Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland Yacht Race
“What would The Doyler do?” That was the question we asked here when writing with resigned sadness on 11th April about the pandemic-induced two-month postponement - from 20th June - of the Wicklow start of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020. At that time, some optimism still prevailed, and the majority of us really did hope and expect that the race would start on August 22nd, the question only was how on earth everyone would fit the new date into their beloved hyper-busy schedules.
It seemed a big quandary at the time, so we referred back to our moral compass, the great Denis Doyle of Cork. He may have died all of 19 years ago, shortly after completing his last Fastnet Race at the age of 81 with his beloved Crosshaven-built Frers 51 Moonduster. But his approach to life and sailing and business was a guiding star for all who knew him, or knew of him, and in those harsh circumstances of postponement, we reckoned he would have quietly re-prioritised his events for 2020, and Moonduster would have been there in Wicklow, ready to race on 22nd August
For in Irish sailing at national and international level, Denis Doyle’s most telling single gesture – among many actions whose moral and historical significances have come to be better appreciated with every passing year – was quietly arriving into Wicklow with Moonduster three days before the start of the second Round Ireland Race in 1982, and setting up base with his hugely supportive wife Mary in a nearby B&B in a positive indication of his recognition that the Round Ireland Race was a thoroughly good idea, indeed it was a great idea, and it was Wicklow’s own idea and character to doggedly persist at grass roots level with the concept after other grander places and organisations with vaguely similar notions had fallen by the wayside.
Although Denis was Cork city and the Port of Cork through-and-through, he had a clear perception of just how important it was for smaller places to be closely associated with special happenings. Even in all the pomp and glitter of Cowes Week, from his early visits he appreciated that behind it there was a small and not very prosperous town which was heavily reliant on income from sailing visitors in what was then a relatively short season.
Thus he made a point of ensuring that, when racing Cowes Week prior to the Fastnet or the post-Cowes Week long RORC Race in non-Fastnet years, he and his crew spent well and wisely to the greater benefit of the Cowes economy. This is something which was brought home to me a long time ago when I happened to meet Denis and Mary’s regular B&B landlady in Cowes, and she firmly stated that if there were more people like Denis and Mary Doyle and the crew of Moonduster taking part in Cowes Week, then the town would be a much better place.
This awareness of the benefits of the Doyle Seal of Approval was likewise appreciated as it developed over the years from 1982 in Wicklow. It has been said that in the final analysis in anything, the most important thing is simply to turn up, and over the years Denis Doyle and Moonduster simply turned up in an elegant act of doing good work by stealth, and the race organisation group in Wicklow who kept the round Ireland show on the road were profoundly appreciative of his support.
So in reflecting on what the Doyler would do when faced with Monday night’s unprecedented cancellation of the race in advance of its 21st staging at its 40th anniversary, those of us who were fortunate enough to know Denis Doyle know exactly how he would have reacted. He would have told Wicklow Sailing Club to retain his 2020 entry fee, and set it against his 2022 entry. For Denis Doyle was a man who could implement quick decisions while still taking the long view.
Although very much a man of action and little-known good deeds who said no more words than were necessary, he had extensive experience of all forms of sailing. When he settled on offshore racing as his central focus, it reinforced his international outlook in a way which gave him a special overview of the scene in Ireland, and he was quietly aware that the Round Ireland race is more than just a great sporting event – it is in a sense an act of worship, almost a sacrament, a peaceful acknowledgement of the shared nature of our diverse identity and the special qualities of our island home.
But now for 2020 at least, this special race is gone, cancelled, unavailable - as are most other pillar events. Indeed, in looking back at those events which have taken place, and looking forward to those which might take place, we should count ourselves lucky that there have been some relatively small sailing happenings which have managed to take place without – so far – any reported related spiking of the COVID-19 figures.
Yet Thursday’s very worrying significant national increase of the new infection figures must give us pause for thought. The experts will need more detailed analysis, but the message seems to be that when restrictions are eased beyond a certain point, or people simply flout safety requirements out of frustration and boredom, then the figures after a certain time remorselessly rise.
