There have been several Irish offshore racing sailors who have been making national and world headlines for some years now, but in recent weeks and months the wave of new enthusiasm for the big ticket events has surged to fresh heights.
One of the stories underlying all this is the potential for a specialist marine industry base in Cork Harbour serving the continuous needs of the most advanced racing machines, and providing a launch pad for global campaigns. The idea has been around for some time now, but as reported in Afloat.ie as long ago as April 1st 2015, while the goodwill may be there, a firm decision is still awaited.
Local minister Simon Coveney has since moved on from the Marine to other Government departments. His present very senior role in representing Ireland through the Department of Foreign Affairs in decidedly turbulent times will mean that the needs of something so difficult to gauge for significant political and economic benefits will scarcely be top priority.
Yet for the many leading Irish sailors – both men and women – who have launched themselves into the decidedly uncertain world of top level professional competition, the problem of resources and facilities to keep the show on the road is always present, and frequently at crisis levels. W M Nixon wonders how there is going to be enough in the sponsorship pot – both nationally and globally – to help them all fulfill their dreams.
On Tuesday, Afloat.ie received confirmation of a “virtual press conference” in Cork, in other words a clearcut announcement that Nin O’Leary’s co-skippering of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss with Alex Thompson was going to move on to a full-blooded Vendee Globe campaign by O’Leary himself, possibly with a new boat.
Nin O’Leary Skippers New Irish Contender For 2020 Vendée Globe Fleet
#ior2020 - Ireland’s opportunity to compete in global offshore sailing competitions received a boost yesterday (Tuesday 15 August) at the launch of Ireland Ocean Racing, a new initiative with aspirations to compete in the 2020 Vendée Globe.
Team skipper Nin O’Leary aims to be the first Irish sailor to complete the world’s only solo, non-stop and unassisted round-the-world sailing race – hopefully inspiring a new generation of Irish offshore sailors and racers along the way.
“This is an exciting day for Irish offshore sailing,” said Ireland Ocean Racing chief executive Stewart Hosford. “There is such a strong maritime heritage in Ireland and a long list of incredible sailors from Joe English, Damian Foxall, Justin Slattery, Gordon Maguire to Enda O’Coineen.
“We have many great achievements on the water already under our belts. Now is the time to pull together and create a focused plan to pave the way for some significant initiatives and achievements over the coming 10 years and beyond.”
Having managed the UK’s ocean sailing success story, the HUGO BOSS/Alex Thomson Racing campaign, for over a decade, the management of Ireland Ocean Racing believes it has significant experience and expertise in what it takes to create a winning strategy for Ireland in offshore racing.
“Sailors are incredible sportspeople, having to tackle all sorts of weather conditions on seas and oceans around the world,” said Hosford. “Whether competing individually or as part of team, the skills and acumen required for offshore yacht racing make it one of the most
For a third time running the Rolex Fastnet Race has been a story of French domination, Le Tricolor flying on this occasion from the top spot in IRC 1, 2, 3 and 4, the Class40 and IMOCA 60, the Two Handed and IRC Overall. Even the Chinese boat, Dongfeng Race Team, that won Volvo 65 competition had a largely French crew writes James Boyd. This left IRC Zero to American Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50 Privateer, while, surprisingly, the only British class victory went to Tony Lawson's MOD 70 trimaran Concise 10, in the usually French-strong Multihull class.
Early on, the overall prize looked set to be a big boat affair with both the JV 115 Nikata and George David's maxi Rambler 88 leading until the run back from the Fastnet Rock favoured the medium-sized boats.
Ron O'Hanley's Privateer came close to making it a second Cookson 50 victory, a decade on from the overall win of Irishman Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain.
"This is a great race, an iconic race and we have had a great time even if we haven't won," said O'Hanley. "It was a fantastic start in Cowes - hard to see how you can get 400 boats out of the Solent at the same time! The weather conditions were good, not as light as it was last time and there was no drama coming out of the Solent."
As to where they did well, it was on the run back from the Rock said O'Hanley. "The big boats were leading, but then for a smaller boat to get into the lead was because of the very good conditions - tight reaching, we were planing most of the time and with the canting keel we could put a lot of miles on the clock."
However by Wednesday it became apparent that there was a new contender for the 2017 Fastnet Challenge Cup - the overall prize under IRC.
Didier Gaudoux's JND39, Lann Ael 2, struggled last year when she competed in the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup, however then she was only six months old. Since then the team, based out of La Crouesty in southern Brittany has tweaked the boat considerably with the assistance of sailmaker and former Mini and Figaro sailor Fred Duthil.
"We had a fantastic race. We were lucky with the
The final results of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 show that Kenneth Rumball with the Irish National Sailing School’s J/109 Jedi has won in IRC 3B, where third place has been taken by ISORA’s J/109 Mojito. And RORC Commodore Michael Boyd has been second in IRC 2 with the First 44.7 Lisa.
Clearly, the Irish contingent in this great classic have had a successful time of it despite some extraordinary fluctuations of fortune. But how are such twists of fate to be explained? The Rolex Fastnet Race of modern times can be analysed by the latest technology in so many different ways that, even with the best computers, it can sometimes take much longer to deduce what precisely happened than it took in real time out at sea. So perhaps if we just select a few salient facts, we might be able to get a better overall picture. W M Nixon gives it a try.
If the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 had finished at the Fastnet Rock itself, with the fleet adjourning into Baltimore and Schull to have a party or three, there would have been much for the builders of the successful JPK range to celebrate. And several crews with strong Irish connections would have been quite right in partying to beat the band as well.
Glad morning again….the biggest boat in the race, the JV 115 Nikata (Tom Brewer) rounds the Fastnet Rock at 7 o’clock on Tuesday morning. Photo Rolex
For after an increasingly rugged windward slug the whole way from the start,