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#rorcfastnet – While it may not be the event's ultimate prize, the monohull battle for line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race is always hotly contested, coming with considerable bragging rights. This year's race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the event's organiser, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, will see the world's two very newest maxis jockeying for this prize. Both belong to American captains of industry and both were launched last autumn.

While it may not be the event's ultimate prize, the monohull battle for line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race is always hotly contested, coming with considerable bragging rights. This year's race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the event's organiser, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, will see the world's two very newest maxis jockeying for this prize. Both belong to American captains of industry and both were launched last autumn.

Favourite is the 100ft long Comanche owned by Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark. Clark, the Silicon Graphics and Netscape founder, has owned several high profile superyachts and the magnificent J-Class yacht, Hanuman, but his latest craft is a state of the art ocean racer designed by VPLP-Verdier, best known for their IMOCA 60 designs. In fact Comanche strongly resembles a scaled-up version of MACIF, winner of the last Vendee Globe, with a powerful hull, canting keel, twin daggerboards and rudders and numerous other go-faster features.

"The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the goals for Comanche as one of the 'Great Races' around the globe," Clark explains. "Comanche was built to do two things: Win line honours and, if Mother Nature cooperates, try to break records. Let's hope that we succeed with both, but I know there will be lots of very strong competition!"

If Comanche is to break the Rolex Fastnet Race monohull race record, she will have to complete the 603 mile long course in less than 1 day 18 hours and 39 minutes - the time set by the Ian Walker-skippered VO70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in 2011.

On paper, Comanche should have a clear run at the line honours title as she's 12ft longer than George David's latest maxi - Rambler 88, designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian. David observes: "No doubt Comanche is the bigger boat and rates accordingly. We're a little off Comanche's speed through the water, but it's too soon to tell after only four day races together." To date the boats have only lined up at Les Voiles de St Barts, but in July they will compete in the Transatlantic Race 2015, between Newport and the Lizard.

David is a great fan of the Rolex Fastnet Race: "It's a great blue water race - full of tradition and with a great turning mark at Fastnet Rock. We have done the race twice before and are delighted to be coming back." And this is despite his close shave with death during the 2011 race when the keel fell off his Rambler 100, leaving him and a group swimming in the Celtic Sea. Did he think twice about returning? "It's like being chucked off a horse. You get back on," David retorts.

In terms of their performance, America's Cup legend Brad Butterworth, who is sailing master and tactician on board, reckons Rambler's strengths versus Comanche are upwind and VMG downwind. This could bode well for the Rolex Fastnet Race's typically large windward-leeward course.

But to help her prospects, Rambler 88 is currently being fitted with a secret weapon in a Dynamic Stability Systems-style lifting foil. This retractable lateral foil, is deployed on the leeward side of the boat below the waterline (like a wing), to provide lift to leeward and a gain in righting moment, like having extra crew on the weather rail. This 'turbo charger' could reduce any deficit they might have against Comanche.

"They look pretty cool," says Butterworth. "I think that any time we are over 14 knots reaching they should make a difference. It might light the thing up. The boat certainly has a lot of sail area. It will be interesting."

While all eyes will be on the latest hardware, also in the mix will be Mike Slade's Farr 100, Leopard, the maxi which claimed line honours in the 2007 and 2009 Rolex Fastnet Races.

"It is an amazing fleet with Comanche and Rambler and a few Mini Maxis," observes Leopard's skipper Chris Sherlock. "It will be very tough to get on the podium - the best we can hope for against those two new boats will be third."

Owner Mike Slade intends to run a 'corinthian' campaign this season and will not be chartering the boat for the Rolex Fastnet Race. However on board will be the usual all-star cast, led by veteran America's Cup and round the world sailor, Paul Standbridge.

At present Leopard is in refit in Hamble Yacht Services. Among her upgrades for 2015 is a modernisation of her rig including the fitting of a deflector backstay arrangement in place of her multiple backstays and checkstays.

Published in Fastnet

#rorc – The 2014 RORC Season's Points Champion, Vincent Willemart and Eric Van Campenhout's Belgian MC34, Azawakh, was the overall winner of the 2015 North Sea Race, scoring the best corrected time under IRC, for the 182-mile race from Harwich to Scheveningen. Willem Schopman's Dutch Bashford Howison 36, Intention was second, just over a minute ahead, after time correction from Frans Rodenburg's Dutch First 40, Elke. Jan-friso Blacquiere's Maxfun 35, Blacq Magic was the overall winner of the ORC Class. Marcel Schuttelaar Dutch Maxi 1300, Ijsvogel was second and Willem de Jonge van Ellemeet's Dutch Dufour 40, Flying Dolphin was third in ORC overall.

74 yachts entered the 2015 North Sea Race, which was blessed with bright sunshine at the start. The Two-Handed fleet having been considerably swelled by the race being part of the inaugural Dutch Two-Handed National Championships. A moderate ten knots of breeze from the north provided a tactical beat against the tide up to Cork Sand Yacht Beacon via Outer Ridge before a gentle reach to the South Galloper Buoy. At dusk the wind speed reduced, providing very light and shifty conditions through the night. In the early hours of Saturday morning the leaders had made it to the most northerly part of the course, Smith's Knoll Buoy, and the wind started to fill in from the south west, giving exciting reaching conditions. As the fleet cracked sheets and hoisted downwind sails for a reaching across the North Sea, the final day of the offshore race provided fast thrilling racing for the fleet.

"We were very pleased to win and it was unexpected, the fleet was very strong." commented Eric Van Campenhout racing the overall winner, Azawakh. " The race had many different conditions, which suited us as we have good speed at many different wind strengths and wind directions. After last season, we felt that we needed to improve our performance in light winds and our experience with the boat and some modifications are definitely paying off. As we are Belgian it is nice to finish a race close to home and the North Sea Race has a beautiful start in the river and the course is very interesting with many different conditions and points of sail. We will be sailing the boat to Cowes this week to take part in the Myth of Malham, which is another great course and it is good practice for the start of the Fastnet.

