Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

afloat headers RORC

Past Irish Victories Recalled as 24th IRC National Championship at Cowes Sets Sail in a Fortnight

26th May 2022
The 24th IRC National Championship will take place in the Solent from 10-12th June 2022 
The 24th IRC National Championship will take place in the Solent from 10-12th June 2022 Credit: Paul Wyeth

One of the pinnacle events of the IRC rating system in the UK will take place over 10-12 June from Cowes and Ireland's past victories are recalled as Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix, is racing in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse.

This year’s edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s IRC National Championship will be its 24th and as usual will feature a mixed line-up of yachts from across the size and age spectrum, allowing the IRC rating system to create a level playing field between them.

World-class PRO, double Olympic Finn sailor and Etchells World Champion Stuart Childerley (and recently appointed J Class Secretary) will send the IRC fleets off on courses around the Solent with up to four races scheduled each day.

The fleet is divided into tightly-banded classes according to their IRC rating to provide the closest possible racing for competitors between yachts of similar performance. The unique format of the IRC National Championship enables any yacht from across the fleet - big or small, old or new - whose crew sails the best, to be crowned IRC National Champion.

"the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland"

In addition to the regulars of the Solent IRC fleet, the RORC’s IRC National Championship represents the ultimate event to which competitors in the well-supported IRC regional events around the UK aspire. It is a great event to measure up to other competitors around the country and for developing crews to sharpen their skills in a friendly and competitive environment. The three-day event also regularly attracts competitors from the opposite side of the English Channel: Géry Trentesaux’s IMX40 Courrier Nord claimed the top prize in 2002, the first foreign yacht to do so, while the syndicate-owned A-35 Dunkerque - Les Dunes de Flandres was joint winner in 2016.

But the nation to have prised the IRC Nationals trophy from British hands the most often has been Ireland: David Dywer’s Mills 39 Marinerscove. It is only one of two teams ever to have won consecutive UK IRC National Championship titles when his team prevailed in both 2009 and 2010 (the first was Justin Slawson’s X-362 The Big Cheese over 2000-01).

In fact, Irish IRC yachts have won the UK IRC National title on four other occasions too: Royal Irish's Colm Barrington’s Ker 39 Flying Glove in 2005; Tim Costello’s all-conquering Mills 40 Tiamat in 2006 and Conor and Denise Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice from Royal Cork two years later. The last Irish winner was RCYC's Anthony O'Leary’s Antix in 2014, whose grey Ker 40 returns this year in the hands of former Commodore and Admiral of the RORC Andrew McIrvine as his latest La Réponse (following his successful First 40 of the same name now on Dublin Bay).

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” observes McIrvine, who has been a regular competitor at the event since it was first held. “The Solent of course is internationally-recognised as one of the most complex and interesting places to race - so the combination remains very attractive.”

“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth“The IRC National Championship remains the most important inshore event for IRC-rated boats in the UK,” says Andrew McIrvine, whose Ker 40 La Réponse (Anthony O'Leary's former winner, the Ker 40 Antix) will be taking part Photo: Paul Wyeth

Derek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick TomlinsonDerek Shakespeare's J/121 Bulldog previously won the IRC National Champion title twice Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Lena Having's Corby 33 Mrs FrecklesLena Having's Corby 33 Mrs Freckles Photo: Paul Wyeth

Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Adam Gosling's JPK 10.80 Yes! won IRC Three in the 2021 IRC Nationals and will be back to retain their title Photo: Paul Wyeth

As usual, the RORC is attempting to be inclusive, by encouraging female and youth participation in its championship. If an IRC Nationals crew includes at least two women or under 25-year-olds (or one of each), then two extra crew can be added to the maximum number of the crew stated on their yacht’s IRC Certificate (with no weight restriction).

While the majority of IRC National Champions have been the latest and best race boats, this is not always the case. In 2017 it was the turn of the 1939 classic Whooper of leading racing yacht engineer Giovanni Belgrano to claim the title.

Since then J/Boats have enjoyed considerable success. When the IRC Europeans temporarily replaced the IRC Nationals on the Solent in 2018, it was the J/112e of France’s Didier le Moal that came out on top.

Most recently the IRC National Champion title has been won twice by the J/122 campaigned by Stuart Sawyer’s Falmouth-based team, Black Dog - first in 2019 and then again in 2021. While Sawyer isn’t returning this year, his boat is, now renamed Bulldog and campaigned by the RORC’s Treasurer, Derek Shakespeare.

“The IRC Nationals is a very prestigious event and something a lot of very good teams strive to win,” maintains Shakespeare, who recently achieved his first success with his new-to-him yacht when she won IRC One in the RORC’s De Guingand Bowl. 

Despite the provenance of Bulldog, Shakespeare is under no illusion of his prospects in two weeks: “I wouldn’t be as arrogant to assume that we are going to go and win the IRC Nationals with a newish team - we are not expecting to reach those heady heights straight out of the box. We have a nice mix of ages and experience on the boat. We are campaigning both inshore and offshore this year whereas I believe Stuart was more of an inshore specialist. For us the IRC Nationals will be an important measurement of our progress.”

Published in RORC
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

THE RORC:

  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000

At A Glance – RORC 

RORC Race Enquiries:

Royal Ocean Racing Club T: +44 (0) 1983 295144 E: [email protected] W: http://www.rorc.org/

Royal Ocean Racing Club:

20 St James's Place, London SW1A 1NN, Tel: 020 7493 2248 E: [email protected] 

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating