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As Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 reaches its halfway stage, overall leaderboards are shaping up across 35 racing classes. The so far light wind seventh edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event has produced some impressive performances on the water where in some classes leaders are counting straight wins after two days of racing and a full programme so far.

With all classes aiming for either two or three races today, results in the 475–boat fleet were still being computed in some classes at 6pm.

Day two racing started with the bumper 31–boat IRC offshore class and a start close to the Dun Laoghaire shoreline.

The 2015 champion, George Sisk's Farr 42 WOW, made the best of the vagaries of an 18–mile shortened coastal course to win on IRC overall from the Irish National Sailing School (INSS) J109 Jedi skippered by Kenneth Rumball.

The 18–mile course took the fleet south to the Kish Bank but westerly winds proved so fickle for it led to a decision to shorten the race off Bray in County Wicklow.

An hour later, the IRC Zero, One and Two also took the coastal course south for a four and a half hour race.

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2There was some good breeze to get offshore and IRC fleets out of the bay......

Class One start offshore 2....hugging the coast by Sandycove Point, spinnakers pulling well.....

Class One start offshore 1...but even by Bullock Harbour in Dalkey, problems had started with fickle westerlies for the 18–mile race

Swansea yacht Dark Angel (Tony Ackland), that has already enjoyed early season success at both June's ICRA Championships at Royal Cork and the Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale, is now leading Class Zero in Dublin. The Dubois 37 has a three point lead over Royal Cork's Ker 37 Jump Juice, (Conor Phelan).

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2John Maybury managed the light winds well to notch up another counter in today's coastal race to Bray

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2So did Dave Cullen's Checkmate from Howth who has halved the winning margin of the Scottish Class Two leader, Trastada

An impressive second place for Joker II ensures John Maybury's place at the top of 29–boat IRC one, arguably the most competitive IRC fleet of the regatta. The Royal Irish J109 now leads by 12–points from the visiting Scottish First 36.7 Animal skippered by Kevin Aitken.

In IRC two, Scottish half–tonner Trastada from Fairlie Yacht Club continues to lead but Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner now in second has halved Roddy Angus's lead to just two points.

During the course of the coastal race, the three IRC fleets compressed as they reached the line between the Baily in the north and Dalkey in the south. Half tonners in class two caught up with class one back markers and for many the race restarted as the wait for new wind began. Several observers say prevailing westerlies were fighting with a sea breeze from the east which never materialised.  

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2 At one point class zero were drifting in no wind....

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2......while just 300 metres to the north the tightly bunched class one leaders were sailing along in a ten–knot westerly

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2...but not for long.....

Dun Laoghaire regatta yachts 2It left only one option. Liverpool Yacht Club entry Valkerie enjoy a Kish Bank picnic

Although the big IRC boats were out in the Irish Sea, the size of the regatta fleet at over 475 boats meant the bay was still full of sails with action across five race courses from 11am. There was also some flat spots for the inshore courses with by far the best conditions off Seapoint Bay for some of the dinghy classes.

In IRC Three, Richard Colwell's Fusion from Howth Yacht Club continued his winning streak with two more wins and a second this time on the centre course to lead by a full eight points in the eight boat fleet.

Fusion Corby 33Four wins out of five for Richard Colwell's Corby 33 Fusion

In IRC four, Ken Lawless's Quarter Tonner also keeps his early lead but only by half a point. Cartoon, on 8.5 points, leads Jonathan Flood's modified Formula 28 Flash from Bray Sailing Club in the 15-boat fleet. 

Many of's IRC predictions are ringing true but there's still a long way to go before the fatlady sings at Dun Laoghaire on Sunday.

Ten classes have included the regatta as part of their championship calendar in 2017: GP14s, 420s and Mermaid dinghies are racing for Leinster honours, while SB20s, J24s and Squibs will decide East Coast titles, and the Sigma 33s, Beneteau 21s and the Wayfarers will race for national trophies.

420 National Champions Geoff Power and James McCann from Waterford harbour who were crowned last week at Royal Cork's DinghyFest are on target for the Leisnter title too with three second places to give them a two point margin in the 14–boat fleet.

420 dinghy dublin Bay420 dinghies training in Dun Laoghaire Harbour prior to today's Leinster Championships

In the 20–boat Sigma 33 Irish championships, UK visitors occupy the top three places after four races sailed. Dan Lewis's Neyland Yacht Club entry Partisan leads but is on the same four points as the Clyde's Alan Harper. Third is Toby Claridge's Excelle. The top Irish boat is Ballyholme's Paul Prentice in sixth place.

Gerry Dowling's Bad has a string of four wins from five races in the 18–boat SB20 sportsboat championships. Second is Michael O'Connor's Sin Bin, six points adrift.

sB20 start dublin BayDavid Dwyer's Sunday Brunch (3297), from the Royal St. George YC, takes the pin in an SB20 start

XC weather DLXC weather predicts lighter conditions for Saturday

According to forecasters, it looks like there will be more light westerlies for racing tomorrow and as a result organisers plan for a start one hour later than scheduled. 

Meanwhile, yesterday's first race of the offshore class was put into turmoil right at the end of the race. The VDLR Protest Committee found there was an 'improper action' of the Race committee in writing 'ambiguous sailing instructions' and not signalling correctly the course to be sailed, which created confusion in the finish of yesterday's offshore fleet finish at the harbour.

It directly affected the finishing positions of a majority of the fleet. The misunderstanding of the sailing instructions and course signal was not the fault of the competitors, the jury found. It granted redress so boats were to be scored by the list of times by the GPS tracking company that tracks the offshore fleet.

Harbour finish offshoreThere was finish line confusion (above) and then redress for the offshore fleet yesterday after a protest hearing

Results are provisional and subject to protest Full results in all 35 classes are available here

Published in Volvo Regatta
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The difference between an un-sailable calm and a light breeze which is just good enough to provide decent racing is enormous when you’re trying to get a very large regatta off to a successful start. So although the fleet racing on Thursday in the first jousts of the VDLR 2017 in Dublin Bay did not include some classes which became fully involved yesterday, all the heavy hitters were out and racing full-on in a sou’easter which was of exactly the right strength for the first race of a large and complex event.

This years’s special ingredient, the Classics and Traditionals racing for the prestigious Kingstown 200 Trophy, also had their first foray afloat, and W M Nixon found himself in their midst wondering at their almost infinite variety, while getting the occasional glimpse of the racing among the modern fleets.

While the Classics may show themselves to be amenable to a certain level of organisation, trying to get a varied Traditional fleet to function in unison is about as easy as herding cats at a crossroads. So when that remarkable husband and wife team of Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey were tasked with setting up a Sub-Committee to look after the special needs of the Classics and Traditionals which were being invited to Dun Laoghaire to compete for the Kingstown 200 trophy within the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, they found themselves on a steep learning curve, for all that both are already much involved in classic dinghy racing with both the Water Wags and Shannon One Designs.

master frank2Joe Pennington’s 1895-vintage Manx longliner which he restored himself. He turned up single-handed and more or less unannounced, but has been welcomed and provided with a crew. Photo: W M Nixon

Some of the traditional boats plan their programmes years in advance, while others make them up as they go along. So as entry deadlines came and went, it was still difficult enough to give a realistic assessment of who and what would be there, and where and when.

But with Guy Kilroy of the Water Wags appointed to be the vital direct liaison officer for what is sometimes best described as the Awkward Squad, it was clear that the Murphy/MacAleavey team had taken on board lessons learned from other major commemorative regattas, where attempts to include the Golden Oldies had assumed they were as au fait with the local regular racing scene as though who were frequent participants, and they were too often left to their own devices in a strange environment.

By contrast, the environment in and around the Dun Laoghaire clubs this weekend is about as friendy and un-strange as it could be, and at the National Yacht Club – with special berthing for the Classics and Traditionals along a pontoon immediately east of and parallel to the Carlisle Pier - the Golden Oldies have a home-from-home, and the mood was reinforced by helpfulness and friendliness from the start.

mermaid fleet3Although the Mermaids have very little class racing in Dublin Bay, the biennial Dun Laoghaire Regatta at their ancestral home is one of their major events. Photo: W M Nixon

As to the oldies fleet, it may not be huge, but it’s fascinating in its variety, with a stroll down their dedicated pontoon like a visit to a good maritime museum. And when we add in extras like the Fife ODs over from the Menai Straits, not to mention local fleets almost taken for granted such as the Water Wags from originally 1887 but now racing boats from 1900, the Howth 17s from 1898, the Mermaids from 1932, and the IDRA 14s and the Glens from 1946, then we really are looking at a fine array of wooden boats before we add in the “Honorary Classics”, built in fibreglass but of traditional form.

While the One Designs went off to race with the main fleet, Con Murphy himself took on responsibility for getting the “Mixed Classics” cleanly away from a start line in Scotsman’s Bay on a course which he hoped would keep us clear of most of the cut-and-thrust of the modern machines. Our renowned Race Officer was in a benign mood as it was both his 60th birthday, and he was well pleased with the size and variety of the eclectic fleet which was emerging from the harbour and heading towards his starting area.

Con SixtyBirthday boy. While in the midst of organising the oldies and classics in their racing for the Kingstown 200 Trophy, they ever-youthful Con Murphy (seen here with Regatta Secretary Ciara Dowling) celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday. Happy birthday from us all!

So in the spirit of the regatta and the mood of the day, the great man asked us what sort of course we’d like, and the popular choice for that first race was a nice reach out and a nice reach back. “And we’d like you to finish in-harbour if that’s okay” added our Race Officer. As gaffers think that finishing in-harbour is the only way to finish, that was no problem either.

Although the basic tide was ebbing southeast out of Dublin Bay, right in there in the inner reaches of Scotsmans Bay we found a distinct west-going counter-eddy, and the good news is that it is indeed indicated in the Port of Dublin Tidal Stream Atlas which we featured on a couple of days ago. But we also had to take account of it in making our northeast-heading start as by now a grand little southeast breeze had filled in. So pre-start manoeuvres were rather more about avoiding other boats than identifying them too close, but happily the fleet got cleanly away, and as we settled down for a good reach towards the seaward buoy, we could suss them out in more detail and assess the cut of their jibs.

periwinkle start4Making in for the start, DB24 Perwinkle, Nicholson 36 Samphire, a brace of Colleens, and an American Morris 44. Photo: W M Nixon

After several major Old Gaffer events in which our boat had raced against Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir na nOg, I’d secured a berth on her with the former International President Old Gaffers Association, which in turn freed up Sean’s crewman John Shaw to go and sail with Joe Pennington from the Isle of Man on the 1895-vintage Manx longliner Master Frank. Typically, Joe had arrived in single-handed and virtally unannounced to take part, knowing he’d find a crew once he got there, and so we found ourselves going through the start line with Master Frank close aboard on the port quarter.

tir na nog5Not a bowsprit to be trifled with……Moving the mast six inches forward has greatly improved the steering characteristics of Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir n nOg. Photo: W M Nixon

Aboard Tir na nOg, we were in test pilot mode, as Sean has had the multi-skilled Barry O’Loughlin move the mast all of six inches further forward. Tir na nOg was always a fast boat, but a bit hard on her helm. Now she’s as light as a feather to steer, and even faster with it's soon we were in the groove with topsail up and picking up places left and right, for our start had only been so-so.

Obviously the newly-returned and beautifully-restored Dublin Bay 24 Perwinkle was going to be setting the pace, and she was soon ahead, but as the race went on it was clear the handsome Welsh visitor Myfanwy (Rob Mason) was going like a train. Superficially, she looks like Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn of 1894 vintage, but while Myfanwy at three years younger is unrestricted by Rating Rules which were modified after Peggy Bawn was built, consequently she sets more sail, and this was very much her day.

jack okeeffe8Rob Mason’s own-restored 1897-vintage 36ft Myfanwy from Milford Haven is proving one of the stars of the show. Photo David O’Brien/

jack okeeffe8Hal Sisk’s 1894-vintage Peggy Bawn is sailing with cotton sails preserved by James McAsey, who owned her in Dun Laoghaire from 1919 to 1988. Photo David O’Brien/

Another boat very much having her day was Jack O’Keeffe’s much –travelled Drascombe. “Drascombes don’t race” the committee had been told, but if Jack wasn’t racing, then I don’t know what he was doing. He had his little floating home in flying mode, and finished the race well ahead of many boats you’d have expected to have had him comfortably astern.

jack okeeffe8Drascombes aren’t designed to race, but Jack O’Keeffe of Cork has turbo-powered his boat to do just that, and he had a great race. Photo: W M Nixo

jack okeeffe VDLRJack O’Keeffe is the very spirit of Drascombe sailing in Ireland. Photo: W M Nixon

Heading back towards the harbour, we’d the remarkable sight of Dublin Bay Colleens and Peggy Bawn close ahead of us – it could have been any season in the past hundred and more years. But we also had a clutch of Ruffian 23s heading towards us with that single-minded focus which is a Dublin Bay One Design speciality, but may not be in the mental makeup of traditional and classic sailors.

jack okeeffe8Frank Larkin of Limerick sailing the Colleeen Bawn in hot pursuit of the Peggy Bawn. Photo: W M Nixon

colleen ruffian11“Don’t you know we’re racing?” “Well, so are we…” Close encounter between Colleen and Ruffian 23. Photo: W M Nixon

Fortunately the Classics Sub-Committee’s forward thinking seems to have included the provision of a RIB to shepherd the Golden Oldies around the close-encounters-of-the-first-kind situations which can suddenly arise in the crowded racing waters of the southern half of Dublin Bay, and they tactfully ensured that no-one met by accident.

The in-harbour finish seemed so right for the day that was in it, particularly as we made it in one tack from the harbour mouth to the line. And the mood afterwards was simply euphoric. Half the fleet had been strangers as we joined ship a bit rushed as usual, we got to know them better sailing against them in perfect conditions for the first acquaintance, and we returned to the harbour as friends.

