Record fleet battle for dominance on the Irish Sea

Four in contention as 12-race series reaches finale in Dún Laoghaire

Any one of four yachts can be crowned 2016 Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) champion tomorrow, with Dublin Bay's Liam Shanahan starting the James Eadie race looking for a title hat-trick.

The 12-race series is scored using the high points system, so the outcome of the 75-miler from Pwllheli to Dún Laoghaire is critical to four J boat designs: Shanahan's fourth placed J109 Ruth, overall leader J109 Sgrech (Stephen Tudor), second overall J122 Aurelia (Chris Power-Smith) and Peter Dunlop's J109 Mojito in third.

Offshore sailing is on a high on the Irish Sea, with 54 boats taking part in one or more ISORA races this season, an increase from 39 in 2012 and 26 in 2009. It bodes well for next year when further boats are set to join the fleet, according to ISORA chief Peter Ryan.

There will be a Welsh winner if Pwllheli leader, Sgrech – that counts six results in the top three – can take fourth or better if Aurelia, Ruth or Mojito win tomorrow.

Cowes

Royal Cork yacht Antix skippered by Anthony O'Leary will fly the burgee of the Munster club at this weekend's One Ton Cup in Cowes. A total of 14 high performance FAST40+ racing yachts will compete for the Cup, the first time it has been awarded since 2002. Some 10 races are scheduled over three days, with the event rankings for each boat being multiplied by two for the overall FAST40+ 2016 Race Circuit. The courses will be a mixture of windward-leeward and round the buoys, sailed in the Solent, each lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. The winner will receive the One Ton Cup and be crowned FAST40+ National Champion.

The last winner of the One Ton Cup in the IOR era was Justine, owned by Frank Woods and skippered by Harold Cudmore. Justine won for the Royal Cork Yacht Club in 1981, racing in home waters, the team unbeaten in every race.

Last weekend, O’Leary was beaten by son Peter in a cut-short 1720 National Championships off Kinsale, Co Cork. Three bullets and a second place in light airs clinched it for the Baltimore Sailing Club crew in the 14-boat fleet.

Paralympics

Kinsale Yacht Club's John Twomey lead out Team Ireland in his final Paralympics yesterday, some 40 years after his Toronto Games debut in the discus event, and 16 since switching to sailing in Sydney. As he and crew-mates Austin O'Carroll and Ian Costelloe ready for Monday's first Sonar race, Twomey says he hopes to mentor the "young brigade" of Irish sailors in retirement next month.

Dragon keelboats from the Dún Laoghaire, Kinsale and UK fleets joined a large Glandore Harbour Yacht Club fleet for the Irish South Coast Championships last weekend.

The regatta was won by defending champion, Cameron Good sailing Little Fella from Kinsale. The fleet remains on the South Coast for its National Championships in Good's home port the weekend after next.

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics