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Offshore sailing crews from up to ten yacht clubs across Wales and Ireland gathered at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire last weekend to hear details of the 2016 ISORA offshore sailing calendar that does not include June's 700–mile Round Ireland race as part of its points series.

While stressing ISORA's total support for the biennial Wicklow race (that has just signed Volvo as a new sponsor) chairman Peter Ryan said the decision was based solely on the fact that ISORA races are weighted based on difficulty and distance. 'The last time the Round Ireland was included in the series it was weighted 1.5. The effect of this was that if a boat did particularly well in the Round Ireland, they practically also had the ISORA series sewn up', Ryan said. 'We are always trying the encourage new boat to go offshore, compete and do well. The boat likely to do well in the Round Ireland would be one of our experienced boats and, it was felt, that this would discourage new boats racing in ISORA' he added.

The ISORA fleet typically gains on the year of the Round Ireland race as new boats attempt to attain the necessary offshore experience and take part in ISORA races before the Round Ireland.

ISORA will sail into Wicklow Harbour on Saturday, 23rd April for the finish of its first race of the 2016 season, a 50–mile coastal day race.

Read a review of the 2015 ISORA series and download the 2016 ISORA calendar of events here

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ISORA Commodore Peter Ryan has delivered a buoyant review of 2015 Irish Sea racing activities – including the season highlight – at Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta on Dublin Bay. We reproduce his speech from Saturday night's prizegiving and agm below. A PDF of the 2016 season fixtures list  is attached below. 

ISORA 2015 was an incredible season for ISORA. Probably the greatest advancement made in ISORA offshore racing occurred due the generous sponsorship of Liam Shanahan’s “Avery Crest” and their donation of 20 Yellow Brick trackers to ISORA. More about that later.

The ISORA series in 2015 consisted of 14 races in total - 7 offshore races including the D2D and Lyver Races and 7 coastal races. 4 Coastal races took place from Dun Laoghaire while 3 Coastal races took place from Pwllheli. This season, entries were received from 51 boats with an average fleet size of 18 boats. The weather did not help the number of boats starting with bad weather preventing some boats making the delivery trips.

The number of boats starting was slightly up on 2014 but the most encouraging aspect is that some new boats have joined ISORA for the first time and I believe will take part again next season. Paddy Gregory’s “Flashback” won the Coastal Race to Greystones after doing very well in the Offshore Series in the VDLR. For 2016 we know that a Sigma 400, “Thalia”, will be joining the ranks. There are rumours of another 40.7 and even a whisper of a JPK 10.8?

Recently the J109’sand other J boats have dominated the fleet. I believe that the J Boats will soon be under huge pressure to retain that dominance.

The offshore races included the usual ports of Dun Laoghaire, Holyhead, Pwllheli, Douglas and Dingle. A new venue was added with the Coastal Day races from both Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli finishing in Greystones in time to take part in their Greystones Regatta.

Racing into Greystones in race 12 of the 2105 season

During the season ISORA worked with the: National Yacht Club, Royal Alfred Yacht Club, Royal Dee Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Liverpool Yacht Club, Pwllheli Sailing Club, Holyhead Sailing Club, Douglas Bay Yacht Club, Greystones Sailing Club. I would like to thank all these clubs for the facilities they freely provide to ISORA, without them, we would have no offshore racing or social life.

As regard the race management I would like to particularly acknowledge the assistance of the NYC Commodore, Larry Power and Commodore of the RAYC, Barry MacNeaney, who started all of the races from Dun Laoghaire and Kathryn Meghan, Anita Begley and Ian Meldon who finished the races in Dun Laoghaire. I would also like to thank all the other Starters and Finishers for their help and patience.

The Overall ISORA “Avery Crest” Offshore Champion for 2015 is Liam Shanahan and “Ruth”. This is well deserved as Liam and his family has been hugely involved in offshore racing since re-joining ISORA. Liam also won the 270 mile D2D Race. Liam was the ISORA Champion for 2014. I’m not sure anyone has ever won it three times in a row??

Another incredible offshore achievement by two more of “our own” was the performance of Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox and “Mojito” in the Fastnet Race and the recent great Two-Handed class win by Dermot and Paddy Cronin, “Encore” in the recent Middle Sea Race. As we write this report Conor Fogarty and “Bam” are on their way to join the ARC in Grand Canaria. We wish them a safe and fast passage. Conor has assured me that he will be back for ISORA next season.

