The 2018 ISORA Offshore Championship was decided in a nail-biting finish to the last race on Saturday. Reigning ISORA Offshore Champion, “Mojito” (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), had led the series for much of the season but Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” just had to win the last race to snatch the coveted Wolf’s Head trophy back from “Mojito”.
The race was the annual James Eadie Race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire, a distance of 80 miles. There were 27 entries for the race but only 15 were confirmed starters. Of these only 13 managed to get the Pwllheli for the start.
The forecast for the race was strong South-West winds backing to South later in the day. The forecast also indicated no winds in Dublin Bay for the finish. As well as the strong winds at the start, driving rain made the exit from Pwllheli challenging. The strong winds had whipped up big seas on the beat from the start to Bardsey, with mountainous overfalls at St Tudwals islands.
“Aurelia” took an early lead followed by Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” with “Mojito” close behind. By the time the fleet had slipped through Bardsey Sound three distinct groupings were starting to form. “Aurelia” and “Jackknife” were out in front, “Mojito” and Brendan Coughlan’s “YoYo” formed the next group. The remainder of the fleet was led by Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech J111”, Cris Miles “North Star” and Derek Matthew’s “Pleione of Dee”. Grant Kinsman “Thalia” and “Pleione of Dee” were sailing two-handed.
Exiting Bardsey Sound the 60 mile leg to the finish was a tight reach. With the strong winds, gusting up to 30 knots, no boat attempted to fly anything but their main and jib. The feature of the last leg was the strong spring tides that had just started to ebb south against the fleet. The fleet would be approaching the Kish Bank at low springs and selecting the position for crossing the bank or not, was significant.
More drama unfolded in Dublin bay when “Jackknife” enter first only to find that the wind had totally disappeared and was limping towards the finish while “Aurelia” was thundering along behind them. However, “Jackknife” did enough to hold on and took Line Honours, IRC Overall and Class 0. “Aurelia” took 2nd IRC Overall and 2nd Class 0 but unfortunately “Mojito” survived the doldrums in Dublin Bay and finished ahead of “YoYo” and “Sgrech” to take 3rd IRC Overall and Class 1. This was enough for “Mojito” to block out “Aurelia” from the Championship win by only 3 points – 0.5% of the season score.
Lindsay Casey’s “Windjammer” took Class 2 and “Plieone of Dee” took the 2-handed class.
After this difficult and challenging race “Mojito” were worthy ISORA Offshore Champions again, retaining the Wolf’s Head Trophy. “Aurelia”, despite been prevented from winning the Offshore Series, won the Series where all results count (no discards). They also won the ISORA Viking Marine Irish / Royal Alfred Coastal Series.
Full results as well as the YB tracking of the race can be found here
Prizes for the season will be presented at the Annual ISORA Dinner to be held in the NYC on 10th November.