So it took a long time to get from the boats to the club forecourt, not because there was any delay in the ferry shuttle service from pontoon to quayside, but because there were so many different boats – some of them very different indeed - and people to meet, including Rob Mason and his deservedly exuberant crew, who’d made a cracker of a passage to Dublin Bay, just 29 hours from the very head of Milford Haven, and were now racing with an equal elan.

myfanwy crew12The Flying Welshmen – Myfanwy’s crew with owner, skipper and restorer Rob Mason on right. They made a fast passage from southwest Wales, and have been going even faster since. Photo: W M NixonAnother area of interest was the restored Nicholson 36 Samphire of St Osyth, with which Frank O’Byrne of RStGYC and his gallant team are rightly delighted. They bought her in the south of England with no idea that her first home port in 1963 was Dun Laoghaire with first owner Peter Morck, but now she’s back and a useful indicator for anyone who might be thinking in terms of a moderately priced modern classic such as Brian Comerford has with the Robb 37 yawl Verve of the same vintage.

periwinkle doghouse13Detail of Perwinkle’s coachroof. The quality of the workmanship by Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany is simply breath-taking. Photo: W M Nixon

There are some good boats of a certain age out there just looking for the right TLC to give excellent value, but inevitably in this 200th Anniversary Special regatta, it’s the uber-classics which merit most attention. Periwinkle is simply breath-taking – you just go aboard and sit in awed silence amidst all that exquisite woodwork – the effect of total teak is almost trance-inducing. And last night, the Howth 17s arrived after racing across the bay, insouciant in never having changed from their jackyard topsail-toting gaff rig, so it’s oldies wall-to-wall.

But the sight of sights has to be Peggy Bawn and Myfanwy berthed side by side. 1894 and 1897. Carrickfergus-built and Birkenhead-built. We’ve a remarkable marine heritage in the Irish Sea. And right now, two of the most important examples of it are in Dun Laoghaire to honour the Harbour’s Bicentenary.

peggy bawn and myfanwy14To have two high vintage classic beauties like Peggy Bawn (left) and Myfanwy together in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the 200th Anniversary makes it all very special indeed. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

One of the teams taking part in their very first regatta at today's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta are Howth Yacht Club's “Try Racing” team competing in the north Dublin Club's recently purchased J80 keelboats. This time last year none of the crew had sailed before and as part of HYC initiative to get more people joining the club and out sailing on a regular basis they joined the “Taste of Racing” programme.

While the boat is helmed by club member Noel Davidson the crew are experiencing their very first regatta as they compete in the mixed sports boat class which includes 1720’s, J80’s, J70’s and other mixed sports boats.

J80 HowthThe Howth J80 Try Sailing crew made a finish line error but found out it was all part of the fun

They joined a group of four J80’s who while making a dash for the finish line in the first race of the day, missed the correct finish line all together and learnt the valuable lesson of reading the sailing instructions properly.

They redeemed themselves in race two with a creditable seventh place out of 15 in the mixedsports boat class.

The regatta continues until Sunday.

Published in Volvo Regatta

It was business as usual for John Maybury's J109 Joker II in this afternoon's opening races of the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The triple class one ICRA national champion has moved to the top of the leaderboard in Ireland's biggest sailing event after scoring a first and second to be five points ahead in an extremely competitive class one fleet.

From a forecast for a dubious six–knots from the west, Dublin Bay instead produced a solid sea–breeze up to eight knots from the south–east for the first races in a total schedule of 290 races in 35 classes by Sunday.

2,500 sailors are racing in the four day regatta that has attracted sailors from across Ireland and the UK but also from Europe, America and Australia.

Naval shipThe Navy patrol vessel LE Orla was on hand to take Yacht Club Commodores and invited guests on a tour of the six race courses. Tea and scones were served on deck during the round Dublin Bay trip. Photo:

A near–record breaking fleet of 475 boats took to the water this afternoon for a 3pm start with some classes still racing well after 6pm.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Race officer David Lovegrove 'named and shamed' premature starters in the 29–boat class one today. The RO claimed some boats were over the line by as much as 11 seconds in one start that was recalled. Photo:

Class zero VDLR....but there were no such problems for the five boat class zero fleet

A 29–boat class one – one of the most competitive of the regatta – could not resist the temptation of an early start on the North Course and race officer David Lovegrove was forced to signal a general recall in the unruly fleet.

Dear prudenceJay Bourke's Dear Prudence (foreground) and Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI at the pin end of the second start of the first race for class one. Photo:

With a 150–degree wind direction and an ebbing tide, Maybury, with tactician Mark Mansfield onboard, made sure of an early advantage off the start line in race one when he tacked inshore out of the tide to be in contention at the windward mark.

