Answer to Curragh’s mysterious whistling sound blowing in the wind

Authorities confirm problem won’t be fixed in time for the Irish Derby on June 29th

A view of the new Aga Khan stand at the Curragh. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho

A view of the new Aga Khan stand at the Curragh. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho

 

The Curragh authorities have said the issue of a loud whistling sound generated by wind hitting the roof of its new Aga Khan stand won’t be fixed in time for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby festival later this month.

When the new stand – the signature element to a €81.2 million revamp of Irish racing’s HQ – was formally opened by the Taoiseach on 1,000 Guineas day the eerie wind noise emanating from it became a major topic of discussion.

Both the speed and direction of the wind, and, apparently, how it made contact with perforations in the new roof, generated a noise that provoked comparisons to a train station.

Since then expert architects and acoustic engineers have been monitoring a problem which first arose during building work but had been presumed to be a factor involved in construction.

There was no sound from the roof during the first meetings at the new Curragh this season and it seems the problem arises only in certain weather circumstances.

“It’s a certain direction of wind, and a certain speed of wind, and what it does when it hits the surface. They seem to be the key factors. What’s creating the noise is not fully determined yet,” said the Curragh’s chief executive Derek McGrath on Tuesday.

McGrath added he is absolutely confident the issue can be sorted out but conceded: “Are we going to have this done by the time of the Derby [June 29th] no, I don’t think so. But I would expect over the next couple of months we’ll have a good idea of where we’re going.”

He said: “As experts they want to find a long term solution. They have to monitor this and find the right sound on the right day so that’s taken time to build up the data. That first phase is done. Now it’s being analysed.

“A few options are being looked at in terms of what they believe the potential solution could be. Once they’ve done that they come back with solutions. It may then involve a number of solutions being trialled.

“The source of the sound, it could be a whistle, it could be a vibration, it could be other movement across apertures, I don’t know, I’m not an expert.

“It’s not that we anticipate it will be particularly difficult. It’s just that when you ask someone to assess it, they want to find the right long-term solution. It’s taking a bit of time and rightly so. But it will be addressed.”

Very audible

McGrath added: “I know it’s very audible. But we’ve had many snags that are continuing to be worked on by the builders and worked through. This is another. It’s not unusual that sounds have been found in a building like this.”

Separately the Curragh boss stressed that Friday evening fixtures are an important element to the track’s commercial plans especially in relation to attracting greater local support.

The next Friday date is the middle-leg of the three-day Derby festival and features the Group One Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes.

However the track authorities have opted to run the fixture between 3.15 and 6.25 rather than in the evening.

“The timing is different and that’s due to it being the Derby festival. Thursday night is our evening meeting and very much our focus in terms of local. Friday afternoon is a Group One, Juddmonte is the feature sponsor. And everything builds to the pinnacle of the Derby on Saturday,” McGrath said.

“While we will be reviewing this, and our board will continue to watch this, reviewing all our fixtures in advance of the publication of fixtures for next year, this [Friday evening racing] is something we set out as a long term plan as part of our customer schedule.

“It is specifically about reaching out to the community so that’s very much part of what we’re trying to achieve. This [the Pretty Polly fixture] is specific because it’s a Group One and it’s in the festival,” he added.

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