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Five Northern Ireland Yachts for ICRA Championships on Dublin Bay

1st September 2021
Stuart Cranston's Ker 32 from Strangford Lough YC will compete in Class One
Stuart Cranston's Ker 32 from Strangford Lough YC will compete in Class One Credit: via Facebook

Five boats based at Northern clubs are making their way to Dun Laoghaire Harbour for this weekend's three-day ICRA championships hosted by the National Yacht Club, which has attracted 77 entries. Two of the northern contingent are by the same French designer, Le Basculer and Snoopy, both by Joubert Nievelt.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the abandonment of much of the 2020 and early 2021 fixtures but measures have now been relaxed enough to permit safe competition afloat though shoreside social activities continue to be severely curtailed for this season.

The Quarter Tonner Snoopy owned by Joanne Hall and Martin Mahon is entered in the 13-boat Class 3 under Courtown Sailing Club in Wexford but they have become recent members of Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough and often race out of that club. Martin campaigned his previous boat, the First Class 8, Seeyoulater and clocked up a couple of wins in Cork Week.

With Snoopy recently, Calves Week served as a good dust-off and a second in Greystones Regatta last weekend pleased the crew. "I'm looking forward to some good close racing in Dun Laoghaire. Graeme Noonan's Formula 28 Flash and the ¼ tonner Quest as well a Flor O'Driscoll's J24 Hard on Port will need watching!".

Quarter Tonner Snoopy will compete in Class 3Quarter Tonner Snoopy will compete in Class 3

Jay Colville's First 40 from Royal Ulster and Shaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7 will continue their local rivalry in Class 0. Forty Licks was pipped into second overall in Class 0 in the 2019 event on a tie break by Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Jay Colville said he is looking forward to racing out of Dun Laoghaire.

Jay Colville's First 40 'Forty Licks' from Royal UlsterJay Colville's First 40 'Forty Licks' from Royal Ulster

From one of the smallest clubs in the North, Cockle Island BC on the North County Down coast is Shaun Douglas's Game Changer. In recent rivalry, the Beneteau 40.7 has managed to keep Forty Licks at bay but the 13 boat Zero fleet will present a different challenge.

Shaun Douglas's Game ChangerShaun Douglas's Game Changer

Strangford Lough clubs are represented in Class 1 by Stuart Cranston's Ker 32 from Strangford Lough YC which is expected to present a fresh challenge; the other is the French-designed Archambault A 35 Le Basculer, owned by Mike Spence from the same designer as Snoopy the Quarter Tonner in Class 3 – Joubert Nievelt.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) Information

The creation of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) began in a very low key way in the autumn of 2002 with an exploratory meeting between Denis Kiely, Jim Donegan and Fintan Cairns in the Granville Hotel in Waterford, and the first conference was held in February 2003 in Kilkenny.

While numbers of cruiser-racers were large, their specific locations were widespread, but there was simply no denying the numerical strength and majority power of the Cork-Dublin axis. To get what was then a very novel concept up and running, this strength of numbers had to be acknowledged, and the first National Championship in 2003 reflected this, as it was staged in Howth.

ICRA was run by a dedicated group of volunteers each of whom brought their special talents to the organisation. Jim Donegan, the elder statesman, was so much more interested in the wellbeing of the new organisation than in personal advancement that he insisted on Fintan Cairns being the first Commodore, while the distinguished Cork sailor was more than content to be Vice Commodore.

ICRA National Championships

Initially, the highlight of the ICRA season was the National Championship, which is essentially self-limiting, as it is restricted to boats which have or would be eligible for an IRC Rating. Boats not actually rated but eligible were catered for by ICRA’s ace number-cruncher Denis Kiely, who took Ireland’s long-established native rating system ECHO to new heights, thereby providing for extra entries which brought fleet numbers at most annual national championships to comfortably above the hundred mark, particularly at the height of the boom years. 

ICRA Boat of the Year (Winners 2004-2019)