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Displaying items by tag: Offshore

With 138 miles to go to the finish of the first leg at Aviles in northwest Spain, Ireland’s Tom Dolan is coping well with the vagaries of the summer winds of the Bay of Biscay in the Mini 650 Transgascogne from Les Sables d’Olonne writes W M Nixon.

In the early morning, Gregoire Mouly in Ganesh looked to have done well from his long lone port tack to the west after yesterday’s start. But the heavy brigade of rock stars which had gone south on starboard in search of stronger winds have been paid off twice over, as they found breeze, and it has markedly freed them.

Thus they’ve spent the morning hunting down Ganesh, and at lunchtime Mouly was only a third of a mile ahead of the inevitably successful Erwan Le Draoulec in Emile Henry. But Tom Dolan is very much of this hunting pack, as he’s barely a mile astern of Le Draoulec, yet is fifth in class,

This is a reminder that although the MiniTransat 650 stars are solo sailors, they go even better if there’s another boat or two nearby to pace and push them, forcing them to up their game that bit more. By contrast, for a long period Gregoir Mouly had only himself to race against, and though he still cannot see the hounds on his trail, he’ll know from the AIS that within an hour they’ll have overtaken him on their more southerly route.

Tracker chart here

Published in Solo Sailing

Ireland’s solo sailor Tom Dolan currently lies a close 8th in the Mini 650 class in the Trans Gascogne Race 2017, which started yesterday from Les Sables d’Olonne writes W M Nixon. A two-stage event across the southern half of the Bay of Biscay to Aviles in northwest Spain and back, the outward race had been originally intended to include a dog-leg course to take in Belle Ile off southern Brittany as a northern turning mark. But light winds saw the organisers shortening the route to a direct line, which immediately provided the fleet with difficult tactical choices beating into light southwest winds.

Yesterday evening it seemed initially to have paid to keep to the right, with Gregoire Mouly in Ganesh (FR 893) holding the lead well to the west of the main body of the fleet. But most of the top-ranked bulk of the fleet chose to hold on starboard from an early stage in the hope of finding stronger winds further south, and after a brief stab to the westward on port tack, Tom Dolan in Still Seeking A Sponsor (IRL 910) also took up this tactic.

This morning Ganesh still leads with a clear 8.7 mile gap on the next boat. But all the boats between second and tenth are within a mile of each other, with IRL 910 currently showing one of the better speeds, albeit at only 5.6 knots with 173 miles still to race.

Race tracker here

 

Published in Solo Sailing

Rounding Ballycotton Lighthouse on Saturday afternoon was satisfying, after a long beat from Crosshaven in the restored Royal Cork Ballycotton Race.

Over the 15-mile course which took about three hours a Northerly breeze veered through to an Easterly whisper and then - nothing. Coracle set the pace from the Grassy start line. As the course pulled rounded Roches Point the Easterly wind kicked in intermittently. Altair hugged the coast and as the white sails of Loch Gréine, Plumbat and Luna Sea followed this line those flying spinnakers no long benefited from the big sail. Passing Power Head the fleet split with the majority heading out to sea to avail of a tidal push while Altair and YaGottaWanna hunted breeze and wind lifts inshore.

As the fleet closed on Ballycotton Lighthouse Altair pulled a lead over Coracle, rounding Ballycotton Island and heading for the finish in what was becoming a very soft breeze, Coracle and YaGottaWanna rounded as the wind died further, with Loch Gréine and the kites of Cavatina and Scribbler II edging to the finish line. Plumbat and Luna Sea, in whitesail. without the option of a kite and no wind had to retire.

Ballycotton sailingRelaxing in Ballycotton after the sailing

Results: IRC – 1st Altair (K.Dorgan/J.Losty); 2nd Coracle (Kieran Collins); 3rd Ya Gotta Wanna (David Lane/Sinead Enright). ECHO – 1st Loch Gréine (Tom/Declan O’Mahony); 2nd Scribbler (Tom/Cormac MacSweeney); 3rd Cavatina (Ian Hickey). Gas Rigs Trophy/ECHO and Paddy and Peg Walsh Trophy/IRC– Altair. Jim Donegan Trophy, Best Family Boat – Coracle.

This is a race which was traditional and the RCYC Cruiser Classes are interested in getting more boats involved in coastal racing. It has invited those interested, boatowners or potential crews to make contact with the club.

Published in Royal Cork YC

The Lyver Race, after the postponement from the 30th June, took place on Friday 21st July writes Peter Ryan, Chairman of ISORA. The race is also an ISORA, RORC and a qualifier for the Fastnet Race. While 32 boats had entered the race for the original date, only 13 boats came to the start line in Holyhead last Friday.

The weather forecast for the race was for light to moderate southerly winds to back to westerly during the night and early morning. There was also strong tides.

The race start was provided by Liverpool Yacht Club committee boat at the Clipera buoy outside Holyhead Harbour. The course was as follows: Start - TSS Area (P) – M2 (S) – Rockabill (P) – Kish Light (S) – South Burford (S) and Finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire – 100 miles.

The area of the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) was identified by a series of coordinates and all boats were to keep out of this area.

 The downwind start saw “Rockabill VI” and “Jackknife” making a clean start and leading the fleet north in a light easterly breeze. Immediately behind these were the three J109’s “Sgrech”, Mojito” and Jedi”. These boats continued to match race for the entire 100 miles.

Rounding the top of the TSS the fleet were still under spinnaker as they headed towards M2. On this leg the fleet split with “Jackknife” and “Rockabill VI” taking a southerly route and the other maintaining a more northerly line. Even after the M2 the fleet were still under spinnaker and as the fleet approached Rockabill it was evident that the northerly line was paying off. The winds remained south easterly and had not backed as forecast.

“Jackknife”, although first around Rockabill, had not made sufficient distance from the following fleet and “Mojito” followed next and was leading the fleet. At that stage only three boat lengths serapated “Mojito” from “Sgrech”. “Jedi” had fall a small distance behind.

The leg to the Kish was a fetch against the tide. On this leg “Sgrech” just managed to inch in front of “Mojito” and rounded the Kish ahead of them. The last leg in towards Dun Laoghaire was a full run in slackening easterly winds and against the now ebbing tide.

“Jackknife” took line honours and Class 0 IRC but only managed 4th Overall IRC. “Sgrech” managed to hoild the slight lead into the harbour, finishing just 2 minutes 26 seconds ahead of “Mojito” but enough to give “Sgrech” the Overall IRC Win and Class 1 IRC. “Elandra” took Class 2. In ECHO, “Jackknife” took Overall and Class 0 while “Sgrech” too class 1 and “Elandra” took Class 2. Full results can be found on www.isora.org

The wind by “Sgrech” reduces “Mojito”’s lead in the Overall Wolf’s Head series. However with “Mojito” heading off the compete in the Fastnet Race, they will miss the next offshore on the 5th August and their lead may reduce even further. All this opens up the competition and may develop a repeat of last year when the Overall Series was dependant on the results of the last race. The last Offshore is the Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire race on the 9th September.

The presentation of the Lyver Trophy and RORC medallions will take place at the ISORA dinner in the National Yacht Club on the 11th November.

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

Taking on the dominance of the Dun Laoghaire J109 offshore fleet on its home waters and winning is no mean feat. Winning skipper Paddy Gregory of the Beneteau First 34.7 Flashback (owned by Don Breen and David Hogg) recalls last week's victory in Dun Laoghaire Regatta's biggest class, the 31–boat offshore division and believes 'attention to detail' and a strong desire to win got the Howth Yacht Club crew over the line first.

We’ve all heard the term, “That’s Yacht Racing”. It’s a sport where the factors out of your control such as the weather, shifts, Gods, planets, rabbit-feet etc must all align to yield a result. All we can ever do is try and do the best with what we can control and go for it.

If I was to sum up this year’s event in a word I would say, ”tough”.

