As numbers for Volvo Cork Week swell towards 130 boats, one of the highlights of the biennial event will be the start of the Beaufort Cup for military and rescue services that gets underway on Monday morning.
Starting at 10am off Haulbowline, an Air Corps flypast will start the fleet of 17 teams on their way to the Fastnet Rock off the West Cork coast.
The event within an event has seen entries jump from 11 to 17 crews following its inaugural year in 2016.
Monday’s race will count for bonus points as will the final race on Friday ensuring an added edge to the event.
At the heart of the Beaufort Cup will be unfinished business between Youen Jacob’s Baltimore RNLI crew who placed second to Commandant Barry Byrne’s squad from the Irish Defence Forces who were the ultimate winners.
The West Cork team have upped their game for 2018 by matching weapons of choice to Byrnes by selecting a J109 to compete with.
While the Defence Forces again have the use of John Maybury’s J109 Joker 2, a three-time national champion, the RNLI crew has secured Andrew Algeo’s J109 Joggernaut from Dun Laoghaire and added former Olympian Peter O’Leary as one of the helms.
O’Leary has only recently returned to amateur status following the end of his Olympic career and is sailing under the burgee of Baltimore Sailing Club.
Byrne’s team hasn’t been resting on their laurels either and last week won a slew of trophies in the Volvo Round Ireland Race including second overall in the 56-strong fleet and best Corinthian crew as well as the inaugural services trophy for that event.
But just because a friendly grudge match is on the cards for next week, the addition of six more teams suggests that other services may have upped their game as well.
And if there is breeze, race observers have suggested that Denis and Annamarie Murphy’s Grand Soliel 40 competing for Crosshaven RNLI, with ace helm in the making Molly Murphy driving, could also be a contender.
Meanwhile, as overall entries for Volvo Cork Week have risen by around 30 per cent on 2016, organisers acknowledge a new trend as the spread of entries is not limited to the traditional IRC handicap fleet.
In fact, just four IRC bands have been decided as a bigger proportion of the entry includes Sportsboats and One-Designs.
However, Cork Week 2018 is set to be one of the most representative regattas anywhere in Ireland this year with 34 clubs from nine countries included in the line-up.
“We have switched to presenting a menu-style event,” commented Kieran O’Connell, Rear-Commodore Racing at the Royal Cork Yacht Club. “We simply have to change or die.”
Meanwhile, with just three weeks before racing at the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark gets underway for all the Olympic classes, Bangor’s Liam Glynn last weekend secured the Bronze medal at the Laser Under 21 World Championships in Poland.
He competed in a field of 133 boats from 40 countries and was in contention for the Gold medal after winning two podium places on the penultimate day.