Headwinds challenge for start of classic SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race on Saturday

Fresh headwinds will mark the start of the biennial 705 nautical-mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race at 1pm tomorrow (22nd June, Wicklow Sailing Club) when a fleet of 49 boats will start the classic offshore event.

Forecasts for the opening 36 hours indicate winds from the south as the fleet heads past the Tuskar Rock off the coast of Wexford and turns towards the iconic Fastnet Rock off West Cork.

Depending on how the weather develops, the leading boats will be hoping for “sleigh-ride” conditions, a highlight of this classic race as they turn northwards along the Atlantic seaboard. All teams face multiple challenges in this non-stop ‘circumnavigation’ that is a bucket-list event for many outdoor adventure enthusiasts and competitive sailors around the world.

The 49 teams are drawn from all over Ireland and the UK in addition to crews from France and the United States.

The leading boats will be competing for ‘line honours’ for the first boat to cross the finishing-line at Wicklow towards the middle part of next week.  They will also be hoping for the overall race victory decided on corrected time, a form of handicapping that may see a smaller boat win. The course record stands at just over 50 hours, set by American George David on Rambler 88 in 2016 who took just over 15 hours off the previous record set in 2008.  Both record-holders were considerably larger than this year’s largest entries so a new time is not expected to set.

“We’ve had really strong interest once again this year in our ‘Kilimanjaro of Sailing’ race around Ireland,” commented race director Kyran O’Grady. “A total of 58 crews entered but with inevitable last-minute problems, we’re still looking forward to the spectacle of almost 50 boats on the start-line in full view of the festival on the Wicklow town shoreline.”

A range of boats have entered varying from Laurent Pages Teasing Machine to George Radley’s classic “Imp”.  All coasts of Ireland feature entries while the overall winner could be any of possibly half the fleet depending on how the weather and tides combine over what could be a six-day race for some boats.

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