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Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) News & Updates

As Afloat previously reported Irish boats are expected to perform well in this weekend's Scottish Series on Loch Fyne. Now armed with a decidedly mixed weather forecast, Afloat takes another a closer look at the runners and riders and predicts some winners

Class 0 - El Gran Señor to Nick it?

Spirit of Jacana from Northern Ireland took a good win last year from Courier Recommende with Royal Cork yacht Jump Juice Third. This year Courier or Jump are not there so Spirit of Jacana will have to battle against Aurora and El Gran Señor from Last year plus Forty Licks from County Down. Forty Licks will be consistent as will El Gran Señor. If the breeze is up, Spirit of Jacana will romp around the course and be very likely to win, but you can expect John Anderson on El Gran Señor to nick it if conditions are otherwise. He has shown some great pace in his J122e last year at Cork Week and he knows the Lough well. Numbers are down from 9 to 6 in this class, this year.

Animal Scottish seriesAnimal, the Beneteau 36.7 Photo: Marc Turner

RC 35 Class - Animal is the One to Watch

Likely the strongest fleet again this year. Pat Kelly's Storm took the Class and overall Scottish Series trophy last year for winning this class, but it went right down to the last race with Something else from DL, who pushed them very hard.

Something else is back, from Dun Laoghaire, along with Andrew Craig's Chimera (with pro-Maurice O'Connell from North Sails aboard), both J109s. Expect it not to be an all J109 affair though. Animal, the Beneteau 36.7 took the Honours a fortnight ago in the Kip Regatta from Storm and she is a potent performer, especially in light winds.

There are a number of other competitive entries in this 14 boat fleet, all very much around the same rating, including Stuart Cranston's Ker 32 Highjacker from Strangford Lough, with pro-Mark Mansfield from UK Sailmakers, calling tactics. This boat previously competed for Ireland in the 2006 Commodores Cup, under the name Checkmate, She is a sistership on the Ker 32 Voodoo Chile. She will favour the stronger conditions but is also expected to hang on in the lighter breeze. This will be a tightly contested fleet, with any one of the above boats likely taking the spoils, but Animal is likely the one to watch with her 2019 win at Kip regatta already under her belt.

IRC Class 3 - 'F'n Gr8', Mata or Harmony?

14 entries also in this one with likely 4 or 5 potential winners. Last year's Cork Week overall winner, Rory Fekkes highly modified First Class 8 From Carrickfergus, F'n Gr8, will be in the running, along with a similar sized Quarter Tonner, Phoenix, and if conditions are light, these two will be potent. However, in mixed conditions, the two half tonners, Mata from D and M Wright from Howth Yacht Club and Jonny Swan's Harmony will likely be the ones to beat. Mata is newly acquired by the Wrights and the core crew comes from top ex under–25 sailors from Howth. Expect them to give Harmony a good run for their money. Both the HYC Half tonners will sail with pros from North Sails Ireland, more here.

Racing starts tomorrow (Friday) and runs through to Monday. 

Results here

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Late entries will determine whether or not the ICRA National Championships below class one will break into three classes. 

"Class One picks itself as per the RC35 band, so the only real question is what to do below that", ICRA Technical delegate Ric Morris told Afloat.

Morris was responding to observations made by Afloat about class bands for the championships here.

He says "the split between 0 and 1 isn't really that much of a question as anyone in class one that wants to join class zero for the Coastal racing can do so."

"We're close on numbers to be able to break it into three classes [below Class One], it now just depends on the number of late entries, Morris says.

Royal St. George championship organiser Ian Simington says the fleet is building nicely but this weekend urged 'fence-sitters' to enter now for the June championships that have attracted almost 100 entries for the cruiser-racer title fight.

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As Championship Chairman Ian Simington of the Royal St. George Yacht Club bangs the drum for last entries for a burgeoning 2019 ICRA Nationals fleet on Dublin Bay, the cruiser racer body is preparing to make good on a promise made last year on class splits.

The ICRA National Championships will be staged from 7th – 9th June.

Last November an engaged ICRA conference heard that in order to give sailors more confidence in terms of who they will be racing against when entering an event, the association was to adopt a range of classes based on the design of cruiser/racer commonly sailed and narrow rating bands.

Divisions, the conference was told, will be formed for an event by combining these classes. They pledged ICRA would ensure all like type designs were in the same class. 

In addition to the IRC rating, ICRA is also introducing a trial ECHO Handicap System for the championships on the capitals waters.

Simington says the championship fleet is 'building nicely' but the ICRA provisional entry list here is currently updated to March 30 only. With another fortnight for late entries, any final assessment of class breaks is still too early to call. Typically, class breaks won't be published by organisers until approximately a week before the event, as was the case in 2018 before the ill-fated Galway Bay event.

