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The first Irish Coastal race of the Viking Marine ISORA Coastal Championship 2019 took place on the 18th May with a starting time of 10.00. 21 boats from the entry list of 22 came to the start line in Dun Laoghaire.

Setting the course was difficult for the Sailing Committee as very light northerly winds were forecast for the race. To add to the difficulty, strong spring tides were also predicted. With this combination, it was decided that the course should try and accommodate the tide by heading north at the start and south later in the race. It had been hoped that the course would be 40 miles by heading to South Burford, Lambay Island and back by the Kish Light. Instead, Lambay was substituted by using Howth Yacht Club’s “East” racing mark and North Kish Cardinal mark was substituted for the Kish Light.

When this course was first published Dublin Port requested that South Burford not be used as it meant that the fleet would be crossing the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) at South Burford. To comply with their request, ISORA has now created a permanent virtual mark, “ISORA Dublin” mark, just south-east of South Burford. It is now intended that this virtual mark will be used for all future ISORA races, acting as a Turning mark for boats entering or leaving Dublin Bay. It is also proposed that all TSS’s will be no-go areas in future races.

ISORA courseThe above course provided a 30-mile race

The wind at the start was as forecast – 4-7 knots north-easterly. The start at 08.00 was provided by NYC’s Barry MacNeaney and Grainne Ryan at the DBSC’s Pier Mark.

ISORA Coastal raceA packed 21-boat start line in a light easterly for the Viking Marine Coastal Race start on Dublin Bay Photo:

coastal race ISORAFive minutes after the start Frank Whelan’s “Eleuthera” (second from right) was the first to break from the pack on Dublin Bay Photo:
The fleet of 21 boats slowly moved east off the start line in a tight reach towards the new ISORA Dublin mark. Frank Whelan’s “Eleuthera” was the first to break from the pack but was soon overtaken by Ben Shanahan’s “Ruth”, Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” and Lindsay Casey’s “Windjammer”. Just south of these, Vincent Farrell’s “Tsunami” was sneaking along toward the first mark.

“Ruth” and “Aurelia” rounded the first mark and hardened onto a beat north toward HYC “East” mark. In an effort to minimise the effects of the tide and to seek stronger winds many of the fleet tacked out to sea while the remainder stayed close to the land. It was on this leg that the wind started to play tricks. On the outer east side of the course, the wind was northeast and varying while on the inside of the course the winds was north-west and strengthening. At one stage boats on each side of the course were sailing the same heading while on opposite tacks!! The stronger winds on the inside were sufficient to counteract the strong tides against those boats close to Howth Head and these boats gained hugely.
These wind conditions changed the whole dynamic of the race and allowed the smaller boats to take control. “Eleuthera” rounded the HYC East mark first followed by George Sisk’s “WOW” and then by “Ruth”. However, “Windjammer” was close by to the leading pack.

The leg to North Kish was a run south in the ebbing tide. When the first of the fleet rounded North Kish they had to beat for the ISORA Dublin turning mark and towards the finish line while the boats further back took advantage of another massive wind shift and they had a fast reach past the turning mark to the finish line.

While “Eleuthera” took line honours, “Windjammer” took the Overall win and Class 2. Second place went to another Class 2 boat, Leslie Parnell’s “Black Velvet” and Class 1 “Ruth” took third place. Class 0 boats only managed to get on the leader board at 9th position with Paul O’Higgins' “Rockabill VI”. Sean Hawkshaw’s “Wardance” took Silver Class. 

After the race, many of the crew headed to the National Yacht Club for the usual “Apres Race”.

On the same day, a coastal race was held in Pwllheli. At this stage in the series Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” is just ahead of “Rockabill VI” in the leadership table for the Wolf’s Head. 

The Race Organiser for Race 4 was Grainne Ryan. Anita Begley was Safety Officer. The finish was automatically recorded using the YB trackers.

The next race is the second Offshore of the season and takes place on Saturday 25th May with an 08.00 start from Dun Laoghaire. The original race schedule was for the start to be in Holyhead and finish in Dun Laoghaire but Holyhead was unable to accommodate the start. The start and finish is now in Dun Laoghaire and it is hoped that the race will be 60 miles.

Full results and the YB tracking of the race are on the ISORA website here

Published in Viking Marine
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Dun Laoghaire sailors will get a double helping of coastal races this month with Viking Marine's ISORA coastal fixture set for next Saturday, a week after DBSC's own coastal race held on Saturday, results here.

