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Despite a strong entry list from the United States and abroad including Ireland, and the exhaustive efforts of the New York Yacht Club along with the governing bodies for the ORC and IRC rating rules, the decision has been made to cancel the 2020 ORC/IRC World Championships, originally scheduled for Sept. 25 to Oct. 3 at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I.

As Afloat previously reported, at least two Irish Sea campaigns were scheduled for the championships. Former ISORA champion J109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) was making the trip to the Big Apple and a second ISORA contender, Andrew Hall's Jackhammer, a J121, was also slated.

"The impact of the coronavirus has been felt throughout the sporting world," said Christopher J. Culver, Vice Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. "Given the challenges involved with shipping boats and teams to the United States from Europe and elsewhere and the lead time required for foreign teams to make a competitive run at this prestigious world title, we don't feel that a representative world championship is possible."

The 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship was to bring top sailing teams from around the globe to battle on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay for one of three coveted world titles. The regatta would've been scored using a combination of the two most popular rating rules in the sport, ORC and IRC, and racing would've been a mix of around-the-buoys racing and longer, offshore courses.

The 2020 World Championships would've been the first time this regatta was held in the United States in two decades, and early interest exceeded expectations, with 50 boats from eight countries registering for the regatta before the COVID-19 pandemic put the sailing season in doubt.

"We are thankful to the organizers at the New York Yacht Club for all their efforts to attract a strong fleet to what would have been a memorable event,” said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC. "This enthusiasm for high-level handicap racing we hope will continue in the US, and we look forward to being supportive in any way we can in the post-pandemic times ahead.”

"We are saddened to announce the cancellation of the ORC/IRC World Championships, long planned to be held in late September 2020 at the Newport base of the New York Yacht Club," said Michael Boyd, IRC Congress Chairman. "A large number of owners and crews will be very disappointed by our news, but will understand the many challenges posed by COVID-19 to the resumption of our sport, especially at the international level. We have also been conscious of the necessity to make a decision well in advance of the event.

"For some time, we have worked with a dedicated New York Yacht Club team and our ORC counterparts to ensure a memorable regatta, and we thank them for their professionalism and friendship. We were particularly enthusiastic about holding our joint Worlds in North America and in such a special location. We all look forward to the return of IRC yachts to race courses in North America and to getting together in Newport in more favourable times."

While the ORC/IRC World Championships was to be the penultimate event on the New York Yacht Club's 2020 sailing calendar, the Club remains hopeful it will be able to hold a handful of events during the second half of the summer and into the early fall. For the most up-to-date schedule and current regatta information, please visit the Club's website.

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The Welsh IRC Welsh Championships 2020, is scheduled to take place from Friday, August 14th to Sunday, August 16th. Despite the current restrictions, work is continuing from home on all of the organisational aspects of the championships, and we remain committed to running the event if at all possible.

Stephen Tudor - Championship Secretary said - “We continue to move forward with plans for the event and remain hopeful that by the time we get to mid-August - still four months' away - the necessity to socially distance ourselves will have reduced sufficiently so that we can run some great boat racing in Pwllheli, following an ISORA race over from Dún Laoghaire“ 

Planned Classes

In addition to our traditional two IRC classes and NHC cruiser class, we have added a new class for 2020, an offshore/coastal class racing coastal courses under IRC. This class will aim to race 20-35 mile courses, and the Saturday race will incorporate both the King Constantine Cup (a club race) and the Postponed ISORA coastal race, part of the Welsh Coastal series.

Should Government restrictions and guidance change, we can adapt some of our classes and racetrack styles, switching on or off various components with the minimum of lead time, and allowing us significant leeway - perhaps until the mid-July - before we need to make any big decisions.

The safety of participants and volunteers working behind the scenes is foremost in our minds of course, but providing that we can run an event that complies with all guidance in place at the time, then we fully intend to do so. I suspect there will be a lot of sailors desperate to get boats on the water by August!

