Conditions couldn’t have been more glorious for a bank holiday weekend of ISORA races in Pwllheli writes Vicky Cox. The last two races of the Global Displays three-race Welsh Coastal series.
The first race of the weekend, the Global Displays Day race, was a 30nm coastal race taking in Pwllheli Sailing Club (PSC) Mark 10 off Penychain, the Causeway buoy and the Tudwal islands before heading back to the finish via the Tom Buoy. Given the winds forecast (none!), some felt the course was a little ambitious but with a steady 6-8kts at the start, all boats got away cleanly and steadily along the beach.
Andrew Hall’s Jackknife rounded PSC10 first, closely followed by Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito and once their kites and code zeros went up they progressed at a steady 6-7 knots down to the causeway cardinal buoy. Meanwhile, back at Penychain, it looked like the wind had dropped and Peter Ashworth’s ZigZag, Mark&Jo Thompson’s Jac y Do rounded 30 -40 minutes after the leading boats.
As the wind died further offshore, boats had the added problem of waves close to the bar. For Keith Greenwood’s Hullabaloo Encore, who rounded the PSC10 last, progress was painfully slow at less than 2kts and they were forced to eventually retire.
Meanwhile, at the causeway buoy, Jackknife managed to get some wind and sped away at an impressive 7-8kts leaving Mojito to round in the dying airs now 3 miles behind. It certainly looked like Jackknife had the race in the bag.
In consideration for the slower boats, the course was shortened - straight to the finish from the Tudwal islands but that’s where Jackknife ran into trouble and appeared to be heading west along the headland rather than east through the sound. An hour later they were joined by Mojito who soon realised the problem - barely any wind and significant tide against them.
Much merriment ensued in the deathly quiet of the sound and Jackknife were heard hailing from a distance ‘Starboard!’ Both boats erupted in laughter. Trying all tactics to get through, they both ended up close inshore next to Bear Grylls island where a gentleman appeared at the edge of the cliff asking ‘Are you alright?’, ‘Do you need any help?’, ‘Do you need any fuel?’. ‘We could do with some beer!’, was the reply.
Jackknife tacked away to try the other side of the sound while Mojito floated past hoping for more wind being funnelled through the islands.
Now joined by ZigZag and Jac y Do two hours after they had arrived, Jackknife appeared to be parked for the night under the cliffs of the headland so put up their kite in a desperate attempt to get the boat moving. Mojito appeared to be in a worse position as they were floating backwards between the two islands watching the slightest of zephyrs on the water, all frustratingly too far out of reach. The discussion onboard was a debate on how Bear Grylls managed to keep the flag flying on his island with such vigour while all around there was no wind to be seen. Boredom started to set in, so up went Mojito’s kite - at least it would dry it out after a heavy 10days of sailing.
Jac y Do watched as Mojito slowly disappeared between the islands, with just their masthead showing and then witnessed them being catapulted back out at speed. The zephyr had arrived! A desperate attempt to tack the kite meant it was wrapped in the very moment it was needed - of all the times!! But they managed to get it free and it filled. After over 3 hours of floating it was such an uplifting moment, almost worthy of a cheer. Off they shot smartly at 6kts.
But it was short lived, the wind had gone in the shadow of St Tudwals East. They could see wind at a flag on a lobster pot up ahead. Did they have enough momentum to get there? Yes, they did! And they managed to stay in it all the way to Pwllheli leaving the rest of the fleet to float at 0.5kts for another hour at least.
Mojito finally finished at 2133 taking 1st overall and class 1, Jackknife finished an hour later taking class 0 and Jac y Do an hour and 15 mins after that took 2nd overall and class 2 1st. Tremendous perseverance saw ZigZag finish at 0122 in the morning, taking 2nd in class 2.
After the struggle in the day race, there was little appetite for a lengthy Global Displays Night race in similar wind conditions, so it was kept short - PSC start, St Tudwal islands, and back to the finish. St Tudwals again?! Hadn’t we learned?! This time the fleet were sent through with the tide, rounding St Tudwals East, St Tudwals West and the bell buoy all to port.
Mojito got a good start along with Jackknife and managed to keep with them on the beat all the way to the islands, playing the shifts. Jackknife rounded St Tudwals West, up went the kite and off they went. Luckily the 6-7kts breeze was steady, with puffs of 8kts coming from the east. Mojito managed to capitalise on the wind bend with fewer gybes managing to finish just 10 minutes behind Jackknife to take 1st overall again. While Stephen Williams’s Darling xx were visibly closing the gap they were unable to beat Jackknife on handicap and had to settle for 3rd overall.
Mojito missed the first of the Global Displays three race coastal series in Pwllheli by taking part in the Irish coastal series sponsored by Viking marine. All the talk was of Mojito potentially winning the coastal series on both sides of the water. Had they compromised their lead in the Viking Marine series on the Irish side by being in Pwllheli?... As results came in from both sides of the Irish Sea it was evident that Mojito had brought back some Irish luck that weekend, and by a fluke of events and results, they had won the Viking Marine series overall without doing the last race. But with no discards on the Welsh side, they had to settle for 3rd overall in Pwllheli despite taking top spot in the last two races.
Jackknife had done enough to take the Global Displays series in Pwllheli with a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd, meaning that they retained the Midland Punch bowl. In time-honoured tradition, the bowl was filled by the two coastal series-winning skippers with vodka & tequila sunrises and the party continued well into the early hours.
Full results for both coastal series and ISORA offshore series can be found here
Pwllheli Sailing Club will welcome the ISORA skippers back on the 7th September for the last and deciding race of the overall ISORA series for the Wolf’s Head.
Racing then continues inshore in Pwllheli, with the very popular Autumn and Winter series, starting on the 21st September and every other weekend till Christmas.