Sailing: Fresh wave of entries for Dun Laoghaire Volvo regatta
Glorious conditions across Ireland aren't likely to water down the challenge facing the 2,500 competitors taking to Dublin Bay today when the first race of the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta gets under way.
The light winds associated with the high-pressure system will prove tricky for race organisers and sailors alike as they contend with strong tides. Warm sunshine on the land should produce sea breezes during the day, though today's traditional later start will mean a quick race before the evening calm.
But the sunny weather will mean a bonus and a last-minute rush of entries has seen the fleet swell to 387 boats, close to the 400-strong fleet that started the inaugural event in 2005.
In the boom years, entries increased close to the 500-boat mark before falling away, though organisers are more than happy with the turnout, which will keep all four waterfront clubs and the town busy over the next four days.
A €600,000 boost to the local economy is expected, while Dun Laoghaire Marina reported last week that over 250 visiting boats have berthed at the facility since the start of the year.
About one third of the regatta fleet are from outside the Dublin Bay area. Of the entry list, most classes are showing strong turn-outs, notably in Class Zero where the biggest boats racing on IRC handicap take part.
Only Norbert Reilly's Crazy Horse from Howth Yacht Club is entered, though, at 12 boats, this is the biggest turn-out for the class at any event in Ireland this year. Class 3 is showing the biggest fleet at 35 boats which will be a challenge in itself, especially on the starting-line in light winds and strong tides.
Class 1 will feature an interesting showdown as Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill V will go head to head with Bon Exemple, which won the Irish championships at Fenit three weeks ago.
That event was a non-discard series and, while O'Higgins' crew had been in the hunt for the title, one bad race meant the event slipped from their grasp, so this week will be a chance to settle an old score.
The Dun Laoghaire clubs combined to form this regatta series, which, almost uniquely, includes dinghies and smaller dayboats among the classes.
Racing is provided for the SB20 sportsboats as well as Squibs and the fleet of ISA J80 keelboats based at Howth that have crossed the bay for the event.
The Water Wag fleet, the world's first one-design, which has inspired generations of sailors since the late 19th century, is still racing, competing every Wednesday evening and also through this week's events off Dun Laoghaire.