Dún Laoghaire host large entry for this weekend’s ICRA championships

115 boats, along with over 800 sailors, only need a stiff breeze to get three days of racing off on schedule

The leaders in Class One during last year’s ICRA National championships on Tralee Bay. A fleet of 115 boats will start this year’s event at Dún Laoghaire today. Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport

The leaders in Class One during last year’s ICRA National championships on Tralee Bay. A fleet of 115 boats will start this year’s event at Dún Laoghaire today. Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport

A large flotilla of boats drawn from every Irish and neighbouring coast has gathered in Dún Laoghaire and this morning begin an annual contest to decide all major national titles for keelboat competing under IRC handicap.

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s championships is now in it’s 11th year as a combined event and the 115 boats, along with well over 800 sailors, only need breeze to get three days of racing off on schedule.

The fine conditions that arrived earlier this week that are forecast to remain until well into next week have race officials nervously watching the skies as the predicted light airs will hopefully give way to a sea breeze. Fortunately, if the past two days have been a marker then Dublin Bay is set to deliver this weekend with a perfect nine to 14 knots of sou’ easterly and half-metre waves in the racing area.

As far as front-runners might look, Class Zero is set to be a shown-down between Crosshaven’s Jump Juice and Scottish entry Roxstar amongst the 11-strong entry in this field.

Fiercely contested

However, the Class One title is likely to be fiercely contested, with at least six possible contenders led by Bonne Exemple, Rockabill, Joker II from the host club against Something Else and Gringo from the National YC, Storm from Rush Sailing Club and Fools Gold from Waterford.

Class Two will also be an interesting battle ground as Nigel Biggs on Checkmate usually wins on his forays to Dún Laoghaire while a south coast versus west contest is likely between Alpaca from Cork and Tribal from Galway.

And Kiely’s revivalist boats in Class Three are also set for an showdown as son and father act George and Neil Kenefick on the Nathan Kirwan Trust entry will face their regular rivals Flor O’Driscoll on his J24 Hard On Port and Dublin Bay ace Tim Goodbody on Sigma 33 White Mischief.

For locals and visitors alike, the Commissioners of Irish Lights have an automated service located on the Dublin Port safewater navigation mark that tweets conditions every 20 minutes (@DublinBayBuoy).

The turnout in the four championship classes is augmented by two additional divisions – for the non-spinnaker cruisers – competing for the Corinthian Cup and the overall number is close to the record entry of 123 boats at Howth in 2012.

Clarion call

Crews at the Royal Irish Yacht Club which is hosting the championships have responded to the clarion call for entries and account for over a quarter of the 115 boats.

However, the ICRA organisers are particularly pleased with the spread of boats from beyond the immediate Dublin Bay area that have travelled to Dun Laoghaire.

“It’s as good an entry as we’ve ever had,” according to ICRA secretary Denis Kiely. “There’s a solid entry across the ‘core divisions’ – which is not to belittle the Class Zero boats that have mustered 11 boats – but the growth is marked.”

While the bigger boats of Class One and Class Two have 27 and 25 boats respectively, class three has 21 boats which Kiely is particularly happy about, as many of these boats are older but many have been renewed and will be very competitive.

Meanwhile, racing is scheduled to begin at 11am this morning with two races per day planned until Sunday’s finale.

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