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After five races sailed and a discard applied at the ICRA National Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club, John Maybury is two races away from an impressive fourth win of the Class One title after another impressive day on Dublin Bay sees the Royal Irish Yacht Club skipper lead 18-boat class one by five nett points with three wins from five races.

As predicted, J109s continue their stranglehold of class one and are in the top three places. Second, on 10 points, is Howth Yacht Club's Storm skippered by Pat Kelly and one point behind in third overall is clubmate and ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell in the new Outrajeous campaign.

Current J109 National Champion Andrew Algeo sailing his brand new J99 is fourth overall. 

Three solid windward-leeward races, with beats of 1.1 nautical miles, were held today in shifting westerly breezes of 280 to 290 degrees that placed an emphasis on sailing the high tack and staying in the strongest pressure, upwind and down. The 10-14 knot breeze was heaviest in the morning with gust up to 20 knots over relatively flat seas. 

"It was very tight racing - again - and it was tough with 20 knots for all three races and good courses too," said Colwell.  "It's very close in our class, one mistake and you pay heavily - the way it should be!"

Results are here. The final two races are scheduled tomorrow from 11 am with breeze forecast to be westerly at eight knots on Dublin Bay

Class One start 2895With just seconds to the start gun, the Strangford Lough Ker 32 HiJacKer from Down Cruising Club wins the pin end of the 400 metre line Photo: Afloat

Storm J109 Kelly 2545Pat Kelly's Storm has moved up to second overall Photo: Afloat

Outrajeous 1892Richard Colwell in the new Outrajeous campaign is lying third overall Photo: Afloat

J99 J109 2747Andrew Algeo's J99 on port with Colwell's Outrajeous in today's windward-leeward races

Grand soleil Nieulargo 2550Kinsale's Grand Soleil Nieulargo was fourth in the third race to be 11th overall Photo: Afloat

Gringo 2060Dublin Bay local IMX38 Gringo (Tony Fox) from the National Yacht Club won race three and is sixth overall Photo: Afloat

Jelly Baby 2022Seventh-placed Jelly Baby (above) - Despite her advertised tactician being Olympic skiff campaigner Seafra Guilfoyle, the 49er crew was spotted otherwise engaged on Dublin Bay (below) Photos: Afloat

49er 1772

Read all the latest from the ICRA National Championships in one handy link here.

Published in J109
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There is a  new half-ton leader in division two of the ICRA national championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club as overnight leader Johnny Swan's Harmony from Howth Yacht Club drops to fourth overall but optimised Irish Half Tonners continue to dominate proceedings on Dublin Bay and occupy the top six places overall.

The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Nigel Biggs, who is based in North Wales, is now four points ahead in Checkmate XVIII. 

Half tonners Start 2939Half Tonners jostle for position at the start of race four that was recalled and restarted under a black flag by race officer David Lovegrove Photo: Afloat

As regular Afloat readers will know, Biggs has been working up this latest Checkmate over the last two seasons. The boat is the old Emiliano Zapata, ex Dick Dastardly, ex French Beret, ex Concorde from 1985. As with his previous two successful half–tonners (Harmony and Checkmate XV) she has been 'breathed on' by Wicklow yacht designer Mark Mills with a revised sailplan and keel. 

The brand new Howth Yacht Club Half-Ton campaign of the Wright Brothers is second overall and Royal Cork visitor Miss Whiplash skippered by John Downing lies third. 

"It's an exceptional event with very close racing, just seconds between the boats only," said Kieran O'Connell, Rear Admiral for Keel Boat Racing at the Royal Cork Yacht Club on Miss Whiplash.  That comment was a reference in particular to the third race of the day, the windiest when six or seven half-tonners were lined-up on the downwind leg, almost close enough to walk across.

Mata Wrights 2277The Wright's Mata (IRL 2794) from Howth Yacht Club is second Photo: Afloat

Miss Whiplash 2303Royal Cork's Miss Whiplash skippered by John Downing is lying in third place

Defending champion Dave Cullen in Checkmate XV lies fifth with only 9.5 nett points separating the top six and two races left to sail in the championships tomorrow.

Checkmate Dave Cullen 2320Half Ton Classics World Champion – Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Photo: Afloat

Half tonners 2129The X332 Equinox sandwiched between the top performing Half Tonners in the tight approach to a leeward mark Photo: Afloat

1720 Antix Beag 2437The well-sailed 1720 Antix Beag is two points outside the top ten in 11th Photo: Afloat

Raptor Mills 2177Fintan Cairns and Denis Hewitt's Mills 31 Raptor is eighth Photo: Afloat

Rationel J80 2825Two RStGYC J80s are competing for U25-honours in Class Two Photo: Afloat

Results are here The final two races are scheduled tomorrow from 11 am with breeze forecast to be westerly at eight knots on Dublin Bay

Read all the latest from the ICRA National Championships in one handy link here.

Published in Half Tonners
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John Maybury's Joker II staked her claim to the class one title in the opening day of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships sponsored by Frank Keane BMW on Dublin Bay today with two wins.

A full schedule marked the opening day of the Championships where back to back winners featured in five out of six divisions sailed.

Organised by the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, 93 boats from 24 clubs and venues around Ireland are competing for five national titles, the overall trophy and an Under 25’s competition.

Division Zero had a four-hour coastal course that saw Paul O’Higgins from the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Rockabill VI emerge as winner as the first of three races for the series. “We’re definitely not counting our chickens, for sure,” he said afterwards. “Tomorrow could start with stronger breeze but finish lighter going by the forecast - that wouldn’t suit us at the lower end of the handicap range.”

The remaining divisions completed two scheduled races split across two-course areas on Dublin Bay, both of which managed to deliver a flicking breeze (from 010 degrees) ranging from eight to 14 knots at times though easing inshore as the afternoon progressed.

ICRA Class one Start 1909A great turnout in class one where J109s hold the top three places. The class had two windward-leeward courses with a one mile beat from a 390-metre long start line Photo: Afloat

Defending Division One champion John Maybury on Joker II, who completed a hat-trick of titles in 2017 opened his 2019 defence with two back to back to wins with three J109’s taking the overnight lead.

Joker II 1548John Maybury's defending champion Joker II, with 2004 Olympian Killian Collins, calling tactics leads after the opening races Photo: Afloat

ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell on Outrageous from Howth Yacht Club leads the pursuing pack in second overall on just the second event for his new boat. Tactician Mark Mansfield is also looking forward to fresher weather to upset the standings: “If there’s a bit more breeze, tomorrow might be quite different,” the Olympic veteran said.

Division Two saw Johnny Swan’s Half-tonner Harmony from Howth Yacht Club take an early lead, again with two back to back wins for the day.

Harmony 1682Johnny Swan's Harmony is the Division two leader Photo: Afloat

Once again, a fresher breeze on Saturday will be welcomed. “It’s really tough competition - the half-tonners are being sailed really well,” commented Rob O’Leary, skipper of the modified 1720 Sportsboat Antix Beag from Baltimore Sailing Club. “We’re expecting more breeze tomorrow so we’re hoping our recent modifications will pay off.”

Fngr8 1982Rory Fekkes on F’n Gr’8 from Carrickfergus Sailing Club Photo: Afloat

Not only did the leader in Division Three manage to continue the back to back theme for the day, but the top four boats in the 20-strong fleet repeated their results in the second race of the day that sees Rory Fekkes on F’n Gr’8 from Carrickfergus Sailing Club lead the field.

Second-placed is Brendan Foley’s Running Wild from the host club. “We’re (also) looking forward to more breeze tomorrow and we’ll have an extra person on board so we’ll be fully powered up in 12-15 knots,” said crew-member Mark Hennessy who is Rear-Commodore (Sailing) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

Only four out of the six entries in Division Four competed on the first day, the smallest turnout of the event that was nonetheless won with back to back wins by Philip O’Dwyer’s Supernova from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Division Five is a White Sails event competing for the ICRA Corithian Cup and the opening day was won, for good measure with back to back wins, by Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis on Demelza from Howth Yacht Club.

Full results here  

Published in ICRA
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One of the few boats with the potential to break the stranglehold of the J109 type in the very competitive class one of this weekend's ICRA National Championships has been forced out of the Royal St. George competition due to mast damage.

Colin Byrne, of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, who has sailed to so much success in his Danish built XP33 design previously won the ICRA title in 2013 when the championships sailed at Tralee Bay in County Kerry.

Byrne’s IRC cruiser one fleet, with over 20 boats competing, is one of the strongest of all ICRA’s classes, bucking the trend for IRC classes nationwide and in the UK.

But in an unfortunate twist, Byrne will not now contest the championships on his local waters. "We are out, I'm afraid! Mast not yet fixed and unlikely to be for a few weeks yet. Such is life!" he told Afloat.

Anyone of nine J109s, a cruiser one type that has proved so potent on the Bay’s inshore regatta circuit and offshore across the Irish Sea is tipped to take the title here

Published in ICRA
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Can a mix of Olympic 49er, Laser and Moth dinghy sailors plus experienced university bowmen produce the shock of the ICRA Nationals 2019 this weekend?

