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The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has interviewed offshore racer Briton Brian Thompson who has broken 33 world sailing records. The profile piece on youtube below features videos and live commentary about his astounding career. The Vendee Globe, Rolex Fastnet Race, Jules Verne Trophy and MOD70 campaigns in the RORC Transatlantic Race and RORC Caribbean 600.

RORC is promising a weekly series of live interviews with sailors from around the world, exploring epic races, top pro-techniques and more. There will also be Interactive discussions with outstanding sailors, together with videos and pictures.

Time Over Distance is designed to inform and entertain any serious offshore sailor. The aim, says RORC is for the library to become a 'highly regarded resource for years to com'.

 

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In line with the UK Government's latest advice, and the Royal Yachting Association's (RYA) announcement to suspend events in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19), The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) has taken the decision to cancel the Easter Challenge which was due to take place in the Solent between 10-12th April.

"The Government have advised against gatherings, to minimise social contact and avoid non-essential travel to control the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. In light of this, the RORC has taken the difficult, but necessary decision to cancel the popular Easter training regatta in response to these measures," said Chris Stone, RORC Racing Manager. "There has been no decision made about the RORC Season Points Championships which starts with the Cervantes Race on 8th May and we will continue to monitor the situation and advise members and sailors closer to the time."

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The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Michael Boyd, 1996 Greystones Olympian Marshall King and James Murphy have won IRC One of the RORC Caribbean class sailing onboard Giles Redpath's Pata Negra. 

In the early hours of the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, a fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion. In the 18-strong IRC One feet, after time correction and on the water, two yachts rose above the rest to fight for the class win, but a final twist was still to come.

Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) and Philippe Frantz's NMD43 Albator (FRA) had been locked in a duel for 400 miles. Pata Negra, with a lower IRC rating had held the advantage for much of the race. However, having rounded Guadeloupe, Albator pulled ahead on the reach to Barbuda. The extra turn of speed put the French team just seconds ahead of Pata Negra after time correction. The last leg, a gruelling 35nm beat to the finish looked to be decisive. Like two boxers going into the final round, they gave their all, with Albator seemingly taking the win by a narrow margin. However, Pata Negra protested Albator for unintentionally entering an exclusion zone at Terre de Bas, resulting in Albator placing third and Pata Negra provisionally winning the class. Pata Negra and Albator remain friends, sharing breakfast together after the ruling. 

Just hours before finishing the race, provisionally taking second place in IRC Two, Pamala Baldwin contacted the media team from her J/122 Liquid, which is skippered by Jules White with a young team looking to make sailing a career, as well as their passion. "We did the best that we could do and that gives me such a warm feeling to race with such a great team. I am touched by how we race and how much effort we put in. We are going to party tonight," exclaimed Pamala Baldwin.

In IRC Three, Peter McWhinnie's JPK 10.80 In Theory (USA) is the first boat to cross the line and having provisionally won IRC 3. At 1100 local time (1500 GMT), 29 boats are still racing in the RORC Caribbean 600. With the prize giving tonight, the RORC Race Team are hoping that all of the teams will return to Antigua before the big celebration at the Antigua Yacht Club. A full report will follow the prize giving.

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Ireland is very much in the mix at the top of the IRC divisions as the RORC Caribbean 600 enters its final stages. At 1000 (1400 GMT) on Thursday 27th February, 52 yachts are still racing under IRC for the overall win for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. Outsider is leading IRC overall and IRC Zero but a fierce battle is raging in IRC One between two equally matched yachts. Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) with three Irish sailors on board and Philippe Frantz's NMD 43 Albator (FRA) are approaching the Barbuda mark for the second time, with just over 100 miles to go.

Approximately 180 miles from the finish, the competition is also fierce in IRC Two. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) is estimated to be leading by 43 minutes on corrected time from Global Yacht Racing's First 47.7 EH01 (GBR), skippered by Andy Middleton and with Laura Dillon of Howth crewing. Pamala Baldwin's J/122 Liquid (ANT) is estimated to be just an hour off the lead after time correction.

In IRC Three, Peter McWhinnie's Larchmont YC team racing JPK 10.80 In Theory (USA) is leading the class on the water and estimated to have a solid lead after IRC correction. In the Class40 Division, 115nm from the finish, BHB sailed by Arthur Hubert is dead-level with Morgane Ursault Poupon's UP Sailing.

For the second year in a row, David and Peter Askew's Volvo 70 Wizard (USA) has taken Monohull Line Honours in the RORC Caribbean 600. Adrian Keller's Nigel Irens-designed catamaran Allegra (SUI) is the provisional winner of the MOCRA Class. Tilmar Hansen's German TP52 Outsider has finished the race and is currently the overall leader under IRC for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.

Last year's overall winner Wizard struggled in the light air for the first part of the race, but lit up having rounded St.Maarten, blast reaching 140nm to Guadeloupe in just 11 hours. Having negotiated the wind shadow behind Guadeloupe, Wizard pulled the trigger, blast reaching in the Atlantic, smoking through the 90nm to Barbuda in just five hours.

"Driving in light airs is pretty sticky," commented Peter Askew. "We had just had a couple of times where we were at triple zeros, but other than that it was just keeping the boat going the best you could. Wizard is not the best light airs boat, that's for sure. We had to dig ourselves out of a hole. We finally got around Outsider (TP52) at Monserrat and Prospector (Mini Maxi) at Guadeloupe. We got into really good breeze up to Barbuda, just blast reaching, doing 22-24 knots the whole way."

Adrian Keller's Nigel Irens-designed catamaran Allegra is the provisional winner of the multihull class after MOCRA correction. Allegra has been extended to 83ft with two aft water ballast tanks providing up to 800kg of righting moment. Weighing in at 30 tons, with a full interior, Allegra is the heaviest multihull taking part in this year's race.

"We didn't make it to the finish line in the last two long races, so we are very happy and it will be all the sweeter if we win MOCRA," commented Adrian Keller. "As the heaviest boat we don't like light air, but a special sail we call a J0 allows us to go pretty tight to the wind. As soon as we get into 15 knots and more we are really fast, and it was tremendous fun. One of the deciding parts of this race was how long you were parked up. We did a good job at most of the islands, but like everyone else, we stopped in the lee of Guadeloupe. However, when you get around the corner and that trade wind hits you, it's full on."

Tilmar Hansen was a happy man this morning as dawn broke on his 70th birthday. Hansen's TP52 Outsider (GER), skippered by Bo Teichmann, crossed the finish line just after 7 a.m. local time to post the best corrected time so far under IRC.

"We have done a lot of water-proofing since the Rolex Fastnet, and there was definitely more water outside than inside!" smiled Tilmar Hansen. "This race has sunshine, hospitality, and great people. To celebrate my birthday here today, nothing could be better."

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Irish sailors are topping the leaderboard in divisions IRC One and IRC Two by dusk on the second day of the RORC Caribbean 600 race.

In IRC One, Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra continues at the top of the rankings with three Irish crew Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Marshall King of the Royal St. George Yacht Club and James Murphy. Global Yacht Racing's First 47.7 EH01, skippered by Andy Middleton and with Howth Yacht Club's Laura Dillon as part of the crew is estimated to be the leader of IRC Two after IRC correction. Ten Irish sailors are competing in the race.

The entire monohull fleet in the race was at the northernmost extremity of the course negotiating the chicane of islands; Saba, St. Barths, and St. Maarten. Tilmar Hansen's TP52 Outsider (GER) is estimated to be leading IRC Zero and the race overall for the RORC Caribbean Trophy. Eric de Turckheim's NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) is estimated to be second. In third is one of the smallest boats in the race, Yoyo Gerssen's Ohlson 35 Cabbyl Vane (NED).

In IRC Two Handed, Richard Palmer's JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR), racing with Jeremy Waitt, has the top position. In the Class40 Division BHB, sailed by Arthur Hubert (FRA), has a 15-mile lead.

Rankings and boat positions are available on the YB Tracker page: http://yb.tl/C6002020#

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Michael Boyd is chasing the overall lead on board Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra after the first 100 miles sailed in the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in Antigua.

The proven Pata Negra lies second in IRC One and third overall on IRC in a gentle start to the race yesterday.

Three Irish sailors are on Pata Negra, some of ten Irish competing in this week's race. As well as former RORC Commodore Boyd, 1996 Olympian Marshall King (and more recently a J70 champion) and James Murphy are all onboard.

It is the fourth Caribbean 600 race for the Round Britain and Ireland winner. Redpath is joined by an experienced group of inshore and offshore sailors - a mix of professionals and good friends who all have all sailed with him on Pata Negra.

The Lombard 46 was third in class in 2019 and second in ’the 18 race under Michael Wright of Howth Yacht Club. Andy Lis is boat captain and he will be backed up by Will Harris as navigator, Sam Matson on trim and Royal Irish's Boyd on the helm.

Race Start

The impressive 73-boat fleet gathered outside Antigua's English Harbour, relishing the prospect of racing 600nm in stunning conditions. A light south-easterly breeze gave a gentle start to the race, but the fierce competition was exemplified by highly competitive starts right through the fleet. Lighter than usual conditions are forecast for the first 24-hours of the race, adding another level of strategy to the fascinating race around 11 Caribbean islands.

First to go was the combined IRC Three and IRC Two fleet of 26 boats. The second start was for IRC One and the Class40 division, featuring 23 teams. The IRC Zero start featuring 17 of the fastest monohulls in the race was highly aggressive. The Multihull start featured eight teams.

Tracker here

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The 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts this morning at 1100 local time (1500 GMT), Antigua. The diverse fleet - that includes ten Irish sailors - will be competing in four classes, with 74 entries sailed by over 700 crew members representing 37 nations.

Antigua has been buzzing with sailors preparing for the 600nm race around 11 islands. The diversity of competing yachts is matched by the variety of sailors taking part.

The sport of sailing is like no other - world-famous sailors compete with and against passionate corinthian sailors. On the docks in Antigua, this eclectic mix share their thoughts prior to the start of the spectacular race in this vid below.

 

 

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With less than two weeks until the start of the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, boats and crew are beginning to arrive in Antigua. The marinas in Falmouth and English Harbour are starting to buzz with activity as sailors from all over the world come to prepare their yachts for the 600-mile race around 11 Caribbean islands. Around 70 teams will be taking part with well over 700 sailors competing. 

As Afloat previously reported, there will be strong Irish interest in the race with up to ten Irish sailors competing.

Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) sailed to Antigua after the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race. Boat Captain Andy Lis has been busy preparing the boat for the team's arrival. Amongst Redpath's crew for the race will be past RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Figarists Sam Matson and Will Harris, and the current J/70 Corinthian World Champion helm, Marshall King who originally hails from Greystones Sailing Club in County Wicklow.

German TP52 OutsiderIn Antigua and preparing for the RORC Caribbean 600 - Tilmar Hansen's German TP52 Outsider Photo Sander van der Borch
One of the largest yachts on the entry list, Jeroen Van Dooren's Swan 95 Lot99 (NED), has arrived in Antigua. "6076nm from Cape Town to Antigua, filled with sunshine, plenty of rain, flying fish and lots of biscuits! Happy to be back on island time," commented crew member, Penny Chapman. "We sailed from Cape Town to St. Helena, stopping only for supplies, then crossed the Atlantic to Fernando de Noronha, off Brazil. The crew saw an amazing display of spinner dolphins before we set off north. We were blessed with fast-reaching conditions up to Antigua - Lot99 was in her element," continued Lot99 Boat Captain, Dan Newman.

Three Cookson 50s will be competing in this year's race, but they are far from identical. Zoe Taylor and Chris Way will be racing Grace O'Malley (AUS), named after the 16th-century pirate queen of Ireland. Zoe Taylor hails from Australia and has competed in three editions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Grace O'Malley was formerly called Lee Overlay Partners; overall winner of the 2009 RORC Caribbean 600. Ron O'Hanley's Privateer (USA) has the tallest rig of the three and an extended bowsprit. Privateer won the race overall in 2013 and was second in 2018.

Joseph Mele's Triple Lindy (USA) also has an extended bowsprit and now has a fixed keel which can extend to 3.8 meters. "We just have to get the right conditions to suit our set up," explained Brad Kellett, Boat Captain for Triple Lindy. "We don't have the same form-stability as the two canting keelboats, but we do have the lowest rating under IRC. If we can perform to our rating, we should do well."

Three Cookson 50sThree Cookson 50s will be battling it out at this year's RORC Caribbean 600 Photo Louay Habib

One of several hi-tech yachts in this year's race is Tilmar Hansen's TP52 Outsider (GER). The Judel/Vrolik design as Platoon won the 2017 Rolex TP52 World Championship, and as Outsider was fourth overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race. Australian Lindsay Stead has recently joined the team and is in Antigua helping prepare Outsider for the race. "After the Fastnet, it was decided to work on the bunks below and also to improve waterproofing in general," commented Stead. "Outsider will have 15 crew for the race, as that is what she was designed for in terms of righting moment. We have two manual pedestal grinders, and especially for the long reach down to Guadeloupe, we will be swapping out the crew. We are prepared for a wet ride, and in terms of ideal wind conditions, if the breeze sits at around 16 knots, that will be ideal for Outsider."

