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George Sisk's XP44 WOW took an emphatic win in the first ISORA race of the 2020 season yesterday when racing got off to a decidedly tricky start in the first of four Viking Marine Coastal Series races on Dublin Bay.

Provisional results on ISORA's tracker (scroll down for tracker) handed the line honours, IRC and Class Zero victories to the Royal Irish's WOW with Welsh J109 Mojito skippered by Anthony Doyle from Skerries and sailed by an Irish crew second. Sisk's clubmate Paul O'Higgins in the JPK10.80 was third in IRC overall.

Top five on IRC overall in the first Viking Marine ISORA Coastal Race Top five on IRC overall in the first Viking Marine ISORA Coastal Race sailed yesterday on Dublin Bay

ISORA's Viking Marine Coastal Race Start at Dun Laoghaire Harbour(Above and below) On your marks: ISORA Boats make a clean start to the 2020 season. Front runners J109 Mojito (GBR 9047R) to leeward with Rockabill VI, pink striped spinnaker (IRL10800) and Aurelia (yellow spinnaker) and Lively Lady (blue spinnaker) to weather and in a good gust that would send the Beneteau 44.7 to the front of the fleet as the 19-boats passed the harbour mouth at Dun Laoghaire shortly after the start Photo: Afloat

ISORA Yacht Race Dun Laoghaire Harbour

ISORA Viking Marine Coastal Yacht Race Start at Dun Laoghaire Harbour

A great turnout of 19 boats made for a great spectacle under a colourful reaching start at the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Outfall buoy, where a fleet that included both current and former ISORA champions, plotted a course around Dublin Bay that included the use of ISORA's virtual marks.

ISORA Race start and National Yacht Club Race Officer Larry PowerNational Yacht Club Race Officer Larry Power sends the fleet on its way around a 34-mile course across Dublin Bay to Killiney via some virtual marks and the Kish Light. Photo: Afloat

The fleet started at 0955 under National Yacht Club Race Officer Larry Power and headed for a Dublin Bay Virtual Mark to port. But as soon as the fleet sailed the short distance across the Harbour Mouth and into Scotsman's Bay, the wind died away on the first of many occasions in the 34-miler over seven hours.

J122 Aurelia leads XP44 WOWThe Royal St. George J122 Aurelia (Chris and Patanne Smith) narrowly leads overall winner George Sisk's XP44 Wow (orange spinnaker) Photo: Afloat

Rockabill VI (IRL10800) is chased hard by Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast3600 and Welsh J109 Mojito (GBR 9047R) shortly after the startRockabill VI (IRL10800) is chased hard by Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast3600 and J109 Mojito (GBR 9047R) shortly after the start Photo: Afloat

The fleet then negotiated a series of sail changes before heading for Bennett and then the Killiney Outfall buoy. From there the boats rounded the Muglins to Port and finished between Dun Laoghaire's Pier Heads, many returning home around 6 pm. Review the race on the Tracker below.

Quite a few of the offshore boats were using the Dun Laoghaire Harbour opener as a shakedown for the season including August's Round Ireland Race.

 The 19-boat fleet was a mix of some potent offshore designs including A31s, J109s, a J99, a JPK10.80 and two Sunfast300s The 19-boat fleet was a mix of some potent offshore designs including A31s, J109s, a J99, a JPK10.80 and two Sunfast300s Photo: Afloat

Rockabill VI gets into her stride under a symmetric spinnaker shortly after the startRockabill VI gets into her stride under symmetric spinnaker shortly after the start Photo: Afloat

Doublehanders: Andrew Algeo and Mark McGibney from the Royal Irish Yacht Club sailing the J99 Juggerknot II in double-handed mode and chasing Rockabill VI at the start of the ISORA 34-miler(Above and below) Doublehanders: Andrew Algeo and Mark McGibney from the Royal Irish Yacht Club sailing the J99 Juggerknot II in double-handed mode and chasing Rockabill VI at the start of the ISORA 34-miler Photo: Afloat

Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot II

Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600 YoyoSunfast: Brendan Coghlan's Royal St. George entry YoYo was one of two Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 in the race Photo: Afloat

In the forecasted IRC 2 battle between the J97 Windjammer, the ISORA A31debutante APlus and Leslie Parnell's First 34.7 Black Velvet, it was Denis Power and Lindsey Casey's J97 from the Royal St. George Yacht Club that came out on top and RIYC's Parnell second, according to provisional tracker results.

