With little over a month remaining before the main Summer sailing season begins in earnest, major regattas are reporting significant growth in fleet numbers as early entry deadlines loom.
The annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships on June 10th for the three days returns to Howth Yacht Club after the club last hosted the event in 2012 when a record fleet of 120 boats took part.
Discounts for early entries are available until May 6th and 30 crews – mostly drawn from Dublin clubs – have already entered. For visiting crews, the annual Lambay Races take place over the previous bank holiday weekend with limited free berthing available.
The championships will decide national titles in five classes with several favourites emerging already including last year’s Boat of the Year, George Sisk’s Wow! From the Royal Irish YC.
Club mate Paul O’Higgins new Rockabill VI will also be making a debut appearance to add a fresh title to previous wins for the crew that will also be competing offshore immediately after the championship.
Travelling boats have an opportunity to stay on the East Coast for the biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race on the weekend immediately following the ICRA championship.
Latest entry list for the 704-mile race shows a healthy turnout so far of 43 boats but with several more expected, the race could reach 50 boats that would be the largest entry in over two decades.
George David’s Rambler 88 is already confirmed while a second American entry, Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo, isn’t listed officially but is known to be one of the three trimarans set to have a separate start in what has traditionally been a monohull event.
While Rambler is odds-on favourite to be first monohull, line-honours will almost certainly be won by one of the three multihulls.
Thornburg has been busy setting and collecting records over the past year on Phaedo but home interest will centre on Omansail, the MOD70 that set a new round Ireland speed sailing record last year.
Kerryman Damian Foxall is normally on the crew but, as the record attempt was made at short-notice, he was at home in Canada and wasn't on board.
However, the ocean-racing veteran will be competing in the Round Ireland Race with the prospect of both a race course record and possibly an outright record at stake in June.
Otherwise, the entry list to date draws on offshore sailing crews from around Ireland, Wales, England and France though notably there isn’t a single entry from Cork so far.
Nevertheless, entries for Volvo Cork Week itself that follows the Round Ireland on July 10th has already attracted more than 60 boats for the main event that features five days of racing. The “Earlybird” entry deadline is May 1st and includes a chance to win a 40-foot bareboat charter from Sovereign Sailing.
Running concurrently, the inaugural Beaufort Cup aimed at uniformed services is expected to feature around 12 crews including three boats representing the Irish Defence Forces as well as entries from the RNLI and police organisations.