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Time was when the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race was promoted as a handy way to position your little old cruiser in West Kerry to be nicely placed to make her way in gentle hops back to her home port on the south or east coast, ambling in leisurely stages along one of the finest cruising grounds in the world writes W M Nixon.

It was envisaged primarily as a sort of enlarged club race, the club setting the tone being the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. There, enthusiastic members and Dingle race plotters Martin Crotty, Peter Cullen and Brian Barry added a further attraction when promoting the first race, as it drew nearer in 1993, by suggesting that real dyed-in-the wool cruising types might find the race of interest if they were thinking of continuing with a clockwise cruise on round Ireland.

dingle harbour 2Dingle Harbour makes for an attractive destination...

dingle marina3…while its marina is enticing for cruisers and racers alike

Lovely idea. But so far as I know – though it’s very much hoped that I’ll be rapidly informed otherwise – it is this goggle-eyed wordsmith focused on his ancient computer screen who is still the only cruiser-racer skipper who has completed the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, and then cruised on round Ireland.

We did it in handy stages, leaving the boat in Dingle for ten days after the race was completed to return home to the word-production coalface, then going on to leave her on a mooring we’d laid at Arbear at the head of Clifden Bay after we’d cruised the Aran Islands and Connemara in detail, followed by another return home for the manufacture of merchandisable verbiage. Then the third stage was home to Howth round the top, with Donegal doing its best to rival Kerry for dramatic scenery.

However, that was all a very long time ago. In fact, it was so long ago it was the first time I’d sailed with a proper pair of Dubarry Shamrock Goretex boots. I’d previously had an experimental leaky pair from a different manufacturer with which I’d persisted for years, so I can still remember the sheer joy of dry warm feet whatever the weather after the genuine Dubarrys had been deployed.

But enough of such ramblings - even if it does serve to remind us of the way the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race has become a much-loved part of our sailing world. And as for the reason for people not cruising on round Ireland when being in Dingle leaves them so handily placed for continuing the circuit - the answer is simple. The fact is that the course of almost 300 miles has taken them as swiftly as possible past some of the most glorious cruising places in Ireland, and the only way the skipper can keep his shipmates plugging on is by swearing on all that is holy that they’ll cruise gently back the same way in a much more civilised style.

In such circumstances, you’re whistling against the wind in trying to sell the coast of Connacht as the more interesting way to get home. Yet from an early stage, even the notion of the Dingle dash as having a strong cruising orientation hasn’t really held up for a significant part of the entry. People go into it with every intention of winning, and the talk of conveniently positioning the boat for a spot of cruising in Kerry and West Cork has only been smoke and mirrors.

dingle yacht tracker4The Yellowbrick record of the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race in 2015. Sometimes the fleet has been even more widely spread than this

The pace was set from the off in 1993, when the winner was Richard Burrows’ Sigma 36 Black Pepper. In subsequent years, she was cruised to Greenland and other Godforsaken spots in the ownership of fellow Malahide sailor Peter Killen, so Black Pepper has a boat history which must make her the best-used Sigma 36 ever. Certainly for the Dingle dash of 1993, skipper Burrows shipped aboard the formidable talents of Peter Wilson and Robert Dix as the main occupants of the driving seat, and Black Pepper had a wellnigh perfect race.

That said, at the riotous prize-giving afterwards – the Dingle prize-giving is always riotous, just relax and enjoy it – Black Pepper’s skipper gave a wildly funny speech which he rounded out by presenting Robert Dix with the Golden Blanket Award. As to what was meant by that I haven’t a clue, so you’ll have to ask Dixie himself. But as he has been winning major awards of every kind since 1970 when he became the youngest ever Helmsmans Champion, the Golden Blanket goes well in his trophy cabinet.

With the first race off to such a humdinger inauguration, the vision of the founders had been justified. Well, perhaps “vision” is overstating it. At this week’s launching of the 2017 staging, which will be on June 14th, longtime organiser Martin Crotty revealed that the idea of the Dingle Race came about almost by misadventure.

martin crotty5The founding Dingle Race organiser Martin Crotty reminiscing about the early days in 1993 at this week’s reception in the National Yacht Club. Photo Michael Chester

peter cullen6Peter Cullen was another of the inspired group who first thought of the race in 1992. Photo: W M Nixon

He and fellow owner Peter Cullen had been doing the 1992 Round Ireland Race with their hefty Sigma 41 Koala, and in slugging up the west coast into a particularly unpleasant northerly (I remember that one too), their mainsail went into several pieces on the latitude of Loop Head, so they retired and ran back to Dingle, a place they didn’t know at all.

They got to know it very well indeed over the next day or two, and the hospitality the little West Kerry port meted out to them – with the Dingle Skellig Hotel more or less providing open house – soon got them thinking that a race there rather than sailing all the way round the Emerald Isle would be an interesting alternative in the years when the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow was not being staged.

Such ideas seem marvellous over a pint or three as midnight draws on, then fade from the memory. But there was some special chemistry already at work between the can-do Dun Laoghaire sailors and the maritime-minded folk of Dingle. Perhaps it’s because both ports think they’re the hub of the universe…… Whatever the secret ingredient, by 1993 in Dingle Harbour, Master Brian Farrell was ready to welcome the fleet, a new marina was in the making, and Dingle was on the cusp of an entirely new era.

dingle town7Dingle in the far west of Kerry has formed strong links with Dun Laoghaire in Dublin Bay, yet the two places could not be more different.

As for the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, we knew it was fully part of the scheme of things by 1995, as Denis Doyle turned up to compete with Moonduster. Once that happens, you know your race has arrived, and “The Doyler and The Duster” were honoured participants for many years, encouraging some very substantial boats to subsequently take part, with new heights being reached in 2009 when Michael Cotter’s handsome 78ft Whisper brought a touch of global glamour and a new record, though she missed the magic 24 hours by 43 minutes and 45 seconds.

As each race succeeded its predecessor, a bonus emerged when it was acknowledged that the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle would count as a qualifier for the Fastnet Race, which would as usual be staged about eight weeks later. By this stage the race had so much going for it that it seemed impervious to setback, but like everything else in Irish life, it went through diminished times during the recessionary years.

denis doyle8When “The Doyler and The Duster” (Denis Doyle and Moonduster) became involved from 1995 onwards, the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race was made. This is a page from the August 199 Afloat magazine, with Moonduster much in evidence in the race report. The winner that year was Donal Morrissey’s GK34 Joggernaut from Galway, and in those days the start was in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

But then came 2015, and the numbers were back up, and then some. Having seen his pet project through times good and bad, Martin Crotty had indicated that this 12th Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race would be the last he would personally administer, but already a strong successor was being briefed in the person of Adam Winkelmann. And in the 2015 race he had a vintage familiarisation to observe how it all worked, though as his mother Carmel was for many years one of the time-keepers, he started from a position of inside knowledge.

Over the years, the Dingle Skellig Hotel, which showed such generosity to the sea-battered crew of Koala way back in 1992 – leading to the inception of the race – has stayed on board as co-sponsor, and everyone’s longterm faith in the event was born out in 2015’s race, which was a classic. Before it, the atmosphere around the National Yacht Club was pure carnival, and while the start may have been slow, the winds soon filled in from the north and the fleet scampered down the east coast.

Out in front, the line honours battle was between Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire and Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 40 Antix from Cork, and they went so well that for a while it looked like Antix might get the corrected time win. But holes in the wind at the Fastnet and beyond shook up the order, and by the finish it was glory day for J Boats, with the Shanahan family’s J/109 Ruth (NYC) winning by 20 minutes from her Pwllheli-based sister-ship Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), the first foursome being very complete for the Johnstone brothers as the J/122 Aurelia was third and the J/109 Dear Prudence was fourth.

Antix dingle 2015Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 40 Antix crossing the finish line at Dingle in 2015

liam shanahan10Overall 2015 winner Liam Shanahan at the helm of his J/109 Ruth with Skellig Michael put astern, and crewman Kevin Daly trimming the main for the final stage up Dingle Bay to the finish.

dingle party llAfter a rugged race, there’s nothing like an al fresco party at Dingle

But in a fascinating contest, almost every boat was having her day at one stage or another, and for those who were doing the race as a Fastnet qualifier, it came up trumps. Irish Offshore Sailing’s 36ft Jeanneau Desert Star may have only been in the middle of the fleet in the Dingle results, but her crew were on a learning curve and on top form by the time they did the Fastnet Race, so much so that they won overall in the 33-boat fleet making up the Sailing Schools Division, a well-earned dream result for skipper Ronan O Siochru.

So Martin Crotty handed over a prestigious event in really good order to Adam Winkelmann after all the D2D business was done and dusted in 2015, and this week’s launching reception in the National Yacht Club for what is now the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race was one of those gatherings which ticked so many boxes that we could get a month’s worth of Sailing on Saturdays out of it.

The heartwarming sense of continuity was palpable. Not only was Adam Winkelmann taking over the D2D from Martin Crotty, but in the host club, Ronan Beirne had been barely a wet week as the new Commodore in succession to Larry Power. To say that the speeches were in tune with the mood of the evening barely gets the flavour of it. It was a time for nostalgia, a time for relishing the present, and a time for keenly anticipating the future, with all aspects covered.

adam winkelmann12Adam Winkelmann, chair of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle race Committee, reveals his hopes for 2017’s race and the races beyond. Photo: Michael Chester

It was Adam Winkelmann who summed it all up in a friendly presentation – he does it so painlessly that the word “speech” is way too pompous – effortlessly telling us about the new dynamic with the lineup with Volvo, the continued support from Dingle with the Dingle Skelligs Hotel joined by Crean Brewery – and the growing interest from the RORC with that club’s Janet Grosvenor – a very good friend to Irish offshore racing – planning to monitor the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 with a view to giving it greater recognition in the RORC’s 2019 programme.

dingle volvo adam13Graham Fitzgerald of the Dingle Skellig Hotel, Patricia Greene of Volvo Car Ireland, Adam Winkelmann, and Jerry O’Sullivan of Crean Brewery, Dingle. Photo Michael Chester

As it is, the 2017 race will start on the evening of Wednesday June 14th, which research among competitors has show is reckoned as the most user-friendly time for those fitting the race into work breaks, as it means you can definitely do a three day week, yet have every chance of making the clock-in at the workplace first thing Monday morning.

