Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: ISORA

Dun Laoghaire Harbour sailor Kenneth Rumball a previous successful competitor on the ISORA circuit, along with teammate Pamela Lee has been competing in the toughest offshore sailing circuit, the one-design Figaro circuit in France. This circuit has produced some of the worlds greatest sailors including Jean Le Cam, Armel Le Cleach and Mike Golding to name a few.

In the past 18 months, the pair under the banner of 'RL Sailing' has been racing, training and coached by the most experienced French coaches in the training hubs of Lorient and St Gilles Croix De Vie.

The aim of RL Sailing is to qualify and represent Ireland in the mixed double-handed offshore class at the Paris 2024 Olympics

RL Sailing has similar aims to grow the sport of sailing in all disciplines in Ireland and here the pair explain their latest initiative.

Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in FranceKenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in France

A key ethos for the enjoyment of the sport is understanding. If more crews and skippers alike have a better understanding of the sport, they are more likely to enjoy their time on the water and will want to spend more time on the water. 

RL Sailing in conjunction with a sponsor of the team are offering pre and post-race analysis of the two ISORA training races pre the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and also a pre-race briefing for the D2D race. These sessions will be delivered via Zoom unless restrictions ease to allow briefings to be held in an outside well-ventilated area such as a marquee.

Pre-Race briefings will be conducted to look specifically around the wind and tides to be expected during the training races and also to look at some generic boat set up discussions.

Different weather models will be discussed along with local weather trends such as sea breezes, tidal variances and current changes.

However given the wide variety of boats sailed in the ISORA races, specific boat type settings and setups will not be discussed. These briefings are standard practice in the Figaro circuit to help skippers and crews discuss and understand the weather ahead of them to give a better understanding of the race and racecourse.

The post-race analysis will be a led discussion centring around which weather models were most accurate, the course and route taken by the leading boats, sail selection and options for different boats.

A certain amount of this discussion will be prepared from the Yellowbrick trackers to give skippers and crews an understanding of boat speeds and courses taken by each boat.

Once again this information sharing is a key training tool used in the Figaro circuit. While we are all competitors on the water, for all sailors to improve, information is shared and discussed to build knowledge.

We believe that training like this is invaluable to all skippers and crews and will only lead to a better understanding of offshore racing which will improve the standard of sailing and the performance of Irish offshore sailors both in home waters and abroad.

These sessions are currently subsidised by a generous RL Sailing sponsor to all ISORA sailors competing in the training races on the 15th and 29th of May 2021 and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, however, in due course, there will be a modest fee for later races for this service.

The initial weather briefing for the race commencing on the 15th of May will take place on the 14th of May at 20:00 hours and will last for approximately 1.5 hours.

Zoom link here;

Topic: ISORA Training Race 15-5-21 Pre Race Weather Briefing
Time: May 14, 2021 08:00 PM Dublin

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87838370799?pwd=ZHpQZU44UWtHa2ROT2lTY0Q3Q1RqUT09

Meeting ID: 878 3837 0799
Passcode: 297492

Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

ISORA will be running training events this month ahead of the first big Irish offshore fixture of the season, the 320-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race on June 9th. 

The training events, starting on the 15th of May, will allow boats to get boats up to speed for the biennial offshore race, which is run under the auspice of the National Yacht Club.

As ISORA Chief Peter Ryan told Afloat last week when government restrictions were eased; "It's all systems go!"

ISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15thISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15th

16 Races

The offshore body has a busy 2021 season planned with a total of 16 races on both sides of the Irish Sea and a new title sponsor signed up; Musto.

Six Offshore (Qualifying Q1-6) races are scheduled, with the best five to count for the Championship title and the prestigious Wolf's Head Trophy, which was not awarded in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Coastal Series

ISORA also have two Coastal Series running concurrently:

  • Viking Marine Irish Coastal Series - Five races best four to count
  • Plas Heli Welsh/UK Coastal Series - Five races best four to count

The first coastal race was held in North Wales on Saturday in accordance with ISORA's COVID-19 protocol with crew limited to 80% of the IRC crew number. The race was tracked using a new AIS system.

Updated Calendar

An updated ISORA 2021 calendar is being prepared to take account of last Thursday's government announcement and Saturday's disappointing news that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has been cancelled.

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

On Sunday, August 29th 1971, a group of offshore devotees who had campaigned the previous day's annual cross-channel Abersoch-Howth Race for the James C Eadie Cup gathered in the bar of Howth Yacht Club and gave some purpose to their noontime drinks by progressing a discussion about expanding the North-West Offshore Association – the governing body for the race they'd just completed – into becoming the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA).

Offshore racing in the area was nothing new, with Dublin Bay's Royal Alfred YC – founded 1870 – noted in the 19th Century for its cross-channel events to Holyhead, and more recently for overnight races which honed 24-hour seagoing skills in the club's Corinthian crews. Before that, the pioneering Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race of 1860 – repeated in 1861 and 1862 – had shown what could be done if there were sufficient levels of enthusiasm. And some recent research has suggested there may even have been a Round Ireland Race from Dublin Bay in 1831 or thereabouts, but there's much more work to be done before anyone can be sure whether or not that truly ground-breaking event actually took place.

Historic snapshot of the frontline yachts of the late 1880s – the start of a Royal Alfred YC cross-channel race to Holyhead in 1888Historic snapshot of the frontline yachts of the late 1880s – the start of a Royal Alfred YC cross-channel race to Holyhead in 1888

Meanwhile, there's quite enough to be going along with on what we know about the early days, with the Liverpool area's 1838-founded Royal Dee Yacht Club, and the 1844-founded Royal Mersey YC, running races and cruises-in-company for their super-wealthy members' large yachts, events which reflected links to both Dublin Bay and the Clyde, while the more modest Liverpool Bay YC established the Midnight Race to the Isle of Man in 1907.

That special event was taken over in 1925 by Tranmere Sailing Club on the south shore of the Mersey in Birkenhead, underlining the greater uncertainties of life after World War I of 1914-18. But TSC and more recently Liverpool YC have kept it going, staging the hundredth on 5th July 2019 with the winner being the Dublin Bay J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patann Power Smith, RStGYC).

The J/122 Aurelia from Dun Laoghaire (seen here starting the Round Ireland race) maintained long-established cross-channel links by winning the 100th Isle of Man Race from Liverpool in 2019The J/122 Aurelia from Dun Laoghaire (seen here starting the Round Ireland race) maintained long-established cross-channel links by winning the 100th Isle of Man Race from Liverpool in 2019. Photo: Afloat.ie

Back in the 1950s this race, together with others which were staged in response to the fact that each August the focus of Liverpool saltwater sailing moved from the Mersey to North West Wales and Anglesey, had resulted in the formation after World War II of the Mersey & North Wales Joint Offshore Co-ordinating Committee.

The uniquely and splendidly complicated title surely deserves some sort of prize for accurately reflecting the challenges its committee were trying to achieve, something further exacerbated by the fact that further south around Tremadoc Bay to the east of the Lleyn, the sailing enthusiasts of Birmingham and other large English conurbations were seeking their brief period of summer sport from Abersoch, Pwllheli and Portmadoc. Thus it required the wisdom of Solomon to balance the brief programme such that each key offshore and passage race staged in the waters between Conwy and Pwllheli could achieve optimum turnouts for MNWJOCC-supported events.

Things had been a bit more simple, geographically speaking, on the Irish side even if the politics were now complex, but after the Irish Cruising Club had come into being in 1929, it took on the tradition of an offshore Whitsun Race in the Irish Sea, so much so that by the 1960s the ICC – along with the Royal Alfred YC - was playing quite an active role in Irish offshore racing generally.

In 1963, the Irish Cruising Club effectively illustrated the growing complexity of the area's offshore programme by attempting to set it in order, though it should be remembered that some of these events only attracted a handful of starters. Highlight of the season was the RORC/RStGYC Morecambe Bay Race of 220 miles on August 23rd, which also involved the NWOA. Sailed in heavy weather with a real southwest to west gale in the midst of it, the heroic overall winner was the Dublin Bay 24 Fenestra skippered by Arthur Odbert (Royal Irish YC)In 1963, the Irish Cruising Club effectively illustrated the growing complexity of the area's offshore programme by attempting to set it in order, though it should be remembered that some of these events only attracted a handful of starters. The highlight of the season was the RORC/RStGYC Morecambe Bay Race of 220 miles on August 23rd, which also involved the NWOA. Sailed in heavy weather with a real southwest to west gale in the midst of it, the heroic overall winner was the Dublin Bay 24 Fenestra skippered by Arthur Odbert (Royal Irish YC)

The M&NWJOCC for its part continued to see racing numbers expand, and it had felt confident enough to re-style itself the North West Offshore Association in 1962. And then with growing numbers from Ireland involved, and a strengthening association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (which co-sponsored a main event with the NWOA in the Irish Sea-Cork area), any land-centric title began to seem inappropriate, and the idea of going head-on for the straightforward, self-explanatory and rather catchy Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association had obvious appeal by the end of the successful 1971 season.

The most immediate attraction of ISORA was that its acronym could be pronounced as an easily-remembered and distinctive neologism - not really an option with NWOA, and definitely not with M&NWJOCC. And the main mover in quietly promoting this move to a new stage was Dickie Richardson, who was the very personification of Liverpool sailing.

