After 24 hours at sea, one third of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle (D2D) Race fleet retired due to big seas on the south coast but not before the National Yacht Club (NYC) got the chance to turn on the style for a record-breaking departure from Dublin Bay on Wednesday night.
In a move designed to pay dividends for future editions of the offshore race, there was a spectacular start of 43 yachts along the south side of Dalkey Island, past the Muglins and out into the Irish Sea.
It was a scene that got the thumbs up from London’s Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) overseers who were in Dublin to check out the spectacular growth of this offshore fixture.
"It's wonderful to see such a large fleet on such a magical course," said RORC Commodore Michael Boyd – a Dublin Bay sailor himself.
The NYC has sought RORC recognition for its biennial offshore so it can join the world’s top offshore points series.
Former RORC racing manager, Janet Grosvenor, is to report if the race merits RORC's endorsement.
If successful it’s a move that promoters say could underpin the current revival in Irish Sea offshore racing that has seen up to 50 boats line up for the 2017 season.
The June 14th race – first hosted by the NYC and County Kerry's Dingle Sailing Club in 1993 – is working closely with Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) to develop the "mini-offshore" into an international race.
In what has been heavy going though in this 12th edition of the D2D, 14 of the 43 starters have retired in the first 24 hours of the 275-miler.
In separate incidents, lifeboats have been called for boats with crew injuries and leaks off the Wexford and Waterford coasts. While others suffered gear failure, many admitted to not being prepared for a 48-hour pounding in big seas.
Paul O'Higgins' fleet leader Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club however, is sailing a stellar race and expected into Dingle on Friday evening. The Royal Irish Yacht Club JPK10.80 is being chased hard by Welsh J109 contender Mojito (Peter and Vicky Dunlop) , the current ISORA points leader.
In a week of highs for the RIYC, Boyd was among its members posting notable wins in offshore, cruiser-racing and Olympic sailing.
He was winner of RORC’s Morgan Cup, a 125-mile race across the English Channel in blustery conditions.
RIYC's John Maybury secured a hat-trick of class one ICRA national titles and in Spain, Olympic dinghy sailor Saskia Tidey, now sailing for Team GB, won silver in the 49erFx with Charlotte Dobson at the World Sailing Cup Finals in Santander.
After 15 days at sea, solo sailor Conor Fogerty from Howth Yacht Club has maintained his strong position in the Ostar Transatlantic race despite an Autopilot malfunction this week. The Howth sailor, who predicted a 21-day crossing, leads the Gipsy Moth division and lies second in the Ostar class with 700-miles to sail in his Sunfast 3600.
Martin Byrne is the defending champion at today's Dragon National Championships. The Dun Laoghaire helmsman is seeking his fifth Irish title. The championships follows the East Coast championships sailed at the same Royal St George YC venue a fortnight ago and won by Byrne's main rival, Neil Hegarty.
Meanwhile, in Portugal, Ireland's sole entrant at the Dragon World Championships, Laura Dillon sailing with Jonathan Bourke and local crew, lies 15th in a fleet of 70 boats after four races sailed.