The ICRA champion from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Scottish entry Banshee Charlie Frize. Third is June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner Paul O'Higgins in the JPK 10.80, Rockabill VI.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 12Gently does it – there are no sudden movements on Joker II. Crew are positioned on the leeward rail as skipper John Maybury gets up to speed at the start of race one. Photo:

Joker rockabillAt the top mark, Dear Prudence lead with Rockabill VI (to leeward) and Joker II in hot pursuit downwind Photo:

In class two,'s prediction of an early lead for the Andreau Half Tonner Trastada from Fairlye Yacht Club is bearing fruit. The Roddy Angus skippered vintage yacht has a four point lead over Johnny Swan's Half Tonner Harmony with club–mate Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Half Tonner third. 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 TrastadaMaking light work of light airs. The Scottish Half–Tonner Trastada leads class two. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10This cracking pin end start for Dave Cullen's Checkmate produced a second for the half–tonner in race one. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class two start on the northern course in race one. Photo:

In Class three, Richard Colwell's Fusion of Howth Yacht Club took an early lead when he won both races in IRC Class three. The Corby 25 opened up a five–point lead over the X-302 GP Online-Viking Kevin Darmody on the southern course. Eight are competing.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10An immaculate leeward mark rounding from Richard Colwell's Corby 25 that leads class three. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Class three X302s give chase to Colwell's Fusion (above). Photo:

Conditions could not have been more different than the first race this time two years ago when strong winds and big seas opened the biennial event.

Today was equally as testing but for completely different reasons as sailors dealt with light winds and tricky start lines that demanded a clear lane to get top boat speed.

Cri cri Quarter tonnerUnder a minute to the start of race two, Quarter tonner Cri Cri (silver hull) protects her weather

In a 15–boat class four, Paul Colton's Quarter Tonner Cri Cri from the Royal Irish Yacht Club has opened up a four point lead from the Wicklow Sailing Club Modified Formula 28, Flash (Jonathan Flood).

Racing is being staged over six separate courses for a combined fleet of 480 boats, with over 180 visiting yachts from 70 different yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 FlashbackPaddy Gregory's Flashback heads for the VDLR harbour finish line in today's coastal race for the buoyant offshore class

In the offshore class, the biggest of the regatta at 32–boats, Peter Dunlop's J/109 Mojito, the overall ISORA leader from Pwllheli Sailing Club, took a win in today's coastal race that featured a harbour finish off the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Second was Steve Haye's Beneteau First 34.7 Magic Touch from Bray Sailing Club with Paddy Gregory's sistership from Howth Yacht Club third.

In the Flying Fifteen one design keelboats, Neil Coleman from the National Yacht Club leads David Gorman's Betty. Niall Meagher's Ffantastic Mr Ffox is third in a fine 23-boat turnout that race today on the Salthill course.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Raft up – Judging the layline for the weather mark with a tide running was tricky on the Salthill course. Photo:

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 mixed sportboatA Backman 21 is racing in Dun Laoghaire Regatta's mixed sportsboat class. Photo:

In a debut Mixed Sportsboat class, 1720s are top of the 16–boat fleet. David Ryan's Big Bad Wolf from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads Royal Cork's Heroes and Villians (Gary Rhodes. Third is Declan Curtin's J80 from the National Yacht Club.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 10Today's classic boat fleet that have gathered to celebrate Dun Laoghaire Harbour's 200th anniversary had a coastal race with a Harbour finish

Results are provisional and subject to protest. Full results in all 35 classes are available here.

Racing continues tomorrow (Friday). More light westerly airs are forecast with sea breezes also a possibility.

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The President of Irish Sailing, Jack Roy, is on a busy schedule at the moment. Today he is in Cill Ronan in the Aran Islands for the opening ceremony and first day of racing in the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association’s Annual Championship. And tomorrow, he’ll be in Dun Laoghaire for the opening festivities and first day of racing in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.

With 45 boats entered in the western event, and an additional 20 traditional Galway Hookers expected to be visiting the Aran Islands during the course of the weekend, Kilronan will be busy. But with the turnout in the East Coast’s main event in Dublin Bay now thrusting towards the 490 mark, Dun Laoghaire will simply be heaving.

WIORA fleet by night2By last night, the full WIORA fleet had assembled at Cill Ronan in the Aran Islands

Published in ISA

Ireland’s biggest sailing event, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, which takes place from tomorrow until Sunday, 9th July 2017, is set to be an exciting four days of racing in Dublin Bay. There will be a fantastic festival atmosphere across the waterfront and Dun Laoghaire town as the four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs come together for the biennial event; Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Royal St. George Yacht Club.

The area will be a hive of activity for the 7th staging of this event and there will be plenty of action out on the water with over 2,500 participants, 475 boats competing in 35 different classes of boats, large and small, old and new, racing on seven race course areas over the four days of the regatta.

