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Who Will Be the 2021 ICRA Champions at the National Yacht Club? (Updated)

2nd September 2021
The national cruiser racing fleet returns to Dublin Bay this weekend for the 80-boat ICRA Championships
The national cruiser racing fleet returns to Dublin Bay this weekend for the 80-boat ICRA Championships Credit: Afloat

The National Yacht Club hosts the ICRA Nationals on Friday. 80 boats are entered. As in previous years, Afloat sticks its neck out to predict the top boats and winners in each division at Dun Laoghaire

In a typical year, you would have a big event such as Cork Week or Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to gauge which boats are on form before predicting who will rise to the podium at a late-season ICRA Nationals. With VDLR cancelled in 2021, we will have to rely on events such as Sovereigns Cup, Calves Week, D2D, ISORA and DBSC to predict the likely winners.

Wind forecasting –this will play a big part this year. With only a day to go, the weather pattern indicates generally light to medium airs. Most wind models call light airs on Friday, a little more on Saturday, maybe around 10 knots. Sunday is generally light, though one wind model is showing 15 knots for the last day.

Class 0 will have only one race —a long coastal on Friday and one race Sunday with three short races on Saturday. All the other classes will have two races on Friday and Sunday and three on Saturday.

Clearly, with light wind predominating for the first two days, it must be expected that the winners will come from boats that do well in these conditions.

Class 0 

An excellent turnout of 13 yachts is expected from Northern Ireland, Cork and Dublin.

As Afloat previously reported, from Northern Ireland comes Shaun Douglas's Beneteau 40.7, Gamechanger and Jay Colville's First 40, Forty Licks. These boats perform well and are well crewed but generally prefer medium conditions to let them use their waterline lengths. We are not sure they will get this breeze on Friday and Saturday.

Paul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI - likes the breezePaul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI - likes the breeze Photo: Afloat

If the conditions are medium to fresh, you would have to include Paul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 as one of the likely winners. However, as was seen at Calves Week this year, she struggles in light airs, and this weekend's forecast will not be to their liking. She will stay in the hunt, though.

Sovereigns Cup winner, the new Grand Soleil 44, Samatom, owned by Bob Rendell from Howth, showed great form in both light and windy conditions in Kinsale to take the series from some good entries. However, her talents at that event included Olympian Mark Mansfield, who for ICRA's will be aboard another Class 0 entry, Frank Whelan's Greystones debutante J/122 Kaya.

The three Sunfast 3600s, Yoyo, Hot Cookie and Searcher, will be competing, but the lighter airs will not be to their liking.

This leaves the two likely favourites in these conditions, Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork and Frank Whelan's J/122 Kaya. This could be an exciting battle with Mansfield calling the shots on Kaya and Maurice (Prof) O'Connell doing the same on Jump Juice. Should it stay light, there will be nothing in it.

If the breeze comes up a bit, Kaya will still be strong, so we will call for Kaya to take it from Jump, but not by much.

Class 1

With 26 entries, this will be the biggest class numerically. Nearly all from the Dublin area apart from the two well sailed J/109's From Cork (Brian Jones' Jelly Baby and Finbarr O'Regan's Artful Dodger) and the Ker 32, Hijacker from Strangford lough, owned by Stuart Cranston. Hijacker will be the top-rated boat in its class, but if form is anything to go by, her performance at a light airs Scottish Series in 2021 will not bode well for this event.

Form boat - J/99 Snapshot (Mike and Ritchie Evans)Form boat - J/99 Snapshot (Mike and Ritchie Evans) Photo: Bob Bateman

Class 1 will likely be dominated by the many J/109s competing plus the new J/99 Snapshot, owned by Richard and Michael Evans from Howth. Snapshot won a competitive Sovereigns Cup Class 1 and is competitive in light and medium conditions. She will have Shane Hughes aboard, so expect her to make the podium.

The conditions will favour the J 109's, and there are 14 entered. Trying to pick who will emerge will be difficult. In 2021, Finbarr O'Regan's Artful Dodger took the runner up spot at the Sovereign's Cup, but that is after John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrageous had two OCS results. Outrageous, if she stays clean, will be in the mix. From Dublin Bay, you have the trio of John Maybury's Joker 2 (a four times ICRA winner), Tim Goodbody's White Mischief and Brian and John Hall's Something Else. All three regularly perform well. From Howth, Outrageous (tactician Aoife Hopkins) will be joined by Pat Kelly's Storm (tactician Robert O'Leary), who favours a breeze typically, but will nevertheless be there or thereabouts. Depending on what talent these J109's have onboard will determine who will likely come to the top.

We will go for Outrajeous and Snapshot, taking the top two slots, with Snapshot taking it by a hair.

Class 2

14 entries in this class will undoubtedly be dominated by the Half Tonners who excel in lighter airs. If there is a breeze for the three days, you could see Anthony Gore Grimes Dux come into the picture, but it does not look like this breeze will be present. Likewise, the J 97's Lambay Rules and Windjammer.

Not to be ruled out - David Kelly's Half Tonner King OneNot to be ruled out - David Kelly's Half Tonner King One Photo: Bob Bateman

The battle of the Half Tonners will be intriguing. The three form Half tonners will unfortunately not include David Cullen's Checkmate XV. Instead Cullen will sail with Nigel Biggs on Checkmate XVIII. Darran Wright's Mata will include Howth's Ross McDonald and Olympian Killian Collins, who will no doubt make a difference. The form would say that Nigel Biggs always performs well on the big stage. We will call for Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII to take it from Mata and Jonny Swann sailing David Kelly's King One instead of his regular Harmony coming in third.

Class 3

Paul Coulton's Cri CriPaul Coulton's Cri Cri Photo: Afloat

Like Class 2, In lighter airs, the Quarter Tonners will like to rule the roost here. Paul Coulton's Cri Cri and Barry Cunningham and Jonathan Skeritt's Quest, both from the Royal Irish, will likely be the front runners. Of these two, Quest has the better record in the past and loves the light air.  Northern Ireland's Snoopy is still something of an unknown quantity here.

Were there to be breeze develop expect the J 24's to come into the picture, and of these, the wily Flor O'Driscoll could be one to watch.

Quest to win from Cri Cri and then a J24, possibly Flor.

Download the full entry list for the ICRA Championships here and download the Sailing Instructions below

This article was updated at 2 pm on Sept 2 to include additional crew and entry details


Published in ICRA, Dublin Bay Team

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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)


ICRA Nationals 2021

The date for the 2021 edition of the ICRA National Championships is 3-5 September at the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

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