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Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019: IRC Runners & Riders (Download Class Splits HERE!)

10th July 2019
Thursday's 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has attracted a fleet of 500 boats. Scroll down for a review of the IRC fleet divisions Thursday's 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has attracted a fleet of 500 boats. Scroll down for a review of the IRC fleet divisions Photo: Afloat

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 D2D Race start 2497Jackknife, the J125 of Andrew Hall from Pwllheli Sailing Club

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.

Rockabill D2D Race start 2191Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

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.

WOW D2D Race start 2087George Sisk's new XP44 WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

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. 

Signal 8 Ker 40 Jamie McWilliamJamie McWilliam's Signal 8, a Ker 40, sailing under the burgee of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

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.

Forty Licks 1581Jay Colville's First 40, Forty Licks from East Down Yacht Club
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.

eleuthera racing14Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera from Greystones Photo: Bob Bateman

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.

Animal KipKevin and Debbie Aitken's Beneteau 36.7, Animal, from the Clyde

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.

Bon Exemple 2627Colin Byrne's Xp33, Bon Exemple from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

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.

J99 2688Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

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.

White Mischief J109 0359Tim Goodbody's J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Jelly Baby 2022Brian Jones's J109 Jelly Baby from Royal Cork Yacht Club

Outrajeous 2934Outrajeous, owned by John Murphy and Richard Colwell from Howth

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

Antix Beag 2437Anthony O'Leary's modified 1720, Antix Beag, from Cork

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.

MATA Half TonThe Wright brothers Mata from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

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.

Nigel BiggsNigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

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.

Cullen checkmate 0385Dave Cullen's Half Tonner, Checkmate XV from Howth

Dux X302 3304ICRA champion X302 Dux (Anthony Gore-Grimes) from Howth

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.

CrI Cri 3430Paul Colton's Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Fngr8 1982FNGr8, the optimised First Class 8 skippered by Rory Fekkes from Carrickfergus Sailing 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.

Running Wild Impala 3287Brendan Foley's highly optimised Impala, Running Wild from the Royal St George Yacht Club

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.

Asterix sonata 7 3213Local boat Asterix (Frazer Meredith & John Counihan) of the DMYC

Download the class splits below. Read W M Nixon's VDLR 2019 Regatta preview here.

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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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