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The 39th Middle Sea Race starts on the 20th October 2018. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of this remarkable offshore race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club (RMYC) is anticipating its highest entry yet. Some 30 yachts from 14 countries have already registered, well ahead of the usual pace. The record fleet stands at 122, set in 2014, and the RMYC has ambitions to topple this number.

The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of eight yachts cross the start line. Both race and organizing club have come a long way since that time. “This is an important year for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the Royal Malta Yacht Club”, says Commodore Godwin Zammit. “Both club and race have grown enormously in stature since 1968. We are now regularly attracting over 100 boats from all corners of the world. Our proven ability to host a globally representative fleet demonstrates the strength of the RMYC, the extraordinary challenge of the racecourse and the attraction of offshore racing in general.”

"The first race in 1968 saw a fleet of eight yachts cross the start line"

Wishing to celebrate the special birthday, the RMYC is planning a number of efforts aimed at showcasing the rich history of the race, including the boats and people that sailed them, and the charm of the event’s island home. Malta. “We aim to mark the occasion in an indelible fashion,” advises RMSR Organizing Committee member, Georges Bonello DuPuis. “Our first success has been to secure the attendance of Josian, the Swan 36 that won the first race skippered by our club president, John Ripard. Josian’s current Italian owner, Eugenio Alphandery, was enthusiastic to return her to the scene of her most famous victory.” Reuniting former owner Ripard and Josian on Marsamxett Harbour will surely be an emotional highlight of the event.

Coincidentally, Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race will feature strongly in the calendar of events supporting this initiative. The Valletta 2018 mission nicely reflects an essential spirit of the race: “When you live on an island, the horizon always holds the promise of new and exciting connections to be made, while the shore draws you back home to a wealth of detail that’s just waiting to be explored.” A key feature of the Rolex Middle Sea Race has been its ability to capture the imagination and to draw crews back time and again to participate. Each race is different, each participation adds to the experience. George David, who has taken Line Honours five times and hold the current course record, is forthright in his appreciation. Shortly, after crossing the finish line in 2017 he remarked: “This is the best racecourse in the world. It’s already on our calendar for 2018.”

As usual, the RMYC is looking forward to welcoming the perennial mix of professional and Corinthian crews, those making a welcome return as well as those on their first appearance. Currently, the most spectacular entrant is Nikata, the JVNB 115, which at 35-metres will be the biggest boat ever to start the race. Josian and Swedish entrant, the J/111 Blur, at a mere 11-metres provide a striking contrast. Other entries of note include the German Maxi72 Momo and the double-hander, Mandalay, which boasts Austrian two-time Olympian and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp as one half of its two-man crew.

Published in Offshore
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After five races (and three race wins) at the Les Voiles de St-Barth 2018 Regatta, Michael Cotter's Windfall from Dun Laoghaire was the winner of the Maxi two division earlier this month.

There was some close combat between Dutch Maxi Aragon and Windfall and at the start of the final race both boats had an equal number of points.

Cotter's Southern Wind 94 is a Carbon built Maxi

“A sense of déjà vu,” noted Olivier Douillard, tactician aboard the Marten 72 belonging to the Verder and Van Nieuwland famliies, who found himself in exactly the same situation as during the 2017 edition, and hoped that this time the game would be his to win.

No such luck. The victory ultimately went one more time to Royal St. George's Michael Cotter and his Windfall team.

Results are here

Published in Offshore
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With just over 13 weeks to go to the start of the 2018 edition of the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht race, 37 boats have already taken advantage of the Early Bird entry rates writes W M Nixon. But the Early Bird offer closes this coming Friday, 30th March - if you’re interested in taking part in the history-making 20th Round Ireland, get your booking under way now here.

As it is, a quick scan of the current confirmed entries reveals a decidedly eclectic list of notable boats. Dun Laoghaire-Dingle 2017 runner-up, the ISORA all-conquering J/109 Mojito (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop, Pwllheli) is game for the complete circuit, while Chris Power Smith’s J/122 Aurelia, another ISORA stalwart, is also going again.

The keenly-campaigned veteran Swan 65 Desperado of Cowes (Richard Loftus) is adding the Round Ireland to her list of battle honours for the second time, and the first signs of the Open 40s making a race of it (they find the Round Ireland suits them particularly well) is there with Ari Kaensaekoski’s Fuji.

