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Royal Irish's 'Rockabill VI' Claims 2019 ISORA Title in Final Race

8th September 2019
Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI inches to overall ISORA victory in the closing stages of light air Race 16 at tea time yesterday on Dublin Bay. Among the crew are 1989/1990 NCB Ireland watch leader Kieran Tarbert on the helm, Mark Pettit in the hatchway and four time Olympian Mark Mansfield Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI inches to overall ISORA victory in the closing stages of light air Race 16 at tea time yesterday on Dublin Bay. Among the crew are 1989/1990 NCB Ireland watch leader Kieran Tarbert on the helm, Mark Pettit in the hatchway and four time Olympian Mark Mansfield Photo: Afloat

Paul O'Higgins' Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club is the 2019 overall ISORA champion claiming the overall title in the dying airs of yesterday's final race into Dublin Bay.

Provisional results published this morning (see below) confirm victory for the Dublin JPK 10.80 design after 14 races sailed with eight discards in the season-long series that began last May. 

In a thrilling climax to the 2019 offshore edition, Rockabill VI made substantial gains in the final miles of yesterday's 60-mile Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire race that saw Rockabill win the James Eadie Trophy for race 16 and jump from third overall to snatch victory. 

JPK10.80 9323First overall - Catching the best of the breeze Rockabill arrives into Dublin Bay yesterday, third on the water, after the race across the Irish Sea from Pwllheli Photo: Afloat

Aurelia 9271Second overall - Chris & Patanne Power Smith's Aurelia (IRL 35950), a J122 from the Royal St George Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

As Afloat previously reported, three boats were able to win overall going into the final race that was, as predicted, a light air conclusion to 2019.

With six races to count and this last race counting for a 1.3 multiple, it was always likely that the overall winner would be counting their result in this race and so it was to be in the lightest of airs on the Irish Sea yesterday.

Andrew Hall's J125 Jackknife who had been leading dropped to fourth in the overall calculations, Chris Power Smith's Aurelia from the Royal St. George finished second and Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI went from third to overall victory.

Jackknife 9235Third - Andrew Hall's Jackknife (GBR 8859R), a J125 from Pwllheli Sailing Club. Photo: Afloat

Round Ireland 2020

O'Higgins adds the ISORA title to his overall win in June's Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race as well as victory in June's ICRA Coastal Class plus a Calves Week win in August. It sets Rockabill VI up as the top Irish offshore campaign for next year's top event, the 2020 Round Ireland Race.

The result confirms Ireland's first win of ISORA's Wolf's Head Trophy in at least three years with the RIYC Skipper deposing Peter Dunlop's defending champion, Mojito, the J109 from North Wales from 2018 and 2017.

ISORA overall19ISORA Top ten - Results are provisional as of 0:34 on September 8, 2019 Class 0/1/2 IRC/ECHO. Sailed: 14, Discards: 8, To count: 6, Rating system: IRC, Entries: 63

Full results are here

Race 16 Race Report by Peter Ryan, Chairman ISORA

The 2019 ISORA Offshore Championship was decided in a tight contest between three boats – Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”, Chris Power Smith’s “Aurelia” and Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife”. All any of those boats had to do to win the 63 boat, ISORA Offshore Series 2019, was to beat the other two boats in the last race.

The race was the annual James Eadie Race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire, a distance of 80 miles. There were 23 entries for the race but only 14 managed to get the Pwllheli for the start. The starters included a new to ISORA boat from Arklow Sailing Club, John Conlon’s “Humdinger”.

The forecast for the race was moderate North-Westerly winds veering North-Easterly and eventually going very light. The weather for the race was as forecast.
Due to the light forecast in the evening, it was decided by the race committee to select a direct course. The course was:

Start at Pwllheli Bridge – PS2 (Racing buoy) (S) – ISORA Dublin (Virtual Mark) (P) – Finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire. The course was approximately 82 miles.

The race started at 07.30. The starter on the Pwllheli Bridge was Robin Evans. The north-westerly wind provided a tight reach from the start line and “Jackknife” and “Rockabill” were fast off the start line and reaching west along the beach towards PS2. After rounding PS2, the fleet headed south-west towards St Tudwal’s Islands under spinnaker.

At this stage, the format for the race was being set. The three contenders for the Wolf’s Head, “Jackknife”, “Aurelia” and “Rockabill VI” split from the fleet and were racing together in close contact. This was to last for the entire race.

Rounding the headland at St Tudwals the leg west to Bardsey Sound was a fetch but with a foul tide against the fleet, the route to and through Bardsey Sound had to be selected carefully.
Exiting Bardsey Sound the tide was ebbing south. The wind at this stage was still north-westerly providing a 60 mile beat to the finish but this soon changed as the wind veered to the North, liftin the fleet closer to the rhumb line.

It soon became apparent that the forecast was proving correct and the fleet would be close fetching toward Dun Laoghaire. This eliminated most of the tactical options, so boat speed was the main concern.

“Jackknife” led the fleet into Dublin Bay and was the first boat to succumb to the failing winds. This allowed the following boats for close the gap. At one stage, it was looking like a small boat race as all the lead boats slowed and the smaller boats compacted the fleet.

Jackknife 9244

The last 7 miles were tricky for the leaders due to the light fickle winds in Dublin Bay. “Jackknife” managed to inch across the finish line under spinnaker to take Line Honours but only managed a 4th Overall. “Aurelia”, followed closely by “Rockabill VI” and Peter Dunlop’s “Mojito”, managed to cross the line in the failing breeze. Unfortunately, at that stage the tide was stating to ebb south, stopping the remainder of the fleet as they entered the bay. All of the remaining fleet struggled to cross the line, with some boats retiring late in the evening.

Cigar Smoke 9217Cigar Smoke on board Jackknife is barely dispersed so light were the winds on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

After this challenging and frustrating race, “Rockabill VI” managed to stay close enough to the other two contenders to win the race Overall and the James Eadie trophy and to take the ISORA Offshore Championship 2019. They also won Class 0.

Joe Conway's Elandra won the Silver class division but overall Grzegorz Kalinacki’s “More Mischief” takes the ISORA Silver Class 2019 Championship.

“Mojito” took Class 1 with Mark Thompson’s “Jac Y Do” taking Class 2. Full results, as well as the YB tracking of the race can be found on the website:

The traditional end-of-season party took place at the National Yacht Club after the race, where crew from all boats gathered to exchange stories and socialise together. The party extended early into the morning with Charlene Howard’s “AJ Wanderlust” crossing the finish just after 02.00. Finish time were recorded automatically using the YB trackers fitted to every boat.

Prior to the race, on Friday evening, a pre-race get-together took place in Plas Heli (Pwllheli Sailing Club)

This race ended the ISORA Offshore 2019 Series and the following boat are the Series and Class Winners:

  • Overall ISORA Offshore Champion – Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”
  • Overall ISORA Offshore Sliver Class Champion - Grzegorz Kalinacki’s “More Mischief”
  • Overall ISORA Offshore Class 0 - Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”
  • Overall ISORA Offshore Class 1 – Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox “Mojito”
  • Overall ISORA Offshore Class 2 – Lindsey Casey “Windjammer”
  • Viking Marine Irish Coastal Series 2019 - Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox “Mojito”
  • Global Display UK Coastal Series 2019 – Andrew Hall “Jackknife”

Prizes for the season will be presented at the Annual ISORA Dinner to be held in the NYC on 9th November. That afternoon the ISORA AGM takes place where the race schedule for 2020 is discussed and agreed.

Published in ISORA Team

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