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The much-anticipated arrival of two of the world's top Cape 31s for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay this Thursday is underway.

Shotgunn (Michael Wilson) and Tokoloshe (Mike Bartholomew) from the Isle of Man and South Africa are being unloaded by crane this morning on the town's Carlisle Pier.

The Irish National Championship is being run in conjunction with the VDLR.  Racing will run from Thursday to Sunday, with the Royal Irish Yacht Club hosting the fleet of six.

Confirmed entries include the following boats. Tokoloshe (RSA), Shotgun (Isle of Man), Katabatic (GBR), Antix (IRL), Aja (IRL) and Valkyrie (IRL).

Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe is craned off its road trailer at Dun Laoghaire Carlisle Pier ahead of this week's Cape 31 National Championships run as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire RegattaMike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe is craned off its road trailer at Dun Laoghaire's Carlisle Pier ahead of this week's Cape 31 National Championships run as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from Thursday

As Afloat reported previously, the fleet will have a mix of professional and amateur sailors, with several Olympian and World Champions declared as crew. The only fully Corinthian crews will be Aja and Valkyrie from Howth Yacht Club.

Tokoloshe afloat on Dublin Bay as her mast is stepped at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Michael ChesterTokoloshe afloat on Dublin Bay as her mast is stepped at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Michael Chester

All teams have been competing in the Solent this season with fleets of more than 25 boats on the start lines. While starts are expected to be less crowded, there will be no lack of close encounters on the racetrack in Dublin Bay as punchy winds are expected to see the fleet achieve speeds over 20 knots.

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Anthony O’Leary’s Antix will seek to defend his Cape 31 national title when the championship is run in conjunction with the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta this week on Dublin Bay.

Racing will run from Thursday to Sunday, but competitors have already begun to arrive at the Royal Irish Yacht Club, which is hosting the fleet of six.

Confirmed entries include the following boats. Tokoloshe (RSA), Shotgun (Isle of Man), Katabatic (GBR), Antix (IRL), Aja (IRL) and Valkyrie (IRL).

Last year, Royal Cork Yacht Club hosted the event in conjunction with Cork Week Regatta, with more travelling from the UK this year to compete in Dublin Bay.

The fleet will have a mix of professional and amateur sailors, with several Olympian and World Champions declared as crew. The only fully Corinthian crews will be Aja and Valkyrie from Howth Yacht Club.

All teams have been competing in the Solent this season with fleets of more than 25 boats on the start lines. While starts are expected to be less crowded, there will be no lack of close encounters on the racetrack in Dublin Bay as punchy winds are expected to see the fleet achieve speeds over 20 knots.

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Winning four out of seven races at the Cape 31 UK National Championships, Tony Dickin's Jubilee crew lifted the trophy in style at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club on the Solent.

Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary in Antix won the top Corinthian prize.

It was a completely different podium from the Cape 31s Round One at the RORC’s Vice Admiral’s Cup three weeks ago.

Tony Dickin's Jubilee crew celebrate the Cape 31 Uk National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman(Above and below) Tony Dickin's Jubilee crew celebrate the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman

Tony Dickin's Jubilee crew celebrate the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman

Despite a poor opening result of 13th place in race one on Christchurch Bay, the Jubilee crew ended up on 16 points overall, giving them a two-point margin over Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe in second, with third-placed Flying Jenny (Sandy Askew) on 30 points in the 26-boat fleet.

 Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary in Antix won the top Corinthian at the Cape 31 UK Nationals prize Photo: Ian RomanRoyal Cork's Anthony O'Leary in Antix won the top Corinthian at the Cape 31 UK Nationals prize Photo: Ian Roman

Royal Irish's Niall Dowling is Top Irish

As Afloat reported, five Irish boats competed with Royal Irish's Arabella (Niall Dowling) in tenth place in the biggest outing yet for the high-performance keelboat class. O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork finished 12th. Dan O'Grady's Howth Yacht Club crew on Aja were 14th. O'Grady's clubmates Darren Wright in Adrenaline were 24th, and David Maguire's all-amateur lineup on Valkyrie, 25th.

Racing on day one of the Cape 31 Nationals at Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian RomanRacing on day one of the Cape 31 Nationals at Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman

The burgeoning fleet dealt with conditions throughout the wind range in the three-day event under Race Officer Peter Saxton, opening on Friday in a perfect 15 to 20 knots before lighter races on Saturday and Sunday.