The 40-mile ISORA race will have a start at 0955 and a finish off Dun Laoghaire Pierheads and the course will be announced on Thursday.

It is the second of five races in the Viking Marine Coastal Series from the National Yacht Club.

As Afloat readers will recall, Storm Hannah led to the cancellation of the first coastal of the season and a fortnight later Royal Irish's Paul O'Higgin's took early honours with a win for Rockabill VI in the first offshore of the season into Holyhead.

In Wales, the ISORA fleet in Pwllheli will sail the second of four races in the Global Displays Coastal Series on Saturday that is billed as 'one long bay race'.

Published in ISORA
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The first offshore race of the ISORA Offshore Championship 2019 took place on the 4th May with a starting time of 08.00. 19 boats from the entry list of 20 came to the start line in Dun Laoghaire writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan

The course was decided early by the Racing Committee due to the long term forecast of northerly winds. The forecast promised gusty and cold conditions in the Irish Sea. With Races 1 & 2 blown out due to Storm Hannah on the previous week, the fleet needed some “comfort racing” conditions. It was decided that the race would be from the start, direct to the finish in Holyhead harbour leaving South Burford to Port – approximately 55 miles.

Rockabill Windjammer 1557The J97 Windjammer alters course to make the pin end of the start line off Dun Laoghaire Photo:

The weather forecast for Race 3 was predicting northerly 15-20 knots however the winds picked up in the afternoon and veered more north-easterly.
The start at 08.00 was provided by NYC’s Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power at the DBSC’s Pier Mark. Difficulty in distributing trackers to boats at the line caused the race to be postponed for 5 minutes.

ISORA Dublin Bay 2029The forecast promised gusty and cold conditions in the Irish Sea

Sigma 33 ISORA 2075Great sailing at the start of the first ISORA offshore race of 2019 Photo:

Technical issues arose with some boats even before leaving Dun Laoghaire harbour. Paul Sutton’s new J109, a replacement for “Pipedreamer” that was damaged on the Holyhead marina failure, developed a slight rudder problem and he decided to pull out of the race. Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s, “Mojito” form Pwllheli, the current ISORA Champion, developed a rig issue just at the start and also had to retire.

Early in the race John Hughes “Rebellion” and David Bolger’s “Lady Rowena” retired and returned safely to Dun Laoghaire.

Those less experienced with offshore racing would suggest that the course selected would just be a “soldier’s race”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The direction of the wind tested crew who attempted to fly Code 0s. The apparent wind direction was too far forward for those boats on the rhumb line to fly anything but a jib. Decisions had to be made whether pushing up north of the rhumb line early to allow the use of the Code O later in the race also taking into account the strong south going tides that will be present as the fleet approached Holyhead.

ISORA Race 2108The course selected suggested a 'solider's race' but that is not what transpired as the fleet closed on Holyhead Photo:

As the fleet crossed the Irish Sea, Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” led the way followed closely by Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia”, Brendan Coughlan’s “YoYo” and Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”.

Jackhammer J125 ISORA 1598Andrew Hall’s J125 Jackknife Photo:

The lead position on IRC changed constantly during the race amongst these four lead boats. However, it was “Rockabill VI” ability to fly a Code 0 for the last hour and a half of the race that got them over the line to take the race Overall and Class 0.

Rockabill JPK10.80 ISORA 1693Rockabill VI's ability to fly a Code 0 for the last hour and a half of the race that got them over the line to take the race Overall and Class 0 Photo:

YoYo Sunfast3600 ISORA 1722Brendan Coughlan’s Sunfast 3600, YoYo Photo:

Aurelia J122 1987Chris Power-Smith’s J122, Aurelia Photo:

Class 1 was won by Nigel Ingram’s “Jetstream” and Class 2 was won by Irish Offshore Sailing’s boat “Desert Star”. They also took the two-handed prize.

Nigel Ingrams J109 Jetstream 1904Class One winner, Nigel Ingram's J109 Jetstream Photo:

After the race, many of the visiting boats tied up at the Holyhead Sailing Club who had put on entertainment for the arriving crew.

The Race Organiser for Race 3 was Grainne Ryan. Anita Begley was Safety Officer. The finish was provided by Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club.

The next two races, as part of the Viking Marine and Global Display Coastal Series, are on the 18th May. These ware coastal races with one starting and finishing in Dun Laoghaire and the other in Pwllheli. It is hoped that great numbers will take part in these races as “champagne sailing conditions” have been booked for the events.