Published in ICRA
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The RORC Rating Office team is working remotely and continuing to provide the excellent service expected from owners, clubs and the industry around the world. As all sailors are looking forward to when they’ll be able to get out on the water again after the imposed break, this is an ideal time to talk to your sailmaker, rigger or designer about any adjustments you could make to your boat and run an IRC trial to see the potential effect of the changes.

Until 31st May the RORC Rating Office is cutting the cost of IRC trial certificates by 25% for British owned boats holding a 2020 IRC certificate, and most IRC Rule Authorities whose certificates are issued by RORC will also be offering this discount.

In line with normal IRC policy we will continue to have a limitation on how many trials may be requested in the certificate year; please check the published policy on the IRC website at https://ircrating.org/irc-rule/. Trial certificates allow current certificate holders to investigate the potential effects of data changes without affecting their valid rating; if you do not yet hold a 2020 IRC certificate you will need to revalidate it first and this also provides you with the new rating as it may have changed with the 2020 software updates.

British-based owners should apply for their Spinlock IRC ratings online through the RORC Rating Office’s MyIRC online portal at https://myirc.rorcrating.com, while owners of boats based in other countries should contact their local IRC Rule Authority – in Ireland's case that's the Irish Sailing office.

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Online entry has opened for the 2020 IRC European Championship which will take place in Cork Harbour, Ireland during Volvo Cork Week as part of the unique celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The 2020 IRC European Championship will be held over five days of racing from Monday 13th July to Friday 17th July during the biennial Volvo Cork Week regatta. The championship is expected to attract a record fleet of highly competitive IRC rated boats vying for the overall win and class honours.

Last month, the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in the world, launched its online entry system for the prestigious Volvo Cork Week 2020 regatta which will see hundreds of boats and thousands of yachtsmen and women from around the globe compete on the waters around Cork Harbour from July 13th – 17th.

On the 8th July, prior to Volvo Cork Week and the IRC European Championship, the Morgan Cup Race will start from Cowes, bound for Cork. Organised by the Royal Ocean Race Club since 1958, this will be the first time that the course has been set across the Celtic Sea to Cork. The 324nm race is expected to attract a substantial fleet. A new trophy for Line Honours has been donated by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

Early entries for Volvo Cork Week show the amazing diversity of boats that will be celebrating the Royal Cork Yacht Club’s unique and historic celebration for the tricentennial. One of the most advanced racing yachts ever built will be in action as Irving Laidlaw returns to Volvo Cork Week with his Botin 56 Highland Fling 16. Niall & Olivia Dowling's Ker40+ Arabella is the first entry from the FAST40+ Class with half a dozen carbon flyers expected to be racing. David Collins IRC52 Tala will also be challenging in a red hot big boat fleet.

"Niall & Olivia Dowling's Ker40+ Arabella is the first entry from the FAST40+ Class"

A substantial fleet of classic yachts will be racing at Volvo Cork Week, the first entry has a history with the Royal Cork dating back over 100 years. David Aisher's 60ft George Wanhill designed classic Thalia raced for the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1890. The 1720 Sportsboat Class is expected to have the largest fleet for many a year. The first entry was received from Conor Clarke who will be sailing under the burgee of the Royal Irish YC.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club has also received the first entries for the Beaufort Cup, open to sailing teams from all over the world representing their associated national services. The first Irish entry for the Beaufort Cup is Denis & Annamarie Murphy Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo (RNLI Crosshaven). The first American entry is Ken Johnson's C&C 121 Grateful Red (US Army/ US Marines). The first British entry is the Royal Navy Sailing Association's J/109 Jolly Jack Tar, skippered by Philip Warwick.

