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Yacht handicapping fees will rise by 12.5% for the coming season.

An average sized boat, such as a Sigma 33, will now have total handicapping costs of €177 in 2016 as opposed to €162 in 2015. This breaksdown as follows: ECHO registration is €42. IRC online registration is €13.50 per metre, an increase of €1.50 per metre (12.5%)

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is the administrator for both the local ECHO and international IRC handicap systems. IRC certs are processed for the ISA by the London based Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) who govern the IRC rule.

The ISA's CEO Harry Hermon says IRC fees are set in € for Irish boats at the beginning of each year. 'The IRC fee structure sent out with the renewals in January 2016 and showed a 12% increase which is due to the sterling exchange rates. There are no changes to the ECHO fees for 2016. Handicap fees will not be reviewed again until 2017'

Ireland has a national cruiser racer fleet estimated between 500–700 boats.

Meanwhile, handicaps will be a focus at the 2016 ICRA conference when it gets underway at the Castletroy Hotel in Lmerick on Saturday, March 5th.

The pow–wow will receive a presentation from the promoters of the ORC handicapping system that is gaining popularity as an alternative to IRC.  Florida's recent Key West Regatta in Florida was split between the two systems.

Speaking to the Irish Times last Friday, former ICRA commodore Norbert Reilly said: “We have no idea what ORC is but would like to know and especially why it is making so much progress overseas.

ICRA also plan a review of the ECHO system for 2016.

Published in ICRA

The IRC rating rule has been used by racing owners in Asia for many years, with major IRC regattas well established in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. In the last few years Japan and mainland China have benefited from the use of IRC for their racing fleets, and now the RORC Rating Office and the Chinese Taipei Sailing Association (CTSA) are pleased to announce that IRC will be used for Taiwan-owned boats in 2016, further strengthening the IRC fleet in East Asia.

The local yachting scene in Taiwan has recently been boosted by the relaxation of harbour entry and tax rules, in an effort to help develop the domestic market in leisure yacht ownership as well as attracting visiting yachts. Against this positive background the CTSA, as the World Sailing Member National Authority for the country, is enthusiastic in its responsibility to organise and encourage fair yacht racing for their sailors and recognises the IRC rating system as a superior method of handicapping its local fleet.

The CTSA plans to hold IRC racing at the Penghu International Regatta Series this summer and looks forward to introducing IRC rating to boat owners in Taiwan.

Taiwan lies around 180km east of China, so using the IRC rating rule will allow Taiwanese owners to race not only in their local waters but also in events organized by neighbouring China and Hong Kong, and indeed any other IRC race worldwide. Visiting sailors who hold IRC ratings will also be able to join in with races in Taiwan and have the opportunity to race in a different mixed fleet and boost local entries.

IRC is one of only two International Rating Rules as recognised by World Sailing, and annually issues 8000 certificates to 6000 boats racing in hundreds of club and international events in almost 40 countries worldwide. In all but one of the famous offshore classic races, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race, the major trophy is awarded to the overall winner in IRC.

Published in RORC

The first ever IRC European Championship will take place during Volvo Cork Week, 10-15th July 2016, Royal Cork Yacht Club has announced.

The new event in the RORC Calendar will be hosted by the Crosshaven club, in the sailing grounds of Cork Harbour and the Atlantic Approaches. 

The first edition of the RORC IRC National Championship took place in 2000, and has done so every year since. There are now seven IRC National Championships throughout the world, but up until now, there has been no continental event.

"When the Royal Ocean Racing Club was approached by the Royal Cork Yacht Club to host the first IRC European Championship, our response was positive and immediate. We are now working together to finalise the details”, commented Michael Boyd, Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. “The IRC European Championship will be an event in itself, based on the platform of Volvo Cork Week, which is a long-established and well-organised IRC regatta. The timing of the IRC European Championship, in the middle of July, works well in relation to the RORC IRC National Championship in the Solent in June and as a precursor to the Brewin Dolphin Commodore's Cup between 23-30 July. The intention is for the IRC European Championship to be held at a different European location annually.”

