Thank you George

After setting a new record in the Volvo Round Ireland race Rambler 88 took a number of the junior members from Wicklow sailing club on the sail of their lives back from Wicklow to Dun Laoghaire. On behalf of Wicklow Sailing Club I would to thank George David and his team on Rambler for this wonderful gesture. The youngsters will remember it for a long time! (Hal Fitzgerald commodore WSC)

Rambler with the Cup


The 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Yacht race gets underway. The Mono-hull fleet, with some 56 boat, gets away first


Followed just 10 minutes later by the multi-hull fleet, which includes the 3 MOD 70’s(Concise 10, Musandam Oman Sail and Phaedo3) as well as a boat representing Wicklow Sailing club (Trilogic)

Phaedo 3 at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland 2016
Phaedo 3 and Musandam Oman Sail battling it out at the start

Dream or Two Fortissimo

Fortissimo promises a Dream or Two in Volvo Round Ireland

This year’s Volvo Round Ireland Race can’t wait to welcome Fortissimo, (otherwise known as 40ssimo!), entered by Dream or Two Sailing.


The first generation Class 40 has a usable minimal interior for cruising, yet still has a good all round performance to compete with other Class 40s according to skipper James Close: “What appealed to us about the Class 40 was that they are built specifically to cross oceans in safety. It has to be one of the safest platforms to do offshore sailing from, yet also fast and exhilarating.”

Dream or Two was originally the name of a boat that was used to teach RYA courses in Gosport, before the owner upped sails to explore the world on his boat and passed the RYA school into the capable hands of Jannine Stoodley, who ran it for close to 10 years. The school now offers racing, cruising and day sails on Fortissimo, which was built in 2008 and launched in 2010. She is 4.7 tonnes, and the control and safety with which she operates makes the top speed to date of 22knots even more breathtaking.

James grew up sailing in Portsmouth Harbour in a Mirror Dinghy, before progressing to various racing classes. After university he began crewing in a myriad of weekend races in the Solent for almost a decade, before completing the RYA Yachtmaster Course in 2013. His day job is now Yachtmaster Instructor and Skipper of Fortissimo. (Slightly different to his original intention of becoming a graphic designer!)

What does James love most about being on board Fortissimo?

‘It is superb sailing, as you have ‘seat of the pants’ excitement of dinghy sailing, combined with the ability to go to far afield places relatively quickly. The racing is at sensational speeds, often touching 20knots – yet in complete control. The cruising is revolutionary, as we can comfortably cross the channel in around 6 to 8 hours which means we can have real croissants in France for breakfast and by late afternoon be in a proper pub for dinner back home!’

The tightly-knit crew consists of elite sailors, each one an integral part. Among them is Andrew Smith, one of the directors of Dream or Two Sailing, who has raced around the world as a navigator, and first mate Ben Turner, who is (very usefully) trained as a rigger. With both long-term and new clients of A Dream or Two on board, the combined sailing experience is impressive.

James mentions that he had ‘always dreamed of sailing a Class 40, as it seemed to fill the gap nicely between dinghies and yachts’.

Seems like A Dream or Two has lived up to its name! We’re looking forward to welcoming you and the crew of Fortissimo to Wicklow this month, James!


Farming family takes to high seas


Last week, Wexford suckler and tillage farmer Keith Miller was busy cutting silage in Rosslare. But this month, Keith and his daughters, Alice and Hannah, take on the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race against multi-million euro super yachts.

Dad Keith is a 30-year veteran of the Rosslare Harbour Lifeboat. Alice (23) has followed in his footsteps, joining the lifeboat crew in Galway, where she is a student.

Last September, Keith decided to buy a boat, and so the family set off for Strangford, Co Down, to collect the Andante, a 36ft cruiser which is three decades old. On the way back, they got the notion of entering the Volvo Round Ireland race. They have trained by sailing northwards from Galway back to Wexford, and although Keith says “we won’t be first across the line”, they could do very well on their handicap.

The family trio is looking forward to racing alongside some of the biggest and most expensive yachts in the world, yachts costing millions, whereas Keith says the Andante was “the price of a car”.

They face up to seven gruelling days surviving on minimal sleep, damp clothes, wet bedding and battling the currents of the wild Atlantic and, according to Hannah (22), making do with dry shampoo and baby wipes. “Dad is the main cook, hot food, cooked in a pot and eaten out of a bowl. We’ll have fresh meat to start us off,” she said.

Alice is delighted to be sailing with her dad and her sister, Hannah, a musician who is assistant principal French horn in the Kuopio symphony orchestra in Finland.