Flashback ISORA Beneteau 34.7 1896Yards from the harbour finish line and overall 2017 VDLR offshore class victory – Flashback's crew give it all they've got. Flashback were also crowned Offshore Champions in the RDYC Jack Ryan Championship as part of VDLR Photo: Afloat.ie

The usual vagaries of Dublin Bay did not disappoint and dished up the expected amount of tidal and wind challenges; in fairness we did get a little more wind than was forecast.
Although extremely frustrating at times the light airs benefited us against the bigger boats. In the last Dunlaoghaire week it was averaging 20knts and we worked extremely hard to place fourth overall in the Coastal fleet.

Flashback began racing in the ISORA Coastal series a few years ago and we haven’t looked back. The growth in the Coastal Class is a credit to Peter Ryan and his team at ISORA, as it goes from strength to strength, evidenced by it now being the biggest fleet at the VDLR 2017.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 FlashbackFlashback coming into finish during the first offshore race of Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: Afloat.ie

Flashback’s a standard Bruce Farr designed Beneteau First 34.7’ (overall length 32.7’!) that we commissioned in 2006 and we were lucky enough to win our first regatta in Dunlaoghaire that season. In the intervening years we’ve changed her very little, so we’re still using a 100m2 asymmetric spinnaker. We resisted the temptation to buy a larger rudder, which many of our sister-ships have done to help with control, choosing instead to learn how to cope with her eccentricities off the wind in a blow…….plus we saved some money!

About four seasons ago, having seen the trend on winning IRC boats, we decided to try non-overlapping headsails, instead of the 142% overlapping genoas that she was designed with, and it’s fair to say that our sailmaker Philip Watson (who we’ve worked very closely with over the twelve years ) really “nailed” it on his second attempt, and we now feel that she’s a faster boat for her rating than she’s ever been (moving from old rating 1003 to 986).

flashback crewFlashback's winning crew – Photo: Gareth Craig

We’ve been fortunate to have continuity of crew (panel of 15) and we now sail both of the Howth Yacht Club Winter series’ which keeps us relatively sharp when the Spring/Summer returns.

We’re very particular about having her underwater surfaces very clean because we don’t want to have that as an “ excuses to lose”. And we’re also picky about excess weight, so we strip off our cruising gear, such as sprayhood and TV, and keep her water & diesel tanks light before racing in events.

As a testament we moved from fourth in the 2015 event to first in 2017. 2015 was a heavy weather event and we all know what 2017 weather was like!

Flashback's crew were:
Paddy Gregory (Helm)
Don Breen Main (Trim)
Saraha Watson (Box)
Eamonn Burke (Kite trim and back up Bow/Mast)
Dave McGinn (Bow/Mast)
Des Flood (Head sail Trim)
Garath May (Head sail Trim)
Tactics (normally by general consensus!)

Published in Volvo Regatta

Day three of the Volvo WIORA Coast Championships continued off the Aran Island of Inís Mór with the Coastal Race with racing taking place around the spectacular cliffs of the Aran Islands, in fantastic conditions, through the Gregory Sound and in towards the mainland. The 10-12kt northerly breeze provided perfect conditions to surf down the Atlantic swell back through Foul Sounds for Classes 2 and White Sails and South Sound for classes 1 and 2. 

With rocky shores, sandy beaches and a myriad of lobster pots to be negotiated it provided a challenging days racing and quite a contrast to the previous day’s windward leewards.
In IRC 1 Tribal has been knocked off the top of the leaderboard by Glen Cahills’ Joie de Vie sailing a very impressive race. In IRC 2 Stonehaven Racing are holding onto first position while in IRC 3 J24 Gossip from Sligo Yacht Club are continuing their good run and with just one race scheduled for tomorrow have their West Coast Championships secured. White Sails have had a different winner in each race with local sailor from Club Seolteoireachta Arann, Michéal Ó Flatharta on An Tesicinn Mór taking first place.
The Tommy O’Keeffe Memorial will be awarded tonight to the winners of the Class Two Coastal Race, Ian & Ann Gaughan from Mayo Sailing Club on Xena.