"Royal Cork Yacht Club is honoured to be chosen to host the prestigious Royal Ocean Racing Club's inaugural IRC European Championships, during Volvo Cork Week 2016. This is a great honour for Irish sailing, and the fact that Ireland has been selected as the host nation for the first ever IRC European Championship, will guarantee support from IRC boats from all over Ireland as well as overseas.” commented Kieran O Connell, Chairman of Volvo Cork Week. “It is also a great reflection on the Race Management here at Volvo Cork Week, and shows the confidence that RORC have in The Royal Cork Yacht Club’s ability to manage an event of this scale. On the racing front, Volvo Cork Week 2016 will not disappoint, with plans already well underway to host a championship that will both meet and surpass the requirements of this unique world class event both on and off the water. We welcome all in advance”.

Published in Cork Week

Organised by the Royal Southampton YC, in conjunction with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the second edition of the IRC Double Handed National Championship took place in the Solent, last weekend. 37 teams took part racing in three IRC Classes, lack of wind on the Saturday was the undoing of the passage race but two excellent races were held on the first day in the Central Solent.

Race Director Robert Lamb, sets the scene for the championship. “With high pressure dominating the south coast of England racing was delayed on Friday until a south westerly settled in after 4pm. Two races were then run: a laid marks 'sausage triangle’ followed by a round the cans race. Wind eventually strengthened to 10-12 knots to provide good racing. Saturday was disappointing with not enough wind to run the scheduled three hour passage race. So two races only were completed for the championship. All competitors were invited to the RORC Cowes Clubhouse for supper, which had a terrific atmosphere.”

IRC ONE

Won by Neil Martin's Sunfast 3600, Hot Cookie with Phil Barnes as crew. Runner up was Tim Octon's Corby 35 Njos, crewed by Rob Larke and third was Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600, Bellino, crewed by Deb Fish. Hot Cookie won both of the races held and Neil Martin and Phil Barnes have been racing together for about ten years.

“Both Phil and I come from a dinghy background and we still race in dinghy events. We started sailing two handed together in my J/133 about nine years ago and the main reason for the change was that it is a lot of fun and we have lots more jobs to do! The J/133 was great offshore but we wanted about we could sail well inshore, so we initially sailed a J/97, then moved on to the Sunfast 3600, which is really set up for two handed sailing.

The important factors in coming out on top in the National Championship were teamwork and experience. We have been racing two handed together for a long time, we both know what to do in most situations and when things go wrong, we have a better chance of sorting them out. Having sailed a bigger boat previously, the sail handling is easier on a smaller boat. We have been sailing in the Solent now for about 10 yrs and we are beginning to get to know our way around.”

Phil Barnes was quick to point out that starting well was a key ingredient to winning inshore. “Neil typically gets a very good start, which in the short races gave us a big advantage being clear to implement our race strategy. Of all the racing I do, double handed yacht racing on short courses is a huge physical and mental challenge and the most rewarding sailing I have ever done.”

IRC TWO

The largest class racing at the IRC Double Handed National Championship had 15 yachts vying for the class and five yachts took podium positions. Race One was won by the defending champion, Paul Griffith's J/109, Jagerbomb, crewed by his son Mark. William Gough's J/109, Just So, crewed by Christian Jeffries was second and William Newton's J/105, Jelly Baby, crewed by Bill Darley was third. The winner of Race Two was Andrew Roberts' J/105, Jin Tonic, crewed by Bill Edgerley. Second was Mike Moxley's HOD 35, Malice, crewed by Huw Phillips and third was David Franks' JPK 10.10, Strait Dealer, crewed by Graham Sunderland. Jin Tonic's was the class champion by a single point from Jagerbomb with Strait Dealer taking third on countback from Jelly Baby.

“The Royal Lymington Yacht Club organised a series of double handed races back in 2011, and we decided to give it a go and much to my surprise I enjoyed the challenge of adapting a boat that is normally raced with a crew of 7 to one that 2 can handle.” commented Andy Roberts, skipper of Jin Tonic. “I quickly learnt that every manoeuvre took more time and more effort and they should be kept to a minimum.
Racing short handed means you are utterly dependent on your partner, their skills and input both tactical and navigational, as well as the sail handling. The boat needs to be prepared differently, simplify everything, so there was no umming and arring about sail calls, we just use what we have got, remembering that not having an extra 450 kilos of crew weight on the rail meant that the boat was tuned differently so that we could de-power much earlier than usual to keep the boat on it's feet and footing rather than crabbing sideways.

