Celebrations are underway in Wicklow today with the news that the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race has set a new race record, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators to Wicklow Town this June.
A record 62 yachts are already confirmed to arrive in Wicklow Bay in time for the race start on Saturday 18th June, compared with just 36 yachts competing in the last three editions of the biennial race.
The previous record for the highest number of entries was set in 1990 when 61 boats entered. However following the economic downturn and the loss of a major sponsor, numbers had fallen in recent years.
Now with Volvo Car Ireland stepping in as title sponsor for 2016 in conjunction with an expansion programme undertaken by Wicklow Sailing Club, the race has entered new territory. Wicklow Sailing Club’s introduction of a multi-hull category this year has resulted in some of the biggest and fastest yachts in the world signing up for the Volvo Round Ireland in June, including the UK’s fastest off-shore yacht – the spectacular Mod 70 Concise Ten.
The Concise Ten majestic trimaran is part of Tony Lawson’s Team Concise fleet, which also includes high-speed class 40 yachts – Concise 2 and Concise 8, the latest two entrants to the race and thus the official record-breakers for the race’s highest ever number of entries.
Meanwhile Lloyd Thornburg will be bringing his MOD 70 Phaedo 3 to Wicklow following an incredibly successful run of world records and regatta wins. The world-famous superfast multihull, capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots, has already set multiple speed records on the international circuit.
In a major nod towards the prestige of the Volvo Round Ireland, the Sultanate of Oman is sending their flagship trimaran, the magnificent Mod 70 Musandam-Oman Sail, to compete in this year’s race.
Meanwhile on the mono-hull side, internationally renowned sailor and US businessman, George David has entered one of the world’s fastest and most famous yachts – Rambler 88 into the 2016 race.
Now that Volvo has also put up the prestigious prize of a luxury car for one lucky skipper over a three-race series, commencing with this June’s edition, organisers are still expecting further entries from a number of classes to add to the 62-yacht record this year.
Race organisers at Wicklow Sailing Club say the number and calibre of entries means serious business for Wicklow Town and County.
Race Organiser Theo Phelan: “In addition to bringing at least 62 yachts and in the region of 400 sailors to Wicklow, along with their family and friends, sailing aficionados from across the world will be travelling to Ireland this year to witness the tremendous spectacle. This is worth in excess of €3 million to the county’s economy this year alone.”
“This has not happened by accident. Despite not having a major sponsor over the past three races, we all pulled together in Wicklow to keep this historic race going and to develop it further. By introducing the muti-hull category we have attracted some of the fastest and biggest yachts as well as the most renowned sailors in the world to Wicklow!”
“ Meanwhile, the local Chamber of Commerce have worked hard to put on a Sailfest for visitors, with a packed programme of events including the extremely popular Taste of Wicklow food fair, live music, firework displays, aeroplane displays and family activities.”
The Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race departs Wicklow Bay on Saturday 18th June 2016 at 1pm. The Round Ireland Sailfest will run from Friday 17th June to Sunday 19th June.