#isora –Following our post race ISORA report on Monday, Peter Ryan follows up with an indepth report on last weekend's very frustrating, sociable and enjoyable offshore racing weekend.
Race 4, from Holyhead to Douglas, started at 19.20 on Friday evening 22nd May. Race 5 was the return race from Douglas to Dun Laoghaire and started at 06.35 on Sunday 24th May.
To facilitate the setting up of the race on the YB tracker system, the course had to be set on the previous day. At that stage the forecast for the weekend was bleak. Light northerly winds were forecast for the Friday night and moderate south westerly were forecast for the Sunday. This would provide a beat for the full duration of both races. For this reason the Sailing Committee decided to have the course for both races direct from start to finish. Another complication arose for the Friday evening race. The course took the fleet through the traffic separation zone to the north of Holyhead. To avoid any possible dispute about the use or abuse of this zone, the Sailing Committee decided to treat the zone as an "exclusion zone" for the race.
The start of race 4 in Holyhead was not its usual format as works to the pier prevented the usual starter position at the lighthouse been used. Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club took control of the committee boat and anchored at the opposite end of the line at the Clippera buoy.
18 boats for the entry list of 20 came to the start line. "Mahalar", a new entry from Conwy and "Adelie" headed direct to Douglas and did not take part in the race. All boats taking part were fitted with the recently acquired Avery Crest YB Trackers.
Wind conditions at the start of Race were very light and there was a strong south going tide ripping across the pier end. The boats bunched on the line struggling to get going. "Sgrech" was the first boat to break out west towards fresher winds and headed on its way towards Carmel Rock and the exclusion zone. Soon after, the fleet started moving. "Jackknife" persisted east and this paid off hugely when they shot up the Carmel Rock in a back eddy while the remainder of the fleet plugged the last of the foul tide.
Avoiding the exclusion zone was not a problem for most of the fleet. It kept them bunched. At this stage the tide has turned and the usual Irish Sea north going tide was now flowing east towards Liverpool pulling the fleet in that direction.
The winds during the night were fluky continually coming and going, backing and veering. By day light, most of the fleet had stayed bunched but some had managed to break away. "Aurelia" appeared to have headed west immediately after the exclusion zone despite plugging the east going tide. This paid dividends as he appeared to cruise to the finish line in Douglas while avoiding the huge holes that laid in wait for most of the fleet. "Jackknife" appeared to have missed the holes as well and crossed the finish line after "Aurelia".
Frustration awaited the rest of the fleets as the winds died and the boats were being pushed, first east, then west while looking at the Isle of Man and Douglas. After several hours the sea breeze started to fill and one by one the boats bunched out in the Irish Sea started to peel away and head for the finish.
Chris Power-Smith "Aurelia" receives his prize from the Sea Cadets on the Isle of Man
"Aurleia" took Overall and Class 1. Class 2 was taken by our Isle of Man resident, Kuba Szymanski and "Polish manx". Kuba also took Silver Class.
The fleet were met by the Sea Cadets of Isle of Man who distributed a complimentary hot meal to all the crew while they waited on the Visitors Pontoons for the bridge to rise to access the Inner Harbour. The cadets also arranged a BBQ in Douglas Bay Yacht Club that evening. A special prize giving was also arranged by the cadets – the prizes had little to do with racing!!!
The 20–boat ISORA fleet moored up in Douglas
Most of the crew retired reasonably early as the fleet had to vacate the Inner harbour at 05.45 latest on Sunday morning to go to the start for the 06.35 start. A record 22 boats from the 23 entries came to the start. "Mahalar", who was to race had to pull out of the race and generously acted as Committee boat for the start.
The winds were fresh north westerly, up to 20 knots. This was looking like a "drag race" to Dun Laoghaire as the fleet blasted along the IOM coast and head to seas towards Dun Laoghaire with the ebbing tide.
"Jackknife" led the charge with "Lively Lady" behind along the coast. "Aurelia" took the alternative route, taking a more southerly course. Expectations for a fast race were dashed at Lambay island where another hole waited to trap the then weary fleet. "Jackknife", who was just a dot on the horizon for most of the race, started to get "bigger"!!! "Lively Lady", "Ruth" and "Mojito", who were some distance behind the leader, started to slow. The fleet seeing this attempted to circumnavigate the hole by heading out further to sea. All this was fruitless and the fleet stopped. This was not to be a fast race.
Bam from Howth arrives in Dublin Bay on Sunday evening
Zephyrs eventually started to appear and eventually "Jackknife" broke through the hole and head past Howth head to Dun Laoghaire. "Lively lady" and "Bam" were next to get going and turned into the bay only to smash into what can only be described as a "wind wall"!!! The two boats came to a sudden halt. "Bam" stopped but "Lively Lady", who was close to "Bam" at that stage, managed to keep momentum and broke through the wall. The wind on the other side of the wind wall was from a directly opposite direction.
Most of the fleet did not witness this strange wind effect. However "Sgrech" who was following did, and tried to take the same route as "Lively Lady", but to no avail as they also slammed to a halt beside "Bam". Along came "Ruth" who took a more northerly path around "Bam" and Sgrech" but again slammed into the wall. Next to attempt the wall was "Adelie" – same fate. 2-handed "Jedi " – same fate. When all chances of getting through the wall appeared to have failed, "Mojito" approached the wall and a door opened and they stalled for a brief moment, sails backed onto the opposite side and they dashed off towards the finish line. Very slowly the remaining boats made their way, tacking and gybing, towards the finish.
"Jackknife" took Overall and Class 1 while "Desert Star" took Class 2 and Silver.
All told, it was a very frustrating, sociable and enjoyable offshore racing weekend.