While he'd moved his sailing base to Holyhead SC (near which he and his wife Elspeth were getting much entertainment from converting a former Methodist chapel into a summer base for their exuberant family) he was the essence of best Merseyside, a consultant anaesthetist who was, of course, a member of the Royal Mersey, but felt much more at home next door in Tranmere Sailing Club with fellow boat bodgers, discussing technical boat matters in a ferocious cloud of pipe tobacco smoke.

Dick Richardson in 1972 aboard his boat of the time, the Hustler 30 Skulmartin, which he'd completed himself from a bare hull. Photo: W M NixonDick Richardson in 1972 aboard his boat of the time, the Hustler 30 Skulmartin, which he'd completed himself from a bare hull. Photo: W M Nixon

Not that he was a bodger himself – he made a very competent job of finishing several cruisers from bare hulls, with the boats taking up all of his front garden in a west Liverpool suburb. We got some of the flavour of this great man in our 2015 appreciation of him after his death at the age of 89 but that obit should have been titled "Sir John Richardson 1926-2015".

You see, during much of the time J. C. "Dickie" Richardson was playing a key role in Irish Sea offshore racing, one of his sidelines was chairing a committee to expedite the commissioning of a new hospital in Liverpool. As with all such projects, it had been running so desperately late that the directors took on board the suggestion that if they just had the nerve to appoint one of their own consultants, the no-nonsense Dr Richardson, as the chair of a special commissioning committee, then the hospital would be up and running within the foreseeable future.

They accepted the advice, Dickie and his hand-picked committee then worked their heads off, and the much-admired hospital was functioning within a reasonable time - so much so that all his colleagues and friends assumed he'd be getting a knighthood in the next New Year's Honours List as a very well-earned thank-you. Not a bit of it. For it emerged that in order to get the job done, Dickie had eventually been so utterly blunt (or brutally rude as some shy types claimed) to every civil servant and politician with whom he'd had to deal that there was absolutely no way he was going to get a gong.

So this then was the man who, around one o'clock on Sunday, August 29th fifty years ago, was persuading us that it was high time the NWOA became ISORA. And beyond that, the sky was the limit, as he saw the re-shaped Association's remit extending northward to the Clyde and southwest to Cork.

But where he might have sometimes been tough in his dealings with hospital contractors and managers, in Howth YC among fellow sailors fifty years ago, with us sharing the space with the likes of Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire, Bill Cuffe-Smith of Howth, Ronnie Wayte of Skerries who'd just taken second in class in the '71 Fastnet with the Hustler 35 Setanta, and Alan Stead from Holyhead, in HYC that Sunday it was a matter of quiet persuasion, leading to agreement to hold a more formal inaugural meeting in the winter, an event which went so well that in the Spring of 1972 the new Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association published its first comprehensive programme, listing full sailing instruction for events which ran from May until September, taking in all the main offshore races between the Clyde and St George's Channel round to Dunmore East.

Some of the ISORA fleet in Howth after a cross-channel race in 1980, with the fleet including (at centre) Dai Mouse III (now Sunstone) and the McGruer yawl Frenesi, as well as the first Round Ireland Race winner Force Tension (Johnny Morris) on right. Despite the primitive facilities at most ports, more than a hundred boats regularly entered the ISORA Championship each season. Photo: W M NixonSome of the ISORA fleet in Howth after a cross-channel race in 1980, with the fleet including (at centre) Dai Mouse III (now Sunstone) and the McGruer yawl Frenesi, as well as the first Round Ireland Race winner Force Tension (Johnny Morris) on right. Despite the primitive facilities at most ports, more than a hundred boats regularly entered the ISORA Championship each season. Photo: W M Nixon

The Association was based on a minimal but effective structure, with Dickie Richardson (who was also Commodore of Holyhead SC) as Chairman, his close friend and fellow medic Alan Stead as Honorary Treasurer, and Liverpool sailor Frank Drabble as Honorary Secretary. In those early years, the offshore brigade were happy enough to leave the basic "clerical" work to a Holyhead nucleus, as the Committee was based on largely autonomous local representatives, including Sandy Taggart in the Clyde, Jim Blaikie in Belfast Lough, John Ellis in Lancashire, Peter May and George Peake in the Isle of Man, and Hal Sisk in Dublin.

In its first full season of 1972, the programme attracted 102 boats from 20 clubs taking part in a total of 11 races, and there was also a "short regatta week" of inshore and coastal races, the Captain's Cup, at Holyhead, a precursor of subsequent big fleet biennial ISORA Weeks which were to run for several decades.

There were many reasons why the modestly-launched ISORA programme was such as success, and one of the more extreme yet plausible was The Troubles. With life ashore being blighted by unrest and atrocities, being at sea and then meeting with fellow-competitors afterwards at an enclosed venue provided security which facilitated hassle-free socializing among people from every nation around the Irish Sea.

Certainly the three-day absence - which participation in an ISORA race implied - put you in something of a cocoon, and as the programme became part of sailing's basic structure, there were those for whom it was essential to mental well-being. A classic case was Alan Lawless of Malahide, who raced the Shamrock Half Tonner Jonathan Livingston Vulture. Through the week he ran a demanding television sales and servicing organisation, but for seven weekends of the summer, he would simply disappear for his necessary ISORA medicine of a cross-channel offshore race against a fleet of like-minded souls.

Liam Shanahan's Dehler db2s Lightning (NYC) was an ISORA star in the 1980sLiam Shanahan's Dehler db2s Lightning (NYC) was an ISORA star in the 1980s

That said, those who sailed regularly in ISORA found that each season was slightly different, as the many areas involved – when they saw what could be done - became much keener to take possession of what they regarded as their part of the widespread ISORA programme. For the overall results from 1972 had revealed how widely the net had been spread, and how effectively the International Offshore Rule was providing effective handicaps.

The largest fleet was in Class A, and here the overall winner was Dick and Billy Brown's 35ft Ruffian from Strangford Lough, which they'd designed and built themselves in 1970-71. After a successful early season in the northern events, they came south for the concluding Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire Race, and showed the St George's Channel fleet a clean pair of heels to clinch the class title.

Class B was also finalised in that last race by HYC's Bill Cuffe-Smith with his new deep-keel Mark 2 Arpege Leemara, which he campaigned with efficient determination. Being an Aer Lingus Jumbo Jet captain, he had traditional first call on any unused airline meals left over at the end of each Transatlantic flight, and it's said that he once arrived home at his house above Howth Harbour with 37 ready-to-go airline dinners, which duly went aboard Leemara in several allocations, for as one of his crew observed, as long as they were winning they were perfectly happy to rotate through the airline ready meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner…..

Winners Enclosure. At the conclusion of the final race of the inaugural ISORA season in 1972 from Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire, the berth at the East Pier near the National YC found (left to right) Class B winner and overall champion Leemara (Bill Cuffe Smith, HYC), Class A winner and overall champion Ruffian (Dick & Billy Brown, RUYC), and Class C wnner and third overall Casquet (Paddy Donegan, SSC)Winners Enclosure. At the conclusion of the final race of the inaugural ISORA season in 1972 from Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire, the berth at the East Pier near the National YC found (left to right) Class B winner and overall champion Leemara (Bill Cuffe Smith, HYC), Class A winner and overall champion Ruffian (Dick & Billy Brown, RUYC), and Class C winner and third overall Casquet (Paddy Donegan, SSC). Photo: W M Nixon

Class C in that closing race was won by Paddy Donegan's lovely Robb-designed CB yawl Casquet from Skerries, but in the season-long series, Casquet had to be content with third, as the winner was Bert Whitehead's up-dated own-built Dee 25 Timbobbin from Holyhead.

This was all in the olden days, when waterside berthing facilities were primitive, and many events which we see now as pillars of the annual programme had yet to be introduced. Thus ISORA in its early days had the field largely clear to itself, but the administrative pressures were rising. Yet here again they were lucky, as in Jean Scott they found an administrative genius for secretarial duties who took it all in her stride such that through the 1970s the annual championship usually had a well-managed entry of more than a hundred boats.

By 1974 a biennial ISORA Week added to the complexity, and in 1976 it went to Crosshaven, where for the first time the fleet experienced the benefit of marina facilities. But the entry net was now spread so wide that some sections of the fleet were speaking forms of English that the rest of us scarcely comprehended, while many of the North Wales sailors comfortably slipped into Welsh when it suited them to exclude others from their conversation.

Then too, the Cork men quite reasonably wondered why they were going to so much trouble to host a race week for a crowd including many strangers from the Irish Sea when they should have been staging a proper Cork Week with their own unmistakable stamp upon it, and that's how things became thereafter.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the rather over-extended ISORA empire, the annual Scottish Series centred on Loch Fyne was becoming a mighty force in its own right, so clearly the sensible thing was for ISORA to stick to the knitting, concentrate on its core programme at the south end of the Irish Sea and the northern part of St George's Channel, and that's more or less what they've been doing ever since.

This highly-focused approach produced great racing in high-strength doses, and over the years the build-up of racing memories involving many boats and crews and owner-skippers of enormous character in such a crazy narrative that it's difficult to escape the conclusion that it would be impossible to make a book out of it. The story is simply too complex, and the cast of thousands too numerous and varied. Perhaps the only way to manage it is simply to tabulate each season's results with basic notes about weather conditions, and analyse the way that boat types have developed over the years.

The Club Shamrock Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan NYC) was a regular participant in ISORA Racing, and also raced round Ireland and in the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race. For many years the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock in all its variations was a backbone of ISORA racing, and in 1984 Neville Maguire of Howth clinched the ISORA title with his Club Shamrock Demelza in the same weekend as his son Gordon won the All Ireland Windsurfing Championship.The Club Shamrock Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan NYC) was a regular participant in ISORA Racing, and also raced round Ireland and in the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race. For many years the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock in all its variations was a backbone of ISORA racing, and in 1984 Neville Maguire of Howth clinched the ISORA title with his Club Shamrock Demelza in the same weekend as his son Gordon won the All Ireland Windsurfing Championship.

And so too have the socio-economic conditions in which ISORA has existed in its fifty years. From a time in which waterfront facilities were so primitive that the only comfortable place in a harbour was aboard your own boat, we have graduated to a situation where totally-sheltered pontoon berthing is the norm, providing easy access to clubs and nearby restaurants which vie with each other in the standard of their "hospitality product".

We have also moved in from a time when it was thought normal for offshore sailing enthusiasts – both male and female – to disappear in pursuit of their strangely uncomfortable sport in preference to putting in quality family time ashore in a variety of user-friendly and sociable pursuits.

Thus as the world rolled on and moved into a new millennium in 2000, while there were those for whom the ISORA programme was the basis of their summers sailing, there was a definite trend among a growing majority to concentrate on fewer and bigger and inevitably highly-publicised events which were more in keeping with the noisy spirit of the age, rather than the essentially private pleasure which is ISORA racing.

Numbers were declining so markedly that by 2007 it was decided to hold a gala winding-up dinner in the Autumn for the old association in the National Yacht Club, where one of the many things to be decided would be the re-allocation of ISORA's many prizes. But Divine Providence decided otherwise. A mighty storm blew up, and the ferries were unable to sail from Holyhead to bring across the Welsh and English elements of the funeral party. The dinner went ahead regardless with the Irish section in top form, and happily the event failed completely in its objective.

Far from winding-up ISORA, the gathering decided to revive it in a turbo-powered and more concentrated form, with the National Yacht Club seeking a three-year agreement from the rest of the membership for the NYC to run ISORA for the benefit of all.

Peter Ryan's has contributed greatly to the significant contemporary relevance of ISORAPeter Ryan's has contributed greatly to the significant contemporary relevance of ISORA

Since then, success in this bizarre outcome of event has been thanks to many, but mainly to two people - the NYC's Peter Ryan, who started his ISORA career with Liam Shanahan on the all-conquering Dehler dbs Lightning in the 1980s and then went on to race the Club Shamrock Emircedes with his father-in-law Michael Horgan, and Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli, whose family's offshore sailing probably goes well back to beyond the time of a young Henry Tudor who eventually became Henry VIII.

They've created an effective, leaner, fitter ISORA which has proven its underlying strength as sailing has tried to accommodate the pandemic and the on-off nature of lockdowns. Peter Ryan is currently the ISORA Chairman, and in this time of stress, he and Stephen between them cover most of the administration with a nimbleness of movement which is denied to sailing organisations with a significant shoreside structural element.

Stephen Tudor also plays a key role in ISORA todayStephen Tudor also plays a key role in ISORA today

For if you've the means of electronic positioning on the starting line markers, and race trackers on the boats, even a coastal race can take place completely independently of the shore providing you're dealing with qualified crews and compliant boats.

Yet it's something that involves escaping from the rigidity of thinking. Thus ISORA may have announced the possible parameters of a 2021 programme starting in late April, but those seriously interested know that it all may change from week to week, or even day to day.

Through the ins-and-outs of 2020's truncated sailing programme, ISORA steered a skilled path which resulted in a championship that was acknowledged as being well worthwhile. So much so, in fact, that at the end of the year we made Peter Ryan the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for December in an adjudication which was as much as token of hope that the best will be made of 2021 - whatever it may bring – as it was an expression of thanks for what he and ISORA had managed to achieve in 2020.

The supportive and congratulatory greetings which this adjudication inspired were very impressive indeed - positively heart-warming, in fact. So as the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association faces into its Golden Jubilee season, we know that, however difficult the outlook becomes, ISORA will make the best of it with as little fuss as possible.

RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and 2017 ISORA Champion Vicky Cox (J/109 Mojito, Pwllheli SC) at the ISORA Prize Dinners in the National YC 2017. In November 2007 a dinner was held in the NYC, ostensibly to wind up ISORA. The diners decided otherwise. Ten years later, this ISORA awards dinner attracted an attendance of 240.RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and 2017 ISORA Champion Vicky Cox (J/109 Mojito, Pwllheli SC) at the ISORA Prize Dinners in the National YC 2017. In November 2007 a dinner was held in the NYC, ostensibly to wind up ISORA. The diners decided otherwise. Ten years later, this ISORA awards dinner attracted an attendance of 240.