Full results and the YB tracking of the race are on the ISORA website here

Rockabill JPK10.80 ISORA 1628Paul O’Higgins' Rockabill VI Photo:

Published in ISORA
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Race No 3. in the 2019 ISORA Series is on this Saturday 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead where a warm welcome awaits after the devastation there following Storm Emma in March 2018. 

This is the first of the 'Offshore' qualifying races and the forecast is good - well better than last weekend when Storm Hannah disrupted Race 1 (cancelled) and Race 2 (postponed)!

The course for Race 3 will be published this Thursday 2nd May and it marks the return of the fleet to the North Wales Harbour.

Supplemental Sailing Instructions are downloadable below.

Holyhead MarinaThe ISORA finish line shall be a line between the green light at the “centre elbow” of the Holyhead breakwater and the Quarterdeck of Holyhead Sailing Club, bearing approximately 226(T). Boats should keep clear of the rocks immediately inside the end of the breakwater

ISORA's Hon Sec Stephen Tudor has issued an appeal to the fleet for last entries. "We urge everyone who have not yet entered to do so. The entries will affect the class splits - so please enter now" 

The online entry form is available here.

Published in ISORA
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Due to the uncertainty of the track and conditions of Storm Hannah, the ISORA Sailing Committee have decided to cancel Race 1 scheduled for tomorrow morning.

It was a difficult decision for the Sailing Committee, drawn from all sized boats from both sides of the Irish Sea, but the safety of crew and boats is of paramount important to ISORA.

Race 2 will be rescheduled for another weekend as that Global Display Coastal Series has only 4 races, with 3 to count. The Viking Marine Coastal Series had 5 races with 4 to count. This will be amended to 4 races with 3 to count.

The next race will be the offshore next Saturday 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead.

Published in ISORA
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Viking Marine will sponsor the ISORA Coastal Series again this year for the third year running writes Ian O'Meara.

I have always loved offshore sailing. To this day, I remember my first offshore in 1980 onboard Barry O'Donnell's Oyster Yacht 'Sundowner'. Great sailing and great fun brings out the best in all of us. 

As Afloat previously reported, the Coastal series kicks off this weekend and I will be onboard Paul and Finnoula O'Higgins' JPK 1080 'Rockabill VI'.

The 2019 series promises to be an exciting one with ISORA and Afloat keeping everyone up to date on racing Instructions and results.

Wishing everyone a great series and stay safe. On that note, Spinlock has launched the new Deckvest Vito Offshore 170n Hammar Lifejacket at €260.00 and with harness €289.95

VITO Front side three quarter webDeckvest Vito Offshore 170n Hammar Lifejacket

If you need any assistance with safety equipment for the Coastal Series please do pop into us.

Editor's note: It's clear that Ian O Meara's love for Oyster Yachts continues, this year O'Meara was appointed the Oyster Representative in Ireland

Published in Marine Clothing
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ISORA has a full and exciting schedule of races in its 2019 series with a total of 16 races which will include the two Coastal Series, Night Races and, of course, its traditional Offshore Races. The series has been designed to combine with many top-class regattas and the classics races in the Irish Sea catchment area.

The 2019 series starts with the Viking Marine Coastal Races in Ireland and the Global Display Coastal Race in Wales, both on Saturday 27th April.

The coastal race weekend will be followed by the first Offshore race on 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, an important return after the storm disaster there in 2017.

ISORA have again this year teamed up with other races in the Irish Sea and arranged the racing so that deliveries are minimised. This includes the Classics; Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (D2D) and the 100th edition of the Liverpool to Douglas Midnight Race.

The Royal Dee Yacht Club, in conjunction with ISORA are running the RDYC Irish Sea Offshore Championship again this year as part of the VDLR. This includes the Race from IOM (Race 9) and the four coastal races in the VDLR.

ISORA has also been working with ICRA to set up a good programme of day offshore races that will be exciting. Quite a lot of effort and planning has been made to offer boats that are more interested in offshore day racing a quality programme of demanding day races. More Information about the ICRA Championships (7th - 9th July) here.

The full ISORA 2019 Schedule of 16 Races is available downloadable below as a pdf.

Published in Offshore
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Save the dates 9 to 11 August 2019 in your calendar for the Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championships, which promises a long weekend packed full of great racing and fun ashore

Once again the Welsh Nationals have been selected as the Welsh leg of the RC35 class Celtic Cup, won in 2018 by Irish boat Storm.

The Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre in Pwllheli looks forward to welcoming sailors from across the UK and Ireland for racing in the world-renowned waters of Cardigan Bay, with the majestic backdrop of the mountains of Snowdonia and the rugged coastline of the Llyn Peninsula.

The championships will feature two separate race courses, one for the IRC fleets and Sportsboat class and a separate course for the Cruiser class, so there will be something for everyone.

The Notice of Race and entry form are now available online. IRC certificates are not required at this time, only basic details and general information about your boat.

All entries made before Thursday 31 January will be included in a super early-bird prize draw with Spinlock goodies to be won.

Events pontoons will once again be available for use before and during the championship without any additional charges. Book your space now in the entry form.

Berthing will also be available for boats competing in the ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on Saturday 27 July for those who wish to leave their boat in Pwllheli ready off the IRC Championships.

This year the camping facilities at the academy will be available for participants. Bring your campervan or caravan to set up your base camp right on the venue site. More details and online booking can be found on the Plas Heli website.

There will also be a limited number of bunk beds available on on a first come, first served basis. Details about this added facility will be circulated to entered boats first.

Organisers will arrange shore storage so that your delivery sails, life-rafts and associated gear can be stored for the duration of the event. Please indicate on the entry form if you would like shore storage.

And of course, there will be a full social programme ashore. Details will be circulated by e-newsletter and published on the official championship website in due course.

Published in ICRA

The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association has a long and varied history extending back to the 1930s writes W M Nixon. For although ISORA, as we know it today, was inaugurated as recently as 1972, it is directly descended from the North West Offshore Association, which in turn emerged from the Mersey & North Wales Joint Offshore Committee. That, in turn, was spun out of club groupings which ran events like Tranmere SC’s annual Midnight Race to the Isle of Man from the Mersey, and cross-channel races – traditionally at Whitsun – from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead or the Isle of Man run by the Irish Cruising Club.

As the new organisations developed from the old, they either inherited existing trophies for long-established events, or else new trophies were donated. Either way, over the years it has been vitally important that the inscriptions on the trophies are kept up-to-date for the annual prize-giving, because it is surprising how often written records can go missing, and so the trophies themselves become integral to knowledge of the history of the Association.

Thus it came about that at the recent ISORA 2018 Prize Giving in the National Yacht Club, Darryl Hughes – owner, skipper and restorer of the immaculate and keenly-sailed 1937 Tyrrell 43ft gaff ketch Maybird – was surprised to be called up to the stage to receive ISORA’s Penmaen Plate. For although Maybird had gallantly participated in several ISORA events – including the historic Midnight Race – she and her enthusiastic crew had not knowingly won anything under even the most benign imaginable corrected time system, and for good measure, their season was to include setting the longest time ever for a finisher in the Round Ireland Race.

j24 pathfinder2Philip Watson’s J/24 Pathfinder II, winner in 1978 of what is now the Penmaen Plate. Photo: W M Nixon

But all became clear when ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan announced that the Penmaen Plate goes to the boat which best expresses the “true spirit of ISORA”. And he added that if you asked the officers and committee to define the spirit of ISORA, they couldn’t do it, but they knew it when they saw it, and they saw it very clearly indeed in the Maybird approach.

However, when you’re dealing with a bunch of canny Dubliners and shrewd Welshmen and hard-headed north of England folk, you don’t get owt for nowt, and Darryl Hughes had no sooner got used to the idea of this unexpected but very welcome honour than Stephen Tudor, ISORA’s Pwllheli-based Hon Sec, suggested that as he’d have the trophy for the winter, they’d be much obliged if he could record the names of all the winners over the years, as they seem to have gone missing in ISORA records, and the Penmaen Plate had been used for several purposes since it first became part of the Irish Sea and St George’s Channel sailing in 1966.

It sounds perfectly simple. But to begin with, nowhere on the trophy does it even say that this is the Penmaen Plate. Originally, it was an anonymous silver salver presented by N V Smith in 1965 to Pwllheli Sailing Club for an annual award for outstanding seamanship, and the early listings reflect this. But in due course it became part of the ISORA lineup, and it was particularly associated with one of the great men of Pwllheli and ISORA sailing, Anthony Jones of the Nich 30 Mererid o Lyn.

