The Royal Cork Yacht Club has been sailing on Cork Harbour for the past 300 years and while boats and their crews are currently unable to take to the wonderful waters of Cork Harbour due to COVID-19 a little plan was hatched by the RCYC Keelboat Committee to bring the Keelboat Racing online and host the first Keelboats Digital Virtual Regatta.
Nigel Young of North Sails Ireland kindly came aboard to sponsor the inaugural RCYC Keelboats North Sails April Digital Virtual Regatta which will formally commence on Thursday the 9th of April and run for four weeks. Last night, in advance of the league commencing, a series of one practice race followed by six races was hosted and sponsored by North Sails to allow sailors to get used to the online system.
Commenting on the evenings racing Nigel Young says “In these uncertain times we find ourselves in North Sails are delighted to support initiatives like this that keep our sport alive. Not only that, but it was also great to see my family fully engaged in that online fun. I think what the results show is that some of the club's top sailors spend too much time playing computer games”
Using the app Virtual Regatta Inshore ® 20 of RCYC Keelboat members logged onto the racecourse from the comfort of our own homes and lined up on the start line. The boat for the evening was to be “Day Sailor” which are very similar to j70s with windward-leeward courses to be sailed for the evening.
The evening’s race schedule was to mirror that of the upcoming league commencing on the 9th of April with one practice race followed by six races with discards every 6th Race. The regatta was hosted by the Rear-Admiral of Keelboats Daragh Connolly and communication was done via a WhatsApp group. VHFs were also used by some of the racers to add to the occasion. It is rumoured, however, this remains unproven to date, that Donal Hegarty, who was at the helm of Azar for the evening, was fully geared up at home with Oilskins and buoyancy aid being worn for the duration of the races.
From the first gun of the practice race, it was clear that there was a mix of sailors with a number of very competitive sailors (well used to the online platform) and a few new entrants to the online sailing world. Racing was very close all over the course with meters separating the boats. Tom McGrath proved Nigel Young’s earlier comments correct by showing everyone his stern for the race and taking line honours with comfort in the practice race.
Race one began with a strong start from Killian Collins on ‘Red Shift’ followed by Cian Jones on ‘JellyBaby2’ and Daragh Connolly taking 3rd on ‘Yanks $ ffrancs’. In race two, JellyBaby 2 took line honours followed closely by James Young with Tom McGrath completing the podium. The following four races were very close battles with the competitive spirit coming out in all. Sailors came ashore and it was quickly clear that Killian Collins’ 4 first places on the night make him the one to watch as he won the evening with only 10 points. Donal Hegarty’s ‘Azar’ was in second place with 15 points and Cian Jones on ‘Jellybaby2’ was third on 19 points. There was a strong number of spectators watching the racing which added to the spirit of the event and made it a great evening for both the spectators and the racers.
Next Thursday night will see the start of the RCYC Keelboats North Sails April Digital Virtual Regatta which will run from Thursday 9th April to 30th April. You can log on and watch the racing live with the first gun being 20.00hrs for the practice races, followed by first six races of the league.
Results can be viewed here