I think one of the things that helped us get a good result was having a clear strategy on the route we were going to take around the course so that we had no last minute panic moves to make, for example, dropping the spinnaker on the correct side for the next hoist. Spinning the kit when going upwind is seriously slow, losing at least half a knot of boat speed for 5 or 10 minutes.
We did not chose a J/105 for any other reason than there were three others in Lymington, yet we have found it to be a super boat for both short handed and fully crewed racing; easy to handle and always feels safe even when surfing along at 14 knots.

To summarise we felt we did well by keeping it simple, so we had time to focus on the race.A big thank you to everyone at the Royal Southampton YC, for all their hard work to give us such an enjoyable regatta.”

IRC THREE

Congratulations to Paul Dunstan and crew Tony Wrath, winners of Race One and runners up in Race Two, winning their class for the IRC Double Handed National Championship, racing Folkboat, Mandarin. Chris Charlesworth's Contessa 26 Meow, crewed by Martin Young, scored a third and a bullet to finish runner up by just a point. Dave Wright's H-Boat, Hubble Bubble crewed by Luke Bradley was third just a point ahead of David & Peter Cowell's Hanse 291, Seahorse.

The third edition of the IRC Double Handed National Championship will be organised by the Royal Southampton YC, in conjunction with the Royal Ocean Racing Club, held in the Solent in 2016, late summer or early autumn – watch this space.

Published in RORC

Northern Ireland's Solitaire du Figaro sailor, Andrew Baker, will be racing with Solo Round the World Sailor, Mike Golding in RORC's  second edition of the IRC Double Handed National Championship will take place in the Solent, this weekend. 

A huge variety of keelboats have entered with about 40 teams taking part. Three races are scheduled with no discard. The variety of courses are designed to test all the elements of Double Handed racing with a laid marks course, a round the cans race and a long passage race.

Last year's IRC Class 1winner, Paul Griffiths' J/109 Jagerbomb will be defending their title and Paul will be once again be sailing with his son Mark. Jagerbomb has been competing in the Two Handed class for this year's RORC Season's Points Championship, including the Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I am sure that we will be making more tacks and gybes this weekend than we did for the whole of the Fastnet.” commented Paul Griffiths. “Full on – would be an apt description, especially with the two races on Friday. Racing Double Handed on a short course is very different to offshore. You don't have the time and the space and you are trying to make manoeuvres that you would normally do with nine people not two, which is just crazy but the secret is to avoid getting into problems and to do that you have to be thinking ahead all the time. Looking at this year's entry list there are some top class sailors and this year we have a group of Figaro II's from the Artemis Offshore Academy, which we didn't have last year.”

Artemis Ocean Racing have entered four double handed teams racing Figaro II skippered by talented young aspiring short handed sailors. RYA Match racer and 49er FX sailor Mary Rook. Will Harris, University Student and past Laser 4.7 National Champion. Hugh Brayshaw, Silver medallist at the 470 Junior European Championship. Andrew Baker, Solitaire du Figaro sailor, will be racing with Solo Round the world sailor, Mike Golding.

“There is some real talent and that is why the Artemis Academy is very interesting to me, it is the direct opposite to the opportunities that were available to me when I started racing.” commented Mike Golding. “ Racing on a short course, you are both involved in sailing the boat, all the time, so the biggest thing about this weekend will be knowing where you are going and to get there as cleanly as possible. You don't have the time to go down below and navigate, you have to know the marks of the course in advance and think ahead to the sail set up you will need – you have to mind-map the sequence of events. Figaros are not optmised for IRC, so our first goal will be to beat the other Figaros, but with plenty of corners, if we are slick around them, we might do well overall. It is a pleasure to be involved this weekend, I am an honoury member of the Royal Southampton and the club has always been there supporting me in my projects. The Royal Southampton has been running short handed racing for a long time. Teaming up with the RORC, as an IRC event for the Double Handed series and running the National Championship, has really opened it up to a large number of entries, which is fantastic.”

Published in RORC

#dbsc – BENETEAU 31.7 Echo- 1. Prospect (Chris Johnston), 2. Levante (M.Leahy/J.Power), 3. Extreme Reality (P.McSwiney/E.O'Rafferty)

BENETEAU 31.7 - 1. Prospect (Chris Johnston), 2. Levana (Jean Mitton), 3. Crazy Horse (F Heath & I Schuster)

CRUISERS 0 Echo - 1. Tsunami (Vincent Farrell), 2. Aurelia (Chris Power Smith), 3. Wow (George Sisk)

CRUISERS 0 - 1. Tsunami (Vincent Farrell), 2. Wow (George Sisk), 3. Aurelia (Chris Power Smith)

CRUISERS 1 - 1. Ruth (L Shanahan), 2. Jalapeno (P Barrington et al), 3. Something Else (J.Hall et al)

CRUISERS 1 Echo - 1. Ruth (L Shanahan), 2. Jalapeno (P Barrington et al), 3. Something Else (J.Hall et al)

CRUISERS 2 Echo - 1. Jester (Declan Curtin), 2. Antix (D Ryan), 3. Peridot (Jim McCann et al)

CRUISERS 2 - 1. Jester (Declan Curtin), 2. Peridot (Jim McCann et al), 3. Jambiya (Ryan & Lattimore)

CRUISERS 3 A Echo - 1. Hard on Port (F O'Driscoll), 2. Quest (B Cunningham), 3. Cries of Passion (B Maguire)

CRUISERS 3 A - 1. Quest (B Cunningham), 2. Hard on Port (F O'Driscoll), 3. Cries of Passion (B Maguire)

CRUISERS 3 B - 1. Asterix (Counihan/Meredith/Bushell), 2. Cacciatore (M Ni Cheallachain), 3. Taiscealai (B Richardson)

CRUISERS 3 B Echo - 1. Jiminy Cricket (M Tyndall), 2. Small Wonder (H Kelly), 3. Saki (Paget McCormack et al)

Combined Classes Echo - 1. White Mischief (Timothy Goodbody), 2. Rupert (R & P Lovegrove), 3. Jester (Declan Curtin)

Combined Classes - 1. White Mischief (Timothy Goodbody), 2. Rupert (R & P Lovegrove), 3. Jester (Declan Curtin)

DRAGON - 1. Diva (R.Johnson/R.Goodbody), 2. Phantom (D.Williams), 3. Zinzan (Daniel O'Connor et al)

FLYING FIFTEEN - 1. Ignis Caput (David Mulvey), 2. Betty (D & S Gorman), 3. Fflogger (Alan Dooley)

GLEN - 1. Glenmiller (P Cusack), 2. Glenmarissa (F.Elmes), 3. Glendun (B.Denham et al)

RUFFIAN 23 - 1. Shannagh (S.Gill/P.MacDiarmada), 2. Diane ll (A Claffey/C Helme), 3. Bandit (Kirwan/Cullen/Brown)

SB20 - 1. Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey), 2. Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor)

SHIPMAN - 1. Jo Slim (J.Clarke et al), 2. Euphanzel lll (M Muldoon), 3. Gusto (Heath, Miles, Crisp, Duggan)

SIGMA 33 - 1. White Mischief (Timothy Goodbody), 2. Rupert (R & P Lovegrove), 3. Leeuwin (H&C Leonard & B Kerr)

SIGMA 33 - 1. White Mischief (Timothy Goodbody), 2. Rupert (R & P Lovegrove), 3. Popje (Ted McCourt)

SQUIB - 1. Perfection (Jill Fleming), 2. Sidewinder (R&R Westrup), 3. Femme Fatale (V Delaney)

WHITE SAIL CRUISERS Echo - 1. More Mischief (Eamonn Doyle), 2. White Lotus (Paul Tully), 3. Just Jasmin (Philip Smith)

WHITE SAIL CRUISERS - 1. Persistence (C. Broadhead et al), 2. White Lotus (Paul Tully), 3. Act Two (Michael O'Leary et al)

Published in DBSC

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

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

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

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

The calendar for 2015 is:

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

Published in RORC

#welshIRC – Did you know there was a catchy named 'RORC North Western IRC Regional Championships' submerged beneath 'Abersoch Keelboat Week'? As one Irish interloper explained it's been some years since a week swinging on a mooring was de rigueur and Keelboat Week attracted much beyond local interest. Down the road at Pwllheli they have a well serviced marina, a national events centre with grand plans for expansion and a Celtic Regatta that has also recently become of little more than local interest.

Put the cruiser/racer event and the cruiser/racer friendly venue together and north Wales finally has the beginnings of a big boat event worth travelling for. For 2014 the rebadged Spinlock Welsh IRC Championships, with the support of ISORA and ICRA, drew interest from the north west of England, Scotland and Dublin and a competitive 40 boat fleet.