Working with the information to hand, here is the situation facing the ICRA rating committee:

  • Class Zero if the break is at 1.050 it will just have four boats and two of them (Rockabill VI and Tsunami) will be just over that.  If they break Class 0 at 1.030—then class 0 goes to 9 boats.
  • Class One if they make the break at 1.000, it will have at least 17 boats, but maybe up to 22 if the class break for Zero is at 1.050
  • Class Two if the breaks are .999 to .921, this class that typically includes half tonners, will have 21 in that class
  • Class Three/Four4 if they break it at 920, this division will have about 29 boats.

Update May 12: Read ICRA's response here

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With just four weeks to go to the 2019 ICRA National Championships, the Royal St. George Yacht Club organising committee is busy putting the finishing touches to the preparation work which has been in motion through the winter and spring.

Speaking to Afloat, Event Chairman Ian Simington said, "our focus in the next two weeks leading up to close of entries on May 26th is to persuade the habitual late entries to get going. Many of them are from the Dun Laoghaire fleets so we are particularly grateful to DBSC who have cancelled their regular racing on Saturday 8th of June to allow boats sail the ICRAs and not lose on DBSC. We will have regular communications counting down to the close to get as many of the fence sitters as possible. We think it will be a great event on and off the water and want as many sailors as possible to enjoy it and whet their appetites for the other events of the summer".

"Our focus in the next two weeks is to persuade the habitual late entries to get going"

On the water, Simington says he expects the modified ECHO handicap system to give all sailors a chance of winning, and we are very excited to have 12 U-25 teams who will bring lots of energy to the event. Viking Marine is providing a perpetual trophy in recognition of the importance of this emerging class. We expect them to be keen participants in the post sailing novelty event programme including a Crew Class row off and the Harken Challenge.

The new catering team in the George led by Operations Manager Jamie Egan has put in place a super onshore programme including Mount Gay Rum (with the famous red hats) and Bombay Sapphire promotions; Guinness event tents; dining options of buffet, BBQ and Pizza truck, and top class music from Velvet DJs.

A provisional entry list is here

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As part of the ongoing improvements being introduced by the national cruiser racer body, ICRA has announced a new basis for the award of the coveted “Boat Of The Year” trophy.

Previously, this trophy was awarded to the boat, who in the opinion of the ICRA committee, performed best.

ICRA technical delegate, Ric Morris commented "we have now introduced a new formula which gives a wider reach and geographically gives boats nationwide a better chance of winning whilst introducing a more transparent basis for this award. Results of various nationwide regattas will be utilised in an overall score for each yacht so the award will be made to the best scoring yacht from a series of regattas"

Full details of the scoring process and Notice of Race can be found here

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ICRA, the national cruiser-racer body, is attempting to widen the appeal of the Royal St. George–based National Championship entry next month on Dublin Bay with the introduction of a new trial handicap system writes Dave Cullen.

While the current ECHO system has been seen to work well in some longer-term events at local clubs, many are aware that the ECHO system historically has failed to adapt quickly enough at National events. This often leads to the same boats winning on both IRC and ECHO.

Members have made clear their desire for ICRA to look at how we can make ECHO work better at National events across the country, through surveys and forums. In response to this, ICRA and in particular Committee Member Liam Lynch has sought to begin to work on a means to address this issue in the longer term, and have started by instigating a trial at this year’s National Championships.

Currently, at National events, all boats start at their standard ECHO rating, which is usually within a few points of the IRC rating. In practice this means that the leading boats on IRC are nearly always the winners on ECHO as well, as the programme doesn’t have time to adjust sufficiently based on the results during a short event To address this, ICRA has decided to revise the standard ECHO handicaps used at the National Championships. The plan is to adjust standard ECHO opening handicaps, based on defined and published performance criteria, of boats over the last 1-2 years.

"The plan is to adjust standard ECHO opening handicaps, based on defined and published performance criteria, of boats over the last 1-2 years"

The result should be that the better a boat has performed on IRC boats over the last 1-2 years the greater a greater penalty will be placed on their standard ECHO handicap, ensuring other boats have a much greater chance to competing for ECHO prizes, based on their revised ECHO standards.

We hope that this trial adjustment to ECHO will even more boats to enter what is already a very successfully subscribed event and that the trials will lead to a rollout of a similar system all clubs running national events in the future.

Full details of the proposed trial approach are available here

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With entries filling fast the ICRA Cruiser Racer National Championships at the Royal St George Yacht Club, look set up to be a huge success (81 entries as previously reported by Afloat.ie here). The championship which will be sailed from the 7th to 9th of June is open to all Cruiser Racers with an IRC or Echo handicap. As ‘lift-ins’ happen around the country this April, the ICRAs look like the extra event that many are set to add to their racing calendar.