Thus the prize-giving will be on Saturday night, and it is being moved beck to the Dingle Skelligs’ sister establishment, Benners Hotel in the heart of town. As for the bigger picture, the timing also allows a useful gap before the Sovereigns Cup series starts at Kinsale on June 21sr, but while the start time will be tight for anyone who also plans to also do the ICRA Nationals at Crosshaven from Friday June 9th to Sunday June 11th, in times past we’d have reckoned that’s it a logistical challenge which is do-able, you just draw lots for the three guys who are going to take the boat to Dun Laoghaire as soon as the last race at Crosser is over.

As if that’s not enough of a challenge, Ric Morris has lately been airing a suggestion that it’s time to think seriously about an Irish National Offshore Championship based around the many events already in existence. He reckons that with the Round Ireland and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle races alternating at the peak of this annual season-long series, we’d have an intriguing setup which has the potential to involve many boats – and he means many big time.

Certainly the imprimatur of the RORC on the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race would give it turbo power, making it a serious points accumulator apart from being a superb race in its own right. Truly it has moved on a long way from being a handy little club-oriented event best used to position your boat in Ireland’s finest cruising ground. But we shouldn’t be surprised, when we remember that the Fastnet Race itself started in a very modest way in 1925. It was so shunned by the sailing establishment that it couldn’t get a starting line at Cowes, and had to be sent eastward out of the Solent from the start line of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club at Ryde.

ronan beirne14Brian Farrell, Harbour Master of Dingle when the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle race was inaugurated in 1993, Ronan Beirne the newly-elected Commodore of the National Yacht Club, and Yannick Lemonnier, who will be racing a Minitransat 650 to Dingle. Photo Michael Chester

Presumably the RORC still sends the RVYC an annual Christmas card as a token of their appreciation of that display of faith way back in 1925, now that the hugely popular Fastnet Race is started from all the glory of the Royal Yacht Squadron line at Cowes.

And as for the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race in all its manifestations, while it has always been comfortably under the imprimatur of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, the developing positive attitude towards sailing at official levels in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown was underlined by the official presence at Tuesday’s gathering of Councillor Cormac Devlin, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council.

But while the new turbo power of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race was quietly in evidence at the party in the National YC this week, it was good to meet up with old friends from Dingle from the earliest days, particularly the former Harbour Master Brian Farrell whose enthusiasm for his job always went way beyond the call of duty.

There too were Brian Barry and Peter Cullen, both of whom did so much to put the show on the road and keep it there through times good and bad. But it was appropriate that also present was the one and only Yannick Lemonnier, who did the race in the two-handed division in 2015 (he was second to Howth’s Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles) but in 2017 will be doing it in a new special division which has been encouraged into the fray by the National’s Sailing Manager Olivier Prouveur.

Yes indeed – the Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race will be providing a start for Mini 650 boats, and Yannick Lemonnier will be right in the thick of it all. They’ll get a separate prize and won’t be in the IRC Division, but it’s a new twist in a race which, in 2017, will also have a new old twist.

david thomas15David Thomas, MD of Volvo Car Ireland, with Emma O’Carroll, also of Volvo Car Ireland, and Darryl Hughes, owner-skipper of Maybird, the first gaff-rigged entrant in the Dingle Race. Photo Michael Chester

For no-one has any recollection of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race ever having a gaff-rigged entry in its 24 years. Yet the madly enthusiastic Darryl Hughes has entered his beautifully-restored 1937 Tyrrell-built 43ft gaff ketch Maybird. He knows he’ll be doing quite well to make it to Dingle in time for the prize giving. And then he’ll have to think of further schedules, as he is also entered for the Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from July 9th to 12th. But in the National this week this week he was able to assure everyone that Maybird is already well n the way to being race ready. Sure hadn’t he and his mates scrubbed her and anti-fouled her – including a fresh boot-top – all on the one Spring tide at Poolbeg a couple of weeks ago? So the count-down is already well under way for the turbo-powered Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2017.

maybird scrub16Race preparation. Maybird gets completely re-antifouled and with a fresh boot-top a fortnight ago, all in one tide at Poolbeg

Published in W M Nixon

The National Yacht Club looks set to gain Royal Ocean Racing Club recognition for its mini–offshore Dun Laoghaire Dingle race as David O'Brien reports in the Irish Times Sailing Column this morning. 

The Dun Laoghaire Dingle application is well timed because RORC Commodore Michael Boyd says the London–based club is keen to encourage RORC racing across the UK, not just Channel races.

The June 14th race – first hosted by the NYC and County Kerry’s Dingle Sailing Club in 1993 – is working closely with Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) to develop the “mini-offshore” into an international race.

Incoming race chairman Adam Winkelmann is adding extra spice by adding a new title sponsor and recruiting a French Mini–Transat fleet.

RORC will assess this Volvo-sponsored edition of the race with a view to adding the race to its points series in 2019.

Read the full story in the Irish Times here and more on this year's D2D race here

Published in Dun Laoghaire Dingle

Maybe it’s because the weather has been unseasonably like home at times out in the Caribbean, but the Irish sailors spread through the RORC fleet have been in the racing frame through a wet cold front from the nor’west. For a while, it turned sunshine hopes upside down, but the Micks in the mix are on boats which have been showing mighty well since last’s night’s posting, when top navigator Ian Moore on Bella Mente was leading the fleet on IRC writes W M Nixon.