Day One brought amazing conditions in Christchurch Bay, and the teams were excited to get out there. Three action-packed races with gusts up to 22 knots made for a perfect playground for the Cape 31s. The first race of the event was taken by Nick Phillip’s Chaotic, with the next two being picked up by Jubilee. The day was won by the Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe with a fairly consistent 6, 3, 3.

Mike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe were second overall at the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian RomanMike Bartholomew's Tokoloshe were second overall at the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman

There were some top results for Corinthian teams Motions and Bodfather on Day One. Round 1 winners Shotgunn started the day off well with a third, but a black flag in race three made the start of their regatta difficult.

Day Two was as challenging for the Race Team as it was for the competitors. There were two races, one with a moderate breeze from the southeast and one in light conditions from the south. Jubilee continued their streak with a bullet in the first race, and Gelert took the second bullet of the day. Sandy Askew’s Flying Jenny continued their consistent performance to hold onto third place going into the final day. Lance Adams' second place in the final race wasn’t enough to get him onto the podium but he was pleased to take fourth in a fleet of this size. Other notable performances came from Guy Gillon’s Khumbu, who podiumed in race five after leading race four for three legs of the race.

Flying Jenny (Sandy Askew) were third overall at the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian RomanFlying Jenny (Sandy Askew) were third overall at the Cape 31 UK National Championships win at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club Photo: Ian Roman

It all came down to the last race for the regatta title. Jubilee were 8 points clear but needed a good race to seal the deal. With Tokoloshe taking their first bullet of the season in the last race, Jubilee sealed the National Championship by two points. Tony Dickin, owner of Jubilee, said, “Very nerve-wracking last race, Tokoloshe had a flyer leaving us to make sure we finished within 8 points of them.

We were worried off the line but it came good for us, and we got into the top 8/9 at the top mark.” Jubilee picked up the top prizes, including the Hamble Yacht Services Trophy, a painting commissioned by the Class by Sarah Hornby. Second place was claimed by Tokoloshe and third Sandy Askew's Flying Jenny.

The Corinthian prize came down to the last race, with Anthony O’Leary’s Antix coming out on top, followed by David Cummin’s Flurg and Dan O’Grady’s Aja in second and third place, respectively, with just 6 points between first and third.

The top travelling boat award was given to Christian Schwoerer’s La Pericolosa. The team from Italy and Germany put on an impressive performance considering it was the first time racing their new boat. 

Results here

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The UK Cape 31 National Championship at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club is set to begin on Friday, featuring the largest fleet to date. 

The Royal Lymington team is hosting the class for the first time, and with 26 teams on the starting line, the event promises three days of exhilarating racing.

The entry list includes the 25 teams that participated in the RORC Vice Admirals Cup in May, along with a new boat from Germany, La Pericolosa.

The five Irish boats competing are: 

  • Niall Dowling's Arabella from the Royal Irish with a mix of amateur and three pro crew: Victoria Akhurst, Poppy Daniel, Tom Dawson (Pro), Anthony Haines (Pro), Randal Jackson, Sam Pearson and Mark Lees (Pro).
  • Dan O'Grady's Aja from Howth with an all-amateur crew of Jon O'Dowd, Ross McDonald, Dylan Gannon, Rory O'Sullivan, Robbie English and Paddy Good.
  • Anthony O'Leary's Antix, the Irish champion with an amateur crew and one pro, Steven Milne, plus Cliodhna Connolly, Ben Field, Tommy Murphy, David Kelly and Derek Moynan.
  • Darren Wright's Adrenaline sailing with two pros in his Howth crew:  Michael Wright, Shane Hughes (Pro), Ewan O'Keeffe, Darren Wright, Sam O’Byrne, Chris Draper (Pro), and Dave Bailey.
  • David Maguire's all amateur line up on Valkyrie is: David Doherty, Gary Cullen, Johnny Durcan, Colin Kavanagh, Graham Curran, and Simon Rattigan

The upcoming weekend poses a real challenge for the Cape 31 teams and the Race Management, as mixed weather conditions are expected, and there's the option of racing in two race areas, the Solent and Christchurch Bay.

26 Cape 31 teams will be on the starting line at the UK Nationals at Royal Lymington26 Cape 31 teams will be on the starting line at the UK Nationals at Royal Lymington Photo: James Tomlinson

The National Championship dinner will be hosted at the Royal Lymington, featuring live music and a magician for entertainment. Additionally, live music will be performed at the club on Saturday from 2030. The prize-giving ceremony will conclude the weekend, followed by a Royal Lymington Carvery.

