A J109 is back at the top of the ISORA scoreboard after a 60–mile offshore race on Saturday from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli. It brings to four the total of races so far this season and puts Welsh yacht Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox), the 2017 champion, into the lead, some three points ahead of Chris Power–Smith's Aurelia from the Royal St. George Yacht Club.
Saturday's 22-boat cross channel race was won by Class 2 entry Desert Star, a Jeanneau Sunfast 37 entry from the Royal St George Yacht Club skippered by Rónán O Siochru.
Second was Mojito of Pwllheli Sailing Club with Royal Irish Yacht Club's Rockabill VI I(Paul O'Higgins) third.
The 22-boat fleet gathered at the start line in time for the start at 0800hrs and race officers Larry Power and Barry McNeaney set the fleet off, on time, into the last of the north going tide. The course set by the Sailing Committee was a direct line to the finish in Pwllheli, which always provides complex tactical decisions for the navigators and tacticians.
Jackknife led the fleet from the start with Rockabill VI chasing hard on her heel. Aurelia took a line to the south of the rhumb line whilst Ruth and Mojito were the most northerly boats of the fleet - enjoying a match race across the Irish Sea.
The northerly wind was too shy for spinnakers but did allow boats to fly their code zero sails, although many changed back to jibs as the wind built and the south going tide kicked in after 1000hrs.
Conditions were set for a fast crossing, but would the fleet get through Bardsey Sound before the tide turned?
Jackknife made it through the sound with the last of the south going tide followed by Rockabill VI and then Aurelia but their advantage was short-lived due to a patch of no wind! Next through, almost together, were YoYo and Sgrech and then Samatom who had to fight against the first of the north going tide but sailing into more wind. Next, and together, were Ruth and Mojito with Mojito attempting the inside Carreg Ddu passage to avoid the foul tide but risking the wind shadow from the land.
The rest of the fleet had to contend with the increasing foul tide in the sound but to sail into more wind in Aberdaron Bay. Many of the crews commented on the warmth of the wind coming across the land and the flat sea sailing conditions.
The next tactical call was inside or outside Tudwal Islands; the leading boats opted to fight the stronger current by staying south and the next pack opted for less tide but accepting the possibility of less wind inside the Abersoch bay.
On the beat from Tudwal’s Islands to Pwllheli the wind over land became very shifty and big gains, and losses, were made on each wind shift and the clever tacticians also spotted the increasing wind from the northeast which continued to build as the boats finished.
The wind increased from 10 knots to 20 knots but sailing conditions were superb with the flat sheltered waters.
The competitors then finished in rapid succession which kept the ISORA finishers, Robin and Brian on their toes! They were based in the control tower at the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre which provided an excellent view of the boats as they crossed the finishing line.
First to finish was Jackknife followed by Rockabill VI and then Aurelia.
The Race Overall Winner, and Class 2 winner, was Desert Star who is now perfectly set up for their Round Ireland Challenge.
ISORA 2017 Champions, Mojito, sailed a great race to take second place and 1st in Class 1. Rockabill VI showed her form and great pace being 3rd Overall and 1st in Class 0.
After completing the race, the fleet made its way to the Academy’s pontoons and a warm welcome awaited the crews in the Club room. The race officers greeted all boats across the finish line and stood down after the last competitors, Lady Rowena and Adante, arrived just before midnight. They had the worst of the tide in Bardsey Sound but were delighted to have completed the course and for an opportunity to share their experiences in the bar with refreshments!
The next two races are next weekend 2nd June; one in Ireland and one in Wales.
Race 6 – is the second race in the Global Display Coastal Series in Pwllheli and the course will be announced shortly.