Class One's hierarchy may be well documented here but a last-minute crew line up announced for Brian Jones's J109 Jelly Baby from Royal Cork poses a potential upset on Dublin Bay if the current hype at the Royal St. George venue is to be believed.

Hotshot 49er Olympic campaign skiff crew Seafra Guilfoyle will be tactician, Johnny Durcan, Laser youth champ, 49er and Moth sailor is driving, Cian Byrne, ex-49er crew and just back from the Moth Europeans is on the mainsheet. All three are from Crosshaven. Dublin 49er crew Adam Hyland is expected to add local knowledge. 

Irish University keelboat national championships winners, Ewan O'Keeffe and Mark Murphy from CIT are manning the forward end of the boat, along with owner Brian Jones and Steve Ryan.

It's a youthful and talented line up in which Jones is the only member over 25, but it is as yet an untested crew...

Published in ICRA
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Tomorrow's ICRA National Championships on Dublin Bay will pay tribute to the late Tom Power, the former navigator and tactician on George Sisk's series of WOW cruiser racer campaigns who died last Saturday.

Tom, whose life was celebrated at a packed gathering at the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire yesterday, was a stalwart of Irish offshore sailing going back to the Admiral's Cup era. He was a former Fastnet Race and Round Ireland Race winner as well as a long-standing member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Both ICRA committee boats will sound one long blast prior to the start of race one on Friday morning for a minute's silence in Tom's honour on his beloved Dublin Bay race track.

Published in ICRA
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Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) who had cancelled its racing programme this Saturday at the request of the organisers of this weekend's ICRA championships on Dublin Bay now say that there is now a possibility of running some DBSC racing from one of its Committee Boats, that is not now required for the ICRA event.

In an announcement to members on the DBSC website, Hon Sec Chris Moore says "Hosted by the Royal St. George Yacht Club, this event originally prompted DBSC to cancel all regular racing for the 8th June. It now transpires there will be fewer courses used by ICRA in the bay, and therefore less congestion, resulting in the possibility of at least running a “No Points” Green fleet programme from Committee boat Freebird, which is not now required for the ICRA Championships"

DBSC Race times will be as usual, but the race area may have to be changed to suit the bay activity.

Published in DBSC
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The Royal St George Yacht Club's Frank Keane BMW ICRA National Championships divisions for this Friday's 100–boat fleet have been released.

ICRA is experimenting with some new class type options with similar type boats ensured of being in the same division.

Division 0 boats will sail coastal type courses instead of the windward-leeward/round the cans that the other divisions will sail.

The 2019 ICRA championships class splits are published below. Details supplied by ICRA.

