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Wicklow Sailing Club has postponed by two months the start of the 2020 SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

The new start date for the 704-mile race will be Saturday 22nd August 2020, subject to government guidelines.

The decision follows speculation about whether or not the race would go ahead on its original June 20th date, as other major Irish sailing fixtures either side of the Round Ireland race such as Royal Cork's Cork Week and 300th celebrations and Howth's Wave Regatta had already been either cancelled or rescheduled. 

The new date – some 63 days later than originally scheduled – will mean less daylight for competitors who usually race with the benefit of longer days and shorter nights at midsummer.

Kyan OgradyWicklow Sailing Club Commodore Kyran O’Grady who is also the Round Ireland Race Director

"Even under the most optimistic scenario, our traditional start date of mid-June would not be possible," commented Kyran O’Grady, Race Director at Wicklow Sailing Club. "However, we believe that there is a suitable late-Summer fixtures window that can still deliver a great race. We will keep updated guidelines under constant review as we plan for the new date."

More than 40 entries from around Ireland and further afield have already been received for the original start date. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, indications that a record fleet of more than 60 boats was expected. Wicklow SC organisers will begin contacting all the interested crews to assess their availability and requirements for the new date.

“Postponing the SSE Renewables Round Ireland is the correct course of action as safety is our first priority," commented Barry Kilcline, SSE Renewables’ Director of Development. "We remain committed to working with Wicklow Sailing Club on preparations for the new August date and the prospect of an exciting race."

The first Round Ireland Race was sailed in 1980 and since then hundreds of crews have entered what is regarded as the "Kilimanjaro of Sailing" as the course offers a range of obstacles and challenges. Simply finishing the race that can take up to a week for some boats is regarded as an achievement in itself.

Published in Round Ireland

The 2020 Round Ireland Yacht Race 2020 Notice of Race is downloadable below as a PDF document. 

The race start will be off Wicklow Harbour on Saturday, June 20th 2020.

There is no surprise that the 704 nautical mile race course is as in previous editions: 'leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard'.

There will be separate starts for monohulls and multihulls. Starting times: Monohulls 1300 hrs and Multihulls 13.10 hrs.

The 2020 Notice of Race is downloadable below as a PDF document

Published in Round Ireland

Wicklow Sailing Club and the organising committee of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland 2020 race are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

In a statement, published on March 27, the club said it will abide by the guidance of the government, health and other experts in relation to running the biennial race.

The statement continues: 'At the moment there are restrictions in place in Ireland until April 19th. We are aware that there is a considerable amount of planning and commitment on behalf of the participants. So, in fairness to everyone, it is our intention to make a call on whether or not to go ahead with the race towards the end of April.

Please note: should this health pandemic cause us to cancel the race all deposits and entry fees will be refunded in full.

If it is feasible to run the race safely in relation to the health of all involved we will try our very best to do so. In the meantime stay safe, stay healthy'.

Published in Round Ireland

Two new entries tip entries over the 40 boat mark for the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race that is due to start off Wicklow in just over ten weeks time.

Waterford Harbour Sailing Club skipper Peter Coad skippering the Pocock 37 Black Jack is the 41st entry into the classic offshore. The Dunmore East based 1988-vintage yacht is a veteran of the 2019 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

Coad's entry follows Ross Hobson's Seacart 30 Buzz from Newcastle in the UK also entered in late March.

The buoyant entries make good on Wicklow organiser's early prediction that they could top 60-boats for the 21st edition of the race.

So far, it is the only big-ticket sailing event of the summer not cancelled due to COVID-19. The organisers say a call on whether or not the biennial race will go ahead will be made towards the end of April.

Published in Round Ireland

One-by-one they came in this week – cancellations of planned events. The Royal Cork’s 300th celebrations. I commiserated with the club’s Admiral, Colin Morehead. A tough decision for him in his first few months in office. Cork Week had to be abandoned. The Squib National Championships at Kinsale which, when I wrote last week’s column were still going ahead, were also cancelled as were many other planned events.

One of my favourites, the Classics at Glandore Harbour Yacht Club in West Cork, which I’ve sailed in several times, are set for July 18-24 and were to connect with the RCYC’s 300th.