If competing interests can be navigated and a stable date found in the Celtic sailing calendar, add a patch of water whose simple (although not quite as minimal as the locals would like you to believe) tide and wind patterns offer a different challenge to anything found in the major sailing centres of Ireland or west of Scotland and the south coast of the Llyn peninsular may have the ingredients for a top class championships.

Confounding the measly forecast 2 races where sailed in 18 – 22 knots on the Friday. Royal Irish quarter tonner Cri Cri, skippered by Paul Colton, made a commanding start with a first in both races in Class 1, while the Sigma 33 Legless Again took 2nd and 3rd to take 2nd spot at the end of day 1. In Class 0, it was evident that Corby 36 Stratisfear, Corby 33 Imposter and Roxstar were serious contenders for the top spot with the Stratisfear taking a 2nd and 1st, Imposter taking 1st and 3rd and Roxstar 3rd and 2nd.

Overnight the fleet made welcome use of the brand new visitor and events pontoons at Pwllheli. These pontoons are part of the £8.3m investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council in the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre that will open its doors in 2015. 2 cranes are to be added by the time next years event gets under way making attending the event even easier.

After a further 4 races on Saturday Stratisfear's consistent performance put them firmly in the lead adding a 3rd and another first to two wins from the morning. Roxstar followed close on their heels.

In class 1 Molissa and She Too all ended the day in contention. Eazi Tiger's consistent performance had them in 3rd place overall, a broken life line in race 3 slipped CriCri, into 2nd place and, after some highly consistent sailing, the J97 Injenious moored for the day in first place overall.

With winds over 30 knots on Sunday racing for class 1 was abandoned. In class 0 local J109s Mojito and Sgrech got the best starts on the 24nm course and were off across the bay towards the St. Tudwal islands before some others had started as some were struggling to get sails up in the conditions.

Round the islands and through some challenging seas, Imposter took the lead and line honours with Mojito 2nd and Gringo (National Yacht Club skippered by Tony Fox) third on the water.

Published in ICRA

#icra – Support provided by Irish racers from ISORA and ICRA contributed to the success of last week's inaugural Welsh IRC championships. Forecasts for Pwllheli on the weekend of the inaugural Spinlock IRC Championships were predicting very light winds and many of the competitors wondered whether the full complement of races would be achieved. When the competitors emerged from the skippers' briefing they were greeted by winds of around 18 - 22 knots indicating that some good racing was on the cards for the Friday afternoon.

The Royal Dee Yacht Club Race Committee, lead by Mike Butterfield, ran two races on the first day with Cri Cri, Royal Irish Yacht Club skippered by Paul Colton, making a commanding start with a first in both races in Class 1, while Legless Again took 2nd and 3rd to take 2nd spot at the end of day 1. In Class 0, it was evident that Stratisfear, Imposter and Roxstar were serious contenders for the top spot with Stratisfear taking a 2nd and 1st, Imposter taking 1st and 3rd and Roxstar 3rd and 2nd.

Overnight the fleets were moored for the first time on the new visitor and events pontoons at Pwllheli. These pontoons are part of the £8.3m investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council in the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre that will open its doors in 2015. Friday night provided some legendary hospitality from Pwllheli with the Crews' dinner and a few beers.

Saturday started very wet and the wind again defied the forecasters by providing speeds in the high teens. The rain cleared in time for racing and, as it looked like it was going to be another good day on the water, the race committee capitalised by running four races. At the end of day two Stratisfear's consistent performance put them firmly in the lead adding a 3rd and another first to their morning results with Roxstar close on their heels.

In class 1, it was still all to play for with Molissa, Injenious, CriCri, and She Too in contention. However, Eazi Tiger's consistent performance had them in 3rd place overall with CriCri, who couldn't maintain Friday's excellent performance, slipping into 2nd place overall. After some consistent racing Injenious moored for the day in first place overall.

Sunday presented the fleets with higher winds for their coastal race with speeds of 27 knots being experienced in the shelter of the marina. Once out on the water, winds in excess of 30 knots were recorded and with wind over tide, boats were met by choppy seas in the bay. Many boats decided that the conditions were too much for them and didn't turn up to the start, including Roxstar and Stratisfear who realised that they had enough results to discard the last race and still win overall.

The race committee, having to endure those conditions themselves, decided that the smaller fleet, those boats with IRC handicaps less than 1.000, would not race and class 1 racing was abandoned. Local J109s Mojito and Sgrech got the best starts on the 24nm course and were off across the bay towards the St. Tudwal islands before some others had started as some were struggling to get sails up in the conditions.