Head of Sevenstar Racing Yacht Logistics, Wouter Verbaak has confirmed that Sevenstar Yacht Transport has partnered with Cork 300 and included special arrangements for yachts requiring shipping to Volvo Cork Week. “Cork has been made a special part of our USA, Med and Caribbean shipping logistics. Planned loading days from Southampton, UK to Cork, Ireland are between 16-30 June, 2020 with return loading days 20-27 July, 2020 in time for Cowes Week. We have FAST40+ yachts and classic yachts already in our plan, with space for more yachts wishing to compete at Volvo Cork Week,” confirmed Verbaak.

Published in Cork Harbour
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The 2020 IRC European Championship will be held at Cork Week as part of the unique celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

As Afloat previously back as 2016, the 5th edition of the IRC European Championship will take place in Cork Harbour over five days of racing from Monday 13th July to Friday 17th July 2020. The championship is expected to attract a record fleet of highly competitive IRC rated boats vying for the overall win and class honours.

On Wednesday 8th July, prior to the IRC European Championship, the Morgan Cup Race will start from Cowes, bound for Cork. Organised by the Royal Ocean Race Club (RORC) since 1958, this will be the first time that the course has been set across the Celtic Sea to Cork. The 324nm race is expected to attract a substantial fleet and will be a weighted race within the world's largest offshore racing programme, the RORC Season's Points Championship.

"With a large majority of Irish boats already holding IRC Endorsed certificates there is the prospect of many strong Irish entries"

"The Irish IRC fleet are highly competitive and with a large majority of Irish boats already holding IRC Endorsed certificates there is the prospect of many strong Irish entries," commented Director of Rating for IRC, Dr Jason Smithwick. "With this diverse range of boat types racing under the IRC rating system we have been working closely with the Royal Cork Yacht Club to create an exciting and varied race programme with a mixed range of courses. This balance of course types will allow all boats to have a chance and create a fair and interesting event for the competitors. The IRC rating offices have also been working with the organisers to have a thorough programme of equipment inspection to ensure good equipment control before and during the event," continues Smithwick.

Corinthian teams racing small and medium size boats have enjoyed tremendous success in the IRC European Championship. In 2016 the inaugural championship was hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht and was won overall by Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons racing Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge. For the last three championships French teams have won overall. The 2020 IRC European Championship will feature high performance boats, including a number of FAST40+ teams expected to be racing under IRC. Prizes are also awarded to the best Corinthian team, as well as individual IRC Classes.

Overall winners of the IRC European Championship

  • 2016 Paul Gibbons' Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge (Cork, Ireland)
  • 2017 Guy Claeys' JPK 10.10 Expresso 2 (Marseille, France)
  • 2018 Didier le Moal's J/112E J-Lance (Cowes, UK).
  • 2019 Yves Ginoux's Farr 36 Absolutely II (San Remo, Italy)

For the 2020 IRC European Championship, competitors will enjoy wide-ranging and competitive racing afloat, as well as the Royal Cork's unique and historic celebration of their tricentennial.

"We're delighted to welcome the IRC European Championships back in 2020 where the fleet will enjoy a varied programme of races set in and around Cork Harbour," commented Cork Week Director of Racing, Rosscoe Deasy. "Shorter racecourses will be specially laid outside of Roches Point, a wonderful sailing area with open sea conditions and stable winds, while the famous 'Harbour Race' will bring additional navigational and tactical challenges. A 10-14 hour 'Coastal Race' is planned along the treacherously beautiful Irish headlands, providing a demanding test of crew focus and endurance. Admittedly the real test will be found ashore in Crosshaven where only the stoutest of hearts will be able to resist the siren call of the legendary Cork Week craic. It's going to be a great event!"

Published in Cork Harbour
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The 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship will be held September 25 to October 3, 2020, at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I but it is not known if any Irish boats are planning to compete.

As Afloat previously reported, the event will feature up to 100 teams from throughout the United States and beyond competing in three classes for three World Champion titles. Racing will be on both inshore courses and offshore races and will use the world's two most popular measurement-based rating systems recognized by World Sailing: IRC and ORC.