Commodore, Eamon Timoney has told club members that GHYC is still committed to the Classic 2020 schedule but, things may change: “Our strategy is to plan for our various events, including the Classic Regatta until such time as a cancellation or postponement is required. The Committee will endeavour to do this in a timely way.”

Another of the major events in which I take particular interest and raced three times - the Round Ireland Yacht Race - is still set for Saturday, June 20. Wicklow Sailing Club says it will “make a call on whether or not to go ahead with the race towards the end of April.”

This weekend, my own club the RCYC closed its entire site including access to the marinas until Easter Sunday, April 12.

So what to do when the planned sailing season seems to collapse? My plan had been for installing some new electronics on Scribbler, my Sigma 33. I was looking forward to that, all planned when the crisis hit. Now she sits amongst many other boats in the boatyard as the sailing fraternity waits to see what will happen.

Upwind & Downwind Sailing

So I’ve been turning my mind to thoughts of that beautiful moment at the start of each season when Scribbler lifts to the first wave after she’s been launched and wondering when I will feel that moment this year.

In this frame of mind, I’ve been considering upwind and downwind sailing.

When I took up the sport I was told that upwind is “toughest and worst” as the boat and crew beat a course to reach the windward mark. When the sea is bouncy it sure is not pleasant. As a novice learner I was told that the reward came with “freeing sails” and “setting the spinnaker.”

How then to account for my feeling of anxiety and concern that seems to encase my thoughts when that forward-bearing cloth goes up. I’ve sailed on various boats with different owners and listened to the shouts of “sheet; no get the guy; no I said sheet in; for pity’s sake let it out, it’s going to twist….” Those instructions are not always couched in pleasant terms and more brusque and blunt words have been used.

I’ve ”flown the spinnaker” on yachts of my own and on other people’s, on boats of various sizes; in the Round Ireland; across the Atlantic in the Whitbread Round the World Race. My family crew love “getting the spinnaker up,” with obvious delight and a feeling of fulfilment when it fills and Scribbler pulls away with the power of the crinkling upfront sail…

So, is my view of spinnakers because my early experiences of cruisers, contrasted from an owner whose view was “best left at home in the attic,” or the enthusiast for having his multi-coloured spinnaker flying when, as we cruised on a nice day off Schull, sun shining, the water nicely flat, happy with a sandwich and a glass of wine when he announced he wanted the spinnaker up and one of my crewmates replied: “Oh no, just when we were all getting along so nicely…..”

Listen to the PODCAST below

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The latest entry into the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race is Dublin Bay’s Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600, 'Hot Cookie'. As David O'Brien points out in this morning's Irish Times newspaper the race entry is building towards a record entry.

The National Yacht Club’s John O’Gorman skippered this new design to third overall in the 2019 Dún Laoghaire to Dingle Race so it is yet another prospect for Round Ireland’s overall IRC prize.

40 boats have entered so far to make good on Wicklow Sailing Club's prediction of 60 boats for the June 20th start. 

Much more on the story in the Irish Times here.

Published in National YC

When a country is brooding under the gloom of a developing and lethal global pandemic, you’d have thought that something mildly light-hearted such as the weekend’s Sailing on Saturday creation of a virtual launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club for Wicklow Sailing Club’s SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2020 might have helped to brighten the national mood, in however small a way.

But not everyone agreed. Indeed, some made it clear in private communications that this wouldn’t do at all. The cancellation and its implications were apparently a very serious business and should be treated as such. We couldn’t help but be reminded of Liverpool manager Bill Shankly’s reply - when asked if football was as important as life and death - that in fact, the beautiful game was much more important than life and death.

In Ireland in particular, you make jokes about sport at your peril. For sure, proven fellow participants can make jokes about individual sportsmen’s predicaments, and our header photo has been a happy hunting ground for sometimes savagely droll peer comment. But as for making jokes about sport for a general readership – that is totally verboten.

We were reminded of this back in the day when we used to write a weekly newspaper column about sailing when Ireland was covered in newsprint. An American acquaintance from San Francisco commented that although his home town was served by no less than three reputable daily newspapers and the Greater Bay Area was full of sailing and power boats, not one of the city’s three newspapers carried a regular sailing column.

Yet in Ireland by contrast, people seemed to take their sporting journalism very seriously indeed - however much of a minority interest was being covered - and every national newspaper had a regular sailing column, summer and winter.

