Royal Irish's Andrew Alego made an impressive ISORA debut yesterday in a tricky light wind race from Dun Laoghaire to Wicklow. The new–to–the Bay, J109 Juggerknot port–tacked a 24–boat fleet in very light airs off the Dun Laoghaire startline.
In yet another impressve performance for the design, J109s took the top four places in the 25–miler. Second was Tim Goodbody's White Mischief also from the Royal Irish Yacht Club and third the Irish National Sailing School's Jedi skippered by Kenny Rumball.
Light winds prevailed for much of the morning, so it was a slow race that ultimately meant only two–thirds of the Dun Laoghaire fleet finished off Wicklow Sailing Club yesterday afternoon. Eight boats were recorded as 'Did Not Finish'.
The fine turn out of 24 boats at Dun Laoghaire is a reversal of fortunes for the Dublin offshore sailing scene and follows similar lifts in numbers in 2015 and 16.
Back in 2007, the then ISORA Chairman John Rose gave notice to nine clubs on both sides of the Irish sea that November's agm would be the last citing a "lack of interest".
A decade later, thanks to efforts to rekindle the offshore fleet on both sides of the Irish Sea, yesterday's first race of the 2017 calendar amassed a buoyant fleet of 37 with 13 boats racing simultaneously from Pwllheli in North Wales. It is a satisfying result that ISORA Chief Peter Ryan says he is determined to build on. 'This size fleet has not been seen in ISORA for many years' he told Afloat.ie
The first race of the Overall ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship 2017 was also the first race in the ISORA Viking Marine Coastal Series 2016 and the Royal Alfred Coastal Series 2016. The weather forecast for the race was for little or no wind leaving a very difficult task for the Sailing Committee to set the course.
This first race saw the appearance of some new boats to ISORA. Tim Goodbody’s J109, “White Mischief”, Jonathan Bourke’s J109, “Dear Prudence”, Larry Power’s First 31.7, “Kalamar”, Brian Hett’s Dufour 40, “Oystercatcher”, Andew Algeo’s J109 “ Juggerknot”, Robert Rendell’s XC45, “ Samaton” and Jim Schofield’s Nicholson 32, “Thisbe”. Paul Egan and Colm Buckley have returned to the ISORA fleet with new boats First 35, “Platinum Blonde” and J109, “Indian”. “Jedi” J109 has changed owners and has returned to ISORA with Kenneth Rumball.
With the forecast of 3-7 knots NW veering and decreasing 2-3 knots E and veering later to 3-7 knots S, setting a course that would get most boats finished was always going to be difficult. The Race Committee set the course shortly before the start to: Start in Dun laoghaire – South Burford (S) – North and Finish in Wicklow – a course of 22 miles.
The winds at the start were light north-easterly as the fleet of 24 boats headed off towards the first mark in the south going tide. Fluky winds and conditions at the start made it difficult for many of the boats to get fast off the start line. “Juggerknot” and “Lively Lady” led the fleet that turned out to be a beat or tight fetch to the first mark.
Shortly after rounding the first mark, the boats headed in a run down towards the finish with the south going tide. In the decreasing winds and strong tide rounding the South Burford proved to be difficult and split the fleet. The front bunch led by “Lively Lady” drifted towards Wicklow in the fickle winds.
The winds continued to decrease and shift making progress very slow. While the fleet never stopped, at time it was only the south going tide that provided progress for the fleet. The leading buch also included, “Tsunami”, “Platinum Blonde”, “Jedi”, “Aurelia”, White Mischief”, “Dear Prudence” and “Another Adventure”.
As the wind had veered to the south east and increased slightly at the same time as the tide was turning north, “Juggerknot” crossed the finish line first to take 1st in IRC Overall and Class 1 and 2nd in ISORA ECHO Overall and Class1. “Jedi” too 1st in ISORA ECHO while “Albireo” took Silver Class.
16 of the 24 boats finished and made their way into Wicklow harbour for the usual ISORA après sail get together at WSC, some in time to see the “Munster match”!! Crews gathered in the club and planned their next ISORA adventure.
As the race was tracked using the Avery Crest Trackers, the progress of the race can be re-played using the YB app or on the ISORA website.
The next race is the first offshore on the 13th May from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire. It is hoped that there will be another large combined fleet taking part in preparation of the D2D race in June and the Fastnet race in August.
Full results here