The Silver Class was won by a David Simpson and “Albeiro”. Liam Shanahan and “Ruth” also won the Coastal Series. Pwllheli Sailing Club won the Team Series with the team including Andrew Halls’s “Jackknife”, Peter Dunlop’s Mojito and Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech”.

Unfortunately this year we only got one chance to use the “virtual” marks” (GPS Coordinates) in the middle of the Irish Sea to give better courses. This was in the Lyver race. I hope next season that we can regularly use random virtual marks to ensure that not only is there is an upwind leg but that there is also a dead downwind leg. The use of the Avery Crest YB trackers will be a huge benefit as it will record the track a boat took during the race and particularly when rounding Virtual Marks.

The high point scoring system together with the race weighting is continuing to prove very effective and it is intended to keep using this system for the Series next season. The traditional low point system was used in the calculations for the four race Coastal Series. I have to thank Stephen Tudor for the huge work he puts into producing the very detailed overall and class results after each race.

Our long-standing and successful relationship with the Royal Alfred Yacht Club with whom we take part in the Coastal races from Dun Laoghaire, continues to be a very fruitful relationship. Also this season, as part of their 200th anniversary celebrations, we worked with the Royal Dee Yacht Club in running the very successful inaugural “Irish Sea Offshore Racing Championship”. It took place in July and involved five races – the stormy Lyver Race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and the four offshore day races as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. There are plans afoot to see if we can run this event every year, possibly alternating between Dun Laoghaire and Pwllheli. However, it will be part of the VDLR in 2017. I would like to see this event grow to become a unique International offshore event where we can crown the winner the “Great Britain & Ireland Offshore Racing Champion”. It is early days yet.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, 2015 was probably the most innovative year for ISORA’s offshore racing. Through the very generous sponsorship of “Avery Crest”, ISORA were presented with 20 YB tracker units. These trackers have revolutionised how offshore racing is managed. As well as the obvious tracking function that allows those “land lubbers” to follow the fleet in real time from start to finish, the YB trackers allows better management of the rounding of Virtual Marks. The YB Trackers also allows for remote finishing where the finish times of boats can be recorded without an official finisher. A test of this was in the last race to Dun Laoghaire when the times given by the
trackers were within a maximum of 10 seconds of the official recorded times – this did not even take into account that the tracker is normally located at the stern of the boat. It is also hope that the trackers will allow for shortening a race by setting a finish line anywhere on the course and recording the finish times of boats at that remote line.

In the past we have obtained generous sponsorship from KONA, Hendrick Ryan + Associates, Tudor and North Sails. This sponsorship allowed ISORA to promote offshore racing by hosting pre-season talks, taking out articles on yachting magazines, providing the Crew Bus etc. The presenting of the Avery Crest YB Trackers, while providing ISORA
with a huge opportunity, also now requires ISORA to be able to fund the continued running and development of the trackers.

As the offer from Avery Crest arrived when the 2015 season had started, we had no opportunity to increase our minimal boat entry fees for 2015 to cover the tracker expenses.

In order to cover the significant tracker running costs for 2015, I put out a plea to the ISORA members for sponsorship. I have to state that I was overwhelmed by the response. Some members donated funds but asked that it would be anonymous. We also got great generous sponsorship from members whose companies sponsored races. They included Adrian Lee & Partners, Irish Hospital Supplies and LC Tyres.

While it is proposed to raise the race entry fee to attempt to cover the costs for 2016, sponsorship is now essential to continue and develop ISORA offshore racing. I hope that our current sponsors will continue and that new sponsors will be found in 2016. Another great development in ISORA in 2015 was the association of ISORA with UCD Sailing Club. This innovative idea was arranged and managed by Ben Shanahan (“Ruth”). Ben arranged for members of the UCD Sailing Club to crew on boats taking part in ISORA. I believe that this was successful and rose the awareness of offshore racing with the younger sailors. As this work is critical for the advancement of offshore racing, I hope
Ben will continue this great work in 2016.

