A solid season for Welsh offshore campaigners Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox was crowned in the pitch dark of Dublin Bay last night when the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race runners–up became overall ISORA champions.
The Irish Sea’s Wolf Head Trophy was decided in Saturday’s blustery last race of the 2017 offshore series.
In an epic climax to a memorable offshore season, the outcome of the 2017 ISORA season only unfolded in the final miles of a 60–mile race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire.
Just as the 37–boat season started, four dominant J109s were in the top position in yesterday's race including a Sailing School entry from Dun Laoghaire, the INSS's Jedi skippered by Kenneith Rumball.
It’s been a good summer for Rumball and his INSS students, having picked up a VDLR podium place and Fastnet IRC3B victory in the first season of racing the J109.
Starting at 8am and finishing after 10pm, yesterday's tough Irish Sea Crossing – especially at Bardsey Sound – ended with Rumball's crew winning the last race, not enough to give them overall victory but a very creditable third overall in a debut ISORA season.
There were futher twists when Howth J109 Indian skippered by Colm Buckley getting between first Mojito and Sgrech, a result that denied the Stephen Tudor skippered Sgrech a successful defence of the coveted Wolf's Head Trophy.
Additional reportage from Peter Ryan of ISORA:
Prior to the race, Tudor’s “Sgrech” would win the Championship and retain the coveted “Wolf’s Head” if they beat “Mojito” or even if they were within one place behind “Mojito” in the results, irrespective of the placings. This tight situation led to pre-race tension.
The weather conditions for the race were not ideal with strong north easterly winds forecast providing a long beat for the fleet. Also the fact that there were spring tides on the day just made conditions worse.
The course for the race was from the Start at Pwllheli to round a local racing mark PSC2 before heading through St Tudwal’s Sound, Bardsey Sound and a long 60 mile beat to Kish Lighthouse before the final fetch across Dublin Bay to the finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.
The weather at the start was rather benign with a north easterly wind of about 15knots and a flat sea. This soon changed as the 20 boat fleet raced through St Tudwal’s Sound and into the start of the overfalls. The first leg was a tight reach. The leg to Bardsey Sound was a fetch with increasing winds and deteriorating sea conditions. As the fleet approached Bardsey Sound the wind had built to a steady 25 knots and the flood spring tide was at its strongest. Bardsey Sound is not the best place at most times but these conditions revealed the nastier side of the area. Mountainous breaking seas bounded the fleet as they were shot through the sound at speed up to 11 knots over the ground. Chris Power Smith's “Aurelia” made a short video of them exiting the Sound – their video below says it all!!
After the fleet exited Bardsey it was a full beat to the Kish Light. At this stage it was obvious that most of the J Boats were match racing with “Jedi”, “Sgrech” and “Mojito” side by side. “Jedi” eventually took the westerly leg and headed towards the banks on the Irish side. “Sgrech”, in an attempt to force “Mojito” to break cover, headed north. “Indian” and “Aurelia” were there but not heavily involved in the “match”. “Jackknife” took and immediate leg north after Bardsey.
When the tide ebbed, the fleet faced tide flows of over 4 knots against them and little progress was made until this ebb tide waned.
Most of the fleet eventually converged around the India Bank, off Wicklow, and it was obvious that the westerly leg was more advantageous. Of the boats that headed north, “Mojito” just led “Sgrech”. When the converge happened “Jedi” had made great progress and was 2 miles ahead of “Mojito”. However “Indian”, who was close to “Jedi , slipped in between “Mojito” and “Sgrech” for the procession fetch along the Codling and Kish banks and the Kish Light.
The last leg from the Kish was a fetch and there was no opportunity for any gains to be made. “Aurelia” took line honours followed by “Jacknife”. This gave Chris Power Smith's Aurelia of the Royal St. George Yacht Club first in IRC Zero class, also winning IRC Zero in the overall Series.
The main procession behind was led by “Jedi” followed by “Mojito”, “Indian” and “Sgrech”.
Due to “Indian’s” gains by heading west with “Jedi” from Bardsey, they slipped between “Mojito” and “Sgrech” to forced “Sgrech” out of their Champion position and allowed Peter Dunlop and Vick Cox and “Mojito” to be crowned ISORA Champions for 2017.
“Jedi” won the race with “Mojito” taking second, “Indian” third and “Sgrech was fourth.
An end of season party was arranged in the National Yacht Club immediately after the race. Many of the exhausted crew dragged themselves there for some light refreshments. Hon Sec of ISORA and Skipper of “Sgrech”, Stephen Tudor, made the announcement of the new Champion.
The Wolf’s Head will be presented to Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox at the ISORA Annual Dinner, to take place on the 11th November at the National Yacht Club. The ISORA AGM also takes place that afternoon where the race schedule for the 2018 season is set by the members.
Overall results are here