The first of the multi-hulls, Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo 3 with Damian Foxall on the strength, has already taken line honours in 33 hours. But further down the line, the pendulum of fortune has swung back and forth as monohull boats of hugely varying sizes take on the challenges of a real cat’s cradle of a course.

The vagaries of fortune are revealed by the fact that for some hours this morning Irish time, the overall leader was the superyacht Dannesskjold, whose crew include Tim Goodbody, Aine Hanevy, and Paul O’Donoghue, while the Kinsale-registered Lilla was third. But the most recent set of figures show that Dannesskjold has plunged to 32nd overall, while Lilla plunhed to 48th, and the best-placed Irish sailor is now Marcus Spillane, originally of Cork, now San Francisco-based, an ISA Board Member and representative on World Sailing.

He also presides over the 49er International Association and the Nacra 17 Association, but currently his focus is on getting the best performance out of the Swan 66 Bounty in the Caribbean 600, and they lie third overall, 20 minutes or so ahead of George David’s Rambler 88 in fourth, and 45 minutes ahead of Bella Mente in 5th. Yet while Phaedo may be well finished, but there’ll be many twists of failure and fortune before we get the final IRC placings.

Published in RORC

Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for October 2016, ace navigator Ian Moore originally from Carrickfergus, is once again calling the shots aboard Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 Bella Mente. And they’re leading the fleet in the RORC Caribbean 600 by nearly an hour on corrected time as the first 24 hours of racing draws to a close with many islands still to be rounded, and a myriad of wind changes to be negotiated writes W M Nixon.

2016 was Moore’s dream year, as among other achievements he piloted the RP 63 Lucky to a runaway win in the Transatlantic Race in July, and then he transferred to Bella Mente for Cowes Week in August and showed he was equally adept at working the inshore Solent conditions to take just about every major prize. Came October, and he guided the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino to the overall win in the Middle Sea Race.

Now he’s back at the screens aboard Bella Mente, and has clearly taken over where he left off, on top form. He would have been in there on Bella Mente’s start, which was a classic, calling for water right in under the cliffs as she forced the fleet - and particularly the 2016 winner Proteus – to allow her to tack onto port.

But this is one complex race, like sailing a course made from a bowl of spaghetti, so a lot of chips (if you’ll excuse a hyper-mixing of metaphors) have to fall the right way into the deep-fat fryer which is Caribbean racing, in order to stay ahead of a hungry fleet including the likes of George David’s Rambler 88.

Despite the sad sudden departure of Sean McCarter from the fray aboard the much-fancied Infiniti 46 Maverick after a crewman sustained a serious hand injury, Irish interest is strong throughout the fleet, and the one boat with an Irish sail number, Simon and Nancy DiPietro’s Kinsale YC-registered Briand 76 Lilla (a prize winner in past races), is tramping along in the top half of the fleet, well-placed for a boat which is really a cruiser-racer.

Lilla yachtLilla is flying the flag for Ireland, and doing mighty well for a boat with full cruising comfort.

Through the fleet we find such Irish luminaries as Tom McWilliam aboard Leopard, Gabrielle MacManus on Olympia’s Tigress, Wicklow’s David “Farmer” Ryan and WSC Commodorial spouse Jim Cummins on the First 40 Arthur Logic, Damian Foxall on Phaedo 3, Marcus Spillane on Bounty, Barry Hurley and James Murphy on Pata Negra, Maurice “Prof” O’Connell and Dwayne Lysaght on Louise, Timothy Goodbody, Aine Hanevy and Paul O’Donoghue on Danneskjold, Cian O’Carroll on Eleonara E, William Byrne and Chris Raymond on Spice, Mark Norman on Piccolo, Storme Delaney (I’m not making these names up) and Ciara Scott on Sunset, and James Carroll on Spice.

Between them all, we should have something to show for everyone’s efforts in a race which at its inauguration in 2009 was won overall by Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners of the Royal St George YC. This is a boat which in a previous incarnation was Ger O’Rourke’s Cheftain of the Royal Western of Ireland yacht Club, overall winner of the 2007 Fastnet. Our 2017 squad have a lot to live up to.

Published in RORC

Sean McCarter, the Derry Clipper World race sailor who is part of the Infniti 46 Maverick crew has retired from the RORC Caribbean 600 following an injury to a crewman this morning. 

A statement from the boat an hour ago said: "Maverick diverted to Nevis to drop Steve Taylor off at the hospital after suffering an injury to his right hand. As soon as the incident occurred the team retired from the race and made best speed to Nevis. Piers has gone with Steve to the hospital in Nevis. The rest of the team are safe and well. We are on a mooring outside of Charlestown Nevis and will clear customs tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with Steve. His next of kin have been notified."

McCarter, who has his eye on a Vendee Globe 2020 campaign, was part of the British Maverick crew skippered by Oliver Cotterell.

The latest news from the race tracker is that Ireland's former Green Dragon VOR entry is second overall and while Round Ireland Multhull record holder Phaedo 3 is first multihull they are behind last year's record pace. 

An array of Irish sailors are on different boats at this week's event and are lead by County Kerry's Damian Foxall as they compete in the ninth edition of the regatta that  started in magnificent conditions with the largest ever offshore fleet assembled in the Caribbean enjoying sparkling conditions. A south–easterly breeze, occasionally gusting up to 15 knots and a relatively calm sea state provided conditions for the perfect start with some close battles on the water yesterday.

