Wicklow Sailing Club, which organises the Round Ireland Yacht Race, has linked up with the Royal Irish Yacht Club to provide full pre-race management facilities in Dún Laoghaire for the larger yachts which are unable to berth in Wicklow Port. Through the introduction of a fully-equipped shore base in Dún Laoghaire, larger boats can now berth and enjoy full pre-race facilities in advance of the Race departure from Wicklow.
The Round Ireland Yacht Race is now in its 34th year and is Ireland’s premier offshore sailing race attracting entrants from across Europe and as far afield as Russia, the USA and New Zealand. It will depart Wicklow on Sunday 28th June 2014 at 2.00pm
There will be no changes to the Race itself, other than increasing the maximum number of entries from 75 to 100 yachts. Wicklow Sailing Club will continue to run the race under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Race will start and finish in Wicklow.
Organisers at Wicklow Sailing Club expect that this landmark expansion of the Round Ireland through the new association with the Royal Irish Yacht Club is set to give the Race a significantly higher international profile and attract the attention of the larger, ocean racing, fleet.
Race Organiser, Theo Phelan "Discussions on expanding the Race have been ongoing for some time arising from expressions of interest from owners of the larger offshore racing yachts seeking entry conditions to our race. Internationally, completing the race is considered a significant feat as the race is one of the most gruelling and challenging sailing competitions in the yacht racing calendar."
“The course, starting and finishing in Wicklow, brings entrants through widely different sea types and coastlines, from the Atlantic ocean to the more sheltered Irish Sea, with difficult tidal gates, particularly around the North Eastern coast and navigational challenges requiring day and night tactical decisions at every change of forecast.”
Whilst 2014 could see an increase in larger yachts entering the Round Ireland, organisers say that the changes introduced to the management format this year should attract a significantly greater interest in entries for 2016 and subsequent events “Huge planning goes into preparing for this race as there are very strict qualifying criteria for crew, yachts and equipment. Knowledge of medical response, survival at sea certificates and a minimum of 300 nautical mile offshore experience are basic to entry as both crew and yacht need to be prepared for all conditions. In 1994 for example, there were 17 retirals from the Race arising from adverse weather and equipment failure. A year’s planning to participate in this race would not be unusual and already there will be skippers of larger yachts putting plans in place for 2016.”
The Round Ireland Yacht Race is the only RORC race based in Ireland. It is regarded as equivalent in terms of rating points to the Fastnet Race, the classic offshore race, which runs in alternate years to the Round Ireland.
In a final comment the Commodore of Wicklow Sailing Club, Peter Shearer, stated “The endorsement of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the largest yacht racing organisation in the world, together with the stated support of the Irish Sailing Association for our new venture bodes well for the forthcoming event in 2014 and for our endeavour to develop the full potential of the Round Ireland Yacht Race.“