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Displaying items by tag: Dun Laoghaire Regatta

First round in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta battle of the sportsboats was won decisively by the 1720s - and the Royal Irish.

David Ryan’s 'Big Bad Wolf' took the first bullet in a mixed series that is being fought out by a 22-strong fleet.

And waterfront clubmate Ian Cummins worked his magic in 'Merlin' - avoiding a repeat of her fate in the 1720 East Coast championships to take second place.

Former Helmsman Champion Robert Dix has been tipped to shine among the J80 fleet this week, but the veteran competitor couldn’t make his experience tell in the light and shifty airs of Dublin Bay's northern reaches.

Instead, it was Howth sailmaker Philip Watson who salvaged some honour for the class in 'Jam Jar', pipping Conall O’Halloran’s 'Jitterbug' for third.

Royal St George sailor Conall fared better in the standalone J80 event, topping the Day 1 league table ahead of Annemarie Murphy’s National crew in 'Jay Z' and the Howth-based 'Red Cloud', helmed by Norbert Reilly.

Published in Volvo Regatta
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It was ultra-high summer, and it was difficult sailing in Dublin Bay for the hugely varied fleet starting their racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 writes W M Nixon. Today’s opening racing started with so much promise – a sparkling sunlit westerly and the race area enlivened by the flood tide. But as the afternoon settled in, the breeze went to sleep, and when a new easterly finally decided to come creeping in under a soft grey sky, it did so in a very uneven way, as was shown in the results for the IRC Classes.

For although the glamour boats of Classes 0, 1 and 2 were in the Race Area nearest the smooth opulence of Dublin Bay’s southeast coast, it was the smaller craft exiled to the middle of the bay – virtually the Northside as some true blue Dun Laoghaire types saw it – who had the best of the day’s sailing, as the new wind nipped in round the Baily with some determination, whereas it was decidedly languid as it wandered in past the Muglins and Dalkey Island.

Outrajeous kite beat 0602The J109 Outrajeous is the first to set her kite on the opening 'beat' when the wind shifts just minutes into race one. The race was abandoned. Photo: Afloat

In other words, the biggies completed just one race, but the little ‘uns got in two. In Class 0, Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 40 Signal 8 from Hong Kong looked like she could fly given a wind, but for some time there weren’t no wind at all at all to ruffle the hair-styles of Dalkey, and it was Frank Whelan’s achingly consistent Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones which started from where she’d left off at Kinsale by taking the bullet, while second went to Conor Phelan’s Ker 36 Jump Juice from Crosser, but Signal 8 still made the podium with the third.

Signal 8 0647Jamie McWilliam's Ker 40, Signal 8 Photo: Afloat

Zero Bullock 0724A tightly grouped Class Zero off Bulloch Harbour just before the wind died in aborted race one Photo: Afloat

IRC 1 was a truly awesome turnout in terms of number, but as far as wind speeds were concerned, the numbers suited the J/109s very well indeed, thank you, and they took eight of the first ten places, with the John Maybury’s Joker 2 (RIYC) getting the best of it from clubmates Tim & Richard Goodbody in White Mischief, third place going to Pat Kelly’s Storm from Howth and Rush while longtime J/109 advocates Brian & John Hall (NYC) were fourth with Something Else.

Class One Start 0572A Class One Start Photo: Afloat

The RC 35 Division was within IRC 1, and here the winner was Storm with Something Else second and Robin Young’s Jings from Scotland – yet another J/109 – taking third.

Coastal Division

Mermaid Beneteau 50 0289Seamus Fitzpatrick’s big Beneteau First 50 Mermaid IV clears the harbour mouth at the start of the race Photo: Afloat

Coastal Class 0302The start of the coastal class race with Fintan Cairns's Raptor closest to camera Photo: Afloat

Meanwhile the 30 boats which had gone offshore in the coastal race finally managed to find their way to a finish, and it was Seamus Fitzpatrick’s handsome big Beneteau First 50 Mermaid IV (RIYC) – with former All-Ireland Sailing Champion Ben Duncan as tactician - which managed to stave off the challenge of Andrew Hall’s slippery J/125 Jackknife from Pwllheli in second, third place going to George Sisk (RIYC) with his Xp44 WOW.

JackKnife Wow 0342JackKnife follows Wow out of Dublin Bay at the start of an 18-mile coastal race Photo: Afloat

By comparison with the frustrated big fellows, IRC 3 out in mid-bay had themselves a heady time of it with two races completed, and it was Charlie McAllister’s Starflash Quarter Tonner Fait Accompli from Antrim Boat Club on Lough Neagh which took to the salty sea with relish, and emerged top of the day’s racing with a 1st and a 3rd, Ger O’Sullivan’s Formula 28 Animal from Howth being next best with a 5th and a 1st, while third overall was taken by Ken Lawless’s Quarter Tonner Cartoon (RIYC) with a 4th and 2nd.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the IRC racing is the sheer size of the class numbers involved. If the fates decide to give us enough breeze tomorrow to provide racing, we’ll look in more detail at some other sides to this varied and complex story. But for now, the miracle is that with the awkward wind pattern, the Race Officers still managed to get in a programme, we have results, and tomorrow is another day.

Division 2a details are here

Checkmate XVDave Cullen's Checkmate XV is competing in class Two Photo: Afloat

Published in ICRA
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There is no doubt about it that 500 entries – so far – for Thursday's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is a great indication of the state of yacht racing in Ireland, especially when so many other regattas struggle for numbers.