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

ISORA will race its first Dublin Bay coastal race of 2021 next month on April 17 and a month later it has scheduled its first cross-channel race to Holyhead, Wales on May 15th.

ISORA Chief Peter Ryan says he will announce the new schedule at Saturday's ICRA AGM, a meeting that includes key updates from regatta organisers from around the coast as regatta organisers are left in limbo by the pandemic.

The 2021 ISORA Series of races comprises the traditional Offshore Series of six cross-channel races, one Coastal Series in Ireland and one Coastal Series in Wales.

ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan has announced the first 2021 ISORA Dublin Bay Coastal Race will be on April 17thISORA Chairman Peter Ryan has announced the first 2021 ISORA Dublin Bay Coastal Race will be on April 17th

Last year, when the challenges of pandemic shutdown arose, Ryan grasped the opportunities provided by being Chairman of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, and having access to a generously donated consignment of Yellowbrick trackers, he set about devising a programme that would comply with regulations while still providing good sport. It was a bravo move that earned Ryan an Afloat Sailor of the Month award.

Ryan says the offshore body has been "spurred on" by recent announcements by its sister offshore club, RORC in the UK.

As Afloat reported earlier, RORC has announced its own return to offshore and overnight racing after a one year break due to COVID.

As a result ISORA, Ryan says, has decided to nail its colours to the mast and give Irish Sea sailors a date to aim for in 2021 too.

Subject to government guidelines, Ryan says "ISORA is open for business" but with total flexibility for whatever situation prevails at the time.

"If we're not going across the Irish Sea, we'll be going up and down it". It's a nod to how the association aims to work around COVID-restrictions that may yet prevent cross-channel racing again in 2021.

After having to abandon early-season efforts at Dun Laoghaire Harbour due to lockdown, Ryan is keen to encourage movement and willing to take a punt to get things going again.

"Our mission is to promote the sport of offshore racing in the Irish Sea, " he says. "ISORA is very nimble with our tracker set up so we can call off a race with a day's notice if needed", he told Afloat

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

Two of 2021's early-season cruiser-racer sailing fixtures on Dublin Bay are up in the air due to January's lockdown restrictions. 

A new ISORA 'Early Season Series' originally planned for this month was to continue the offshore's body's successful 2020 coastal racing out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. However, the current lockdown has put paid to those plans, leaving ISORA boss Peter Ryan to reschedule.

"We had planned for January but that's not going to happen. So, rather than cancel, we will reschedule those races into a potentially tighter programme as soon as possible", Ryan told Afloat.

The 2020 ISORA Coastal Series attracted a dozen or more entries and typically involved a race using virtual marks along the County Dublin and Wicklow coasts.

Ryan's offshore enterprise won him an end of the year gong. The NYC sailor took an Afloat Sailor of the Month Award in December for his success in staging an ISORA series in lockdown in 2020.

DBSC Spring Chicken

Meanwhile, following the total abandonment of its popular Turkey Shoot pre-Christmas event, the hope is that Dublin Bay Sailing Club will be in a position to run its Spring Chicken Series that starts traditionally in the first week of February. 

The series of six races are held on Sunday mornings and organised by DBSC attracting as many as 40 boats.

However, as COVID lockdown restrictions are set to continue nationally until January 30th, fears are that there is now every chance that restrictions could also impact DBSC's spring fixture too.

The popular Spring Chicken format features short, sharp races typically of around one hour in duration.

In a new year announcement, DBSC was named as 2021 Sailing Club of the Year for its achievements in keeping sailing going on Dublin Bay during the lockdown in 2020.

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

Peter Ryan of Dun Laoghaire is a dedicated sailing enthusiast – particularly for offshore racing – whose affable exterior camouflages the fact that his brain is busily whirring with ideas for improving the sport. Thus when the challenges of pandemic shutdown arose, he grasped the opportunities provided by being Chairman of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, and having access to a generously donated consignment of Yellowbrick trackers, to set about devising a programme which would comply with regulations while still providing good sport.

It may not have been offshore racing as we know it, as it lacked the post-race parties previously thought indispensable. But it was a proper coastal racing programme nevertheless, with an overall champion (Paul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, RIYC) by the final race in September, while the general ISORA contribution to the legitimate continuation of the sport was also seen in the loan of the Yellowbricks for the excellent Fastnet 450 race in August, and the hugely successful Round Ireland Two-Handed Speed Challenge by Pam Lee of Greystones and Cat Hunt with the Figaro 3 Iarracht Maigeanta in October.

