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Barry Hurley will compete in his fourteenth Rolex Middle Sea offshore Race in a row tomorrow sailing XpAct, a Maltese Xp44. He is one of a handful of Irish crews competing in the 39th race that forecasters say is going to be a heavy weather affair.
Royal Irish's Hurley will sail with mostly the same crew as the last few years. Hurley is helmsman and Irish connections on onboard XpAct are strengthened with Howth Yacht Club's Shane Diviney on board as a trimmer.
Royal Cork's Nicholas 'Nin' O'Leary will be building up his offshore hours in advance of the 2020 Vendee Globe as part of Alex Thomson's four man crew on Hugo Boss. See O'Leary's Facebook vid below.
Hurley, a former solo transatlantic race winner, told Afloat.ie, 'We’re ready for the race, having competed in the coastal race yesterday and finished first in class and third overall. Everything seems to be in full working order and the boat is fully ready after many weeks of preparation. It’s looking like a windier race this year than in recent years so it looks like it will be a bigger challenge for boats and crew than many are used to'.
A full ISORA entry in the shape of a chartered XP44 X-Prime comes to the line thanks to Welsh skipper Andrew Hall, an Irish Sea regular in his J125, Jackknife.
Conor Doyle and an all Kinsale Yacht Club members crew have chartered a Mills DK46 ‘Hydra to add to the Irish ranks. (Thanks to Finbarr O'Regan via Facebook below)
Ian Moore, originally of Carrickfergus, and Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” in October 2016 after navigating the Italian Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino to overall victory in the Rolex Middle Sea Race last year, is not defending his Middle Sea title this time round writes W M Nixon. When the 2017 edition gets under way from Malta in Grand Harbour, Valetta on Saturday, Moore will be in the Far Eastern waters in Vietnam, for this morning he started in the biennial 690-mile Hong Kong to Vietnam Race.
For this one, he’s again navigating Mascalzone Latino, but with a new owner. The Middle Sea Race winning owner was listed as Vincenzo Onorato, but in the current race the boat sails under the colours of Matteo Savelli.
The fleet is modest – just 13 competitors after more than 40 took part in the recent regatta series in Hong Kong - and Mascalzone is racing in a group of ten, as the three lowest-rated boats were sent on their way yesterday. However, there are some notable contenders, and doing the race is part of the buildup in the bigger plan, as it counts as qualifier for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race 2017 on December 26th.
In that, there’ll be several Cookson 50s to sharpen up Mascalzone Latino’s performance to an even higher level. When we remember that the preliminary outlines of the Cookson 50 concept were first aired by
Ireland has twice won the Cup under the burgee of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association. Captain Anthony O'Leary of Royal Cork Yacht Club and his three boat teams sailed to victory in 2010 and 2014 but inspite of plans to field two teams to defend the Cup in 2016, no Irish defence materialised.
As announced earlier this year, the Cowes-based championship will be held from 8-16th June and will follow the successful Commodores' Cup race format, with a variety of different courses ranging from inshore, coastal and offshore - 10 races in all using the Spinlock IRC rating system.
It still remains to be seen, however, if these innovations are enough to galvanise Irish cruiser-racers into mounting a campaign for the Cup in eight month's time.
New for 2018 are the following:
1. Competitors wishing to enter the Commodores' Cup are invited to create teams of three boats with a rating between 0.995 and 1.270 with a max DLR of 210
2. Teams can represent a club, a region or a nation. For national representation, authorisation may be required from the appropriate MNA
3. The Commodores' Cup maintains its Corinthian ethos with only one professional sailor allowed on each boat
4. Boats that race with two females or two crew under 25, or one female and
The extensive area of calms and light winds north of the Canary Islands did provide some gratefully-received local zephyrs last night for the Mini-Transat 2017 fleet writes W M Nixon. But although at one stage Ireland’s sole entry Tom Dolan had worked his way up to ninth place in the 56-strong Production Class, this morning a line of favourable breeze has been found by Remi Aubrun, and he leads at 3.9 knots with 150 miles to go, while Dolan has slipped down to 12th and is 30 miles astern, struggling in this morning’s lineup at just 1.1 knots.
But nearer the still-distant finish line, Erwan Le Droulac has found much the best local bite to the breeze, and is shown on 5.6 knots and only 2.4 miles astern of leader Aubrun. Overall, this marks a severe reversal of fortune for several-times-leader Clarisse Cremer, as she has cascaded down to 10th place, less than a mile ahead of Tom Dolan, and is making only 1.2 knots.
At the moment the race is such a lottery that the top priority for the lone skippers is not to finish too far astray on the main bunch. This is because the final placings in the Mini-Transat, after it has been completed with the second stage to the Caribbean, will be based on an accumulation of the elapsed times from Stages 1 & 2.
Nevertheless the fact that Tom Dolan is currently battling with Clarisse Cremer, who at one stage was so clear ahead that she’d a gap on the next boat of 16 miles, shows how astonishingly well the Irish skipper has recovered from his initial place at the back of the fleet a couple of hours after the start at La Rochelle nine days ago.
The prospect is for the winds maybe to firm in around the Canaries later tomorrow. But there’ll be hunger for wind – and just plain old-fashioned hunger for food, which may be running low by this stage on some boats – for a day or so yet.
Race tracker here
Clarisse Cremer, continually rising star of French women’s offshore sailing and a formidable performer in the Mini-Transat fleet’s Transgascogne Race at the end of July, is currently the leader in the 1350-mile Stage 1 of the Mini-Transat from La Rochelle to Las Palmas in the Canaries writes W M Nixon
At one stage Cremer had opened out a lead of 15 miles with less than 400 to go. But currently with 337 still to be sailed, Cremer at 5.7 knots in a nor’easter is seeing her lead being eroded by Erwan Le Draoulec, just three miles astern and logging 6.1 knots.
There are still many holes in the wind between the leaders and the finish, indeed an entire area of calm may yet settle between the fleet and the finish. Out to the westward, Ireland’s Tom Dolan has had some slippage from his placings yesterday, when he was up around the tenth to twelfth mark. He has dropped back to 16th, but currently is making a better 6.3 knots, and hoping to benefit from a different line of wind.
Race tracker here