Boats from five countries will gather at Irish east coast ports from this weekend as final preparations for next Saturday's (26 June 2004) start to the BMW Round Ireland Race get underway.
Entries for the Fáilte Ireland supported event have now reached 49 boats in what organisers agree is the most competitive line-up in more than ten years.
Dutch entry Zwerver, the classic 1952 Admiral¹s Cup winning team-member has already arrived in Ireland and is now lying at Dun Laoghaire Marina. Some crews will also be based at Arklow and Howth before moving to Wicklow next week for safety inspections.
The Irish-led contender O2 Team Spirit will arrive in Kinsale this weekend for crew training before moving to Dublin on Monday where the challenge will be formally unveiled. French rival Solune is expected mid-week; both boats are vying for line-honours and a new course record plus the overall race title on corrected handicap time.
Among the mid-sized entries, 2002 winner Eric LISSON on Cavatina returns to try a repeat performance. Dutch offshore racing veteran Pieter VROON on Tonnerre de Breskens has a track-record that includes a Fastnet Race win. Irish favourite Calyx Voice & Data skippered by Eamon CROSBIE is a year old Kerr design with a series of event titles already claimed.
Ireland¹s Western Yacht Club has a strong line-up with three boats entered, a sure sign of growth in the sport on the Atlantic sea-board and includes the first all-female crew in the race in ten years competing on the 36-footer Consfusion. A new development for this year is the inclusion of a two-handed class with seven entries registered already.
Event: BMW Round Ireland Race 2004
Date: Saturday 26 June 2004
Time: 1200 hrs for 1400 hrs starting gun
Venue: Wicklow Sailing Club, South Quay, Wicklow