There is no doubt about it that 500 entries – so far – for Thursday's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is a great indication of the state of yacht racing in Ireland, especially when so many other regattas struggle for numbers.
There are six IRC spinnaker classes bucking this trend plus a further 27 One Design and White Sail classes competing, making up this massive 500–boat fleet.
Download the Class Splits for Dun Laoghaire Regatta's IRC Classes below as a PDF file.
Based on these divisions, Afloat takes a shot at naming some likely winners in each of these six IRC classes. At the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale, a fortnight ago, we did likewise and were successful in three of our four IRC class picks.
Light Wind Forecast
Weather conditions, as always will have a big bearing on who wins, with some designs clearly favouring lighter winds and some strong winds. With three days to go, it is possible to get a fairly decent steer of what the wind conditions will be like. It appears Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 will be a very light air affair unless some thermal winds appear, but with cloudy conditions expected for three of the four days, the chances of these thermals coming in are lessened. Therefore our picks for likely winners take this into account.
Offshore Class—28 Entries
In reality, though officially described as an 'Offshore' Class, it is effectively a 'Coastal' Class.
Jackknife, the J125 of Andrew Hall from Pwllheli Sailing Club is leading the ISORA Series overall and is a potent performer, particularly when she can get planing. Likewise, the two Jeanneau Sunfast 3600s from Dun Laoghaire, Yoyo (Brendan Coughlan) and Hot Cookie (John O'Gorman). Hot Cookie had an impressive third place overall result at the recent Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, while Yoyo features well also on the ISORA Circuit.
Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish has already won D2D overall and the Coastal class at ICRAs but may not like the light air conditions much. Even still, she will compete hard and if a bit of breeze builds, she will perform well.
All these boats will need some breeze and some good reaching conditions to shine. George Sisk's new XP44 from the Royal Irish took a clean sweep in the Coastal Class at the Sovereign's Cup just two weeks ago and is known to be particularly swift in light airs. In addition, she seems to possess a good selection of offwind sails, so she must be the favourite for this class. The two boats that might upset this, however, are the J109’s, Jaydreamer, owned by Paul Sutton from Liverpool, Peter Dunlop's Mojito from Pwllheli and Nigel Ingram's Jetstream from Holyhead. The J109 is a particularly potent performer in light airs, and with their asymmetric spinnakers will likely be well suited for this class.
Class 0: Six entries
The Offshore Class has pulled many of the larger boats, leaving just the hardcore of top IRC big boats here.
The highest rated will be Jamie McWilliam's Ker 40, Signal 8 from Hong Kong. Signal 8 won last years Wave Regatta at Howth in light airs, from Jump Juice from Royal Cork owned by Conor Phelan. Jump will be in the mix this year as well.
Jay Colville's First 40, Forty Licks from East Down Yacht Club always performs well in all conditions, and will likely finish in the top three, as likely will Jonathan Anderson's J122e from the Clyde.
For the overall win, however, you cannot go beyond Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera from Greystones. Second at the ICRAs and a clear winner at the Sovereign Cup last month, she is a noted light air performer, and with Shane Hughes from North Sails aboard, must be the bookies favourite in this class.
Class 1: 27 entries
This is likely to be the most competitive and hardest class to pick a winner this year. The normal Irish and Welsh boats in this class will be joined by the Scottish RC 35 Class who are using Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as one of the Celtic Cup events, so six of this class have travelled to the hub of Irish Sea yachting.
16 x J109s feature in this class and are known to be potent in light airs, so it is likely that two or three of the podium results will go to a J109. So far this year, a J109 has won the Scottish Series, the ICRAs and the Sovereign's Cup, in varying conditions.
Apart from the J109s, there are a few others that will feature. If it stays light for all four days, Kevin and Debbie Aitken's Beneteau 36.7, Animal, from the Clyde is a potent performer in light airs and has already won the RC35 Class Nationals this year. One windier day, however, could be her undoing as if she cannot keep up with the J109’s on a moderate day, she will end up with a couple of high numbers. This is what happened at the Scottish Series back in May.
