Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: Conor Fogerty

Conor Fogerty's new Figaro 3 keelboat 'Raw' will be the only foiling keelboat racing at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta next month in the former Sailor of the Year's lead up to August's Fastnet Race. After that, the new vessel stars at the Southampton Boat Show before crossing the Atlantic at the end of September where the foiler will be available for charter in the Caribbean this winter. 

The debut performance of the foiling Figaro 3 'Raw' from Howth Yacht Club in the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race has been the start of what Fogerty is calling a 'rather large learning curve'.

Fogerty entered the 280-mile offshore race last week with a three-man crew and he says they were 'happy enough at times during the D2D with her performance'.

The new BJ Marine supplied Beneteau craft powered down the Irish Sea in the east coast stage of the race but he says the crew were frustrated on the south coast from the Tuskar to the Fastnet Rock when they lost their A2 sail and masthead halyard leaving them to white sail the bulk of the race.

Prior to the D2D race, Fogerty revealed he and UK based-Susan Glenny are looking at the foiling venture as an "intent to commit" to becoming Ireland’s reps for the mixed two-person offshore keelboat event for the 2024 Olympics.

The 2017 Irish Sailor of the Year reckons at this early stage that "it will be hard to race to her handicap, but not impossible", although he also notes that IRC has added a further six points to her rating since the D2D. The formula calculation is now 1.124

Raw Figaro crew 1541Raw Skipper Conor Fogerty (right) with his D2D crew (from right) Laura Dillon, Susan Glenny and Peter Freyne Photo: Afloat

Fogerty says he will continue the learning curve at July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, the ISORA Isle of Man Race leading up to the Fastnet Race.

Raw will then be the showboat at Southampton Boat Show, before heading south for the Canaries and the RORC Transatlantic Race in late September. "She will compete in one of my favourite races, the Caribbean 600" [February 2020].

Fogerty has partnered with LV Yachting to provide race charter in the Caribbean in Raw, with up to six crew spaces for the inshore regatta series. More details on the charter here.

Published in Volvo Regatta

Former Afloat Irish Sailor of the Year, Conor Fogerty arrived onto the dock in Dun Laoghaire from Les Sables de Olinges with “Raw”, a fresh out of the box, foiling Beneteau Figaro 3, Ireland’s first IRC foiling Figaro keelboat.

Afloat previously reported on Fogerty's trip with Irish Beneteau agents BJ Marine to take a first look at the foiler last October here.

Howth Yacht Club-based Fogerty, along with co-skipper Susan Glenny, is competing in the Dun Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, starting on Wednesday the 12th of June. Glenny who grew up in the UK, is returning to her Irish roots as her mother’s side are from Kilkerley County Louth. Both have extensive offshore sailing CV’s including several transatlantic races and on some occasions competing against one another.

"The pair are looking at this venture as an intent to commit to becoming Ireland’s reps for the mixed two-person offshore keelboat event for the 2024 Olympics"

This is Raw’s first competitive race and it has been a very busy 36 hours for the team. Fogerty and Glenny are looking at this venture as an intent to commit to becoming Ireland’s representation for the mixed two-person offshore keelboat event for the 2024 Olympic Sailing in Paris.

This will be the first time mixed offshore racing will feature in the Olympics.

Glenny as a professional female racing skipper with an extensive proven track record including skippering four Fastnet campaigns, four Caribbean 600 races and more recently the Rolex Middle Sea Race. She is one of the only females skippering a mixed team competing 52 weeks of the year all over the world. Conor and Susan have teamed up to accompany one another for some of the bigger Irish and UK offshore races including last year's Round Ireland Race.

Fogerty has 350,000 nautical miles of racing and sailing, including two “Round the World’s” and 31 transatlantic races. Some of his latest wins include; 1st RORC Caribbean 600 2016, 1st OSTAR 2017, 1st RORC Caribbean 600 2018.

Mixed offshore keelboat racing has replaced the Finn class in the 2024 Olympics and has opened up a different style of competitive racing to the sailing community. It can take years to build the stamina and decision making criteria to operate in an offshore sailing environment where conditions and hurdles can be harrowing and diverse. The capability to operate competitively when extremely sleep deprived is key.

Published in Howth YC

Howth Yacht Club's Conor Fogerty will be the first foiling keelboat in Ireland next season when he sets sail in his new Beneteau Figaro 3 on the Irish Sea next season. Confirmation of the news puts an end to rumours about Fogerty's next move in his build-up to his ambitions for the Vendee Globe 2020 race.

Afloat's Irish Sailor of the Year is just back from a test sail in what he called 'champagne conditions' on board the foiling 35ft-keelboat at the Beneteau factory in Western France.

fogerty boat FranceReady for testing - the new 35-foot foiler in France

An enthusiastic Fogerty says the yacht was 'impressive' and will be a great development for Irish Offshore racing. As a result, the former Ostar winner says,  'an order has been secured for Irish waters'. A name for the campaign boat has already been announced, the first foiling keelboat is to be named 'Raw'.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, the Beneteau boat builder is producing the first series-built production monohull with foils leaving no doubt that foiling is making it into mainstream sailing. The foils will make the new boat up to 15 per cent faster than its predecessor and are designed to replace the traditional weighty ballast tanks used on past Figaro models.

Fogerty Figaro foilThe foil on the Figaro 3. ‘Asymmetric tip foils’ such as this work by creating side force to supplement the keel and reduce leeway while causing minimal drag. An important factor is also that they are able to retract within the boat’s maximum beam

Fogerty launched his Vendee Globe 2020 campaign back in April, as Afloat.ie reported here, bringing to four the number of Irish sailors now working towards the non–stop solo round–the–world race in two year's time. He began his round the world bid this August with an entry in RORC's Round Britain and Ireland race that ended prematurely with a broken halyard.

fogerty kirwan figaroConor Fogerty (right) on the helm of the foiling keelboat with broker James Kirwan of BJ Marine

Published in BJ Marine
Tagged under

After the second night at sea in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, the fleet find themselves still slugging to windward in the area west and northwest of the Isles of Scilly writes W M Nixon.

They’re in the frustrating position of knowing that those who can get quickest to southwest Ireland will find more favourable westerly winds. But in the Isles of Scilly area itself, the wind has stayed doggedly in the northwest, and while progress is reasonably good, the prospect of easing sheets and getting to better speeds remains tantalisingly elusive.

Conor Fogerty and Simon Knowles of Howth Yacht Club in the Sunfast 3600 Bam! In the Two-Handed Division found themselves in loose formation with their sister-ships southeast of the Isles of Scilly at 0100 hrs today, with the Sunfast 3600 Game On (Ian Hoddle & Ollie Wyatt) coming in on seaward on port tack and passing five miles ahead of Bam, which had been working to windward further north.

Game On then elected to leave the large Traffic Separation Zone to the south of the Scllies to port, but Bam and sister-ship Tigris (Gavin Howe), which was four miles astern, held on starboard out into open water south of the separation zone in search of the elusive backing of the breeze.

At this morning’s 0800 position fix, Bam was making unspectacular but steady progress at 5.3 knots on a course of 264 degrees, while Tigris was seven miles astern at similar speed and course. Game On in meanwhile well to the northeast with a slightly better breeze to give 5.8 knots, though with little difference in course at 260.

Overall, the fleet leaders on the water continue to be the large Class 40 contingent, with the new Corum (she made her successful debut in the Volvo Round Ireland race in June) skippered by Nicolas Troussel in a battle for line honours with Phil Sharp’s Imerys Clean Energy, When you consider the speeds they’re capable of, their current progress around the 7.7 to 8.5 knot rate is modest enough. But Corum is now the most westerly boat in the fleet, sailing on port tack, and with a course of 323 finally laying the line to take her round the still distant Mizen Head.

Equally, Bam is the most westerly of the smaller boats, and it will be intriguing this morning to see when Fogerty and Knowles call their tack to start making serious progress towards southwest Ireland.

Race tracker here: http://yb.tl/rbni2018

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland
Tagged under

#RB&I - Conor Fogerty and Simon Knowles in the Sunfast 3600 BAM! were yesterday evening narrowly leading the two-handed division in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland’s 1,805-mile marathon, writes W M Nixon.

The Howth Yacht Club duo were trying to keep cover on the Figaro 2 El Velosolex SL Energies Group (Bejamin Schwartz & Chen Jin Hao) close to the north of them, and Sunfast 3600 sister-ship Game On (Ian Hoddle & Ollie Wyatt) to their southeast as the fleet approached the massive tidal gate of Portland Bill, sailing hard on the wind.