Thus it came about that when headline-grabbing stories about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports as various as swimming and cycling and distance running were dominating the sports news, I popped in a column about how sailing also shared this problem. The use of performance-enhancing drugs was rife in Irish sailing, and I could prove it.

This caused quite a flurry in the sports pages sub-editing sweatshop, where they were thinking about making it the lead story. But a reference to the paper’s on-call libel lawyer calmed them down. He pointed out that the performance-enhancing drugs in question were clearly discussed as being taken after the event.

These performance-enhancing drugs amounted to no more than the usual heap of pints which crews consumed in the club after racing (for this was a very long time ago), as a result of which a boat and crew which had turned in a mediocre performance gradually found, as the juices flowed, that they’d actually been more or less in the middle of the fleet. Only in sailing – and in Irish sailing at that – are performance-enhancing drugs taken after the event. And they’re used to such good effect that by the time our gallant matelots finally reeled homewards into the night and properly awash, they were fully convinced they’d been solidly in the frame.

So the column was used in its entirety, but believe it or not, it was given an editorial introduction to make sure that everyone realised it was trying to lighten the mood. For the editor well knew that dyed-in-the-wool sports fans regarded every blessed written word on all sorts of competition as Holy Writ, and you just didn’t make jokes - however feeble - about any sport in a general kind of way.

That said, because sailing does carry an element of danger, there’s a tendency within the sport to a certain amount of gallows humour about the predicaments of others. It can be dependent on cultural background. Up on Belfast Lough, the tone seems still to be set by the rugged nature of working in the shipyard, where the foremen were wont to wear bowler hats. This wasn’t vanity. It was because a particularly demanding foreman would know that anyone with a grievance against him might well - when working at a height - accidentally drop a large rivet aimed right at his head as he strode along at ground level.

titanic building2The rough tough world of ultimate ship-building as the Titanic nears completion in Belfast. The bowler hats of the bosses were more than ornamental indications of rank, they were vital personal protection
Consequently, the bowler hat was actually a steel-reinforced crash helmet for protection against personal and ever-present danger. In such a social climate, anyone making a mistake was quickly singled out for cruel derision, both in work and at play. Thus in some Belfast Lough sailing events nowadays, it’s still regarded as hilarious to honour some unfortunate mistake-maker after each day’s racing for acclamation as “The Mug of the Day”.

Each to their own and welcome to it, as you might say. In these surreal times, we can only conclude with some advice from a member of the Waterford sailing community as to how best to stock up for the Self-Isolation which many of us may have to resort to in order to get through the Covid-19 quarantine period.

Apparently the answer is to buy After Eight Mints and Carr’s Miniature Table Water Biscuits in industrial quantities. The word from Waterford is that, after you’ve been isolated, this will be the only nourishment that your family will be able to slide in under the door.

Published in W M Nixon

There’s a rumour going around about the cancellation of this week’s traditional Dublin launch in the Royal Irish Yacht Club of the biennial SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, due to start from Wicklow Sailing Club on June 20th. The rumour mills would have it that the always convivial gathering – scheduled for Wednesday – had to be called off, or at least postponed, in a properly sensible response to the gathering clouds of the Covid-19 epidemic threat.

In the Actual World and in Real Time, the cancellation did indeed take place. But in the Virtual World where many of us live today, Afloat.ie is delighted to reveal that this popular and always interesting gathering did in fact take place, and though some attendees will have impressions of the event which differ markedly from others, isn’t that always the case with the recollections of any good party?

We won’t go so far as to suggest that anyone who claims to remember the event in precise detail simply can’t have been there, but at times it was definitely getting into being that kind of party. For the way it is, every second year it’s that special evening of early Spring when Wicklow asserts its identity as a place apart, a proper little commercial and sailing port town which definitely isn’t an outlying commuter extension of Dublin.

On the contrary, it’s a town of great individuality where they’ve a huge billboard on the edge of town telling you to go to gaol, a quaint port whose small but hugely enthusiastic sailing club inaugurated the first non-stop 704-mile Round Ireland Race forty years ago, and in 2020 is staging the 21st edition of what is now an international classic. They sustain it with the full support of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and the whole-hearted backing of the Royal Irish Yacht Club which, in a gesture which speaks volumes, is happy to be seen as the Dublin Bay Out Station of Wicklow SC in order to provide berthing support and a sort of WSC Embassy for entrants that are too large to use Wicklow’s characterful little harbour.

