Sustained efforts to ensure strong turn-outs for some of the biggest fixtures in the
calendar appear to be paying off as the main summer season prepares to get under way.
With nearly a month to go, the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) national championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club has already reached 100 entries, while Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland race which starts at the end of June has attracted 22 boats to date.
And the biennial Cork Week in July , now sponsored by Volvo, is also generating strong interest.
The ICRA event next month appears set to break the 2009 record turn-out of 109 boats, with some predicting 120 crews may yet enter the three-day event, which begins on Friday, June 13th.
With a significant number of boats yet to declare, almost half of the entries so far are from outside the Dún Laoghaire fleet. This geographical spread is one of the most positive indicators that interest in IRC-handicap racing extends beyond the traditional Dublin-Cork axis.
The host club accounts for a third of the entry, while ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly on his Class Zero entry Crazy Horse heads a fleet of almost 20 boats that will cross Dublin Bay in the hunt for the four national titles to be decided.
Significantly, no entries have been received from Kinsale, the 2015 venue, and just three boats have entered to date from the Royal Cork YC, the same number as the more distant Galway Bay SC.
Meanwhile, organisers of the Round Ireland Race that starts on Saturday, June 28th, are confident of beating the 2012 turn-out of 37 crews,according to Wicklow Sailing Club Commodore Peter Shearer.
Heading the host club turnout is local farmer David Ryan, who will fulfil a long-held ambition to race around Ireland on board a Volvo 70-footer he has chartered.
The Monster Project started life as the Russian entry for the 2008-09 round the world race but only sailed in four of the 10 stages due to lack of funds.
Since then, the 70-footer has been competing in major events around the world on a charter basis and even as a second-generation VO70, with canting keel and high-tech construction, Ryan stands a real chance of winning line-honours.
Under World Speed Sailing Record Council ratified times, the 2002 record of 75 hours 27 minutes and 33 seconds for sailing around Ireland set by Gary Keegan is the internationally recognised time.
However, the race record for the same course of 65 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds set by Mike Slade on the 100-footer ICAP Leopard in 2008 could be up for grabs as well - subject to a suitable weather window.
Slade’s time six years ago was in part due to gale force winds early on in the 704-mile race.