John van der Starre & Robin Verhoef's Dutch J/111 Xcentric Ripper was the winner of the 18-strong IRC Two-Handed Class and winner of the ORC Two-Handed Class. This was the tenth North Sea Race for John van der Starre and by far the closest finish. After time correction, Xcentric Ripper won the class by four seconds from Erik Mayer-Martenson's Sun Fast 3200, Blizzard of Uz. Rob Craigie's Sun Fast 3600, Bellino was third.

" It was a tough but very nice race for us, with lots of reaching, perfect for a J/111, and winning the Two Handed Class, against very good opposition, was very satisfying." commented John van der Starre. "These days with AIS it is possible to see how well you are doing but you don't know how the weather will change for the boats behind you. In the delivery race to Harwich, Vuurschepen Race, the wind held up for the boats behind us but for the North Sea Race, that didn't happen. Myself and Robin have been racing together on the boat for four years, so we know our strengths and weaknesses. From the weather forecast we knew that we would have a point where there would be totally no wind on that first night but we know that would give us a good opportunity to gain on the opponents, we decided to stay more to the west, while our opposition went more to the east. The tactic really worked well for us with some good shifts. The wind was picking up, we were planing with about 12 knots of boat speed, it was fantastic but we did have one scary moment, as there were some large navigation marks which were not lit and we passed one by just 30 metres. When we got to Smith's Knoll Buoy we knew we were in a strong position but to win by just 4 seconds! One little mistake and we would have been second, the Two Handed Class at the Rolex Fastnet Race is going to be incredible but having won the class for the North Sea Race, 2015 is already a success for us."

The RORC Season's Points Championship continues Saturday 23 May with the Myth of Malham Race. The Bank Holiday Weekend race is 230 nautical miles from Cowes around the Eddystone Lighthouse and back to the Solent. Well over 100 yachts are expected to take part.

Published in RORC

#comodorescup – Irish defending champions of the Commodore's Cup will face a new format event next year following new rules unveiled this morning by London organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup is the Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) biennial flagship event for national teams with amateur crews. The international offshore regatta comprises a tough mix of inshore and offshore racing and is an intense seven-day programme that pits three-boat teams against one another to accrue overall team points.

Ireland has twice won the Cup in 2010 and 2014 both under the captaincy of Afloat Sailor of the Year Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club. Read how Ireland won the Cup here.

For the next edition, The RORC Committee have agreed to a number of changes that will have a positive impact on the number of teams taking part in the event held at Cowes, Isle of Wight between 23 and 30 July 2016.

The first is the requirement of every team to have a small boat with a rating between 1.000 and 1.049. "Many teams in the last event believed that it was hard to be competitive without having three boats that were close to the top of the allowable rating band, as was the case of last year's winning Irish team," commented RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen.

"Lowering the rating band to 1.000 will make it easier for J109s to enter, to include boats like the JPK10.10, A35 and the new Sunfast 3200, and reduce the cost of competing. This group of boats will have their own starts, but if a team has more than one boat within this rating band, and it is possible to have three 'small' boats, it will have to nominate which boat will compete in this division. The maximum rating is still 1.230 and there has been no change to the rule that only allows one boat in each team with a rating between 1.150 and 1.230," continues Warden Owen.

The second change is the addition of an extra professional sailor to each team but without stipulation which boats they shall sail on. The exact wording is as follows: The crew of each three-boat team shall include no more than 6 Group 3 Sailors. These Group 3 sailors may sail on any boat or boats in the three-boat team however crews cannot change after the Final Crew List has been submitted except as stated in NOR1.7.2.

"The thought was that many boats who have aspirations to compete in such an event, race with people who work in the marine industry and by virtue of their job, are regarded under the ISAF eligibility rules as Group 3 professionals. Whilst it should reduce the need for owners to make wholesale changes to their crew just to fit in with the event rules, it will give teams the opportunity to use the professional sailors to enhance weaknesses in the team overall. In theory you could load your weakest boat with six professionals if it was thought that this would strengthen the team as a whole," explains Warden Owen.

The other significant change is the removal of crew weight from the rules so that the boat sails with the crew number as shown on the certificate.

Published in Commodores Cup

#rorc – With over 400 yachts crewed by thousands of sailors from over 30 different nations, the 2015 Royal Ocean Racing Club's (RORC) Season's Points Championship has the largest fleet of offshore racing yachts anywhere in the world. This year, under Irish Commodore Michael Boyd, the RORC is celebrating its 90th anniversary and a record attendance is highly likely.

The first race of the series in the English Channel was the Cervantes Trophy Race, which started on 2nd May 2015. Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with the Société des Régates du Havre and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the 114 yachts entered were set a 135 nautical mile course from the Squadron Line to Le Havre.

The first leg took the fleet downwind to Anvil Point and the DZB Buoy, with 20 knots of wind from the east. It was a terrific start to the race and with spinnakers set most yachts were enjoying double digit boat speed. The wind was funnelling through Hurst Narrows and the increased wind speed caused a good few broaches, but back under control, the competitors continued downwind to Anvil Point where it was spinnakers down and on to the wind for the 100 mile leg towards Le Havre. The forecast was showing a massive shift in the wind direction from easterly through the south to settle in the southwest. With this in mind most of the boats stayed on port tack and headed for the Cap de la Hague in anticipation of the change. With the forecast changing and rain squalls running up the channel the crossing of the Baiy de la Seine and negotiating the tricky tidal streams and shifty winds was to prove a crucial part of the race.
Géry Trentesaux's new JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon was the overall winner, taking under 20 hours to complete the course. "This is the first time we have raced the boat and we are delighted with the performance." smiled Géry. "We haven't really tuned up the boat but she will be a nice fast boat once we have had some time on the water. IRC 3 is a very competitive class and it looks like this will be a really good season. The Cervantes Trophy Race had a lot of upwind sailing and I was very surprised how fast Courrier Du Leon was on the wind. The key area of the race was the approach to le Havre, we stayed south and tacked just off Barfleur, which was perfect. Courrier Du Leon will be taking part in the North Sea Race and I am sure I speak for all sailors when I say, we will all miss Piet Vroon, who is not sailing at the moment due to a back operation. We all wish him a speedy recovery."