There are six IRC spinnaker classes bucking this trend plus a further 27 One Design and White Sail classes competing, making up this massive 500–boat fleet.

Download the Class Splits for Dun Laoghaire Regatta's IRC Classes below as a PDF file.

Based on these divisions, Afloat takes a shot at naming some likely winners in each of these six IRC classes. At the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale, a fortnight ago, we did likewise and were successful in three of our four IRC class picks.

Light Wind Forecast

Weather conditions, as always will have a big bearing on who wins, with some designs clearly favouring lighter winds and some strong winds. With three days to go, it is possible to get a fairly decent steer of what the wind conditions will be like. It appears Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 will be a very light air affair unless some thermal winds appear, but with cloudy conditions expected for three of the four days, the chances of these thermals coming in are lessened. Therefore our picks for likely winners take this into account.

Offshore Class—28 Entries

In reality, though officially described as an 'Offshore' Class, it is effectively a 'Coastal' Class.

Jackknife D2D Race start 2497Jackknife, the J125 of Andrew Hall from Pwllheli Sailing Club

Jackknife, the J125 of Andrew Hall from Pwllheli Sailing Club is leading the ISORA Series overall and is a potent performer, particularly when she can get planing. Likewise, the two Jeanneau Sunfast 3600s from Dun Laoghaire, Yoyo (Brendan Coughlan) and Hot Cookie (John O'Gorman). Hot Cookie had an impressive third place overall result at the recent Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, while Yoyo features well also on the ISORA Circuit.

Rockabill D2D Race start 2191Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish has already won D2D overall and the Coastal class at ICRAs but may not like the light air conditions much. Even still, she will compete hard and if a bit of breeze builds, she will perform well.

WOW D2D Race start 2087George Sisk's new XP44 WOW from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

All these boats will need some breeze and some good reaching conditions to shine. George Sisk's new XP44 from the Royal Irish took a clean sweep in the Coastal Class at the Sovereign's Cup just two weeks ago and is known to be particularly swift in light airs. In addition, she seems to possess a good selection of offwind sails, so she must be the favourite for this class. The two boats that might upset this, however, are the J109’s, Jaydreamer, owned by Paul Sutton from Liverpool, Peter Dunlop's Mojito from Pwllheli and Nigel Ingram's Jetstream from Holyhead. The J109 is a particularly potent performer in light airs, and with their asymmetric spinnakers will likely be well suited for this class.

Class 0: Six entries

The Offshore Class has pulled many of the larger boats, leaving just the hardcore of top IRC big boats here. 

Signal 8 Ker 40 Jamie McWilliamJamie McWilliam's Signal 8, a Ker 40, sailing under the burgee of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

The highest rated will be Jamie McWilliam's Ker 40, Signal 8 from Hong Kong. Signal 8 won last years Wave Regatta at Howth in light airs, from Jump Juice from Royal Cork owned by Conor Phelan. Jump will be in the mix this year as well.

Forty Licks 1581Jay Colville's First 40, Forty Licks from East Down Yacht Club
Jay Colville's First 40, Forty Licks from East Down Yacht Club always performs well in all conditions, and will likely finish in the top three, as likely will Jonathan Anderson's J122e from the Clyde.

eleuthera racing14Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera from Greystones Photo: Bob Bateman

For the overall win, however, you cannot go beyond Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44, Eleuthera from Greystones. Second at the ICRAs and a clear winner at the Sovereign Cup last month, she is a noted light air performer, and with Shane Hughes from North Sails aboard, must be the bookies favourite in this class.

Class 1: 27 entries

This is likely to be the most competitive and hardest class to pick a winner this year. The normal Irish and Welsh boats in this class will be joined by the Scottish RC 35 Class who are using Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as one of the Celtic Cup events, so six of this class have travelled to the hub of Irish Sea yachting.

16 x J109s feature in this class and are known to be potent in light airs, so it is likely that two or three of the podium results will go to a J109. So far this year, a J109 has won the Scottish Series, the ICRAs and the Sovereign's Cup, in varying conditions.

Animal KipKevin and Debbie Aitken's Beneteau 36.7, Animal, from the Clyde

Apart from the J109s, there are a few others that will feature. If it stays light for all four days, Kevin and Debbie Aitken's Beneteau 36.7, Animal, from the Clyde is a potent performer in light airs and has already won the RC35 Class Nationals this year. One windier day, however, could be her undoing as if she cannot keep up with the J109’s on a moderate day, she will end up with a couple of high numbers. This is what happened at the Scottish Series back in May.

Bon Exemple 2627Colin Byrne's Xp33, Bon Exemple from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Colin Byrne's Xp33, Bon Exemple has been going particularly well in Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing until she had to do some mast repairs. She is a great all-round boat and will be to the front of the fleet. Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2 from the Royal Irish has shown some flashes of speed and will likely be in the mix.

J99 2688Andrew Algeo's new J99, Juggerknot 2 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Getting back to the J109s, the four that took the top four results at this year's ICRAs are all back, and all have good tacticians aboard. John Maybury's Joker 2, From the Royal Irish, who was the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta winner will have Olympian Killian Collins aboard. Jelly Baby, owned by Brian Jones from the Royal Cork has Killian's brother Mel on tactics. Storm 2, owned by the Kelly family from Rush has North Sails Nigel Young aboard, and Outrajeous, owned by John Murphy and Richard Colwell from Howth, has Olympian Mark Mansfield aboard. Outrajeous just won the Sovereigns Cup two weeks ago in Kinsale. Other top J109s likely to do well will be Tim Goodbody's locally-based White Mischief from the Royal Irish, Brian and John Hall's Something else from the National Yacht Club and Andrew Craig's Scottish Series winner, Chimaera from the Royal Irish.