A single Irish boat competed at the 2018 Offshore Championships in the Hague in Holland where Waterford Harbour's Fools Gold flew the flag for Irish IRC interests. It remains to be seen if any Irish campaigns will venture across the pond next October but the fact that the double Commodore's Cup-winning captain Anthony O'Leary found the Newport race track so fruitful recently might just encourage further Irish interest in 12 months time. O'Leary's Royal Cork Yacht Club crew took bronze at New York Invitational Cup a month ago in a new Irish designed IRC boat that was tipped recently for success by Irish Olympic helm Mark Mansfield.

Against that, IRC Chief Michael Boyd confirmed this week that the 2020 IRC European Championships will sail this year at Cork Week in July so it is not clear if any Irish skipper will have an appetite for both.

The conventional wisdom says the sailing season in the Northeastern United States ends with the Labor Day holiday, celebrated the first Monday in September. But the locals will tell you that September and October are the best months of the year in Rhode Island and ideal for top-level sailing. Regattas held in Newport around the fall solstice usually bring a testing variety of wind and weather conditions coupled with temperate evenings perfect for post-race socializing. The absence of summer crowds makes this historic resort town that much more accessible and welcoming.

The 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship will bring top sailing teams from around the globe to battle on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay for one of three coveted world titles. It's the first time in two decades this regatta, which will be held at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court from September 25 to October 3, 2020, has been held in North America. Entries will open on Friday, October 25.

"We're extremely excited for next year's ORC/IRC World Championship," said Patricia Young, the event chair and a passionate sailor who is often found racing on her Tripp 41 Entropy. "We recognize that it's a big commitment to ship a boat from Europe, or further abroad, for this regatta. But Newport and the New York Yacht Club will reward anyone who puts in the effort with one of the best regatta experiences of their lives."

Because each of the three divisions is limited to 50 boats, there is a strong incentive to sign up early. The first 30 boats that register for each class will be guaranteed a spot in the regatta. Beyond that initial group, a selection process may be required if there are more than 50 total entries for any class. The division of classes is determined by CDL (Class Division Length) limits defined in the Notice of Race.

Class A will have the fastest boats in the fleet, from about 45 to 55 feet in length, with TP52s being among the fastest boats allowed to enter. Already there are preparation plans amongst boats in this fleet to optimize for the 2020 Worlds, and at least one new boat is being built now to compete in this class.

Close racing in Class B at the 2018 Hague Offshore Worlds © Sander van der Borch

Class B is typically composed of mid-sized boats from 39 to 44 feet in length. A ClubSwan 42, a class created by the New York Yacht Club in 2006, won Class B at the D-Marin ORC World Championship in Croatia in June.

Class C has been the most popular and competitive class at world championship events held in Europe the past few years. Boat types that compete in this class are typically production racer/cruisers, such as the J/112E from, the Netherlands that won Class B at the 2018 ORC/IRC World Championship in The Hague and Class 3 at the IRC Europeans in Cowes, UK. Small fast sportboats, such as GP26s, C&C 30s and other nimble designs, may also enter this class.

Besides 2020 World Champion titles, the event will also award for each class trophies for the top Corinthian team and the top team competing in a boat designed before 2010.

The 2020 ORC/IRC World Championship will include a mix of buoy racing and offshore courses, and use two of the world's most popular systems for rating boats, IRC and ORC. The exact scoring methodology will be confirmed shortly, but both rating systems will play a significant role.

"We're very excited to return to the U.S. with a World Championship after such a long absence," said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). "Newport and the New York Yacht Club are the perfect venues, and the interest we have had from teams here in Europe who wish to attend has been strong. We look forward to seeing the best of the U.S. and the best of the rest of the world come to race in Newport."

"Newport and the New York Yacht Club will provide a tremendous backdrop for the second combined World Championship of IRC and ORC," said Michael Boyd, IRC Congress Chairman. "Moving the championships around the world, from Europe in 2018 to now the United States in 2020, shows the truly international reach of our rating systems. We can't wait to see the broad range of sailing talent from around the world compete for this prestigious event at this esteemed venue."