Heading into the event, the favourites are Round 1 winners Michael Wilson's Shotgunn as well as runners-up Nick Phillips' Chaotic, and third James Howells' Gelert. Gelert being the team to watch after an impressive performance in Round 1, winning three out of six races.

The trophy, generously donated by HYS, is awarded to the top high-performance class in the Solent for the year. Previous winners include Johnny Cooper’s FANATIC and Russell Peter's Squirt. The trophy also bears the names of other renowned sailors, such as Niklas Zenstrom's Ran. In addition to the trophy, prizes will be given to the top travelling boat. Seven teams are competing for this prize, including four Irish, one Dutch, one German, and one American team. Finally, there will be a prize for the top Corinthian team, with six teams eligible for this award. Eight teams are eligible for the top Corinthian team, making it another exciting aspect to watch out for!

Racing will commence at 1100 on Friday, June 9th, following a North Sails training day on Thursday to help the teams prepare and get up to speed.

Race Info, Entrants and Results will be available here

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Following a successful outing for Irish Cape 31 interests at the Vice Admiral's Cup on the Solent last weekend, there is confirmation this week that the 2023 Irish National Championships will be raced at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR) this July.

As Afloat reported earlier this month, this is a change from the original programme, which first saw the eight-boat Cape fleet scheduled to race for National honours a week after the VDLR.

Cape 31 action comes to Dublin Bay this July when the new high speed sportsboat fleet races for Irish honours as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: James TomlinsonCape 31 action comes to Dublin Bay this July when the new high speed sportsboat fleet races for Irish honours as part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: James Tomlinson

The news comes as the defending Irish champion took fifth overall and top Corinthian boat at the class's-biggest-ever turnout of 25 boats on the Solent last weekend. 

At least half that number is expected to race on Dublin Bay from July 6. Currently, five are entered. See the current VDLR entries here

Current Cape 31 entries for VDLR 2023 include Irish champion Antix from Royal Cork Yacht Club Current Cape 31 entries for VDLR 2023 include Irish champion Antix from Royal Cork Yacht Club 

Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork, who won the inaugural Cape nationals in 2022 (that raced as part of Cork Week Regatta), has entered the big Dublin Bay biennial that received its official launch last week.

The Vice-Admiral's Cup winner, Michael Wilson, skipper of Shotgunn, who hails from the Isle of Man, is also entered in the VDLR.

Wilson has an extraordinary crew racing Shotgunn: Ben Batchelor, Mike Wilson, Stu Bithell, Dave Chapman, Phil Hardisty, Simon Potts, and Peter Greenhalgh. Wilson comes from a dinghy racing background, including Flying Fifteens, 505s and National 18s.

Meanwhile, the only Dun Laoghaire Cape 31 'Blast' has come up for sale, as Afloat reports here.

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Irish Cape 31 champion Anthony O'Leary finished fifth overall – and top Irish entry – at the weekend's six-race Vice-Admiral's Cup on the Solent.

As Afloat reported earlier, it was the biggest-ever gathering of the new sportsboat class with a 25-boat fleet that included five Irish boats. 

Royal Irish skipper Niall Dowling was the overnight leader after four races, but a 16.0 and (23.0) score on Sunday dropped him to eighth overall.

Consistent sailing from O'Leary's Royal Cork crew saw them in the mix for the podium on Saturday evening in fourth place and but for a final race 18th; the result may well have been higher than the highly prized top five overall.  O’Leary shared the driving with son Robert with Nicholas O’Leary on the mainsheet.

O'Leary also claimed the Corinthian prize. David Cummin's Flurg and Charlie Whelan's The Bodfather secured second and third positions, respectively, on the Corinthian leaderboard.

Without winning a race, the overall winners, Michael Wilson's Shotgunn crew, representing the Isle of Man, produced a consistent performance (6,4,4,2,2,3); only once were they out of the top five, with a sixth in the first race. 

Wilson has an extraordinary crew racing Shotgunn: Ben Batchelor, Mike Wilson, Stu Bithell, Dave Chapman, Phil Hardisty, Simon Potts, and Peter Greenhalgh. Such was the level of competition, Shotgunn did not win a single race, but after discard, their lowest score was fourth. Wilson comes from a dinghy racing background, including Flying Fifteens, 505s and National 18s.

Despite a challenging start to the weekend with inclement weather on Friday resulting in no completed races, the Solent provided an exhilarating playground for the Cape 31 fleet over the next two days. With shifty, puffy, and demanding conditions, the teams faced gusts of up to 20 knots and lulls as low as 9/10 knots, leading to numerous position changes and opportunities for thrilling comebacks.

The Class also had sunshine for the Mount Gay Launch Party with DJ Mark Covell on the decks. There was plenty of rum and debriefing from the day at the Apres Sail-style party at Hamble Yacht Services.

Over the course of the three-day event, PRO Paul Jackson successfully initiated six races, and the fleet witnessed four different winners. James Howell's Gelert secured the first race of the year and went on to claim two more victories during the weekend. The remaining three race wins were clinched by Niall Dowling's Arabella, Tony Dickin's Jubilee, and Lennard van Oeveren's Fast Motions.

Another impressive performance came from one of the fleet's newest teams, Nick Phillips Chaotic; after easing themselves in they were on the podium for 4 out of 6 races. This secured them second place overall. Completing the overall podium was James Howell's Gelert, boasting an outstanding trio of race victories, although their tale might have taken a different turn had they not been U Flagged in the second race.

However, it was Michael Wilson's Shotgunn that truly stole the show with an outstanding performance. Wilson and his team demonstrated the significance of consistency in a fleet of this size. Having taken delivery of their boat in early 2022, the Shotgunn crew has been in the mix since winning Round 1 of the 2022 Race Circuit.

Reflecting on their success, Wilson shared,

"Winning in this fleet is made much easier by the team you have around you. When the team positions you well, it makes a massive difference. We've invested time in training, and with this being our second season in the boat, those factors have definitely played a role. Winning races is not the sole focus; it's about putting together a series of events, and that's precisely what we set out to do."

Stuart Bithell, Olympic Gold Medalist and a key crew member on Shotgunn, added, "The level of competition out there is exceptional. Despite a few challenging starts, credit goes to our tactician David Chapman, who skillfully navigated us out of difficult situations and ensured we rounded the windward mark in a strong position. Michael's accurate calculations propelled us forward, and we never looked back."

The thrilling start to the season has left everyone eagerly anticipating the upcoming Nationals, scheduled to take place from June 8th to 11th at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. With the addition of several more boats to the fleet, the competition promises to be even more intense.

The results are here.

Cape 31 Vice Admiral's Cup 2023 Photo Gallery 

Photos by Paul Wyeth, James Tomlinson and the class association

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Three different teams scored victories on Saturday in the 25-strong Cape 31 Class at the RORC's Vice Admiral's Cup on the Solent.

James Howells’ Gelert took Race 1, Roger Bowden’s Nifty ran away with it in Race 2, and Niall Dowling’s Arabella won Race 3.

After three races, Niall Dowling’s Arabella is leading, scoring a consistent 5-7-1. Mike Bartholomew’s Tokoloshe scored a 3-3-9 and is second by virtue of countback from Michael Wilson’s Shotgunn, which scored 6-5-4. Anthony O’Leary’s Antix is definitely in the mix, two points off the podium.

RORC member Niall Dowling hails from Ireland and is also a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club. “I knew would have a good last race but had no idea that we were leading after three races; I haven’t been allowed to look at anything but my telltales all day!” smiled Arabella’s Niall Dowling. “Consistency was a real key today, the Tokoloshe guys sail the boat incredibly well, but to be honest, our lead is not down to me; it’s the great crew on Arabella. I hope we are not one-day wonders because this is great sailing!”

After the biggest fleet of Cape 31s to ever make a start line, Niall Dowling gave his opinion about what matters in the Cape 31 Class. “Having 25 Capes out is amazing, but what is even more impressive is that nobody is being destructive,” continued Dowling. “The Class have managed to grow the fleet well and keep the good atmosphere. Maintaining the class spirit, where everyone is out to have a good time, is key; if we can continue to do that, then great. On the course today, with the wind from the north, it was shifty, so we all had ups and downs, but I think everyone had great sailing and returned to the dock delighted.”

Four boats from Ireland have made the journey to the Solent, and the Irish champion, O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork, has had a consistent score of 7.0, 5.0, 3.0 to date.

Anthony O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork (red boat), is fourth with a 7.0, 5.0, 3.0 score in the Cape 31 Class at the RORC's Vice Admiral's Cup Photo: Rick TomlinsonAnthony O'Leary's Antix from Royal Cork (red boat), is fourth with a 7.0, 5.0, 3.0 score in the Cape 31 Class at the RORC's Vice Admiral's Cup Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Howth Yacht Club's Dan O'Grady's Aja is lying mid-fleet in 13th. David Maguire's Valkyrie is 20th, and Darren Wright's Adrenaline is 22nd.