Full results here

Published in WIORA
Tagged under

Due to the postponement of the Lyver Race last weekend it has be announced that the Royal Dee Jack Ryan Whiskey Irish Sea Offshore Championship will be decided by the four Offshore Class races of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to take place this week.

All boats entered for the VDLR Offshore Class qualify for the Offshore Championship. Download the flyer attached below.

While the VDLR has only two classes on the Offshore section – IRC and ECHO, the Offshore Championship will have three IRC classes and three ECHO classes.

There will be daily prizes for each class winner that will be presented immediately after the daily VDLR prize giving, to take place in each club. The Overall champions will be awarded two Royal Dee YC Trophies – the “Tide Race Cup” for IRC Overall Champion and the “Mostyn Vicar Memorial Trophy” for the ECHO Champion.

All races can be followed as each boats will have a YB tracker.

Jack Ryan whiskey

Published in ISORA

The 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race overall win was still open to challenge until the leader on the water, Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, had cleared the Fastnet Rock. However, with every mile sailed thereafter, it looked increasingly likely that Rockabill was on track to win every title for which she was eligible. Only a total catastrophic failure of boat or equipment was going to prevent it. But there was no failure of any kind. The JPK 10.80 comes at a significant price premium because this is a clearly defined concept which just doesn’t do boat or equipment failures. W M Nixon tries to pin down why the Dingle win seemed so special.

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. As Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has increasingly found her form in Irish sailing since arriving new from the builders just over a year ago, there’s no lack of people ready to tell you how and why they counselled him to go for an expensive new JPK 10.80, rather than a reasonably-priced second-hand J/109 like so many others.

But as one of Dublin’s leading barristers, Paul O’Higgins is his own man, quiet in demeanor yet thinking on his feet at the speed of lightning, while effortlessly storing any new information in a well-furnished brain. His approach to sourcing a new boat as the 2014 season drew to a close was forensic in its analysis, and the way he picked on a JPK 10.80 before they’d hit the headlines of major success is illustrative of how he functions.

Not being a cradle sailor, he can look at boats in a coldly dispassionate way. He hadn’t sailed at all until he met his future wife Finola Flanagan at College, and as the Flanagans of Skerries were the total sailing family, he soon found himself roped into sailing with his future father-in-law Jack Flanagan on a series of boats all named Rockabill after that distinctive lighthouse-topped rocky islet that is eight miles east of Skerries out in the Irish Sea, an islet big enough to provide a home for Europe’s largest colony of the rare roseate terns.

rockabill image2The one and only original Rockabill is still a couple of hundred miles from the Fastnet Rock. Photo: W M Nixon

From being a visitor who might pull a rope when asked, the daughter’s suitor developed into a crewman, and as his taste for this weird but wonderful sport grew, he became a partner in the continuing succession of Rockabills, going into co-ownership with Jack in a souped-up First 30, Rockabill II.

By 1998, the balance was changing naturally with the passage of time, and Paul was becoming the pace-setter when they moved into a First 33.7 Rockabill III. He was competitive, yet no more naturally able at sport than most. An enthusiasm for playing rugby had been brought to an end by a knee injury, but he can still give a reasonable account of himself on a tennis court. However, it was the hugely complex wind-driven vehicle sport of campaigning a cruiser-racer under fair handicap rules which increasingly appealed to him. Having made the happy discovery that he seemed to be immune to seasickness, he stepped up his level of involvement.

His father-in-law had long since become eligible for the free travel pass, so the stage was reached where Paul bought him out while still with the First 33.7, and then with the turn of the millennium he was thinking of another boat slightly further up the Beneteau range, the highly-regarded First 36.7, and with her he achieved his first significant win in an IRC event.

Professional and family life were at their most demanding, yet somehow he found the time to campaign the First 36.7 Rockabill IV in several significant series and regattas, building up both experience and skills, while at the same time enlarging his circle of like-minded friends to create the kind of crew panel – more than twice the number of actual crew on the day - which is necessary to campaign a serious boat at this level.

