This weekend, Dun Laoghaire is set to become centre to one of the biggest participant events in the sporting calendar when the 2013 regatta takes to the waves in Dublin Bay and beyond.
There will be 390 boats competing this year, there may be up to 10 or 12 people on each boat, which in turn means there could be up to 3,000 people on the water.
Although the number of boats taking part is lower than the last time the regatta was held in 2011, the participation level is positive for the sport, considering the underlying economic circumstances.
Speaking about the event, editor of Float magazine, David O’Brien, explained that the reduction in numbers is no cause for concern, but quite the opposite.
“When the regatta started in 2005, it had 385 boats. It reached approximately 520 in 2007, but in recession, this is a very positive field – in comparison, the Scottish Series regatta is down to under 100 boats.”
The regatta has an eduring appeal, something that O’Brien explains has a number of facets.
“First of all, it is in the capital’s waters. In those terms, there is a good local fleet, so this regatta is on the doorstep of some of the country’s biggest yacht clubs. Dun Laoghaire Yacht Club has a fleet of over 250 to 300 boats.
“On top of that, and most satisfying for the organisers is that there are over 120 boats coming from outside the Dublin Bay area. Dun Laoghaire has been seen as a hub for the Irish Sea area, from the Ribble to Merseyside, to Canarth, up as far as Tarbert and the Isle of Man – and they are all gravitating toward Dun Laoghaire as a racing centre. It is becoming like the Cowes of the Irish Sea.”
The regatta will feature 25 different classes, which will feature a mixture of handicap divisions, where different boats race under handicap rules, and one design divisions, where all the boats are identical.
For the first time this year, there will be coastal racing. Whereas traditional racing is around triangular courses and buoys thereon, there will be races between points on the coast, such as between Greystones and back to the harbour.
For spectators, there will be views of the boats departing and arriving back into the harbour each day, and there would be vantage points at the East Pier at Dun Laoghaire, along the coast at Sandycove or at the 40 Foot.
“I think there is a lot of excitement around the regatta. This year has attracted a lot of people, and that is something to celebrate. For Dun Laoghaire, that is a great achievement,” said O’Brien.