Boat Name Boat Type/ model Sail Number Division Confirmed IRC
Forty Licks First 40 GBR4041R Division 0 No IRC cert
WOW Xp44 Irl4419 Division 0 1.127
Eleuthera Grand soleil 44 race NED7025 Division 0 1.111
aquelina j-112e irl 1507 Division 0 1.058
Rockabill VI JPK 10.80 IRL10800 Division 0 1.053
Tsunami First 40.7 IRL1484 Division 0 1.052
D-TOX X-Yacht IRL 13500 Division 0 1.041
Hot Cookie Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 GBR7536R Division 0 1.041
Prima Luce First 35 IRL3504 Division 0 1.016
HiJacKer Ker 32 GBR732R Division 1 No IRC cert
VALKERIE KER31 7031T Division 1 No IRC cert
Sidetrack J35 GBR6907R Division 1 No IRC cert
Yoyo Sunfast3600 IRL3600 Division 1 1.037
Nieulargo Grand Soleil 40 B+C IRL 2129 Division 1 1.035
JustTina Grand Soleil 34 IRL 1586 Division 1 1.02
Bon Exemple XP33 GBR8933R Division 1 1.017
Storm J109 Irl1141 Division 1 1.016
Gringo A35 IRL 7778 Division 1 1.015
Juggerknot 2 J/99 IRL 3990 Division 1 1.014
Ruth j109 IRL 1383 Division 1 1.012
Outrajeous J109 IRL 19109 Division 1 1.012
Chimaera j109 IRL2160 Division 1 1.012
Jalapeno J109 IRL5109 Division 1 1.012
Indecision J109 IRL 9898 Division 1 1.01
Indian J109 IRL1543 Division 1 1.01
Jelly Baby J109 IRL9609 Division 1 1.01
White Mischief J109 GBR1242R Division 1 1.01
Joker II J109 IRL1206 Division 1 1.009
Dear prudence J109 1095 Division 1 1.009
SOMETHING ELSE J109 IRL29213 Division 1 1.009
Powder Monkey J109 IRL 28898 Division 1 1.009
Flashback First 34.7 IRL 3470 Division 2 No IRC cert
RAPTOR MILLS 3 CR IRL811 Division 2 1.008
Zuri Hanse 370e IRL1906 Division 2 1.008
Supergroove Dibley Eagle 8M GBR4100L Division 2 0.999
RSGYC1-U25 J80 123 Division 2 No IRC cert
RSGYC2-U25 J80 12345 Division 2 No IRC cert
NYC U25 J80 001 Division 2 No IRC cert
Antix Beag 1720 Mod IRL 17200 Division 2 Late submission allowed
Rope Dock - Equinox X-332 IRL 1332 Division 2 0.978
Lambay Rules J97 IRL 9970 Division 2 0.975
WINDJAMMER J97 IRL 2597 Division 2 0.973
Ruthless Corby 26 IRL 26026 Division 2 0.958
Artful Dodger Elan 333 IRL 3330 Division 2 0.957
Jambiya J/80 GBR605 Division 2 0.957
Mata Andrieu half ton Irl2794 Division 2 0.948
Checkmate XVIII Half Tonner GBR 66R Division 2 No IRL cert
Miss Whiplash Half Tinner GBR 5435R Division 2 0.952
Harmony Half Tonner irl1484 Division 2 0.951
Checkmate XV Half Tonner IRL 2016 Division 2 0.948
the big picture half tonner IRL5522 Division 2 0.946
ANDANTE Yamaha 36c IRL 375 Division 2 0.937
Black Velvet Beneteayu First 34.7 IRL 3471 Division 2 0.983
Flash Formula 28 2597 Division 3 No IRL cert
Smile Corby 25 IRL 4518 Division 3 0.928
XEBEC X 302 IRL 3022 Division 3 0.928
Impetuous Corby 25 IRL 2507 Division 3 0.927
DUX X302 IRL 988 Division 3 0.925
Maximus X-302 7495 Division 3 0.924
F'n Gr8 First Modified FRA111 Division 3 0.921
Viking X-302 IRL 1103 Division 3 0.92
Elandra Sigma 33 IRL4536 Division 3 0.912
Rupert Sigma 33 OOD IRL4518 Division 3 0.912
Insider Sigma 33 IRL4444 Division 3 0.906
Scandal J24 IRL 4212 Division 3 No IRC cert
Janx Spirit J24 IRL 3112 Division 3 No IRC cert
Pamafe Beneteau first 285 Irl 2855 Division 3 No IRC cert
ANIMAL Formula 28 IRL 6563 Division 3 0.906
Cri-Cri Quarter Tonner ITA 8709 Division 3 0.905
Lady Rowena Sadler 34 IRL34218 Division 3 0.904
Starlet Hunter Formula 28 IRL 6136 Division 3 0.901
Cartoon Fauroux Quarter Tonner IRL 9186 Division 3 0.899
Manzanita Quarter Ton IRL 48 Division 3 0.889
Running Wild Impala 28 IRL 9538 Division 3 0.883
Kilcullen J24 IRL 680 Division 3 0.882
Jasper J24 4188 Division 3 0.882
GALA RACING J24 IRL5278 Division 3 0.882
Jumpin' Jive J24 IRL 3060 Division 3 0.882
Stouche J24 IRL4214 Division 3 0.882
Vamoose First 211 IRL 1569 Division 4 No IRC cert
Don Giovanni Cecarelli Mini Ton ITA10767 Division 4 0.878
Dubious First 28 1654 Division 4 0.873
Supernova Starflash Irl 7500 Division 4 0.866
Asterix Hunter Sonata 8245N Division 4 0.821
Maranda Senator 11 Division 4 0.811
Digi Wedge 8970 Division 5 No IRC cert
Sapphire Oceania 323 Ir3230 Division 5 No IRC cert
edenpark jeanneau sun odyssey 36 irl 1166 Division 5 No IRC cert
White Lotus Elan 333 1333 Division 5 0.967
Voyager Dehler 34 IRL 657 Division 5 0.931
Vespucci Dehler 31 IRL1502 Division 5 0.889
Demelza Club Shamrock Irl 100 Division 5 0.889
Cevantes contessa 32 irl 932 Division 5 0.85
Gung-Ho SuperSeal 26 FK IRL216 Division 5 0.848
Bonjourno Dynamo 25 GBR9625R Division 5 0.836
Published in ICRA
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Dun Laoghaire's Royal St George Yacht Club hosts this week's Frank Keane BMW ICRA National Championships. Ten races are scheduled with approximately one hundred boats entered. Afloat sticks its neck out to predict the top boats and winners in each division.