For Keith, safety is the main priority. “We have gone above and beyond with safety; we have personal locator beacons if someone falls overboard, life rafts, life jackets, I don’t want to have to be rescued by a lifeboat, I’d never hear the end of it,” he said.

The race starts from Wicklow Harbour at 1pm on Saturday, June 18. It’s the biggest-ever race in the competition’s 36-year history, with a record number of 65 yachts competing, including the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship trimaran.

Organisers are expecting tens of thousands of spectators to travel to Wicklow to witness the incredible spectacle for the weekend of the Volvo Round Ireland, and the local chamber has put on a Sailfest for the weekend, including the Taste of Wicklow on the Sunday to welcome visitors.

Euro Car Parks

David Cullen back after 18 years aboard Euro Car Parks  

David Cullen, CEO of Ireland’s leading parking provider, credits being useless at football as a kid with his decision to get into sailing.  A native of Raheny, he has come from dragging a canoe and windsurfer down the cliff to Kilbarrack Creek to entering his J109, Euro Car Parks, into the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland fleet. Thanks to his exceedingly tolerant wife Deirdre, he has been able to devote much of his spare time to sailing and preparing for the race. 

Describing his crew as ‘friends for life’, they have sailed together on a myriad of different boats, from half tonners to V065s. When asked what they have in common, David answered:

 ‘Age and baldness, but also a steely determination to win.’ 

Euro Car Parks

Euro Car Parks

Why are they taking part in the Volvo Round Ireland?

 ‘It’s 18 years since I won the Round Ireland on Jeep Cherokee, a Volvo 60, so it’s a bit overdue. My upcoming 50th birthday inspired me to do something I enjoyed so many times previously, and the fever has spread to my pals.’

What kind of provisions will the crew be keeping themselves fuelled with?

Well, after sampling a few different freeze dried options, they decided the best plan was to indulge in some of Dublin’s best Asian cuisine. Meals will be prepared by Kanoodle Restaurant to be taken on board. The crew has yet to decide who gets the important task of reheating!

They are looking forward to the breath-taking scenery that comes with taking part in the Volvo Round Ireland, but also to the camaraderie, stories and jokes that will no doubt be shared on board. David  is confident that there will be no arguments while at sea.. unless anyone disagrees with him!

Well, we hope disagreements are kept to a minimum and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming you to Wicklow, David!


Expert crew and Tanit’s winning navigator bode well for Katsu in Volvo Round Ireland

After completing two Volvo Round Ireland Races aboard J124 bJaysus, and a few years away from sailing, Alan Hannon is back with Reichel-Pugh 24 Katsu. Bought in Thailand in 2014, Hannon gave her first long run last year, zig-zagging down the Irish Sea to the Solent, building up miles for the 2015 Fastnet. Despite a large clump of weed leading to disappointment and Katsu miles behind her class in the Fastnet, there are high hopes for this June.


Alan has lined up a seasoned crew, half of whom have multiple Round Ireland experience, as well as extensive Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea, Round the World Clipper and Sydney- Hobart experience. The crew in fighting form ahead of June’s race, and will have completed considerable off-shore miles with 8 races in their 2016 race program.

And then there’s their secret weapon – Captain Richie Fearon, who was navigator on 2014 overall winner Tanit.

With a multinational crew, hailing from four continents and eight different countries – that’s plenty of national anthems to keep spirits up during low winds!


No dried food ‘nonsense’ and plenty of cake promise to keep spirits high on Sarabande!

Sarabande may soon be heading for her 50th birthday, but that won’t stop her and her loyal crew from enjoying a healthy competitive streak in this year’s Volvo Round Ireland!

Rob Mably, a farmer from Cornwall, bought Sarabande over fifteen years ago as a family boat, and has since spent many happy summers cruising the waters of the Scilly Isles, Britanny and even the Caribbean.

 Sarabande_blog1web Sarabande_blog2web Sarabande_blog3web

In recent years, he has spent his time updating and modernising the boat in order for her to compete in some of the most prestigious races in the world, including the Rolex Fastnet 2015 and the cross channel race to Roscoff kicking off today…not to mention his 2013 L’Aber Wrac’h win!

 Given that Rob and many of his very diverse crew are West Country sailors and have a deep affinity for the Atlantic, it seems only fitting that the Sarabande joins the Volvo Round Ireland fleet. They even have an Irish sailor (and dear friend) Donal O’Halloran, joining them for the gruelling challenge. Donal is from Cork where he campaigned a 720 for years at International level, and is highly regarded in Cornwall as a first class sailor. He also gives crew member George Fairhurst (another Cornish farmer’s son, a good run for his money in telling Jethro jokes!

