Thursday, July 26, 2018

J/Teams Win Round Ireland Race!

J/122 wins Round Ireland J/122 Leads IRC 2, J/109 Tops IRC 3!
(Wicklow, Ireland)- July has brought sizzling good fortune to J/Teams in the United Kingdom & Ireland, with tremendous success in the granddaddy of all offshore races on the Irish sailing calendar- in fact, the longest competed for on a regular basis.

"A hidden gem and a perfect fit for the island nation."  That’s how the 700nm Volvo Round Ireland Race can be summed up by veterans and newcomers alike.  Far from the popular image of blazered “yachties” Round Ireland race track maplolling aimlessly around the marina, this is a tough challenge involving few creature-comforts and plenty of rigor for the best part of a week at sea. But, the upsides are worth it and even if only one boat can win, judging by the celebrations in Wicklow Sailing Club at the end of previous races, just completing the course is considered a huge achievement.

This year’s event was one of the more remarkable on record.  Why? Because the fact was, that this crazy event- dominated weather-wise by unprecedented High pressure over the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean- went along its 700-mile course, there were times when the pundit’s predictions seemed woefully off the mark, as in completely askew!

Mostly northeast winds dominated the early part of the event, sometimes with very considerable strength, becoming nor’westerly and then southeasterly at the end.

Irish coastlineSoutheast of the line from Fair Head to Mizen Head, the conditions made for reasonably fair and manageable racing. But northwest of that line, out along the Wild Atlantic Way, it was unfair in every way.  It was a slogging match in which whoever could slog the hardest and the mostest and the fastest and in the best direction was ultimately going to come out top. Because, that meant they were soonest back into reasonable conditions where they could make sailing hay and live again.

It meant that at different stages, many boats had their moment in the sun of success in addition to being in sun-factor-50 conditions of bright, if hazy ultra-sun from dawn to dusk.

Eight J’s entered the bi-annual Volvo Round Ireland Race, where the rule is simply to leave Ireland and her islands to starboard.

J/122 winners of Round Ireland RaceFirst J/crew into the finish line off Wicklow Harbour after the brutally demanding race, like punching upwind in 45 kts and 10 foot seas off the rugged northwest coast of Ireland, was Chris & Pat-Anne Power Smith’s J/122 AURELIA from Royal St George YC.  As a result of their tremendous crew, they pulled off a win in IRC 2 class and took third in IRC Overall!

Chris commented, “A class win was our strong ambition against very experienced and tough competition, including the X41 and the JPK 10.80.  After five strenuous days and nights of relentless close quarters sailing over the 704nm course, we finally managed to cross the line 150 meters ahead of the higher rated X41 for the Class win. The icing on the cake was that we won top ISORA boat of 18 starters, and third overall in the 52 boat IRC Fleet. The J/122 performed flawlessly and comfortably on all points of sail in winds from near calm to over 25 knots.”

J/109 winners of Round Island RaceFor the J/109 teams, as ever, there was much at stake. Ireland’s Defence Forces were represented by Commandant Barry Byrne (originally from Wicklow) and navigator Mick Liddy with the J/109 JOKER II. Like every other boat in this demanding 700-mile race, JOKER II has had her moments of glory and her times of frustration. But, as they approached the finish line off Wicklow in the late afternoon, the dying seabreeze wasn’t helping them much. JOKER II slowly crawled to the finish to win the Services Trophy Overall, take 1st in IRC 3 Class, and the silver in IRC Overall!  A fantastic performance for the Irish Defence Forces team!  For more Volvo Round Ireland sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.