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Displaying items by tag: Round Ireland Yacht Race

The Cruising Club of America is celebrating its Centenary this year, and while the actual birth date may not fall until September, the Club is already in the midst of a busy special season which saw its recent biennial Newport-Bermuda Race attract a record fleet.

Meanwhile, one of the CCA’s keenest members, Hiroshi Nakajima, who sails from Stamford in Connecticut, has been in the midst of his own complex celebratory programme to mark both the Golden Jubilee of his own vessel - the 1971-built S&S 49ft sloop Hiro Maru ex-Scaramouche - and the CCA Centenary.

Hiro Maru crossing the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes to complete the Transatlantic RaceHiro Maru crossing the finish line at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes to complete the Transatlantic Race

Hiro Maru’s oceanic routing in recent seasons has included a Transatlantic Race, the 2021 Fastnet Race, and now the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022, in which, despite her many years, she took 16th overall, tenth in class, and fifth of the overseas entries, a very good score in competition of this quality.

 Darryl Hughes’ Maybird lying serenely to her moorings in Crosshaven, which is now her home port. Photo: Robert Bateman Darryl Hughes’ Maybird lying serenely to her moorings in Crosshaven, which is now her home port. Photo: Robert Bateman

And there is one very special award which has gone straight to Hiro Maru. It’s new to the race this year, and is the DBOGA Maybird Mast Trophy for the oldest boat to complete the course. Donated by Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association Honorary Secretary Darryl Hughes, it’s in fond memory of the time in 2018 he went round in the oldest boat ever to complete the course, the 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow 43ft gaff ketch Maybird.

Round Ireland Race Organiser Hal Fitzgerald with Hiroshi Najima and the DBOGA Maybird Mast Trophy Round Ireland Race Organiser Hal Fitzgerald with Hiroshi Najima and the DBOGA Maybird Mast Trophy 

Maybird’s home port is now Crosshaven, and she may be joined there in due course by Hiro Maru, as one scenario being sketched out last winter for the boat’s continuing 2022 programme was contesting the K2Q, aka the Kingstown to Queenstown Race on July 7h, and then competing in the Classics Division in Volvo Cork Week. Whatever the outcome, despite being faced by the historic likes of Marie Tabarly’s Pen Duick VI, Ian Hickey’s Granada 38 Cavatina, and Tony Kingston’s Swan 40 Shindig, Hiro Maru was the oldest boat to finish the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022. And as it happens, she beat that very distinguished yet marginally younger threesome on corrected time as well.

 Built in 1971 to a Sparkman & Stephens design by Palmer Johnson of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the 49ft Hiro Maru ex-Scaramouche is a classic example from the era when the finest alloy yachts in America were built by boatyards on the Great Lakes  Built in 1971 to a Sparkman & Stephens design by Palmer Johnson of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the 49ft Hiro Maru ex-Scaramouche is a classic example from the era when the finest alloy yachts in America were built by boatyards on the Great Lakes 

Published in Round Ireland

Ten young sailors from Galway Bay who were part of the crew that sailed the Green Dragon in last week's Round Ireland Race from Wicklow finished as Line Honours runners-up and second in Class Zero in the biennial 700-mile race. 

As co-skipper Enda O'Coineen previously reported on Afloat, the former Irish VOR boat Green Dragon was entered into June's circumnavigation race to mark the tenth anniversary of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway.

Green Dragon is currently owned by a yacht charter company based in Vigo in North West Spain.

Upwind conditions on Green Dragon on the West Coast of IrelandUpwind conditions on Green Dragon on the West Coast of Ireland

Ten Galway Bay Sailing Club members were aboard for the delivery trip across the Bay of Biscay to Dun Laoghaire. They departed on the morning of June 5th and arrived late June 8th. Following wind and seas, they maintained double-digit boat speeds most of the way. They saw 21kts at one point surfing down the 5m Atlantic swell, which was truly magnificent.

On Green Dragon - Cathal Mahon and Rob Talbot from Spiddeal Sailing ClubCathal Mahon and Rob Talbot from Spiddeal Sailing Club

The owner made young Cathal Mahon (Spiddeal Sailing Club) skipper in the days before the race. A very competent sailor with a calm yet confident manner. He was joined by sailing colleague Rob Talbot (Spiddeal Sailing Club).