In IRC Canting Keel, IMOCA 60, Artemis Ocean Racing took Line Honours in 15hrs 23mins 58secs and the class win from Chris Le Prevost's IMOCA 60, Rosalba, sailed by Andy Greenwood. Derek Saunders' CM60, Venomous crewed by the Windward Sailing Team, was the winner of IRC Zero. Ned Collier Wakefield's Class40, Concise8 took the Class40 win, 22 minutes ahead of David Pearce's Forty Shades of Grey, with Bertrand Gregory's Rififi third.

In IRC One, there was an emphatic win for Nick Jones' First 44.7 Lisa, which won the class by nearly an hour on corrected time from Mark Emerson's Rodman 42, Phosphorus. Edward Broadway's Ker 40, Hooligan VII was third. In IRC Two, local sailor Gilles Fournier J/133 Pintia was the winner by just over ten minutes on corrected time and was also second overall Gilles was sailing with French legend Bruno Troublé who undoubtedly brought a lot of technical and tactical experience to the team. RORC Admiral, Andrew Mc Irvine's First 40, La Réponse sailed by Jason Owen was second in IRC One and Peter Rutter's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd on board, was third.

IRC Three was won by Courrier du Leon, just under ten minutes ahead of Eric Mordret's JPK10.80, Raphaello. Holders of the Fastnet Trophy, Pascal Loison's JPK 10.10, Night and Day was third, racing two-handed with his son Alexis. 25 yachts were racing in the Two Handed Class for the Cervantes Trophy. Night and Day was the winner by just under 20 minutes on corrected time from Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600, Bellino. Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK10.10, Raging Bee, returned from the RORC Caribbean 600 to compete and placed third in the Two Handed Class, just 31 seconds behind Bellino.

Harry Heijst's S&S 41, Winsome revelled in the upwind conditions to win IRC Four, beating Noel Racine's JPK 10.10, Foggy Dew by just over six minutes after time correction. Ludovic Melnyk's JPK 9.60, Sous Mama Boulé racing Two Handed was third.

"The RORC Season's Points Championship is the premier offshore sailing series in the world" commented RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. "The 2015 series will see the fleet swelled by yachts competing for the RORC blue ribbon event, the Rolex Fastnet Race, which once again has struck a chord with Professional and Corinthian sailors alike."

At the beginning of May the yachts line up to get racing miles under their belts working towards the 300 nm offshore racing required to meet the experience qualification for the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as scoring points towards the Season's Points Championship. The Cervantes Trophy had a terrific entry list and a big thank you to the Société des Régates du Havre that has once again hosted the finish, providing a fantastic welcome for all of the participants."
Racing for the RORC Season's Points Championship continues with the 181 nautical mile North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen, which starts on Friday 15th May. For full details of results for the Cervantes Trophy Race and the racing schedule for the RORC Season's Points Championship visit http://www.rorc.org

Published in RORC

#rorc – RORC has published a list of GBR IRC Championships for the coming season.

There are plenty of opportunities for boats and their owners to become Spinlock IRC champions around the country this summer, says Jenny Howells, Technical Manager of the RORC Rating Office in Lymington.

"Now in its 6th year, the GBR IRC Championship circuit has a variety of events to offer IRC racers, from the Small Boat Championship in the Solent to Regional Championships in six different areas, and of course the National Championship organised by RORC itself."

More details of the events and organising clubs can be found on www.rorcrating.com in the Spinlock IRC section. The Championships are approved to accept Spinlock IRC Single Event Ratings, so even if you are not a regular IRC racer you can compete in two events per year at a minimal rating fee.

The calendar for 2015 is:

May-Sept Solent Various Solent venues
06-07 June Scottish Helensburgh
11-12 July Small Boat Hamble
11-12 July East Coast Felixstowe
17-19 July National Cowes
20-22 Aug South West Fowey
21-23 Aug Welsh Pwllheli
18-19 Sept Double Handed Cowes
18-20 Sept Channel Islands Guernsey

Published in RORC

#antix – A new campaign for Afloat's recently crowned Sailor of the Year begins in just a fortnight when Anthony O'Leary moves up a foot in yacht size from his RORC yacht of the year, a Ker 39, to a Ker 40.

O'Leary is to race the American–owned Ker 40 Catapult at RORC's Easter Challenge.

The American yacht partnered O'Leary's Antix and Michael Boyd's Quokaa to 2014 Commodore's Cup success last July and is now on loan to the Royal Cork champion for the period up to the Fastnet Race.

The first outing will be April 3rd's Easter Challenge but this event is to be followed up in June with an offshore challenge. Catapult – to be rechristened Antix up until August – is also one of the first yachts to enter June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race from the National Yacht Club.

For Commodore's Cup success New York owner Marc Glimcher sailed Catapult with Anthony's son Peter O'Leary – the two time Olympian – to win the cup for a second time for Ireland.

The American Ker is entered under both Royal Cork and Baltimore SC for the National Yacht Club offshore on June 12th, a race that is part of the ISORA series. 

Published in RORC

#rorc – The Royal Ocean Racing Club is looking for a full time Racing Administrator to join the Race Team in Cowes.

Primary duties involved in the administration of the Racing Programme are; supporting race competitors entering races, organising volunteers, managing trophies and prize giving's, booking race team and race officer travel and accommodation, compiling and distribution of race publications and paperwork.

The successful candidate will have experience using Microsoft Programmes - Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint and Outlook and ideally have experience updating website content and in using databases.

He or she must be very well organised and able to work under pressure, be confident and sociable and happy to travel as the programme dictates.

An understanding and experience in sporting event administration, particularly in the sailing world would be of great benefit.

Salary and full job description on application.

To apply send a CV and covering letter outlining experience and suitability to:
[email protected]

Or

Nick Elliott
Royal Ocean Racing Club
20 St James's Place
London
SW1a1NN

Published in RORC

#rorc – RORC Caribbean 600 that has a number of key Irish sailors participating is providing a mixed bag of IRC delights says RORC Rating Office Technical Manager, Jenny Howells.