Unlike 2016, when two Irish boats were racing, namely; Conor Fogerty's BAM from Howth Yacht Club and the Royal St. George's Lee Overlay Partners Cookson 50 skippered by Adrian Lee this year the sole Kinsale cruiser, Lilla, bears Irish sail numbers.

Navigator Ian Moore originally from Carrickfergus, is once again calling the shots aboard Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 Bella Mente. David Ryan and Jim Cummins of Wicklow Sailing Club are on UK yacht First 40 Arthur Logic. Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell from the Royal St. George YC is racing and Royal Irish Yacht Club member Storme Delaney, who completed the ARC Rally in December, is also in action. For more Irish sailors on the race please read our update here.

RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin was hoping to compete on Giles Redpath's Pata Negra, but due to business commitments had to watch the start from ashore this year. "It was almost as nerve racking to be up at Fort Charlotte as on the water, and of course we are all hurlers from the ditch telling them to get closer to the cliffs. It was a fascinating start from an amazing and historic vantage point to see these wonderful boats take off. Everything went very smoothly, which is a great tribute to our professional race management team and our volunteers. This was quite an emotional moment for me and we will of course be wishing them all well for the next few days and a safe return."

The MOD70 battle for multihull line honours has already kicked off. Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 pulled away (with Foxall onboard) from Giovanni Soldini's Maserati at the upwind start but as the two cracked sheets at Green Island, Maserati deployed their foil and took up the lead. Two hours into the race, the two flying trimarans were approaching the Barbuda mark touching 18 knots of boat speed.

George David's Rambler 88 got away to a terrific start and leads the monohull fleet on the water by almost three miles on approach to Barbuda. However, three hours into the race and after IRC time correction, George Sakellaris' Proteus is estimated to be leading overall with Hap Fauth's Bella Mente second and Rambler 88 third.

IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero produced a thrilling start. Lionel Pean's French Volvo 70 SFS II came charging in on port, baring away behind the two Maxi72s to take a commanding position on the favoured left side of the course.

The Class40 Division are enjoying incredibly close racing. Peter Harding's Ph-orty leads, Catherine Pourre's Earendil and Halvard Mabire's Campagne de France are both within one mile. The pack of Class40s have the magnificent sight of the 182ft twin-masted schooner Adela ahead of them. Cressida Robinson reporting from Carl Wilcox's Nisida: "We have had everything from 15 knots gusting up to 30 and spotted a water spout on the way to Barbuda."

Published in RORC

A record fleet of 80 yachts will be competing in the 9th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua this morning.

This year's race will see the most spectacular line-up of high performance boats and crews racing from 30 different countries.

The crew list reads like the 'Who's Who' of international sailors with hundreds of round the world, America's Cup, Olympic and Volvo Ocean Race professionals rubbing shoulders with passionate corinthian sailors on the same 600 mile race course around 11 Caribbean islands.

Check out the pre–event video below with an interview with RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of Dublin Bay. 

 

Published in RORC

Both monohull and multihull Round Ireland record holders are part of a fleet of over 80 yachts expected for the ninth edition of the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 in which 900 sailors from 30 different nations will race non-stop around 11 Caribbean islands, starting and finishing in Antigua.

Passionate corinthians will be rubbing shoulders with Olympic medallists, America's Cup winners and round the world sailors in a race to take home the coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. The 600 mile course is designed to offer a tactical, high speed race with stunning vistas at every corner.

"The RORC Caribbean 600 is very different to the other 600 mile races and definitely not a holiday race in the Caribbean," commented RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "The race has many tactical legs with land effects and wind-driven currents which are both difficult to predict. The heat of the day and the long nights are also unusual features for an offshore race making it every bit as challenging as the Rolex Fastnet Race, and just as exciting. It is interesting to note that the records for the Rolex Fastnet Race and the RORC Caribbean 600 are very similar."

Featuring a magnificent collection of yachts, an incredibly varied fleet will be racing under the IRC, CSA and MOCRA rating systems, as well as Class40s racing under class rules. Rambler 88, Phaedo3 and Maserati will be gunning for course records, however, the winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy will be decided by the yacht with the best corrected time under IRC.

George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 is back with an impressive crew line-up for another tilt at the race record, the overall win and class honours. New Zealand's multiple America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth is part of an impressive afterguard including fellow Kiwi, Brad Jackson and Australian navigator, Andrew Cape. Virtually the entire crew are America's Cup winners and stars of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Phaedo3 has assembled a phenomenal crew for the race and multiple world record holder, Brian Thompson is joined by Volvo Ocean Race winners Robert Greenhalgh and Damian Foxall. Extreme 40 champion, Pete Cumming and the formidable talent of Michel Desjoyeux, the only sailor to have won the Vendée Globe twice. Maserati's skipper, Giovanni Soldini is Italy's most decorated offshore sailor and Maserati has been fitted with foils which can provide a speed advantage over Phaedo3. A fascinating contest for multihull line honours is expected.

The winner of the Multihull Class will be the yacht with the best corrected time under MOCRA. Seven teams are entered including Shaun Carroll's Australian Modified Sea Cart 30, Morticia which is the smallest yacht competing in the entire fleet, and the head-turning all-carbon R-Six, skippered by Robert Janecki, which is the first ever entry from Belize.