White Mischief J109 0359Tim Goodbody's J109 White Mischief from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Jelly Baby 2022Brian Jones's J109 Jelly Baby from Royal Cork Yacht Club

Outrajeous 2934Outrajeous, owned by John Murphy and Richard Colwell from Howth

Who to pick from this lot? Were it moderate conditions, it likely would be Outrageous, Joker 2 and Storm to fight it out. However, both Storm and Outrageous have opted for symmetrical spinnaker configuration this year and in light airs an asymmetrical spinnaker has an advantage. As a result, we suggest Joker 2 will take it by a nose.

Class 2: 23 entries

Were it moderate conditions we could talk about one of the J97s having a good chance, or perhaps Anthony O'Leary's converted 1720, Antix Beag, from Cork or the newly crowned ICRA Class Three champion, the X302 Dux (Anthony Gore Grimes) from Howth

Antix Beag 2437Anthony O'Leary's modified 1720, Antix Beag, from Cork

However in light airs, the modernised Half Tonners are flyers and so, one of these five must be likely to take the spoils.

The Wright brothers Mata from Howth has won the ICRAs this year and also won the Irish Half Ton Cup at the Sovereigns Cup. She has been going particularly well, but unlike the other events, she does not have a pro for this regatta.

MATA Half TonThe Wright brothers Mata from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

Nigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII from Howth won her class in Sovereigns and was close also at ICRAs. Her tactician, Neil Mackley from North Sails, will, Afloat understands, be with her again for Dun Laoghaire Week and this must make her one of the main contenders.

Nigel BiggsNigel Biggs's Checkmate XVIII from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

Finally, Dave Cullen from Howth has not featured of late in his champion Half Tonner, Checkmate XV. For this event, he has brought in well known one design pro, Ruairidh Scott from the UK to call tactics and this will likely bring him well into contention. So, it likely will be between these three. We will tip Nigel Biggs to take it from Dave Cullen, but it will all be pretty close.

Cullen checkmate 0385Dave Cullen's Half Tonner, Checkmate XV from Howth

Dux X302 3304ICRA champion X302 Dux (Anthony Gore-Grimes) from Howth

Class 3: 19 entries

Were it moderate to fresh, the four J24s would likely be in the frame. The Quarter Tonners, however, love this light stuff and chief among them will likely be Ken Lawless and Sybil McCormack's Cartoon from the Royal Irish. Other Quarter Tonners that will like the conditions will be Paul Colton's Cri Cri from the Royal Irish and John Hasson and Neil Doherty's Panic from Lough Swilly Yacht Club.

CrI Cri 3430Paul Colton's Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Fngr8 1982FNGr8, the optimised First Class 8 skippered by Rory Fekkes from Carrickfergus Sailing Club

Brendan Foley's highly optimised Impala, Running Wild from the Royal St George, complete with fat head main, will also love these light airs. Finally, runner up to Dux at the ICRA Nationals this year was FNGr8, the optimised First Class 8 of Rory Fekkes from Carrickfergus Sailing Club. Rory won his class easily at the Scottish Series and was overall winner at 2018 Cork Week. We will tip him to add a Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta crown to these titles, likely with Cartoon or Running Wild in second.

Running Wild Impala 3287Brendan Foley's highly optimised Impala, Running Wild from the Royal St George Yacht Club

Class 4: 16 entries

Hard to know who will take this one. Philip Dwyer's Supernova, who won his class at ICRAs has been moved up to Class 3, as has Dubious, the First 28 of Peter Richardson from the Royal St George.
The Sonata, Asterix, of Frazer Meredith is always sailed well and never goes away, despite her low handicap. In these conditions, she will always be in contention. We will tip her to win.

Asterix sonata 7 3213Local boat Asterix (Frazer Meredith & John Counihan) of the DMYC

Download the class splits below. Read W M Nixon's VDLR 2019 Regatta preview here.

Published in ISORA
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When the starting gun sounds off Dun Laoghaire’s famous harbour on Thursday, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta will not only surpass 2017’s fleet with a fleet this morning of 498 but it is likely to come close to breaking 2007's all time record of 528 entries.

A regatta of this scale brings key benefits to both the sport and the east coast town.

It is a marine tourism boost and one that underpins Dun Laoghaire's place as Ireland’s largest sailing centre and also the venue of one of Ireland’s largest participant sporting events with over 2,500 competitors on the water.

But what’s even more satisfying for the Dun Laoghaire organisers this week is that nearly half the entries for 2019 are visiting boats – an indication of the future international prospects of the regatta.

The 2019 regatta is previewed here by W M Nixon. Sailing Instructions are here and Afloat will carry a review of the 2019 VDLR Runners and Riders when final IRC class splits are published on Monday.

Published in Volvo Regatta
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Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta organisers have published the Sailing Instructions document for Ireland's biggest regatta next month on Dublin Bay.

Five race tracks across Dublin Bay will cater for 2,500 sailors in 480 boats across 34 classes when the first gun sounds on July 11.