Aaron O'Reilly, Fiona Christie, Iso Inan, Mark Wilson, Paddy Hennelly, Michael Flemming, Cathal Mahon (Spiddeal), Cian ConroyGreen Dragon crew (from left) Aaron O'Reilly, Fiona Christie, Iso Inan, Mark Wilson, Paddy Hennelly, Michael Flemming, Cathal Mahon (Spiddeal), Cian Conroy

The highlights of the race were rounding Fastnet in near calm conditions only to be followed by the very tough upwind leg up the West Coast on Sunday 19th, where there were 38kt gusts and big seas. The tidal gate at Raitlin was also a tricky period. The light winds on the East Coast also proved very frustrating as the boat suffers in light winds. Overall, the crew members had a great atmosphere on board with excellent communication.

Green Dragon and her Crew for the Round Ireland in light windsGreen Dragon and her Crew for the Round Ireland in light winds

Green Dragon finished in 4 days, eight hours, and 54m 21s. 2nd in line honours and 2nd in Class Z to Kuku 3, a Swiss-registered Cookson 50.

Cathal Mahon (Skipper) Spiddal SC
Rob Talbot (Bow) Spiddal / Galway city

Watch 1
Sammy Burke (Helm/watch lead) Lough Swilly
Jim McGowan (Helm) Lough Swilly
Iso Inan (Pit) GBSC
Michael Starr (Trimmer) Lough Derg YC
Oisin Lyons (Trimmer) Royal Irish YC
Paddy Hennelly (Bow) GBSC
Fiona Christie (Crew) GBSC

Watch 2
Mark Wilson (Helm/watch lead) GBSC
Aaron O'Reilly (Helm/bow) GBSC
Matija Rossi (Pit) Croatia
Michael Fleming (Trimmer) GBSC
David Adley (Trimmer) LDYC
Cian Conroy (Trimmer) GBSC
Barry O'Brien (Trimmer) Kinsale

Published in Round Ireland

Two protests lodged over competing boats allegedly sailing in Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS), an area in the sea where navigation of ships is highly regulated, in this week's Round Ireland Race were dismissed or deemed invalid following hearings.

As Afloat reported previously, in IRC class One, Howth Yacht Club's Robert Rendell's Samatom protested IRC One winner Michael Boyd's Darkwood of the Royal Irish Yacht Club for allegedly sailing in the North Channel TSS at Rathlin Island.

The protest committee found that the south-going lane on the North Channel TSS was 'not an area designated an obstruction by the round Ireland Sailing Instructions (SI 14(b) (ii)). The rule permits boats to enter the south-going lane.'

The protest was dismissed because 'No rule was broken'.

Round Ireland Race 2022  Protest Hearing DecisionsRound Ireland Race 2022 Protest Hearing Decisions

In a separate protest, Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy) protested UK double-handed entry Bellino (Bob Craigie) for sailing in the Sailing in North Channel TSS but as 'Nieulargo did not inform Bellino of her protest at the first reasonable opportunity as required by RRS.1(a) the protest was deemed invalid'.

Gordon Davies was the Round Ireland Race Protest Committee Chairman.

Published in Round Ireland

We can only be wishing this morning that the traditional-type low pressure areas which march across the Atlantic from New England towards Old Ireland could take aboard some of the strict Sabbatarianism of the regions they’re passing through in their developing stages, and give due regard for the attitudes imbued in such God-fearing places by the time they get here.

In other words, with one of the busiest weekends of the 2022 Irish sailing season upon us, everything is being affected by the remorseless approach of a low pressure area which will be squatted right upon us on Sunday. Now if it was a proper Ten Commandments-compliant depression, it would make Sunday a day of rest. But instead it will be working away with the Cong-Galway race on Lough Corrib postponed, the Shannon One Designs’ two-day long distance race from Lough Ree to Lough Derg adversely affected, and the final stages of events like Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough, the Royal Irish YC Drumshanbo Gin Regatta on Dublin Bay, and the Bandon Co-op Squib Championship at Kinsale having – at the very least – to take note.

The many Squibs at Kinsale have had some good racing and better weather than most. Photo: Robert BatemanThe many Squibs at Kinsale have had some good racing and better weather than most. Photo: Robert Bateman

DEEPENING LOW PRESSURE & HIGH STOOL DAYS

For of course it’s today (Saturday) with the Low approaching and deepening that we could see the greatest turbulence. If it does sit down over Ireland on Sunday, there could be much rain but little enough wind, yet always with the chance that a gale could strike at any moment.