IRC Overall for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy

Overall winners of the previous eight editions of the race have all come from IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero. Amongst this year's favourites are two Maxi 72s: Hap Fauth's Bella Mente - overall winner in the 2015 race, and current holder of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, George Sakellaris' Proteus.

Whilst the two Maxi 72s are firm favourites, the stellar cast racing in IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero includes; Farr 100 Leopard and three Volvo 70s, Lionel Pean's SFS II from France, Trifork skippered by Dutchman Bouwe Bekking and Green Dragon, skippered by Austrian Johannes Schwarz. The dark horse of the canting keel class is Maverick, skippered by Oliver Cotterell. The Infiniti 46 with DSS side foils was class winner for the RORC Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

In IRC Zero, the 182ft schooner Adela, skippered by Greg Perkins is the largest yacht taking part and making a RORC Caribbean 600 debut is Anders Nordquist's Shamanna. The 115ft superyacht is the largest of nine Swans competing this year and boasts a crew including many of Malta's best sailors from the Calascione, Podesta and Ripard families. RORC Admiral and IMA Secretary General, Andrew McIrvine is a guest aboard Grant Gordon's Maxi cruiser 72, Louise. Overall winner of the 2017 Cape to Rio Race, Stefan Jentzsch's German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl is the smallest yacht in IRC Zero. South African America's Cup sailors, Mark Sadler and Marc Lagesse form the afterguard.

With 17 yachts, the largest class competing this year is IRC One and a huge variety of yachts includes Giles Redpath's Lombard 46, Pata Negra, with RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd among the crew. Bernie Evan Wong's RP37, Taz will be proudly flying the Antiguan flag once again. Bernie is the life and soul of the race having competed in all nine editions as skipper.

The IRC Two champion, Ross Applebey's Scarlet Oyster is back attempting to win the class for the fourth consecutive race in a highly competitive field including; Ed Fishwick's Redshift on El Ocaso with a young, top-class crew including, 2012 Olympic Silver Medallist Luke Patience and Figaro sailors, Alan Roberts and Nick Cherry, as well as Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Nick Bubb.

Close racing is expected in IRC Three among four vintage Swans, including two Sparkman & Stephens designed Swan 48s, Jonty Layfield's Sleeper X and Andrew & Mia Schell's Isbjorn. Peter Hopps, skipper of the Sigma 38, Sam has competed in every edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.

Short-Handed Challengers
A number of young talented Figaro teams are expected from Guadeloupe and James Heald's British Swan 45 Nemesis will be racing Two-Handed. Five Class 40s will be competing including Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron's Campagne de France which won the Class40 division in the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race, Catherine Pourre's Eärendil, Peter Harding's Phor-ty, Mikael Ryking's Talanta and Marc Lepesqueux's Saint-Pierre & Miquelon.

Published in RORC

Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club is in the midst of a long, interesting and successful sailing career in which he first came to international prominence with the overall win in the 1996 Round Ireland Race on the J/35 Big Ears writes W M Nixon.

With the energy of ten men and widespread international business interests, he was the ideal and popular choice when he became Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London on December 4th 2014, and the two years since have been outstanding for the club, with the Commodore setting a prodigious pace both afloat and ashore.

Beneteau 44.7 Lisa Michael BoydThe Michael Boyd-skippered First 44.7 Lisa on her way to third overall, and best-placed Irish boat, in the Volvo Round Ireland race 2016. Lisa has since gone on to become RORC IRC Overall Points Champion 2016. Photo Afloat.ie
This has been supported by having the hugely-experienced sailor and administrator Eddie Warden-Owen as the RORC’s Chief Executive Officer. The irony of it is that while Michael Boyd cut his sailing teeth in Dun Laoghaire where his father was a noted owner-skipper in the Dublin Bay 21 class, Warden-Owen learned his skills across channel just 54 miles away in Holyhead racing GP14s to international level, and at nearby Trearddur Bay sailing the local Seabird Half Raters.

Thus it’s a direct Irish Sea cross-channel linkup which is giving the RORC its current buzz, and the synergy and shared enthusiasm between these two dynamic people has seen the RORC moving on to greater achievement during the past two years, with the publication yesterday evening of the season’s overall Points Championship reinforcing the image of an international organization on top of its game.

Eddie Warden OwenEddie Warden Owen, CEO of the RORC

The RORC Season's Points Championship 2016 is the largest and arguably most competitive offshore yacht series in the world. Starting almost a year ago with the RORC Transatlantic Race, it consisted of 14 races where over 300 yachts from 15 different nations raced over 6,500 miles. The modern version of the championship is far from domestic as it includes the RORC Transatlantic Race, RORC Caribbean 600, Volvo Round Ireland Race, the brand new Ile d'Ouessant Race, and Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Irish interest naturally focused most directly on the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June, but we also had close links to the RORC Caribbbean 600 in February and the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October, with Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! from Howth winning Class 3 in the Caribbean (which has since helped her to place third overall in class in the points championship) while the Middle Sea race saw Carrickfergus’s Ian Moore navigate the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino to a very clearcut overall win.

Conor Fogerty’s BamConor Fogerty’s Bam! has placed third overall in the RORC IRC 3 Championship

But with the Volvo Round Ireland in June, it was the RORC Commodore himself who set the Irish pace, as he campaigned the first two-thirds of the season in partnership with Nick & Suzi Jones on the First 44.7 Suzi while he awaited delivery of his JPK 10.80 Audrey (named after his late mother). Racing Lisa in the Round Ireland, Michael Boyd gave a master-class in showing how to get the best out of a standard production boat when set up against some very special machines, and his third overall not only made him top Irish boat overall, but also contributed a mighty heap of points to help Lisa become the RORC IRC Overall Champion 2016. This is a prodigious achievement, as the other points were accumulated in steady, frequent and successful participation in the RORC’s regular programme of shorter events manageable within a long weekend.

This overall win and the IRC I win means that the Lisa team will, be leaving the awards ceremony in London on Saturday November 19th with a mountain of silverware, while another boat prominent in the prize stakes will be the IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing, overall points winner of IRC Canting Keel, which has been skippered through 2016 by Mikey Ferguson, who originally hails from Bangor in County Down, and has risen steadily through the ranks in the Artemis Academy.

IMOCA 60 ArtemisThe IMOCA 60 Artemis, skippered by Mikey Ferguson of Bangor to overall win in the RORC Canting Keel Class Championship.

And while we’re on the more extreme machines, another special award on Saturday November 19th will go to Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo 3 from America, overall winner of the Multi-hull Class and also winner of the Beken Trophy for Concours d’Elegance. We got to know Phaedo 3 very well in Ireland, as she took second in the MOD 70s in the Volvo Round Ireland, and found the Irish course such an attractive challenge that she was back in July to have another go at the new record which had been set by Oman Sailing in the Volvo Round Ireland race, and succeeded in shaving it by upwards of an hour or so.

However, with all fairness to the many star boats in the RORC season which graced our waters at some time or another, there’s no doubting that the people’s choice was Eric de Turckheim’s unusual-looking but extraordinarily attractive A13 Teasing Machine from France, which spent quite a while here as she did the Volvo Round Ireland and then went down to Crosshaven for Volvo Cork Week, through which she cut a mighty swathe.

For those of us who found teasing Machine irresistible, the great news is that she has been declared RORC Yacht of the Year for 2016. The citation says it all:

RORC Yacht of the Year: Teasing Machine, A13, Eric de Turckheim (FRA)

Somerset Memorial Trophy: Awarded for outstanding racing achievement by a yacht owned or sailed by a RORC member as voted for by the RORC Committee.

It's been an incredible year in distance travelled and success for Eric de Turckheim's French A13, Teasing Machine. After crossing the line in 11th place and a class win at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the boat was shipped to Panama before being sailed 1,200 miles upwind to Antigua to be on the startline for the RORC Caribbean 600 in February. Another great achievement as the team clinched a class win in IRC One and finished third overall, only being beaten by two Maxi 72s. Teasing Machine was then shipped back across the Atlantic to compete in the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race for yet another class win and finishing second overall to an unbeatable Rambler 88. Following the IRC Europeans at Cork Week, it was on to Cowes to help secure a French victory in the biennial Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July, before an overall win in the inaugural Ile de Ouessant Race. This incredible season finished with another class win in the Rolex Middle Sea Race last month.

ro rc6Neck and neck. Eric de Turckheim’s A13 Teasing Machine comes to the weather mark with Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 40 Antix during Volvo Cork Week 2016. Teasing Machine has been declared RORC Yacht of the Year 2016. Photo courtesy Volvo Cork Week/Tim Wright
Class winners for the 2016 RORC Season's Points Championship

IRC Canting Keel: IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing, Mikey Ferguson
IRZ Zero: Ker 46 Shakti, co-skippered by Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen
IRC One: First 44.7 Lisa, Nick & Suzi Jones
IRC Two: J/133 Pintia, Gilles Fournier
IRC Three: JPK 10.10 Raging Bee, Louis-Marie Dussere
IRC Four: JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew, Noel Racine
IRC Two Handed: JPK 10.10 Raging Bee, Louis-Marie Dussere
Multihull Class: MOD70 Phaedo³, Lloyd Thornburg
Class40: Concise 2, owned by Tony Lawson

Published in RORC

Ireland's Mark Mills, the Irish Cruiser Racer Representative (ICRA), was among forty delegates from 15 countries descended upon Cowes, Isle of Wight, the home of yachting in the UK, for the annual Congress of the Spinlock International Rating Certificate (IRC) Owners' Association. The weekend was hosted by the RORC Rating Office at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse and the Royal Yacht Squadron, with representatives travelling from all over the world including Australia, the USA, Europe, Japan and SE Asia. Discussions varied from technical aspects of the IRC Rule, which is jointly owned by RORC in the UK and UNCL in France, to race management, measurement, and certificate administration.

Technical Developments for 2017

Simplifying the rating of aft rigging
As racing yacht design becomes more complex and varied, the ethos of IRC is to keep the Rule as simple as possible, protect the existing fleet and try as much as possible to control costs. With this in mind one notable change for 2017 will be a development in the treatment of aft rigging. In recent years it has become apparent that the established definitions for backstays, running backstays and checkstays do not suit all types of modern rigging arrangements. For 2017 IRC will not distinguish between these different types but will count the total number of aft rigging stays, which will simplify the application process for owners.