The more thoughtful among sailing administrators will have noted this, and while the Royal Cork YC under the calm and competent leadership of Admiral Colin Morehead has emerged with just the right level of carefully-monitored club sailing and racing to begin recovery from the enormous communal shock of having to cancel the significantly international parts of the Royal Cork Tricentenary celebrations, the programme for August is quite ambitious, with the Optimist Nationals at mid-month a major happening, and detailed health safety provisions a priority as everyone realizes that the more friendly and familiar a crowd, then the greater its hazards despite the best social distancing efforts.
Small is Safe
So whether we like it or not, the mousy little slogan SMALL IS SAFE seems to be our mantra for the time being. Last night’s (Friday) special offshore race from Kinsale round the Fastnet and back attracted 12 starters at the time of writing, and there may have been more when the start was signalled. But at the risk of seeming wimpish, it could be said that for now a dozen boats in an offshore race is just right, it’s a manageable group at race’s end in current circumstances.
And if it comes to other pop-up events coming up on the radar through August, such as a long race from Dublin Bay round the Fastnet to Cork for the RCYC At Home, then there’s certainly nothing so effective as setting an entry limit to attract participants……
The Fastnet race from Kinsale is enough to be going along with for the minute, what with the special symbolism of its turning mark, and the fact of it happening gives us an opportunity to use yet again this marvellous vid of Cian McCarthy’s new Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl being blasted along with Mark Mansfield on the helm, a boat we’ve drooled over since seeing her unveiled at MGM Boats in Dun Laoghaire way back in pre-history, which is what 6th March now feels like.
Back then, we were talking about this boat being just the job to make Irish sailing fun again. Fun is not something we’ve had much of since, and as for sailing, it has been in decidedly bite-size chunks taken from carefully-controlled portions. You can understand why some people simply can’t be bothered to commission their boats at all, claiming that sailing with so many restrictions in place, and the risk of further lockdowns imminent at any time, is just not free sailing as they know and love it, it’s just – so they say – not worth the hassle.
(Above) Dry sailing, not…..Olympian Mark Mansfield revelling in speed with Cian McCarthy’s new Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl, which is making her competitive offshore debut in the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale race
Maybe it’s simply not worth the hassle for some. But those who do make the effort have been richly rewarded with their sport, and we can be sure that Denis Doyle and Moonduster would be out and about and sailing, making the best of what’s available and permissible, and doing it without a word of complaint.
The 704 nautical mile Round Ireland was postponed in June due to COVID-19 and is now scheduled to go ahead in August.
As Afloat has previously reported, Fogerty and Glenny have been sailing together since 2018 and this will be their second joint entry to the Round Ireland Race.
Last year it was announced that mixed pairs offshore keelboat racing would be a new class at the Paris 2024 Olympics and from its inception, the pair have expressed their intention to qualify to represent Ireland in 2024.
For August 22nd's Round Ireland Race, the duo will race aboard their state of the art foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 race yacht named “Total Produce” for the circumnavigation.
The 35-foot yacht was the first IRC foiling boat in Ireland and is one of a selection of yachts shortlisted for the 2024 Olympic event.
It’s fantastic to be competing again in the Round Ireland Race after everything that has happened this year. We are delighted to have the support from Total Produce”, says Glenny.
“The Round Ireland Race is one of Ireland’s premier sailing events and like many sporting events, it has been unclear if it would be able to go ahead this year. Hopefully, the restarting of key sporting events will give confidence to community’s that we are moving towards a more normal way of life again.” Fogerty said.
Vincent Dolan, Group Marketing Mánager, of Total Produce said he wishes Conor and Susan the best of luck with race and "he will be keeping track on their progress.”
Fogerty from Howth was Afloat Sailor of the year in 2017 and Glenny is the highest-scoring female skipper in the RORC global offshore sailing series 2019. Between them, they have sailed 35 transatlantic crossings.
