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Sparkling start to 705 nautical mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland at Wicklow

by Wicklow Sailing Club 22 Jun 18:54 BST 22 June 2024
Aurelia (left) entered by Chris Power Smith competing for the Royal St. George Yacht Club leads a group of boats at the start of the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race © David Branigan / Oceansport

Thousands of spectators lined the pier and coast at Wicklow this afternoon (Saturday 22nd June 2024) for the start of the 705 nautical mile SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race that has attracted an international fleet of 48 starters.

However, the starters list was quickly reduced by one boat as Finbarr O'Regan's Artful Dodger from Kinsale suffered mast damage and withdrew from competition.

The remaining boats quickly headed away from the starting vessel, the Irish Naval Service vessel LE George Bernard Shaw boosted by the ebbing tide.

French entry Teasing Machine was first to pass the famous Wicklow Head landmark but the chasing pack soon spread out as the race passed the Arklow Bank wind turbines.

Although conditions were initially quite choppy, lighter winds are expected for tomorrow as the leading boats pass the south coast.

The fastest boats in this year's race are expected to be the multihull entries that could be back to the Wicklow finish by Monday.

However, the race is decided on corrected time, a form of handicapping that allows smaller and less exotic crews a chance at winning the overall trophy and is limited to single-hull boats.

Ahead on the race course lies a series of challenges for the 292 crew-members ranging from fatigue and sunburn to navigation hazards and the for the unlucky few, some inevitable seasickness.

Beating the course record of just over 50 hours, set by American George David on Rambler 88 in 2016 is almost impossible as none of the 47 competitors are close in terms of size.

Instead, the focus is on the overall win and the first contender for the prize is not expected before Wednesday at the earliest.

At teatime this evening (6pm IST) the leading boats were passing Carnsore Point off the Wexford coast.

For more information and the race tracker please visit roundireland.ie

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