El Velsolex to the north found freshening breeze in under Portland Island, which also got her more quickly into the Bill’s beneficial tidal shadow.

With the local sharpening of the breeze, she was able to make a clinical of job of rounding Portland Bill within a stone’s throw of the shore in slacker water, and then lengthening away into Lyme Bay on port tack.

This left BAM! with the least bad option of following, and though she too was right in on the shore at the point itself, the spark had gone from the breeze and for a while she was hung up at only 2.2 knots over the ground.

El Velosolex, meanwhile, got away into a lead of thee miles before the Irish boat got going again, but at least Game On had been left well astern, so much so that she opted to go well offshore.

Any beat westward in the English Channel will find a varying pattern of wind strengths, and through the night as the fleet slowly neared Start Point with the Mach 40.3 Corum (Nicolas Troussel) leading narrowly on the water from Phil Sharp’s Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy, at times those inshore were favoured.

But then those offshore began to get better breezes, and when the group to the north closed with the southerly group off Start Point around 7am this morning, El Velosolex had lengthened further to eight miles ahead of BAM!, but the latter was now neck-and-neck with Game On.

The two Sunfast 3600s — less than two miles apart — elected to continue the offshore tack on starboard, but at 10.29am El Velosolex tacked onto port.

This was the state of affairs at the noon position, with the Figaro still heading for the distant shore, while Game On and BAM! are holding on starboard and having a right dong, Game On ahead by 1.7 sea miles and sailing at 6.3 knots, and Bam! on her weather quarter shown as sailing at 6.4 knots. And they still have 1,670 miles to go.

Crossing the Celtic Sea from the Isles of Scilly to southwest Ireland will be interesting, as the wind is forecast to be bang on the nose at first, but backing through tomorrow. This suggests that keeping to the left will be a strategic imperative, but for how long will be anyone’s guess.

Race Tracker here: http://yb.tl/rbni2018

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland

Ireland’s current “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club has a mind-bogglingly busy programme to fulfil during 2018 writes WM Nixon. But the intrepid class winner of the 2017 OSTAR is well able for it. He has a good-humoured yet strong personality which enables him to keep cool when under pressure - whether it be of tight-knit schedules, a closely-fought fleet race, or severely challenging oceanic sailing conditions - and his fitness and stamina are legendary.

Then too, for this summer he is able to spread his talents and time-demands across at least three different boats. For although his beloved Bam! arrives back into Southampton aboard a Transatlantic ship this morning after a successful Caribbean season - in which the highlight was successfully defending his 2016 Class 4 victory in the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 - Fogerty doesn’t have to face the daunting logistics challenge of getting her race-prepared and crew-trained for the 2018 Volvo Round Ireland Race on June 30th.

olympic tigress2This First 40.7 will race the Volvo Round Ireland as Olympic Tigress with Conor Fogerty as co-skipper

That’s because he has already signed up for the 704-mile circuit to be co-skipper on noted offshore campaigner Susan Glenny’s First 40.7 Olympic Tigress. Glenny is – like Fogerty - mega-busy in several directions, as she has recently been named to skipper the veteran global racer Maiden, formerly of Tracey Edwards campaigns.

susan glenny3Busy sailor – in addition to campaigning the First 40.7 Olympic Tigress, Susan Glenny has recently been named to skipper the veteran world racer Maiden

But for now, attention remains with Olympic Tigress in Class 2 in the Round Ireland. This actively-sailed boat is well-known to the Howth international offshore brotherhood, as the likes of the Wright brothers Michael & Darren, together with Kieran Jameson and others, have raced her in major events in the past.

However, the Wright-Jameson focus had moved to the 45ft Pata Negra, which they raced to second in Class 2 in the Caribbean 600 2018, when Susan Glenny lit on Conor Fogerty in his post-victory euphoria in Antigua, and signed him on for the Round Ireland.