Purchased by the New York Yacht Club in 1988, Harbour Court has become one of the preeminent regatta hosts in the United States. Recent events hosted by the Club include the historic J Class World Championship in 2017 along with world championship regattas for the Etchells, J/70s and Farr 40s. A 2020 summer schedule that includes the 166th Annual Regatta and the 2020 Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex will provide plenty of opportunity for visiting teams to become familiar with the local conditions and enjoy a full summer of sailing in Newport.

The stunning grounds of this 115-year-old clubhouse are perfect for entertaining regatta guests and VIPs after racing and provide one of the most spectacular views of Newport Harbor. The Club's location in Brenton Cove is in close proximity to a full suite of maritime services and diverse lodging options and provides sailors with quick access to the racecourse.

Entries open on Friday. 

Published in ICRA
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Representatives of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) from around the world met in France for two days of debate and discussion at the beginning of October.

The 2019 Congress was hosted by l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL) and the Société des Régates d'Antibes, and delegates arriving into Nice airport enjoyed an aerial view of the racing at Les Voiles de St Tropez.

Congress 2019 was chaired for the first time by Irishman and former Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) Commodore Michael Boyd, supported by Vice Chairs Malcolm Runnalls, and Carl Sabbe (BEL). Delegates gathered from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Turkey and the USA; and from organisations including RORC, UNCL, the Royal Yachting Association and the International Maxi Association.

The annual conference provides a good forum for IRC owners’ representatives and administrators from many countries to share experiences and ideas from different perspectives and racing cultures; this year was no exception with both formal and informal discussions taking place over the weekend. In additional meetings, the IRC Congress agreed on a number of developments for 2020 as a result of research by the Technical Committee throughout the year, while the IRC Policy Steering Group reinforced the good relations between RORC and UNCL, joint owners of the IRC Rule.

"The 2020 IRC European Championship will be hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club as part of the club's 300th anniversary year"

All at Congress agreed that great events drive participation, and it was interesting to hear of initiatives aimed at increasing IRC fleets, particularly amongst cruiser-racers. For those aspiring to IRC Champion status two events confirmed for 2020 are the IRC European Championship in Ireland in July, hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club as part of the club's 300th anniversary year, and the ORC/IRC World Championship hosted in Newport by the New York Yacht Club in September.

IRC rule changes approved for 2020 include rules relating to whisker poles, the input of list angle for water ballasted boats, the definition of bulb weight and several housekeeping items. The Technical Committee have agreed an enhanced formulation for 2020 to improve the treatment of different fin keel types and water ballasted boats and the rating of whisker poles. In addition, research on flying headsails (also referred to as ‘code zero’ headsails) has made excellent process and the intention is to publish a definition early in 2020 and offer trial certificates later in the year.

The Congress Minutes and associated documents including IRC 2020 Rule changes are online here

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Irish Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield picks his big (and smaller) events coming up for the Irish cruiser classes in 2020

The 2019 season is only just coming towards its end and already owners and crew are looking ahead at what is in store next year. There are still some good events to finish this season, and among them, the Autumn Leagues in Howth and Royal Cork, The final ISORA race, with the spoils still not decided, the J109 Nationals, the final summer series DBSC races and of course the very popular DBSC Turkey Shoot series.

2019 was very much a front-loaded year with Scottish Series, ICRA Nationals, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Sovereigns Cup and Dun Laoghaire Regatta all happening within a seven-week period, and 2020 is not looking a whole lot different.

Below you will see the dates of the bigger events for 2020.

Without a doubt the two standout big boat events next year will be the Round Ireland Race in June and in July, Royal Cork Yacht Club host their special Cork Week, on the Munster club's 300th year anniversary. More on this later.