The 24-page document contains the official rules and regulations of the regatta as well as the programme of races for the four-day biennial event.

The Sailing Instructions are downloadable below as a PDF file

As Afloat previously reported here, more than 92 different sailing clubs will be represented, including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, from which there are currently 111 entries, and across Ireland. 

The fixture is organised jointly by the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC).

Published in Volvo Regatta
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Conor Fogerty's new Figaro 3 keelboat 'Raw' will be the only foiling keelboat racing at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta next month in the former Sailor of the Year's lead up to August's Fastnet Race. After that, the new vessel stars at the Southampton Boat Show before crossing the Atlantic at the end of September where the foiler will be available for charter in the Caribbean this winter. 

The debut performance of the foiling Figaro 3 'Raw' from Howth Yacht Club in the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race has been the start of what Fogerty is calling a 'rather large learning curve'.

Fogerty entered the 280-mile offshore race last week with a three-man crew and he says they were 'happy enough at times during the D2D with her performance'.

The new BJ Marine supplied Beneteau craft powered down the Irish Sea in the east coast stage of the race but he says the crew were frustrated on the south coast from the Tuskar to the Fastnet Rock when they lost their A2 sail and masthead halyard leaving them to white sail the bulk of the race.

Prior to the D2D race, Fogerty revealed he and UK based-Susan Glenny are looking at the foiling venture as an "intent to commit" to becoming Ireland’s reps for the mixed two-person offshore keelboat event for the 2024 Olympics.

The 2017 Irish Sailor of the Year reckons at this early stage that "it will be hard to race to her handicap, but not impossible", although he also notes that IRC has added a further six points to her rating since the D2D. The formula calculation is now 1.124

Raw Figaro crew 1541Raw Skipper Conor Fogerty (right) with his D2D crew (from right) Laura Dillon, Susan Glenny and Peter Freyne Photo: Afloat

Fogerty says he will continue the learning curve at July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, the ISORA Isle of Man Race leading up to the Fastnet Race.

Raw will then be the showboat at Southampton Boat Show, before heading south for the Canaries and the RORC Transatlantic Race in late September. "She will compete in one of my favourite races, the Caribbean 600" [February 2020].

Fogerty has partnered with LV Yachting to provide race charter in the Caribbean in Raw, with up to six crew spaces for the inshore regatta series. More details on the charter here.

Published in Volvo Regatta

Viking Marine is taking pre-orders for the Official Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Helly Hansen Regatta Clothing. Items ordered by Friday 14th June can have their boat name and sail no screen-printed or embroidered on the gear but get those orders in fast please as the countdown is on.

Jackets, mid-layers, T Shirts and caps are online and in store at the Dun Laoghaire Chandlery.

Order online here

Published in Viking Marine
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In the years to come, Thursday, April 4th 2019 will be remembered as a pivotal date in the development of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a maritime, recreational and community amenity, a key moment in the significant growth of a shared attitude by the town, the harbour, and the sailing and boating community towards this unique facility’s future writes W M Nixon.

The occasion was the public announcement in the National Maritime Museum of everything that that this year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 (it’s from July 11th to 14th) will bring to participants and townsfolk alike. But it was also used by officialdom - in the persons of Government Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, and Councillor Ossian Smyth, An Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown – as the high-profile occasion when a shared vision towards the civilised recreational development and wider use of the harbour for broader community benefit became further enshrined as official government and local authority policy.

oconnor thomas2Key speakers – Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD with Volvo Car Ireland’s David Thomas. The Minister took the opportunity at the launch of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 to move forward official policy on the use of Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a community-beneficial amenity. Photo: Fotosail/Gareth Craig

The change in official attitude has been developing for some time now. But Thursday night marked a very clear and positive tipping point. much of the planning is still at a very early stage. Indeed, much of it is still in the minds of participants in unofficial think tanks who were very much present as enthusiastic individuals at Thursday night’s gathering. But there are many hurdles to clear and schemes to fully develop before the new approach and its projects can be jointly revealed in any final and official way.

So, for now, we can only say that it was a marvellous occasion, with the changed official attitude and the many new ideas inducing an attitude of optimism, enthusiasm and energy which brought the Museum to life in a way seldom if ever seen before, and it provided a very effective launch pad for VDLR 2019.

collen group3Collen Construction has continued their sponsorship for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta, and it has also been revealed that they will also be supporting the campaigns of Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy. In the photo are (left to right) Tommy Drumm, Neil Collen, Pamela Collen, and Declan Maguire (all Collen Construction), Councillor Ossian Smyth (An Cathaoirleach, Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown), Barry King and Martin McCarthy (Commodore, National YC). Photo Fotosail/Gareth Craig

When the Official Launching of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 was staged at the same venue in April two years ago, Ireland’s lively Springtime weather treated us to a downpour of Biblical proportions. Puddles formed where puddles had never formed before. Known puddles became lakes. Yet the show went on in style with a large attendance.