It was a blessing in disguise, as his main interest in getting Bam! back to Europe was the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2018 in August. Ireland has successful form in this four-yearly 1800 mile marathon, as the previous staging in 2014 saw the two–handed division and three classes won by the First 36.7 Lula Belle, campaigned through ferocious conditions by Liam Coyne of the National Yacht Club, and Brian Flahive of Wicklow.

flahive coyne4 1Brian Flahive (left) and Liam Coyne, on their return to Dun Laoghaire in September 2014 after winning the two-handed division and other classes in the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Photo: W M Nixon
This year’s SRB&I is set for Sunday August 12th from the Solent, and with four Sunfast 3600s already in the lineup, the pressure is on Conor Fogerty big-time. But in one area at least he is in a good place, as fellow Howth sailor Simon Knowles, longtime shipmate in many Bam! successes including the two Caribbean 600 wins, has signed on as co-skipper.

knowles doyle fogerty5Simon Knowles (left), crewman Anthony Doyle and skipper Conor Fogerty in Howth Yacht Club in April, when they’d finally got their RORC Caribbean 600 trophies safely back to the home club for celebration. Photo: W M Nixon

With such a compatible yet competitive duo, Bam! will go into the start of the big one on 12th August well-rated in expectations. But as anyone who followed the 2014 race will be well aware, if August comes in unsettled, conditions throughout this varied race – and particularly in its northern sections at the Shetland Islands – can be challenging in the extreme.

Meanwhile, just to keep himself busy, Conor Fogerty has also been racing his much-loved and decidedly veteran “home boat”, the Ron Holland-designed 30ft Silver Shamrock which won the Half Ton Worlds in 1976 – with a measure of success and much enjoyment in Dublin Bay and Irish Sea events.

This weekend, however, Silver Shamrock and Conor Fogerty set off for Cork on a very special and decidedly historic mission. More on that here in Afloat.ie on Saturday.

Silver shamrock 1050 1Conor Fogerty’s classic Silver Shamrock – on another mission this weekend. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Published in Rd Britain & Ireland
Tagged under

Irish Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty has launched a Vendee Globe 2020 campaign, bringing to four the number of Irish sailors now working towards the non–stop solo round–the–world race in two year's time.

'Boat selection, physical training and preparation has begun' says the Howth Yacht Club sailor on his campaign website. He begins his round the world bid this August with an entry in RORC's Round Britan and Ireland race.  

'You don't just wake up in the morning and decide you want to do the Vendee Globe'

The launch pad for Fogerty's campaign was last season's win in a tough edition of the OSTAR Race where Fogerty won the OSTAR and TWOSTAR fleets in the North Atlantic in early June. The solo sailor survived a mid–ocean storm, an achievement that subsequently led to his crowing as Irish Sailor of the Year Award in February at the RDS in Dublin.

'You don't just wake up in the morning and decide you want to do the Vendee Globe', Fogerty says in his promo video below in which he confirms, after sailing some 300,000 miles, that he is 'getting to the point where I'm ready to do the Vendee Globe'.

As well as Fogerty, also bidding to make the Vendee Globe 2020 startline from Ireland are the separate campaigns of Nicholas O'Leary, Joan Mulloy and former Clipper skipper, Sean McCarter.

Along with his Vendee ambitions, this season sees Fogerty also launch a vintage Half–Tonner to contest ISORA Irish Sea races. Read more on Fogerty's Silver Shamrock here

Conor Fogerty's Countdown to Vendee Globe 2020: 

08/2018 ROUND BRITAIN AND IRELAND RACE - CIRCUMNAVIGATION - DOUBLE HANDED​

11/2018 ROUTE DU RHUM - FRANCE TO CARIBBEAN- SINGLEHANDED

​08/2019 FASTNET RACE - DOUBLE HANDED​

11/2019 TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE - FRANCE TO BRAZIL DOUBLE HANDED​

05/2020 NEW YORK-VENDEE RACE - NEW YORK TO FRANCE SINGLE HANDED​​

06/2020 VENDEE GLOBE - FRANCE TO FRANCE - SINGLE HANDED CIRCUMNAVIGATION

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

The latest addition to Howth’s vintage fleet, Conor Fogerty’s ‘new’ boat is something of an old favourite and one that should be very familiar to Afloat.ie readers.

Silver Shamrock, the Ron Holland-designed and Cork-built Half Tonner that took its class world title in 1976, is still a winner four decades on — putting in a particularly strong showing last summer with then owner and skipper Stuart Greenfield.

