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North coast make or break looms large in SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race

Smaller entries with lower handicaps such as Ian Hickey's Cavatina, a two-times past winner may yet reach the podium in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race.  Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport
After 50 hours of intense competition in the SSE Renewables Round Ireland Race, the 40-strong fleet is starting to view their options for the tricky north coast as fresh conditions are forecast to give way to light winds.

After initially enduring fresh to strong headwinds on the exposed Atlantic seaboard, most of the fleet remains intact with the bulk of boats positioned off the Connemara region on Monday night.

Ahead, Franco Niggeler's Swiss entry Kuka3 has maintained a vice-like grip for first place on the water after transiting the Western seaboard of Ireland and had 70 miles remaining before reaching the top of the course at Innistrahull to the north of Malin Head.

Passing that waypoint heralds the Rathlin Island phase of the race where boats meeting adverse tides often have to anchor for up to six hours while the handicap clock keeps running.

Chasing hard astern but thus far unable to reel in the leader, Ireland's Green Dragon entered by Enda O'Coineen and Conor Ferguson trailed the leader by 35 nautical miles at a matching speed.

"We have a great team on the Green Dragon from group of 15 from Dublin, Donegal and Belfast with Cathal Mahon who is playing a blinder as Sailing Master - and a successful team is one that works without you!" said Enda O'Coineen.  "Heading around the top of Ireland tonight I am really delighted with the performance of the guys - they are having a ball!"

In terms of the overall race win on handicap corrected time based on IRC ratings, the lead has swapped a number of times during the day with Denis and Annamarie Murphy's Nieulargo, Bob Rendell's Samatom and Michael Boyd's Darkwood all provisionally listed as leaders during Monday.

However, with the fleet relatively compacted and the prospect of light winds for the remainder of the race down the north and east coasts to the finishing-line at Wicklow Sailing Club, almost any of the boats that complete the course could be a contender at this stage, the likely halfway point of the race.

Meanwhile, Marie Tabarly's classic round the world boat Pen Duick VI retired late on Sunday evening and returned to France bringing the total number of retirements to four.

More details and race tracker available - please click here.

Ends - Monday 20th June 2022
For further information, please contact:
Kyran O’Grady, Wicklow Sailing Club
Mob +353 87 257 5400 /

Photographs are repro-free with photographer credit byline. 
For hi-res versions, please contact::  David Branigan/Oceansport
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