Multihull class added to Round Ireland Yacht Race

Bumper turnout predicted for 700-mile biennial off-shore race

Boats depart Wicklow on the 2014 Round Ireland Race. The next race will have a multihull class for the first time. Photograph: David O’Brien.

Boats depart Wicklow on the 2014 Round Ireland Race. The next race will have a multihull class for the first time. Photograph: David O’Brien.

 
Round Ireland Yacht RaceWicklow Sailing Club

The UK’s Ned Collier-Wakefield, skipper of Team Concise, says it will enter a MOD 70, a sister ship to the current Round Ireland speed record holder, Musandam-Oman Sail.

It is the second major entry already proposed for the 700-mile Irish offshore race. American yacht Rambler 88, one of the world’s most sophisticated racing machines, will also be on the Wicklow line on June 18th at 2pm in what organisers hope could yet be a much needed bumper turnout for the biennial race.

Full potential

Peter Shearer

In 2014, half the Round Ireland entries for the 18th race were from overseas, a further indicator of its potential so it is no exaggeration to say the Irish race fleet is capable of doubling.

There is little doubt that with these early entries Shearer is on the right tack. Not only will these cutting-edge craft create headlines they will also pull in others such as professional fleets like the disbanded MOD70, Class 40, IMOCA 60 and the Multi 50, all combing Europe for new challenges. The giant multihulls have been to Dún Laoghaire previously, they hold the Round Ireland speed record of 22 hours, so could be coaxed back.

But these exotic international entries only go so far. The backbone of the fleet is made up of smaller amateur campaigns who need to see the race as the pinnacle of the season. Unfortunately, despite initiatives, this has not been the case over recent editions.

Race alliance

Royal Irish Yacht Club

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) now presents a trophy and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) bases its fixture list around the event. But this has not resulted in bigger numbers so far. Of the 35 entries in 2014, 10 were existing east coast ISORA boats. Four years previous that number was 16 out of 37. There has not been a great response from south coast boats either.

There appears to be fall off of those “regular” offshore boats that are well capable of competing in the race and have done so in the past.

According to ISORA commodore Peter Ryan, there seems to be an understandable issue among some skippers of “been there, done that, have the T-shirt”. Put simply, crews having done the circuit once tend to look for new challenges.

Adding headline acts are sure to generate much needed publicity but somehow the Round Ireland will have to reinvent itself at home to attract the new generations of sailors who do not yet “have the T-shirt”.

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