Round the islands and through some challenging seas, Imposter took the lead and line honours with Mojito 2nd and Gringo (National Yacht Club skippered by Tony Fox) 3rd, but after handicaps were applied Mojito took first place, Imposter 2nd and Gringo took 3rd.

Guy Cowper, the skipper of winning boat Stratisfear, was delighted with the excellent sailing that was had by all at the Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships. He said: "This is the best bay I've ever sailed in; there's no tide, no commercial traffic and the scenery is second to none. Add to that the positive attitude of the Club's staff and volunteers and it would be difficult to have anything but a great event here. When the new Welsh National Sailing Academy building is opened next year this will be a World Class venue. I cannot wait to return to sail in Pwllheli."

The overall champion for both the Irish Crusing Racing Association (ICRA) and the Welsh Championship will be announced shortly.

The events team at Plas Heli and Pwllheli Sailing Club are currently consulting competitors regarding the format and timing of the 2015 championships which will be hosted in the new Academy facilities.

PSC Commodore Stephen Tudor said: "The Club was very proud to be offered the opportunity to host the first Welsh Spinlock IRC Championships and we are delighted that so many competitors from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Liverpool enjoyed their time in Pwllheli both on the water and ashore. The association ISORA and ICRA has strengthened the already established cross-channel link and hopefully this will continue to flourish and grow."

Overall standings for the weekend were as follows:

Class 1:
1st Injenious SCYC Hallworth Crompton
2nd CriCri Royal Irish Yatch Club Paul Colton
3rd Eazi Tiger Liverpool YC Connolly Kyffin Oliver

Class 0:
1st Stratisfear RDYC Guy Cowper
2nd Impostor SCYC Richard Fildes
3rd Roxstar Clyde Cruising Club Findlay and Anderson

Full results can be found here

Published in ICRA

#CelticRegatta - The inaugural Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships hosted by Pwllheli Sailing Club (PSC) is less than a fortnight away, with the Irish expected to make a strong showing in a competitive fleet over the weekend of 1-3 August.

And with a few free berths available in the harbour's new pontoons, there's still a chance to get involved in what's shaping up to be a strong weekend of racing.

Last year's successful J Cup at PSC was a springboard to launch the first 'Celtic Regatta', with the added award of the Spinlock IRC regional title.

The event will also showcase the recently completed visitor and event pontoons which form part of the £8.3m investment in the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre.

The Welsh Championships will be the first major event to make use of the new facilities, a year in advance of the Fireball Worlds scheduled for 17-28 August 2015.

Among the Celtic Regatta's supporters is the Irish Cruising Racing Association (ICRA), which has just completed its own successful championships hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

ICRA chairman and event organiser Norbert Reilly commented that the two events strengthen the ties already established across the Irish Sea. Indeed, a trophy will be awarded to the competitor with the best combined results in the two events.

And that's not to mention the Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli ISORA Race on 26 July, a feeder race to the Welsh Championships that counts as the seventh race in the ISORA 2014 series sponsored by Kona.

"The ISORA fleet regularly visits Pwllheli either for a race start or finish and the Welsh welcome is always warm and friendly," said ISORA chairman Peter Ryan. "The new facilities in Pwllheli will make the sailing waters easily accessible and a great destination for visiting offshore fleets, flotillas and for keel boat regattas and championships."

Among the other competitors readying for the regatta is Richard Fildes, a seasoned campaigner in Cork Week and Dun Laoghaire, notably successful in his recently sold Corby 37 Impetuous.

His home waters are in Cardigan Bay, and he says he's looking forward to competing in the Welsh IRCs in his recently acquired Corby 33 Impostor - as well as return the favour of the many great Irish welcomes he's received over the years.

Fildes and the rest will race a programme designed by international race officer Mike Butterfield, who heads the IRC Welsh Championships race management team and promised to provide the best possible competition on the water.

"The bay offers ideal race management opportunities with no commercial shipping to worry about and the tidal influence is not significant," said Butterfield.

Meanwhile, PSC Commodore Stephen Tudor - a former Irish Sea ISORA Champion himself - expressed his pride in his clubs hosting of the first Welsh IRC Championships and said he is "delighted to see competitors already entered from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Liverpool in addition to the local competitive fleet.

"Entries are still being received and we still have free berths available for the event on the new academy pontoons."

Published in ISORA
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