American Maxi yacht declared overall handicap winner in epic Volvo Round Ireland Race
Nearly six days since the off, American businessman George David’s world-famous maxi yacht Rambler 88 has been officially declared the outright winner of the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race.
In what has been one of the toughest ever editions of the race, with rough seas resulting in 15 retirals from the record 63 strong-fleet, sailing history has been made across a series of fronts.
Last Monday George David smashed both the race record and the speed record for sailing around Ireland* when the yacht crossed the Wicklow finish line after just 50 hours 24 minutes and 09 seconds.
However as the race is decided on handicap, it wasn’t until this morning (Friday 24th June) when the majority of the fleet had completed the 704 mile course around Ireland that the official result was certain.
His IRC handicap time was 3 days 20 hours and five minutes. Second place goes to Eric De Turckheim’s Teasing Machine and third place has been taken by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd aboard Lisa.
Race organisers have confirmed this has been the most exhilarating ever race in the Volvo Round Ireland’s 36 year history with a series of new race records and new world records smashed over the past week.
For the first time ever, multihulls were eligible to compete in the Race and three of the fastest and most-famous Mod 70’s from the US, Oman and the UK came to Wicklow with one aim – to break records – and all three did.
In a spectacular nail-biting contest, the three remained as little as half a mile apart for the entire course with Phaedo3 and Concise 10 looking likely to be first across the line right up to the end. In an astonishing change of fortunes, Oman Sail took advantage of an inshore track and pipped Phaedo to the post by six minutes, breaking their own 2015 record* by an incredible 2 hours, 14 minutes and 50 seconds. Concise 10 came in just over a minute later.
Beyond the competition aspect, this has been a very poignant and emotional event for many concerned.
The fact that it was George who set the new record was particularly meaningful as it was as a tribute to the Irish Rescue services who saved his life in 2011 that he took the decision to sign up for the race. He had two main objectives: first and foremost to grow the reputation of the race and attract other world-famous sailors to travel to Wicklow. The second was to break records – both targets were more than exceeded, but he hesitated to declare these intentions too soon, learning from his long and impressive business career that ‘actuals should exceed expectations.’
Indeed as he sprayed his crew with the winning Jeroboam of exclusive Italian Astoria prosecco, he reminded race organisers of his wise words.
It was also particularly nostalgic to see RORC commodore, Irish man Michael Boyd take the win for third place aboard First 44.7 Lisa. The 2016 Race marks the 20th anniversary of Boyd’s 1996 win with many of the same crew from his 1996 winning yacht, Big Ears.
Like George David, the RORC commodore, was determined to support Wicklow Sailing Club in growing the international profile of the prestigious race by participating himself.
These and many others came good on their promises and helped deliver a 63-strong fleet, the largest ever number of entries in the 36 year history of the race.
Race organisers at Wicklow Sailing Club say it has been an unforgettable week of sporting history.
Theo Phelan, Race organiser (speaking on Friday 24th June 2016 at 9am):
“The race is not over until every single yacht is back safe and sound across the finish line. There are still 4 boats at sea, which we expect in this afternoon. The reports from the sailors are that it was a fantastic race, with everything a race should contain. It started on Saturday afternoon and already by midday on Sunday, they were being hit full blast by 30 knot winds, leading to 11 retirals on Sunday alone.”
“The conditions were ideal for the fast yachts however – the Mod 70’s were outside the wind pattern of everybody else. The competition with the Mod 70’s was epic. As top Irish off-shore sailor Damian Foxall, who finished first aboard Oman Sail said, ‘if you really want to achieve good racing seed, you have to do it against other boats. The last boats are just as important as those which arrived in early. They have endured the greatest hardship and it is a tremendous feat that they have completed the 704 mile course’”
Race organisers have already confirmed a date for the next edition of the biennial race for June 30th 2018. Already some of the big names have declared their intention to return to contest their titles and new title sponsor Volvo has upped the ante by putting a brand new Volvo car up for grabs for the skipper who has accumulated the best overall points’ results on corrected time, over a three-race series including this year’s edition.
This evening the tired but exhilarated sailors will attend the awards ceremony at Wicklow Sailing Club. The renowned sailors’ rum Goslings are putting on a special Goslings dark n’ stormy reception to welcome all the crews back.