Underpinning the excellent ‘on-the-water’ race management led by David Lovegrove PRO, the Royal St George have announced their social programme for the event. With variety in mind, the sailors will be treated to a wide spread of great food from dawn to dusk. Breakfast will be available each morning and every evening and you can choose from a quick bite to a casual dinner. All efforts are being made to have a core focus on keeping all the sailors in one place, enhancing the party atmosphere and creating great opportunities to swap stories and connect with fellow sailors.

New Royal St George, Operations Manager House, Jamie Egan will have the event under his watchful eye and brings huge experience with him having run all the events and catering at the St Stephens Green & Hibernian Club. The George has always had the reputation for the best parties and the ICRAs promises the same! Over 100 volunteers have been mobilised for this event which aims to make the experience for the racers seamless both afloat and ashore.

Social Programme for ICRA National Championships

Thursday 06th June
1900hrs BBQ on forecourt
2100hrs Skippers Briefing

Friday 07th June
0800hrs Breakfast on the forecourt
0800hrs Coffee & pastries in Club Room bar
1600hrs BBQ on forecourt
1800hrs Sailing Supper in Dining Room
1900hrs Daily Prize-Giving
2000hrs DJ til late

Saturday 08th June
0800hrs Breakfast on the forecourt
0800hrs Coffee & pastries in Club Room bar
1600hrs BBQ on forecourt
1800hrs Sailing Supper in Dining Room
1900hrs Daily Prize-Giving
2000hrs DJ til late

Sunday 09th June
0800hrs Breakfast on the forecourt
0800hrs Coffee & pastries in Club Room bar
1500hrs BBQ on forecourt
1600hrs ICRA Prize Giving

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With ICRA organisers saying there are still at least 20 boats identified that are yet to enter, the buoyant entries for the Royal St. George Yacht Club Championships are up to 81 for the June event, kicking off a Summer of sailing events on Dublin Bay.

As David O'Brien points out in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column here, Northern Ireland cruiser-racers, Under-25 Academies and a Half-Ton touring party are pushing numbers up in a buoyant fashion.

ICRA insiders tell Afloat.ie that Joker II, John Maybury's reigning Cruisers One champion, is expected to defend her title. There are eight U 25 teams now entered with Howth Yacht Club and Royal Irish Yacht Club yet to join this fleet, so over a dozen are expected in total.

For a further rundown of the ICRA Championship fleet to date check out Dave Cullen's update on Afloat.ie here

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As the early bird deadline passed, the entry for the ICRA National Championship has climbed beyond 60, well ahead of entries at the same stage in recent memory writes Dave Cullen. There are still plenty of teams expected to join in the fun that have yet to enter so the signs are we are on for a very well attended event, with keen competition in all divisions.

A dozen boats are already entered from the Irish RC35 fleet. 6 J109s make up the core of those numbers including ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell and Outrajeous, the Goodbody clan with White Mischief and Ruth’s welcome return to inshore racing. The hotly tipped J/99 with Andrew Algeo at the helm joins the Sunfast 3600 Yoyo as new designs showing for the first time, while Stuart Cranston is set to bring his newly acquired Ker 32 down from Down. Stuart is part of a large contingent of Northern Irish entries that will be most welcome in Dublin.

"ICRA’s Under 25 initiative is bearing fruit with three waterfront Dun Laoghaire clubs fielding teams"

With the Half Tonners using the Nationals as the first event in something of a tour of the nation this year, it’s no surprise to see a seriously competitive line-up. Dave Cullen (current ICRA boat of the year holder) with Checkmate XV, Nigel Biggs with Checkmate XVIII, Johnny Swan’s Harmony, Michael Evans’ The Big Picture are joined by Darren and Michael Wright on their newly acquired Mata. If the Kelly/Boardman family bring King One there will be a serious showdown to see who takes bragging rights back to the Howth Yacht Club they all hail from.

ICRA’s Under 25 initiative is bearing fruit with 3 waterfront Dun Laoghaire clubs fielding teams. Wicklow Sailing Club is sending a Formula 28 and Foynes Under 25s have entered their J24. By the time the Royal Cork Academy and HYC U25 teams enter, it’s hoped to see a dozen under 25 teams competing.

If you have missed the early bird discount don’t despair. The Royal St George Yacht Club is working hard to ensure the championships represent exceptional value for money on the water and off. Enter now here

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With four days to go on discounted early entries to the ICRA National Championships, a strong fleet representing fifteen clubs and all four provinces have already entered the June Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club on Dublin Bay.

Stepping out of a committee meeting finalising the social programme (pictured above) Event Chairman Ian Simington commented "We are really encouraged to see early entries from crews in Ulster, Connacht and Munster.

A large travelling contingent makes racing more exciting and the social more lively. We are planning a social and catering programme that will provide for all sailors and really looking forward to a great event. With the first U-25 crews of an emerging class entered we expect them to add to the atmosphere on and off the water".

The ICRA National Championships will be staged from 7th – 9th June.

Published in RStGYC
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