And when the event itself rolled up in July 2017 with a fleet of 488 boats, we were rewarded with perfect regatta conditions – summer breezes which held up in Dublin Bay and the extended racing area, with wind directions and sailing circumstances which favoured in-harbour finishes and total regatta conditions to highlight the harbour’s Bicentenary Celebrations, rounded out by warm summer evenings to facilitate al fresco parties along a buzzing waterfront.

peggy bawn myfanwy4Perfect regatta conditions – the post-race mood starts to develop in 2017 for Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn of 1894 vintage (left) and Rob Mason’s 1897-built Myfanwy. Photo: W M Nixon
So when, at the beginning of this week, it looked as though Thursday evening’s official launching of VDLR 2019 in the same august setting was going to be threatened by the possibility of a brief but unseasonal flurry of sleet and snow, it was accepted with equanimity. Bring it on, was the attitude. “It can only mean even better weather in July than there was in 2017 ” – that was the official approach……

In fact, being at sea level we avoided the sleet and snow, but beforehand there was rain in abundance with the additional threatened joys of severe hailstorms and possible thunder. Yet once you were safely within the venue’s special ambience, with the Museum’s well-conserved 1887 Dublin Bay Water Wag in pride of place to honour the Harbour’s remarkable and magnificent sailing history, it was like being transformed into summer - the place was heaving with sailing, maritime and harbour enthusiasts in profusion, and when those clearly official statements were made from the stage, the mood became turbo-powered.

crowd scene5Never mind the weather outside, in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire the mood was one of friendship and optimism as plans for the regatta and the harbour’s future was revealed. Photo: Gareth Craig/Fotosail

We’d gone into the convivial gathering knowing that entries already stood at 410 boats, a really solid entry basis when we remember that many local crews – or at least crews within easy reach of Dublin Bay – hold back their entry until they’re more confident about the summer’s developing weather pattern.

This is reflected in the fact that upwards of half of the signed-up entries are visiting craft. More than 70 different sailing clubs are represented, including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - from which there are currently 111 entries. Within the fleet which finally assembles, there will, of course, be many crewmen from far overseas, while the thriving Hong Kong racing scene will be represented by Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 40 Signal 8, and there’s always a good chance that a French (and other European) boat or two (and possibility more) will emerge to surprise us.

As it is, a strong international flavour in the Rugby sense will attach to the RC 35 Class, which has been going from strength to strength, built around the healthy presence of solid fleets of performance boats plus or minus 35ft LOA in the Clyde, Belfast Lough, Dublin Bay and North Wales. The VDLR 2019 is one of the pillar events in their Celtic Challenge series, and it is no accident that the defending overall champion in the VDLR itself, John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II, comes right from the heart of this hyper-competitive sector.

Joker 2 3784Defending overall champion – John Maybury’s J/109 Joker 2. Photo: VDLR

At the different level of involvement, one of the great successes of 2017 was the Classics and Traditional Division, where the overall winner and deservedly proud awardee of the Kingstown Cup marking the Bicentenary Rob Mason’s own-restored 1897-vintage Myfanwy, a classic 37ft Alexander Richardson design home-ported in Milford Haven.

Myfanwy has since been sold on, bound for the top-end Classics scene in the Mediterranean. But although Rob is now engaged on another major restoration project, the Milford Haven men hope to be back in Dun Laoghaire from southwest Wales, though this time on Andy Whitcher’s superbly-maintained modern classic Cheverton Caravel sloop Fawn.

chris moore pat shannon7A mood of shared optimism – Chris Moore of Dublin Bay SC with Councillor Barry Ward and Pat Shannon of the Royal Irish YC. Photo Fotosail/Gareth Craig
kirwan winkelmann sherry8The future looks good. Ann Kirwan with Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race Chairman Adam Winkelmann and Peter Sherry. Photo Fotosail/Gareth Craig

And Welsh involvement won’t stop there, for addition to the strong RC 35 contingent from North Wales, the Treardur Bay Sailing Club from Anglesey are celebrating their Centenary, and are bringing over fleets of the Seabird Half-Raters (120 years old) and their Myth class dinghies – they’re sea-going 14ft cousins of the Shannon One Designs -which will be celebrating their centenary next year.

In fact, you can find significant anniversaries in classes throughout the fleet, as the ever-elegant always-youthful International Dragons are 90 years old in 2019. But while all these significant dates are of intense interest to those directly involved, for every participant the primary interest is well-organised racing afloat, and shoreside facilities and events which - while pleasantly busy and always friendly and efficient - don’t at any stage find themselves being overwhelmed by the demands of a diverse fleet and its even more diverse crews.

ocarroll dowling9Emma O’Carroll of Volvo Cars Ireland with Ciara Dowling, who has been Regatta Secretary since the VDLR was launched in 2005. Photo: Fotosail/Gareth Craig
This is where the Dublin Bay tradition of voluntary sailing administration comes most strongly to the fore. It’s something found at every centre in Ireland. It’s built into our sailing DNA as it is in other sports. But it’s the sheer numbers which necessarily have to be involved in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Week – 300 at least - that would make this voluntarism most apparent were it not for the fact that it’s done so willingly and with such quiet enthusiasm that participants seem to scarcely notice. But believe me, we are profoundly aware of it, and Organising Committee Chairman Don O’Dowd was graceful in his heartfelt public appreciation of the many – the very many - who help.

In the VDLR context, the main man is the Chairman of the Organising Committee, and we interviewed current incumbent Don O’Dowd of the Royal St George Yacht Club in this blog back on the 16th March, which gave some idea of the background and abilities needed to run this incredible show and keep everyone in a complex harbour town happily on side ashore and afloat.

don odowd10Man of action. Don O’Dowd is never happier than when he’s afloat, whether racing or organising races. But the running of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019 will involve a continuous round of committee meetings before things finally shape up on the water.
But while that meeting with the Chairman last month was distinctly informal, Thursday night was very much official business, with Government Minister and local TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor heading up a platform party which put sailing in its proper context in Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Bay As Don O’Dowd commented: “Since it first set sail in 2005, Dun Laoghaire Regatta has grown biennially, and showcases the very best of Irish sailing action on the water. With a festival this size, the regatta also adds a lot of shoreside summer colour to Dun Laoghaire. With over 300 sailing races across 30 classes, and 2,500 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors, there is a growing acknowledgement of the role of sailing as an economic driver in the harbour town”. The Minister added: “The Regatta has a huge and very welcome sporting, tourism and commercial impact on Dun Laoghaire. The whole town works to make it a success.” “The Regatta brings a significant amount to the local economy. Using the Irish tourism multiplier, the average expenditure per competitor will be €100 per day which for 2,500 competitors will be €250,000 per day and €1,000,000 over four days”.

With facts like that to support her view, the Minister was well placed for her statement of intent regarding a more environment-friendly approach to the future use of the Harbour. And that in turn was supported by Chairman O’Dowd adding: “In an effort to protect our waters, VDLR 2019 are running the event as a Clean Regatta through the international Sailors for the Sea programme, supported by the MaREI Centre, which will see us implementing a number of Clean Regattas Best Practices to reduce our environmental impact."

This news chimed very well with Councillor Ossian Smyth as a leading figure in the Green Party, and provided the framework for his clearly stated determination to support Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s fulfilment of its potential as a real and accessible health benefit for everyone.

Clean waters, clear air – and all within easy reach of an attractive town elegantly set under harmonious hill and mountain slopes, right beside an entertaining capital city. It’s quite a package. So, come July, it will be up to the sailors to do it justice with their eclectic fleet.

RC35 2018 Champion AnimalAnimal, the 2018 RC35 champion. Photo: Marc Turner

As well as Class One, key classes in the line-up include the other IRC rating classes and the RC35s, with a visiting fleet of vintage Half Tonners from Howth contesting Class Two. In addition, One-Design classes will include the Beneteau 31.7s, Beneteau 211, Sigma 33 (celebrating their 40th Anniversary) Ruffian 23s, Howth 17s, Dragons (on their 90th) the RS Elites, who stage their British Championships as part of the VDLR, currently with 34 entries, and the Flying Fifteens.

The Flying Fifteens will have an extra edge as they’re on the countdown to their Worlds at the National YC in September, while the dinghy classes will include the GP14, Wayfarer, Squib, Mermaid, IDRA 14s, and single-handed Lasers and Moths.

dragons dublin bay12The Dragon Class have been in Dublin Bay for more than seventy years, and in 2019 they’re celebrating their 90th Anniversary internationally
And not least of its attractions is value for money. As Don O’Dowd concluded: “The VDLR owes its prominence in international sailing events to a number of factors. One of the core attributes to attracting so many entrants is that it is one of the least expensive sailing events in Europe, thanks to generous sponsorship and support, thereby providing great value for money in a wonderful sailing setting.”

The sponsors are:

  • Volvo Car Ireland in partnership with Spirit Motor Group (Title sponsor)
  • Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
  • Collen Construction
  • Rationel
  • Helly Hansen
  • Royal Marine Hotel
  • Dubarry
  • UK Sailmakers

The fact that many of them have been with the Regatta since its inception in 2005, and see it as friends as much as sponsors, speaks volumes for the calibre of the key people running the event, and in this context it is appropriate to highlight one very special individual – Brian Craig - whose name briefly came up in another context during what has been one of the busiest weeks in Irish sailing – of which more anon.

Sigma 33 0489The Sigma 33s will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary with a strong fleet at the VDLR 2019

Irish Sailing

Irish Sailing held its Annual General Meeting a week ago. But it scarcely grabbed the headlines for the good reason that the turbulent times of seven years or so ago are now firmly behind us, and changes of office and new appointments were almost routine. The popular Jack Roy (who was of course at Thursday evening’s reception) will continue as President for another year, and as he is a leading Race Officer on frequent occasions including the VDLR, and an active sailor when he can find the time, we can merely marvel and wonder where he gets the energy and enthusiasm in the midst of a busy day job.

There were three retirees from the Irish Sailing board – Brian Craig, Simon McGibney and Colin Kavanagh – with Colin Kavanagh being re-nominated by the board while Simon McGibney was replaced by his successor as ICRA Commodore, Richard Colwell, who was nominated by Howth Yacht Club. Also nominated as Directors were James Lyons (Kinsale YC) and David O’Brien (Royal Cork YC).

So there it is. After seven years of wise guidance, Brian Craig has quietly stood down from the Irish Sailing Board. It is another chapter in an extraordinary life story of sailing and service to sailing. The word is that he is now engaged in another important role in sailing administration which is even more of a background nature than his usual approach, which makes an entire philosophy out of doing good work by stealth.

craughwell killeen craig14Nigel Craughwell (Royal Marine Hotel), Brenda Killeen and multi-tasker Brian Craig. Photo: Fotosail/Gareth Craig

Every so often, he has had to put his head above the parapet – for instance, he was Chairman for the first two Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regattas in 2005 and 2007, with an approach which has set the tone of the event ever since. And he also had to be more visible when he and his team brought what was then the ISAF Youth Worlds to Dublin Bay in 2012, making it an outstanding event despite the tough economic times.