Racing continues on the Solent today.

The results are here.

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Four Irish Cape 31s will help to create the biggest ever Cape 31of 25 when the superfast sportsboat fleet gathers for this weekend's RORC Vice Admirals Cup on the Solent.

Irish champion Anthony O'Leary from Royal Cork leads Irish hopes with a threesome from Howth Yacht Club making up the Irish challenge. North Dublin's Dan O'Grady's Aja, David Maguire's Valkyrie and Darren Wright's Adrenaline will all be in action.

The class are days away from Round 1 of the Cape 31 Race Circuit at the 2023 Royal Ocean Racing Club Vice Admirals Cup. The Solent-based, inshore regatta (primarily for one-design classes) combines five classes for three days of intense, close racing across two courses. The Cape 31s have quickly become the most significant class at the event.

The 2022 Cape 31 Class National Championships featured a 21 boat fleet Photo: Rick TomlinsonThe 2022 Cape 31 Class National Championships featured a 21-boat fleet Photo: Rick Tomlinson

2022 Vice Admiral's Cup Champion and one of the founders of the UK Class, David Bartholomew, Tokoloshe, said, "We had 13 competitors at Vice Admirals last year, with almost double that this weekend. It's going to be awesome. The fleet has a lot of new talent, so I'm looking forward to an impressive lineup."

With six new teams to the fleet since the last UK Class Event, there are many new faces. It will be the first outing in the 31 Race Circuit for Nick Phillips Chaotic, Bertie Bicket's Fargo, Julian Metherell's Bullit, Ben Pritchard's Akhelios, Guy Gillon's Khumbu and Chris and Laura Anstead's Squirrel. Lance Adams' new Katabatic, K2, will also have her first outing of the year with the usual suspects on board.

Meanwhile, there is still no confirmation that the Cape 31s will race for Irish national honours at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Entries, regatta info and results are available here

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It's all go for the brand new Cape 31 class with the word on the street that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta could now play host to the Irish National Championships this July.

The first Cape 31 event of 2023 took place in the Solent with ‘Round 0’, the Royal Southern May Regatta.

The mainly light airs event, won by Mike Bartholomew’s ‘Tokoloshe’ and with Howth's Dave Maguire in Valkyrie competing, was a warm-up for the Class before the scoring events kick off later in the month at the RORC Vice Admirals Cup.

Cape 31 Designer Mark Mills from Wicklow reports on the rapid expansion of the class worldwide, with new boats delivered in 2023 to fleets building in Italy, France, and Hong Kong. "It’s no surprise," says Mills, "that the experienced dealers in these locations (The Tortarolo’s in Savona Shipyard, Marc Pajot in St. Tropez, and Jamie Boag in Asia) are actively building excitement and supporting owners to help build competitive, sustainable fleets".

Afloat sources say it looks likely – but not yet confirmed – that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta will host the Irish National Championships from July 6-9.

This would be a change from the programme, which originally saw the eight-boat Cape fleet scheduled to race for National honours a week after the VDLR.

Defending champion Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork, who won the inaugural Cape nationals in 2022 (that raced as part of Cork Week Regatta), has recently entered the big Dublin Bay biennial.

Anthony O'Leary’s Cape 31 Antix in winning form at Volvo Cork Week 2022 Photo: Rick TomlinsonAnthony O'Leary’s Cape 31 Antix in winning form at Volvo Cork Week 2022 Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Meanwhile, the Dun Laoghaire Cape 31 'Blast' has come up for sale, as Afloat reports here

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The 2022-built Mills Cape 31 'Blast' is on the market. 

Priced at €300,000, Hull #35 of the new high-speed was launched last August 2022 on Dublin Bay

She is the latest generation of Cape 31 and comes with all the upgrades. The seller says it is 'a turn key option to get into this fantastic class'.

Club sails were almost exclusively used in the Aug - Dec timeframe since the boat was commissioned. They are perfect training/club racing sails, the seller states.

Race Sails are barely used. 3Di J1, 3Di J2 never out of the bags, 3Di main once (for a look), 3Di J3 twice for two short club races, A3 twice for two short club races and A2+ once for 20 mins on a light day that we should have had the A2 up i.e. it was hardly loaded.

Read the full advert on Afloat boats for sale here

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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)