2 royal irish yc2Pavilion of Dreams……The Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire was the ideal setting for a virtual launch party on Wednesday evening

It will be clear from all this that even in the best of times it is difficult to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins in the story of the Round Ireland Race, and when our Real World is in chaos, it’s a relief to allow the Virtual World to step in and keep things on track.

Thus it was that a virtual group of active volunteers and supporters from Wicklow Sailing Club headed Dun Laoghaire-wards on Wednesday afternoon led by Race Director Hal Fitzgerald, and at the Royal Irish they met up with Barry Kilcline of SSE Renewables which, among other projects, is currently developing the next phase of the Arklow Bank Wind Park off the Wicklow coast.

2a arklow bank turbines2aPower for the People….the Arklow Bank Wind Park off the Wicklow Coast is an SSE Renewable project. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

At the RIYC they met up with WSC Commodore Kyran O’Grady, who was fresh in from Connemara, that glorious part of the country where his renowned thatching skills are so highly regarded that he has been doing work on the roof of the Recording Studio near Roundstone of a certain legendary figure in the Irish and international music scene.

3 kyran ogrady barry kilcline3Thatching and turbines get together – Wicklow SC Commodore Kyran O’Grady with Barry Kilcline of SSE Renewables. Photo WSC

’Tis far from a thatched roof that the neo-classical design of the 1851-built Royal Irish Yacht Club originated, but nevertheless its stately ambience was an appropriate setting for a gathering which brought together so many strands of Irish and world sailing. All of them were united in support of Wicklow SC’s gallantry in keeping this round Ireland show on the road through times thick and thin, with RIYC Commodore Joe Costello welcoming an eclectic attendance which well reflected the extraordinary hold that this very special event has on those who take part in it – some of them many times, very many times in several cases.

4 joe costello4A warm virtual welcome – RIYC Commodore Joe Costello. Photo: Deirdre Power
5 hal fitzgerald5Race Director Hal Fitzgerald. Photo: W M Nixon

The list of winners both on Corrected Time and in Line Honours well reflects this, while we get an even more telling impression from ranking the clubs of those winners:

6 round ireland winners6The winners of the Round Ireland Race have come from 12 different clubs and seven different countries

The Royal Cork Yacht Club and the Royal Irish YC top the table with four winners apiece, the Royal Cork launched on their way with Denis Doyle’s two famous victories in 1982 and 1984 with Moonduster.

Home Clubs of Round Ireland Winners:

  • Royal Cork YC: 4
  • Royal Irish YC: 4
  • Howth Yacht Club: 2
  • National Yacht Club: 2
  • Kinsale YC: 1
  • New York Yacht Club: 1
  • Clyde Cruising Club:1
  • Yacht Club Breskens: 1
  • Galway Bay Sailing Club: 1
  • Clifden Boat Club: 1
  • Lymington Town Sailing Club: 1
  • Waterford Harbour Sailing Club: 1

Clifden Boat Cub was the named home club of France’s Bernard & Laurent Gouy - winners in 2012 with the Ker 39 Inis Mor - who have a family holiday place in Connemara. Breskens is, of course, the great Piet Vroon, winner with Tonnere de Breskens 3 in 2010, while Lymington Town SC crops up thanks to Lawrie Smith’s double win with Rothman’s in 1990, though he could equally have named Glandore Harbour YC, as his parents acquired a little place there in the 1960s. And Waterford Harbour SC is, of course, the late Brian Coad, winner of the first race in 1980 with the Rival 34 Raasay of Melfort.

7 radley farnan7Cobh lads together - George Radley accepting the RCYC Half Ton Trophy from Admiral Pat Farnan. Photo: Robert Bateman

Thus there’s a lot of experience to draw on from past Round Ireland Races, and on Wednesday’s we’d a virtual panel discussion which took us through the experiences of George Radley of Cobh – winner with the immortal Imp in 2000 and almost winner again in 2002 when it was snatched at the last minute by fellow Corkman Eric Lisson with the Noray/Granada 38 Cavatina. Also involved was sailmaker Maurice “The Prof” O’Connell, who was right there with Mark Mansfield when they combined to give Dave Cullen class victory with the J/109 Euro Car Parks in 2016, and also called the shot in 2018 for the vital move which got Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia out of the Donegal flat patch and right into the frame in class and overall in 2018.