Last year's ICRAs in Galway Bay was fairly controversial with a lot of boats choosing not to attend and in the end, no racing whatsoever took place due to weather conditions and lock gate restrictions. So, a year later, It is good to see such a large entry for the Nationals on Dublin Bay.

ICRA is experimenting with some new class type options with similar type boats ensured of being in the same division. The final class splits in the 100-boat fleet are here.

Division 0 boats will sail coastal type courses instead of the Windward Leeward/Round the Cans that the other divisions will sail.

ICRA weatherXC Weather predicts light easterlies for the first day of the 2019 ICRA National Championships at Dun Laoghaire

Weather conditions always play a part in trying to work out winners. This year, at the time of writing, the forecast is looking like light winds on the Friday and medium to strong winds for the Saturday and Sunday. Boats will need to be able to perform in all conditions therefore to win.

"Boats will need to be able to perform in all conditions to win"

WoW Xp44 2399WoW- George Sisk's new Xp44 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club competes in Division Zero Photo: Afloat.ie 

Division 0

Boats from IRC 1.040 up, plus some boats in lower divisions who opted for the Coastal type racing

Four or five good boats in this division. George Sisk's new XP44 Wow will like stretching her legs in these longer courses as will Cork Week 2018 winner, Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera, with Prof O'Connell calling shots. The other boats in contention will be Paul O'Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI and Jay Colville’s First 40, Forty Licks, fresh from his success in the 2019 Scottish Series. Were the winds to be strong all weekend, you would have to go for Rockabill, but that light Friday might just be a challenge for her, so we will go for the ever consistent Forty Licks to take this one.

Rockabill VI 1628Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI from the RIYC Photo: Afloat.ie

FORTY LICKS 0313Jay Colville's First 40 Forty Licks from County Down Photo: Afloat.ie

Division 1

From IRC 1.010 to 1.039 

This will be, along with division 2, a very hotly contested division. There are 22 entries; all quite similar in speed, though their ratings differ a bit. Included in these 22 are 13 J109s and as a J109 has won this division in the last four ICRA Nationals, then you must expect that one of these, at least, will shine.

The last three ICRA nationals were won by John Maybury's Joker 2, so he is going for four in a row, but will be without the services of four times Olympian, Mark Mansfield who was his tactician for the three previous wins. John will still be a force and is thought he may have another Olympian slotted in. Tim and Richard Goodbody just won the J109 East Coasts and will be up there as likely will be Paul Barrington's Jalapeno and Brian and John Hall's Something else.

J109s 314913 J109s are lining up for class one honours including from left Dear Prudence, Outrajeous and White Mischief Photo: Afloat.ie

However, among the J109’s will be the two Howth Yacht Club Boats Storm 2 of The Kelly Family, and the new J109 to the fleet, John Murphy and Richard Colwell's Outrajeous. Storm is a regular winner in the fleet. Outrajeous has just won her class in last weekend's Lambay Race by a margin, and with Mark Mansfield calling tactics will, without doubt, be in contention. Andrew Craig’s Chimaera, winner of the Scottish Series just a few weeks ago, will be competing but its RIYC skipper is abroad and Brian Mathews is in charge. Brian Jones's Jelly Baby has announced a last-minute hotshot crew here

J99 Algeo 2527Andrew Algeo's brand new J99 Photo: Afloat.ie

Apart from J109s, Andrew Algeo's New J99 could be quite slippery in the breezy conditions and will pose a threat. Were the breeze to stay windy all three day's Denis Murphy’s Grand Soleil 40, Nieulargo would romp around the course, but a light Friday might prove her undoing. Stuart Cranston’s Ker 32 From Strangford Lough had a great at her first outing at the Scottish Series to finish second in class, and in mixed conditions may prove fast, if she can escape the clutches of those 13 J109s. Colin Byrne's XP33 Bon Exemple would be in contention, but rig damage means she may not be competing.

Bon Exemple 2627Doubtful – Colin Byrne's XP33 Bon Exemple has rig damage Photo: Afloat.ie

In the end, history will say it will be a J109 and the two Howth boats must be the favourites as a result, so Storm 2, White Mischief or Outrajeous to win.

Division 2

IRC from 1.009 to .930 approx

Again a very strong division with six Half Tonners likely posing the biggest threats and among these Dave Cullen’s Checkmate XV must be the favourite, having won the Lambay race last weekend against all the others. Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII will be close though, as may the Wright's Mata from Howth, which had a very good outing at Scottish Series and likely would have won but for disqualification in one race. Ronan Downing’s Miss Whiplash Half Tonner from Royal Cork could be a dark horse, after winning his class at Cork Week in 2018.

