Less than 48 hours to the off, sailing enthusiasts are starting to arrive in Wicklow Town to get the first glimpse of the yachts that will set sail in the 2014 Round Ireland Yacht Race this Saturday.
Nearly half of the yachts have already docked in Wicklow Bay including French entry, the spectacular 60ft Team Jolokia which sits proudly at the end of the East Pier. Almost all of the remainder of the 36-strong fleet are arriving in Dún Laoghaire and will likely travel to Wicklow Bay tomorrow.
Thousands of visitors are set to descend on the seaside town of Wicklow over the weekend to see the yachts off and enjoy a spectacular 3-day sailing festival. The town and local chamber have come on board to put on a fine Wicklow welcome for the 300 sailors, their families and visitors with live music performances, pop up restaurants, an artisan market, children’s events, the Taste of Wicklow, fireworks on Friday evening and lots more.
The Round Ireland departs Wicklow Bay at 2pm on Saturday and it is set to be a competitive Race with five yachts of 60 feet and over all competing to be first over the line in the 704 nautical mile contest. A spectacular air display from Newcastle Airfield featuring the world’s #3 aerobatic stuntman – Eddie Goggins - will follow the departure of the Race over Wicklow Bay. Eddie will put on a tremendous performance in the Firefly and a Classic Piper Cub plane as well as a vintage Auster and an RV7 and RV6 plane will take part in the display.
The overall winning title in the Round Ireland will depend on handicap and Royal Cork yacht Cavatina, twice overall winners of the race is going round again in a bid to be the first boat to win Ireland's classic offshore race three times.
The overall winner of the last Race in 2012 – French entry Inis Mór a Ker 39 – is returning to defend her title once again.
And Newstalk's Bobby Kerr is competing in the race aboard the 60ft Newstalk for Adrenalin, and hoping to be in the running for line honours.
Wicklow Sailing Club will be represented by the largest boat in the fleet. Club member Farmer (David) Ryan with 5 other Club members, as well as 4 other Irish sailors and the professional crew will sail a 70 ft Volvo yacht called Monster Project. They will be aiming to be first home over the line but they can expect to be pushed all the way by the other big boats
The Race is highly weather dependent and a change in wind means just about anything can happen, changing the outcome of the race right up until the last yachts cross the finish line.
Sailing enthusiasts can follow the progress of the race for free on a bespoke race tracker app. Each boat in the race will be fitted with a tracking devise so sailing enthusiasts can watch how they all perform from minute to minute on www.roundirelandyachtrace.com
. The Yellowbrick Tracking App will be free for download for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. The Round Ireland Yacht Race can be viewed for free on the app in the ‘My Races’ section. All information is on the website. www.roundirelandyachtrace.com
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.