Brian Craig’s continuing voluntary contribution has been recognised with awards like the ISA Volunteer of the Year, the 2010 National Award to Volunteers from what is now Sports Ireland, and he was December 2012’s “Sailor of the Month” after that outstanding Youth Worlds. But such rewards mean less to him than being able to see a thriving Irish sailing scene, and despite the earliness in the season, the past week or so have brought him great satisfaction.

For instance, there’s the busy university sailing scene, always a special interest for him. They’d their National Team Racing Championship at the imaginative venue of Lough Key, a double pleasure as he is also an inland waterways enthusiast. UCD skippered by Lucy McCutcheon won. Then last weekend it was the Student Nationals in J/80s at Howth – CIT won, skippered by Harry Durcan.

At the same time, the Irish Optimists, the quintessence of our junior sailing and another Craig interest, were at the British Spring Opens in Lymington with a squad of 28 in a fleet of 155. They were very much in the hunt with four in the top ten and two on the podium – James Dwyer Matthews of Kinsale, taking first while Luke Turvey of Howth was third.

hayes curran orourke15The folks who keep the boats sailing - Steve Hayes and Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland with Antonia O’Rourke of Viking Marine at the VDLR 2019 reception in the Maritime Museum. Photo: Fotosail/Gareth Craig

As for the other end of the scale, it was Brian Craig who played a key role in organising the marvellous welcome home for Annalise Murphy after she’d won the Silver at the 2016 Olympics – the front line showing by Finn Lynch in this week’s Olympic Classes regatta in Palma will stand well in the Craig view of things.

And then on Thursday night, there he was, quietly in the midst of the party to launch the latest edition of his beloved Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The ultimate Main Man, and first Chairman of a major regatta, the VDLR, which has now gone on to acquire international status.

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A crowd of sailors, sponsors and volunteers attended the official launch of Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta 2019 at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland last night.

This eighth edition of the regatta event promises to be the second biggest sailing event in Northern Europe this year and is attracting a large visiting entry from around the Irish Sea and further afield. A crowd of sailors, sponsors and volunteers attended the official launch at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland on Thursday 4th April.

The event is previewed by David O'Brien in the Irish Times Sailing Column this morning here and also on here.

The significance of the event for the town was evident from the gathering of councillors and official representatives.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor T.D., Minister of State for Education, who is a local representative, highlighted the role of volunteers in staging the massive event that relies upon over a 300-strong team. 

Among the guests last night was Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, the event's Chief Race Officer Con Murphy and newly elected National Yacht Club Commodore Martin McCarthy. DBSC Turkey Shoot organiser Fintan Cairns attended along with new DBSC Hon Sec Chris Moore.

The Royal Irish's Pat Shannon and the Royal St. George's Derek Ryan were also part of the 400-strong launch party along with Dun Laoghaire Harbour Master Captain Simon Coate.

The Irish Marine trade was well represented too with, among others, Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers, Antonia O'Rourke of Viking Marine and Joss Walsh and John O'Kane of MGM Boats.

Howth Yacht Club guests included former commodore Brian Turvey and Paddy Judge. Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race organiser Adam Winkelmann also attended along with class reps from 30 different class associations that will participate in July.

Photos of last night's special gathering by Gareth Craig are below with WM Nixon's take on the 2019 VDLR appearing in his blog tomorrow.

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Ann Kirwan, Adam Winkleman and Peter Sherry

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Jim Dolan, Derek Ryan (Rear Commodore, Social - Royal St George YC) and David Lovegrove

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Chris Moore, Councillor Barry Ward and Pat Shannon

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Nigel Craughwell (General Manager, Royal Marine Hotel), Brenda Killeen and Brian Craig

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1A large group from Collen Construction (l to r - Tommy Drumm, Neil Collen, Pamela Collen, Declan Maguire, Barry King and NYC Commodore Martin McCarthy) meeting An Cathaoirleach Ossian Smyth

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Larry Power (National YC), Rosemary O'Connell, Sarah Byrne and Alan Balfe

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Steve Hayes, Graham Curran (UK Sailmakers Ireland) and Antonia O'Rourke (Viking Marine)

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Don O'Dowd, Chairperson of the Organising Committee

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1An Cathaoirleach Ossian Smyth, of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Mary Mitchell O'Connor T.D., Minister of State for Education

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1David Thomas, Managing Director of Volvo Cars Ireland

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Vincent Delany, Miriam FitzSimons, and An Cathaoirleach Ossian Smyth

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch1Paddy Judge, Brian Turvey and Cathy MacAleavey

Dun Laoghaire regatta launch19Emma O'Carroll (Volvo Cars Ireland), Ciara Dowling (Regatta Secretary), Lynn McNally and Patricia Greene (Volvo Cars Ireland)

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With three months to go to the first gun off Dun Laoghaire’s famous harbour, 410 boats are already entered — and more than half the entries are visiting craft to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019.

It is an early-season marine tourism boost for the east coast town, and one that means the next edition of Ireland’s biggest sailing regatta can expect a fleet of 500 yachts and possibly more for this biennial four-day battle of the Irish Sea.

More than 70 different sailing clubs are represented, including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, from which there are currently 111 entries, and across Ireland. 

"More than 70 different sailing clubs are represented"

In a nod to the event’s growing international stature, an early entry has been received from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club with ex-pat Jamie McWilliam sailing the production IRC race boat Signal 8, an impressive Ker 40 design.