In other words, it has all the makings of what, in the west of Ireland, they’d nominate as A High-Stool Day. So before we contemplate the ramifications of this, let us do things in an even more back-to-front style than usual. For today, after a very intense week of closely following the progress of the SL Renewables Round Ireland Race, we’d originally had thoughts of giving a sonorous overview of it all.

But after something like 16 continuous reports which led on from one to the other in such a processing of information that brain burnout resulted, I’m not sure that Sailing on Saturday has anything more to say, whereas the bare bones results – with the proper details of the boats involved - speak for themselves, and as we’ve already said somewhere, there seems to be something for nearly everyone in the audience.

She came, she saw, she conquered – the French J/121 SL Energies Fastwave (Laurent Charmy) overcame at least two tactical reversals to become overall winner of the 2022 Round Ireland Race. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien   She came, she saw, she conquered – the French J/121 SL Energies Fastwave (Laurent Charmy) overcame at least two tactical reversals to become overall winner of the 2022 Round Ireland Race. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien  

SSE RENEWABLES ROUND IRELAND YACHT RACE FROM WICKLOW 2022

Line honours: 1st Kuka3 (Cookson 50, Franco Niggeler, Switzerland); 2nd Green Dragon (Volvo 70, Conor Ferguson & Enda O Coineen, Galway Bay SC); 3rd Influence (Class40, Andrea Fornaro, Italy); 5th Samatom (Grand Soleil 44, Robert Rendell Howth Yacht Club) 6th Kite (Class 40, Greg Leonard, USA).

IRC Overall: 1st SL Energies Groupe Fastwave (J/111, Laurent Charmy, France); 2nd Snapshot (J/99, Michael & Richard Evans Howth YC; 3rd Artful Dodjer (J/109, Finbarr O’Regan. Kinsale YC), 5th Darkwood (J/121, Michael Boyd, RIYC); 6th Samatom.

Line honours: 1st Kuka3 (Cookson 50, Franco Niggeler, Switzerland)Line honours and IRC Z:1st Kuka3 (Cookson 50, Franco Niggeler, Switzerland)

IRC Z: 1st Kuka3; 2nd Green Dragon: 3rd Telefonica Black (Volvo 70, Lance Shepherd, RORC).

IRC 1: 1st Darkwood skippered by Michael Boyd (with trophy)IRC 1: 1st Darkwood skippered by Michael Boyd (with trophy)

IRC 1: 1st Darkwood; 2nd Samatom; 3rd Jackknife (J/125, Andrew Hall, Pwllheli SC), 4th Luzern eComm U25 (Figaro 3, Lorcan Tighe, Irish National SC), 5th Ca Va (Pogo 12.50, Tony Rayer, Cardiff Bay YC); 6th Fuji (OCD40, Ari Kansakoski, Cherbourg)

IRC 2: 1st SL Energies Fastwave; 2nd Rockabill VI (JPK 10.80, Paul O’Higgins, RIYC); 3rd Aurelia (J/122, Chris & Patanne Power Smith, RSTGYC); 4th Black Magic (First 44.7, Barry O’Donovan, Waterford Harbour SC & HYC).

IRC 3 1st Snapshot (J/99, Michael & Richard Evans Howth YC)IRC 3 1st Snapshot (J/99, Michael & Richard Evans Howth YC)

IRC 3: 1st Snapshot; 2nd Artful Dodjer; 3rd Bellino (Sunfast 3600, Rob Craigie, RORC), 4th Nieulargo (Grand Soleil 40, Denis & Annamarie Murphy, Royal Cork YC; 5th Cinnamon Girl (Sunfast 3300, Cian McCarthy & Sam Hunt, KYC); 6th Wild Pilgrim (Sunfast 3300, Daniel Jones RORC).

IRC 4: 1st Pyxis (X332, Kirsteen Donaldson, RORC)IRC 4: 1st Pyxis (X332, Kirsteen Donaldson, RORC)

IRC 4: 1st Pyxis (X332, Kirsteen Donaldson, RORC); 2nd Blue Oyster (Oyster 37, Alan Coleman, Royal Cork YC); 3rd Cavatina (Granada 38, Ian Hickey RCYC); 4th More Mischief, (First 310, Grzegorz Kalinecki, Dun Laoghaire).

ISORA: 1st SamatomISORA: 1st Samatom (Robert Rendell)

ISORA: 1st Samatom; 2nd Rockabill VI; 3rd YoYo (Sunfast 36, Graham Curran/Brendan Coghlan, RStGYC); 3rd Indian (J/109. Simon Knowles, Howth YC), 4th Aurelia; 5th Black Magic.

