Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 Launches With Bumper Fleet of Visiting Yachts

4th April 2019
2158 Views
A Class One start at the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay A Class One start at the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

With three months to go to the first gun off Dun Laoghaire’s famous harbour, 410 boats are already entered — and more than half the entries are visiting craft to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019.

It is an early-season marine tourism boost for the east coast town, and one that means the next edition of Ireland’s biggest sailing regatta can expect a fleet of 500 yachts and possibly more for this biennial four-day battle of the Irish Sea.

More than 70 different sailing clubs are represented, including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, from which there are currently 111 entries, and across Ireland. 

"More than 70 different sailing clubs are represented"

In a nod to the event’s growing international stature, an early entry has been received from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club with ex-pat Jamie McWilliam sailing the production IRC race boat Signal 8, an impressive Ker 40 design.

Signal 8 Ker 40 Jamie McWilliamJamie McWilliam's Royal Hong Kong Signal 8 (Ker 40) will compete at VDLR Photo: Afloat.ie

Growing over the last 14 years, the regatta is now proudly one of Northern Europe’s greatest shows on water, eclipsed only by the UK’s Cowes Regatta, one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world.

“Since it first set sail in 2005, Dun Laoghaire Regatta has grown biennially and showcases the very best of Irish sailing action on the water. With a festival this size, the regatta also adds a lot of shoreside summer colour to Dun Laoghaire town”, Event Chairman Don O’Dowd said.

"300 sailing races across 30 classes, and 2,500 competitors"

With over 300 sailing races across 30 classes, and 2,500 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors, there is a growing acknowledgement of the role of sailing as an economic driver in the harbour town.

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said “The Regatta has a huge and very welcome sporting, tourism and commercial impact on Dun Laoghaire. The whole town works to make it a success.”

“The Regatta brings a significant amount to the local economy. Using the Irish tourism multiplier, the average expenditure per competitor will be €100 per day which for 2,500 competitors will be €250,000 per day and €1,000,000 over four days.

In an effort to protect our waters we are running the event as a Clean Regatta through the international Sailors for the Sea programme, supported by the MaREI Centre, which will see us implementing a number of Clean Regattas Best Practices to reduce our environmental impact." O’Dowd added.

But the main interest is on the racing itself. A sideshow of the regatta is the national pride between Ireland and Britain and how many winners can rack up across the four days.

The Volvo Trophy is on the line for the overall winner of IRC and 2017’s winner, Joker II, a local J109 design, is back to defend it.

VDLR 2019 3784John Maybury's Joker II will defend her Volvo Trophy title in Dun Laoghaire Photo: Afloat.ie

Joker II, under skipper John Maybury, was also the class winner of the highly competitive Class One, and two years later this class has only got stronger with some new local marques such as Andrew Algeo’s J99 Juggerknot II, as well as Scottish and Belfast boats contesting this division.

The Scottish boats come to Dun Laoghaire under the recently developed RC35 class banner that will make the 35-foot regatta one of the most keenly contested battles of the season.

As well as Class One, key classes in the line-up include the other IRC rating classes with a visiting fleet of vintage Half Tonners from Howth contesting Class Two.

In addition, ‘one design’ classes will include the Beneteau 31.7s, Beneteau 211, Sigma 33, Ruffian 23s, Dragons and the RS Elites, who stage their British Championships as part of the VDLR, currently with 34 entries. 

The dinghy classes will include the GP14, Wayfarer, Squib, Mermaid, Flying Fifteen, and single-handed Lasers and Moths.

But it’s not all high-tech racing at Dun Laoghaire. Traditional sailing is still very much a part of the regatta programme.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 0272Classic boat racing at 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: Afloat.ie

Following 2017’s harbour bicentenary celebrations as part of the regatta, Myths & Seabird Half Raters from the 100-year-old Trearddur Bay in Wales are crossing the Irish Sea again for the July festival and will join Dublin Bay's own historic classes for a classic boat regatta as part of the overall regatta.

O’Dowd says: “The VDLR owes its prominence in European sailing events to a number of factors. One of the core attributes to attracting so many entrants is that it is one of the least expensive sailing events in Europe, thanks to generous sponsorship and support, so providing great value for money for all in the lovely waters of Dublin Bay.

“We also have more than 300 volunteers who give their time and energy to ensure the regatta runs smoothly, as well as the active co-operation of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, local area businesses and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

“And of course the support from the thousands of visitors who come to watch the spectacle and take part in all the family-oriented activities in and around Dun Laoghaire.”

The biennial fixture is organised jointly by the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC).

Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating