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  1. Incoming Chairman Michael Boyd (centre) with Peter Wykeham-Martin and Alp Doguoglu pictured at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire

    Representatives of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) met in Dun Laoghaire for two days of debate and discussion at the beginning of October. The IRC Technical Committee agreed on a number of developments for 2019 as a result of research throughout the year, while the IRC Policy Steering Group reinforced the good relations between the owners of the Rule, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and l’Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL).

    As Afloat.ie reported earlier, the annual Congress meeting always proves a good opportunity for delegates to share experiences and ideas between different countries and sailing cultures, and this year was no exception with representatives of IRC from around the world. The 34 Congress delegates came from Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South East Asia, Turkey and the USA; and from organisations including RORC, UNCL, the Royal Yachting Association, Irish Sailing, the Maxi Yacht Association and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) whose Chairman Peter Ryan gave a presentation on ISORA activity.

    Reports were received from the international IRC Owners’ Associations and Rule Authorities, and from the organisers, competitors and technical committee of the 2018 Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship. In addition, delegates enjoyed an excellent presentation by the Irish Sea Offshore Sailing Association describing their history, activities and promotion. The IRC European Championship was confirmed as San Remo, Italy, 23-29 June 2019.

    IRC rule changes were approved for improved rig dimension definitions, clarifying the number of spinnakers allowed and several housekeeping items. Software developments agreed by

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  2. Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin with his father Randal McGuckin and his mother Lynne McGuckin in Dublin Airport

    Heroic Irish solo sailor Gregor McGuckin arrived back in Dublin today to a rapturous welcome in Dublin Airport from his family, friends and members of the sailing community.

    It is Gregor’s first time on Irish soil since embarking on his attempt to be the first Irishman to sail around the world solo non-stop. He was competing in the Golden Globe Race, which is known as the ‘Mount Everest of sailing races’.

    During this morning's Press Conference at Dublin Airport, the solo sailor described the circumstances leading up to his evacuation:

    "We heard about the storm coming a day or two beforehand but every update was different so it was quite hard to plan for.

    I headed north and we were in the worst possible place to be in at the worst possible time. I was right in the convergence zone were cold and warm water meets and everything passing through gets condensed.

    By6pm the wind was gale force and at midnight the boat got knocked down for the first time. I was quite surprised to lose mizen mast because the storm didn’t seem that bad. It was far from meaning the end of the race though and I went into survival mode - the worry was the bow of the boat would pitchpole so I set out trailing lines.

    The biggest problem was to keep her downwind. It was quite challenging by steering by hand in those conditions and I did feel quite exposed. The waves were over 10 metres, some 15, and the sea was just white. It was amazing looking it - I was pinned by the wind, I could barely move arms.

    I eventually got the self-steering set up and went below deck. I was checking the sea state and saw this big wave coming - I stuck my head out and it just broke on the starboard quarter. The swell was coming from a northerly direction and the south, its was really messy and created this huge mountain which threw me sideways. The boat is 10ton and being thrown up like that takes a phenomenal force.

    I

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  3. Alex & Daria Blackwell’s Bowman 57 Aleria enjoying the best of Galician summer weather in the midst of the ICC’s July 2017 Rally to Northwest Spain. Although normally based in Clew Bay, Aleria elected to stay on in Galicia, where she was recently hauled for her second winter in Spain

    Is Irish sailing heading south? Are significant sectors of the national fleet heading for new home berths in the Lotus Lands asks W M Nixon.

    Every Autumn, we hear of boats which have headed down to southern Brittany or southwest France or northwest Spain, and they not only find a pleasanter summer climate on attractive coastlines with fascinating local culture, but they discover marina and boatyard costs – sometimes thanks to active government subsidies – which are much more manageable than at home, while the facilities, especially as regards boatyards, are often better too.

    So when the owners and crew tot up the figures, it seems to be a No-Brainer. Thanks to the Ryanair Effect, they reckon the boat should stay right there. With Ryanair and other budget airlines, we’ve had one of the greatest revolutions in modern life - the ready availability of genuinely cheap air travel to formerly relatively obscure and inaccessible areas. And thanks to it, berthing your boat abroad in some attractive cruising area to the south can actually be a money-saver.

    Thus we might argue that Ryanair and its rivals are damaging domestic Irish sailing as we have known it for decades, indeed for centuries, by enabling an important focus to move elsewhere. At traditional Irish sailing’s core, there was the expectation that your boat and your sailing would be within easy reach of home. But it seems that this might have started becoming too much of a good thing. Ready availability may seem a fine ideal, but could it be that the same old sailing just down the road at the same old place, and racing against the same old people, was making participants just a little bit jaded?

    aleria scotland2Aleria cruising in

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  4. Nicolas Troussel sailing his Class 40 Corum in the 2018 Round Ireland race off Wicklow in July. No single ocean race has seen so many entries in one class as next month's Route du Rhum Class 40 fleet in which Troussel's Corum is a front-runner

    The largest fleet in the Route du Rhum 2018 – the solo transatlantic race that starts from St Malo on November 4th – is the Class 40 monohull division with 53 sailors taking part that includes Nicolas Troussel, the French entrant in this Summer's Round Ireland Race from Wicklow.

    This record entry, that makes up almost half the total 123-strong fleet in this four-yearly classic, includes men and women from 10 nations sailing a variety of boats designed within the parameters of what has become an extremely successful class rule.

    The Class 40 record for the 3,542-nautical mile course to Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean was set by the Spanish yachtsman Alex Pella with a time of 16 days, 17 hours and 47 minutes in 2014. The best in the class this time will be looking to challenge that, though only the very latest designs sailed by experienced solo ocean racers are likely to do so.

    With the exception of the Mini-Transat – a solo transatlantic race sailed in smaller boats - no single ocean race has seen so many entries in one class as this Class 40 fleet for this, the eleventh staging and 40th anniversary edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

    The 53 contenders who will take the same startline on November 4th, include no less than three former winners of La Solitaire du Figaro (Kito de Pavant, Nicolas Troussel, Yoann Richomme), not to mention sailors who have already participated in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe (Sam Goodchild, Nicolas Jossier, Claire Pruvot, Halvard Mabire) or those who have raced in the Transat Jacques Vabre or The Transat (Maxime Sorel, Antoine Carpentier, Louis Duc, Arthur Le Vaillant, Aymeric Chapellier, Bertrand Delesne, Loic Fequet, Arthur Hubert, Hiroshi Kitada, Robin Swamp, Miranda Merron, Olivier Roussey, Phil Sharp).

  5. Dublin sailor Michael Boyd will be elected as Chairman of the IRC Congress in Dun Laoghaire today

    Today's international annual meeting of the international IRC Rating Congress in Dun Laoghaire will appoint Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor Michael Boyd as its new Chairman. 

    IRC rating representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Holland, Turkey the USA and Ireland are meeting at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire to deal with a lengthy agenda under outgoing Chair Peter Wykeham-Martin of the UK.

    The meeting will receive, consider and decide proposals for IRC Rule changes for 2018.  It will also receive reports from the combined IRC/ORC The Hague Offshore Sailing Championships.

    Also on the agenda is a presentation to the international group by ISORA's Peter Ryan.

    The gathering will attend a special dinner at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire this evening.

    Former Round Ireland Race Champion, Boyd previously served as Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC).