Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI has won overall in a fast ISORA Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire Race today writes W M Nixon. After the 0800hr start, a blistering pace was set in a rising southwest to south wind which obligingly backed when the fleet were making their way from the M2 buoy at mid-Channel to leave the South Burford Buoy to starboard before streaking in to Dublin Bay to finish around 1600hrs, a good hour ahead of the most optimistic predictions.
Corrected times at the finish were very close, and a superb performance was put in by the two-handed crew of the Sunfast 3600 Bam!. Owner Conor Fogerty sailed with Robert Slator and such determination that Rockabill was only 2 minutes and 24 seconds ahead. Four minutes later on CT came the J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop), and seven minutes after that came sister-ship Sgrech (Stephen Tudor).
A remarkable performance was put in by the big new Hanse 445 Pleione of Dee (Derek Matthews), which brings luxurious cruising style to Irish Sea offshore racing. She came across the Channel like a rocket, and placed 5th overall on IRC and first overall on ECHO, beating Brendan Couglan’s second-placed Jeanneau Sunfast 337 Windshift by three minutes.
Peter Ryan, ISORA Chairman adds:
The first offshore race of the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship 2017 took place on the 13th May. 32 boats from the entry list of 36 came to the start line in Holyhead.
The weather forecast was predicting southerly winds increasing fresh to strong later in the day. For the first offshore of the season, and to minimise the exposure of the fleet to the later conditions, the course was chosen to be from the start at Holyhead, taking the M2 weather buoy to port, South Burford to starboard and then to the finish. A distance of 59 miles.
The start at 08.00 was provided by Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club using the Pier lighthouse and the Clipperra buoy. Despite a huge natural bias on the line for the lighthouse end, boats appeared to be happy spread along the start line in the gusting winds.
Not only was wind going to be the issue for the fleet but a very strong north going tide at the start would push the fleet northwards, turning what should have been a tight spinnaker leg to M2 into a loose fetch. The fleet headed towards M2, some allowing the tide to push them north while others sailed tighter and remained on the rhumb line. Conditions for the first leg were averaging 20knots SSW.
Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” lead the fleet to the M2, located half way across the Irish Sea. At rounding the mark, the fleet was well bunched, encouraging crews to maintain speed in the blustery conditions.
The leg to South Burford was a tight fetch. It was hoped that the turning tide would push the fleet southwards allowing boats to free up in the increasing winds and sea state. This did not happen until much later in the race – a favourable tide turns quickly, the unfavourable tide never appears to turn?
Conditions as the fleet approached South Burford had deteriorated. The winds had increased to 27 knots southerly will greater gusts. The sea state were particularly bad close to the Burford Bank with winds against tide. Once in Dublin Bay, calm was restored and the final 4 mile reach to the finish was a relief. Despite the wind backing to SE close to the finish, none of the battered crews attempted to launch spinnakers.
The finish line was between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire and the constant procession of boats kept the Finishers, Grainne Ryan, Kathryn Meghen and Anita Begley busy. The trackers were also used to provide finish time and these worked well, providing instant provisional results on the YB Tracking app and ISORA website.
“Jackknife” maintained the lead and took line honours after 7 hours and 34 minutes racing, just over one minute ahead of Neil Eatough’s “Forthy Shades”. Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI” took IRC Overall and Class 0, breaking the “J Boats monopoly” of the recent results. IRC Class 1 was won by Peter Dunlop’s “Mojito” pursued relentlessly through the race by Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech” who took 2nd place IRC Class 1. IRC Class 2 and Silver Class was won by Charlene Howard’s “AJ Wanderlust”. The newly adopted “ISORA Progressive ECHO” worked fantastically well giving Derek Matthews “Pleione of Dee” ECHO Overall and Class 0. Of the 32 starters, 31 boats finished with Brian Hett’s “Oystercatcher” retiring soon after the start with gear trouble.
After the exhausting race many of the visiting boats tied up at the National Yacht Club and the usual “apres sail” commenced.
Despite not ideal conditions, the general opinion of the race was “tough but rewarding”.
Results are here