During the build-up to the Global Displays Welsh Coastal Series ISORA race 5, a changeable forecast showed winds potentially less than 5 kts and as much as 12kts in Cardigan Bay, giving the race committee a challenge to set a course catering predominantly for the class 2 boats, with big spring tides to contend with. With more gradient wind forecast to the west, a course was set to Gwylan Islands, close to Bardsey sound, and return to a mark outside of the St Tudwals Islands, a distance of 30 miles.
The fleet was a little depleted with several boats in Ireland, sailing in race 4, so just five boats left the Plas Heli pontoons for the midday start, with the wind just indicating 5kts. The forecast showed an increase after midday and for about four hours.
Luckily as the start time approached, the wind built to a steady 10 kts from the NNW, which looked favourable for a fast race.
Race Officers Robin Evans and Brian Metcalf started the fleet from the PSC bridge, and it was the two Sunfast 3200’s “Jac Y Do” (Mark and Jo Thompson) and “Zig Zag” (Pete Ashworth) that got way together at the front of the pack with a fetch down to PSC1 a turning mark just after the club start line. “Jac Y Do” alongside and to windward of “Zig Zag” had a premature kite deployment when setting the tack, giving visibility issues for the helm, and whilst hoisting was unable to fully bear away due to “Zig Zag” having spinnaker issues of its own and holding its course. After a tense 30 secs or so, “Jac Y Do” was able to settle down with an A2 reach and run towards St Tudwals sound, pinching as much to windward to give a better angle through the sound where the winds can be notoriously fickle. The shenanigans at PSC1 allowed Andrew Halls J125 “Jackknife” to overtake the two Sunfasts, and start to open up an early lead. Once through the sound and turning more to the west towards hells mouth, the wind had built up to a steady 12 kts, and as the apparent wind came forward, and with a need to head a little inland, it was time to drop the kite and fetch the Gwylan Islands under white sails.
Keith Greenwood’s “Hullabaloo Encore” and Simon Windle’s “Shaula” were also making excellent progress, just behind the two SF3200’s, both under spinnaker.
First to round Gwylan was “Jackknife” a mile ahead of “Jac Y Do” and “Zig Zag”, almost alongside each other. “Jackknife” relished the conditions, flying an A5 to start really pulling away from the fleet, with the small boats holding the A2 back toward Abersoch Bay. “Jac Y Do” briefly flirted with a code zero, but finally settled on the Jib for the fetch to the finish after passing Carreg Y Trai, the final mark of the course. With the wind holding at a steady 9-10 kts the fleet all finished reasonably close to together. “Jackknife” took line honours, class 0 and overall, 6 minutes ahead of class 2 winner “Jac Y Do”
After racing crews had a great social evening in the Pwllheli Sailing Club Club bar at Plas Heli. The next race sees the fleets from both sides of the Irish Sea combine for an offshore race starting at Dun Laoghaire on May 25th
Results and information at www.isora.org