Royal St George Yacht Club ISORA Class 2 entry, the J97 Windjammer (Lindsey J Casey & Denis Power) Royal St George Yacht Club ISORA Class 2 winner, the J97 Windjammer (Lindsey J Casey & Denis Power) Photo: Afloat

New arrival: The National Yacht Club Archambault A31 A-Plus made her ISORA debut Photo: AfloatNew arrival: The National Yacht Club Archambault A31 A-Plus made her ISORA debut Photo: Afloat

Light and shifty: Looking to escape the north going tide Howth J109 Indian, Sigma 38 Wardance, Tsunami First 40.7 and the XC45 Samaton head for the Scotsman's Bay shoreline. Photo: Afloat Light and shifty: Looking to escape the north going tide Howth J109 Indian, Sigma 38 Wardance, Tsunami First 40.7 and the XC45 Samaton head for the Scotsman's Bay shoreline. Photo: Afloat

Becalmed: As the boats head out of the bay, the wind dies and not for the first time in this race sailed in variable westerlies Photo: AfloatBecalmed: As the boats headed out of the bay, the wind died  Photo: Afloat

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This morning's Dun Laoghaire Viking Marine Coastal Race (Re-Boot) course has drawn a potent fleet of ISORA 19 boats that includes former champions Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox) from North Wales and reigning champions Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins). The entry list is below and the fleet previewed here.

This morning's race that will be sailed in light to medium  west to south-west winds marks the start of the 2020 offshore season with a course beginning and ending off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The fleet start off Dun Laoghaire Outfall Buoy at 0955 and leave a Dublin Bay Virtual Mark to port before heading for Bennett and then the Killiney Outfall buoy. From there the boats will round the Mugling to Port and finish between Dun Laoghaire's Pier Heads. Follow the fleet on the Tracker below.

ISORA Race Tracker

ISORA Competitors Race One

IRC Class 2 A Plus IRL 977 Archambault 31 NationalYacht Club Mick Flynn and Grant Kinsman 0.978    
IRC Class 0 Aurelia IRL 35950 J122 Royal St George Yacht Club Chris & Patanne Power Smith 1.076    
IRC Class 2 Black Velvet IRL 3471 First 34.7 Royal Irish Yacht Club Leslie Parnell 0.983    
IRC Class 0 Hot Cookie GBR7536R Sunfast 3600 NationalYacht Club John O'Gorman 1.043    
IRC Class 2 Humdinger IRL 1357 Jenneau Sunfast 37 Arklow Sailing Club John Conlon 0.980    
IRC Class 1 Indian IRL 1543 J109 Howth Yacht Club Colm Buckley & Simon Knowles 1.007    
IRC Class 1 Juggerknot 2 IRL 3990 J99 Royal Irish Yacht Club Andrew Alego 1.012    
IRC Class 0 Lively Lady IRL 1644 First 44.7 Royal Irish Yacht Club Rodney & Keith Martin 1.089    
IRC Class 1 Mojito GBR 9047R J109 Pwllheli Sailing Club Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox 1.008    
IRC Class 2 More Mischief IRL 966 First 310 ISA Grzegorz Kalinecki 0.911    
IRC Class 1 Prima Luce IRL 3504 Beneteau First 35 Royal Irish Yacht Club Philip O'Dwyer 1.015    
IRC Class 0 Rebellion IRL 6001 Nicholson 58 NationalYacht Club John Hughes Hanlon O'Mahony 1.043    
IRC Class 0 Rockabill VI IRL 1080 JPK 10.8 Royal Irish Yacht Club Paul O'Higgins 1.050    
IRC Class 0 Samatom GBR1345R XC45 Howth Yacht Club Robert Rendell 1.074    
IRC Class 0 Tsunami IRL 4007 First 40.7 NationalYacht Club Vincent Farrell 1.052    
IRC Class 0 WOW IRL 4419 XP44 Royal Irish Yacht Club George Sisk 1.125    
IRC Class 2 Wardance 7360 Sigma 38 TBC Sean Hawkshaw 0.977    
IRC Class 2 Windjammer IRL 2597 J97 Royal St George Yacht Club Lindsey J Casey & Denis Power 0.972    
IRC Class 0 YOYO 3618 Jeanneau 3600 Royal St George Yacht Club Brendan Coghlan 1.036
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Offshore entries are building nicely for Saturday's first ISORA race of the season climbing from ten boats on Monday to 18 on  Wednesday, indicating a fleet of 20 plus is possible for the weekend's outing.