ICRA: 1st Snapshot; 2nd Artful Dodjer; 3rd Samatom; 4th Nieulargo; 5th Cinnamon Girl: 6th Rockabill VI.

Class40: 1st InfluenceClass40: 1st Influence (Pamela Lee)

Class40: 1st Influence; 2nd Kite; 3rd: Fuji.

Two-Handed: 1st BellinoTwo-Handed: 1st Bellino (Rob Craigie)

Two-Handed: 1st Bellino; 2nd Cinnamon Girl; 3rd Wild Pilgrim; 4th Asgard (Sunfast 3300, Ross Farrow, Hamble).

Cruising: 1st Blue Oyster; 2nd Cavatina; 3rd Shindig (Swan 40, Tony Kingston. KYC).

ICRA: 2nd Artful DodjerCorinthian: 1st Artful Dodjer (Finbarr O'Regan)

Corinthian: 1st Artful Dodjer; 2nd Bellino; 3rd Indian; 4th Aurelia, 5th Black Magic; 6th Hiro Maru, S & S 47, Hiroshi Nakajima, New York YC).

Overseas: 1st SL Energies Fastwave; 2nd Bellino; 3rd Wild Pilgrim; 4th Asgard; 5th Hiro Maru; 6th Pyxis

Services: Prime Suspect (Mills 36, Keith Millar, Kilmore Quay).

Sailing Schools: 1st Lynx Wild West Sailing (Mullaghmore). (Reflex 38, Cian Mullee, Sligo YC); 2nd Arthur (First 40, Jim Bennett, RORC); 3rd Jezebel (J/111, Chris Miles, Conwy N.Wales).

The Round Ireland Tracks on the final day – they got beaten up on the west coast, and beaten down on the east while some “interesting” new weather approached from the west.The Round Ireland Tracks on the final day – they got beaten up on the west coast, and beaten down on the east while some “interesting” new weather approached from the west.

The combined results are possibly the greatest advertisement for the Rod Johnstone-inspired J/Boat range that there has ever been. And with just five minutes between first and second overall (the number crunchers tell us it is 0.005 per cent) this was a race which had everyone on the edge of their seats right to the end.

And while Laurent Charmy and his crew are offshore-hardened toughies, you’ll note that although Mike & Richie Evans with Snapshot are also in the ICRA Division, they’re not in the ISORA section, as they aren’t regular offshore racers. In fact, this was their first crack at a major. Ponder that.

Little boat, big achievement – on their first major offshore race, Mike & Richie Evans with the 33ft J/99 Snapshot (HYC) missed the overall win in the Round Ireland by just five minutes. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’BrienLittle boat, big achievement – on their first major offshore race, Mike & Richie Evans with the 33ft J/99 Snapshot (HYC) missed the overall win in the Round Ireland by just five minutes. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Meanwhile, attention is now swinging towards other events, not least Belfast Lough and Bangor Town Regatta, where senior Race Officer Con Murphy is trying to cram the sport in before the meteorological top comes off tonight.

Most of the official material was in place when it was suddenly announced that Bangor was going to become a city. It was greeted in the former borough with mixed feelings, for the whole point about Bangor – having spent the first 18 years of my life there – is that it doesn’t feel remotely like a city, and that’s one of the best things about the place.

Regatta star - John Minnis’s A35 Final Call racing at Bangor Town Regatta. After winning her class at Howth Wave, she s now performing at Bangor, and will then be racing in Volvo Week in Cork in JulyRegatta star - John Minnis’s A35 Final Call racing at Bangor Town Regatta. After winning her class at Howth Wave, she s now performing at Bangor, and will then be racing in Volvo Week in Cork in July

Yet if it all becomes accepted, next time round we’ll be talking of the City of Bangor Regatta, which as sure as God made little apples will become COBRA. They’re not at all enthusiastic about that up Bangor way. Indeed, muted enthusiasm used to be a Bangor characteristic, even if some photos from the current regatta suggest otherwise.

As it is, one dyed-in-the-wool Bangorian - on observing the charts of the weather currently approaching the new City of Bangor - was heard to assert that they never had adverse sailing weather like this when Bangor was just a town.