Another veteran Swan, this time Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, is doing the race for the first time, but she’s well known on the RORC circuit as sailing for Ireland, and was a notable performer at the front of the fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017.

Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017 winner Rockabill VI, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80, is going again, but this time with 2016 Class Winner Mark Mansfield of Cork in the crew, while the veteran French Volvo 65 Libertalia is game for another go. And as for boats which are currently top of the rankings in Irish sailing, the sister-ship of “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam!, Brendan Coughlan’s recently-acquired YoYo, has also signed up.

Round Ireland 2018 Entries at March 27

303 Black Louis Mulloy
Andante Keith Miller
Arthur Logic John Tyrell Prue Walsh
Aurelia Chris Power Smith
Baraka Niall Dowling
Bellino Rob Craige
Desert Star Irish Offshore Sailing Ronan O Siochru
Desperado of Cowes Richard Loftus
Fireball Chris Clark
Forward Thinking Tony Martin
Fuji Ari Kaensaekoski
Fulmar Fever Robert Marchant
Hydra Henrik Bergesen
Jaasap Pasternak Nicholas
Jangada Richard Palmer
Laura Richard Stain
Libertalia Team Jolika, Jean Francois Levasseur
Lynx Clipper David O Connor
May Contain Nuts Kevin Rolfe
Maybird Darryl Hughes
Mojito Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox
Olympia's Tigress Susan Glenny
Patriot John Lubimir
Pegasus Of Northumberland Ross Hobson
Petasus Al Smith
Phosphorous II Mark Emerson
Platinum Blonde Paul Egan
Playing Around Ken Docherty
Pomeroy Swan Paul Kavanagh
Port of Galway Yannick Lermonner
Pyxis Kirsteen Donaldson
Rockabill VI Paul O'Higgins
Sherkin 2 Ronan O'Siochru
Tribal Liam Burke
Trilogic Hugo Karlsson-Smyth
Wild Spirit Paul Jackson
Yoyo Brendan Couglan

Published in Round Ireland
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Britain's Ocean City, Plymouth, has won the bid to host the start of the next edition of The Transat in 2020, the first and oldest single-handed transatlantic race in history.

The iconic and historic port on the Devon coast, which has a rich history of staging prestigious professional sailing events, will host The Transat for the second time in succession, having welcomed the race at the start of the last edition in 2016.

Race owner and organiser OC Sport has confirmed a start date of the 10th May 2020 for The Transat. The race is the successor, for professional sailors, to the original solo race across the North Atlantic that was born as the OSTAR in 1960 and which featured legends like Blondie Hasler and Sir Francis Chichester.

Hervé Favre, Offshore Sailing Event Director at OC Sport, commented: "The Plymouth City Council bid was extremely strong and we are delighted to be starting the 15th edition of this iconic race from its historic home.

"In the last edition in 2016, Plymouth provided the ideal launching platform for the race. The world-class boats were right in the heart of the city, we received fantastic support from local businesses while attracting thousands of people to the free-to-enter public race village."

The 3,500-mile quadrennial race across the North Atlantic has a fearsome reputation and is regarded as one of the toughest professional solo ocean races. It is a challenge dominated by the progression of low pressure systems sweeping across the North Atlantic that produce the headwinds that define this classic race.

In 2016, Frenchman Armel Le Cleac'h took an impressive win in the IMOCA 60 class aboard Banque Populaire, in a time of 12 days, 2 hours, 28 minutes and 39 seconds. For Le Cleac'h, The Transat proved to be the ideal training ground for the non-stop round-the-world race, the Vendée Globe, which he went on to win later that year. "The Transat is difficult because it is the only race that crosses the North Atlantic in this way. So we are against the prevailing winds which makes the course demanding and difficult," he commented.

"It holds very good memories for me. In 2008, arriving second in the IMOCA was good and in 2016 it was my first solo victory in the IMOCA class. So it is important to me, it's a legendary race and a great race."

Commenting on Plymouth as a start city, Le Cleac'h continued: "The start from Plymouth was exceptional in 2016. The locals and visitors welcomed us warmly and we loved that they do so with great pleasure. There is a passion for boats there, the sea and everything marine related.