The quality of sailing will be extremely high with some of the country’s top class sailors taking part including Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy. The event attracts yachts from the Netherlands, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, England and all four provinces of Ireland.
Most notably this year there will be a Classic Yacht Division in VDLR 2017 competing for the ‘Kingstown 200’ Bicentenary Cup as part of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bicentenary Festival.

There will also be a wonderful variety of entertainment around the waterfront for those on land including live music from the St. Maur’s Pipe Band at the East Pier Bandstand. Also on the East Pier will be Marine Artists, Living Earth Photography, Teddy’s Ice-Cream and the Fish Shack and entertainment will be spread out along the waterfront to ensure you’re kept amused at all times!

Dun Laoghaire will be the perfect location for a family day out with the delicious People’s Park Market offering some of the best market food available in Dublin. Volvo Cars Ireland will also be displaying their latest range of cars at The People’s Park, the East Pier and the Harbour Plaza.

The event is also set to bring in a significant amount to the local economy. Using the standard tourism formula, the four day event is expected to bring in €150,000 per day and €600,000 overall across the four days.

Speaking in advance of the event, Tim Goodbody, Chairman of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta said; “As we celebrate the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, we are looking forward to seeing 2,500 sailors and hundreds of spectators to the 2017 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This event has grown from strength to strength, and we believe that this year’s instalment will be the finest to date. We will have more than 300 volunteers who give their time and energy to ensure the Regatta runs smoothly, as well as the active cooperation of local area businesses and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. We look forward to welcoming our sponsors, sailors, and the thousands of spectators to Dublin Bay this weekend.”

David Thomas, Managing Director of Volvo Car Ireland, added; “Having been involved in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta since 2007, we have seen first-hand what a magnificent event this is. The Volvo brand is synonymous with sailing around the world and we are delighted to continue this associated in Ireland with the country’s biggest sailing event. Together with Spirit Motor Group we work to support what we see as important events in the community where our customers live, work and engage in sporting activities as an important part of life. We wish all the participants the best of luck.”

The Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta takes place from Thursday 6th July until Sunday 9th July 2017.

Published in Volvo Regatta
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Director of Racing Con Murphy has signalled a series of changes to the Sailing Instructions for tomorrow's first race of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Ireland's biggest sailing event.

Over four days, 290 races for a mix of cruiser–racers, one-design keelboats and dinghies, plus a unique classics division, all wrapped up in one Irish Sea sail-fest. Read our preview here

The Changes to Sailing Instructions include a new 'offshore' course card for the popular offshore class. 

The GP14 dinghies will now discard the worst score when up to seven races are completed and discard the two worst scores when all eight races scheduled are completed. This is to meet class guidelines for their Leinster Championships.

In the SB20 class, GR10 also applies which means if a boat has to take a penalty for an infringement on the water a 360 degree turn will apply.

For the full change in sailing instructions to date download the addendum below.

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Due to the postponement of the Lyver Race last weekend it has be announced that the Royal Dee Jack Ryan Whiskey Irish Sea Offshore Championship will be decided by the four Offshore Class races of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to take place this week.

All boats entered for the VDLR Offshore Class qualify for the Offshore Championship. Download the flyer attached below.

While the VDLR has only two classes on the Offshore section – IRC and ECHO, the Offshore Championship will have three IRC classes and three ECHO classes.

There will be daily prizes for each class winner that will be presented immediately after the daily VDLR prize giving, to take place in each club. The Overall champions will be awarded two Royal Dee YC Trophies – the “Tide Race Cup” for IRC Overall Champion and the “Mostyn Vicar Memorial Trophy” for the ECHO Champion.

All races can be followed as each boats will have a YB tracker.

Jack Ryan whiskey

Published in ISORA

With Frank Kowalski’s Safehaven team in Thunder Child in the midst of their challenge for the Round Rockall & Ireland Record, it’s timely to remember that one of the entries in the Classics Division racing for the Kingstown 200 Trophy in this week’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has a very special link with Rockall writes W M Nixon.

Brian Comerford and his family sail their lovely Arthur Robb-designed 37ft yawl Verve from Dun Laoghaire, and compete regularly in classics events, so naturally they’re entered for the Kingstown 200. But Verve – built by Tyrrell’s of Arklow in 1963 for leading Irish Cruising Club sailor Paul Campbell – was much better known in he early days as a voyager which often took in distant places.

Verve also frequently cruised round Ireland, as her owner was for years the Honorary Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions. But in 1975 with noted cruising man Mickey d’Alton and sailor/mountaineer Willie Dick in his ship’s complement, Paul Campbell undertook an unusual venture which started from Donegal.

verve rockall2Made it! Out at Rockall in the summer of 1975, Willie Dick has made it safely onto the cliff face after a very judiciously-timed leap from the little Avon inflatable rowed by Mickey d’Alton

At the time, Britain had laid claim to the 70ft–high Rockall as being an outlier of Scotland, and to reinforce the territorial claim with its many potential economic benefits, had built a small lighthouse on top. But with all access had been made by helicopter. Although there had been attempts before to land by boat on the isolated rock, all had failed.

But Willie Dick had studied the challenge closely, and reckoned he could see a way up if only the sea was calm enough on the day. It was indeed calm on the summer’s day in 1975 when Verve arrived at Rockall, yet even so the restless ocean seemed to tug endlessly at the battered rock face. But with some masterful boat-handling by Mickey d’Alton (he had, after all, commanded a Tank Landing Craft on D Day), Willie Dick managed to leap cleanly from the little Avon inflatable, and the actual climb to the top was soon completed.

verve rockall2Monarch of all he surveys…. Willie Dick on top of Rockall. He was the first person to succeed in landing from a boat, as the lighthouse had been built with the use of helicopters

Published in Volvo Regatta
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No matter what Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta organisers did it was never going to be easy to get a quart into a pint pot. Tomorrow's first race will now see 33% of all competing IRC boats in class one. It's the creation of a 'super class' for the biennial regatta, a sign of the popularity of this size of boat.

It will be the test of the season as class one boats gather from across Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales for the VDLR 'Cruisers One' crown. Ironically, the only boats missing – in a who's who line-up of talent – are the winners of May's Scottish Series (J109, Storm, Pat Kelly) and last month's Sovereign's Cup (A35, Fools Gold, Rob McConnell). Read the full IRC one entry list below.

Just how to manage the class breaks in such an impressive but diverse IRC fleet has been occupying the minds of the VDLR committee and its Director of Racing, Con Murphy, an Olympic Games Race Officer from Rio, for some time.

Last week stuck its neck out on the thorny subject and gave some predictions on class splits and prospective winners. You can read those predictions here. pointed to the possibility of moving boats from the very big class one line-up into class zero as a means of dealing with a class double the size of the other IRC classes.

An amendment to the Notice of Race (NOR) published on Monday, however, shows the regatta has instead introduced a sixth IRC class.

'We've ended up with six distinct groups that are of similar speed, rather than six evenly sized fleets', Murphy told who admits that it has been a vexed question.

It's a move that at first glance seems unnecessary because 88 IRC boats should fit into five classes but it has come about largely as a consequence of the popularity of boats in and around 33–36 feet length and a desire on the part of the J109 fleet to race under IRC rather than as a one design class.

rockabill icraDublin Bay's own Rockabill VI, the JPK10.80 Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race winner will race in class one Photo: Bob Bateman

The net result is VDLR 2017 will set sail with a 'super class' by combining 15 mainly race orientated, well sailed and crewed various designs (JPK 10.80, Corby 33's, Archambault 35's, XP33s, Ker and Mills custom yachts) and then adding to it an uber–competitive 14 x J109 fleet.

VDLR had bowed to the agm–wishes of a 14-strong Dublin Bay J109 fleet as far back as January to allow them race in IRC class one as opposed to a separate class as they had done previously in 2015.

It's been no easy job striking the balance and Murphy has consulted far and wide in trying to reach an equitable solution.

RC35 Scottish seriesIrish boats racing in the RC35 fleet at the Scottish Series in May. The Scottish class says that having a restricted handicap of 1.015 to 1.040 has encourage tight, competitive racing. Scottish boats will be racing in Dun Laoghaire Photo: Marc Turner

Among the lobbyists, Scottish entries argued against some of their boats being moved into class zero. At May's Scottish Series this 'RC35' group had its own class with four boats from Ireland (including an Irish J109 winner) and the racing was tight and competitive. Having a restricted handicap of 1.015 to 1.040 has encouraged tight, competitive racing and has seen four new owners buy boats to fit into this banding.

If there is a split at VDLR, the new Scottish class argued, it will 'dilute our class and our campaign to encourage its development.'

In correspondence seen by, other skippers argued, however, that class one's higher rated yachts (of 1.045) will make racing 'grossly unfair' as such boats will get 'clear air off the start line while the balance of the relatively level rated fleet will fight for clear air throughout the race and arrive at marks in unison. Meanwhile, the faster boats 'get richer', one Dublin Bay skipper pointed out.

The problem for Murphy is that the bottom of class one fleet is all J109s so there is 'nobody left to move down to class two'. There is a big gap between 1.045 and class zero so moving such boats into class zero would give them 'poor racing'.

If VDLR did move to split class one, it would leave the J109s racing with just one other class one type yacht.