The panel was completed by Anna Walsh, who was with Peter Wilson on the J/35 Bridgestone for overall victory in 1994 in a varied career afloat which included top-level J/24 involvement and windsurfing and is now getting back to her favourite sailing activity of offshore racing on Paul O’Higgins’ all-conquering JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI in ISORA racing, where her shipmates include husband Mark Pettit.

George Radley was at his droll and revelatory best when he let us know that his famous victory with Imp for Kinsale YC in 2000 was achieved by taking the father and mother of a flyer. They’d been parked up at Rathlin for five hours and more, and when they finally got going again they reckoned the only way they could get back in the hunt was by going right over to the Scottish side for the passage through the North Channel. Thus they came in literally out of the blue to the finish at Wicklow to snatch the overall title by 6 minutes.

It made him wonder about luck or whatever you’d call it, for in 2002 they sailed a steady and tactically conservative race and were in a comfortable lead approaching the finish, but the wind let them down, and fellow Corkman Eric Lisson in the low-rated Cavatina simply had to keep plodding along to take the title.

8 cavatina sailing8The all-conquering Cavatina. Never assume you’ve beaten her in a Round Ireland Race until you see the official numbers published in their final form. Photo: Facebook

It’s less well-remembered now that although Imp was away in 2004, George and his mates borrowed John Godkin’s Ron Humphreys-designed Sovereign 400 VSOP out of Kinsale, and under the name of McCarthy Motors they took on a heavy weather race with relish. Here again, they were right on target getting into the finish area, but the Wicklow flukiness did for them yet again, so as George said, the reality is that his only actual victory was won through a monumental gamble, but you had to be there to get the full flavour of him savouring this memory.

Maurice “Prof” O’Connell’s memories of the Round Ireland go back to 1994 when he first did the circuit with the O’Learys on the Lightwave 395 Irish Mist, and in those days of unmarked two-mile long salmon nets, he reckoned they invented the “jump-broach” technique of taking a spinnaker-setting boat clean over a net by going sideways on her ear, thus preventing fouling of keel, rudder and propellor

Mark Mansfield reckons he made the same useful discovery when racing round in an X372 a couple of years earlier, but with salmon fishing regulation more severe these days, it’s a skill which is now vaguely recalled rather than actively practised.

9 mansfield oconnnell sailing9Mark Mansfield and Maurice “Prof” O’Connell racing Dave Culllen’s J/109 Euro Car parks in the early stages of the 2016 Round Ireland race, in which they secured a class win. Both lay claim to having invented the “broach-leap” to carry a spinnaker-setting boat clean across a salmon net. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

As it happens, The Prof reckons that expecting to carry experience from one round Ireland through to the next race two years later - and the races after that - is a snare and a delusion. For as he firmly declared, each race is ABSOLUTEY different from the previous one, and the conditions he and his shipmates’ experienced in winning their class with the J/109 Euro Car Parks in 2016 were pretty much the direct opposite of those they dealt with in getting another class win with the J/122 Aurelia in 2018.

With so much Cork input going into the discussion, it was a relief to find that Anna Walsh is a Dub, even though the inevitable Cork connections emerged on her mother’s side. She’s finding time again for offshore racing despite the challenges of raising a family and an extremely demanding and multi-faceted day job.

Thus she frankly admitted that while she was well able for most crewing job on an offshore racer, she got special satisfaction from being the ship’s cook, as it was a very focused function which took her mind off the distracting “trivia” of everyday life.

