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Will Kuka3 Maintain her Round Ireland Pace and Place as the Winds Turn Light?

19th June 2022
Kuka 3 is closing in toward Loop Head
Kuka 3 is closing in toward Loop Head on the second evening of the 2022 Round Ireland Race Credit: Afloat

Round Ireland Day Two 2030 hrs - At 06:30 this morning, came sweeping past the Fastnet Rock, and hardened sheets for the long and rugged slug to windward up the coasts of West Cork and Kerry, fired up to maintain her on-water lead in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race. The day’s sailing was inevitably going to take her through what we anticipated in our Breakfast Bulletin as “crew-testing, boat-breaking” conditions, but this - at several stages - is inevitably what racing round Ireland is all about.

Twelve hours later, at 18:30 hrs this (Sunday) evening, the gallant old war horse Kuka3 was still battling along, now on port tack and punching her way at 9 knots over and through confused seas, but still in the lead and comfortably due north of Smerwick Harbour, with the Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula and all southwest Ireland put well astern.

The Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka3 crew skippered by Franco NiggelerThe Swiss Cookson 50 Kuka3 crew skippered by Franco Niggeler Photo: Bob Bateman

It had been an impressive day’s sailing, put into even sharper perspective with the news that three boats had been forced to retire in face of the conditions, most notably Kuka3’s most direct rival, the HH42 InoXXX, which found conditions beyond the Skelligs so tough that her hull started to de-laminate.

Pre-race favourite the HH42 InoXXX is out of the Round Ireland due to hull delamination on day two Photo: AfloatPre-race favourite the HH42 InoXXX is out of the Round Ireland race due to hull delamination Photo: Afloat

Yet now Kuka 3 is closing in toward Loop Head on the north side of the Shannon Estuary. She is out of the strongest area of the northerly wind which has been dominating the race. And by tomorrow the signs are that she and the rest of the fleet still racing will be dealing with much lighter winds, conditions in which InoXXX would have been in her element.

But that scenario is not to be. This is not a sport or a race course for the faint-hearted. There’s something all-or-nothing about the Round Ireland Race. So we have to put aside thoughts of what-might-have-been, and instead look in a coldly analytical way at those boats which are now coming up the rankings through the effects of the changing weather conditions and the permutations of the handicap system.

It’s all there in the data with the Race Tracker. And at the moment, the little Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl, just two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt from Kinsale, continues to hang onto the overall lead which she grabbed early today.

Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl leads and is just two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt from KinsaleSunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl leads and is just two-handed with Cian McCarthy and Sam Hunt from Kinsale Photo: Bob Bateman

But to keep it, she and her crew have to overcome the extra pressure of being two-handed, and the knowledge that there are some very tough boats, fully-manned and with tough crews, racing hard with all the remorseless logic of expectation on their side. It has been quite a tough race already. Yet there’s still a long way to go, and the winds and weather remain perversely volatile. The conditions may change, but the challenge is as great as ever

The Oyster 37 Blue Oyster(Noel Coleman) off the Stags on the West Cork coast Photo: Gavin MinihaneThe Oyster 37 Blue Oyster(Noel Coleman) off the Stags on the West Cork coast Photo: Gavin Minihane

Race Tracker is below

Published in Round Ireland

Round Ireland Yacht Race Live Tracker 2022

Track the progress of the 2022 Wicklow Sailing Club Round Ireland Race fleet on the live tracker above and see all Afloat's Round Ireland Race coverage in one handy link here

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Round Ireland Yacht Race Information

The Round Ireland Yacht Race is Ireland's classic offshore yacht race starts from Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC) and is organised jointly with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC). This page details the very latest updates from the 2008 race onwards including the race schedule, yacht entries and the all-important race updates from around the 704-mile course. Keep up to date with the Round Ireland Yacht Race here on this one handy reference page.

2020 Round Ireland Race

The 2020 race, the 21st edition, was the first race to be rescheduled then cancelled.

Following Government restrictions over COVID-19, a decision on the whether or not the 2020 race can be held was made on April 9 2020 to reschedule the race to Saturday, August 22nd. On July 27th, the race was regrettably cancelled due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

Because of COVID-19, the race had to have a virtual launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club for its 21st edition

In spite of the pandemic, however, a record entry was in prospect for 2020 with 50 boats entered with four weeks to go to the race start. The race was also going big on size and variety to make good on a pre-race prediction that the fleet could reach 60. An Irish offshore selection trial also looked set to be a component part of the 2020 race.

The rescheduling of the race to a news date emphasises the race's national significance, according to Afloat here


704 nautical miles, 810 miles or 1304 kilometres

3171 kilometres is the estimate of Ireland's coastline by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.

SSE Renewables are the sponsors of the 2020 Round Ireland Race.

Wicklow Sailing Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London and The Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dublin.

Off Wicklow Harbour on Saturday, August 22nd 2020

Monohulls 1300 hrs and Multihulls 13.10 hrs

Leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard.

It depends on the boat. The elapsed record time for the race is under 40 hours but most boats take five or six days to complete the course.

The Race Tracker is

The idea of a race around Ireland began in 1975 with a double-handed race starting and finishing in Bangor organised by Ballyholme Yacht Club with stopovers in Crosshaven and Killybegs. That race only had four entries. In 1980 Michael Jones put forward the idea of a non-stop race and was held in that year from Wicklow Sailing Club. Sixteen pioneers entered that race with Brian Coad’s Raasay of Melfort returning home after six days at sea to win the inaugural race. Read the first Round Ireland Yacht Race 1980 Sailing Instructions here


The Round Ireland race record of 38 h 37 min 7 s is held by MOD-70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail and was set in June 2016.

George David’s Rambler 88 (USA) holds the fastest monohull race time of two days two hours 24 minutes and 9 seconds set in the 2016 race.

William Power's 45ft Olivia undertook a round Ireland cruise in September 1860


Richard Hayes completed his solo epic round Ireland voyage in September 2018 in a 14-foot Laser dinghy. The voyage had seen him log a total of 1,324 sea miles (2,452 kilometres) in 54 sailing days. in 1961, the Belfast Lough Waverly Durward crewed by Kevin and Colm MacLaverty and Mick Clarke went around Ireland in three-and-a-half weeks becoming the smallest keelboat ever to go round. While neither of these achievements occurred as part of the race they are part of Round Ireland sailing history

© Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Round Ireland Yacht Race 2022

Race start: Off Wicklow Harbour date to be announced, June 18 2022

There will be separate starts for monohulls and multihulls.

Race course:  leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard.

Race distance: is approximately 704 nautical miles or 1304 kilometres.

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