The Midnight Race from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man, was being run for the 99th time on Friday 8th June. This is an evening race with the start at 19.30 provided by Commodore of Liverpool Yacht Club, Paul Pratt. The race was also Race 7 of the ISORA Offshore Series writes Chris Power Smith, skipper of Aurelia, the winner of the Class Zero race.
The race was the first part of a weekend qualifying series for boats taking part in the Round Ireland Race. The qualifying consisted of the delivery to Liverpool, the “Midnight Race” on the Friday evening and the “Mid Sea Race” to take place on the Sunday.
22 boats came to the start line on the Mersey close to Albert Dock. Due to the very light winds the course selected was essentially dome the river to the seas and direct to Douglas. All boats taking part were fitted with YB trackers.
At the start the wind was from SSE 2 to 3 knots and the tide had just started to ebb. All boats hoisted kites and made a spectacular sight on the river Mersey. The right side of the channel was preferred for the stronger tide but there seemed to be more wind on the left. As it turned out, there was no obvious advantage. In just over an hour the boats made nearly 4 miles with the wind between 2 to 5 knots to pass New Brighton to port. Crews were kept busy with very frequent gibes to stay within the narrow channel as all channel marks were marks of the course.
It was a very challenging and tactical race down the river with close-quarter racing and tight quarters boat on boat manoeuvres. Requests for room to gybe were constant with a fear of running out of depth or even worse hitting the revetment wall along the channel.
On exiting the channel the boats were still tightly bunched with “Jackknife” pulling out in mid-channel in front by a few hundred meters from “Mojito” on the starboard side and “Jedi” and “Wakey Wakey” on the port side. “Ruth”, “Platinum Blonde” and “Aurelia” were sailing closely in the middle with “YoYo” out wide on the starboard side.
"Round Ireland Race hopeful, Glyn Sheffield, in his Farr 40, “Espresso Martini Too” breaking out in front of “Jackknife”
The next hour saw the boats make about 5 miles in the strengthening tide with Round Ireland Race hopeful, Glyn Sheffield, in his Farr 40, “Espresso Martini Too” breaking out in front of “Jackknife”. “Platinum Blonde” was now in third, closely followed by “Aurelia” and “Ruth”. “Mojito” and “Wakey Wakey” were next having opened up a lead on “Jedi”, “Max Too”, “North Star” and “YoYo”.
“Espresso Martini” was the first boat to pass the Q2 Mark to exit the Queen’s Channel at approximately 22.15, followed closely by “Jackknife”, a few hundred meters adrift. Next to exit the channel was “Aurelia”, with “Platinum Blonde”, “Wakey Wakey” and “Ruth” close behind, followed by “Mojito”, “Jedi”, “North Star” and “YoYo”. Class 2 boats, “Windjammer” and “Mojo” were not far behind as they exited the channel around 22.30.
The wind was now a steady 10 knots and still from the SSE. By midnight “Jackknife” had opened up a lead on the water with little change in places in the pursuing front group of boats as they passed the exclusion zones of the Conwy Oil Field.
By 03.00 the wind had dropped to 7 knots and shifted ESE. “Aurelia” had edged out in front on the water. “Ruth” was the leading J109 hotly pursued by “Wakey Wakey” and the First 35, “Platinum Blonde”, splitting her from sistership J109 “Mojito”.
By 06.00 “Jackknife” was leading the charge for line honours just ahead of “Aurelia”. The J109s were still neck and neck but “Platinum Blonde” was stubbornly fighting to split them up. As the boats approached the finish “Ruth” gybed South of the rhumb line and lost ground to the other J109s and “Platinum Blonde”.
“Jackknife” was first over the line to take line honours after 14 hours 35 minutes, followed by “Aurelia”, “Mojito”, “Wakey Wakey” and “YoYo”. “Mojito” had done enough to win Overall and Class One with “Wakey Wakey”, only 35 seconds behind after over 15 hours racing, taking 2nd Overall. “Platinum Blonde”, 5 minutes further adrift took 3rd Overall. “Aurelia” won the Class Zero race with “Jackknife” second. “Windjammer” won the Class Two race with a very credible 5th overall, followed by “More Mischief” second in Class 2.
Full results can be found here
YB Tracking of the race can be viewed on the YB app or here