The word “convivial” is inadequate to describe Squire Jones. He was a one-man 24-hour party, with the pre- and post-race gatherings at his hospitable manor house of Penmaen in the heart of Pwllheli a long-established part of the ISORA way of life. And when Pwllheli finally acquired its marina in 1993, the Squire was particularly well pleased, with the celebrations that night at Penmaen becoming epic regardless of the fact that we’d all to race back to Howth next day in what was also an RORC Race.

penmaen house3Squire Jones’s convivial abode – Penmaen House in Pwllheli was the setting for some of ISORA’s greatest parties.

Such days are now long gone, but they were great days while they lasted. When Anthony Jones died, the salver became the Penmaen Plate in honour of his memory, and in recent years instead of being for a specific race or set of results, it for this intangible yet very real “Spirit of ISORA”.

The names of the winners from the racing times, and the awardees under the new regime, will ring bells a-plenty for old Irish Sea racing hands. If only Cass Smullen were still with us to give us the full lowdown on the stories of all these people and their boats…….


1966 C D Yapp Nida III
1967 E A Burnham Vreny
1968 R M Seal Allegro
1970 H J Hart NBN* (No Boat Name)
1972 I&A Holton Eastwind
1973 J C Wallwork I’m Alone
1975 A J M Jones Mererid O Lyn
1976 G J Hickton A La Carte
1978 P&G Watson Pathfinder II
1979 R Fitzgerald Ella Trout II
1980 A W H Cowper Stargazer
1981 I J Poole Feanor
1983 G R E Evans She Of Lleyn
1984 JH&HS Morris Grenade
1985 D&N Maguire Demelza
1986 C M Hill Banga Wanga
1987 F F Wilson Impulsif
1989 BJ Cox& J Morris NBN*
1990 BJ Cox&J Morris Greased Lightning
1991 D Hughes Shy of Lleyn
1992 H S Morris Grenade
1993 U Taylor Megalopolis
1994 C Foley Stormbird
1995 A Hall Jack Hammer
1996 D Cummaford Converting Machine
1997 HS & CS Morris Grenade
1998 J T Little Keep on Smiling
1999 D Cummaford Converting Machine
2000 A Hall Jack Hammer
2003 D Cronin White Rooster
2005 Julian & Sue Wells Storm Force
2006 Matt Tucker Crazy Puffin
2007 M Craddock NBN*
2008 Liam Coyne Tyred Dreamin
2009 J Roberts Quite Correct
2010 R Mossop Yahtzee
2011 J Roberts Quite Correct
2012 M Creedon Sarnia
2013 K Szymanski Polished Manx
2014 L Coyne & B Flahive Lula Belle
2015 Simon Byrne Yahtzee
2016 D Matthews Pleione of Dee
2017 C Howard (AJ) Wanderlust
2018 D Hughes Maybird

From the days when it was still a racing award, we note that the first Irish winner in 1978 was sailmaker Philip Watson, who raced with business partner Kieran Jameson in the J/24 Pathfinder II in the days before the Fastnet storm disaster of 1979 - with its subsequent increase in stability requirements - made J/24s ineligible for offshore races.

lula belle4Liam Coyne & Brian Flahive on their way to the Two-Handed victory and many other trophies in the 2014 RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland race. Photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson

Then in 1985 Neville Maguire with the Club Shamrock Demelza won the Penmaen Plate – the year before, he’d been ISORA overall champion, and had also done well in the Round Ireland race, while his son Gordon became the 1984 Irish National Windsurfing Champion. Busy family, the Maguires….

In 2008 when it was still purely for racing in ISORA, the name of Liam Coyne comes up for the first time. But when it appears again in 2014, it’s the Penmaen Plate in its modern guise, and he and Brian Flahive are awarded it for their storming performance in the gale-wracked Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with the First 36.7 Lula Belle.

Thus you can be awarded the Penmaen Plate for a diversity of achievements. But as Peter Ryan says, you know the spirit of ISORA when you see it, and Maybird is a worthy winner.

maybird sailing5The keenly-campaigned 1937–built 43ft Tyrrell of Arklow ketch Maybird is reckoned to have best represented the “Spirit of ISORA” in 2018

Published in ISORA
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The annual November awards ceremony of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association is a highlight of sailing’s social calendar, a convivial gathering of friendly rivalry from both sides of the Irish Sea. But though 2018’s was staged with the usual black-tie style in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, the top trophy went back across the channel to Pwllheli. Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop had done it again (albeit by the narrowest of margins) with their very actively-used J/109 Mojito, which emerged as top boat when the numbers were tallied after the final race in September.

Published in ISORA
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Page 6 of 32

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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