Addressing undesirable trends
A second change for 2017 reflects the recent trend of moving lead from the bulb into the fin. The IRC Technical Committee does not consider this trend to be healthy for the sport, so in future will be asking for a declaration of the amount of lead in the keel fin for certain types of keel. Members of Congress agreed with both these changes which will come into force on January 1st 2017.

The 2017 Irish IRC championships, raced as part of the ICRA National Championships, will be held next June in Cork Harbour.  As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the event is chaired by Paul Tingle of Royal Cork Yacht Club.

More details of the above mentioned technical changes, and the IRC 2017 Rule text and Definitions here

Published in RORC

Racing across the Atlantic evokes the primal desires of any offshore sailor and the Grenada-bound RORC Transatlantic Race, departing from Calero Marinas Marina Arrecife, Lanzarote on Saturday 26th November, has attracted a highly diverse range of boats and crews to compete in the third edition. 

Whilst the Atlantic is only half the size of the Pacific, Mid-Atlantic is as far away from land as possible, save Point Nemo in the depths of the Southern Ocean and Mike Slade's 100ft canting keel maxi, Leopard 3 is no stranger to the Atlantic. Leopard has accomplished five separate Transatlantic records over the last nine years and has crossed the Atlantic 12 times, with this race being Boat Captain, Chris Sherlock's 30th crossing. Leopard 3 is very capable of breaking the current monohull record for the RORC Transatlantic Race, set by Jean-Paul Riviere's Finot 100, Nomad IV in the last race in 10 days 07 hours 06 mins 59 secs.

"The RORC record is the one we have not had and we want to add this to our list of achievements," commented Leopard's Chris Sherlock. "We are close to finalising the crew which will include regular Leopard crew with Olympic, Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup experience as well as eight guests who have a lot of racing experience and a big desire to race across the Atlantic. This combination works really well as it makes for a fantastic atmosphere on board.

"After a highly successful inshore season, winning at the Maxi Worlds and St. Tropez, Leopard is being put into offshore mode for the RORC Transatlantic Race. Transforming Leopard for the race is a big task and Lanzarote has everything we need for the preparation. The installation of all the safety equipment is mandatory and on top of that we have a different sail wardrobe and take spares and the tools to fix just about anything on board. Once we have started the race, the crew is on its own and we have to account for any eventuality. All of our guests are attending a sea survival course which is invaluable as well as a great way for the two groups of friends to bond together."

Maserati, synonymous with Italian flair and style, will be represented in this year's RORC Transatlantic by Giovanni Soldini's foiling MOD70. Maserati will be literally flying off the start line! This will be the first time the multihull in its new foiling set up has raced across the Atlantic, and it is something of a test bed for the international team.

Soldini has over 25 years of ocean racing experience and is probably the most decorated Italian offshore sailor of all time winning the Around Alone, Québec-Saint Malo, OSTAR and Transat Jacques Vabre. Soldini has completed over 40 oceanic crossings and since 2011 has been the skipper of the VOR70 Maserati, setting records for the Cadiz-San Salvador route and the New York-San Francisco Gold Route. However, the MOD70 Maserati is a new project only conceived this year.

"We are studying how this new concept will work and we have made some progress, but we are in research mode." explained Giovanni Soldini. "Our goal will be to try to fly as much as possible, but there are some conditions where it will be impossible. We went around the world nearly two times with the VOR70 but it was time to change and to do something different. Personally for me, this is a bigger challenge and foiling in the middle of the Atlantic is certainly challenging. This race presents a great opportunity to try to understand more about the concept.

"On the tiller, when Maserati is flying, is just fantastic. It is very fast but you feel safe and in control and it is something very new; to fly with a big boat is something that is very special. During the race we will be studying and trying many different solutions to see where our performance is good or not so good, but it is not always black and white. This year we will be investing in the concept for the future. Our first step will be to achieve stable flight in the open sea with waves, so that will be a big job."

Innovative foiling flyer
Infiniti 46 Maverick, skippered by Oliver Cotterell will be one of the smallest yachts in the race, but her innovative design means that Maverick is capable of tremendous speed. DSS foils, like short airplane wings protrude from the side of the hull, producing both righting moment and lift. Maverick also has a canting keel and the combination of these allow the boat to sail faster than the wind speed, in certain conditions.

"I have been watching the RORC Transatlantic Race since its inception. I think it's a brilliant ocean race that's been growing year on year. I have heard great things about its implementation, organisation and the back-up RORC provides for the teams involved," commented Skipper, Oliver Cotterell. "Maverick has been entered for the RORC Transatlantic Race because it is designed for performance racing vessels. Just looking at the entries and the interest so far shows that this is a serious race with some serious teams. We want to compete against high performance elite racing yachts and the best teams on the circuit.

"The speeds we are maintaining whilst foiling on Maverick are unprecedented for a 46ft monohull, but it is actually a very stable feeling. The DSS foils mean she not only stays flat, but she also lifts her bow so that as we navigate through Atlantic swells, the boat should remain surprisingly dry. Maverick was always designed with long distance competitive offshore racing in mind. Preparation for CAT.1 racing was incorporated in the design from the very beginning. The boat has watertight bulkheads and has been built with the required inventory since her inception."

Published in RORC
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