The last race of the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore series that was sponsored by LC Tyres, took place on Saturday 12th September with the race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire (74 miles) writes ISORA's Peter Ryan. The boats compete for the famous “James Eadie” trophy. As like the same race last season, the weather forecast for the race and particularly the delivery to Pwllheli was not favourable all week. This put off many of taking part in what is normally a well supported end of season race.
The race was of more interest than usual due to the fact that the Overall Championship was still be be raced for with Liam Shanahan’s J109, “Ruth” and Andrew Hall’s J125, “Jackknife” only a 5 point apart and Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s J109 “Mojito” close behind. While either “Ruth” or “Jackknife” could have taken the Series with a good result in the race, “Mojito” needed a well attended race to secure sufficient points in the high points scoring used by ISORA.
Of the 26 entries received for the race, 19 had confirmed taking part on the Monday prior to the race but only 9 came to the start on Saturday morning. Several boats had left Dun Laoghaire the previous morning but turned back when they were met with strong south easterly winds on the nose and a big sloppy sea. Those that persevered were rewarded with nearly “champagne” sailing for the race. Bryan Mullarkey’s Collins 40, “Harriet Marwood” was taking part in an ISORA race for the first time. Richard Mossop’s Oceanis 411, “Yachtzee” and David Simpson’s Swan 371 “Albeiro” were battling for the Overall Class 2.
Liam Shanahan's Ruth from the National Yacht Club has successfully defended her 2015 ISORA offshore crown
Due to the uncertain forecast due to the presence of two depressions, north and south of the race area, the decision was taken to set the course from the start direct in Pwllheli to the finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.
Despite the poor forecast, the lashing winds during the night and the strong winds, conditions were relative pleasant for the start. The wind was 10-12 knots from the south west giving a beat to the first corner at St Tudwal’s Sound. Stephen Tudor’s J109, “Sgrech” was first off the line and lead the fleet until the faster “Jackknife” too to the front. From the start “Ruth” and Mojito” were always in close contact leaving.
As the fleet approached St Tudwal’s Sound the wind had increased to 20knots and the expected overfalls at the end of the sound awaited the fleet. The next leg was the beat to Bardsay Sound. The wind appeared to veer westerly and maintained the 20-22 knots leaving the fleet to beat through the rough seas towards Bardsey Sound. Fortunately, the tide was right for a fast shoot through Bardsey Sound. Unfortunately, the overfalls in the sound were significant but had settled soon after exiting it.
By that stage the battle was on. “Jackknife” cracked sails and took the direct line to Dun Laoghaire in the last of the north going tide. The remainder of the fleet retained their height and the three J109’s with Conor Fogarty’s 2-handed Jenneau 3600, “Bam”, bunched together for the leg to Dun Laoghaire. Shortly after leaving Bardsey the wind backed allowing the boats to ease sails and speed up. Of the bunch of four, “Bam” lead the group with “Ruth” and “Mojito” close behind and “Sgrech” snapping at their heels. Paul Sutton’s “Pipedreamer VI” was just behind this pack.
As the fleet approached the Irish coast the winds abated to 12 knots and backed further to the south allowing those with Code Zeros to accelerate. The positions within the fleet did not change for the long leg despite continuous trimming and hard driving being done on all the boats. It was not until approaching Dublin Bay that “things started to happen”. The winds became fickle and dropped further in Killiney bay. While “Jackknife” avoided much of the light wind to keep powering towards the line, the three J109’s and “Bam” got into a tactical battle with rapid sail changes taking place to deal with the oscillating winds. As the fleet approached Dublin Bay the wind veered to the west and decreased again giving the boats a short final beat to the finish line. Despite the work on each boat the positions generally remained the same.
“Jackknife” took line honours but could only manage 5th Overall allowing “Ruth”, who won the Overall race and Class1 to regain the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship title. Class 2 was won by “Yahtzee” who also won Silver Class.
The crew of Liam Shanahan’s “Ruth” include his four sons. There is a great tradition of offshore racing in the Shanahan family with Liam Shanahan Snr playing a huge part in ISORA racing in the early days.
The race sponsor, LC Tyres, provided day prizes for the race. These were presented at the après sail party that took place in the NYC. The prizes were presented by Caroline Coyne aided by her son, Billy and daughter, Isobel.
The ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship trophy, the Wolf’s Head, will be presented to Liam Shanahan at the ISORA dinner in the NYC on the 14th November. “Jackknife” took 2nd place Overall and “Mojito” took 3rd place.
Overall Series Calls 1 was won by “Jackknife” and Class 2 was won by “Albeiro” who also took Overall Silver Class. The team prize, known as the “Victoria Cup”, was again won by Pwllheli Sailing Club.
All the results can be found on the ISORA website. The YB tracking of the race can also be accessed on the ISORA website and on the YB app for smart phones.