With many if not the majority of the most prestigious yacht races and regattas around the world using the IRC rating system, it is no surprise that it is also the choice of state-of-the-art yachts such as the Maxi 72s, TP 52s, Wally Yachts and 100 foot Maxis including the latest Ragamuffin 100 from Australia and Comanche built in Maine. Holding an IRC rating allows them to compete for top honours in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Fastnet and Middle Sea Races, and regattas run under the auspices of the International Maxi Association including their World Championship.

The highest currently rated boat under IRC is the Reichel/Pugh Maxi Wild Oats XI at 1.974 closely followed by Comanche at 1.958 and much has been written about the battle between these two in the 2014 Sydney Hobart both for line honours and corrected time, and it is very exciting to see boats like this racing under IRC.The upcoming RORC Caribbean 600 boasts an entry of over 60 boats and is a good example of the diversity of boats enjoying racing under IRC. It illustrates how IRC allows designs like the Volvo Open 70 (Monster Project & Maserati, 2008) to continue racing competitively, and gives a new lease of life to older racers - Volvo 60s (Ambersail & Spirit of Adventure, 2001) and classics (Cuilaun, 1970 McGruer 55; Black Watch 1938 S&S 68 yawl). Meanwhile superyachts such as Athos (56m) and Adela (46m) add a different dimension and glamour to the fleet. However, reflecting IRC's main constituents, it is production boats between 37 and 50 feet that form the core 50% of the entrants.

The exciting, glamorous boats are of course important in IRC, not least because so many of us aspire to compete in the high profile glamorous regattas in the Med and the Caribbean. However, it is also important to remind the general racing fraternity that it is the core fleet that has kept the rating rule afloat for over thirty years. Looking at the last couple of years, the lowest rated boat is a 1964 Kroes en Zonen Classic Blue Eagle of Tonbridge at 0.740 while the average IRC rating for the worldwide IRC fleet is 1.035.

Far from the dizzy lengths of superyachts, the average boat length is 11.5 metres, or around 38 feet. With the recession of the last few years, there are many more sailors racing smaller boats and having just as much fun as those who are fortunate to own and race the glamour boats. IRC rating encourages a huge variety of sizes and types of boats to compete in events from local club racing to international offshore events, allowing everyone to enjoy mixed fleet racing no matter what their budget.

Published in RORC

#rorc – An amazing fleet of yachts from around the globe, have come together for a spectacular Caribbean rendezvous and there are some key Irish crew involved writes Louay Habib. Fort Charlotte, Antigua will be the starting and finishing point for a sensational 600-mile yacht race around 11 Caribbean islands.

From Ireland, the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Tim Goodbody (junior) will be racing on Windfall. James Carroll (ex–boat captain of Green Dragon) will be captain on the Carkeek 47 Black Pearl. Simon Johnson is racing on Leopard 3.

James Carroll has been with the Carkeek 47, Black Pearl, since launch June last year. It's a ful spec offshore boat that rreviously competed in the Palermo to Monte Carlo Race and Middle Sea Race last year. It has a full offshore programme again this year, starting with this week's Carribbean 600. Carroll is both boat captain and pitman.

Two other Irish sailing in the Caribbean 600 are Paul O'Donoghue from Lough Derg Yacht Club, son of Geoff O'Donoghue and Gordon Spain from West Cork. They are both on GB entry LIARA, owned by Tony Todd.

Since 2009, the RORC Caribbean 600 has been growing in popularity and the seventh edition boasts an astounding fleet of yachts: record breaking high performance racers, magnificent schooners, elegant classics and fast production yachts. World class sailors will be taking part, rubbing shoulders with royalty, captains of industry and passionate Corinthian amateurs. (Latest entry list 64 boats)

The course meanders through the stunning central Caribbean affording amazing scenery, but the RORC Caribbean 600 is not just a joyride. Competitors can expect little sleep as the myriad of corners create many manoeuvres. The racing is electric but the high speed action in tropical heat can be exhausting. At the finish, the welcome party for the crews has become legendary. Every boat is cheered in, regardless of the hour, for a cold beer and a warm welcome. (Follow the fleet. The race tracker will be live before the start here.

The monohull course record for the RORC Caribbean 600 (40 hours 20 mins 02 secs) was set by George David's Rambler 100 in 2011. The quality and depth of the fleet in this year's race means that the quest for line honours will be the most dramatic in years.

The overall winner is decided by the RORC IRC rating system and the calibre of the fleet is such that this year's winner is almost impossible to predict. Teamwork, tactics, and a share of good luck will decide the winner. Over the past six editions, only one 100-footer has won the race overall: Rambler 100. High performance yachts ranging from 50-72 feet have won the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy on four occasions.

This year three projects, new to the race, will fit into that category: Bryon Ehrhart from Chicago, Illinois, will be racing Reichel Pugh 63, Lucky. Piet Vroon's newly acquired Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, from Breskens, Netherlands and British TP52 Sorcha, sailed by Peter Harrison, make up a trio of yachts that will be amongst the favourites for overall victory under the IRC rating rule.

The seventh edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 has entries from over 14 different nations and crew from many more. Throughout the fleet there is a myriad of class champions from famous yacht races around the world.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
George David's brand new hi-tech 88ft Rambler is now in Antigua, hoping to lower the bar for the course record for the RORC Caribbean 600. Previous Ramblers still hold course records for: RORC Caribbean 600, The Transatlantic Race, Newport to Bermuda Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Amongst Rambler's international crew are numerous world champions including three well-known sailors from New Zealand: Multiple America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth and Volvo Ocean Race winners, Stu Bannatyne and Brad Jackson.

Yachts from the USA have won the RORC Caribbean 600 overall on three occasions, more than any other nation. From Boston, Massachusetts, Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50, Privateer, was the overall winner under IRC in 2013 and the American team is back for their fifth race, having won IRC Canting Keel last year. From Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hap Fauth will be racing his world championship winning Maxi 72, Bella Mente, the overall runner up for the race on two occasions. This year Bella Mente's crew includes Mike Sanderson, Terry Hutchinson, Ian Moore and Adrian Stead. Bella Mente will be hoping it will be third time lucky in their quest for first place.