"The week in Plymouth is a great celebration and it motivates us for the race, all of us are driven by the enthusiasm of the locals. It is an ideal place for the start of this legendary Transatlantic race."

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture at Plymouth City Council, said: "Plymouth City Council is delighted to be working with OC Sport to host the start of the 15th Transat race in 2020. As Britain's Ocean City, Plymouth has a rich maritime history and is deeply connected with the sea. We are proud to have been the starting point for this race every year since its inception in 1960; it epitomises the spirit of adventure our city is famous for."

Charles Hackett, Chief Executive of Mayflower 400, said: "Plymouth is at the heart of the upcoming 400th global anniversary commemorations of the Mayflower journey in 2020, so it is fitting that we welcome the return of The Transat race, an endeavour of sailing the Atlantic which links the UK and the US, in the same year."

Racing classes invited to take part in The Transat 2020 edition include the breathtaking Ultime multihulls measuring anything from 51-feet and above, Class40 monohulls (40ft) and Multi50 multihulls (50ft). They will line up on the start in Plymouth Sound alongside the ocean's monohull thoroughbreds – the IMOCA 60s (60ft), the world's leading solo class as part of their official race calendar, that will go on to contest the Vendée Globe later that year.

Skippers competing in The Transat will also be guaranteed a place on the startline of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in 2022. The single-handed transatlantic race, which is also owned and organised by OC Sport, has an entry limit of 120 boats, and due to the huge demand, a full startline is expected.

The start in Plymouth will be preceded by an official Prologue from Brittany, giving sponsors, media and VIP guests the opportunity to join the solo sailors as they race across the English Channel to the start line.

The host city for the finish of the race and the prologue location will be confirmed at a later date.

Published in Offshore
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It’s highly likely that a trial Olympic offshore racing event will be run in tandem with the 2020 Sailing Olympiad in Tokyo in 2020, and one proposal which seems to have traction is that a boat similar to the Figaro will be used, and raced two-handed by a mixed male-female crew writes W M Nixon.

Whatever shape the future Olympic offshore format takes, such a development is bound to move parts of the current world offshore racing scene towards a more formalized training structure for young sailors. And for offshore racing high-flying hopefuls of limited resources, it may ultimately offer the seemingly attractive prospect of funding becoming available though official sources.

Yet equally it will require commitment and a defined career path which could be a whole world away from the current varied scene in Ireland where young people – some of them surprisingly young – find a genuine enthusiasm for offshore racing happily fulfilled by crewing aboard a sailing school or family boat, or racing with skippers who know that a dedicated and talented young offshore sailor, recruited through the always busy sailing grapevine, can be a real asset, often with true skipper potential.

But how far does such talent want to go in pursuing offshore sport? When 20-year-old Erwan le Draoulec won the 2017 Minitransat by a significant margin last November, while his win wasn’t unexpected (even if it gave further proof that you don’t have to be through your mid-20s to have super-human stamina), his reaction was something of a surprise. He’d sailed the very wet little boat to the absolute limit, he’d done the job very well indeed, yet he’d no hesitation afterwards in saying that it was a very stressful and definitely not enjoyable way to cross the Atlantic, and that in the future some time, he would hope to make the crossing in a more thoughtful style which fully appreciated the very special qualities of the great ocean.

erwan le draoulec2Youngest-ever winner. 20-year-old Erwan le Draoulec at the finish of the Mini Transat, November 2017

Such an outcome, reflecting one result of the uniquely French approach to dedicated offshore programmes with a high-powered training structure though classes such as the Mini-Transat and the Figaro, tell us why Irish solo sailors such as Tom Dolan from Meath, and Joan Mulloy from Mayo, have concluded that the only way to advance their careers is to commit to the French system, and both now sail in the Figaro network through which Damian Foxall and David Kenefick also progressed.

But there’s an all-or-nothing element to that dedicated Gallic approach which inevitably involves living in France, and is at variance with the underlying Corinthian ethos in Irish sailing, with its wholesome friendly atmosphere, and the fact that we enjoy sailing with family and friends, and being based here.

It can be argued, of course, that if we’re going to produce sailors in any discipline who are going to achieve top level international success to Olympic level, then we have to produce athletes who are as tough-minded and self-reliant as they are talented and physically able, and have to accept that they should be prepared to go anywhere and everywhere to pursue their goals.

