With a lucky break in the weather giving Baraka, a Ker 43, a direct route to the finish line, Niall Dowling and his ten strong crew won line honours as the first boat home in the Volvo Round Ireland Race on Wednesday.
More than half of the fleet remain at sea, due to light winds slowing their progress, and as it currently stands none of the other boats will reach the finish in time to better Baraka, meaning she is unbeatable for the overall prize.
The overall result has yet to be formally declared by Wicklow Sailing Club.
“The Volvo Round Ireland is a really, really hard race; it’s like Mount Kilimanjaro – it’s one of the biggest, one of the hardest mountains to climb,” commented Ian Moore, navigator on Baraka GP who previously won the Round Ireland race in 2004. “It’s a little bit longer than the other races, it’s a little more difficult, the conditions are a little more unpredictable… it’s in there with the great classics.”
Baraka was fortunate to get through the light winds, before they slowed the progress of the remaining boats, ultimately meaning she finished 90 miles ahead of the next to finish. Yet the race was far from over! The second boat to finish, on Thursday, was the Volvo 60 – Libertalia Team Jokolia.
“We deliberately didn’t look back at how the handicap game was going and Ian (Moore) kept us focused on sailing fast. We were just thrilled to have won line honours,” Niall Dowling said. “You grow up watching the race as a kid and dream of competing in the Round Ireland so this means a huge amount to me personally.”
As of this morning, Baraka is currently unbeatable in the race, but for many the wait continues to see if their handicap corrected times will be improved by any of the boats currently racing to the finish line, South through the Irish Sea.
The prize giving ceremony for the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2018 will take place at 9pm in Wicklow Sailing Club this evening.
This weekend Baraka is taking part in the Round the Island Race in Cowes, but many competitors in the Volvo Round Ireland Race will still be at sea until the early part of next week.