But then Peter Ryan is no stranger to success – he was Commodore of the National Yacht Club in 2011 when it became the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year.

Responsibility worn lightly - Peter Ryan as Commodore of the National Yacht Club in 2011.Responsibility worn lightly - Peter Ryan as Commodore of the National Yacht Club in 2011.

Published in Sailor of the Month

Peter Ryan, who was first elected to chair ISORA in 2007, will lead the Irish Sea offshore sailing body into the 2021 season following his reelection as chairman at November's virtual ISORA AGM hosted by Pwhelli Sailing Club.

Ryan, of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, is the only Irish Flag Officer in an otherwise Welsh-based executive with Vice Chairman Peter Dunlop and Stephen Tudor remaining as Secretary/Treasurer and Webmaster, both of Pwhelli Sailing Club. The Social Media Secretary is Victoria Cox.

ISORA's General Sailing Committee, that decides on coastal and offshore race courses, also carry the remit of providing guidance and encouragement for other competitors. The 2021 committee includes a number of key competitors including three Royal St. George skippers, Chris Power Smith of J122 Aurelia, Lindsay Casey, skipper of the J97 Windjammer and Brendan Coghlan, from the Sunfast 3600, Yoyo.

Brendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600, YoyoBrendan Coghlan's Sunfast 3600, Yoyo. Photo: Afloat

Full details of the ISORA Committees are here.

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

Four-time Olympic keelboat helmsman Mark Mansfield, a regular competitor at Irish IRC and one-design regattas and Irish agent for some well-known sailing brands, reviews how the 2020 sailing season 'happened' in pandemic and considers what could be done to keep the scene alive in 2021

2020 will likely go down as one of the strangest ever yacht racing seasons. It started back in January with great optimism, looking forward to such events as the Round Ireland Race, The 300th Anniversary Cork Week Regatta, Bangor Regatta on Belfast Lough and Wave Regatta in Howth. In the end, though some regattas were rescheduled for later in the year, all foundered with the ups and downs of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

In the few months from May to August, some reasonable racing was allowed to be had at club level around the country, including a decent number of DBSC races on Dublin Bay and a revamped ISORA series from Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Article author Mark Mansfield believes reduced crew numbers and coastal courses can help to keep cruiser-racer going in pandemicArticle author Mark Mansfield suggests reduced crew numbers and an emphasis on coastal course racing can help to keep cruiser-racer going in 2021

One of the highlights was a pop up offshore fixture, the inaugural 260-mile Fastnet 450 Race, which involved a race from Dun Laoghaire on the East Coast around the Fastnet Rock on the South Coast and into Cork Harbour, all held under strict no contact Covid regulations with an online briefing and prizegiving.

The winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: AfloatThe winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: Afloat

Clearly, the lessons learned in 2020 will need to be brought into 2021 to see what was successful, and what was not.

Going forward, large onshore events which involve a lot of socialising and shoreside entertainments will not likely be a runner again in 2021. So how should we be preparing to ensure 2021 allows decent racing and allows owners to get good use out of their boats? Here are some suggestions and thoughts on this.

Boat crew numbers

When Afloat published my thoughts on the 12th of May about how keelboat racing work can with social distancing, I suggested that reducing cruiser crew numbers while racing would assist in social distancing and project the right image.

This article was picked up by the international sailing media and carried by websites around the world. I got a lot of positive feedback.

Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat was well received across the racing worldA screenshot of Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat setting out how keelboat racing can be kept going in pandemic

In Ireland, Irish Sailing, the national governing body, decided to effectively open up to full crews on yachts, after initially being ultra-cautious and allowing no cruiser-racing apart from same household crews. Then, when Level 3 came in, all racing was closed down again, despite other sports continuing to compete. This course of action and the zig-zag nature of their direction has led to a lot of disquiet and it continues.

In the UK, when they allowed cruiser racing to open up, it initially was with household crews, then when this was extended it was with limited numbers while racing.

80% of a boats IRC crew number rounded to the nearest whole number was the norm with events such as the RORC IRC National Championships and the J Cup, both held under these restrictions.

I appreciate sailing happens in the open air and it has been rare to find anyone being infected with Covid-19 while sailing, however, reducing crew numbers shows the sport is making the effort and the optics are much better. Eight bodies sitting out shoulder to shoulder on a 35-footer does not give the right impression.

Joker 2 going upwind in Kinsale 2017 ICRA Nationals—which she wonBefore COVID - The successful Dublin Bay J109 Joker II going upwind in Kinsale at the 2017 ICRA Nationals – which she won

With many owners struggling to fill full crew positions on their boats anyway, restricting all boat crew numbers could also help level the playing field. Maybe Irish Sailing and the Clubs it represents could look at this as an option to allow racing to continue next year?

