26 June 2022
SL ENERGIES Groupe Fastwave skipper Laurent Charmy and crew with their trophies at Wicklow Sailing Club after winning the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race
One of the longest and toughest events of recent times was recalled when competitors gathered at Wicklow Sailing Club on Friday night for the prize-giving ceremony for the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race.
While Laurent Charmy and the crew of SL Energies Fastwave received the overall win and Franco Niggeler's Kuka 3 won line honours for first boat to finish, prizes were also awarded in 14 other divisions.
"We like the Middle Sea Race, the Fastnet and now the Round Ireland because they are tough - and this was a tough race," commented Charmy who also received the Division 2 class and best Overseas entry trophies.
Even as the ceremony got underway, the remaining boats at sea were approaching the finishing-line at Wicklow with all safely ashore shortly after nightfall.
Mike and Ritchie Evans' Snapshot placed second overall and collected winning trophies for Class 3 and the Irish Cruiser Racing Association divisions, two of largest class turnouts within the 44-strong field of starters.
At 33 feet in length overall, the Howth boat was one of the smallest entries yet sail a near perfect race, only losing to their French rivals by five minutes after 150 hours at sea.
Like the rest of the fleet, they persevered though gale force conditions and confused sea state off the Blasket Island on the Kerry coastline on their second night at sea.
Arguably the hardest part of the race was the prolonged period of calm winds on the north and east coasts where tide cycles split the competitors into distinct groups depending on how each boat timed their arrival at key tidal gates.
At one stage early in the 705 nautical mile race, it appeared as if the smaller and older boats such as two-time past winner Cavatina under Ian Hickey might end up stealing the thunder of the newer and faster big boats further ahead.
In the end however, the cruising boats were similarly caught by the calm weather though the overall podium was still dominated by smaller boats led by Fastwave (37-foot), Snapshot (33-foot) and Artful Dodger (35-foot). Only Eamon Crosbie's 2004 winner Calyx Voice & Data (Voodoo Chile) can better that at 32-foot overall.
Finbarr O'Regan's Artful Dodger from Kinsale completed the podium line-up after coming into contention for the overall win at several points in the race. His team collected the Corinthian class win in a field of 16 entries for this division.
Meanwhile, Michael Boyd's Darkwood won the Class 1 division and while missing the podium in fourth overall, the Dun Laoghaire sailor and former Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club won the contest for a new Volvo car for best performance over three editions of the race dating back to the previous race title sponsor.
Details of the 21st edition of the race in 2024 will be announced by Wicklow Sailing Club in the coming months.
More details and race tracker available - please click here
Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport...
23 June 2022
After just over 100 hours in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, Franco Niggeler's Kuka3 crossed the finishing-line at Wicklow Harbour on Wednesday evening after convincingly leading the on the water race for four solid days.
Becalmed on the Irish Sea for most of the day, a change with the ebb tide finally got the crew back to Wicklow helped by a gentle evening breeze.
The course time was unusually slow despite fresh winds for the first half of the race that started on Saturday and is a marked contrast to the current course record set in 2016 by George David on Rambler 88 of just over 50 hours.
The Volvo 70-footer Green Dragon is the next expected finisher at Wicklow probably at dusk while the next group of five boats with 35 miles still to sail were racing against another evening shutdown of the light breeze and expected turn of the tide; their arrival at Wicklow Sailing Club was not expected until the early hours of Thursday morning.
Amongst this group, the two leading Classe 40 entries are sailing a classic offshore duel with Greg Leonard's Kite under pressure from Andrea Fornarno's Influence who has edged ahead after gamble to sail away from the coast and lighter winds.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the fleet is still stretched from Rathlin Island on the North coast around to Dundalk Bay and making steady progress on the final approach to the finish.
Depending on breeze and tides, most boats should reach Wicklow by Friday when the overall winner of the race - to be decided on handicap corrected time - will be known.