The ISORA website is fantastic. It was built and is maintained solely by Stephen Tudor. Probably the best compliment I ever heard for a website was a comment by my daughter, Grainne, after looking at the site. “Dad, that is an amazing site. That’s very sad”. It is the main information source for ISORA. Our Newsletters are circulated to over 1000 people. I
would also like to thank our Web Master, Mark Southee, who looks after the technical aspects of the site for no cost. I really appreciate his assistance and generosity. I would also particularly like to thank Vicky Cox who looks after the ISORA Facebook page. This is proving to be a huge success and a great way to communicate within ISORA. Maybe in
2016 we might consider the benefits of using Twitter? This season saw the appearance of the unique “Simon’s Blog” on the website after most races. I have to thank, Simon Byrne (“Yahtzee”), author of these insightful and entertaining (if you were not the butt of the blog) essays. Simon sails with Richard Mossop on Yahtzee and I believe that the idea arose when he felt that there should be an alternative race report from the “back of the fleet”. Personally I looked forward to what Simon would produce after each race and was never disappointed. He describes in a unique and witty
way the essence and spirit of ISORA. For demonstrating the “Spirit of ISORA”, Simon will be awarded tonight with what I consider one of the greatest awards from ISORA – The “Penmaen Plate”

As you know the ISORA website contains a significant amount of memorabilia from past years. I am constantly looking for old photographs etc that can be scanned and added to our archive. Any such items should be scanned and sent to me and I will ensure that it is properly catalogued and posted in the archives.

Next year, the main offshore event is the Round Ireland Race. In the past the lead up to this event has always helped to attract additional boats and new boats to offshore racing. I hope ISORA can again capitalise on this next season with boats seeking pre-race offshore experience. ISORA will be designing their 2016 race schedule to allow boats to gain the required offshore experience to allow them to qualify for the race. The race takes place Saturday 18
th June. I hope that ISORA boats will swell the ranks of starters at what I consider one of the world’s greatest offshore races.

The highlight of the year is the annual ISORA prize giving dinner in the NYC tonight. Our special guests tonight will be the Commodore of the National Yacht Club, Mr. Larry Power, the Commodore of the Royal Dee Yacht Club, Mr. Derek Matthews, who will present the ISORA Champion with the Royal Dee’s “Wolf’s Head Trophy, the Commodore of RORC, Mr. Michael Boyd, who will present the RORC medallions for the winning ISORA boats in the RORC Lyver Race and the Commodore of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club, Mr. Barry MacNeaney. These special guests represent the very best of offshore racing in Irish Waters and I am honoured that they are attending our annual dinner.

I would like to thank the National Yacht Club for their continued support and assistance for ISORA. Last but not least I would like to thank our Vice Chairman, Gerry Williams, Hon Treasurer – Vincent Farrell, IT - Vicky Cox and the general committee consisting of Liam Shanahan, Peter Dunlop, Peter Hall and Kuba Syzmanski for all their assistance, advice and dedication during the last year.

In finishing, I would particularly like to thank our Hon Secretary – Stephen Tudor. The amount of work that Stephen puts into making ISORA run efficiently is incredible. The assistance and advice that he gives to me is invaluable. ISORA would not run without him and I thank him for this dedication. I also want to congratulate Stephen on being recently awarded a Special Contribution Award by RYA for his work at Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club and the huge personal contribution he has made in the development of the new Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events centre at Pwllheli.

Peter Ryan
Chairman ISORA, 14th November 2015


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174 ISORA members and guests were treated to a very special evening to celebrate the 2015 season at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in the annual ISORA Avery Crest Prize giving and Dinner dance on Saturday evening.

The evening was preceded by the ISORA Annual General Meeting when the 2016 race schedule was decided. ISORA Chairman, Peter Ryan, said 'the schedule has been designed to provide the best possible racing for offshore sailors in the Irish Sea and makes best use of boat movements between race. The race series is also arranged so that boats can also compete in the 'ICRA National Championship' in Howth and the 'Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championship and RDYC Offshore Championship' in Pwllheli and also in the classic Round Ireland and Midnight Races'.

There was a pre-Dinner Reception in the JB Room and Master of Ceremonies, Peter Ryan, welcomed the guests and the honorary guests: Commodore Royal Ocean Racing Club - Michael Boyd, Commodore National Yacht Club - Larry Power, Commodore Royal Dee Yacht Club - Derek Matthews, Commodore Royal Alfred Yacht Club - Barry MacNeaney.

