Impressive debut in South China Sea

A case of out of the shed and straight on to the podium for the Paul Winkelmann boat


Success in the South China Sea is being saluted in Dun Laoghaire this weekend as a state of the art Chinese yacht with Dublin Bay linkage may also hold the key for next year’s Irish Commodore’s Cup team.

An impressive debut in the Hong Kong to Vietnam race in testing conditions last weekend for former Dun Laoghaire sailor Paul Winkelmann is being mentioned as a possible third boat currently sought by Ireland’s Cup crews.

After missing out on defending the title last year Ireland looks set to field a 2014 team on the Solent next July but team composition is still in the melting pot.

Last week Winkelmann’s new HH42, Island Fling, scored an impressive victory in IRC 1 ahead of some notable Jason Ker designs in a tough 656nm offshore dash to Vietnam. It was a case of out of the shed and straight on to the podium for the Winkelmann boat, convincing pundits this new design ­ if available ­ might just fit the bill.

There’s no doubting the boat’s Irish credentials, of six yacht clubs inscribed on the Royal Hong Kong Yacht’s transom, four are from Dublin bay: National YC, Royal Irish YC, Royal St George YC and Royal Alfred YC. ‘We’ve a nucleus of a very strong team and we’re going out to the world, not just Ireland looking for our third boat’, team selector Barry Rose said yesterday.

Using the IRC rating system the event is open to boats rated between 1.020 and 1.230, with only one boat rated above 1.150 which means putting a team together is easier said than done.

Technically, Winkelmann’s Judel Vrolik design works as it is just under the 1.230 rating band.

Anthony O’Leary, who will sail the Ker 39 Antix from Royal Cork has been named as team captain and a so far unnamed American-based entry, with an Irish presence, is also slated but a third boat remains elusive.

The Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) remain otherwise tight lipped but it is understood negotiations are ongoing and the 2014 team will be on the agenda at the annual ICRA conference in Dun Laoghaire in a month’s time.

In 2010, Ireland won the event but disappointingly in 2012 ICRA did not defend the title after weeks of doubt about Ireland’s ability to put a competitive team together.