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Race One of Royal Cork's AIB Autumn League 2020 Starts This Sunday

25th September 2020
Brian Jones' Jelly Baby is last year's IRC One Autumn league winner. The J109 crew is defending its title on Sunday in Cork Harbour Brian Jones' Jelly Baby is last year's IRC One Autumn league winner. The J109 crew is defending its title on Sunday in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Perhaps the most accurate form guide to Sunday's first race of the Royal Cork Yacht Club's AIB Autumn League is the club's own Naval Race fixture last weekend that was raced over a coastal course for the combined Crosshaven fleet. 

The rebel county series takes on extra significance this Sunday in Cork Harbour for cruiser-racing fans due to the complete absence of Dublin Bay racing activity due to the COVID-19 Level Three shutdown in the capital.

RCYC is hoping for a 50-boat turnout but this opening weekend it may be shy of that total as the 1720s are racing separately. From an early entry list seen by Afloat, it looks like there will be two boats in Class Zero, seven in Spinnaker One, five in Spinnaker Two and up to 19 boats in the White Sail division, a similar turnout to that achieved for September's Naval Race (35) and the Cobh-Blackrock Race (36) before it.

Ian Hickey's Cavatina, a Granada 38, is racing in Spinnaker Two divisionIan Hickey's Cavatina, a Granada 38, is racing in Spinnaker Two division Photo: Bob Bateman

Of course, late entries from the Kinsale Yacht Club cruiser fleet can still swell the Autumn League ranks and some are already expected including Cian McCarthy's Sunfast 3300, Cinnamon Girl.

As Afloat reported previously, AIB’s support of Cork300 is continuing through to the Autumn Series for five Sundays, commencing September 27th and concluding on October 25th. 

Cian McCarthy's Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl is expected to enter the RCYC Autumn SeriesCian McCarthy's Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl is expected to enter the RCYC Autumn Series Photo: Bob Bateman

Naval Race's coastal course

Many of those who raced to the Sovereigns in the Naval Race will be racing again in a series that is also part of SCORA's Inshore League that will also feature two coastal races as part of its schedule.

The Naval race Spinnaker division sailed a course around the Sovereigns while the White Sails sailed around the Outer Cork Harbour Buoys.

The spinnaker fleet had a strong wind downwind leg to the Sovereigns, followed by a tough beat back to Robert's Head, with a fetch home from there, a race of nearly four hours duration.

Nieulargo, the Grand Soleil 40,  has been a champion performer this seasonNieulargo, the Grand Soleil 40, has been a champion performer this season Photo: Bob Bateman

Battle of the sailmakers

In a season where Denis Murphy's Nieulargo, (with Doyle Sails' Nin O'Leary calling the shots) has been all-conquering, it was suddenly all-change in the Naval fixture as the Grand Soleil 40, was bested by Ronan Downing's Half Tonner, Miss Whiplash. Miss Whiplash, sailing with keelboat Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield of Quantum Sails onboard, won on IRC by 3 mins 40 from Nieulargo. Brian Jones' J109, Jelly Baby was third with Barry Hayes of UK Sails aboard. 

Hats off - Half Tonner Miss Whiplash was the Naval Race winner over a coastal courseHats off - Half Tonner Miss Whiplash was the Naval Race winner over a coastal course Photo: Bob Bateman

The battle of the sailmakers is likely to resume in the spinnaker division on Sunday with Mansfield, at least, staying with the Miss Whiplash crew plus the addition of Maurice O'Connell of North Sails joining the fray as skipper of Jump Juice in the absence of Conor Phelan. North Sails will also have Nigel Young sailing onboard Frank Caul and John Molloy's Grand Soleil 37, Prince Of Tides, the White Sails division winner of the Naval Race. 

Frank Caul and John Molloy's Grand Soleil 37, Prince Of Tides Photo: Bob Bateman

With plenty of dirty bottoms visible during the Naval Race, there's been a good deal of pre-series boat bimbling activity ashore this week.

Mike McCann's Etchells 22, Don't Dilly DallyMike McCann's Etchells 22, Don't Dilly Dally Photo: Bob Bateman

Michael McCann's potent Etchell's 22 Don't Dilly Dally was seen ashore at Salve Marina. Jump was seen on the slings in Crosshaven.

Jump Juice on slings in CrosshavenOn the road - Jump is transported in slings on a laneway at Crosshaven this week before making her splash for Sunday's AIB-sponsored series. The 14-year-old yacht is a veteran of the 2006 and 2008 Rolex Commodore's Cup. Skipper Prof O'Connell says he has pulled together a young, relatively inexperienced crew (with the exception of John Sisk) for the Cork Harbour end of season event

Half Tonner Cortegada returns

George Radley's Cortegada who has spent the summer in the shed undergoing modifications is expected to make a return to the water this weekend. The half-tonner has been undergoing a rebalancing that includes moving the mast aft and, according to Barry Hayes, the new configuration should be 'very quick'. 

It is understood the Kinsale-based Quarter Tonner Runaway Bus will not compete in the league this year.

Making up for this, in part, however, is a relatively new arrival to Cork Harbour, George Radley Jnr and his crew on Creamy Beam, a vintage Sadler 25 that featured in Tom MacSweeney's recent podcast here.

George Radley Jnr and his crew on Creamy Beam, a vintage Sadler 25Sock it to 'em - George Radley Jnr and his crew on Creamy Beam, a vintage Sadler 25, racing in the Cove to Blackrock race with a novel class flag (below) displayed Photos: Bob Bateman

Longstanding white sails participant Shelly D had to be taken out at Rossbrin in West Cork with drive trouble recently. It means that after 40 years of participation in the league, Michael Murphy's Moody 30 is unlikely to compete in 2020.

Denis Byrne's Cracker, a Trapper T250, was the Spinnaker 2 IRC in the 2019 league and also a class winner in this year's Cobh to Blackrock RaceDenis Byrne's Cracker, a Trapper T250, was the Spinnaker 2 IRC in the 2019 league and also a class winner in this year's Cobh to Blackrock Race Photo: Bob Bateman

Harbour courses

Most of the Autumn Series racing is scheduled to take place in Cork Harbour or its approaches under laid marks or round the cans courses with two races per day and three for the 1720s, subject to weather.

Appendix A of the Sailing Instructions shows possible race start locations 

Racing takes place within three groups; Group A is for Class Zero, Spinnaker One and Two, B is for the 1720s (the sportsboats start with their Munsters this weekend at Monkstown Bay) and then Group C for Whitesail One and Two.

Kieran O'Brien's MG335 Magnet was the White Sails IRC 2 winner in the 2019 league but then dismasted in the club’s winter league a month later Kieran O'Brien's MG335 Magnet was the White Sails IRC 2 winner in the 2019 league but then dismasted in the club’s winter league a month later Photo: Bob Bateman

Health Declaration

As part of the sailing instructions, competitors are required to complete a Health Declaration online in advance of taking to the water. This is a once-off form here and required from each sailor in advance of competing. The sailors are required to complete the same once and only submit a second form if answers change. 

Light southwesterly winds are forecast for the first race.

Sailing Instructions are downloadable below

Published in Royal Cork YC
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