With just four weeks to go to the proposed re-scheduled start of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020 on August 22nd, the word is that a final decision as to whether it is going ahead – and indeed, if it is still going ahead, then in what form – will be given next Monday, July 27th.
Most of those who have the resources, experience and energy to mount a practicable Round Ireland campaign will themselves be either sailing professionals with a realistic sense of how difficult it is to put an event of this complexity together while complying with Pandemic regulations which are mainly aimed at shoreside circumstances which cover the entire population, or else they will be successful business entrepreneurs who function all the time in a challenging and changing environment.
Either way, they will be well aware of the difficulties faced by those running an event which, while it may have been first sailed forty years ago and is being staged for the 21st time this year, is in effect a one-off happening each time round, with an in-built requirement to bring a wide-ranging selection of stakeholders along in concert with the organisers to fit in with the circumstances of the time, which are difficult in coronavirus-haunted 2020.
The key organisers in 2020 - Wicklow SC Commodore Kyran O’Grady with former commodore Hal Fitzgerald as Race Director - are dealing with a situation in which they are not only facing a non-level playing field, but the angle of pitch’s inclination is changing constantly, and for good measure it feels as though the goalposts are being moved all the time as regulations as to who and from what country can and cannot visit Ireland without needing quarantine seem to acquire different interpretations, depending on which official agency you most recently consulted.
With its traditional mixture of a week-long shoreside Maritime Festival in Wicklow town in advance of the race, coupled with the need for a fleet of 50-plus boats –some of them quite large ones - to be RORC-scrutinized beforehand, there are social distancing infringements possible at every stage. All of this is allied to the extraordinary crowding of the town on start day, with its harbour area and the coast nearby packed with spectators to create a nightmare situation for infection control, even if the worst of the current outbreak can be shown to have long passed in Ireland by August 22nd.
It is of course perfectly feasible to dictate viable shoreside controls and starting arrangements which would by-pass all this. But then, the resulting event and lack of a sense of occasion ashore would be at variance with the mythology and spirit of this race. Yet most sailors would be prepared to accept this. But inevitably, no matter what way a race is run in today’s special circumstances, the potential for friction with the non-sailing people of Wicklow town is a real cause for concern.
The current reality for sailing in merging from COVID-19 is that the more run-of-the-mill, sea-oriented and non-spectator-related your event is, the more likely it is that you can resume something approaching your normal sailing programme while still being regulation-compliant.
Ordinary club racing – and the more ordinary the better – ticks all the boxes. It’s a closed world almost entire unto itself. And it’s an activity which reaches its apotheosis in the Thursday night cruiser-racing in Dublin Bay, a specific nautical-and-neighbourhood phenomenon which some day will surely merit a proper sports sociology study.
Thus this week it mustered 112 boats, which is near enough a thousand sailors. Yet despite the numbers, it was broadly regulation-compliant. But as for attracting vast crowds of closely inter-acting infective droplet-spreading spectators – forget about it. People go down Dun Laoghaire pier on a pleasant Thursday evening for walks of varying energy levels, and if the sunlit sails of yachts add to the attraction of the scene, that’s fine and dandy.
But very few would go down to actually watch yachts race, for of course, that’s something best done while actually taking part in the race yourself, as it gives it much more meaning, whereas those strolling down the pier have better things to do, such as agreeing who is to put the bins out in the morning.
At a different level of sailing organisation, the nimbleness of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association in working around the Lockdown requirements has been praised here in Afloat.ie several times, and this past week the YellowBrick tracker people piled in with their support on Twitter.
#ISORA are well & truly been back in the water with a host of races for summer 2020! We're proud to be tracking partners for their exciting list of races with #racetracking screens here: https://t.co/F6Oa16Ao7o #sailsafe #dublinbay #boats #yachtracing #CoastalSeries #IrishSailing pic.twitter.com/Qp96pMwJ2O— YB Tracking (@ybtracking) July 21, 2020
In effect in 2020, the ISORA programme is shaping up to be like virtual sailing, except that those little boaty shapes moving across the screen are real boats. It’s just that after the tracked finish, they don’t do traditional offshore-racing boaty things like heading straight for the berth nearest yacht club bar - on the contrary, they head for their compliant home berth, even if it involves sailing back across the Channel.
