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Round Ireland to have more check-in points

22nd April 1996
Round Ireland to have more check-in points By DAVID O'BRIEN A MAYDAY distress call after six hours of the 1994 Round Ireland race has forced organisers of the ninth event, starting on June 22nd, to double the amount of mandatory check-in points around the course in an attempt to keep a closer track on this year's fleet. Forty-foot Welsh entry Jackabout, skippered by Andrew Hall, was forced to issue her Mayday signal in the last race due to a suspected hull failure when she was just north of the Tuskar Rock. At the time organisers had difficulty in establishing the whereabouts of the 55-boat fleet because the only mandatory check-in point was the Fastnet Rock, a further 24 hours sailing for most competitors. There was also a gas explosion a dismasting and rigging failures on other boats in the first bumpy hours of the 1994 race which resulted in a number of blackspots for organisers who received anxious calls from supporters and relatives. "Since the beginning there have been big areas and long-time periods where you didn't know where all the competitors were," says race organiser Fergus O Conchobhair. For safety reasons the four extra check-in points announced are: Tuskar Rock, at Waterford as the fleet turn the corner; Slyne Head, Mayo; Oranmore off Donegal, and Rockabill, north of Dublin, which will set the scene for a better finish than Mew Island previously has done.
May 22nd may be the entry deadline but already there is a queue forming in Wicklow for places in what could be a record race with at least two maxi yachts booked for the 704-mile circuit. Longobarda will add extra spice to a fleet that is expected to match 1990's record entry of 60 boats. Mike Slade's 85-footer is the first formal maxi entry but according to O Conchobhair Austrian Peter Gabriel will campaign the 60ft Equity & Law. The Solent-based Whitbread 30 Sticky Fingers, owned by James Vernon. leads a growing list of English enquiries. Sligo YC will field two yachts, Stewart Hunter's Sigma 38 Valkyrie and Mobil One, a chartered Sigma 38 to be skippered by Joe English. Mayo SC are also chartering an IMX 38, with Eddie English as coach and Robin Smith at the helm. The Sigma 38 fleet, where more than 10 yachts will be sailing under club burgees, will be one of the most competitive divisions. Last weekend's Lisney Cup, sailed on Lough Ree, was a successful start for Mick Cotter's now Dragon keelboat Whisper, although he was not at the helm. Instead Andrew Craig, crewed by Robin Hennessy and Anthony Shanks, were the sailors with the winning edge in the 26 boat fleet. Craig, Hennessy and Shanks outwitted West Kirby brothers Peter a0d Alan Price, and despite two wins, Garry Treacy, Graham Sleator and Paddy Maguire had to be content with third overall. Competition continues next weekend at the East Coast Dragon championships at Royal St George YC where the illustrious Pol-Rikard Hoj Jensen of Denmark, will be competing in Whisper. While the sportsboats hype continues there is good news in the real world, where keelboat designs, such as the Dragon, report tour new boats for their Dublin Bay fleet this season. Minister for the Marine Sean Barrett launched Bantry Bay 96 at the Maritime museum in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday. The festival marks the 200th anniversary of the abortive invasion by the French armada under the leadership of Wolfe Tone. Events range from a visit of Tall ships from the Bristol regatta and a four-day Atlantic challenge sponsored by Murphy's stout that includes traditional maritime skills.
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