2020 'Big Boat' events

  • Scottish Series, Tarbert - May 22nd to May 25th (Friday to Monday)
  • Wave Regatta, Howth Yacht Club - May 29th to May 31st (Friday to Sunday)
  • Round Ireland Race, Wicklow SC - Starts June 20th (Saturday)
  • RORC Morgan Cup - Cowes to Cork - Starts July 8th (Wednesday)
  • Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club (300 Year Celebration) - July 13th to July 18th (Monday to Saturday)
  • Calves Week - Schul August 4th to August 7th - (Tuesday to Friday)

Other events that are building numbers are Bangor Week, commencing 25th of June and WIORA week (date not published yet). The very popular ISORA offshore series runs throughout the year and these dates are also eagerly awaited.

Here are some details of each of the larger events:

Scottish Series

Always a very happy hunting ground for Irish boats wishing to sharpen themselves up for the new season. Numbers generally have been dropping for the Scottish Series except for the very popular RC35 class where Irish Boats took all podium places this year. Class 2 in 2020 might also show some increases with the biennial Classic Half-Ton Cup in Cowes bringing the competitive Half Tonners out to play early. This year there were two half tonners—expect more in 2020. Great racing and great pub craic around the beer tent and local pubs.

RC35 ScotlandIrish Boats at 2019 Scottish series RC 35 class Photo: Marc Turner

Wave Regatta

Only a new event in 2018 and is based around the Howth Yacht Club traditional June Bank Holiday Lambay Race. Wave Regatta is held every two years and if 2018 is anything to go by, it will be very well attended in 2020. It comes just a few days after the end of Scottish Series. A variety of courses over the three days, including the very popular round Lambay race. Well organised with great onshore facilities.

Signal 8 WaveJamie Mc William's Ker 40, Signal 8 at Howth's Wave Regatta 2018 Photo: Afloat

Round Ireland Race

The big one. 704 miles from Wicklow to Wicklow, clockwise around Ireland and its islands, turning corners all the way around. It goes from strength to strength. There is a rumour of a very large, very well known Maxi looking at taking on the challenge and the record in 2020. If you only plan to do one full-length offshore race, this is the one to do. I have done five Fastnet Races and I would always pick a Round Ireland over a Fastnet.

For those boats who have competed in the last two events, there is the added bonus of the chance to win a Volvo car for the best Boat over the 2016, 2018 and 2020 races. I’m sure we will be advised of the current pecking order very soon on this.

Niall Dowling Niall Dowling's Royal Irish Yacht club, Ker 43, Baraka GP, the overall winner of the Round Ireland 2018 Photo: Afloat

RORC's Morgan Cup

Rarely do Flagship RORC races end in Ireland, but on the 300th year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the RORC have graciously organised for one of their big races to finish in Cork, as a way of getting UK boats over for the Cork Week 300 regatta.

Approx 90 boats competed in the 2019 Morgan Cup edition this year, won overall by a J109. I suspect you may see some offshore orientated Irish boats decide to include this race in their calendar next year, which also serves as a way to get the boat to Cork in time for the Cork Week 300 Series.

Cork Week 300

From the Height of Cork Week in 2000 when boats competing topped 700, it has fallen somewhat. However, 2020, the 300th Anniversary of the club's founding, is all set to be special and interest from all corners of the world is evident with housing around Crosshaven and Carrigaline already starting to be booked up.

A number of classes are planning to use the week as their European Championships. The 1720 class, who had circa 75 boats at their 2000 event, are planning a big show in 2020 with already 10 boats confirmed from the UK with more likely to follow. A proper event Announcement is expected in September announcing some major classes and profile boats that will be competing.

The 2020 ICRA Nationals is being held as part of Cork week (three days only). Cork Week also incorporates a building fleet for the Beaufort Cup, which is a separate event within the week for associated national services (Army, Naval, Police, Firefighting, Coast Guard etc). This event incorporates an offshore race around the Fastnet and back.

Cork Week 2020 will be one not to miss. White Sail and coastal fleets will be included and the highlight is the all in Harbour race.