This column’s view is that while good helms are ten-a-penny, an able and talented ship’s cook is a treasure beyond price to be cherished in every way, his or her views held in reverence way above those of other crew members,

10 anna walsh10Anna Walsh - she was on a crew of Peter Wilson’s J/35 Bridgestone when they were overall winners of the 1994 race

That said, in this era of gender equality in all roles it didn’t seem quite right that the woman’s input to the discussion should be mostly on sea cooking, but Anna swept such notions aside with her enthusiasm and even followed up with a businesslike note on catering for the Round Ireland Race which is probably of more value than all of the rest of this blog put together, and here it is:

THE ANNA WALSH GOOD FOOD GUIDE FOR RACING ROUND IRELAND:

  • There's the obvious stuff: checking crew allergens, avoiding poultry and dairy products that won't keep well, minimising strong flavours as the crew are living in too close quarters for days on end.
  • There's the practical stuff: Planning a balanced and varied menu, meal by meal, day by day. Pre-cooking, vac-packing and labelling everything with indelible markers. And vac-packing the daily supplies that need to stay dry until day 4, 5 and 6 of the Race means you'll have dry matches, sugar cubes, toilet paper and tea bags when you need them most.
  • The pressure cooker is your friend: Pre-cooked and vac-packed meals, including breakfasts, can be quickly and safely reheated in a pressure cooker in any conditions.
  • Memorable meals: Be inventive with limited ingredients and stove-top cooking. Steak sandwiches can be cooked and served rounding the Tuskar if the prep has been done before the start. Ready to heat and serve stews with roast vegetables work well sailing up the West coast, especially in heavy weather. A hot bacon in eggy-bread sandwich passing Mew Island eaten on the rail of Jumpin' Jack Flash/Bridgestone was one of the most delicious Round Ireland meals ever.
  • Secret recipe: Storm cake: Traditional fruit cake and Irish whiskey in roughly equal measures - lifts spirits during night watches.

Nourished by the very thought of all that, the gathering then went from seminar to party. One story which inevitably an rightly came up in Wednesday night’s general chat is an episode from the 2018 race which didn’t really get the publicity it deserved at the time. Aboard the INSS’s J/109 Jedi – chartered by Michael Boyd – they’d a dead-of-night man overboard emergency while plugging into the vicious headwinds off the north Kerry coast. Yet Kenneth Rumball master-minded the retrieval of the casualty with such skill and speed that the report of the incident went through in the race’s news-stream in a matter-of-fact style with so little fanfare that it was almost forgotten by the finish, but happily in November 2018 it was to be deservedly high-lighted with the award of the RORC Seamanship Trophy.

11 kenneth rumball11Kenneth Rumball of Irish National Sailing School, winner with Michael Boyd of the RORC Seamanship Trophy after a textbook man-overboard retrieval during 2018’s race. For 2020’s race, he is expected to be campaigning an entry of very special interest in the Two Handed Division. Photo: W M Nixon12 michael boyd12The inscrutable Michael Boyd, former Commodore of the RORC, in his home club of the RIYC. His plans for the 2020 Round Ireland race are still being kept under wraps. Photo: W M Nixon

Michael Boyd’s plans for the 2020 race are still being kept under wraps, but you’d be unlikely to lose money if you made a modest wager that he’ll be on the starting line in some interesting boat. And as for Kenneth Rumball, if – as is very likely – he is there, it will be in a different boat in a new category which will be filling the sailing news in the very near future.

The boat he’ll race will be white-hot new, so there’s no way he’ll be eligible for another of the trophies which emerged from Wednesday’s virtual launching party, the Maybird Mast for the oldest boat to complete the course. The brainchild of Darryl Hughes whose immaculately-restored 1937 43ft Tyrrell of Arklow gaff ketch Maybird became both the first gaff-rigged boat and the oldest ever to finish the race was virtually presented to the organisers by the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association President Johnny Wedick at Wednesday’s cyberspace gathering, and will simply be for the oldest boat to finish.

There was an extraordinary linking of past and present as the DBOGA group included Lucia Hawkes-Bowen who’d come across from England, and she’s the great-niece of Col WCW Hawkes who was originally from Croshaven but was Cornwall-based when he had Maybird built by Jack Tyrrell in 1937.