Following the grace by ISORA Hon Secretary Stephen Tudor, the guests were treated to a delightfully presented and delicious meal. The traditional prize giving led by Peter Ryan culminated with the presentation of the Wolf's Head trophy to the overall winner Liam Shanahan and the 'Ruth' team.

The party was concluded with a dance and teams discussing their 2016 racing campaigns with visits planned to or from Dun Laoghaire, Wicklow, Douglas, Holyhead, Pwllheli and Greystones.

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ISORA will meet this Saturday to agree its offshore race schedule for 2016. The AGM will be held at 15.00Hrs at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire. 

The Agenda and '2016 Race Schedule discussion Document' are attached for download below.

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The last race of the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore series that was sponsored by LC Tyres, took place on Saturday 12th September with the race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire (74 miles) writes ISORA's Peter Ryan. The boats compete for the famous “James Eadie” trophy. As like the same race last season, the weather forecast for the race and particularly the delivery to Pwllheli was not favourable all week. This put off many of taking part in what is normally a well supported end of season race.
The race was of more interest than usual due to the fact that the Overall Championship was still be be raced for with Liam Shanahan’s J109, “Ruth” and Andrew Hall’s J125, “Jackknife” only a 5 point apart and Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s J109 “Mojito” close behind. While either “Ruth” or “Jackknife” could have taken the Series with a good result in the race, “Mojito” needed a well attended race to secure sufficient points in the high points scoring used by ISORA.
Of the 26 entries received for the race, 19 had confirmed taking part on the Monday prior to the race but only 9 came to the start on Saturday morning. Several boats had left Dun Laoghaire the previous morning but turned back when they were met with strong south easterly winds on the nose and a big sloppy sea. Those that persevered were rewarded with nearly “champagne” sailing for the race. Bryan Mullarkey’s Collins 40, “Harriet Marwood” was taking part in an ISORA race for the first time. Richard Mossop’s Oceanis 411, “Yachtzee” and David Simpson’s Swan 371 “Albeiro” were battling for the Overall Class 2.


Liam Shanahan's Ruth from the National Yacht Club has successfully defended her 2015 ISORA offshore crown

Due to the uncertain forecast due to the presence of two depressions, north and south of the race area, the decision was taken to set the course from the start direct in Pwllheli to the finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.
Despite the poor forecast, the lashing winds during the night and the strong winds, conditions were relative pleasant for the start. The wind was 10-12 knots from the south west giving a beat to the first corner at St Tudwal’s Sound. Stephen Tudor’s J109, “Sgrech” was first off the line and lead the fleet until the faster “Jackknife” too to the front. From the start “Ruth” and Mojito” were always in close contact leaving.
As the fleet approached St Tudwal’s Sound the wind had increased to 20knots and the expected overfalls at the end of the sound awaited the fleet. The next leg was the beat to Bardsay Sound. The wind appeared to veer westerly and maintained the 20-22 knots leaving the fleet to beat through the rough seas towards Bardsey Sound. Fortunately, the tide was right for a fast shoot through Bardsey Sound. Unfortunately, the overfalls in the sound were significant but had settled soon after exiting it.

LC Tyrehunter logo
By that stage the battle was on. “Jackknife” cracked sails and took the direct line to Dun Laoghaire in the last of the north going tide. The remainder of the fleet retained their height and the three J109’s with Conor Fogarty’s 2-handed Jenneau 3600, “Bam”, bunched together for the leg to Dun Laoghaire. Shortly after leaving Bardsey the wind backed allowing the boats to ease sails and speed up. Of the bunch of four, “Bam” lead the group with “Ruth” and “Mojito” close behind and “Sgrech” snapping at their heels. Paul Sutton’s “Pipedreamer VI” was just behind this pack.
As the fleet approached the Irish coast the winds abated to 12 knots and backed further to the south allowing those with Code Zeros to accelerate. The positions within the fleet did not change for the long leg despite continuous trimming and hard driving being done on all the boats. It was not until approaching Dublin Bay that “things started to happen”. The winds became fickle and dropped further in Killiney bay. While “Jackknife” avoided much of the light wind to keep powering towards the line, the three J109’s and “Bam” got into a tactical battle with rapid sail changes taking place to deal with the oscillating winds. As the fleet approached Dublin Bay the wind veered to the west and decreased again giving the boats a short final beat to the finish line. Despite the work on each boat the positions generally remained the same.
“Jackknife” took line honours but could only manage 5th Overall allowing “Ruth”, who won the Overall race and Class1 to regain the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship title. Class 2 was won by “Yahtzee” who also won Silver Class.
The crew of Liam Shanahan’s “Ruth” include his four sons. There is a great tradition of offshore racing in the Shanahan family with Liam Shanahan Snr playing a huge part in ISORA racing in the early days.
The race sponsor, LC Tyres, provided day prizes for the race. These were presented at the après sail party that took place in the NYC. The prizes were presented by Caroline Coyne aided by her son, Billy and daughter, Isobel.
The ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship trophy, the Wolf’s Head, will be presented to Liam Shanahan at the ISORA dinner in the NYC on the 14th November. “Jackknife” took 2nd place Overall and “Mojito” took 3rd place.
Overall Series Calls 1 was won by “Jackknife” and Class 2 was won by “Albeiro” who also took Overall Silver Class. The team prize, known as the “Victoria Cup”, was again won by Pwllheli Sailing Club.
All the results can be found on the ISORA website. The YB tracking of the race can also be accessed on the ISORA website and on the YB app for smart phones.

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#isora – "Jackknife", owned by Royal Dee YC and Pwllheli SC member, Andrew Hall, won the very challenging 2015 Lyver Race and the first race in the 200th Anniversary Royal Dee YC Irish Sea Offshore Regatta. The 100 mile race started at 20.15 Friday 3rd July at Holyhead and finished in Dun Laoghaire with the first boat crossing the finish line after only 9 hours and 42 minutes.

The bi-ennial Lyver Race is organised by Liverpool YC in association with RORC, Royal Dee YC and ISORA and run with the assistance of Holyhead SC and the National YC.

25 boats came to the start line at Holyhead. The course for the race used all virtual waypoint marks. The 100 mile course was:

Start ( Holyhead)
W1 - 53° 30'N 5° 00'W (S)
W2 - 54° 00'N 5° 30'W (P)
Finish (Dun Laoghaire)

The course was largely determined to avoid the TSS zone to the north of Holyhead although the zone was not an excluded area in the race. The second leg took the fleet north-west towards Isle of Man.
The forecast for the race was for light easterly winds to increase to fresh and veer to the south west and later to increase further. Although gales were forecast on the west and south coasts of Ireland, nothing untoward was expected in the race area. The tides on the day were very strong springs and it had just turned north at the start of the race.

The race started in "champagne" sailing conditions with a light-moderate easterly wind. The fleet crossed the start line under spinnaker and a rapid advance was made by the fleet towards the first mark 17 miles away at a direction of 305°. During the first leg the easterly winds increased and were touching 20+ knots by the time the fleet arrived. The second leg was a "harden up" to 330° for 33 miles. Shortly after the first boats had rounded W1 the first signs of "what was to come" became apparent. The winds increased to 25-28 knots and remained easterly – that was not the plan!!

The seas driven by the strong easterly winds became sizable and the winds became gusty making spinnakers in a tight reach very difficult to control. After several gusts of over 30 knots hit the fleet, it became obvious to most boats that holding the spinnaker in those conditions was not very bright.The winds continued to increase touching 30 knots with higher gusts and the seas increased. As the fleet rounded W2, to add to the atmosphere, thunder and lightning started with heavy rain. The scene around the W2 was bizarre with red and green lights everywhere and going in all directions as there appeared to be a unanimous decision by all Skippers to reef their mains.

With boats rigged for heavy weather the fleet headed on the 50 mile reach towards Dun Laoghaire. As the first boats approached the finish, the wind started to veer. While the lead boats arrive comfortably the later boats were beating for the finish.

"Jackknife" crossed the line first after only 9 hours 42 minutes, over 1 hour clear of the next boat, Alan Hannon's "Katsu" from RUYC.