Farr 58 MaidenLiz Wardley will skipper Tracey Edwards' Farr 58 Maiden which will be racing for the first time since the '89-'90 Whitbread Round the World Race Photo: Louay Habib

The Farr 58 Maiden (GBR), skippered by Tracy Edwards, was runner-up in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race. Maiden has been beautifully restored and will be captained by Liz Wardley, who has competed in three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. For the RORC Caribbean 600, Maiden will have race crew and also guests who are making donations to the Maiden Factor Foundation, which seeks to advance the education of girls up to 18 years old, all over the world. The film Maiden (2019) was shortlisted for the Oscars this year and will get a special screening in Antigua before the race.

"Tracy wanted to keep Maiden as original as possible," commented Wardley. "The deck layout is much as it was in 1989, but the equipment is modern. The rig is a little shorter, but we will be running symmetrical spinnakers as Maiden did over 30 years ago. I got a nice surprise when we arrived in Antigua when we tied up very close to a competitor, Esprit de Corps III. The boat was originally Amer Sports One in the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race, and I was crew on the sistership Amer Sports Too!"
Dimitry Kondratyev will skipper yuri Fadeev's First 40 Optimus Prime (RUS). The all-Russian team have been competing at Grenada Sailing Week before sailing to Antigua. "The crew come from all over Russia; Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Siberia," commented Kondratyev. "It is great to be back in Antigua, and we are all looking forward to the race. We have only eight on board, which is a bit light, especially if it is as windy as last year."

The 2020 RORC Caribbean 600 is scheduled to start on 24th February 1100 local time (1500 UTC).

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So far ten or more Irish sailors have registered as crew members on the following boats for the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Caribbean 600 Race starting in less than a month.

The inaugural 2009 winner, Royal St. George's Adrian Lee with Lee Overlay and Partners returns this time on a Swan 60 as Afloat previously reported here.

Adrian LeeAdrian Lee of the Royal St. George Yacht Club

Starting on Monday, 24 February, teams from around the world will descend on Antigua for the non-stop race around 11 islands.

Three Irish sailors are on Pata Negra, Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 that competes in IRC One. Former RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, 1996 Olympian Marshall King (and more recently a J70 champion) and James Murphy are all onboard. It is the fourth Caribbean 600 race for the Round Britain and Ireland winner. Redpath is joined by an experienced group of inshore and offshore sailors - a mix of professionals and good friends who all have all sailed with him on Pata Negra.

Michael BoydMichael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club

The Lombard 46 was third in class in 2019 and second in ’the 18 race under Michael Wright of Howth Yacht Club. Andy Lis is boat captain and he will be backed up by Will Harris as navigator, Sam Matson on trim and Royal Irish's Boyd on the helm. 

In his 90th year, American Don Street, who hails from Glandore in West Cork, will compete on Kinship. 

The lifetime sailor has spent 45 years cruising, charting and writing about the Caribbean for his famous guide books. 40 of those years were spent in his 46ft engineless yawl, Iolaire, built-in 1905.

Iolaire flew the RORC burgee for 80 years!

“My nickname used to be ‘squeaky’ but with the way I am having holes cut in me, it should be changed to ‘swiss cheese’, says Street. He will be racing with a team who has sailed and raced Kinship for over a dozen years, with good results in ocean races and local regattas along the East Coast of the US. Oldest combined crew ages? A 91-year-old will also on be on board!

Ronan GREALISHRonan Grealish of Galway Bay Sailing Club

Elsewhere in the fleet, Galway Bay's Ronan Grealish competes on the Swedish VO65 Childhood 1. 

Helen Flannery competes on the French-flagged Aminata. 

Howth Yacht Club's Laura Dillon is on the British Beneteau 47.7 EH01.

laura dillonHowth Yacht Club's Laura Dillon

Neil Maher is on the Sail Racing Academy Beneteau 40.7 Escapado and  Clipper Round the World Skipper Sean McCarter is on the 25m Swan, Umiko. This is the same vessel that took a National Yacht Club crew across the Atlantic on the ARC before Christmas 2019 as Afloat reported here.

For many, it will be their first time in the race, whilst for others, it's a chance to defend their titles or improve on past results as they are lured back to this challenging race.