With every year, however, the level became ever more demanding, and in admitting to himself that the First 36.7 was no longer cutting the mustard at the heights to which he aspired, he reckoned by 2008 that he needed to be in a Corby, and a new Corby 33 was what he could most comfortably afford.

rockabill v corby3With the Corby 33 Rockabill V, Paul O’Higgins had many successful years. She is seen here racing at the ICRA Nationals 2013 at Tralee Bay. Photo: Robert Bateman

Rockabill V, the Corby 33, became a familiar sight on the circuit, always noted for putting in an interesting and often podium-gaining position, yet almost invariably guaranteed to appear at Calves Week, that amalgam of West Cork Regattas out of Schull early in August, a fun event with an underlying level of quite serious racing which fitted well with the Higgins’ family’s regular summer holidays in West Cork in August.

For a busy man ashore, his commitment to getting afloat as much as possible was remarkable, and his willingness to take part each year in an interesting series of regattas and events saw his crew panel increasing. If you were as keen as Paul O’Higgins, then as a committed panel-member you were going to get sailing. And with first places recorded in various series which ranged from Scotland to Kerry, plus regular participation in Dublin Bay where he sails from the Royal Irish YC, Rockabill V made frequent and regular appearances in the frame.

But by 2014 he began to feel that he’d gone about as far as he could with the Corby 33. She’s a very interesting boat, unforgiving in some ways yet rewarding in others. But nobody would call her luxurious, let alone comfortable. That said, Rockabill V was still winning races. But when a new boat called the JPK 10.80 appeared from a specialist yard in France in the Spring of 2014, his interest was piqued by the fact that she had race potential, yet with her considerable beam, twin rudders, and roomy and comfortable accommodation, was about as different as possible in concept from the Corby.

If he was going to make a change, why not make a complete one? The J/109 seemed an attractive idea, but when the class finally started to take off in Dublin Bay, she was no longer being built. This “new” Dublin Bay One-Design was a class made up entirely of pre-owned boats. Yet Paul O’Higgins had become accustomed to buying from new. Second-hand just wasn’t his thing.

He looked again at the JPK 10.80, and when one of the very first turned up from France to race Cork Week 2014, he was very taken with her despite the fact that in straight sailing, the crew clearly weren’t getting the best from her, while their confusion with Cork Harbour courses compounded their problems.

Paul O’Higgins bided his time until July 2015 when, despite the pressure from the J/109 lobby, he placed an order for a JPK 10.80. It was a decision soon supported by events, with a JPK 10.80 winning the Rolex Fastnet overall in August 2015, and then in December a JPK 10.80 cruising the Pacific was briefly taken out of her cruising reverie, kitted out with racing sails by Gery Trentesaux’s Fastnet-winning crew, and promptly went out and won her class in the Sydney-Hobart Race.

Yet perhaps the best thing of all about having placed his order back in July was that it entitled him to visit the new factory near Lorient where the boat was being built. He went there a number of times, finding it an inspiring place of exceptional cleanliness and precision, while the dedication of designer Jacques Valer and company founder Jean Pierre Kelbert set the tone.courier du leon4The JPK 10.80 Courier du Leon winning the Fastnet race a month after the order had been placed for Rockabill VI

Thus although the situation is that an order placed today for a new JPK 10.80 would mean delivery no earlier than the very end of 2018, they are not enthusiastic about taking on extra staff to speed up production. They feel that not everyone would immediately share the JPK ethos, and the current workforce size and output is probably optimal.

jpk 1080 aloft5The JPK 10.80’s beamy hull shape with twin rudders was a whole world away from the narrow deep Corby concept.

jpk 1080 layout6The accommodation is surprisingly roomy and comfortable for a boat which has now added the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race win to overall victory in the Fastnet and a class win in the Sydney-Hobart.

It may be frustrating for someone who is keen but hasn’t yet made the commitment, but for those already on the ladder or with a JPK 10.80 sailing and winning, it serves to keep the boat’s value very high. You don’t buy a JPK 10.80. You invest in one.