2021 Irish Sailing Calendar

2021 is scheduled to be another big year if Covid allows it. For cruiser-racers around the country, you have, in addition to DBSC, ISORA and other club racing, the following big events.

Add to this WIORA in Tralee, and perhaps another Fastnet 450 Race and this could be a really great season—if it all goes ahead. So how does sailing position itself to be able to complete these larger regattas in what will likely still be a Summer of Covid restrictions? The answer has to be:

Good PR – Highlighting the Covid restrictions to make everyone safe—no gatherings, no briefings, no in-person prizegivings. Highlight the sailing, not the shore activities.

Reduce crew numbers  see above

Provide more coastal and longer races – rather than the three races a day that is the norm. Shorter races with more turning marks need more crew aboard and all the crew end up coming ashore at the same time. Longer Coastal races need fewer people and the boats come back home on a staggered basis.

Prepare a strong 'Plan B'  for having no onshore events or contact. July's Dun Laoghaire Regatta with four clubs to dissipate people, an on-site marina and a large town just behind, are already anticipating this by separating the event into one designs one weekend and IRC racing the next.

More offshore racing

Offshore and long coastal racing needs to be included more in boat owners plans if they are to get value from their investment. As the Fastnet 450 Race showed, there is an increasing appetite for this form of the sport, and in these Covid times, that interest has grown further. Offshore racing, with limits on crew numbers, allows for relatively safe sailing with crews being able to stay apart easier and boats arriving back to port looking for rest rather than social interaction.

ISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: AfloatISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: Afloat

ISORA can be congratulated for growing this form of the sport in Ireland and Wales and even in this difficult year, they were able to get in a range of races, all be it without being able to mix the Irish and welsh boats. The combination of shortish offshore races and long coastal racing has been very popular in 2020 and I expect you will see a few more boats join their ranks in 2021.

On the South Coast, there is a move afoot to come up with a similar series to link the Fastnet 450 race with the Kinsale/Fastnet/Kinsale race and then add some coastal day races to form a series. More to follow on this.

ISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht ClubISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Fingers crossed a vaccine or better treatments for Covid will come quickly, but it is doubtful that they will come quickly enough to mean our 2021 season will be back to normal. We have to expect that 2021 will be disrupted again, and now it the time to plan for this. With some small changes, a bit of luck and a bit of goodwill all or most of these big events above can happen and be a great success. Let's plan for the worst but hope for the best.

Mark Mansfield is an Irish agent for Quantum Sails and J Boats/Grand Soleil in Ireland. More details below.

Tagged under

Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) racers will agree the 2021 Race Schedule early next month but like most things to do with the 2020 offshore season it will be a little different so there is no surprise that this year's Annual General Meeting will be conducted virtually.

Despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the association managed to conduct a full season of coastal fixtures on both sides of the Irish Sea although no cross-channel racing was completed. As regular Afloat readers will know, a win in September's final race of the IRC Series gave overall victory to Royal Irish Yacht Club crew Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins). The last coastal race win sealed the COVID-hit season after eight races sailed with five to count.

Now, the ISORA fleet is gathering again, not as usual for the annual National Yacht Club power-wow, but virtually by 'Zoom' on Saturday, 7th November 2020 at 11.00 hours for the AGM.

ISORA's Hon Sec Stephen Tudor has set out the order of business of the meeting in a notice on the association's website:

  • To approve the minutes of the previous AGM.
  • To approve the accounts for the year to November 2020
  • To elect Officers of the Association for the ensuing year.
  • To elect members of the Committee
  • To agree the 2021 Race Management Detail and Proposed Race Schedule

The meeting is for the following categories:

  • 2019 and 2020 Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2021 prospective Skippers, or their appointed representative
  • 2020 Committee Members
  • 2021 Committee Members (proposed)
  • Yacht/Sailing Club Representatives

Voting will be restricted to one vote per ISORA participating boat. Questions for the AGM to be forwarded to the Hon Sec before 2nd November 2020

To attend please complete the 'AGM attendance invitation request form' here so that the Zoom invitations can be circulated by e-mail.

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

One of the many "little miracles" which kept Irish sailing alive and active during the continually-changing official restrictions in the summer of 2020 was the flexible and effective administration of the Irish side of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association's annual programme by ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan of the National YC.

But in order to succeed in this, he needed the support of the skippers and crews who enjoy what ISORA has on offer, yet in a normal year would be able to plan their programme well in advance.

This wasn't possible in 2020, but thanks to a generous spirit among those involved, the Irish boats in ISORA had a very good season in the circumstances. Once again it came down to the outcome of the last race in September, and once again the final race overall winner, and new 2020 champion, was Paul O'Higgins (Royal Irish YC) with the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI.

Published in Sailor of the Month
Page 1 of 33

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating