The start of the biennial SSE Renewables Round Ireland Yacht Race has been postponed by two months to August due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers at Wicklow Sailing Club have confirmed.

The new start date for the 704-mile race will now be Saturday 22 August 2020 subject to government guidelines.

"Even under the most optimistic scenario, our traditional start date of mid-June would not be possible," commented Kyran O’Grady, Race Director at Wicklow Sailing Club. "However, we believe that there is a suitable late-Summer fixtures window that can still deliver a great race. We will keep updated guidelines under constant review as we plan for the new date."

More than 40 entries from around Ireland and further afield have already been received for the original June start date. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, indications that a record fleet of more than 60 boats was expected.

Wicklow Sailing Club organisers will now begin contacting all the interested crews to assess their availability and requirements for the new date.

"Postponing the SSE Renewables Round Ireland is the correct course of action as safety is our first priority," commented Barry Kilcline, SSE Renewables’ Director of Development. "We remain committed to working with Wicklow Sailing Club on preparations for the new August date and the prospect of an exciting race."

The first Round Ireland Race was sailed in 1980 and since then hundreds of crews have entered what is regarded as the "Kilimanjaro of Sailing" as the course offers a range of obstacles and challenges.  Simply finishing the race that can take up to a week for some boats is regarded as an achievement in itself.