A hidden gem and a perfect fit for this island nation. That’s how the Volvo Round Ireland Race can be summed up by veterans and newcomers alike.

Far from the popular image of blazered ‘yachtie-types’ lolling aimlessly around the marina, this is a tough challenge involving few creature-comforts and plenty of rigour for the best part of a week at sea.

But the upsides are worth it and even if only one boat can win, judging by the celebrations in Wicklow Sailing Club at the end of previous races, just completing the course is considered a huge achievement.