It looks like quite a few of the offshore boats will be using the Dun Laoghaire Harbour opener as a shakedown for the season ahead including August's Round Ireland Race.

The first race in the 12-race ISORA series is also the first race in the Viking Marine Irish Coastal Series, a mini-series of four races.

Paul O'Higgins' JPK10.80 Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht ClubPaul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club: The championship-winning JPK10.80 has already been out testing on the Bay race track 

Some decent battles are already in prospect with reigning champion Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club up against some powerful J109s including Howth's Indian.

Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600 YoyoBrendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600 Yoyo (above) will be up against sistership John O'Gorman's Hot Cookie (below) from the National Yacht Club

Hot Cookie Sunfast 3600 John O'Gorman National Yacht Club

Another Royal Irish entry Andrew Algeo's J99, Juggerknot II is also entered as is the Sunfast 3600s Yoyo owned by Brendan Coughlan of the Royal St George and Hot Cookie, skippered by John O'Gorman from the National Yacht Club.

In the smaller sizes, the ever-competitive J97 Windjammer will be testing herself against the new (to Dublin) A31, A-plus, from the NYC. Both of these are similar in rating so it will be interesting to see how they go on Saturday once the cobwebs are blown away.

J97 WindjammerJ97 Windjammer

Slightly bigger, but with only a slightly higher rating will be the Beneteau 34.7 Black Velvet, skippered by Leslie Parnell of the Royal Irish.

Beneteau 34.7 Black Velvet, skippered by Leslie ParnellThe Beneteau 34.7 Black Velvet, skippered by Leslie Parnell

Nice medium air westerlies are forecasted in 18-degree temperatures.

The course for Race 1 will be published before 12.00hrs on Friday 3rd July.

Check out the latest ISORA entries here

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Already buoyant entries for August's Round Ireland Yacht Race can expect a further boost when a potent Welsh IRC fleet comes out of lockdown.

From the 2018 Race, seven Welsh boats finished in the top 20 but none of these top performers are yet on the 45-boat entry list at Wicklow Race Headquarters.

The reason, according to leading Welsh offshore skipper Stephen Tudor, who is ISORA's Honorary Secretary, is that Welsh sailing is still in lockdown with a five-mile travelling restriction in place.

"Wales is a few weeks behind the relaxation time-table in Ireland and as a result boats are still on the hard and all clubs and sailing centres remain closed, although some are allowing limited use this week", Tudor told Afloat.

It's a situation that means boats such as former ISORA Champion Mojito as well as Jackknife, Jaydreamer and Jetstream could all be on the start line on August 22nd, contributing significantly to making the predicted 60-boat fleet for the 21st edition of the race a reality. 

Offshore yacht racing off the Wicklow coastOffshore yacht racing off the County Wicklow coast Photo: Afloat

Last Friday's announcement by the Welsh First Minister provides the sailors with a clearer view of when they can go sailing again. By following the guidance of our Governing Body ‘RYA Cymru Wales’ Welsh ISORA boats are hopeful they will be ready for the ISORA Re-boot programme with the first Offshore Race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on 1st August, if not earlier for the Irish Coastal Night Race on 24th July, Tudor, of Pwllheli Sailing Club, told Afloat.

"Round Ireland is in the sights of many boats but competitors need time on the water to thoroughly test themselves and their boats before committing to this classic challenge", Tudor said before concluding "I am sure that there will be a strong Welsh /UK presence in the race".

Published in ISORA

ISORA has made good on its promise to publish its 'Back to Boating' Protocol this week (downloadable below), the offshore racing body is eager to get back racing at the earliest possible opportunity on the Irish Sea.

The first race will be on July 4th and it will be a coastal race of 35 miles duration. The revised programme (below) has in excess of 300 miles of racing for Round Ireland Race qualification purposes with two races of 75 miles each and a night race too.

The ISORA programme is also tying in with other major key sailing events such as an August 14th race as part of the Welsh IRC Championships, an August 29th race as part of Greystones Harbour Regatta off County Wicklow and a September 12th Lambay Race off Howth as part of WAVE Regatta.

ISORA 2020 Revised Calendar

The ISORA documents (downloadable below) are live working documents and the intention of the Race Management team is to update it as and when restrictions are relaxed/changed in the various territorial waters relevant to each race.

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Some offshore racing enthusiasts may have been hoping that the historic re-enactment of the “Kingstown to Queenstown" Race of 1860 – the first proper offshore event in Irish and British waters – might still have been staged in some very muted form, with minimal shoreside interaction in order to comply with post-COVID-19 restrictions. But those directly involved have now made a clear decision that to do so would be entirely at variance with the spirit of the race, which is to be a celebration of offshore racing both in Ireland and internationally, with a highly sociable shore-side element in Cobh after the finish.

The leading race organiser at the Cobh finish, South Coast Offshore Racing Association Commodore Johanna Murphy, has issued an informal statement outlining the thinking behind the way things will go, as plans take shape to stage the race in 2022:

“The Kingstown to Queenstown Race is postponing to 7/7/22 in light of COVID-19. The race is being run by Cove Sailing Club and the National Yacht Club, and will start from the NYC and finish at the Old Yacht Club (now the Sirius Centre) in Cobh. After the finish, there’ll be festivities on the Cobh waterfront, including of course a talk on the history of the iconic race by the one and only Eddie English. The prize-giving will follow, and I will be organising a barbecue in the Quays, while now that CSC marina is up and running, there will be visitor berthing available.

All the mechanics of the race will be worked out nearer the time, but it’s definitely one for the diary - after all, what’s another two years when we have waited since 1860? The June-July programme for 2021 is already solidly booked, so to do this iconic and historic race justice, we need to make the clean break to 2022. It deserves the chance to be a fantastic race, and will I feel it be a popular event nationally and internationally, and a chance for the Clubs and sailors to come together - which is what much of sailing is all about. And It will also tie in nicely with Cork Week 2022, which is 11th – 15th July 2022."

Published in Dublin Bay

The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) is working on a protocol that will allow coastal racing to begin at the end of this month.

The return to full racing, however, hinges strongly on the two-metre social distancing being reduced, according to ISORA Chief, Peter Ryan.

The protocol will be issued early this week, Ryan told Afloat.

Irrespective, ISORA racing will be provided for two-handed and family pods this month. The body is unique in that it provides racing on both sides of the Irish Sea and has a combined fleet of up to 70 boats.

The news is a fillip for Dublin, Liverpool, Isle of Man and Pwllheli racers who are keen to get back on the water after a three-month delay to the summer season. Significantly, a number of key competitors have already been back on Dublin Bay in different crew configurations including some new two-handed combinations. Others, however, are still ashore and some boats still in sheds since lockdown began in March.

The ISORA move chimes with Dublin Bay Sailing Club's plans to resume racing from July 20.

It is proposed that all ISORA starts and finishes would be done using onboard trackers eliminating any need for committee boats.

Welsh J109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) from Pwllheli is a former ISORA champion Photo: AfloatWelsh J109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox) from Pwllheli is a former ISORA champion Photo: Afloat

If offshore racing resumes on 29th June, it provides further welcome impetus to the season highlight of the 700-mile Round Ireland Race that has been rescheduled for August 22nd. The race has received a buoyant entry to date with 44 entries, the latest being a second Belfast Lough entry over the weekend.

ISORA will at all times comply with the recommendations of Irish Sailing, RYA and RYA Cymru Wales, Ryan confirmed.

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Peter Dunlop, skipper of the only Irish Sea boat entered for the now-cancelled IRC Worlds in New York, updates on plans for the former ISORA Championship winning J109, Mojito, on this side of the Atlantic

It's a bit of a shame that the worlds have been cancelled. I was hoping that by the end of September we would have made enough progress against COVID-19 that the event could go ahead.

It looked that we wouldn't be able to get Mojito shipped, so we came up with a backup plan. We secured the use of a J/109 that was already at the venue. Bill Kneller, ex-US J/109 class president, kindly agreed to lend us his boat. We would take our sails, forestay and head foil so we could set up the boat as close to Mojito as possible.

