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ISORA Offshore Sailing Season 2015 Reviewed

18th November 2015
ISORA racing at VDLR Regatta on Dublin Bay in July

ISORA Commodore Peter Ryan has delivered a buoyant review of 2015 Irish Sea racing activities – including the season highlight – at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay. We reproduce his speech from Saturday night's prizegiving and agm below. A PDF of the 2016 season fixtures list  is attached below. 

ISORA 2015 was an incredible season for ISORA. Probably the greatest advancement made in ISORA offshore racing occurred due the generous sponsorship of Liam Shanahan’s “Avery Crest” and their donation of 20 Yellow Brick trackers to ISORA. More about that later.

The ISORA series in 2015 consisted of 14 races in total - 7 offshore races including the D2D and Lyver Races and 7 coastal races. 4 Coastal races took place from Dun Laoghaire while 3 Coastal races took place from Pwllheli. This season, entries were received from 51 boats with an average fleet size of 18 boats. The weather did not help the number of boats starting with bad weather preventing some boats making the delivery trips.

The number of boats starting was slightly up on 2014 but the most encouraging aspect is that some new boats have joined ISORA for the first time and I believe will take part again next season. Paddy Gregory’s “Flashback” won the Coastal Race to Greystones after doing very well in the Offshore Series in the VDLR. For 2016 we know that a Sigma 400, “Thalia”, will be joining the ranks. There are rumours of another 40.7 and even a whisper of a JPK 10.8?

Recently the J109’sand other J boats have dominated the fleet. I believe that the J Boats will soon be under huge pressure to retain that dominance.

The offshore races included the usual ports of Dun Laoghaire, Holyhead, Pwllheli, Douglas and Dingle. A new venue was added with the Coastal Day races from both Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli finishing in Greystones in time to take part in their Greystones Regatta.

Racing into Greystones in race 12 of the 2105 season

During the season ISORA worked with the: National Yacht Club, Royal Alfred Yacht Club, Royal Dee Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Liverpool Yacht Club, Pwllheli Sailing Club, Holyhead Sailing Club, Douglas Bay Yacht Club, Greystones Sailing Club. I would like to thank all these clubs for the facilities they freely provide to ISORA, without them, we would have no offshore racing or social life.

As regard the race management I would like to particularly acknowledge the assistance of the NYC Commodore, Larry Power and Commodore of the RAYC, Barry MacNeaney, who started all of the races from Dun Laoghaire and Kathryn Meghan, Anita Begley and Ian Meldon who finished the races in Dun Laoghaire. I would also like to thank all the other Starters and Finishers for their help and patience.

The Overall ISORA “Avery Crest” Offshore Champion for 2015 is Liam Shanahan and “Ruth”. This is well deserved as Liam and his family has been hugely involved in offshore racing since re-joining ISORA. Liam also won the 270 mile D2D Race. Liam was the ISORA Champion for 2014. I’m not sure anyone has ever won it three times in a row??

Another incredible offshore achievement by two more of “our own” was the performance of Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox and “Mojito” in the Fastnet Race and the recent great Two-Handed class win by Dermot and Paddy Cronin, “Encore” in the recent Middle Sea Race. As we write this report Conor Fogarty and “Bam” are on their way to join the ARC in Grand Canaria. We wish them a safe and fast passage. Conor has assured me that he will be back for ISORA next season.

The Silver Class was won by a David Simpson and “Albeiro”. Liam Shanahan and “Ruth” also won the Coastal Series. Pwllheli Sailing Club won the Team Series with the team including Andrew Halls’s “Jackknife”, Peter Dunlop’s Mojito and Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech”.

Unfortunately this year we only got one chance to use the “virtual” marks” (GPS Coordinates) in the middle of the Irish Sea to give better courses. This was in the Lyver race. I hope next season that we can regularly use random virtual marks to ensure that not only is there is an upwind leg but that there is also a dead downwind leg. The use of the Avery Crest YB trackers will be a huge benefit as it will record the track a boat took during the race and particularly when rounding Virtual Marks.

The high point scoring system together with the race weighting is continuing to prove very effective and it is intended to keep using this system for the Series next season. The traditional low point system was used in the calculations for the four race Coastal Series. I have to thank Stephen Tudor for the huge work he puts into producing the very detailed overall and class results after each race.

Our long-standing and successful relationship with the Royal Alfred Yacht Club with whom we take part in the Coastal races from Dun Laoghaire, continues to be a very fruitful relationship. Also this season, as part of their 200th anniversary celebrations, we worked with the Royal Dee Yacht Club in running the very successful inaugural “Irish Sea Offshore Racing Championship”. It took place in July and involved five races – the stormy Lyver Race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and the four offshore day races as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. There are plans afoot to see if we can run this event every year, possibly alternating between Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli. However, it will be part of the VDLR in 2017. I would like to see this event grow to become a unique International offshore event where we can crown the winner the “Great Britain & Ireland Offshore Racing Champion”. It is early days yet.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, 2015 was probably the most innovative year for ISORA’s offshore racing. Through the very generous sponsorship of “Avery Crest”, ISORA were presented with 20 YB tracker units. These trackers have revolutionised how offshore racing is managed. As well as the obvious tracking function that allows those “land lubbers” to follow the fleet in real time from start to finish, the YB trackers allows better management of the rounding of Virtual Marks. The YB Trackers also allows for remote finishing where the finish times of boats can be recorded without an official finisher. A test of this was in the last race to Dun Laoghaire when the times given by the
trackers were within a maximum of 10 seconds of the official recorded times – this did not even take into account that the tracker is normally located at the stern of the boat. It is also hope that the trackers will allow for shortening a race by setting a finish line anywhere on the course and recording the finish times of boats at that remote line.

