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Buoyant Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta May Operate Waiting List as 2021 Entry Nears Limit

23rd April 2021
Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has received 94 entries so far for the Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) on Dublin Bay
Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has received 94 entries so far for the Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) on Dublin Bay and will pasue entries on April 30th to take stock of overall numbers Credit: Afloat

Entries for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR) are beyond expectations for July's event giving organisers the opportunity to close the entry system at the end of April to review the 320 boats received so far.

Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay is planning to facilitate social distancing with its cautious approach to fleet sizes and by implementing a new regatta format that splits the fleets over two weekends.

"We've now 221 boats entered for the One Design weekend and 94 entries for the Cruiser weekend, so it may be the case that we will need to restrict entries, with priority being given to classes holding a championship or those with an excess of 10 entries", VDLR chairman Don O'Dowd told Afloat.

VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions   VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with pandemic conditions  

As Afloat previously reported, the 2021 event comprise a One Design Championship (2nd – 4th July 2021) tailored explicitly for sailors in the one-design keelboat and dinghy classes. This is to be followed by an Open Cruiser Championship (8th – 11th July 2021) catering for the full range of Cruiser Handicap classes, including an offshore class.

Finalising entries will also allow Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay coursesFinalising entries early will allow Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta's Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay courses

It is estimated that 700 sailors will compete each weekend.

O'Dowd is confident that they will reach the overall target set back in January, and with 11 championships currently running as part of the event, it's not hard to see how that will happen with 70 days still to go before the first gun.

There is a buoyant SB20 entry for Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay this July Photo: AfloatThere is a buoyant SB20 entry for Ireland's biggest regatta on Dublin Bay this July Photo: Afloat

The plan now – subject to a Government Covid announcement to be issued in early May – is that entry to VDLR 2021 will be 'temporarily closed' on April 30 to allow the committee to 'take stock' of entries received across all classes.

Because it's unclear what the COVID-19 situation will be by mid-summer, organisers are anxious to get plans laid out early and work out early who's actually coming to the regatta. 

Ironically, it's not the numbers afloat that could be problematic but arrangements ashore as it is likely there will be no movement between yacht clubs due to ongoing restrictions.

By mid-June, the hope is that under Government guidelines, inter-county travel will return, and by that stage, too, hotels will have reopened. Outdoor restaurant dining recommenced to allow some regatta social activity.

"The Covid restrictions to be revised by the Government will clarify shoreside capacity permitted across the four venues for both parts of VDLR21, but in the meantime, we are continuing to make our plans' O'Dowd said.

Final call for all VDLR classes

"There has been a strong uptake in entries in some of the 22 predicted classes, but it has been patchy in some of the others", O'Dowd admitted.

He would particularly like to see entries from some regular classes that have been slow off the mark to enter this year. "If classes could enter by April 30, it would help us a lot. We want to finalise what classes will be based in what club, as there will likely be restrictions ashore".

Currently only nine Flying fifteens are entered into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta but the local fleet has over 20 that is typically one of the biggest one design keelboats of the entire regattaCurrently, only nine Flying fifteens are entered into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta but the local fleet has over 20 that is typically one of the biggest one-design keelboats of the entire regatta Photo: Afloat

In particular, VDLR is now seeking firm indications from classes such as the Shipmans and other popular Dublin Bay one designs such as the Flying Fifteens and J80s.

In the dinghy divisions, the RS, Mermaids, and the vintage IDRA 14s, celebrating their 75th anniversary, are also requested to make their entries by April 30.

Shipman sailing on Dublin Bay. VDLR is keen to see a bigger entry from this keelboat class Photo: AfloatShipman sailing on Dublin Bay. VDLR is keen to see a bigger entry from this local keelboat class Photo: Afloat

Reduced mixing of boats and crews at VDLR

Finalising entries will also allow Principal Race Officer Con Murphy to plan what fleets are going on what Dublin Bay courses. 'If we get an early commitment, we can facilitate class starts; otherwise, we may have to combine classes on the one line line', Murphy told Afloat.

In anticipation of restrictions, racing times will be staggered between classes. Murphy said the VDLR fleet is preparing to take extra steps for two sets of racing times per day, one at 10.30 am and the other at 1.30 pm, to further reduce the mixing of boats and crews ashore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

11 Fireball dinghies are already entered for VDLR 2021 that will also double as the class Leinster Championships Photo: Afloat11 Fireball dinghies are already entered for VDLR 2021 that will also double as the class Leinster Championships Photo: Afloat

Meeting COVID-19's sailing challenges in 2021

Dun Laoghaire is unique in being able to operate in the pandemic because of the extensive area within the harbour site and facilities provided by the waterfront clubs and organisations.

The regatta will utilise the full infrastructure of the Harbour venue to the best advantage and bring certainty to a calendar that has been hugely dictated by Covid-19 and the constraints imposed due to social distancing.

VDLR organisers are keen to see more Mermaid dinghies enter the July Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatVDLR organisers are keen to see more Mermaid dinghies enter the July Regatta on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Ireland's biggest sailing event

Growing over the last 16 years, the regatta is now one of Northern Europe's greatest shows on the water, eclipsed only by the UK's Cowes Week 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. A regatta of this size also brings a lot of shoreside summer colour and significant economic benefit to the town of Dun Laoghaire.

The last edition in 2019 comprised over 300 sailing races across 30 classes and 2,500 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors drawn from both Ireland and overseas.

In the unlikely event of a cancellation of the regatta due to Covid-19, a full refund of entry fees will apply, the organisers say.

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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 2023

The dates of the 2023 Dun Laoghaire Regatta are July 6-9

 

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