When Bangor was just a town, they always had weather like thisWhen Bangor was just a town, they always had weather like this

Published in W M Nixon

Following perhaps the longest drawn-out race for a prize in Irish sport, and perhaps the most valuable prize ever in Irish sailing, it is coming down to a matter of minutes and seconds in today's SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race conclusion.

As Afloat previously reported, determined over the outcomes of the 2016, 2018 and 2022 Round Ireland Races, the main contenders for the Volvo V40 are Michael Boyd (Darkwood), Rob Craigie (Bellino), Ian Hickey (Cavatina) and Paul O'Higgins (Rockabill).

Boyd is in the clubhouse, waiting anxiously for the other three to complete the race.

Craigie is in the strongest challenging position as of 12 noon today (June 23rd), but he must finish by 15:30 or so to finish ahead of Boyd.

Rob Craigie's (Bellino) is in the race for the round Ireland Volvo carRob Craigie's (Bellino) is in the race for the Round Ireland Volvo car prize Photo: Afloat

Boyd, however, has a three-place cushion and so Craigie will be relying on other finishers to reduce the gap.

Protest

The overall position is further complicated by a protest - according to Afloat sources - that has been lodged against Boyd over an alleged TSS violation, which may yet cost him two hours.

Weather forecasts suggest that a breeze has filled in providing hope for those still at sea.

Mode details on the protest as they become available

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race Day Six (Thursday) 0900 hrs - Although the Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka 3 and the Volvo 70 Green Dragon took first and second in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022 in full daylight yesterday evening, an entire summer’s night - though admittedly the second-shortest one of the year - had elapsed before the next finisher, Andrea Fornaro’s Clas40 Influence (Italy) crossed at 05:05hrs this (Thursday) morning, having got the best of the race-long duel with sister-ship Kite (Greg Leonard) by an hour and nine minutes.

Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom (Howth YC) got across the Wicklow finish line at 05:37 Photo: AfloatRobert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom (Howth YC) got across the Wicklow finish line at 05:37 Photo: Afloat

With the boats only crawling along in the lightest of breezes, what had been relatively tight gaps were exaggerated in time, but in that Influence/Kite divide, Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom (Howth YC) got across at 05:37, the first of the “orthodox” IRC boats to finish. But then with Kite across at 06:14 the way was clear for Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood (RIYC) to get in at 06:36, thereby correcting in to an IRC I win by 59 minutes over Samatom, a state of affairs in class which is likely to continue even with other IRC 1 boats getting to the line this morning, as many of them are higher-rated.

Michael Boyd's J121 Darkwood crew prepare to come ashore in Wicklow Harbour after finishing at 0636 hours on ThursdayMichael Boyd's J121 Darkwood crew prepare to come ashore in Wicklow Harbour after finishing at 0636 hours on Thursday

In fact, it is an IRC 2 boat, the French J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) which will likely be across within the hour, for at 08:00 hrs she was just 4.8 miles from the finish and making good 6.8 knots. (She finished at 0845). However, although this will put her in a position of some certainty during a race in which sailing conditions cannot be relied on for any significant length of time, the morning-long (and more) ebb tide down the Wicklow Coast will aid boats still at sea on the final stage to get to the finish, and at 0800 the J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) was still in the IRC Overall First Position she has held for some time, but now just 36 miles from the finish and sailing at 5.7 knots and south of Rockabill, racing in her home waters, and showing an hour in hand on the next batch of boats.

Ian Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from CorkIan Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Cork

The Wednesday evening excitement of Ian Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina from Cork moving into second overall proved cruelly short-lived, as the tidal gate at Rathlin slammed shot, and Cavatina and those about her went nowhere for five hours, whereas boats through the North Channel and into the less fiercely tidal waters of the Irish Sea were able to make progress, albeit at time very painfully slowly, and even then at very different speeds.

Thus another new name from Cork has come to the fore, but this is a Kinsale boat, Finbarr O’Regan’s J/109 Artful Dodjer, currently lying second to head a complete line of Cork boats as the Grand Soleil Nieulargo (Denis & Annamarie Murphy, RCYC) is now third with 42 miles to sail, while the astonishing two-handed Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy & Sam Hunt, KYC) is fourth with a very short indicated lead over SL Energies.

Finbarr O’Regan’s J/109 Artful DodjerFinbarr O’Regan’s J/109 Artful Dodjer Photo: Afloat

However, although regular contender Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC) is currently indicated at 12th in IRC overall as the fleet make south in increasingly light airs, she has only 37 miles still to race, but the wind pattern suggests that it will be a slow and frustrating haul to the finish.