 How are they preparing for the race?

Well Rob proudly proclaims the meals on Sarabande ‘legendary’ “None of this dried food nonsense. Boeuf bourguignon, Chilli Con Carne, Tarragon Chicken, and good selection for the vegetarians!  We ensure the kitchen of the Sarabande is well-stocked with plenty of cake!”

Indeed, cake seems to be the flavour of the month with the crew, as it is a tradition that they celebrate crossing the finish line with a baked masterpiece of some sort!

 So, what is Rob most looking forward to about the race? “For me, it is about keeping my lovely old Swan going and being as competitive as we can. I need the younger ones to help me do that, and I have a great sense of gratitude to them and to life itself. There is something very poignant about being at sea, it is where I feel at ease with myself, and I can share that with my crew.”

 Sounds like the Sarabande and her crew are in for a smooth sail ahead. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to Wicklow, Rob!

Wild Spirit

Wild Spirit prepare to beat old friends and rivals Desert Star

WS Spin RIR 2014 Web WildSpiritbow_web

Wild Spirit and crew are expected to be in top form for this June’s Volvo Round Ireland.  The crew are sailing (and eating!) well if their blog updates are anything to go by.  With Weymouth and back going smoothly over the past couple of days and the race to St Vaast from Cowes the week before, these guys mean business (with a good Indian meal or two thrown in for good measure)!

Indeed Paul Jackson and his team have thrown down the gauntlet to Desert Star for this Volvo Round Ireland in his latest note to us, and we quote:

“Wild Spirit will be back with its unique mix of age, experience and immaturity drawn from our Fastnet, Sydney Hobart and Caribbean 600 team members. Our aim is to of beat our old friends and rivals on Desert Star.”

Here at the Race Office, we think there’s now a much bigger challenge both yachts should be thinking of – Paul – check out the brand new Volvo at stake for the best three-race result , including the 2016 edition.

So what will the crew of Wild Spirit do differently this time around?

Well – direct from the horse’s mouth:

“We won’t make the mistake of enjoying the local hospitality until 0400 on the morning of the race which led to a much delayed hoist whilst the fore-deck committee searched in vain for the fourth corner of the spinnaker.”

But at the end of the day, it’s all about the camaraderie according to Paul and his team…

“We look forward to meeting old friends again at the best off-shore race in the World.”

Right back at you Paul!  We look forward to giving you and the Wild Spirit crew the grand Wicklow Welcome!

Volvo Car as Prize in Round Ireland Yacht Race

Volvo Car up for grabs for dedicated Round Ireland Sailor


The Volvo Round Ireland Yacht race, one of the most challenging off-shore races in the world, has become even more attractive to sailors with the announcement that there is a luxury Volvo car up for grabs for one lucky skipper.

Following the recent decision by Volvo Car Ireland to become title sponsor of the classic off-shore race from June 2016, they aim to further develop the race by encouraging sailors to return to complete the epic 704 mile contest over the next three races.

The skipper who has accumulated the best overall points’ results on corrected time, over the next 3 Volvo Round Ireland races 2016, 2018 and 2020, will be presented with a brand new Volvo V40 at the Prizegiving for the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland Race.

With nearly 50 yachts already signed up for the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland, a significant number of skippers will already be in the running for the brand new Volvo V40 upon completing the race this June.  

Volvo Car Ireland says they are delighted to offer this added incentive to encourage an increased number of Irish sailors to participate in the epic race.  Managing Director Volvo Car Ireland Adrian Yeates:

“We want to see more and more people get involved in sailing, especially in Ireland.  Ireland is perfectly positioned to become one of the world’s leading sailing nations.  We hope this exciting new opportunity to win the Volvo V40 will encourage more and more Irish sailors to return time and time again to compete in the Volvo Round Ireland, Ireland’s premier off-shore race.”

Volvo Round Ireland Race organisers have hailed the news of the Volvo give-away as a ground-breaking development for the Race.

Race Organiser Theo Phelan:

“The Volvo Round Ireland is one of the most exciting and breath-taking races in the world. Starting and finishing in Wicklow, each time promising an unforgettable new challenge. It 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.”

Run by Wicklow Sailing Club, the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race is the only RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) race based in Ireland and is one of the longest off-shore races in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar, taking up to 7 days to complete.  The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, held biennially, the fleet has grown steadily, with over 40 entries already confirmed for 2016.