Record fleet of 500 boats expected for Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta in July
More than half the entries for Ireland’s biggest sailing event are visiting craft
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club entry Signal 8 (Jamie McWilliam) is an early entry for July’s Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay. Photograph: David O’Brien
The Irish Sea’s strongest Class One IRC fleet of the year is assembling for the Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta (VDLR) in three months, where a record combined fleet of 500 boats is expected for Ireland’s biggest sailing event.
The four-day sailfest was launched in buoyant style on Thursday night at the National Maritime Museum by local Dún Laoghaire Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, with the news that 410 boats are already secured as early entries 100 days before the first gun on July 11th.
What is even more satisfying for the Co Dublin town is that more than half the entries are visiting craft, including one under the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club burgee; ex-pat Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 40, Signal 8.
Organised jointly by the four Dún Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs (the Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, the National Yacht Club, the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the Royal St George Yacht Club), it provides a snapshot of the sport of sailing in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
With its focus on quality over quantity, the regatta has grown over 16 years into a premier sporting event, and is now competing with the best in Europe.
“VDLR owes its prominence to a number of factors. One is that it is one of the least expensive sailing events in Europe, thanks to generous sponsorship, so providing value for money,” says 2019 organiser Don O’Dowd.
In an anticipated 30 boat-plus Class One fleet, the local Royal Irish Yacht Club J109 Joker II (John Maybury) will defend her overall Volvo title, but new competition for the coveted title will come from inside the bay and out of it.
One such boat is Maybury’s club mate Andrew Algeo, who launches a brand new J99 Juggerknot II at Spi Ouest Regatta in France this Easter.
From outside the bay, a travelling Scottish and Northern Ireland RC35 fleet will attempt to break the local J109 stranglehold in what will be one of the most keenly contested battles of the season.
Yet for now the focus will be on class band ratings, and how the fleet will be broken into separate divisions for the July event. As well as Class One, key classes in the line-up include the other IRC rating classes, with a visiting fleet of vintage Half Tonners from Howth contesting Class Two.
Also, “one design” classes will include the Beneteau 31.7s, Beneteau 211, Sigma 33, Ruffian 23s, Dragons and the RS Elites, who stage their British Championships as part of the VDLR, currently with 34 entries.
The dinghy classes will include the GP14, Wayfarer, Squib, Mermaid, Flying Fifteen, and single-handed Lasers and Moths.
Yet it is not all high-tech racing at Dún Laoghaire. Traditional sailing is still very much a part of the regatta programme, with a local 30-boat Water Wag fleet, the oldest dinghy fleet in the world, put centre stage.