Live Race Tracker & Data below

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race Day Five (Wednesday) 1830 hrs - The Cookson 50 Kuka3 (Franco Niggeler, Switzerland) took line honours in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race 2022 at 18:09 hrs this evening off the Wicklow pierhead, after closing in on the finish in a local breeze which had the canting-keel sloop sailing over the final miles at 8.4 knots.

It was a welcome reversal of circumstances for her crew – which includes Tom McWilliam of Crosshaven sail-making connections - as the light winds and total calms experienced for much of today had seen her covering only 92 miles in the last 24 hours, frustrating going for a boat which can easily put 250 miles astern in a day when conditions suit.

The current overall IRC leader on handicap continues to be Mike & Richie Evans’ J/99 Snapshot (Howth YC)The current overall IRC leader on handicap continues to be Mike & Richie Evans’ J/99 Snapshot (Howth YC)

For the rest of the fleet, light winds continue to dictate progress, but progress is being made. The current overall IRC leader on handicap continues to be Mike & Richie Evans’ J/99 Snapshot (Howth YC), but a new name has come to the fore in second place in the form of Ian Hickey’s Cavatina (Royal Cork YC).

 Ian Hickey’s Cavatina (Royal Cork YC) Ian Hickey’s Cavatina (Royal Cork YC) Photo: Afloat

Former overall winner Cavatina had a good day in getting along the North Coast and into the North Channel, as did other boats in the lower-rated part of the fleet, such that Snapshot’s closest rivals for much of the day – the French J/111 SL Energies and the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC) are currently lying 5th and 6th.

JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC)JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC) Photo: Afloat

French J/111 SL EnergiesFrench J/111 SL Energies Photo: Afloat

Race Tracker & Data below

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race Day Five (Wednesday) 1500 hrs - Time was when most crews thought they’d had a crisp and efficient Round Ireland Race if they were finished by the Thursday evening. But George David’s sensational circuit with Rambler 88 in 2016 seems to have changed everyone’s perceptions and expectations in an enduring way, and people start getting restless if somebody isn’t back across the Wicklow finishing line by Tuesday morning.

Yet here we are, well into Wednesday afternoon, but there’s no finisher yet, and over much of the course between Malin Head and the finish, the seas are so windless and flat, with the skies so monochrome grey, that exhausted sailors are losing their bearings - and their sense of what is up and down - to such an extent that there’s talk of this all being a trial run for the Ending of Days.

The scene from the race course just below Belfast Lough off the Skulmartin rocksWhich way is up? In the ultra light airs it is hard to know which is sky and which is sea! This shot from the Round Ireland race course was taken just below Belfast Lough off the Skulmartin rocks

As it is, today at various times we’ve seen both the leader on the water and the IRC overall leader lose steerage way to such an extent that they were pointed in exactly the opposite direction to that intended.

It happened first to the IRC leader SL Energies, the French J/11I, to the southeast of the entrance to Strangford Lough, and an hour or so ago it happened to line honours leader Kuka3 off Greystones, just 10.5 miles from the finish and already in the disagreeable position of battling an adverse tide until around 19:00 hrs this evening.

But meanwhile, other boats have been taking full advantage of private zephyrs, and back in the North Channel Mike & Richie Evans’ J/99 Snapshot (HYC) has been hanging in like a limpet to maintain her IRC lead, with SL Energies on the go again to lie second, while Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins RIYC) is staying well in touch in third.

And there are of course intriguing inter-boat races all down the line, with few as fascinating as the match between the Class40s Kite and Infuence which – after going their separate and sometimes eccentric ways at earlier stages of the race – have now come together again to be neck and neck as they make best use of the south to the southeast breeze which can currently be found in the big bight in Ireland’s East Coast between Howth Head and St John’s Point.

Race Tracker & Data below. Live Dublin Bay webcams here

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race Day Five (Wednesday) 0800 hrs - Despite the continuing prospect of light north to northeast winds, this morning’s south-going ebb tide off the Wicklow coast should speed up the progress of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, helping on-water leader Kuka3 (Cookson 50, Franco Niggeler, Switzerland) towards the finish before lunchtime today (Wednesday).

