Howth Yacht Club’s Storm skippered by Pat Kelly took an early lead in the J109 National Championships being sailed as part of the 2015 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta this afternoon. The Howth entry made the most of a strong sea breeze gusting to 20 knots that delivered championship conditions and got all 29 classes off to a prompt start on Dublin Bay.

3000 sailors are racing in the four day regatta, the biggest sailing event in Ireland this year.

Second in the 11–boat J109 fleet was the National Yacht Club’s Something Else skippered by John Hall with third place going to recently crowned Irish Cruiser (ICRA) Division One champion, Joker II (John Maybury). Conditions could not have been more different than the first race this time two years ago when light winds frustrated sailors in the biennial event. Today was equally as testing but for completely different reasons as sailors dealt with choppy seas and gusty conditions that led to a number of collisions and gear damage.

Racing is being staged until Sunday over five separate courses for a combined fleet of 415 boats, with over 180 visiting yachts from 69 yacht clubs.

An impressive line up of eight class zero boats has made Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta one of the biggest turnout this year for the near 40–footers. What’s even more impressive is the fleet has been drawn entirely from outside the Bay. First blood has gone to Conor Phelan’s Ker 37 Jump Juice, just one of four entries from Cork Harbour. Second is returning Scottish entry from the Clyde, Roxstar, the XP38i, skippered by Jonathan Anderson. The 2013 winner of the overall Volvo trophy Nigel Biggs is back and sailing this year in class zero in a new C&C 30 design and placed sixth.

Visitors also top class one’s 18-boat fleet with the Beneteau First 36.7 Wildfire (DJ O’Malley) from Royal Northern Yacht Club leading from Fairlie Yacht club’s MAT 1010 Now or Never. Third is local boat Boomerang, the Kirwan family’s Beneteau 36.7, from the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

Yachts are sailing different courses including trapezoid, windward leeward, and triangular course configurations. A coastal series is also being staged and has drawn a bumper entry of 25, with today’s bay course race won by Royal Irish yacht WOW, skippered by George Sisk, the recently crowned class zero ICRA champion.

In the one design and dinghy divisions, sailing in the west or the north west of Dublin bay, there were plenty of familiar names at the top of the fleets. Royal Ulster’s Paul Prentice leads an impressive 16-boat Sigma 33 fleet, Ian Mathews the Flying Fifteens, Vincent Delany the Squibs and in an impressive 35–boat turnout for the GP14s, Ballyholme Yacht Club’s Ruan O’Tiarnaigh and Niamh McCormick lead. Unfortunately, a first race collision with a Beneteau 21 on the same course has almost certainly put Flying Fifteen contenders Ben Mulligan and Alan Green out of the regatta.

Sailing in Seapoint Bay, with a 150-160 degree wind, a seven boat Fireball dinghy fleet sailed two races and Conor Clancy leads with a first and a third.

Racing continues tomorrow (Friday).

Selected results only from VDLR Day One. Full results available on dlregatta.org

IRC CLASS 0  1. Jump Juice (C Phelan) 2. Roxstar (J Anderson) 3.Auora (R Stuart / B Ram))
IRC CLASS 1  1. Wildfire (D/J O’Malley/Urquhart)  2. Now or Never 3 (N Stafford) 3. Boomerang (Kirwan Family)
IRC CLASS 2   1. Injenious (M & G Crompton & Hallworth) 2. Wildebeest V (C Latimer) 3. Checkmate XV (D Cullen)
IRC CLASS 3   1. Dux (A Gore-Grimes) 2. Maximus (P Kyne) 3. Fusion (R Colwell & R Cobbe)
J109  1. Storm (P Kelly) 2. Something Else (J & B Hall) 3. Joker 2 (J Maybury)
SIGMA 33  1. Squawk (P Prentice) 2. Leaky Roof 2 (A Harper) 3. Popje (T McCourt)
BENETEAU 31.7  1. Levana (J Mitton) 2. Crazyhorse (F Heath / I Schuster) 3. Prospect (C Johnston)

The Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is Ireland’s biggest sailing event and takes place for the next three days until Sunday 12th July with over 400 boats and 3,000 competitors taking part. There is a great festival atmosphere across the waterfront and Dun Laoghaire town as four sailing clubs come together for the biennial event; Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club and National Yacht Club.

For more information see www.dlregatta.org or find Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Facebook and Twitter.