Equinox Checkmate 0214Equinox leads Checkmate downwind in a previous Class Two encounter on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

Apart from the Half Tonners, the ones to watch, especially in the breeze are Ross McDonald’s X332, Rope Dock/Equinox, Stephen Quinn’s J97, Lambay Rules and Finbarr O'Regan's Elan 333 Artful Dodger from Kinsale. At the 2017 Sovereign's Cup Equinox and Artful Dodger, in strong winds were able to show the Half Tonners a clean pair of heels. From Royal Cork, Anthony O'Leary's modified 1720 is still something of an unknown quantity because her rating is not confirmed but is potent in the stronger winds downwind especially in the hands of O'Leary who proved this very point last month on Dublin Bay when he recorded 16-knots downwind in his clean sweep of the 1720 East Coast Championships.

Miss whiplashJohn Downing's Miss Whiplash from Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

However, in the conditions as forecasted, a light Friday may be these boats undoing, so we are going to go for the Half Tonner of Dave Cullen from Howth to take this one.

Division 3

IRC from .930 to circa .880

Normally the Quarter Tonners would rule the roost here and among these Ken Lawless and Sybil Mc Cormack’s Cartoon would be the one to watch. However, with the two breezy days forecasted you have to look at some other contenders as well. The X302’s are a notable weapon in the breeze and among the four entered; The Gore-Grimes Dux from Howth must be the pick of these.

Running wild 1388Running Wild - Brendan Foley's modified Impala Running Wild Photo: Afloat.ie

The highly modified Impala of Brendan Foley from the host club, with his fat head mainsail, will also be in contention.

Cartoon Lawless 1371Ken Lawless and Sybil Mc Cormack’s Quarter Tonner Cartoon Photo: Afloat.ie

fekkes boat12Rory Fekkes's highly modified Beneteau First class 8 F’n GR8 Photo: Marc Turner/CCC

In the breeze forecasted though, you cannot go further than Rory Fekkes highly modified Beneteau First class 8 F’n GR8 to take this class. Winner of Cork Week overall last year and winner of every race, bar one, at this year's Scottish Series, this boat excels in a breeze and is a hot favourite to take division 3.

Division 4

IRC from .880 down

With only six entries in this division, it is hard to work out a winner. The Starflash of Philip O'Dwyer will be in the mix as will likely be the Sonata Asterix.

Sonata AsterixThe DMYC Sonata Asterix (Frazer Meredith & John Counihan) Photo: Afloat.ie

Published in Dublin Bay
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The Clyde Cruising Club’s Scottish Series has long been a happy hunting ground for Irish boats and crews writes W M Nixon. We remember with particular fondness the great days of the Royal Cork YC’s Corby 36 Antix, with which the O’Leary family seemed to be in constant motion from one victory to another in successive locations, and the early-season Scottish action in Loch Fyne was always in a key position on their agenda.

More recently we’ve seen Rob McConnell and his team from Dunmore East pull off the top trophy with his A35 Fool’s Gold, and then last year Pat Kelly and his mostly family crew, sailing for Howth and Rush, were Tops of the Top in Scotland with the J/109 Storm.

But this year has seen it all move onto a new plane for Ireland, with a high level of success which is both across the board, and in-depth for good measure. For although it provides racing from the characterful port of Tarbert for 11 classes, the prime selling point of the event is the Scottish IRC Championship, yet just four of those classes come within the prestigious IRC remit.

sunny sunday2Loch Fyne at its best – Sunday provided glorious racing in winds which touched 30 knots – El Gran Senor (Jonathan Anderson) chasing Stuart Ram’s Corby 37 Aurora in Class 1. Photo: Marc Turner

Yet when racing wrapped up on Monday, all four of those elite classes were won by boats from Ireland. Not only that, but in two of those classes, the runners-up were Irish, and in the case of the hottest IRC class of all, the RC35s (aka Class 2) sponsored by gourmet food specialist Makars Mash, Irish boats simply dominated the frame.

As already reported in Afloat.ie, the RC35 winner, and overall winner too, was Andrew Craig’s J/109 Chimaera (Royal Irish YC). The fact that they took it by a whopping eight points is why they got the big one as a bonus, and it’s another feather in the cap of the J/109 Class, of which Andrew Craig is Dublin Bay Captain.