Crosshaven native Tom McWilliam (third from right) is part of the international Kuka3 crew Photo: AfloatCrosshaven native Tom McWilliam (third from right) is part of the international Kuka3 crew

Towards 0800hrs, Kuka was gliding along at 4.0 knots, well at sea off Dublin Bay, (see live Dublin Bay webcams here - Ed) with 20 miles still to sail to the Wicklow pierhead. After two days of light air sailing while dealing with the many challenges of the tide-riven north and northeast coasts of Ireland, the diverse fleet is now spread along almost 200 miles of the Irish coastline, with the smallest boat in the race, Grzegorz Kalinecki’s First 310 More Mischief from Dun Laoghaire, in process of passing Tory Island in Donegal in the tail-ender position, but sailing at a good 6.2 knots in her own private westerly breeze.

Grzegorz Kalinecki’s First 310 More Mischief from Dun LaoghaireSmallest boat in the race - Grzegorz Kalinecki’s First 310 More Mischief from Dun Laoghaire Photo: Afloat

Meanwhile, the key boats in the current battle for the overall IRC Handicap win have spent a night of little wind in the North Channel and the North Irish Sea. The 0800 leader, the French J/111 SL Energies, was off the entrance to Strangford Lough and showing a speed of only 1.8 knots, but while the now second-placed J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) is making 5.5 knots off Red Bay on the Antrim coast, she is aided by the locally stronger fair tide in addition to a slightly firmer nor’west breeze.

The 0800 leader, the French J/111 SL EnergiesThe 0800 leader, the French J/111 SL Energies Photo: Afloat

J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC)Up to second oiverall - J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans, Howth YC) Photo: Afloat

Third on IRC overall is Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC), making 4.6 knots off Belfast Lough, though well out in the middle of the North Channel.

Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood (RIYC)In the north Irish Sea - Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood (RIYC) Photo: Afloat

The two on-water leaders in the main IRC Division, Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom (HYC) and Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood (RIYC) are in the north Irish Sea in close proximity, with Samatom ahead boat-for-boat, but Darkwoood, at sixth overall, the better placed on handicap.

Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt)Back in the hunt - The two handed Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt) Photo: Afloat

In fact, it’s one of the smaller boats, the gallant two-handed Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt) which is back in the frame at fourth overall in IRC, and currently off the Antrim coast at 130 miles from the finish, racing in close proximity with Snapshot.

Race Tracker & Data below

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Race Day four (Tuesday) 2100 With the tides of the North Channel running favourably southwards for the Round Ireland fleet from around 16:30hrs today, the state of play for the leaders in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race has been akin to windless riding on a roller-coaster that terminates at the South Rock Light off the County Down coast, where the flood tide loses speed and power as it dissipates into the Irish Sea

This is all-too-vividly illustrated by the progress of line honours leader Kuka3, the Swiss Cookson 50, which at 1730 was merrily making her way southward at 7.3 knots, yet an hour later with the South Rock astern, it was all she could do to keep the needle pushing towards 4 knots.

But her closest contender, the Volvo 70 Green Dragon, was having an even less agreeable time of it off Belfast Lough, so we learn yet again that anyone who thinks they understand the effect of the tides of the North Channel may never have been there, while being there only adds to the bewilderment.

Green Dragon - second in line honoursGreen Dragon - second in line honours Photo: Afloat

That said, away to the north Robert Rendell’s Grand Soleil 44 Samatom – having re-found her mojo once the navigator Richie Fearon was back in his home waters around Inishowen and Malin Head – has done remarkable things to come south from Rathlin now clearly ahead of Michael Boyd’s J/121 Darkwood.

It gets stranger than that. The American Class40 Kite has been sailing an exemplary race for the past 24 hours, and was well ahead coming into the North Channel. But now her Italian rival Influence has thrown caution to the winds (such as they are) and has been making her way south at 9.6 knots close west of the Mull of Kintyre.

Meanwhile, the emerging French star, the J/111 SL Energies (Laurent Charmy) has continued to make significant dents in what had seemed the pre-ordained order of things, and is close east of Rathlin making 6.7 knots in a light following breeze. But this has been good enough to put her into the overall lead in IRC, where second is held by Darkwood while Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins) stays in contention in third.

The current charts indicate an almost complete absence of wind between the South Rock and the finish at Wicklow, but a new nor’easter seems to be filling into the North Channel, and it may in time spread further along the course. Nevertheless, Maritime Mystic Meg’s most recent statement is that currently it’s a lottery, so we’ll leave it at that for tonight and see how things have been going first thing tomorrow morning.

Race tracker and data below

Published in Round Ireland
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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