To say the least, the question has put the organisers between a rock and a hard place.

In one sense, of course, it's a good problem to have because so many other regattas these days have been scratching around looking for entries.

As an additional consideration for organisers, this year's VDLR programme will also feature more racing, up to three races per day, so there is a big onus on VDLR to keep fleets together in order to turn races around quickly.

The net result is VDLR 2017 will now have 29 of the 88 boats in class one, that's 33% of all competing IRC boats.

Start lines

It's an imbalance that admittedly could have unintended consequences for class zero, one and two racing that are racing on the same courses.

For example, how do you set proper lines when class zero will start with five boats and, on the same line, class one will start with 29?

Do they make the line too small for the big class? Or if they make it the right length for the larger class, it will be huge (estimated at 400 metres) for the small class, thus allowing boats that don't start well, the chance to get great starts. It's something Murphy acknowledges and as a means of dealing with the issue he will be using pin end committee boats instead of a buoy to facilitate the setting of the suitably long line for the big class one.

'We plan to set appropriately long start lines and 1.5 mile or longer first beats for the fleet to help reduce bunching at marks' 

Equally, Murphy is also investigating the possibility of tying to put in a shorter line for the smaller zero fleet but that will be a tricky thing to achieve within the starting sequence timeframe.

Boat of the Regatta

Another consequence might be its affect on one of the great VDLR traditions and that is its popular 'overall yacht of the week' prize. It's a prestigious award, especially this year when drawn from a total fleet of a near record entry of 473 entries.

How can someone be expected to dominate such a competitive class as class one when it is likely another eight or nine boat classes may produce a dominating boat? It's a factor for organisers to consider because the status of the regatta is diminished if IRC classes are not in the running for this top prize.

Class two and three

Moving down the bands, there are now 17 boats in class two yet only nine in class three. It is, perhaps, a reasonable question to ask why these two classes cannot be combined to make it a 26–boat fleet? If VDLR did this, the spread between the fastest boat and slowest boat would be 57 points. In class one, as they have it now, the spread between fastest and slowest is 50 points.

The answer, says Murphy, after extensive consultation, is that class three is largely made up of vintage –yet modified – Half–Tonners and it is 'unfair to put them with modern class two yachts' because of potential speed differentials.

Racing gets under way tomorrow afternoon.

Cruiser Class One – The Entries

Animal Royal Northern and Clyde YC GBR3627L First 36.7 1.021 Kevin Aitken

Banshee Clyde Cruising Club GBR9470R Corby 33 1.040 Charlie Frize

Bon Exemple Royal Irish Yacht Club GBR8933R X-Yachts 1.017 Colin Byrne

Carmen II Helensburgh Sailing Club IRL1666 First 36.7 1.019 Alan Jeffrey

Ruth National Yacht Club IRL1383 J109 1.015 Shanahan Family

Something Else National Yacht Club IRL29213 J109 1.011 John Hall

Chimaera Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL2160 J109 1.015 Andrew Craig

Jalapeno National Yacht Club IRL5109 J109 1.014 Paul Barrington

Jigamaree Royal Irish Yacht Club IR7991 J109 1.011 Ronan Harris

Joker 2 Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL1206 J109 1.013 John Maybury

Juggerknot Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL3660 J109 1.017 Andrew Algeo

Jump The Gun Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL1129 J109 1.012 John Kelly

Indecision Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL9898 J109 TBA Declan Hayes

Powder Monkey 2 National Yacht Club IRL28898 J109 1.009 Christopher Moore

D-Tox Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL13500 X 35 1.043 Patrick McSwiney

Gringo National Yacht Club Irl 7778 A 35 1.023 Anthony Fox

Impostor South Caernarvonshire YC GBR7377 Corby 33 1.035 Richard Fildes

Jacob VII Port Edgar IRL3307 Corby 33 1.039 John Stamp

Now or Never 3 Fairlie Yacht Club GBR7667R MAT 1010 1.032 Neill Sandford

Prima Luce Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL3504 First 35 1.017 Patrick Burke

Raptor Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL811 Mills 30CR 1.013 Denis Hewitt

Rockabill VI Royal Irish Yacht Club IRL10800 JPK 10.80 1.048 Paul O’Higgins

Thalia National Yacht Club IRL733 Sigma 400 1.035 Aubrey Leggett

Triple Elf Clyde Cruising Club FRA37296 Beneteau First 35 1.020 Christine Murray

Valkerie Liverpool Yacht Club GBR7031T Ker 31 1.027 Austin Harbison

White Mischief Royal Irish YC/National YC GBR1242R J109 1.010 Richard Goodbody

Wavetrain Greystones Sailing Club IRL 1477 Channel 32 1.014 Frank Whelan

Published in Volvo Regatta
Page 5 of 7

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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