Sailing: Tricky conditions forecast for ICRA Nationals

Calendar congestion also likely to restrict the expected participating fleet to 60-plus boats

The Dubois 37 Dark Angel is the now the sole challenger to Jump Juice and the Class Zero ICRA National Championship title on home waters at Crosshaven starting this afternoon. Photograph: David Branigan|Oceansport

The Dubois 37 Dark Angel is the now the sole challenger to Jump Juice and the Class Zero ICRA National Championship title on home waters at Crosshaven starting this afternoon. Photograph: David Branigan|Oceansport

 

An ideal forecast to start the annual Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) championships appears set to deliver “champagne sailing” conditions off Roche’s Point when the first race begins at 2.30pm on Friday.

However, the celebrations are likely to be short-lived with winds gusting to near gale-force certain for Saturday and a hoped-for respite on Sunday still unclear.

Other events in the area for the weekend are being cancelled or rearranged including the 200-boat Cork Harbour Festival’s Ocean to City race that has been shortened to begin at Blackrock to avoid the high winds.

But the topography of Cork Harbour may yet offer a solution for the ICRA Nationals and the possibility of setting courses inside the harbour area using ‘around the cans’ style courses similar to the scenic Cork Week races.

The expected fleet of over 60 boats, depleted from previous years due to calendar congestion, is also taking a hit from the weather conditions and other factors.

Last weekend saw the sad loss of the Ker 39-footer Inis Mór, a recent Scottish acquisition that was en route to Crosshaven to compete for the Class Zero national title when it sank off the Saltee Islands near Kilmore Quay.

None of the three delivery crew were hurt and they were airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 that had been exercising nearby when the Mayday call was made.

Inis Mór’s absence in Class Zero was added to yesterday by the withdrawal of Kinsale entry Merdian leaving just Dark Angel to match-race fellow Royal Cork clubmate Jump Juice for the class title.

“Things are coming together very well but it’s unfortunate that we have a strong forecast for Saturday. Sunday looks sailable but it’s going to be a very robust series,” said Simon McGibney, ICRA Commodore. “It’s definitely going to be one of the championships to remember!”

Nevertheless, the fixtures congestion that has hit entries continues to attract criticism.

“The cruiser racing schedule congestion between the 9th June and 9th of July; having four major events in that short space of time is not realistic – something has to give and on this occasion it’s our national championships that is suffering,” said Maurice “Prof” O’Connell, a pro sailing coach and sailmaker with North Sails Ireland.

While four major national titles will be decided this weekend at the ICRA Championships, the 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race gets underway. The following week, the biennial O’Leary Life & Pensions Sovereigns Cup will be sailed at Kinsale.

Regatta organiser Mike Walsh confirmed that 91 entries have been received for the Kinsale event so far with today’s entry deadline now extended to next week to attract additional boats from this weekend’s weather-affected series in Crosshaven.

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