Admittedly ISORA has started 2020’s shortened season modestly enough with coastal races for their Irish fleet run on this side of the Channel, with an overnight Dun Laoghaire to Dun Laoghaire starting last night (Friday). But things step up on the 8th August with the Dun Laoghaire-Pwllheli Race which, if all the ducks are in a row, will lead into the Welsh IRC Championship when fleets on the other side can start to build up their points total.
The trans-national functioning of ISORA involves a useful mixture of very sharp minds together with more emollient folk who are able to get things done, and the Association’s Back to Boating Protocol – published on 10th July and mainly compiled by ISORA Hon. Sec. Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli – is an educational indication of just how determined the really keen sailing people are to get their sport back up and running, within the limits set by people who know little or nothing of the world of boats and the people who sail them. You can download the protocol below as a PDF document.
In fact, for those of us who are in sailing but perhaps have an overly relaxed attitude towards it, a look at the ISORA Protocol here is a reminder of how much has been put in place over the years to make our sport so attractive in normal times:
After the mental miasma of months of Lockdown, people are extremely keen to do the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race. So much so that, for instance, those involved with the Darren Wright (HYC) charter of the Lombard 45 Pata Negra have been actively looking at the possibility of bringing the boat to Ireland from the Solent a fortnight in advance of the race to comply with quarantine regulations, should it be necessary.
On the other hand, boats with “alien” status may find their needs met by going to Holyhead or Pwllheli for pre-race prep, and then simply sailing across channel to the start without going anywhere near an Irish quayside or pontoon berth.
In all, fifty boats are currently entered, all of them good ones, and we’ve shown some in the photo line-up. Particularly interesting in the list is one of the most recent, Christopher Opielok’s Class 40 RockallC40 from Germany, which is a Class 40 sister-ship of Corum from France, a star in the 2018 race with the noted talent of Ian Lipinsky on board. The new boat is named Rockall in line with a family tradition, Rockall III having been the former Rosy, the Corby 36 which was the successful swansong boat of the late Roy Dickson in his long and distinguished offshore racing career.
In many parts of Europe, and particularly in France, there are Class 40 boats just itching for a major race, and they hope the Round Ireland will be it. But if it is not to be, then it’s perfectly possible that the Class 40 boats will give themselves a round Ireland race. But it will start and finish in France, and Ireland will be no more than the marks of the course.
Let us hope it doesn’t come to that. On the plus side, we note that as sailing gradually resumes, there has been no report whatsoever of one of the new COVID clusters being associated with some sailing event. On the contrary, the sailing community are generally a healthy bunch who have accepted the severe limitations on their sport in the interests of protecting much more vulnerable cohorts of society.
As they have been prepared to do that, they will, in turn, be prepared to sail a Round Ireland Race even if starts with a very diminished sense of occasion, for as the race progresses, the very grandeur of the course will give the event its proper status.
It is likely that over the weekend, the race organisers will continue widespread consultations, and those consulted will, of course, include the entrants. Of all people, they will most readily understand the quandary that Wicklow Sailing Club and their sponsors and fellow stakeholders face. Nevertheless, the feeling in the sailing community, particularly as they increasingly enjoy the health benefits which the gradual resumption of sailing is bringing, is that a Round Ireland Race in the age of YellowBrick is very do-able, even within strict shoreside limits.
And with sixteen high-powered overseas entries to balance the thirty-six from the home fleet, the high regard in which the Round Ireland is held internationally is clearly evident.
Looking ahead to next month's Round Ireland Yacht Race, last weekend's French Drheam Cup that proved so successful for Tom Dolan in the Figaro Duo class also provided offshore pundits with plenty of results to pore over.
The Cherbourg fixture, the first major French sailing event of this COVID hit season, was a winning one for Ian Lipinski, a host nation competitor who also has ties to Ireland as a 2018 Round Ireland Race competitor in the Class 40, Corum.
The Drheam Cup's two-handed IRC class has dished up some results that may provide some insights for next month's Irish 700-miler.
For example, the top five boats in the 400-mile Drheam two-hander class all crossed the finish line within seven minutes of each other in the 26-boat fleet.
Three of the Top five were JPK designed boats and two were the New Sunfast 3300 designs, the same as Cian McCarthy's Cinnamon Girl from Kinsale, that will be racing fully crewed in Round Ireland and was captured at full speed below and here three weeks ago.
The Doublehanded IRC class overall winner was Xpresso a JPK 10.30, which was just 17 seconds ahead on corrected from the Sunfast 3300 Gentoo. This will be a feather in the cap of Jeanneau's designers, who came to the Royal Irish Yacht Club for the unveiling of the Cinnamon Girl, as Afloat's WM Nixon's described here.
Another Sunfast 3300, Leyton was third, a JPK 10.30 was fourth, and in Fifth was a JPK 10.80, Raging Bee, (similar to Irish yacht of the year, Rockabill VI).
When the then-new Lombard 45 Pata Negra was racing with a Dutch charter crew in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race and carving her way through the fleet with style and winning speed, Howth YC’s offshore team manager Kieran Jameson was closely monitoring her progress.
By the time she finished at Plymouth well in the frame, he had Pata Negra chartered for the up-coming February 2018 RORC Caribbean 600, with it all neatly zipped-up for serial international offshore campaigners Michael and Darren Wright of HYC. It was a shrewd move – by sealing his deal before the boat finished, it emerged that Jameson had got in ahead of nine other keen bidders.
In that Caribbean 600, Pata Negra with the Howth crew had a scorcher of a race, and despite multiple Code Zero damages in one of the toughest race yet sailed around the island course, she placed third in class. The Wright/Jameson team then took a break from the Northern hemisphere to campaign a First 40 with success in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race 2019, which was Howth all the way with Gordon Maguire winning overall in Ichi Ban. But now with life returning to something vaguely like normal for the time being (or as normal as it can be with coronavirus still not completely nailed), a long-held notion that Pata Negra would make an interesting challenger for the Round Ireland has re-emerged, and Pata Negra (Darren Wright, Howth YC) is entry No 51 in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2020 from Wicklow on August 22nd.
Read all the latest news on the build-up to next month's race in Afloat's dedicated SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race section
Having come so close to overall victory in 2018, Chris Power Smith revealed the depth of his ambition when the Royal St. George skipper of J122 'Aurelia' became the Round Ireland Yacht Race's 50th entry at the weekend.
Power Smith who posted third overall in the 2018 race and is a consistent top ISORA performer will be back on the Wicklow line on August 22nd for the 700-mile race and will be a force to be reckoned with in the international fleet.
Aurelia, a name that translates from Latin as 'The Golden One', is the only J122 in the 2020 Round Ireland fleet so far.
A keen J Boat exponent, Aurelia is Power Smith's sixth J Boat. The self-taught Dun Laoghaire Harbour skipper has also previously raced a J24 and then through, a J92, J92S, two J109s, Jetstream and the very successfully campaigned Rollercoaster in which we won two Dublin Bay Championships. Hew spoke previously about his sailing to Afloat here.
Two more international entries into August's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race brings the fleet total to just under 50 registered entries so far.
Franz Bouvet's Yoda from Caen, France and Greg Leonard's Mach 40.3, Kite brings to four the number of Class 40s now racing Round Ireland this summer.
Entered last week was the Lorient based Mach 40.3, Taras Boulba skippered by Charles-Louis Mourruau. The first Class 40 in was Antoine Magre's Palanad 3 from La Trinite sur Mer back in early June.
