#isora – A former steel hulled BT Global Challenge yacht was the winner of a 'punishing' second ISORA offshore race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire on Saturday morning. The 15–boat fleet faced a fetch into 30 plus knots of wind that veered to produce a beat at the end of the 60–miler as the boats apporached the Dublin coastline. See results for download below as a jpeg file.
Conor Fogarty's entry SY 2041' made the best of the Irish Sea's harsh conditions, another good preparation race for next month's 700–mile Round Ireland race.
One great ISORA racer and supporter lost its mast on Friday night, just north of Holyhead when heading for the race start area. The Isle of Man based Sigma 33, Polished Manx skippered by Kuba Szymanski ended up being towed to Holyhead by the RNLI.
Holyhead's all weather Severn class RNLI lifeboat launched to the 33ft–yacht dismasted in a force seven gale at 2.20am, according to RNLI sources.
The ISORA entry had got into difficulties eight miles out when its mast broke leaving the vessel 'helpless in huge seas' off the Skerries light. The coxswain asked if the yacht crew were able to cut free the rig as weather conditions made it hazardous to pass lifeboat crew to assist in the big sea swell. This was done and the lifeboat escorted Polished Manx under her own power to Holyhead marina, a journey of some six hours. Holyhead coastguard co-orientated the callout.
Szymanski, who has raced thousands of miles including last year's D2D and Fastnet races, has made contact with ISORA commodore Peter Ryan to say he aims to be back on the startline with a new mast for the next ISORA on May 24th. 'If it can be done, he is the man to do it', says Ryan.
ISORA Race 2 (Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire) Report by Peter Ryan:
As with Race 1, the weather was not kind to ISORA competitors. Strong and gusty conditions all the previous week with DBSC cancelling their Thursday racing did not encourage those skippers who were considering taking part in the race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire. Although a window of opportunity arose for boats delivering on Friday only 15 boats came to the line at 08.30 on Saturday 10th May. The usual start time was delayed due to shipping movements.
As the boats left Holyhead marina and made their way in the strong and gusty southerly winds to the start line between the pier head an Clipera bouy, they were met by the ominous sight of one of our fellow competitor Kuba Szymanski's "Polished Manx", with no rig, being escorted by Holyhead lifeboat towards the marina. Thankfully all were safe aboard.
There was concern about the weather forecast for the race when the Sailing Committee met on Friday evening at the pre-race soiree in Holyhead sailing Club. After the usual consideration and consultation there was unanimous agreement to make the race as short as possible – from the start direct to the finish.
The forecast for the race was for Force 6-7 south west veering west later and decreasing towards the Irish coast. Some parts of that forecast were incorrect – the wind only moderated for a time and it touched at Gale 8 several times. The race started with a southerly Force 7 and soon most boats had reefed down for the weather. Holyhead boat "Pipedreamer" did not start as they tore their mainsail while putting it up.
Things did not appear too bad as the fleet left the line and headed west towards Dun Loaghaire. Anyway, not until they reached the overfalls and out of the lee of the North Stack!!! Luckily the wind was from the south and allowed most boats to avoid most waves as they broke around them.
Quickly into the lead were the "big boats" "2041" the Challenge 67, "Mermaid IV" Beneteau First 50 and Andrew Hall's J125, "Jackknife". It was the Past ISORA Chairman's first race since retiring from offshore several years ago. Very soon the fleet split into three groups – the "big boats", the three J109's and Adelie and the rest.
Many boats took a southerly course to prepare for the veering wind. However the wind, that varied in strength from 18 to 34 knots, did not appear to have read the forecast. When the boats were only 20 miles off Dun Laoghaire there was no sign of the westerly wind. Most boats then took a more northerly course toward the finish.
Then as the leaders approached the Kish bank, the squalls appeared and with them driving rain and veering winds, resulting in a beat for the last 15 miles to the finish for most boats.
There was close racing is all the groups. At the front, "Jackknife" just squeezed over the finish line for line honours with only 90 seconds separating them from "2041". The J109's had a close match all during the race with positions being changed between them several times. The three J109's "Ruth", "Mojito" and "Sgrech" were never more than a few hundred metres apart at any time. When they were forced to beat towards the end of the race, there was separation. "Ruth" managed to nose 60 seconds ahead of her level rated opponent "Sgrech" as they crossed the finish line. "Mojito" finished 90 seconds behind "Sgrech"
"2041" took the Overall and Class1 win while "Adelie" took Class 2. "Yahtzee" took the Silver Class.
The tired, wet and battered crew made their way back to the National Yacht Club for the usual "après sail" and the regular discussion about "Why in God's name do we race offshore???"
Those crew off boats who did not compete, followed the race using the AIS trackers. Facebook commentary on the progress of the race was provided by, past two handed and currently one-handed offshore sailor, Liam "Lula Belle" Coyne and also by Andrew "Jedi" Sarratt. The commentary demonstrated the potential effect of the tracking for the general public interest in the offshore racing. Only four boats managed to successfully use the "Predictwind" tracker. As the tracking is becoming a huge part of the offshore racing scene. A big push will be made to get more boats "activated" for the next race.
The next race takes place on the 24th May and acts as a feeder to get boats some of the way towards Liverpool for the Liverpool – IOM – Dun Laoghaire weekend on the first weekend in June.