But not everyone necessarily aims that high, and it would be a very unhealthy state of affairs if they did. Certainly they wish to do well in their chosen branch of the sport, but it’s at a civilized level, and for these junior offshore racing aspirants, Ireland is a happy hunting ground.

Yet by the very nature of the offshore sport, you cannot have children’s and youth boats which would be the offshore equivalent of the Optimist or the International 420 - anyone who thinks the Mini Transats are kids’ boats clearly has never sailed one.

So in a variety of ways, active berths have to be found for younger people on grown-up boats, and some of these younger people are very young indeed. One of the stars of 2017 may have been 17-year-old Lorcan Tighe of Dun Laoghaire, who played a key role in the Irish National Sailing School’s class win with the J/109 Jedi in the Rolex Fastnet Race, for which he was made Sailor of the Month for September 2017. But he was already building on past experience – at the age of 16, he’d been bowman on Peter Hall’s Beneteau 34.7 Adelie in the Volvo Round Ireland 2016 from Wicklow.

adelie wicklow3Noel Butler (on helm) and Lorcan Tighe (then aged 16) on Peter Hall’s First 34.7 Adelie. Photo: David O'Brien/Afloat.ie

lorcan and ronan4Further recognition. Lorcan Tighe with National YC Commodore Ronan Beirne and the Commodore’s Commendation Award for his 2017 Fastnet Race performance

And as a result of highlighting his achievement, we were quickly informed that several younger sailors had done the round Ireland, with a name quickly mentioned being that of Susan Shanahan of the National YC who was actively offshore racing as crew for her father Liam – stalwart of ISORA, the Round Ireland and the Dingle race - from the age of 12, for in these races there’s no lower age limit, although full Parental or Guardian permission is of course required for those under 18.

At the other side of the country, the legendary Dillons – father and son Derek and Conor from Foynes – were and are a formidable force offshore in double-handed racing with their Dehler 34 The Big Deal, and Conor was making an impact at the age of 14, while another Shannon Estuary sailing family, the McGibneys of Tarbert – were introducing youth sailors to the offshore game from an early age.

Derek conor dillon5Shannon talent. Derek and Conor Dillon from Foynes provide a notable example of different generations racing offshore together.

In fact, the extraordinary range of family crews bringing “cradle sailors” along to take part in offshore races from a very young age put us into new territory. For at what age does a child aboard an offshore racer start graduating into an active crew member? It’s when you try to put a figure on it that you realise that mere chronological age is a very crude measure. Every young sailor is different, and someone who is already a natural at 14 can be a much more useful crew than an able-bodied but less experienced 20-year-old.

It’s probably in Cork that they know more about when cradle sailors develop into real offshore crew members and skipper material, with family sailing and racing being so much part of the fabric of life that it’s seen as something so natural that it’s scarcely worth any special comment. But for sailors from elsewhere, it really is impressive when you see a mighty sailing clan like the O’Learys of two or more generations putting in a campaign where seniority is no matter of natural respect on board – it’s how much of a useful input you make into the boat’s successful functioning that counts.

One noted skipper who brings a special dedication and insight to family involvement in offshore racing is Liam Coyne of Dun Laoghaire, who with Brian Flahive won the two-handed division and several classes in the Round Britain & Ireland Race of 2014 in the First 36.7 Lula Belle.

lulabelle rbi6Rough going. Lula Belle at the start of the Round Britain and Ireland Race 2014. Photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson

lulabelle isora7Gentler going. Katie Coyne aged 10 aboard Lula Belle during an ISORA Pwllheli-Dun Laoghaire Race. Photo: Liam Coyne

That was one mega-rugged 1,800 mile event for the two men. Yet in home waters, Liam’s approach is strongly family-oriented, and over the years he has used the ISORA programme to introduce his three kids – Billy now 13, Katie who is 11, and Isabel 8 – to offshore sailing, firstly through taking them along on delivery trips when very young indeed, and then in actual races.

Thus young Billy won the Douglas Award aged 11 for being the youngest competitor in the ISORA trio of races focused on the Isle of Man, and then last year at 12 he was the youngest competitor in the decidedly tough Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, and saw it through to the finish.

lula belle fastnet8Shipmates. Billy and Liam Coyne put the Fastnet astern during the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017

Being at mid-fleet, by the time they reached the Fastnet the weather was easing, and that gave them a sunlit father, son and Fastnet photo to cherish. But the best was yet to come, as the weather now changed completely for the better. For a ten-day return cruise to Dun Laoghaire from Dingle, the racing crew took off home overland, and Liam and Billy were joined on board by Katie and Isobel for the four of them to have a sunlit port-hopping idyll back home along an Irish coast looking it best.