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The Royal St. George Yacht Club's 2009 winning skipper Adrian Lee will be racing his Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II in next month's RORC Caribbean 600 writes Louay Habib.

For the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, 21 teams - racing yachts of 50ft (15.24m) or over - have already signed up for the 600-mile blast around 11 Caribbean Islands. The competition in all the classes will be as fierce as ever. However, history has shown that the best performer in the big boat class is likely to be rewarded with the overall win. Since the first race in 2009 overall victory under IRC for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy has been dominated by big boats.

The racecourse and weather combine to produce a thrilling race in tropical heat with non-stop action for the international fleet. In February, the trade winds are pumping over 20 knots with up to two metres of swell. The course design capitalises on these stunning conditions with numerous legs off the breeze. This combination provides spectacular racing at full pelt.

Peter and David Askew (USA) racing Volvo 70 Wizard will be defending last year's overall win. Wizard's crew will include stars from the Volvo Ocean Race: Charlie Enright (USA), Robert Greenhalgh (GBR), Phil Harmer (AUS), Will Oxley (AUS), Mark Towill (USA), Curtis Blewett (CAN) and Richard Clarke (CAN).

"It's the toughest 600-mile race in the world. Lots of turns and always windy," commented Peter Askew. "We are most looking forward to being out of the cold Mid-Atlantic USA weather for a week in late February. The course in general is what makes the event unique; sailing for 600 miles through all the islands is a blast and the beautiful trade wind sailing conditions are perfect for our boat."

Ron O'Hanley (USA) racing Cookson 50 Privateer was the overall winner in 2013 and came second overall to Rambler 88 in 2018. Boat Captain Scott Innes-Jones (NZL) is looking forward to racing in 2020.

"Privateer is a good all-rounder, so we need a bit of everything," commented Innes-Jones. "If we just get big reaching, the bigger boats put us away, but if there are a couple of slow spots we can come back at them. Since the boat was originally designed it has really changed; we have optimised Privateer as best we can. To win you have to sail well and have a bit of luck, everything has got to go your way."

Four examples of Nautor's Swan have already entered the 2020 RORC Caribbean 600, including 2009 winning skipper Adrian Lee (IRL) who will be racing his Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II. Swan 95 Lot 99, sailed by Jeroen Van Dooren (NED) is the largest Maxi entered to date. Race founder and long-standing RORC member John Burnie (GBR) will be taking part in his tenth race on board Lot 99. Burnie has raced on board a number of Maxis and superyachts in the race. In 2009, Burnie skippered Claude Telier's Orma 60 Région Guadeloupe to victory in the Multihull Class, setting a record that was not bettered until 2015.

"In Caribbean conditions waterline length is quite critical and it's a very thrilling ride," commented Burnie. "So much of the course is fast reaching, especially Tintamarre to Guadeloupe and La Désirade to the Barbuda mark. However, these legs are unlike other long races, as even on a Maxi, the corners come up fast and you can't really relax - you are always preparing for the next manoeuvre. This makes for fantastic sailing, particularly at night when it is absolutely sensational. Teamwork is everything, inevitably when you race on a boat of that size you have a range of sailors that have come together, and when you finish the race, you get a wonderful greeting from the volunteers dockside with cold beer - it is a euphoric moment for the whole team!"

Lee Overlay Partners II will be racing in IRC One and similar rivals include the classic 1974 restored Swan 65 Libélula, sailed by Francisco de Borja Pella (ESP) and OnDeck's Paul Jackson racing Antiguan Farr 65 Spirit of Juno. Proven winners in IRC One include: Giles Redpath (GBR) racing Lombard 46 Pata Negra, Philippe Frantz's (FRA) NM43 Albator and RP37 Taz, raced by Bernie Evan Wong (ANT) who has competed in every edition of the race.

New to this year's race will be GP42 Phan which has been chartered by Patrick and Catherine Keohane (GBR). The couple have raced before, but this is the first time in IRC One. The pocket rocket will be co-skippered by Catherine Keohane and performance coach Nigel King.

"The course is in itself a challenge and this, combined with the weather, offers a great test for all," commented Keohane. "There are parts of the course where you really need to be on top of your game anticipating weather, affects from the islands, and try to think three steps ahead tactically to gain an advantage. We have put together an international team and the challenge will be in getting the team to gel, be competitive and have fun on the water!"

The 12th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's RORC Caribbean 600 will start on Monday 24th February 2020 from Antigua. 

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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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