Signal 8 Ker 40 Jamie McWilliamJamie McWilliam's Royal Hong Kong Signal 8 (Ker 40) will compete at VDLR Photo:

Growing over the last 14 years, the regatta is now proudly one of Northern Europe’s greatest shows on water, eclipsed only by the UK’s Cowes Regatta, one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world.

“Since it first set sail in 2005, Dun Laoghaire Regatta has grown biennially and showcases the very best of Irish sailing action on the water. With a festival this size, the regatta also adds a lot of shoreside summer colour to Dun Laoghaire town”, Event Chairman Don O’Dowd said.

"300 sailing races across 30 classes, and 2,500 competitors"

With over 300 sailing races across 30 classes, and 2,500 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors, there is a growing acknowledgement of the role of sailing as an economic driver in the harbour town.

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said “The Regatta has a huge and very welcome sporting, tourism and commercial impact on Dun Laoghaire. The whole town works to make it a success.”

“The Regatta brings a significant amount to the local economy. Using the Irish tourism multiplier, the average expenditure per competitor will be €100 per day which for 2,500 competitors will be €250,000 per day and €1,000,000 over four days.

In an effort to protect our waters we are running the event as a Clean Regatta through the international Sailors for the Sea programme, supported by the MaREI Centre, which will see us implementing a number of Clean Regattas Best Practices to reduce our environmental impact." O’Dowd added.

But the main interest is on the racing itself. A sideshow of the regatta is the national pride between Ireland and Britain and how many winners can rack up across the four days.

The Volvo Trophy is on the line for the overall winner of IRC and 2017’s winner, Joker II, a local J109 design, is back to defend it.

VDLR 2019 3784John Maybury's Joker II will defend her Volvo Trophy title in Dun Laoghaire Photo:

Joker II, under skipper John Maybury, was also the class winner of the highly competitive Class One, and two years later this class has only got stronger with some new local marques such as Andrew Algeo’s J99 Juggerknot II, as well as Scottish and Belfast boats contesting this division.

The Scottish boats come to Dun Laoghaire under the recently developed RC35 class banner that will make the 35-foot regatta one of the most keenly contested battles of the season.

As well as Class One, key classes in the line-up include the other IRC rating classes with a visiting fleet of vintage Half Tonners from Howth contesting Class Two.

In addition, ‘one design’ classes will include the Beneteau 31.7s, Beneteau 211, Sigma 33, Ruffian 23s, Dragons and the RS Elites, who stage their British Championships as part of the VDLR, currently with 34 entries. 

The dinghy classes will include the GP14, Wayfarer, Squib, Mermaid, Flying Fifteen, and single-handed Lasers and Moths.

But it’s not all high-tech racing at Dun Laoghaire. Traditional sailing is still very much a part of the regatta programme.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 0272Classic boat racing at 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo:

Following 2017’s harbour bicentenary celebrations as part of the regatta, Myths & Seabird Half Raters from the 100-year-old Trearddur Bay in Wales are crossing the Irish Sea again for the July festival and will join Dublin Bay's own historic classes for a classic boat regatta as part of the overall regatta.

O’Dowd says: “The VDLR owes its prominence in European sailing events to a number of factors. One of the core attributes to attracting so many entrants is that it is one of the least expensive sailing events in Europe, thanks to generous sponsorship and support, so providing great value for money for all in the lovely waters of Dublin Bay.

“We also have more than 300 volunteers who give their time and energy to ensure the regatta runs smoothly, as well as the active co-operation of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, local area businesses and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

“And of course the support from the thousands of visitors who come to watch the spectacle and take part in all the family-oriented activities in and around Dun Laoghaire.”

The biennial fixture is organised jointly by the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), the National Yacht Club (NYC), the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC).

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Irish Sailing

The Irish Sailing Association, also known as Irish Sailing, is the national governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing in Ireland.

Founded in 1945 as the Irish Dinghy Racing Association, it became the Irish Yachting Association in 1964 and the Irish Sailing Association in 1992.

Irish Sailing is a Member National Authority (MNA) of World Sailing and a member of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

The Association is governed by a volunteer board, elected by the member clubs. Policy Groups provide the link with members and stakeholders while advising the Board on specialist areas. There is a professional administration and performance staff, based at the headquarters in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

Core functions include the regulation of sailing education, administering racing and selection of Irish sailors for international competition. It is the body recognised by the Olympic Federation of Ireland for nominating Irish qualified sailors to be considered for selection to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games. Irish sailors have medalled twice at the Olympics – David Wilkins and Jamie Wikinson at the 1980 games, and Annalise Murphy at the 2016 games.

The Association, through its network of clubs and centres, offers curriculum-based training in the various sailing, windsurfing and powerboating disciplines. Irish Sailing qualifications are recognised by Irish and European Authorities. Most prominent of these are the Yachtmaster and the International Certificate of Competency.

It runs the annual All-Ireland Championships (formerly the Helmsman’s Championship) for senior and junior sailors.

The Association has been led by leading lights in the sailing and business communities. These include Douglas Heard, Clayton Love Junior, John Burke and Robert Dix.

Close to 100 sailors have represented Ireland at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Membership of Irish Sailing is either by direct application or through membership of an affiliated organisation. The annual membership fee ranges from €75 for families, down to €20 for Seniors and Juniors.

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