Seasoned sailor Brian Mathews was in Chimaera’s crew-of-all-the-talents (including Maurice “The Prof”) for this contest, and he waxes lyrical about how the 2004-conceived J/109 continues to give excellent value, particularly for Dublin Bay sailors.

“She’s a very forgiving boat” he enthuses, “with an excellent all-round performance and no real vices. Unlike some rock star boats, she’s not utterly outstanding on any one particular point of sailing. Yet she’s right there all across the board, and will always turn in a good average speed when compared with boats of similar size. As for her virtues when she’s raced in a One-Design situation, they’re all accentuated – we’ll be getting value out of the J/109s on Dublin Bay for a long time, they’re the Dublin Bay 24s of our time”.

chimaera crew prize giving3Job well done. Andrew Craig (third left) with his jubilant crew in Tarbert on Monday, they are (front row left to right) Andrew Abbott, John White, Andrew Craig, Nevan Powell, Eddie O’Rahilly and Maurice “The Prof” O’Connell, back row Brian Mathews and Dave Cotter, missing is Andrew’s son Nick who’d had to catch a plane to London. Photo: Marc Turner

chimaera crew prize giving3aIt’s not quite Monaco Grand Prix weather, but Chimaera’s crew still give it a lash with the champagne-cracking in Tarbert

One of the earliest advocates of the J/109 in Dublin Bay was John Hall of the National Yacht Club, whose dark blue Something Else is one of the class’s most senior members. Her skipper has the zest for sport to match – John Hall is 82 this year, and for something like forty of those years he has been a strong supporter of the Scottish Series.

So when Something Else went north yet again in May 2019, it was with three generations of the Hall family on board – John, his son and co-owner Brian, and grandson Jack – together with a totally Corinthian crew, and on Monday evening they were acclaimed as fourth overall in this very hot RC35 Class, with a healthy scoreline of 4, 3, 2, 8, 5 and 3, and as popular regulars they got the Boat of the Day award too.

john jack brian hall4The three generations of the Hall family about to depart the National YC for Scotland with their J/109 Something Else to continue 40 years of involvement with the Scottish Series are (left to right) John Hall, his grandson Jack, and son Brian. Photo: Rebecca Johnson
Something else 2682The Hall family’s Something Else is one of the Dublin Bay J/109 fleet’s most senior members

animal somethingelse6RC35 Class 2018 Champion Animal (First 36.7, Debby Aitken) neck and neck with the Hall family’s J/109 Something Else (NYC) at the 2019 Scottish Series. Photo: Marc Turner

The winner Chimaera showed the sort of steady series consistency advocated by yacht racing coaches, with a score lineup of 2, 1, 4, 3, 2 and 2. But in second place the Ker 32 Hijacker – a sister-ship of Eamonn Crosbie’s Round Ireland winning Voodoo Chile – had a lineup of highs and lows which may have had something to do with her being at the lowest size limit of the RC35 class, yet despite her smaller size she had a punitive rating well above the J/109s.

Everything about Hijacker is interesting, as her owners Stuart Cranston and J Buchanan list Down Cruising Club as their home base. DCC is that wonderful former lightship club HQ hidden away in the heart of Strangford Lough - perfect for total cruising folk perhaps, but not generally associated with high end IRC racing.

hijacker spinnaker7Will she, won’t she…..? The Ker 32 Hijacker from Down Cruising Club in Strangford Lough always had to find some extra performance as she is one of the highest-rated boats in the RC35 Class. Photo: Marc Turner
To add to the mix, they had the formidable Mark Mansfield of Cork on board, and it started brilliantly with a win on the Friday morning, but then a 9th and a 7th in Friday’s two other races were a wake-up call.

So they went out and won in Saturday’s only race, and got a third and first in Sunday’s two races. But as racing simply petered out in calm on Monday in that Loch Fyne style we all love so well, Hijacker had to be content with a scoreline of 1,9,7,1,3,1 which looked spectacular, but simply couldn’t match Chimaera’s Steady Eddy showing.

That said, very few boats came away from Tarbert with three good race wins, and that for the smallest boat in the class. As it was, it was good enough to keep them ahead of defending champion Pat Kelly in Storm by 2 points, the final RC35 scorecard being 1st: Chimaera (Andrew Craig RIYC) 14 points, 2nd: Hijacker (S. Cranston & J Buchanan DCC) 22pts; 3rd Storm (P Kelly, HYC/RSC) 24pts; 4th Something Else (J & B Hall, NYC) 25pts.

fireworks over tarbert8The pace in Tarbert is as hectic ashore as afloat – Fireworks Night was just one of the entertainments, Photo: Marc Turner

The 2018 RC35 champion, Debbie Aitken’s First 36.7 Animal from the Clyde, may already have won the Kip Regatta RC35 contest earlier in May ahead of Storm, but in Tarbert the Animal had to be content with 7th overall. Up at the front of the class meanwhile, with a clear lead margin of eight points, Chimaera’s crew knew they were heading back into Tarbert for the final time in 2019 on Monday with every likelihood of being the Top of the Tops, so they’d Luke Kelly blasting out “Take Her Up to Monto” on the cockpit speakers at the upper limit of the dial as they came into port, and the trophies collected, they then zapped back over the 154 miles from Tarbert home to Dublin in businesslike style.

