#icra – Support provided by Irish racers from ISORA and ICRA contributed to the success of last week's inaugural Welsh IRC championships. Forecasts for Pwllheli on the weekend of the inaugural Spinlock IRC Championships were predicting very light winds and many of the competitors wondered whether the full complement of races would be achieved. When the competitors emerged from the skippers' briefing they were greeted by winds of around 18 - 22 knots indicating that some good racing was on the cards for the Friday afternoon.
The Royal Dee Yacht Club Race Committee, lead by Mike Butterfield, ran two races on the first day with Cri Cri, Royal Irish Yacht Club skippered by Paul Colton, making a commanding start with a first in both races in Class 1, while Legless Again took 2nd and 3rd to take 2nd spot at the end of day 1. In Class 0, it was evident that Stratisfear, Imposter and Roxstar were serious contenders for the top spot with Stratisfear taking a 2nd and 1st, Imposter taking 1st and 3rd and Roxstar 3rd and 2nd.
Overnight the fleets were moored for the first time on the new visitor and events pontoons at Pwllheli. These pontoons are part of the £8.3m investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council in the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre that will open its doors in 2015. Friday night provided some legendary hospitality from Pwllheli with the Crews' dinner and a few beers.
Saturday started very wet and the wind again defied the forecasters by providing speeds in the high teens. The rain cleared in time for racing and, as it looked like it was going to be another good day on the water, the race committee capitalised by running four races. At the end of day two Stratisfear's consistent performance put them firmly in the lead adding a 3rd and another first to their morning results with Roxstar close on their heels.
In class 1, it was still all to play for with Molissa, Injenious, CriCri, and She Too in contention. However, Eazi Tiger's consistent performance had them in 3rd place overall with CriCri, who couldn't maintain Friday's excellent performance, slipping into 2nd place overall. After some consistent racing Injenious moored for the day in first place overall.
Sunday presented the fleets with higher winds for their coastal race with speeds of 27 knots being experienced in the shelter of the marina. Once out on the water, winds in excess of 30 knots were recorded and with wind over tide, boats were met by choppy seas in the bay. Many boats decided that the conditions were too much for them and didn't turn up to the start, including Roxstar and Stratisfear who realised that they had enough results to discard the last race and still win overall.
The race committee, having to endure those conditions themselves, decided that the smaller fleet, those boats with IRC handicaps less than 1.000, would not race and class 1 racing was abandoned. Local J109s Mojito and Sgrech got the best starts on the 24nm course and were off across the bay towards the St. Tudwal islands before some others had started as some were struggling to get sails up in the conditions.
Round the islands and through some challenging seas, Imposter took the lead and line honours with Mojito 2nd and Gringo (National Yacht Club skippered by Tony Fox) 3rd, but after handicaps were applied Mojito took first place, Imposter 2nd and Gringo took 3rd.
Guy Cowper, the skipper of winning boat Stratisfear, was delighted with the excellent sailing that was had by all at the Spinlock IRC Welsh Championships. He said: "This is the best bay I've ever sailed in; there's no tide, no commercial traffic and the scenery is second to none. Add to that the positive attitude of the Club's staff and volunteers and it would be difficult to have anything but a great event here. When the new Welsh National Sailing Academy building is opened next year this will be a World Class venue. I cannot wait to return to sail in Pwllheli."
The overall champion for both the Irish Crusing Racing Association (ICRA) and the Welsh Championship will be announced shortly.
The events team at Plas Heli and Pwllheli Sailing Club are currently consulting competitors regarding the format and timing of the 2015 championships which will be hosted in the new Academy facilities.
PSC Commodore Stephen Tudor said: "The Club was very proud to be offered the opportunity to host the first Welsh Spinlock IRC Championships and we are delighted that so many competitors from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Liverpool enjoyed their time in Pwllheli both on the water and ashore. The association ISORA and ICRA has strengthened the already established cross-channel link and hopefully this will continue to flourish and grow."
Overall standings for the weekend were as follows:
1st Injenious SCYC Hallworth Crompton
2nd CriCri Royal Irish Yatch Club Paul Colton
3rd Eazi Tiger Liverpool YC Connolly Kyffin Oliver
1st Stratisfear RDYC Guy Cowper
2nd Impostor SCYC Richard Fildes
3rd Roxstar Clyde Cruising Club Findlay and Anderson
Full results can be found here