But when Rockabill VI first arrived in Ireland early in the season of 2016, the light airs of her debut event, the ICRA Nationals at Howth, didn’t suit her initial configuration of small sails planned to fit into the preferred IRC Rating band for the best racing in Dublin Bay.

However, for the Round Ireland Race 2016 later in June, she was at her sparkling best for the fast run up the west coast, and seemed to have a class win in the bag when she hit a localised total calm at Inishtrahull. Rockabill VI and a couple of other boats nearby simply sat there for nearly four hours while the closest competition, the J/109 Euro Car Parks (Dave Cullen), came up from very many miles astern with her own breeze to knock Rockabill off the leader perch. With light airs when beating down the Irish Sea, the under-canvassed JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI failed to re-take the class lead.

So although there were many wins in 2016, particularly when there was a good breeze or lots of high-powered offwind stuff, and preferably both, Rockabill VI was on the money, but through the winter Paul O’Higgins implemented a plan to step up the sail area and take the ratings hit.

rockabill vi dublin bay7Rockabill VI in the totally familiar surroundings of Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

paul on helm8Paul O’Higgins on the tiller as Rockabill VI wins the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire Race 2017
Most observers are confident that it will pay ultimately pay off, yet oddly enough there has only been one major race this year in which its success was clearly demonstrated. The Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire – which she won – was a freed-sheet breezy sprint, while the Dun Laoghaire-Arklow was a calm-bedevilled flukerama. So the only true test was the hybrid ISORA Howth-Lambay-Poolbeg race on June 3rd, in which the ISORA fleet sailed Howth YC’s Lambay Race in a gesture to Howth Regatta, but then continued on through the finish line to finish at the Poolbeg Y&BC line as a gesture to the Dublin Port Riverfest.

Hybrid or not, it demonstrated that Rockabill VI’s new configuration was a race winner, but after that there was little opportunity for any further testing before the National YC’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle race got under way at 1900hrs on Wednesday June 14th.

We’ve carried at least a dozen continuing reports on Afloat.ie, so there’s no need here to tell you of the ins and outs of a classic race, but what was it like on Rockabill VI, which so convincingly won?

By this stage in a sailing career which has been going on for nearly 35 years, Paul O’Higgins has a trusted crew panel of between 15 and 20 centred on Dublin or Cork upon whom he can draw, and putting together a campaign team of eight for the Dingle Race neatly drew the balance between who was available, who was really keen, and those whose abilities would best complement the core squad which was emerging.

Topping the list was Paul himself and his son Conor, while regular helmsman Mark Pettit was also in from the start. The other main helm became Peter Wilson, whose skills on the tiller or wheel are legendary, and he also brought the kudos of having been a key member of the crew with which Richard Burrows won the very first Dingle Race in 1993 with the Sigma 36 Black Pepper.

Central to the crew was Ian O’Meara of Viking Marine in Dun Laoghaire, who in addition to knowledge of equipment and considerable sailing skills, is married to Jacquie Marsh who heads that very special catering setup, The Butler’s Pantry. Rockabill VI raced with a balanced selection of pre-prepared meals from The Butler’s Pantry, and when feeding time came around, they feasted like kings in the remarkable comfort which this very exceptional boat is able to provide.

Through his contacts on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, Ian O’Meara had introduced a recent recruit to the crew panel, Will Byrne who was Captain of UCD Sailing in recent years when they’ve been winning every which way. He has also logged offshore racing experience with the RORC programme in the English Channel each summer, and he brought youth and extra skills to the crew for Dingle.

will byrne9Will Byrne (right) with his new shipmates at the Fastnet. He was a highly successful Captain of UCD sailing and a veteran of RORC events, but had not sailed the Dingle race before. Photo: Paul O’Higgins

Two frequent crew regulars on Rockabill – Rees Kavanagh who knows his way round many boats, and Ian Heffernan who is a professional maritime instructor, made up the total of eight. They were divided into a rolling system of pairing which means that at any one time, there’s always a minimum of four on deck, but proper off-watch spells are guaranteed, as Rockabill VI is laid out in such a way that three people can be fully off-watch and sleeping, yet they’re right up against the weather side of the boat.

This may sound self-indulgent for people who expect to spend a night on the weather rail, but it was part of the formula which contributed to Rockabill’s success. As Paul O’Higgins puts it:

“You really do get a proper little spell of sleep. To begin with, the boat is so well built there is no water finding its way below. Troublesome drips from above are unknown. You won’t find the sleeping bag is slowly dampening from some hidden little puddle. And within the limits of slugging to windward off Ireland’s south coast, she’s as sea-kindly as can be, particularly when you have helmsmen of world quality who know that a banging boat is a slow boat.

But always, there’s the reassurance of knowing how well she is built. She’s definitely not going to fall asunder under you and about you. There’s no better recipe for a refreshing sleep when it’s your turn to be off watch”.

dingle finish10Perfect end to a great race. Summer evening as seen from Rockabill VI heading into Dingle. Photo: Will Byrne

Thus Rockabill VI’s inbuilt advantage over the opposition simply increased as the race went on. Others were giving it best and retired as the going got tough and stayed tough, but on Rockabill, they were on top of it - and enjoying it too.

That said, with the increased rating, they knew that they were vulnerable to any unexpected calm and the constant challenge of the three chasing J/109s, to all of whom they gave quite a bit of time. It was an itch to be scratched .The owner-skipper at his navigation and tactics took to referring to the nearest one, Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito, as Mosquito.....

Yet most of the time, Rockabill was stretching her lead on Mosquito. When she got to the Fastnet towards 1000 hrs on the Friday morning, they’d lengthened it to eleven miles. A celebratory crew photo with the rock in the background was assembled by Will Byrne, but helmsman Mark Pettit, a very serious person, thought such frivolity was premature.

Evidently the Fastnet Rock agreed with him. It served up a slack patch and a very lumpy sea, and for an agonising period their speed dropped to 3.8 knots. But they got clear of its clutches, and the notorious flat at Mizen Head only slowed them back to 4.4 knots for a while.

And then they were gone, piling on the knots in a warm southwesterly which became stronger the nearer they got to the finish. They came past Skellig Michael at 8.8 knots. The last nine miles into Dingle were seen off in less than fifty minutes. They’d won everything by a country mile and then some. After the finish, they were lined up for photos. History was made. Mark Pettit smiled.

rockabill crew11History is made. Mark Pettit (right) is recorded as smiling (well, sort of) at the crew-lineup in Dingle. Others in the photo are (left to right) Peter Wilson, Paul O’Higgins, Will Byrne, Conor O’Higgins, Ian Heffernan, Rees Kavanagh and Ian O’Meara. Photo: Con Murphy
The plans for the rest of the season are very conservative, for this is first and last a Corinthian boat. As a busy lawyer, Paul O’Higgins’ free time is constrained, and he reckons something like a Fastnet campaign is simply too demanding of time, money and other resources when the energy would give a better return deployed in other ways, and his family have always had other ways of being near the Fastnet Rock during August.

So Rockabill VI will return to Dun Laoghaire for DBSC racing, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta preceded by ISORA’s Lyver trophy Race, some other ISORA events, and then full-on participation in Calves Week out of Schull as part of a family holiday in West Cork, when the boat’s excellent cruising potential will also be utilised.

It’s Irish sailing at its best. This is how it should be done. Topped off with the Dingle Race win before midsummer was even upon us, it’s a very attractive balance.

Read our 2017 Dun Laoghaire–Dingle Race Reports in one handy link here

Published in W M Nixon

Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has been piling up the pressure from the front on the chasing opposition in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 writes W M Nixon. She swept up to Skellig Michael at 8.8 knots in the sou’wester around 1730 hrs well in the lead, and then in shaping her course into Dingle Bay with twenty miles to the finish, she was still going good at only slightly reduced speed of 7.1 knots.

Tracker here

On down the line, fortunes have varied enormously, and anyone watching the Tracker has felt helpless as one boat after another wandered into the local flat patch at Mizen Head, with their speed falling right away.

Rockabill D2D 2017The Royal Irish YC Rockabill VI crew on the D2D were Paul O'Higgins, Conor O'Higgins, Mark Pettit, Ian O'Meara, Peter Wilson, William Byrne, Rees Kavanagh and Ian Heffernan Photo: Afloat.ie

The gallant charge of the Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty & David Cagney) came to a virtual halt here. For long enough – or so it seemed - the Two-handed Division leader sat almost paralysed at barely a knot while smaller lighter boats such as Andrew Algeo’s J/109 Juggerknot, which had been right beside her, were able to slip away in the slightest sharpening of the light air and get back up to speed off the mouth of Dunmanus Bay.

But now Soufriere has got herself going again at 1800hrs, and is getting up to speed at 6.8 knots, yet the J/109s around her – with Juggerknot a bit over a mile ahead and Ruth (Shanahan family) much the same distance astern astern – are matching the pace.

Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s leading J/109 Mojito is in turn just under three miles ahead of Juggerknot, but that puts her all of 15 miles behind Rockabill, which has been sailing a remarkable race. But then you’d expect that with helmsmen of the calibre of Mark Pettit and Peter Wilson aboard, the latter having an unrivalled record in this race as he played a key role when Richard Burrows’ Sigma 36 Black Pepper was overall winner of the first dash to Dingle in 1993.

Within classes, the Tyrrell family’s J/112E Aquelina continues in a solid lead in the Cruiser Division, and is midway between the Fastnet Rock and Mizen Head making 6.4 knots on course, while in Racing Division 2, the leader on the water, Irish Offshore Sailing’s Jeanneau 37 Desert Star skippered by the sailing school’s principal Ronan O’Siochru, is currently nearing the Fastnet. However, Ian Hickey and his Cork crew on the Granada 38 Cavatina are close enough astern to maintain their corrected time lead, while Desert Star is second.

We maligned that tough old salt Liam Coyne in the First 36.7 Lula Belle by suggesting in an earlier report today that the Round Britain and Ireland Race class winner had retired into Kinsale this morning. Lula Belle did indeed go into Kinsale Marina at about three minutes to eight this morning, but at 8 o’clock she was heading straight back out again, having presumably made the necessary drop-off of a crewman. Lula Belle is currently pacing along at better than 5 knots between Desert Star and Cavatina, currently lying third in Racing 2 where a right old ding-dong is clearly developing for the top three places.

Further down the line, the two tiny Mini Transat 650s Port of Galway Green and Port of Galway Black are by no means last on the water, and they’re just about in sight of each other and having a real race, with Green (Yannick Lemonnier and DanMill) leading from Black (Marcus Ryan).

At time of writing (1830 hrs Friday) it’s looking hopeful for a daylight finish for Rockabill VI, as she has been logging 7.3 knots tacking downwind, and has just 15 miles to go to the finish. That said, strange things can happen to the winds of Dingle Bay as evening draws on, and even as we finish writing thisdispatch, the leader’s speed has dropped to 6.9 knots...

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Conor Fogerty is making great westerly progress this morning following a windshift last night in the closing stages of the OSTAR Transtlantic Race.

The Howth Yacht Club sailor is vying for overall honours after a storm ravaged crossing. He has 722 mailes to sail is the Gipsy Moth division leader, is second in line honours and second in Ostar division.

Fogerty on board a Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 departed Portsmouth 17 days ago.

Fogerty reports his major concern is that the auto pilot keeps cutting out on him but then restarts and functions as normal.

His shore team say he is 'on full sail and spending most of his time trimming'. He is expecting a bit more wind over the next day and then after that, he may see a little downwind sailing.

Main competitor Vento is sailing well again and at this rate should finish late this evening  to take line honours. From that moment on, BAM will be racing the clock for first on corrected time.

Track Fogerty's closing stages in this race here

Published in Solo Sailing
Page 11 of 33

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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