Another seasoned and thoughtful observer of the way young people move up through Ireland’s offshore racing structures is Noel Butler. Originally a man of the west, his sports were surfing, rock-climbing and fishing, but there was so little surf around in the good summer of 1995 that he returned to sailing which he’d briefly tried a few times before at the Outdoor Centre at Killaloe on Lough Derg.

This time he was hooked, and in classic Butler style he went at it 100%, so much so that when the two-man Laser 2 was all the rage around the turn of the Millennium, he took it up with such dedication that he won the Laser 2 Worlds in 2003, making him Ireland’s Sailor of the Year 2003.

yellow brick9The ubiquitous Yellowbrick Tracker – the mirco-chip used in it was designed in Dublin by the company where top helmsman Noel Butler works.

That in turn gave him such a good reputation as a helmsman that he is never lacking in offers of berths at the driving end of all sorts of boats, and offshore racing has become his passion. He brings an analytical mind to it - after all, he works with the company in Dublin which designed the micro-chips which are at the heart of the Yellowbrick trackers – and his comments on racing offshore with younger people who have proven themselves in dinghies, but find much great fulfillment offshore on open water, are illuminating:

“Having watched them take the boat by the scruff of the neck and “send it” in big breeze and big seas off Donegal, I for one appreciate the skills they are developing. I didn’t come up through the official “junior sailing world” myself, and am starting to experience it now with my own two kids (aged 7 and 9) sailing Optimists in the programme at the National YC. That’s ultimately aimed towards inshore racing, moving up in boat size. But with that for my family, and with my own experience of seeing more senior juniors such as Lorcan Tighe, Alexander Rumball, Jemima Owens and Oisin Cullen move into the keelboat and offshore game, I see the pluses and minuses of the varied experience of different types of sailing.”

Adelie skellig10The ocean experience – Noel Butler at the helm of Adelie with Skellig Michael astern during the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016

This “varied experience” is regularly available in Ireland thanks to our tradition of family sailing, while organisations such as WIORA, SCORA and ICRA provide direction for young people looking to test the keelboat experience. But for full introduction to the genuine offshore scene, the Irish National Sailing School and Irish Offshore Sailing in Dun Laoghaire make a formidable contribution, while ISORA is in a league of its own.

kenneth rumball10aKenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire skippered the J/109 Jedi to the class win and victory in the Roger Justice Trophy in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. Many Irish offshore racing boats now have INSS “graduates” in their crews

The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association is guided by Peter Ryan of Dun Laoghaire with such patient skill and success that it could be a template of how to do such things. His own modest approach to it is surely part of it all. Far from claiming to be an offshore racer from boyhood, he quips: “I was an old man of 20-22 when Liam Shanahan Senr dragged me out of the snooker room in the National YC to go offshore racing on his DB2s Lightning – Liam was his own unique and very effective press gang. I’ve been well and truly hooked on offshore racing ever since, and it’s a great encouragement to me that so many young people – some of them very young – are getting a taste for racing offshore thanks to ISORA”.

peter ryan11Peter Ryan of ISORA was “press-ganged into offshore racing by Liam Shanahan Senr”.

So there is a sort of informal junior training programme within contemporary offshore racing. It’s just not highly visible because there’s no such thing as a junior offshore racing boat. But doubtless as the years go on, the “programme” will become more developed, as it already is with the sailing schools.

That said, the present setup has considerable charm. It’s intensely personal, it’s friendship and family-based. But if offshore racing is brought within the Olympic circus, then a high profile part of it will acquire an entirely different status. It will become official. It will become easy for governments to recognise its existence. It will become inevitable that, for some sections of the sport, a strict training and qualification and grading system will come into being, making it ultimately a section of sailing developing for a new elite.

Irish offshore sailors will view that with mixed feelings. For there really is something special about the way the system – such as it is nowadays – works quietly and so well in its unobtrusively effective way.