13 hawkes bowen hughes13Lucia Hawkes-Bowen, great-niece of the original 1937 owner of the Tyrrell gaff ketch Maybird, with Darryl Hughes and the new Maybird Mast Trophy for the oldest boat to complete the Round Ireland Race

As for who is likely to be the first winner of the Maybird Mast Trophy, a sensible wager on the current entry list of 38 boats would be the American entry Hiro Maru (Hiro Nakajima) which came from behind to win Class 3 in last year’s Transatlantic race. Originally built as Scaramouche in 1971, she’s a Sparkman & Stephens 49 classic from the legendary alloy-building facility of Palmer Johnson in Wisconsin (the same design-build combo produced Ted Turner’s storm-tossed 1979 Fastnet winner Tenacious), and carries her 49 years with aplomb.

Next in line in age terms is the mid-1970s Noray 38 Cavatina (Ian Hickey, RCYC) which is also of course always in the reckoning for the overall win – she’s just that kind of boat and crew. The Dubois-design Fulmar 32 Fulmar Fever from Dunmore East Sea School might be though to be in the reckoning for ‘golden oldie’ prize, but in fact they didn’t start building this marque until 1979, so her main competition will be for the Sailing Schools award, where she’ll be up against two entries from Ronan O’Siochru’s Irish Offshore Sailing. Both are vintage Sun Fast 37s, and one of them – Desert Star – won the Roger Justice Trophy for Sea Schools in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet race.

14 desert star fastnet14Desert Star, skippered by Ronan O Siochru of Irish Offshore Sailing, on her way to winning the Roger Justice Trophy in the 2015 Fastnet Race

The top Irish boat from the 2019 Fastnet – Conor Doyle’s Xp 50 Freya from Kinsale – is down to race round Ireland, as is the Murphy family’s successful Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo from Royal Cork along with clubmate Frank Doyle in his J/112E Cara, so there’s a notably strong representation from Cork of boats which will probably then position themselves to race home via the re-enactment of the 1860 Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race early in July - probably the oldest offshore race in Britain and Ireland, but that’s a topic we’ll return to at a later date.

Meanwhile, the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on June 20th, with entries from eight countries, is still scheduled to go ahead on time as we write, and the really notable thing about it is the already strong international entry, something which is equalled only by the number of rumours about significant entries which have yet to throw their hats into the ring.

15 rockabill racing fast15Raring to go – Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien
Paul O’Higgins (RIYC) is of course firmly in place for his third attempt at the top title with his JPK 11.80 Rockabill VI, which has won just about everything else, but the remarkable JPK Dream Factory in Lorient has been busy, and he’ll find himself up against a newer JPK, in this case the 11.80 Fastwave 6 campaigned by France’s Eric Fries.

16 wilson ohiggins16Peter Wilson, overall winner in 1994 with the J/35 Bridgestone, and a key skipper and crewmember in many other major race wins, with Paul O’Higgins. Photo: W M Nixon

And it seems certain there’ll be an even newer JPK 10.30 in the final lineup, and if it turns out to be Jean-Pierre Kelbert himself in his all-conquering Leon, it wouldn’t surprise us for a minute. After a virtual launching party to soar over the problems of the Covid-19 lockdown, anything is possible for the 21st Round Ireland Race.

17 jpk1030 leon17Bolt from the blue – the hyper-successful new JPK 10.30 Leon may well be in the Round Ireland mix

Published in RORC

Wednesday's launch of the  SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race at the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Dublin Bay has been postponed over increasing concern surrounding the transmission of Coronavirus.

Wicklow Sailing Club Commodore and Race Organiser Kyran O'Grady said: "We will continue to follow public health guidance and hope to reschedule".

The 21st edition of the offshore race has a buoyant entry to date recording 38 entries, prompting many to predict the June 20th start could be a record one.

Double Race winner, the vintage Granada 38 Cavatina is the 37th entry into this June's 21st edition of the 700-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race.

Skipper Ian Hickey from the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven completed his entry this week.

In a bid to be the first boat to win Ireland's classic offshore race three times, Hickey and his race-hardened crew will be aware they were also the overall leaders in the last race in 2018 when the low-rated boat reached the Donegal coast only then for the race to pan out in another way and drop Cavatina down the leaderboard to sixth.

It is the second Royal Cork Yacht Club entry into the circuit in a week. Denis and Annamarie Murphy's well-proven Italian marque, the Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, is also signed up for the race in just over 15 weeks time. Nieulargo is a force to be reckoned (especially in a breeze) and was the winner of RCYC's Yacht of the Year in 2018.

Published in Round Ireland
Page 3 of 16

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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