Inevitably we focus on the RC35 Class at the Scottish Series, as it’s a good idea whose time has definitely come, with a clearly-visioned Class Association that maximises sporting return for time afloat. The J/109s do the same in Dublin Bay, and with eight classic Half Tonners now in action in Ireland, they’re also working the same way. But as the hyper-successful Irish GP 14 Class Association shows year after year, it doesn’t happen by magic – you’ll only get as much out of it as you put into it in the first place.

Harmony lambay9Harmony at home – Jonny Swann’s successful classic Half Tonner Harmony shares the sea with some vintage Howth 17s during the annual Lambay Race. In Scotland this week, she won Class 3 in convincing style. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Thus there were just two Irish Half Tonners in Scotland, both from Howth in the form of Jonny Swann’s Harmony (runner-up to Dave Cullen’s Half Ton Classic World Champion Checkmate XV in Belgium last year) and Darren & Michael Wright’s new mount Mata (formerly Trastada).

Admittedly they did get first and second overall in Class 3 with Harmony on a scoreline of 1,4,2,1,1,2 to put her 6 points ahead of Mata on 2,1, Dsq, 3,2,1, but a few more of these attractive boats would have livened it up no end. However, there’s an expectation of eight Half Tonners in the three day Frank Keane BMW & Mini ICRA Nats at the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire starting next Friday, so for the moment we’ll leave it that although only two Half Tonners went to Scotland, they simply couldn’t have done better…..

Mata formerly Trastada10Darren & Michael Wright’s classic Andrieu-designed Half Tonner Mata (formerly Trastada) made it a double for the Howth Half Tonners in Class 3 in Scotland. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien
An extra cherry on top of the cream-covered Irish IRC success cake in Scotland came among the biggies in Class 1, where Jay Colville’s First 40 Forty Licks from East Down YC in Strangford Lough pulled of quite a coup by winning overall from the home favourite, Jonathan Anderson’s J122E El Gran Senor. There were just two points in it at the end, but the win was well earned by an owner-skipper who is not only one of the keenest in Ireland – there are very few major regattas where Forty Licks hasn’t been in the thick of it towards the front of the fleet – and her skipper gives as he takes, as he serves as Deputy Chair of Sport NI.

forty licks11Jay Colville’s Forty Licks, a First 40 from East Down YC in Strangford Lough, is one of Ireland’s most regular contenders, and won Class 1 in Scotland Photo: VDLR
Way down the size scale, Class 4 in Scotland was the smallest boats using IRC, and once again the winning trophy came back southwest across the North Channel, this time aboard Rory Fekkes’ impressively all-black super-tuned vintage Beneteau Quarter Tonner F’n Gr8 from Carrickfergus SC. They’d a bit of a sneeze in the first race to take third, but after that it was straight bullets all the way.

Yet all the Irish IRC successes were definitely not a flash in the pan, but were solidly based on proven performance to give 2019’s Irish IRC season a rocket-propelled start. Which is just as well, as the fulfilling of the programme for the next six weeks is going to require some people being in at least three places at the same time, and doing it all at the speed of light in order to emerge intact at the end of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on July 14th.

fekkes boat12Black, black, black……Rory Fekkes souped-up vintage Beneteau Quarter Tonner F’n Gr8 from Carrickfergus is as distinctive as they come, but she’s mighty fast and well-sailed with it, and added the Class 4 win in Scotland to her many previous successes
It’s Cresta Run logistics, and in order to accommodate it, in the ISORA scene they’re taking a programme break to allow their boats time to do both the Frank Keane BMW & Mini ICRA Nats next weekend, and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race on Wednesday, June 12th. But here too the first set of ISORA results just add to the J/109 mystique, as the Pwllheli flyer Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) currently leads the points table, and now their hat is in the ring for the dash to Dingle as well.

So although we’re into a new set of parameters with the upcoming ICRA Nats and the D2D, at the heart of both fleets the J/109s will still be the boats to beat.

Published in Scottish Waters
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