But how did Silver Shamrock end up in the hands of Afloat’s latest Sailor of the Year, and ‘come home’ to Ireland? As Fogerty explains it to Afloat.ie, there was more than a little fate involved.

Silver Shamrock 1045With a special green Shamrock emblazoned on her spinnaker, the half–tonner competes on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

“The short story is my partner, Suzanne Ennis, wanted a cruising boat for the family, as Bam! wasn’t ideal,” he says of the Sun Fast 3600 he raced to victory in the 2017 OSTAR.

“[Suzanne’s] father Francis Ennis owned the Club Shamrock ‘Moon Dance’ and her sister Stephanie Ennis and Windsor [Lauden] own the Club Shamrock ‘Demelza’. So the only natural course of action was to follow the family’s love of Shamrocks, but with a twist on the ‘Club’.”

After some research, Fogerty became intrigued about the air of reverence around the yacht Harold Cudmore skippered to the Half Ton World Championship in 1976.

“I knew the owner, Stuart Greenfield, who had been racing her in the SORC; he had saved her from a death of neglect in Falmouth a few years earlier.”

The appeal of a boat like Silver Shamrock was too much to ignore for Fogerty, who started “tyre-kicking a few Golden Shamrocks” in search of the right fit. 

But little did he expect that the holy grail herself would pop up for sale on his Facebook feed.

Silver Shamrock 1093Silver boat for silver seas – Silver Shamrock is back on Irish waters and contesting coastal races and other Irish fixtures this season Photo: Afloat.ie

“I flew down to Cowes to meet Stuart and his proudly dry-sailed Shamrock,” Fogerty says. “As Stuart is a neighbour of Harold [Cudmore], I think there was an element of satisfaction in the deal, knowing that Silver Shamrock was returning home after some 40 years abroad.”

And what a return it’s been, as our own Winkie Nixon wrote yesterday of the splash Silver Shamrock has made in her new home waters of Dublin Bay — most recently coming first in class and third over all in the ISORA warm-up race last weekend.

“So to all my ISORA friends: beware of the boat lurking on the horizon!”

“In hindsight, I’m pretty sure, I would rather cruise Bam! than a stripped-out, death-rolling Shamrock,” Fogerty says. “But sure that’s the romantic notion of families sailing versus reality!”

With Bam! currently being shipped back from Antigua after Fogerty’s class win in February’s Caribbean 600 — and sponsorship pending a commitment to the Round Britain & Ireland double-handed race — all focus is now on the Silver Shamrock.

“The plan of action over the next 12 months or so is to train in some crew, modernise her deckware and rig and see if we can get Silver Shamrock back up to her former glory,” Fogerty says of the family cruising project that’s already become so much more.

“So to all my ISORA friends: beware of the boat lurking on the horizon!”

Published in Half Tonners

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
Tagged under

With winter still clinging like a hyper-cold limpet in northern latitudes, the prospect of balmy breezes and warm seas in the tenth annual RORC Caribbean 600 in late February seemed like the perfect prospect for escape and sport writes W M Nixon. After all, Irish sailors look on it with a certain proprietorial pride, with Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners (Royal St George YC) winning the inaugural race overall in 2009.

Sea, sun, scenery and sailing – you have all that guaranteed for starters, even if only to enjoy it vicariously in following the event on many information streams. But then, as the start time approached at 11am local time Antigua on Monday 19th February, the growing entry list indicated an increasingly high quality lineup, with many powerful big boats and a swathe of professional crew.

Yet even if names of legendary fame and achievement were going to be competing, these was still a place for club entries with the necessary amateur experience to send forth crews, either on members’ own boats, or on judiciously-selected charter boats.

The “judicious selection” came in finding boats suitable for a rather specialised cat’s cradle of a course which can include a lot of power reaching, and takes in 11 island in order to have topped the 600-mile mark when the fleet finally returns to the finish line off the southern headlands of Antigua.

rorc caribbean 600 course2The RORC Caribbean 600 – the start and finish is at the south end of Antigua

With every sign that this year’s staging of the race would experience the northeast tradewinds in stonking form, we were encouraged a week ago to predict that George David’s mighty Rambler 88 might repeat her dramatic showing of line honours and a new mono-hull record, just as she did in the Volvo Round Ireland race of 2016.