Wave Regatta

Nearly all of the events we had planned have been affected. We hope to get back to sailing later in the summer. I expect the first event will be an ISORA rally and later some ISORA races. ISORA will be ready to go as soon as it's possible. I expect we will be sailing with a limited crew. Our crew are Welsh, Irish, and English so we have varying sets of regulations to deal with. I really hope we can make August's Welsh IRC nationals and Howth's Wave Regatta in September, with some ISORAs in-between. The rudder needs refitting and the rig putting up

Wave Regatta in Howth is on the schedule for former ISORA champion J109 Mojito Photo: AfloatSeptember's Wave Regatta in Howth is on the schedule for former ISORA champion J109, Mojito Photo: Afloat

Mojito is not yet ready. She was in the shed having the bottom done when lockdown came in and nothing has been done since March. The rudder needs refitting and the rig putting up, then we will be good to go, but there is still no schedule for when that might be possible.

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Although a few countries are still to ease their lockdowns, sailing is restarting around the world, including Ireland where a Coastguard advisory was lifted this morning and boating with social distancing made its debut as Irish clubs and marinas reopened to boat owners.

Sailing with a crew made up from the same household is now possible subject to the constraints of taking leisure pursuits within five km from a person’s home and returning to the harbour of departure.

As we see a return to the water, sailing clubs are looking at the next stages and the restarting of yacht racing.

With aggressive social distancing measures in place, running yacht races with a traditional race management set-up and lots of people crammed onto a committee boat is going to be difficult and so is conventional crewed racing. 

The UK based RestartSailing Group have been exploring simpler race formats and a number of GPS tracking apps are emerging that allows Simple Racing to be run automatically. It's a virtual format that has been tried with success by leading offshore body ISORA who have been using virtual courses for its offshore league racing since 2012

There is certainly a demand for racing with Dublin Bay Sailing Club members voting overwhelmingly for a return late last month.

Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield has already offered suggestions on how racing can restart by reducing crew numbers in a bid to comply with two-metre social distancing rules. 

As Afloat's WM Nixon said last Saturday, Irish sailors need flexible thinking and tolerance in their emergence from Covid-19 if we are to get the scene going again otherwise the 2020 sailing season will look like a desert.

A poll on the UK based RestartSailing Facebook Group indicated that 41% of clubs have opened, with 45% in the planning stages of opening shortly and 14% unable to open due to external factors.

The pressure group have set up a Simple Racing Group to consider this new format if you are interested in getting involved you can join here

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Although ISORA has announced a further postponement of its May fixtures, the ambitious offshore sailing body has also published a revised calendar for the rest of the season (downloadable below) as it commits to running a full programme this season on the Irish Sea and, as Afloat reported previously, it proposes a start date of 31st July for the 160-mile Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race.

The first two coastal races have already been postponed and the flags were raised yesterday to announce the postponement of Race 3 and Race 4 - these were the first two offshore qualifying races from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead scheduled for 2nd May and the Conwy to Dun Laoghaire on 23rd May.

Looking at reshaping the 2020 series ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan said 'we are committed to running a full series in 2020 by providing the offshore racing requested by competitors. To achieve this, we will continue to listen to suggestions and consider all options. We will introduce all of the cutting-edge technologies to achieve this'

"ISORA is very flexible and we will react quickly when there is clarity in what will be allowed"

He also said: 'There is, however, a lot of speculation about when the lock-down restrictions will be eased or lifted, what form of social distancing will be imposed and for how long these will last. We then need to consider the impact these restrictions will have on sailing and offshore racing. We are, of course, reliant on the advice given by our National Governing Bodies RYA & IS. Whilst considering options the safety of our competitor and those who support us is of paramount importance'.

Silver Shamrock 0066Conor Fogerty's 'Silver Shamrock' at the start of an ISORA coastal race on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

ISORA does, however, have the ability to be very flexible in setting a revised programme and will react very quickly when there is clarity in what will be allowed.

ISORA CommiteeThe ISORA Committee met to agree a revised calendar via the Zoom platform: Screenshot courtesy ISORA

We have looked at a number of options in what may be a very crowded calendar for late summer and autumn.

1 Rockabill sailing1Reigning ISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) of the Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

In considering options we are conscious that ISORA has always provided the races required to qualify for the Round Ireland Race (new date August 22nd) and we hope to provide this again this year.

Ryan says 'we also want to support other established Championships and Regattas, such as the Wave Regatta 11th - 13th September and the IRC Welsh National Championship 14th to 16th August. The ISORA-organised 160-mile Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race is also in the mix with a proposed start date of 31st July'

The document downloadable below sets out the latest proposal for the revised 2020 ISORA Series.

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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.


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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