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Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

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

4th April 2019
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 Credit: 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).

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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

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

In order to facilitate social distancing and be Covid-19 compliant a new regatta format will comprise a One Design Championship (2nd – 4th July 2021) specifically tailored for sailors in the one-design keelboat and dinghy classes. This to be followed by an Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) catering for the full range of Cruiser Handicap classes.

 

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