Well, Rambler 88 did that, and she did it well, knocking more than two hours off the record her predecessor Rambler 100 set in 2011. But then as the rest of the fleet battled the course, it became increasingly likely that the big silver bullet could repeat her astonishing Irish success of the treble – line honours, course record (one day 13 hours and 41 minutes in the case of the Caribbean 600), and IRC overall win.

Several of Rambler 88’s challengers seemed within an ace of it, but the final 35 miles beat from Redonda back to the race’s focal point at the south end of Antigua saw them fail one after another to make the target, until by Wednesday only American Ron O’Hanley’s keenly-campaigned Cookson 50 Privateer – with Kinsale’s Ben Fusco as mastman - was in with a realistic chance, but that also faded on the final windward slugfest.

rambler 88 winning3Trebles all round! Rambler 88 on her way to matching her Round Ireland triple success

It means that overall the Americans have dominated the podium for the top results even if Kinsale has a share of it, with Rambler a clear first, Privateer second, and the Volvo 70 Warrior (Steve & Stephen Murray Snr & Jnr) third. So why then is there a considerable element of RORC Caribbean 600 celebration this weekend on a certain peninsula on Ireland’s East Coast?

Well, the slightest delving into the more detailed class results shows that between them, the National YC in Dun Laoghaire, and Howth Yacht Club on the eastern peninsula, can come up with 1,2,3 in class places, and in an event of the calibre of the RORC Caribbean 600, those are placings which are very special indeed.

The third place (it was in Class 1) came from Irish-American Kevin McLaughlin’s J/44 Spice, skippered by his son Sean with former Irish college sailing stars Will Byrne and Chris Raymond of the National YC in a key role in the crew.

As for the second place, it was also in Class 1 and went to the interesting Marc Lombard designed IRC 46 Pata Negra, chartered by Michael Wright of Howth under the guidance of Kieran Jameson, and crewed by an almost entirely Howth YC team.

pata negra4Marc Lombard’s interesting and stylish design for Pata Negra. There wasn’t a spinnaker left intact when she finished, but she still took a good second in Class 1

And the first place was a peach. It was in Class 3, and went to Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36 Bam! HYC, which filled the same position in the 2016 race, but has since been away on other business such as winning the east-west Single-Handed Transatlantic Race of 2017. Yet although she was the second-smallest boat in the race, the potent Bam! was by no means the lowest-rated, so she had to work for her placing in conditions which tested everyone.

For it has been something of a Demolition Derby. Of 74 monohull starters, only 40 finished. And while the ten multi-hulls recorded a better finish rate, one of their exits was the most dramatic of all – a capsize by the catamaran Fujin, fortunately without any serious outcome other than one inverted multi-hull, with her crew safely on top, near the island of Saba.

fujin capsizer5She looks better right way up – the catamaran Fujin exited the RORC Caribbbean 600 in spectacular capsize style

While the possibility of such things was always present, the traditional pre-race festivities were special for the Howth contingent, as their own ex-Pat superstar Gordon Maguire arrived in from Australia to race aboard George Sakellaris’s much-fancied Maxi 72 Proteus. That the pre-race betting on Proteus was well-founded seemed justified after the first nine hours, as she narrowly had the overall lead on corrected time coming into the turn at Saba. But then an equipment failure led to her rapid retirement, and that was one favourite down, and others to follow.

michael and gordon6Local boys made good. Michael Wright and Gordon Maguire in Antigua before the start of the RORC Caribbean 600

Last year’s overall winning navigator, Ian Moore, was aboard the German-owned Elliott 52 Outsider, a canting keel entry which certainly looked the part. But as an outsider bet she would have been a disastrous investment, as nothing seemed to be going right from the start, and she retired at the north end of the course.

By that stage, the retirals were coming thick and fast as sails and gear – and maybe crews too - failed the test. But the key Irish boats were hanging in, even if the crew on Pata Negra were going through spinnakers at such an alarming rate that by race’s end they didn’t have a single spinnaker left in the locker.

