The first offshore race of the ISORA Offshore Championship 2019 took place on the 4th May with a starting time of 08.00. 19 boats from the entry list of 20 came to the start line in Dun Laoghaire writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan
The course was decided early by the Racing Committee due to the long term forecast of northerly winds. The forecast promised gusty and cold conditions in the Irish Sea. With Races 1 & 2 blown out due to Storm Hannah on the previous week, the fleet needed some “comfort racing” conditions. It was decided that the race would be from the start, direct to the finish in Holyhead harbour leaving South Burford to Port – approximately 55 miles.
The weather forecast for Race 3 was predicting northerly 15-20 knots however the winds picked up in the afternoon and veered more north-easterly.
The start at 08.00 was provided by NYC’s Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power at the DBSC’s Pier Mark. Difficulty in distributing trackers to boats at the line caused the race to be postponed for 5 minutes.
Technical issues arose with some boats even before leaving Dun Laoghaire harbour. Paul Sutton’s new J109, a replacement for “Pipedreamer” that was damaged on the Holyhead marina failure, developed a slight rudder problem and he decided to pull out of the race. Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s, “Mojito” form Pwllheli, the current ISORA Champion, developed a rig issue just at the start and also had to retire.
Early in the race John Hughes “Rebellion” and David Bolger’s “Lady Rowena” retired and returned safely to Dun Laoghaire.
Those less experienced with offshore racing would suggest that the course selected would just be a “soldier’s race”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The direction of the wind tested crew who attempted to fly Code 0s. The apparent wind direction was too far forward for those boats on the rhumb line to fly anything but a jib. Decisions had to be made whether pushing up north of the rhumb line early to allow the use of the Code O later in the race also taking into account the strong south going tides that will be present as the fleet approached Holyhead.
As the fleet crossed the Irish Sea, Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” led the way followed closely by Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia”, Brendan Coughlan’s “YoYo” and Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”.
The lead position on IRC changed constantly during the race amongst these four lead boats. However, it was “Rockabill VI” ability to fly a Code 0 for the last hour and a half of the race that got them over the line to take the race Overall and Class 0.
Class 1 was won by Nigel Ingram’s “Jetstream” and Class 2 was won by Irish Offshore Sailing’s boat “Desert Star”. They also took the two-handed prize.
After the race, many of the visiting boats tied up at the Holyhead Sailing Club who had put on entertainment for the arriving crew.
The Race Organiser for Race 3 was Grainne Ryan. Anita Begley was Safety Officer. The finish was provided by Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club.
The next two races, as part of the Viking Marine and Global Display Coastal Series, are on the 18th May. These ware coastal races with one starting and finishing in Dun Laoghaire and the other in Pwllheli. It is hoped that great numbers will take part in these races as “champagne sailing conditions” have been booked for the events.
Full results and the YB tracking of the race are on the ISORA website here