FekkesRory Fekkes from Carrigfergus SC, First Class 8—FN-GR8—Overall Winner of Cork week 2018 Photo: Bob Bateman

Calves Week

Numbers have held up very well for Calves Week. In 2019, there were 65 cruisers competing, with very competitive racing over the four days. A mix of windward-leeward courses, around the Islands and the Fastnet race keeps everyone interested. One race a day, with all the crews congregating after racing out in the streets between Newmans and Hackett's pubs. The Apres racing is as important as the racing with many sailors choosing to incorporate family holidays into the week. If you are doing Cork Week, and have not done Calves Week before, maybe you should consider leaving the boat in Cork and sliding down westwards a week or two later.

Rockabill JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish—Winner of Calves week Class One in 2019 

Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club in conjunction with the Royal Dee Yacht Club, was once again delighted to have the opportunity to host the Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championships, as part of our 2019 Celtic Regatta, and Welsh leg of the RC35 class Celtic Cup writes Mark Thompson. We welcomed boats from all the Celtic nations, and the event started with a reception in Plas Heli on Thursday evening hosted by the commodore of Pwllheli Sailing club, Jane Butterworth in glorious sunshine on the Plas Helideck.

Race day 1 - with 20 kt winds and showers forecast, the race management team laid a simple windward-leeward course, and racing got underway as scheduled. For the first race the weather held with a steady 20kts of breeze from the south-west giving a choppy sea, but fine racing conditions, allowing our Celtic visitors to put their stamp on the event very early in IRC 1, with First 35 Triple Elf (Christine and Robin Murray) taking first by 3 seconds corrected from J133 Spirit of Jacana (Alan Bruce and James Douglas) with J109 Jings (Robin Young) taking third. It was clear at this early stage that these well-drilled regatta boats were going to dominate IRC 1 and push the top IRC 2 boats for the overall title. 

In IRC 2 J97 Injenious (Mike Crompton and Graham Hallsworth) took the first race ahead of 2018 Welsh IRC champion Ian McMillan, sailing Impala Checkmate with Andrew Miles J35 Sidetrack third.

IRC 4 sailed one round the cans race with some close racing, with the win going to Mark Willis in Rodmar, with Alan Barton, Induna just behind.

The second race in IRC 1 and 2 started as scheduled with darkening sky’s to the South West and with most of the fleet on the beat, a very intense squall whipped up, with winds up to 37kts and torrential rain in zero visibility! with many boats reefing down, it was survival mode for a while. After 10 mins the fleet emerged through the other side, and finished the race before heading back to the Plas Heli pontoons, and a welcome pint! Great chat in the bar, with Andy Green's photos on the big screen, and crews claiming ever increasing wind strength as the evening drew on! It was a great day of racing though, which every one enjoyed, and race 2 was won in IRC 1 by Spirit of Jacana, IRC 2 by Injenious.

Daily Prizegiving was sponsored by Partington Marine, with jugs of beer and followed by a Barbeque. During prizegiving the race management team informed the competitors that regrettably racing would be cancelled on the Saturday, due to a deep low with forecast winds of 30-40kts in the race area. This was the same weather system that lead to the first day of Cowes week being abandoned. Our visitors took the opportunity to explore the Llŷn Peninsula and enjoy the live music in Plas Heli, with Jac Dobson a’r band delivering a great early doors set during the late afternoon.