But the preponderance of miles of power reaching, and the presence of some beats which provided opportunities for sound tactical choices, enabled Pata Negra to offset her lack of downwind sails. In the two final beats – one along the much indented south coast of Guadeloupe, and the other from Redonda to the Antigua finish – it was a pleasure to watch how navigator Colm Birmingham was calling it spot on, reading the shifts to perfection and skillfully using any bit of lee in the shelter of headlands to enable Pata Negra to gain an extra fraction of speed and out-perform much larger boats around her.

pata negra crew7Pata Negra’s crew start the celebrations on their return to Antigua

kieran and sail8Once upon a time, this was a sail – Kieran Jameson with a battle memento from Pata Negra

Heaven only knows how many peninsula people were following the tracker on Thursday afternoon as Pata Negra got within ten miles of the finish, with the mid-day wind at Antigua really getting up a head of steam. And then, with 9 miles to go, her speed was shown as down at 4.3 knots, her heading straight towards the harbour…. Was she disabled and motoring?..... A great collective sigh of relief as the next position showed her back up towards 8 knots and better, fairly thrashing along to the finish and that second place, achieved despite the spinnaker eliminations.

It was all part of a choreographed and slightly emotional series of happenings put together by Brian Turvey, starting with a send-off party for the two crews in Howth YC. That had to be held on February 2nd as the Volvo/Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” and “Sailor of the Year” awards were to be held in the RDS the following weekend, Friday February 9th, and after that there was an HYC Achievers Celebration hosted by Commodore Joe McPeake on Saturday 10th February, following which it was Antigua all the way.

kieran and conor9The choreography gets under way. Kieran Jameson and Conor Fogerty at the Caribbean 600 Goodwill Party in Howth YC on February 2nd. Within a week, Conor Fogerty was to become “Sailor of the Year 2017”, and within three weeks they’d recorded a second and first in class in the RORC Caribbean 600. Photo Brian Turvey

But by the time that Achievers Party came around, Conor Fogerty had become “Sailor of the Year” the night before, so he was doubly feted in his home club, and gave a moving little speech in which he frankly admitted that when he bought the boat new in 2015, he hadn’t a clue how to make her go well, but it was the encouragement of fellow Howth members which helped him up from being an also-ran to a winner.

Such thoughts were much in everyone’s mind through Thursday night as Bam! battled up that final beat to the finish, for another of the crews at that early-February party in Howth had been the combined National YC/Malahide YC team of Bernard McGranahan and Dermot Cronin, who were going to off to Antigua to race the J/122 Noisy Oyster, but they’d had to pull out with just 115 miles to sail, a really bad moment for Team Ireland.

But the Bam! supporters concerned about that final beat were heartened by some thoughts voiced in Conor Fogerty’s video from his OSTAR win:

“There you are, out in the ocean in the night in this light little boat in a gale, climbing up the side of a big sea that seems to go on up for ever in the darkness, and then you shoot out the top and become airborne for what seems a lifetime, and you’ve time to think that there’s no way this little plastic thing is going to survive hitting that very hard bit of water way down in the bottom of the trough, and then comes the crash which surely nothing can survive….but she does, she does survive without splitting open. And then she picks herself up, and just sails on, climbing the next mini-mountain that you know is right there in the dark”.

bam redonda10Bam! and Liquid with a serious turning mark, the steep and deserted rock of Redonda. Photo RORC/Tim Wright

bam in sunshine11Nearly there. Bam! at Redonda, with just 35 miles to go – but it’s going to be a dead beat. Photo RORC/Tim Wright

Set against that, the Redonda to Antigua beat was a walk in the park. But Bam! fans fretted until their boat was safely home around 4.30 am our time yesterday morning, and then it was time to relax and savour the moment. As for the Howth crews who have done the job and given their club such credit, aboard Pata Negra they were: Michael Wright, Kieran Jameson, Darren Wright, Colm Bermingham, Johnny White, Karena Knaggs, Sam O’Byrne, Ronan Galligan, Emmet Sheridan and Richard Cullen.

Aboard Bam!, in addition to skipper Conor Fogerty there was Simon Knowles and Anthony Doyle from the 2016 win, and the other three were Rob Slater, Robert Rendell and Damian Cody.

Here it is, still February, and they’ve had a season’s sailing and success already. It certainly blows away those winter blues.

bam final beat12They’re absolutely knackered, but there’s still work to be done – the reefed Bam settles down for the final beat to Antigua. Photo: RORC/Tim Wrigh

Bam crewThe Bam! crew roll out the banner dockside in Antigua....

Published in W M Nixon
Page 1 of 3

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

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Webcams

webcam sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

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

Please show your support for Afloat by donating