03 October 2012
Following is a recap, some observations and lessons learned, and an outline for a possible future.
The word spread from there, really. At the time people could sign up to indicate interest in taking part, or for news by email. We gave away free stickers through the website and sent a few out to the likes of Bow Waves and Purcell Marine.
I hope that we can count on GBSCs involvement in our next event.
I made the decision that it was better to run the Rockall Race in the lead-up to the VOR visit, rather than during or afterwards. I think that was the correct call. I knew that meant our event would be on at the same time as the Round Ireland Race. Here’s an excerpt from a letter that I sent to Denis Noonan, long-time organiser of the Round Ireland race, in July 2011:
There are no plans to run any further Rockall races. If it comes up, I would certainly do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t clash with the Round Ireland, an event that I have fond memories of and a lot of admiration for.In October 2011, after a bit of activity by us on our Facebook page, the Afloat website ran an article that began:
So, there you have it. I’m fairly sure you won’t even notice we’re there as I doubt there is a question of boats making an either/or decision on the two events. But I wanted to get in touch out of courtesy, and respect for the tremendous job you have done over the years.
I subsequently got a telephone call from Charlie Kavanagh of Wicklow Sailing Club. He was not happy that we were going to start a race on the same day as the Round Ireland. I gave him the background to the race, told him I didn’t think it was an issue, and followed up with this email:
New Round Rockall Race Date to Clash with Round IrelandGalway Bay Sailing Club has announced details of a new Irish offshore yacht race, the Round Rockall Race 2012 that will start on the same day as Wicklow’s biennial Round Ireland race and a week before the Volvo Ocean Race calls to Galway Port on July 5.
Please disregard Afloat’s attempt to create a “news” story around a clash. I believe the recent Afloat article is on thin ice when it refers to an announcement by GBSC. No announcement has been made recently, and Afloat already covered our launch in June 2010.I don’t know who in Afloat wrote that, or subsequent, articles as there was no byline. (Markham Nolan had moved on). At no time did Afloat contact me for a comment or to check facts. (By the time the Volvo rolled into town Afloat were happily running our story which they were getting from the VOR Galway press people). In the future I would probably like to reach out to Afloat at times like that, though I have a suspicion it might not change anything. That may be parochial paranoia on my part.
I don’t think I should be concerned about the impact of our race on the businesses of Wicklow. This may sound harsh given the circumstances we all find ourselves in at the moment. It was an issue for Charlie Kavanagh, and I can understand that. (For the record, I’m not doing this to keep the tills of Galway ringing either. I’m doing it because I think it’s a great race course for boats). I told Charlie that I thought the best thing the Round Ireland Race could do in 2012 would be to tie in with the VOR visit and start and finish from Galway. I meant that, and I still do. I think it would have been massive for the sport and great for the Round Ireland. But I’m a dreamer. (Charlie was suitably aghast, by the way, but took it in good spirit and I think we left that phone call on good terms)
I’m pleased to report that, as far as I am aware, Wicklow didn’t suffer any economic shock due to our event, and I don’t think we had a scintilla of negative impact on the estimable Round Ireland Race. (I’ve taken part in two of them, wouldn’t rule out another, and recommend it highly. Aodhán’s taken part in seven!)
In November 2011 Afloat ran this article on their website, headed:
The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) had on the agenda for its Annual Conference something along the lines of “Is the Round Rockall / Round Ireland clash necessary”. Neither I nor GBSC heard from anyone in ICRA at any time in relation to our event before or after their conference. I still haven’t, so I don’t know what, if anything, was discussed or if any conclusions were arrived at.
Offshore Fixture Clash to be Aired at ICRA Conference
The ISA presented a cheque for €15,278 to ICRA at their conference. I think they do that every year, in the amount of the ECHO racing fees collected from around the country. That’s a lot of money, and it seems a bit rich that these two comparatively wealthy organisations went out of their way to try and interfere with the running of a new event on the west coast. Luckily we’re made of good stuff here on the fringes of our island as we continue to show them on and off the water.
I’d like to apply to the ISA for some funding for our next race. If anyone knows how that works, please contact me.
That said, I think we should have trackers. Maybe the ISA will support that financially? I certainly would not be inclined to support a single-handed class without them in the future. There was a period during the race when we hadn’t received a check-in as expected by our own estimation and I would not like to go through that again. Two-handed is one thing, solo raises the stakes a lot. We will have to find the money for trackers.
I would prefer a check-in at fixed times, maybe 1200 and 2400 daily. I think this would be preferable to the “headlands” check-ins we had this time out. It would remove the uncertainty of estimating when we might hear from a competitor. And I would tell competitors that their check-ins are of primary and utmost importance to those of us on shore, biting our nails and pacing our floors in the wee small hours with only our fears for company. Yes, I know that you may be wet, cold, tired and hungry but you cannot check in enough, especially on the stretch to and from the rock. Spoil us, please.
Conditions were perfect for the start. Competitors reported nothing over 30kts of wind during the race and a steady sea-state of up to 2 or 3M. Light airs were a feature as the boats were out there during the transition from one Low pressure system to another. I think we were lucky with the weather and I’m glad it played out the way it did.
Dinah won it, Bank von Bremen were 1st on the water, 2nd on IRC, and Killary Flyer came 3rd.
Surplus to GBSC ≃ €64.60
We ran a successful event, with an international entry, for seven hundred quid. Some figures are rounded for convenience. Receipts have been submitted for all expenditure. All other costs were borne by myself.
Yes, that’s quite a long way off. I don’t think I have the time to give this in order to make it happen next year. That could change, but I’m doubtful. And people in blazers will probably doze a little better in their armchairs if we don’t run in the same years as the Round Ireland Race. Or maybe we could go in 2014, but at a different time? There are also potential clashes with the Round Britain and Ireland and the Azores and Back races to be considered. If you have any suggestions or input on this, please get in touch with me, the sooner the better.
Aodhán and I have come a long way since our first Round Ireland together, and I salute him. I’m grateful to him for his support and his knowledge and I value his friendship. Colm Moriarty is one of the unsung heroes of Galway sailing, a friend for many years, and a rock in a clinch – thank you Sir. I think Dave Vinnell spent more time out of his comfort zone on this gig than he might have liked, but he never showed it. He backed us when it mattered, did his usual excellent job of Race Officer, and my hat is off to him. John Killeen answered my calls with cheerfulness, efficiency and a can-do attitude that rocked. I’m grateful to himself and Enda Ó Coineen for their support. John Coyle and John Leech gave of their time and resources with the sort of quiet reliability that soothes jagged nerves and both were essential to the success of this venture.
Martin Breen performed an act of kindness for a fellow sailor that was as discreet as it was superbly effective. Well played Sir, see you in the mountains. Finbar O’Regan in Bow Waves was a supporter from the start and gave us a number of vital dig-outs without a frown: I honour him for it. Capt. Brian Sheridan orchestrated things in the background to remove obstacles before we even knew they were there, a shrewd gift. Mike Swan, an old school-friend, also helped us out when we needed it. GBSC treasurer Caroline O’Reilly embraced online payments like a pro and has always been courteous, efficient and a pleasure to work with.
Pierce and Mark Purcell did what the Purcells always do, they togged-out and got stuck in – thank you both. Cepta Ryan took some great pics and shared them with us on Facebook, Joe Shaughs also did his thing and Jim Fahy got us some brilliant press. Jenny Howells in the RORC Ratings Office helped spread the word in no small way, Conor Baynes counselled Aodhán when I was chasing him for information and Zoe Coyle Fitzgerald did without a husband for a few weeks. A lot of people helped out. If you have not been named here, it isn’t because I have forgotten your kindness, it’s because there were too many favours to mention them all. But thank you.
We had a great fleet out on Galway Bay to see our competitors off on a grand Summer’s evening with a fresh breeze and the sun lowering in the sky. That’s what this is all about. Galway—Rockall—Galway is an amazing race course on our doorstep and, with proper preparations, is within the reach of any well-found boat.
Thanks to all who made it happen. Let’s hope we can do it again.
Larry Hynes, Race Organiser