Published in W M Nixon
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Less than a fortnight after he’d been declared the Afloat.ie/Irish Sailing/Volvo Sailor of the Year 2017 in Dublin, Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club was back on the podium in Antigua, having been declared runaway winner of Class 3 in the RORC Caribbean 600 2018.

Fogerty had experienced exceptionally heavy weather when he achieved his outstanding solo success of 2017 in winning the Gipsy Month Trophy in the OSTAR with his Sunfast 3600 Bam!. But far from being sunlit therapy to counteract memories of that experience, the 2018 sailing of the RORC Caribbean 600 was the toughest yet in all its ten years. However, Fogerty and his crew of Howth clubmates battled on to a huge class win and an exceptionally good overall placing for the second-smallest boat in the fleet in what was undoubtedly a big-boat race.

conor fogertys bam2Conor Fogerty’s Bam! during one of the gentler stages on her way to a very clearcut win in Class 3 in the mostly rough RORC Caribbean 2018

Published in Sailor of the Month
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George David’s magnificent Rambler 88 has added further lustre to a career of remarkable success by taking line honours and setting the new course record for the RORC Caribbean 600 by a margin of more than two hours this morning writes W M Nixon.

In 2011, when he was racing Rambler 100, David had set the previous record of 1 day 16 hours 20 minutes and 2 seconds in what seemed like wellnigh perfect conditions. But continuous and often vigorous northeast tradewind conditions this year gave Rambler 88 the edge, and she finished at Antigua at 01:21:45 local time in the small hours of this morning to set a new record of 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds.

Unlike their Volvo Round Ireland Record in 2016, when there were no mono-hulls of comparable size chasing the winner, Rambler’s crew will not have to wait too long to see if she continues to hold the IRC Championship lead. She gives time to the American-owned Volvo 70 Volvo Warrior, which is just 28 miles from the finish and sailing to windward on the final leg at a VMG of 14.5 knots, though with barely enough time available to challenge Rambler 88.

The overnight IRC leader, Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, has now slipped to fourth overall as the German 56-footer Varuna has moved ahead to third in what is still very much a big boat race.

Thus the larger of the two Howth entries, the Michael Wright-chartered IRC 46 Pata Negra, has continued to improve through the night, and now lies 10th overall and second in Class 1. Kevin McLaughlin’s J/44 Spice, with NYC crewmen Will Byrne and Chris Raymond, is third in Class 1 and 12th overall.

Conor Fogerty’s 36ft Bam! (HYC) the smallest boat in the race, is punching above her weight at 13th overall, and leads Class 3 by an hour. But she still has 289 miles to race, facing the challenge of just how long this record-making nor’east breeze will last.

Race tracker here

Published in RORC
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George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 crossed the finish line in Antigua on Wednesday 21st February at 01:21:45 AST in an elapsed time of 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds, setting a new monohull race record.

Meanwhile, Paradox, Peter Aschenbrenner's American 63' Trimaran crossed the finish line in Antigua at: 00:55:16 AST on Wednesday 21st February 2018 in an elapsed time of 1 day, 13 hours 5 minutes and 16 seconds taking Multihull Line Honours in the 10th edition of the race.

Published in RORC
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Gregor McGuckin (31) is attempting the gruelling feat of becoming the first Irish man to sail non-stop single handed around the world using no modern technology in the upcoming Golden Globe Race.

In 150 days, Gregor will set sail from Les Sables D’Olonne, France in what is one of sailing’s most extreme races. Competitors are restricted to 1960s technology meaning no GPS, no FaceTime, no iPod and no Kindle.

As one of the youngest competitors, Gregor will compete against 24 other sailors using just a compass, the moon and stars to guide him around the world.

“To be the first Irish person to sail around the world solo non-stop will be an amazing achievement, but I wholly believe that I have skill and determination to win the entire race,” said McGuckin. 

Only 200 people have successfully sailed solo around Cape Horn, but for Gregor the biggest challenge will be surviving 270 days alone at sea and making sure that his boat can withstand the treacherous conditions.

Certainly, McGuckian, if he can complete the voyage, will join the ranks of few Irishmen to complete the solo circumnavigation – with stops and without – as Afloat.ie has previously reported here

Side Profile Full sailGregor’s boat is a Biscay 36 Ketch, which is one of the most competitive models permitted.

“The greatest challenge will not only be surviving without seeing another human being for nine months but finding the funding to make sure my boat is competitive as possible and can withstand the most extreme of storms.”

Gregor will have to carry all his food for nine months and find ways to catch rainwater to drink. He’ll have a sealed box with GPS in case of emergencies, but if he opens it he’ll be instantly disqualified.

There will be no communication with the outside world, only occasional communications with boats within radio distance and a weekly check in with the race centre.

2018 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Golden Globe Race, and only the second time in history that such a race has been attempted.

The new Colin Firth movie 'The Mercy' (released next week) is based on the original Golden Globe Race and follows the tragic tale of Donald Crowhurst. See a trailer for the movie here.

Gregor McGuckin HelmingGregor McGuckin at the helm of his Biscay 36 ketch

Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is a solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world sailing race via the three Great Capes of the Southern Ocean.

2018 marks the 50-year anniversary and the second running of the Golden Globe Race when Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

This once-off event is unique as race entrants are restricted to using boats and equipment similar to that which was available for the original race in 1968.

During the race Gregor will navigate 30,000 miles solo non-stop without any GPS or other electronic instrumentation and will spend approximately 270 days at sea.

On completion, Gregor will become the first Irish person to complete a non-stop, solo circumnavigation of the world.

Gregor McGuckin

Raised in Goatstown, Gregor began sailing when studying Colaiste Dhulaigh. Originally a passionate windsurfer, Gregor moved to Mayo to pursue a career teaching watersports to children.

In 2013, Gregor moved to the south coast of the UK to train as a commercially endorsed Ocean Yachtmaster.

He’s logged approximately 50,000 miles as a yacht delivery skipper crossing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans many times.

At 31, he will be one of the youngest participants in the Race and will be one of only 200 people who have sailed solo around Cape Horn.

Out the water Gregor wavingGregor alongside his 36–foot ketch in Malahide

McGuckian's Boat

Gregor’s boat is a Biscay 36 ketch, which is one of the most competitive models permitted.

Currently, it is in Malahide Marina, Dublin and is being put through rigorous preparation and trials to ensure it is prepared for the journey ahead.

Published in Solo Sailing
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The Atlantic Anniversary Regatta is the first ever regatta series with two Atlantic Ocean races in both directions. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV), based in Hamburg, Germany. The first part of this extraordinary series was completed in December 2017 with the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada. The final part of the race series will see the fleet race 3500 nautical miles from Bermuda to Hamburg, starting on 8th July 2018 and it looks like top two sailors in the 2016 Round Ireland Race are favourties in the Anniversary Race too. 

For the Bermuda to Hamburg race, George David's American Maxi Rambler 88, is the hot favourite for line honours but his Wicklow challenger from two years ago, Eric de Turckheim in a new 54ft  Teasing Machine will also be in contention.

“The great attraction is to be racing on the ocean for so many days, and we have had good results rewarding our efforts, including two records and three fleet firsts.” Commented George David. “The NRV was the host club for Rambler 90s first transatlantic in 2007, and the club set a high bar for organization and hospitality, and we are confident of the same in 2018. The big challenge is keeping the boat together while still going fast. The best advice I can give newcomers to the race; be totally prepared for anything that may happen and sail safely.”

In three different yachts, all called Rambler, George David has raced west to east across the Atlantic on three occasions. In 2007, Rambler 90 took line honours in the HSH Nordbank Transatlantic (11d 16h 13m 59s). In 2011, Rambler 100 took line honours in the Transatlantic Race, establishing a race record (6d 22h 08m 2s). In 2015 Rambler 88 completed the Transatlantic Race winning IRC One (7d 16h 54m 46s). This will be George David's sixth transatlantic race in both directions.

Over 30 teams have expressed their interest to race from Bermuda to Hamburg, competing for Line Honours and under the IRC, ORC and ORCsy rating systems as well as one design Classes like IMOCA and Class 40. Confirmed entries include top performers from the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race: Overall winner, Eric de Turckheim's Teasing Machine. Winner of the ORC Division, Outsider skippered by Dr. Harald Brüning. Winner of IRC One, Hamburgische Verein Seefahrt's Broader View Hamburg, and winner of the Class40 Division, Mathias Müller von Blumencron's Red.

Published in Offshore
Page 2 of 30

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