Class 40 is a monohull sailboat primarily used for short-handed offshore and coastal racing and popular in France.
With six weeks still to go, the first gun at Wicklow Harbour, preparations are well underway for the 700-mile classic and it is unlikely the Class 40s will be the last of the international entries with half a dozen Welsh yachts from the ISORA fleet still expected to enter.
Round Ireland preparations get underway in earnest off Dun Laoghaire this Saturday as ISORA gets its first coastal race of the Viking Marine mini-series underway, an important shakedown on the way to August's biennial classic.
Another international entry for August's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race adds extra spice to a growing French Class 40 division with the arrival of the Lorient based Mach 40.3, Taras Boulba skippered by Charles-Louis Mourruau.
Overall, it brings entries to the Irish classic to 47, just days before the early bird entry expires and seven weeks before the race start on August 22nd.
Mourruau's Taras Boulba is the second Class 40 boat to enter joining Antoine Magre's Palanad 3 from La Trinite sur Mer.
Class 40 is a monohull sailboat primarily used for short-handed offshore and coastal racing and popular in France.
The French interest is a satisfying return on investment by Race organiser Kyran O'Grady whose pioneering efforts at the Paris Boat Show last December now bear fruit with a bumper international Round Ireland fleet still in prospect.
It is understood the cancellation of Class 40s Transatlantic race due to COVID-19 in May has also led the French sailors to look further afield for racing this year.
Meanwhile, as Afloat previously reported, the Welsh ISORA fleet can still swell Round Ireland Yacht Race entry further with up to six or seven Pwllheli boats yet to enter.
A sixth Jeanneau Sunfast 3600, and the second Irish one, is entered for August's Round Ireland Yacht Race as Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Yoyo (Brendan Coghlan from the Royal St George Yacht Club) takes on the 700-mile challenge too.
As regular Afloat readers will know, the Sunfast 3600 is proving a popular marque for this year's 21st edition of the race, both in double-handed and fully crewed set-ups.
Four Hamble based 3600s are registered now with, as Afloat reported in May, Gavin Howe's Tigris, Donal Ryan's Team Fujitsu, Deb Fish's regular Bellino as well as Black Sheep (T Middleton) all slated for the Wicklow Head start.
They'll be joined by local John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie. The National Yacht Club Sunfast 3600 took third overall on IRC in last year's Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race, so the offshore hardened crew will be a force to be reckoned with in August.
Already buoyant entries for August's Round Ireland Yacht Race can expect a further boost when a potent Welsh IRC fleet comes out of lockdown.
From the 2018 Race, seven Welsh boats finished in the top 20 but none of these top performers are yet on the 45-boat entry list at Wicklow Race Headquarters.
The reason, according to leading Welsh offshore skipper Stephen Tudor, who is ISORA's Honorary Secretary, is that Welsh sailing is still in lockdown with a five-mile travelling restriction in place.
"Wales is a few weeks behind the relaxation time-table in Ireland and as a result boats are still on the hard and all clubs and sailing centres remain closed, although some are allowing limited use this week", Tudor told Afloat.
It's a situation that means boats such as former ISORA Champion Mojito as well as Jackknife, Jaydreamer and Jetstream could all be on the start line on August 22nd, contributing significantly to making the predicted 60-boat fleet for the 21st edition of the race a reality.
Last Friday's announcement by the Welsh First Minister provides the sailors with a clearer view of when they can go sailing again. By following the guidance of our Governing Body ‘RYA Cymru Wales’ Welsh ISORA boats are hopeful they will be ready for the ISORA Re-boot programme with the first Offshore Race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on 1st August, if not earlier for the Irish Coastal Night Race on 24th July, Tudor, of Pwllheli Sailing Club, told Afloat.
"Round Ireland is in the sights of many boats but competitors need time on the water to thoroughly test themselves and their boats before committing to this classic challenge", Tudor said before concluding "I am sure that there will be a strong Welsh /UK presence in the race".