Light winds and rain soon gave way to ideal racing conditions for the opening day of the O’Leary Insurance Group Sovereign’s Cup at Kinsale Yacht Club today. The 62-strong fleet competed on courses ranged from Cork Harbour to the Old Head of Kinsale at the start of the four day regatta.

On the Coastal Course, the 17-strong division that features some of the biggest yachts in the event started racing with a short sprint to the O’Leary Insurance Group buoy before a long leg back to the Daunt Rock off Robert’s Cove at Cork Harbour.

Although Conor Doyle’s Freya from the host club was the clear ‘on the water’ winner for the day, on IRC corrected time it was Bob Rendell’s Samatom from Howth YC that took first place just ahead of Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC.

Howth boats occupy the top two places under the IRC system in Class 1 where Pat Kelly’s veteran team from Rush lead the field after two windward/leeward courses led to a fourth and a race win. A second and a seventh for clubmates Outrageous needed the tiebreak to separate them on points from Brian Jones’ JellyBaby from the RCYC with a sixth and a third for the day.

All three top places in Class 1 are held by J109 designs that account for no fewer than ten of the 14 entries in this division.

With longer distances to sail for visitors in the smaller classes, divisions two and three are almost all held by Cork entries. Kieran Collins on Coracle IV from the RCYC leads David Kelly’s King One from Howth by a single point after two races.

Meanwhile, Dave O’Regan along with Denise Phelan and Tony Donworth on Supernova lead IRC Class 3 on their course that included two roundings of the Old Head Golf Links buoy at Hole Open Bay.

A combined fleet of almost 20 White Sails entries racing in two Divisions enjoyed a single race that started and finished inside Kinsale Harbour off the historic Charles Fort saw veteran paralympian and former Kinsale YC Commodore John Twomey take the opening race bullet both on the water and under ECHO handicap.

White Sails principal race officer Donal Hayes sent both fleets off on different courses yet still managed to have the last boats in both finish within one minute of one another.

“It’s fantastic to be back racing, and very close racing at that in Class 1 especially,” commented Irish Cruiser Racing Association Commodore Richard Colwell racing on Outrageous from Howth Yacht Club. “It’s also great to be back in Kinsale and there’s a quiet buzz about the place, as it should be with the restrictions and smaller numbers.”

Racing continues on Thursday with a forecast of clearer skies and more breeze with a similar schedule of races for the day.

David Branigan