Tuesday, July 5, 2016

J’s Triumphant In RORC Round Ireland Race

J/109 sailing off Ireland (Wicklow, Ireland)- The Round Ireland is Ireland’s premier offshore yacht race, and the second longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar at 704nm (only Round Britain & Ireland Race is longer). The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, held biennially, the fleet has grown steadily, attracting a record 64 entrants from all over Ireland and the British Isles.

Wicklow Sailing Club were delighted that the Royal Irish Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, agreed to act as the Dublin host club for the 2016 race. This association with the RIYC was especially beneficial as it enables more and larger competing yachts to be hosted prior to the start of the race.

It also enabled serious characters to have fun and participate in the race at the same time.  One of the more famous happens to be J/109 owner David Cullen.  After being CEO of Ireland’s leading parking provider- EURO CAR PARKS- David credited being useless at football as a kid that led to his decision to get into sailing.  A native of Raheny, he has come from dragging a canoe and windsurfer down the cliff to Kilbarrack Creek to entering his J/109 STORM/ EURO CAR PARKS, into the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland fleet. Thanks to his exceedingly tolerant wife, Deirdre, he was able to devote much of his spare time to sailing and preparing for the race.

Describing his crew as “friends for life,” they have sailed together on a myriad of different boats, from half tonners to Volvo 65s. When asked what they have in common, David answered: “Age and baldness, but also a steely determination to win!”

Why are they taking part in the Volvo Round Ireland?  “Because, it is 18 years since I won the Round Ireland on Jeep Cherokee- a Volvo 60- so it’s a bit overdue. My upcoming 50th birthday inspired me to do something I enjoyed so many times previously, and the fever has spread to my pals.”

J/109 sailing Irish offshore seriesWhat kind of provisions will the crew be keeping themselves fueled with?  “Well, after sampling a few different freeze dried options, they decided the best plan was to indulge in some of Dublin’s best Asian cuisine. Meals will be prepared by Kanoodle Restaurant to be taken on board. The crew has yet to decide who gets the important task of reheating!  They are looking forward to the breath-taking scenery that comes with taking part in the Volvo Round Ireland, but also to the camaraderie, stories and jokes that will no doubt be shared on board.”  Apparently, David was confident there would be no arguments while at sea.. unless anyone disagrees with him!

In what has been one of the toughest ever editions of the race, with rough seas resulting in 15 retirements from the record 63 strong-fleet, sailing history was made across a series of fronts.  For starters, the three MOD 70 trimarans all set a new Round Ireland record for multihulls, then George David’s RAMBLER 88 also set a monohull record.

Race organizers at Wicklow Sailing Club said it had been an unforgettable week of sporting history.  Theo Phelan, Race Chief (speaking on Friday) said, “The race is not over until every single yacht is back safe and sound across the finish line. There are still 4 boats at sea, which we expect in this afternoon.  The reports from the sailors are that it was a fantastic race, with everything a race should contain.  It started on Saturday afternoon and already by midday on Sunday, they were being hit full blast by 30 knot winds, leading to 11 retirements on Sunday alone.”

J/111 sailing Irish offshore seriesOn Friday evening, the tired but exhilarated sailors attended the awards ceremony at Wicklow Sailing Club.  The renowned sailors’ rum- Goslings- put on a special “Goslings Dark’n’Stormy Reception” to welcome all the crews back.  Needless to say, it was a well-attended and highly popular celebration!

In terms of performance by J/crews, nothing was going to hold them back.  In fact, J sailors placed on the podium in every single class they sailed in!  For example, in IRC 2 Class, the Army Sailing Association’s J/111 BRITISH SOLDIER placed second in class and 16th overall to continue to lead IRC 2 RORC Season Points Championship.  Chris Power-Smith’s J/122 AURELIA finished third in class and 18th overall.

IRC 3 Class, David Cullen’s J/109 STORM won class by nearly three hours corrected time after 4 days, 22 hours at sea (no arguments & great Asian food were the recipe of success!) and also placed 5th overall in the fleet of 37 boats that finished the race.  Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s J/109 MOJITO was in 7th place and 14th overall.  They were followed by Chris Palmer’s J/109 J-T’AIME in 9th and the Royal Armoured Corps YC J/109 AJA was 10th in class.

IRC 4 class, Stephen Quinn’s J/97 LAMBAY RULES was 3rd on the podium, finishing the race in 5 days, 12 hours and she also took 17th overall.  As a result, it is interesting to note that J/Boat teams comprised nearly one-third of the top eighteen places overall in this tough, demanding race!   For more RORC Round Ireland Race sailing information