Day 3 dawned brightly with North Westerly winds of 10-15 kts giving flat water and excellent racing conditions, and glorious views of the stunning Llŷn peninsula and Snowdonia. For IRC 1 and 2 four races were held, with up to four laps of a short windward-leeward course. The starts were crucial, and the two RC35 class boats were giving a master class in starting. J125 Jacknife and J133 Spirit of Jacana, both higher rated boats having to push hard to get ahead of the J109 and First 35 from Scotland, and with the short legs not able to take significant advantage downwind, particularly from the boats flying symmetric spinnakers. Great racing though with some interesting interpretation of the racing rules at some of the mark roundings! The results of all four races in both IRC 1 and 2 were again dominated by the Irish and Scottish visiting boats, with Triple Elf able to discard one race due UFD

In IRC 4 the cruisers raced two races around the cans from a bridge start and again the four boats racing today had two great races and were all very closely matched. Scored using NHC, with Induna (Alan Barton) taking race 1 and Rodmar (Mark Willis) race two. This resulted in Rodmar winning this class overall from Induna, with Roger Fitzgerald racing Dehler 29 Ella Trout 3 with his grandchildren third.

The results in IRC 1 and 2 took a little bit of time to clarify with ratings having to be double-checked, but finally, the results could be announced. The daily prize giving was sponsored by Rowlands Marine Electronics, with jugs of beer and glassware presented to day 3’s race winners. The overall prizegiving was sponsored by Firmhelm Marine who donated some great prizes, with MD Simon Butterworth drawing two boat names out of a hat to present Dubarry deck shoes and a gift voucher.

In IRC 1 the overall winner was confirmed as J133 Spirit of Jacana (Alan Bruce and James Douglas) on countback from First 35 Triple Elf (Christine and Robin Murray) with fellow RC35 class member J109 Jings third.

In IRC 2 local boat J97 Injenious (Mike Crompton and Graham Hallsworth) took first ahead of 2018 champion Checkmate (Ian McMillan) with Sidetrack (Andrew Miles) third.
IRC 4 results were as above with Rodmar (Mark Willis) presented with the Royal Dee cruiser class trophy

The overall Spinlock IRC Welsh National Champion was announced as J97 “Injenious” just one point less overall than “Spirit of Jacana”, and presented with the 2019 Spinlock trophy and voucher.

Full results at www.ircwelshchamps.com

Next year's regatta dates as 14-16th August 2020

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With just over two weeks until the Welsh IRC Championships on Cardigan Bay, Irish IRC boats are preparing for the trip across the Irish Sea to the Llŷn Peninsula and to Plas Heli - the Welsh National Sailing Academy on August 9th.

Royal Irish Yacht Club's Patrick Burke will compete in the First Class 35 Prima Luce in IRC as will Dave Cullen's Half Tonner Checkmate XV from Howth Yacht Club.

This year's Irish entries continue a fine reciprocal tradition of competing in Wales where Irish boats have recorded considerable success over the past five years.

The Championships also doubles as the Welsh leg of the RC35 class's Celtic Cup where Howth boat Storm won the inaugural trophy last year. And in 2017, Waterford raiders 'Fools Gold' won the IRC Welsh Championships.

Prima Luce first 35 0578Patrick Burke's First Class 35 Prima Luce from the Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

Berthing will also be available for Irish boats competing in the ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on July 27th and who wish to leave their boat in Pwllheli ready for the IRC Champs.

Jac Y Do 4759 2Mark and Jo Thompson's Jac Y Do from Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club Photo: Afloat

Pwllheli will also welcome competitors from right across the Irish Sea catchment area including Scotland. 

Triple Elf 3932Christine and Robin Murray's Triple Elf Photo: Afloat

Christine and Robin Murray's Triple Elf from Fairlie Yacht Club and last year's Class 2 Overall Winner Checkmate (Ian MacMillan) are also entered. This Checkmate team have just become UK Impala National Champions. Also entered is Robin Young's J109 Jings from the Scottish RC35 class.

Jings 3944Robin Young's Jings from Clyde Cruising Club Photo: Afloat

The bulk of these boats last competed together at Dun Laoghaire Regatta earlier this month.

IRC 1, 2 and sports-boats (IRC3) will race from a committee boat start in Tremadog Bay (Race Officer Mike Butterfield). The cruiser class (IRC4) will start and finish from the PSC club line adjacent to Gimlet Rock (Race Officer Robin Evans)

See entry list here

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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.

Competitions

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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