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Round Ireland - the Race that Breaks Boats In The West, and Hearts In The East

24th June 2022
Mike and Richie Evans in the J/99 Snapshot - a case of oh so very near, but oh so very far in Round Ireland 2022
Mike and Richie Evans in the J/99 Snapshot - a case of oh so very near, but oh so very far in Round Ireland 2022

Round Ireland Race Day Six (Thursday) 1700 hrs -  In the end, it was just about two miles of the Wicklow coast that did for them. Mike and Richie Evans with the J/99 Snapshot knew they’d to be at the finish on the Wicklow Harbour pierheads at 16.33 hrs to hold their overall SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race lead in IRC which – if added to their overall victory last year in the Sovereigns at Kinsale – would have made for two years of mega-achievement.

But even though in the final ten miles of flukey windward work they made mincemeat of all the boats around them, it wasn’t quite enough, 16:33 came and went, but though the finish line was clearly in sight, it was a case of oh so very near, but oh so very far. And now it looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies skippered by Laurent Charmy is going to be the overall winner. (Wicklow organisers confirmed on Thursday at 10 pm the Clubhouse winner is French J/111 SL Energies -Ed).

So how did she do it? Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon we referred to the better southeast breeze that seemed in evidence deep into in the big bight on Ireland’s east coast between Howth Head and St John’s Point. Which was all very well if you happened to be in a position to avail of it. But the only boat properly placed to do so was SL Energies, and it enabled her to go from zero to hero.

it looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies is going to be the overall winnerIt looks very much as though the French J/111 SL Energies is going to be the overall winner Photo: Afloat

As had been pointed out in our previous report, she was so becalmed off the County Down coast in the region of the entrance to Strangford Lough that at one stage she’d lost steerage way completely, and was pointing in the opposite direction to her intended course. But once she got the properly into the edge of this handy little breeze, she held on and stayed on port tack going well, and going further west than any other boat in the fleet, only finally tacking south of Drogheda in order to leave Rockabill to starboard.

It was the second time during the race that SL Energies had made such a remarkable recovery from being in the crabgrass. But this time she was near enough to the finish to carry the benefit of it all the way to Wicklow, and when she crossed the line at 0845 this (Thursday) morning, we knew that we were looking at a time which was going to take a lot of beating.

It was all put into perspective with’s subsequent publishing later this morning of the times SL Energie’s challengers had to beat at Wicklow to topple her from her perch. And it has made for an excruciating day as boats from one’s own port have been putting in a performance which could do the job, but then faded again as the life went out of some temporarily helpful breeze.

So now at least the agony of watching and waiting is over. How on earth do people do this every week with their favourite football team? About once a year is enough for civilised folk. But my goodness, what a race it has been, and still is as the final stages of the drama are played out. A race which broke people’s boats off the west coast, and broke their hearts off the east coast. Time for over-involved observers to lie down in a darkened room…….

Race Tracker & Data 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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