht Club is bearing fruit. The Roddy Angus skippered vintage yacht has a four point lead over Johnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony with club–mate Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner third. 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 TrastadaMaking light work of light airs. The Scottish Half–Tonner Trastada leads class two. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10This cracking pin end start for Dave Cullen's Checkmate produced a second for the half–tonner in race one. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class two start on the northern course in race one. Photo:

In Class three, Richard Colwell's Fusion of Howth Yacht Club took an early lead when he won both races in IRC Class three. The Corby 25 opened up a five–point lead over the X-302 GP Online-Viking Kevin Darmody on the southern course. Eight are competing.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10An immaculate leeward mark rounding from Richard Colwell's Corby 25 that leads class three. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class three X302s give chase to Colwell's Fusion (above). Photo:

Conditions could not have been more different than the first race this time two years ago when strong winds and big seas opened the biennial event.

Today was equally as testing but for completely different reasons as sailors dealt with light winds and tricky start lines that demanded a clear lane to get top boat speed.

Cri cri Quarter tonnerUnder a minute to the start of race two, Quarter tonner Cri Cri (silver hull) protects her weather

In a 15–boat class four, Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club has opened up a four point lead from the Wicklow Sailing Club Modified Formula 28, Flash (Jonathan Flood).

Racing is being staged over six separate courses for a combined fleet of 480 boats, with over 180 visiting yachts from 70 different yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 FlashbackPaddy Gregory's Flashback heads for the VDLR harbour finish line in today's coastal race for the buoyant offshore class

In the offshore class, the biggest of the regatta at 32–boats, Peter Dunlop's J/109 Mojito, the overall ISORA leader from Pwllheli Sailing Club, took a win in today's coastal race that featured a harbour finish off the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Second was Steve Haye's Beneteau First 34.7 Magic Touch from Bray Sailing Club with Paddy Gregory's sistership from Howth Yacht Club third.

In the Flying Fifteen one design keelboats, Neil Coleman from the National Yacht Club leads David Gorman's Betty. Niall Meagher's Ffantastic Mr Ffox is third in a fine 23-boat turnout that race today on the Salthill course.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Raft up – Judging the layline for the weather mark with a tide running was tricky on the Salthill course. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 mixed sportboatA Backman 21 is racing in Dun Laoghaire Regatta's mixed sportsboat class. Photo:

In a debut Mixed Sportsboat class, 1720s are top of the 16–boat fleet. David Ryan's Big Bad Wolf from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Royal Cork's Heroes and Villians (Gary Rhodes. Third is Declan Curtin's J80 from the National Yacht Club.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Today's classic boat fleet that have gathered to celebrate Dun Laoghaire Harbour's 200th anniversary had a coastal race with a Harbour finish

Results are provisional and subject to protest. Full results in all 35 classes are available here.

Racing continues tomorrow (Friday). More light westerly airs are forecast with sea breezes also a possibility.

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

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