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While the Irish J109 just sailed its national championships as part of last weekend's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta the international J Cup 2011 has kicked off in Guernsey. The cup, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year is being hosted by the Guernsey Yacht Club for the third time. The J-Cup is sponsored by B&G, Dubarry of Ireland, North Sails, Universal Marina and Nautical Guernsey. Racing is taking place across four classes, and the regatta includes the inaugural Lombard J/97 UK National Championship, which is being raced according to the J/97 UK One-Design Class Rules. Competitors have travelled to the Channel Islands from as far afield as Dublin Bay to compete in the regatta and the fleet also includes several local boats. Having enjoyed a fantastic Vin D'Honneur Reception in sparkling evening sunshine at Castle Cornet on Monday night, courtesy of The Sates of Guernsey, competitors set sail for the J-Cup race-course in The Little Russell on Tuesday morning in a brisk North Easterly breeze which topped out at 23 knots as the day progressed.

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The Lombard Marine Finance J/97 UK National Championship fleet sailed three races on windward leeward courses and the competition was predictably fierce and hotly fought. Grant Gordon's Fever is leading the Nationals at the end of Day One having won the first two races and scoring a third in the final race of the day. His lead though is just one point over Tony Mack's McFly in second overall. Mike and Jamie Holmes took a little while to get Jika Jika driving as well as they they would wish but a bullet in the final race of the day saw them back to their usual top form. Stuart Sawyer and his crew on Black Dog, (all the way from God's Country, Cornwall) are just one point behind Jika Jika in fourth. The North Sails Boat of the Day prize for the Lombard Marine Finance J/97 UK National Championship was presented to Tony Mack's McFly.

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Class IRC 1 comprises J/122s, J/133s and two of the new J/111s. This fleet enjoyed a short jaunt around the cans in Little Russell followed by a coastal race around the island of Sark. Nigel and Donna Passmore won both races in their J/133 Apollo 3 and established a nice points lead on the next three boats in the class, which are all tied on eight points. The points count-back for these three boats puts Key Yachting's J/111 J Spirit (which is being helmed by St Peter Port local ace Jamie Hamilton) in second, Mick Holland and Carolyn Aylmer's J/122 MaJic (also from St Peter Port) is in third place and Rob Craigie's J/122 J Bellino (just back from the AZAB Race) is currently in fourth place. The North Sails Boat of the Day Prize for IRC 1 was presented to the crew of Apollo 3.

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William Newton's J/105 Jelly Baby tops Class IRC 1 at the end of the first day of racing having scored two wins and Chris Jones and Louise Makin's J/105 Journeymaker is currently second in this class with six points. The J/105s love the windy stuff and enjoyed the planing conditions on Tuesday but here again, there are three boats all tied on six points. Andy Howe and Annie Kelly's J/92 Blackjack is third going in to the second day of racing and Marc Noel from St Malo also has six points on J/92 Dr Jekyll and is currently fourth. Two local J/24s, Alastair Bisson's Guffin and Tim Martin's Jaygo, have joined the J-Cup this year: the only time the regatta has ever included an entry from this first, iconic keelboat from the J Boats design office. Jelly Baby scooped the North Sails Boat of the Day prize in IRC 2.

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There is always much good natured rivalry in the J/109 fleet and the class enjoys close one-design racing in big fleets. This year we are especially entertained by the competition between local lad Mike Henning, racing on Jamie Arnell's Jeez Louise and his father Simon who has joined the crew of Roger Martel's Moojo, a well known St Peter Port J/109. Jeez Louise showed blistering pace and won both races on Tuesday, but yet again, the next three boats in this class are all tied on six points! Johnnie Goodwin and Bruce Huber are looking very good indeed on board Alexabelle in second, Tony De Mulder's Victric is third in class on count-back and then it's Moojo in fourth at the current point in time. There is obviously much to play for here. The crew of Jeez Louise were especially excited to receive the North Sails Boat of the Day prize after this stellar first-day performance.

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After racing, 350 J Boaters danced the night away to an awesome local folk band called The Barley Dogs fuelled by a curry at the Guernsey Yacht Club and some very potent cocktails courtesy of Universal Marina, one of the principal sponsors of the J-Cup. Racing at the J-Cup 2011 continues on Wednesday, and the forecast is for slightly less breeze and more sunshine

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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 dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021

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