Colin Byrne's Xp33, Bon Exemple has been going particularly well in Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing until she had to do some mast repairs. She is a great all-round boat and will be to the front of the fleet. Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2 from the Royal Irish has shown some flashes of speed and will likely be in the mix.
Getting back to the J109s, the four that took the top four results at this year's ICRAs are all back, and all have good tacticians aboard. John Maybury's Joker 2, From the Royal Irish, who was the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta winner will have Olympian Killian Collins aboard. Jelly Baby, owned by Brian Jones from the Royal Cork has Killian's brother Mel on tactics. Storm 2, owned by the Kelly family from Rush has North Sails Nigel Young aboard, and Outrajeous, owned by John Murphy and Richard Colwell from Howth, has Olympian Mark Mansfield aboard. Outrajeous just won the Sovereigns Cup two weeks ago in Kinsale. Other top J109s likely to do well will be Tim Goodbody's locally-based White Mischief from the Royal Irish, Brian and John Hall's Something else from the National Yacht Club and Andrew Craig's Scottish Series winner, Chimaera from the Royal Irish.
Who to pick from this lot? Were it moderate conditions, it likely would be Outrageous, Joker 2 and Storm to fight it out. However, both Storm and Outrageous have opted for symmetrical spinnaker configuration this year and in light airs an asymmetrical spinnaker has an advantage. As a result, we suggest Joker 2 will take it by a nose.
Class 2: 23 entries
Were it moderate conditions we could talk about one of the J97s having a good chance, or perhaps Anthony O'Leary's converted 1720, Antix Beag, from Cork or the newly crowned ICRA Class Three champion, the X302 Dux (Anthony Gore Grimes) from Howth.
However in light airs, the modernised Half Tonners are flyers and so, one of these five must be likely to take the spoils.
The Wright brothers Mata from Howth has won the ICRAs this year and also won the Irish Half Ton Cup at the Sovereigns Cup. She has been going particularly well, but unlike the other events, she does not have a pro for this regatta.
Nigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII from Howth won her class in Sovereigns and was close also at ICRAs. Her tactician, Neil Mackley from North Sails, will, Afloat understands, be with her again for Dun Laoghaire Week and this must make her one of the main contenders.
Finally, Dave Cullen from Howth has not featured of late in his champion Half Tonner, Checkmate XV. For this event, he has brought in well known one design pro, Ruairidh Scott from the UK to call tactics and this will likely bring him well into contention. So, it likely will be between these three. We will tip Nigel Biggs to take it from Dave Cullen, but it will all be pretty close.
Class 3: 19 entries
Were it moderate to fresh, the four J24s would likely be in the frame. The Quarter Tonners, however, love this light stuff and chief among them will likely be Ken Lawless and Sybil McCormack's Cartoon from the Royal Irish. Other Quarter Tonners that will like the conditions will be Paul Colton's Cri Cri from the Royal Irish and John Hasson and Neil Doherty's Panic from Lough Swilly Yacht Club.
Brendan Foley's highly optimised Impala, Running Wild from the Royal St George, complete with fat head main, will also love these light airs. Finally, runner up to Dux at the ICRA Nationals this year was FNGr8, the optimised First Class 8 of Rory Fekkes from Carrickfergus Sailing Club. Rory won his class easily at the Scottish Series and was overall winner at 2018 Cork Week. We will tip him to add a Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta crown to these titles, likely with Cartoon or Running Wild in second.
Class 4: 16 entries
Hard to know who will take this one. Philip Dwyer's Supernova, who won his class at ICRAs has been moved up to Class 3, as has Dubious, the First 28 of Peter Richardson from the Royal St George.
The Sonata, Asterix, of Frazer Meredith is always sailed well and never goes away, despite her low handicap. In these conditions, she will always be in contention. We will tip her to win.
Download the class splits below. Read W M Nixon's VDLR 2019 Regatta preview here.