In the past we have obtained generous sponsorship from KONA, Hendrick Ryan + Associates, Tudor and North Sails. This sponsorship allowed ISORA to promote offshore racing by hosting pre-season talks, taking out articles on yachting magazines, providing the Crew Bus etc. The presenting of the Avery Crest YB Trackers, while providing ISORA
with a huge opportunity, also now requires ISORA to be able to fund the continued running and development of the trackers.

As the offer from Avery Crest arrived when the 2015 season had started, we had no opportunity to increase our minimal boat entry fees for 2015 to cover the tracker expenses.

In order to cover the significant tracker running costs for 2015, I put out a plea to the ISORA members for sponsorship. I have to state that I was overwhelmed by the response. Some members donated funds but asked that it would be anonymous. We also got great generous sponsorship from members whose companies sponsored races. They included Adrian Lee & Partners, Irish Hospital Supplies and LC Tyres.

While it is proposed to raise the race entry fee to attempt to cover the costs for 2016, sponsorship is now essential to continue and develop ISORA offshore racing. I hope that our current sponsors will continue and that new sponsors will be found in 2016. Another great development in ISORA in 2015 was the association of ISORA with UCD Sailing Club. This innovative idea was arranged and managed by Ben Shanahan (“Ruth”). Ben arranged for members of the UCD Sailing Club to crew on boats taking part in ISORA. I believe that this was successful and rose the awareness of offshore racing with the younger sailors. As this work is critical for the advancement of offshore racing, I hope
Ben will continue this great work in 2016.

The ISORA website is fantastic. It was built and is maintained solely by Stephen Tudor. Probably the best compliment I ever heard for a website was a comment by my daughter, Grainne, after looking at the site. “Dad, that is an amazing site. That’s very sad”. It is the main information source for ISORA. Our Newsletters are circulated to over 1000 people. I
would also like to thank our Web Master, Mark Southee, who looks after the technical aspects of the site for no cost. I really appreciate his assistance and generosity. I would also particularly like to thank Vicky Cox who looks after the ISORA Facebook page. This is proving to be a huge success and a great way to communicate within ISORA. Maybe in
2016 we might consider the benefits of using Twitter? This season saw the appearance of the unique “Simon’s Blog” on the website after most races. I have to thank, Simon Byrne (“Yahtzee”), author of these insightful and entertaining (if you were not the butt of the blog) essays. Simon sails with Richard Mossop on Yahtzee and I believe that the idea arose when he felt that there should be an alternative race report from the “back of the fleet”. Personally I looked forward to what Simon would produce after each race and was never disappointed. He describes in a unique and witty
way the essence and spirit of ISORA. For demonstrating the “Spirit of ISORA”, Simon will be awarded tonight with what I consider one of the greatest awards from ISORA – The “Penmaen Plate”

As you know the ISORA website contains a significant amount of memorabilia from past years. I am constantly looking for old photographs etc that can be scanned and added to our archive. Any such items should be scanned and sent to me and I will ensure that it is properly catalogued and posted in the archives.

Next year, the main offshore event is the Round Ireland Race. In the past the lead up to this event has always helped to attract additional boats and new boats to offshore racing. I hope ISORA can again capitalise on this next season with boats seeking pre-race offshore experience. ISORA will be designing their 2016 race schedule to allow boats to gain the required offshore experience to allow them to qualify for the race. The race takes place Saturday 18
th June. I hope that ISORA boats will swell the ranks of starters at what I consider one of the world’s greatest offshore races.

The highlight of the year is the annual ISORA prize giving dinner in the NYC tonight. Our special guests tonight will be the Commodore of the National Yacht Club, Mr. Larry Power, the Commodore of the Royal Dee Yacht Club, Mr. Derek Matthews, who will present the ISORA Champion with the Royal Dee’s “Wolf’s Head Trophy, the Commodore of RORC, Mr. Michael Boyd, who will present the RORC medallions for the winning ISORA boats in the RORC Lyver Race and the Commodore of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club, Mr. Barry MacNeaney. These special guests represent the very best of offshore racing in Irish Waters and I am honoured that they are attending our annual dinner.

I would like to thank the National Yacht Club for their continued support and assistance for ISORA. Last but not least I would like to thank our Vice Chairman, Gerry Williams, Hon Treasurer – Vincent Farrell, IT - Vicky Cox and the general committee consisting of Liam Shanahan, Peter Dunlop, Peter Hall and Kuba Syzmanski for all their assistance, advice and dedication during the last year.

In finishing, I would particularly like to thank our Hon Secretary – Stephen Tudor. The amount of work that Stephen puts into making ISORA run efficiently is incredible. The assistance and advice that he gives to me is invaluable. ISORA would not run without him and I thank him for this dedication. I also want to congratulate Stephen on being recently awarded a Special Contribution Award by RYA for his work at Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club and the huge personal contribution he has made in the development of the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events centre at Pwllheli.

Peter Ryan
Chairman ISORA, 14th November 2015


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