Two American flyers will be making their RORC Caribbean 600 debuts: Doug Baker from Orange County, California will be racing Kernan 47, True, and from Houston, Texas William Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez will have Volvo Ocean Race sailors George Peet and Luke Molloy on board. Stefan Jentzsch's German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl, also makes its debut, with South African America's Cup navigator, Marc Lagesse, amongst the crew.

Three American classic yachts will be on the start line on February 23rd: James Grundy of Oxford, Maryland will be racing the 84 year-old Alden schooner, Summerwind. The 1938 S&S Yawl Black Watch will sailed by Joseph Robillard of Short Hills, New Jersey and Frank Eberhart from Vinalhaven, Maine will be racing for the third time with the 1970 classic, Hound.

ITALY
Volvo 70 Maserati is skippered by the legendary Italian sailor from Milan, Giovanni Soldini. Maserati is designed to break records and holds the Cadiz-San Salvador, New York-San Francisco and the Cape Town-Rio de Janeiro race[BB2] records. On board for the RORC Caribbean 600 will be Pierre Casiraghi, eldest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, fourth-in-line to the Monegasque throne and a passionate sailor. Maserati's owner John Elkann will also be racing. The Grandson and heir of Giovanni Agnelli, John Elkann is the President of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles which owns the Maserati brand, as well as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and many others.

GREAT BRITAIN

London based property developer Mike Slade's Canting Keel Maxi, Leopard, set the course record in the inaugural race and holds numerous speed and race records, including two current Transatlantic races. This year, Leopard has been chartered by UK-based businessman Chris Bake, winner of five RC44 Tour Championships. The core Leopard crew, including Australian skipper Chris Sherlock, will form a formidable partnership with Bake's Team Aqua. The all-star crew includes America's Cup winner Cameron Appleton from New Zealand and Volvo Ocean Race winner Jules Salter from Gurnard, Isle of Wight.

RORC Admiral and London surgeon, Andrew McIrvine will be taking part in his sixth race and skippers Southern Wind 94, Windfall. The vast majority of Windfall crew will be RORC members, including Dublin based RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd as navigator. Two RORC Rear Commodores will also be on board: Justin Slawson from Wimborne, Dorset and Adrian Lower from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex. Windfall should have a fascinating battle with PY100, Liara, owned by Tony Todd from St. Peter Port, Guernsey and sailed by John Walker from Romsey, Hampshire. Liara's crew include a number of Hampshire's most experienced yachtsmen including Peter Morton and Kelvin Rawlings from Cowes, Isle of Wight and navigator, Nat Ives from Hamble-le-Rice, Hampshire.

British Volvo 70 Monster Project will be skippered by Andy Budgen from Greenock, Scotland. Monster Project took Line Honours for the Canting Keel Class last year and is a real flyer in Caribbean conditions. Monster Project is one of 10 specialist race charter yachts competing. Well over 100 passionate amateur sailors will be taking up the challenge against the professionals, racing on performance charter yachts.

Last year First 40 Lancelot II, skippered by Chris Jackson from Fareham, Hampshire, was the winner of IRC Two which contains the bounty of race charter yachts. Ross Applebey from Wallingford, Oxfordshire will skipper Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, which has won class in the RORC Caribbean 600 on two occasions. Racing for the sixth time, Andy Middleton from Cowes, Isle of Wight will skipper First 47.7 EH01.

Antigua is the Caribbean home of two of the world's most famous schooners. Athos and Adela will continue their gentlemen's duel in the Spirit of Tradition class. The Dykstra-designed Adela is the smaller of the two magnificent yachts at 182ft and over 200 tons. The sails and systems on board Adela are advanced, but manoeuvres such as handling her giant red 1000m2 masthead spinnaker can require up to 30 crew. Athos is the largest yacht competing this year's RORC Caribbean 600. The 203ft Hoek design weighs 370 tons, her rig is over 200ft high and she can hoist over 3000m2 of sail. Adela has won the Spirit of Tradition and Superyacht Classes for the last three years, but Athos provided exhilarating competition last year, finishing less than 39 minutes behind after two and a half days at sea.

By sharp contrast with the two largest yachts racing, local dentist Bernie Evan-Wong will be racing one of the smallest, his new Reichel Pugh 37 Taz. Bernie has competed in every RORC Caribbean 600 race since it started in 2009. "The RORC Caribbean 600 race captured my imagination the first time I heard about it," exclaimed Bernie Evan-Wong. "The thought of full-on racing, night and day in tropical waters for 600 miles was a challenge and an adventure I just could not resist! If you love sailing and are a serious sailor, you have to put the RORC Caribbean 600 on your itinerary."

Published in RORC

#rorc – London's unique position at the crossroads of world sailing communications makes it a focus of attention in the winter months. Organisations of international standing will be having key administrative and decision-making meetings in the short non-sailing winter days, decisions which will impact on the coming season and the years beyond.

Sailing's world body, the International Sailing Federation, may take itself off in November to some choice destination resort for a week-long conference, with all expenses paid for the selected delegates. But the more specialist organisations rely to varying extents on voluntary workers with limited time and resources. Thus their constitutionally-required yearly gatherings tend to be compressed into just one day for an Annual General Meeting (AGM), with effective sub committees and executive officers being relied on to see that decisions made on that day are implemented through the coming year.

It has been a typical winter season in London with the AGM of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in December, and then January saw the annual log adjudication announcements of the Royal Cruising Club - it's a cruising achievement assessment process which goes back to 1896, while the club itself is far and away the world's most senior cruising organisation, as it dates back to 1880. The RCC meeting was then followed nine days later by the Annual General Meeting of the Old Gaffers Association, founded 1963 and now maturing very well as an international body.

There was nothing at all unusual in the fact of these three meetings being held. But it was unusual that, in all three gatherings, the leading roles were filled by Irish sailors. W M NIXON takes up the story.

When Michael Boyd became Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club on December 1st 2014, it was at the conclusion of a year in which Ireland had performed exceptionally well in the club's international racing programme, with a clear victory in the Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup series, while Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix from Cork became RORC "Yacht of the Year" after a season which included winning the club's National IRC Championship and being Captain's Boat in the Commodore's Cup squad.

But it was steady years of service on committees and in the secondary flag officer roles, rather than Irish success in the club's racing, which led to Michael Boyd's elevation to the top post, allied to his long personal involvement of participation in all the main RORC events, and many minor ones too.

And it was not the first time an Irish sailor has played a key role in this unique organisation. Back in August 1925 at its founding in Plymouth immediately after the first Fastnet Race, one of the seven skippers involved was Harry Donegan of Cork, whose 50ft cutter Gull had placed third overall in what was to prove a turning point in world sailing history.

Although the newly formed Ocean Racing Club was to more or less kidnap the Fastnet Rock to become one of its symbols, Donegan was the only skipper who had raced round it before. He had taken part in the time-honoured contests from Cork Harbour to West Cork, supporting Schull Regatta which dates back to 1884, while Baltimore regatta can probably claim similar longevity. And Harry Donegan knew West Cork well, having been producing privately distributed sailing directions for cruising enthusiasts to its harbours and anchorages since at least 1912.

But inevitably, with the RORC's initial concentration of keen and resource-rich boat-owners sailing from southeast England and focused on London, it was some time before there was another significant Irish presence in the administration of what was gradually developing as world offshore racing's central organization. However, by the 1960s, Denis Doyle of Cork was becoming much involved as a dedicated participant in the RORC offshore programme and on its committee, and by the 1970s he was a Flag Officer.

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Newly-elected RORC Commodore Michael Boyd at the Fastnet Rock

Yet it was not until 1994 that Ireland provided our first RORC Commodore, John Bourke of Dun Laoghaire. In addition to being a successful offshore skipper in his own right, he had frequently been Denis Doyle's navigator in Moonduster successes, he'd also been a navigator-tactician in Ireland's fourth-placed Admirals Cup tea in 1987's thirteen-team series (our best-ever AC placing, with the Dubois 40 Irish Independent helmed by Tim Goodbody winning the Fastnet overall), and he'd served as President of the Irish Yachting Association.

But John Bourke took over the lead role in the RORC when the times were changing rapidly. Rising costs and the increase in pure professional sailing meant that major international semi-Corinthian events like the Admirals Cup were in rapid decline. And the negative effects of the Fastnet Race disaster of 1979, when 15 lives had been lost, were still being felt in turnouts for RORC events, as much more stringent regulations had led to cost increases and more demanding qualifications for participation. Then too, changing perceptions of the requirements of family life meant that the relatively selfish pattern of offshore racing participants disappearing for frequent long weekends of racing were simply no longer acceptable.

Against that, the RORC had played a key role in co-ordinating and administering the new global International Offshore Rule for handicapping. Then when rapidly evolving boat design and building techniques meant that the IOR was no longer fit for purpose, the RORC was ideally placed to oversee the changeover to the International Rating Certificate (IRC) through experience gained with the administration of the Channel Handicap system, of which elements were kept secret in order to avoid computer-aided exploitation.

So by staying with what it did best, the RORC began to prosper again. As time passed, the sheer horror of the 1979 Fastnet was slowly healed in the memory, so much so that the simple reality is that nowadays, the mythology of '79 adds to the allure of the event. In other words, the entry limit of 340 boats for the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 was virtually filled within hours of opening. The club really does have a problem of success.

Meanwhile, it has added to the complexity of its shoreside structures by merging with the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes. So the RORC is now a club with two clubhouses. There's the historic townhouse HQ in St James's Place in the heart of fashionable London into which it was guided in its early days by ocean racing legend John Illingworth. And there's now a summer place right beside the Royal Yacht Squadron, a rambling building with a colourful history, as members of the Royal Corinthian YC had bought it in the first place from the noted London "hostess" Rosa Lewis, who transferred her boisterous hospitality operations to Cowes during the height of the summer season.

With the new setup possibly being perceived by some members and potential members from other areas and distant nations as too much of a London-Solent nexus, it's interesting to hear that the RORC membership is continuing to increase in a very encouraging way. Clearly, these are exciting times for an organisation of increased global standing, so it's fascinating to note that the two key players in today's RORC administration are keen sailors who took their first serious steps afloat at the same time at two ports just 54 miles apart on each side of the Irish Sea.

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Michael Boyd has his first offshore sailing experience aboard the first Asgard in 1969.

Michael Boyd (64) may work in a demanding London-based international consultancy, and his Irish home may be in the depths of the country in the hidden northern reaches of County Meath, but in sailing terms he's Dun Laoghaire through and through. His father Liam was a stalwart of the Dublin Bay 21 class, and his own first forays offshore were as a youthful trainee aboard the 51ft ketch Asgard under Captain Eric Healy's command during the early days of the historic vessel's six seasons as Ireland's sail training vessel from 1969 to 1974.

At precisely the same time, just across channel in North Wales, his contemporary the young Eddie Warden-Owen was cutting a swathe through dinghy sailing at Treardur Bay and Holyhead. Very quickly, with a GP14 called Gwladys, he was achieving national success, and that in turn led to a career in sail-making and then on to professional sailing at the very top level – his success as coach in making a formerly lacklustre Italian campaign into serious contenders in the America's Cup is now text-book material in advanced sailing courses.

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Michael Boyd's choice of a J/35 as his first serious offshore racer was a shrewd decision. He won the Round Ireland Race with the J/35 Big Ears in 1996, and more recently the J/35 has been one of the few exceptional boats to be inducted into American Sailing's Hall of Fame

As for Michael Boyd's sailing career, while it had to be fitted in with hyper-demanding international business commitments, he first really hit the headlines in 1996 with the overall win of the Round Ireland Race with his J/35 Big Ears. He was a regular and successful contender in RORC events, but these days his personal and family boat is through a partnership in the handsome Sparkman & Stephens-designed Maine-built performance cruising ketch Southerly, which is based at New Ross in County Wexford on the tidal section of the River Barrow, while his racing needs were met during 2014 by chartering the Grand Soleil 43 Quokka with fellow RIYC member Niall Dowling.

With Quokka, they were not only a much-valued part of the winning Irish Commodore's Cup team, but were top boat in Cork Week 2014 to win both the Hugh Coveney Cup and the historic 1859-vintage "Kinsale Kettle", a splendidly ornate and substantially-sized bit of Victorian silverware "which we were allowed to sit beside for just about ten minutes – there was no question of taking it home to Lobinstown".

The co-skipper of Quokka (they've chartered her again for 2015) is clearly an enthusiast who relishes our sport, and the ins and outs of sailing in all its ramifications. He makes an ideal person to be Commodore of the RORC at an important juncture in its development, and with Eddie Warden-Owen as the club's CEO, he has a kindred spirit with whom ideas can be developed and implemented at impressive speed.

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Eddie Warden-Owen, CEO of the rapidly-developing Royal Ocean Racing Club. He was starting to hone his renowned racing skills at Holyhead just 54 miles across channel from Dun Laoghaire where, at exactly the same time, Michael Boyd was starting his sailing career.

So when your reporter had lunch with the new Commodore just eight days ago, he should have kept the main man strictly on track for a serious discussion of the challenges that club and sport face. And so we did for a while. But when you're with somebody with Michael Boyd's personal enthusiasm for participation sailing, dusty discussions on administrative matters have to run in parallel with wide-ranging and entertaining talk of sailing, boats, sailing folk and the wonders of the sea – the man certainly knows his boats and places and people .

Underneath it all, there was a good impression of the necessary range of his activities – for instance, in the week he became Commodore, he had to be in France for the RORC's Paris Dinner linked to the annual Boat Show there, and he is keenly aware of the club's global spread and the significance of people like Piet Vroon of the Netherlands and the Gouy family of France with their truly international approach to the sport and their regular participation in the Round Ireland Race.

Looking to the west, the club has a strong presence in the Americas, which has been reinforced with the annual RORC Caribbean 600 every February since 2009. This year it will see an uplift in the entries by hundred footers, notably by Syd Fischer's "new hull/original deck and rig" Ragamuffin 100 fresh from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, another event in which IRC is the key handicap system.

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Definitely a sport for life. Syd Fischer, 87-year-old legend of Australian sailing, with the new hull for his hundred footer Ragamuffin just a few months before the recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race. Ragamuffin made it in time for the race, she took third on line honours, and now she is being shipped to Antigua to race the RORC Caribbean 600 in February.

But although in Australia the IRC is administered by Hobart race organisers the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, for the biennial Rolex Fastnet in August and annual Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta in October, the RORC's Rating Office, based in Lymington under the direction of Mike Urwin, is directly in charge. The Rating Office celebrated 30 years of the IRC Rule in 2014 with a growth in ratings issued after a slight decline during the years of economic recession, and the Lymington unit's unrivalled breadth of experience in the ways of bots and designers and offshore racing give it a special worldwide standing, yet another factor in the RORC's unique position in global sailing.

With their combined experience and proven administrative and international skills, the Boyd/Warden-Owen team are able to provide such formidable leadership for an organization which is central to our sport that they are able to do so in an under-stated way which is ideal for dealing with the highly-individualistic characters who are the leaders in their sport.

So when the London sailing-decision-season started in December with the new setup brought into being in the RORC, clearly things were moving in the right direction. Whether they continued to do so with the next item on the agenda, the Royal Cruising Club awards on January 8th, only time will tell. For this time round, I was the one in the hot seat adjudicating, and you feel the hand of history firmly on your shoulder when you're allocating a trophies which have been won in times past by the likes of Conor O'Brien.

But we'll return to that particular restrospective at the conclusion of this article – meanwhile, how did things go at the Old Gaffers Association AGM last Saturday? Sean Walsh of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association became the first overall president from outside the southeast of England a year ago, so this was the first AGM under his guidance throughout, and it's not a task for the faint-hearted.

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Sean Walsh, President of the OGA, sailing in company with the 100ft Viking ship Sea Stalllion.

As the Old Gaffers Association, with its 5,000-plus members in nine countries, is run almost entirely on a voluntary basis, their AGM is virtually a day long affair, a conference really, which started with an intense General Management Committee meeting (the GMC is made up of the Presidents and Hon Secs of each of the many branches) which is a two hour affair which started at 11am and concluded with a brief lunch break before the fully-fledged AGM took up the entire afternoon and went on well into the evening, a four hours-plus session which was to satisfactorily cover an exceptional range of topics.

The OGA may have had fairly casual get-togethers and an annual race or two as its main activities when it was founded in 1963. But now it has evolved into an active group with an impressively developing website and a widespread season-long programme which still has to take account of the notable individuality of the membership and the astonishing variety of their boats.

They even have a very active trailer section in which characterful yet trailerable gaff-rigged boats can suddenly appear in significant numbers at remote sailing locations – the highest lake in Wales, for instance – and they're developing the concept of "Raids" in attractive cruising areas. In these, the fleet keeps together by a relaxed form of racing in which the boat which has got into the lead is only allowed to stay there for five minutes, then she's obliged to go to the back of the fleet. If using the idea for larger slower-manoeuvring boats, you'd probably make the time at the front of the fleet a bit longer, but nevertheless it's a concept of great potential.

As for activities on the sea, while the main focus of 2014 was the Cruise-in-Company in the Netherlands to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Dutch branch, in 2015 the focus will be on two cruises-in-company, one to St Malo in northeast Brittany to accommodate the large fleet numbers on the south coast of England and on both sides of the southern North Sea, and the other – aimed at the fleets in southwest England and on both sides of the Irish Sea – assembling at Kinsale on July 17th.

This fleet will go on westward for a week centred around the Glandore Classics, though with forays to the Fastnet Rock and other nearby ports. Glandore will then be followed by a further two weeks cruising towards West Kerry with a circuit of Skellig Michael the target, followed by more leisurely cruising homewards. In all, an epic three week venture which, like the OGA's successful Golden Jubilee Round Britain Cruise-in-Company in 2013, will probably see some boats joining and leaving at different intervals, though for most, staying the complete and very scenic course will be the target.

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Cine Mara from The Netherlands. Rik Janssen's steel-built version of a traditional Galway Hooker, seen in Dublin Bay during the OGA Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company in 2013, was one of the flagships for 2014's Tenth Anniversary Cruise-in-Company for the Dutch Branch of the OGA. She is expected back in Ireland for the 2015 Glandore Classics in July, and the subsequent Old Gaffers Cruise-in-Company to West Cork and Kerry. Photo: Barry O'Loughlin

What with their intense GMC meeting in the morning, closely followed by his four hours and more of moderating the AGM in the afternoon over an exceptional range of topics, Sean Walsh and his team had a busy day of it. But as with any successful body, by the conclusion of the meeting the administrative officers were themselves re-enthused by the energy and commitment of their members. And from the Irish point of view, it certainly means that from July 18th to 24th we're going to have a CH Marine Glandore Classics Regatta 2015 on an unprecedented scale.

By contrast, the Royal Cruising Club works on the notion that small is beautiful. It has only 400 full members, but with a big history going back to 1880 when it was founded in London by a Trinity College Dublin graduate called Arthur Underhill, and its Challenge Cup goes back to 1896, which makes it far and away the world's senior cruising trophy.

In the early days, there were those cruising people who sniffed at the very idea of a "cruising competition". But contests such as this encourage the keeping of proper logs, which is an integral part of seamanship. And in an activity which is remarkably difficult to quantify, qualify and annotate, the story of the many winners gives us an unrivalled narrative of the development of cruising and cruising boats over the past 118 years.

Certainly it's something which the RCC - after some initial and understandable reluctance back in the early days – now takes very seriously indeed, so much so that the identity of the judge is kept an almost complete secret until the announcements go public in early January, and only a couple of others in the communications side of the club know the outcome of his or her adjudications after they've been made in early December – even the Commodore is kept in the dark until the January revelation.

The use of "his or her" in relation to the judge reflects the nature of this extraordinary club, which seems to have always had women members paying an active role. So much so, in fact, that it wasn't until after I'd made the list public that it was pointed out to me that of the awardees, more than half were women sailors. I simply hadn't noticed – I was only trying to highlight the twelve best cruises out of an impressive total of 40 logs submitted.

Most of the awards are of a relatively private or specialist nature within the club, but the Challenge Cup is of public interest – in the early days of the BBC radio, its recipient would be revealed on the airwaves. And another main award, the Cruising Club of America Bowl – went to a boat of Irish interest, the 44ft steel-built gaff yawl Young Larry (Andrew & Maire Wilkes) which is well-known about Dungarvan, as Maire was noted West Waterford solo sailor Maire Breathnach before she teamed up with Andrew.

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The extensively-cruised steel gaff yawl Young Larry snugly moored in the pool just below the bridge in Dungarvan. Photo: Donal Walsh

This remarkable couple have also been recognised by the Irish Cruising Club, and in the spring they'll be presented with the ICC's Fastnet Trophy which is for exceptional achievements which have included a voyage circumnavigating North America, which of course included the east-west transit of the Northwest Passage. Having done and dusted the Northwest Passage, so to speak, in 2014 they returned to its southeastern approaches to cruise in detail the areas they'd to by-pass before, thus well-qualifying Young Larry for the CCA Bowl.

It's for a "cruise of any duration which includes a valuable contribution to Port and Pilotage information", and as Andrew and Maire's account of their cruise – which was via Ireland, Scotland, the Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin island and Labrador before laying up for the winter in Newfoundland – is replete with sailing directions and anchorage information (sometimes obtained while in almost-too-close contact with polar bears), they fitted the Americans' requirements perfectly.

The Challenge Cup for the best cruise of the year has always had strong Irish associations, as in 1896 its first awardee (you don't "win" cruising trophies) was Dr Howard Sinclair of Belfast for a cruise round Ireland in his 23ft cutter Brenda. The pace and scale soon quickened, for in 1923, '24 and '25 it was awarded three years on the trot to Conor O'Brien of Foynes for his unprecedented global circumnavigation south of the great Capes in the Baltimore-built 40ft ketch Saoirse.

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The Baltimore-built Saoirse. Conor O'Brien of Foynes was awarded the RCC Challenge Cup in 1923, 1924, and 1925 during his unprecedented global circumnavigation south of the great Capes in this 40ft ketch

More recently, Peter Guinness – originally of Howth – was awarded it in 1960 for an extensive cruise with the cutter Rob Roy McGregor, and then John Gore-Grimes from the same home port took it in 1985 for an exceptional Arctic cruise in the Nich 31 Shardana, the same skipper being honoured again for a long voyage north of Russia with the Najad 441 Arctic Fern in 2003.

Those who think the icy northern wastes are best left to polar bears will be cheered to learn that for 2014, I awarded the Challenge Cup to a sweet little own-built 34ft junk-rigged schooner which skipped across the oceans in the warmer zones like a flying fish. Then when she reached the end of each ocean voyage, her husband-and-wife crew would cruise each coastline visited as though that was the only cruise they'd be doing all year – in other words, with total enthusiasm and genuine interest in the people they met in some very obscure places.

But then, when you've a Jay Benford-designed Badger class schooner which you built yourself, you can comfortably fit in anywhere without offending the sensibilities of the locals by a gross display of affluence. Charlotte Waters – who is an artist – and her master craftsman/furniture designer husband Dan Johnson built their little boat Hestur with very limited resources near their cottage at Ullapool in Wester Ross in northwest Scotland. In their first season of 2013, they cruised to the Canaries via northwest Spain, then through 2014 they cruised on to West Africa and journeyed far up the Gambia River just before the outbreak of ebola, then went safely on their way to Cape Verde, across the Atlantic to cruise the Caribbean in detail, then on to Bermuda, the Azores, southwest Ireland, North Wales and so home to Ullapool leaving a very minimal carbon footprint in a voyage very worthy of the world's most senior cruising award.

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Small and simple is beautiful and just right in a good cruising boat. Seen here far up the Gambia River in West Africa, this is the own-built Badger class schooner Hestur, whose owners Charlotte Watters and Dan Johnson of Ullapool in Scotland cruised extensively around and across the Atlantic. They have been awarded the RCC Challenge Cup for 2014. Photo: Charlotte Watters

Published in W M Nixon
Page 7 of 11

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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