"Jackknife" took line honours, 1st Overall and 1st in Class 1. Liam Shanahan's J109, "Ruth", from the NYC, sailed an amazing race and took 2nd overall and class 1. Third overall and Class 1 was won by Keith and Rodney Martin's First 44.7, "Lively Lady" from the RIYC. Class 2 was won by Andy Napper's, "Bada Bing" from Liverpool YC. Another LYC boat Adam Kyffin's "Easy Tiger" took second place while Liam Coyne's "Lula Belle" from the NYC took 3rd place. Three boats sailed the race 2-handed and Conor Fogerty's "Bam" from HYC was presented with a special prize. Last to finish, and just before the time limit of 20.00, was Tom Hare's Westerly GK24, "Di Rich" from LYC. In the true spirit of offshore racing, Tom and crew received a huge applaud from their fellow competitors as they tied up at the NYC.

After the race the crews gathered in the NYC for the usual offshore race "après sail" before the prize-giving. Prizes were presented by Royal Dee YC Commodore Derek Matthews. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd was to be there to present the RORC medallions but travel problems prevented him attending.

The Lyver Race was a fitting start to the Royal Dee YC's 200th Anniversary Offshore Championship. The championship consists of five races - the Lyver Race and the four Offshore Series races as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. While boats taking part in those races qualify for the RDYC prizes only those boats who take part in all five races qualify for the overall prizes and the championship title.

The next ISORA race is the Adrian Lee & Partners "Lighthouse Race". A day race on the 18th July, starting and finishing in Dun Laoghaire. 

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#dlregatta – With the Kinsale ICRA Nats/Sovereigns Trophy 2015 very successfully concluded last weekend, and a classic Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race put stylishly in place before that, the feeling of another sailing summer busily in progress is all-pervasive. But while the image projected may well be one of stately progress by the cruiser-racer fleets along the Irish coast, taking in an offshore race here and a regatta there with much leisurely cruising in between, the reality is usually otherwise. For those boats doing significant segments of the programme, it's a case of fitting chosen events into the usual hectic early summer life of work and family commitments and exams and everything else, with the re-location of boats to the next venue being a hurried task undertaken by delivery crews.

Next week sees the mid-season peak of the sailing summer, with the four day Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 in Dublin Bay from Thursday July 9th to Sunday July 12th. In a way it is an amalgamation of all that has has already occurred in this year's season, together with new elements to make it a unique sailfest which celebrates the fact that the citizens of Ireland's capital city and their guests can be conveniently sailing and racing within a very short distance of the heart of town. W M Nixon sets the scene

In the dozen or so years since its inception, the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has settled itself firmly into the sailing scene as an exceptionally varied event in terms of the boats and classes taking part. There are five regular cruiser-racer classes, plus an offshore division, fourteen one design keelboat classes, and nine dinghy classes. And although there are contenders from Ireland's north coast and from the Cork area and south coast too, together with one gallant entry from Galway, it is essentially an Irish Sea Sailfest, though with a remarkably strong Scottish presence.

However, it was on the coast of Wales at 8.0pm last night that this sailing celebration began, with an ISORA Race starting in Holyhead and heading for Dun Laoghaire to set this large and complex programme into action towards a culmination on Dublin Bay in eight days time with the conclusion of VDLR2015.

2015 marks the Bicentennial of the Royal Dee YC, which was founded in 1815 on the Cheshire shores of the River Dee estuary where northwest England marches with northeast Wales. Originally the Dee Yacht Club (and founded, it's said, a month or two before the Royal Yacht Squadron came into being in the south of England, making the RDYC the second-oldest Royal yacht club in England after the Royal Thames), the Cheshire club became the Royal Dee YC in 1847.

Although the great prosperity of Liverpool in the 19th century saw the club's fleet of substantial yachts gathered in the Dee and then increasingly in the Mersey, by the late 1900s it was looking to the Menai Straits area as the focus of its keelboat events. As well, the completion of Holyhead breakwater in 1873 added a new and important harbour to its list of possible big boat sailing locations, and there was an increase in the number of cross-channel "matches" which the Royal Dee and the Royal Mersey, in conjunction with the Dublin Bay clubs, had already been running for some years.

A Royal Alfred YC cross-channel match from Dublin Bay to Holyhead gets under way in 1888. Cross-channel links were strong in the latter half of the 19th Century, and with the new breakwater completed at Holyhead in 1873, a new venue was available both for the Irish clubs and those on the other side such as the Royal Dee and the Royal Mersey

The bicentenary logo of the Royal Dee YC. In 1815, this club on the Cheshire coast was founded shortly before the Royal Yacht Squadron in the souh of England, whose Bicentennial is being celebrated at the end of July.

Dun Laoghaire saw its first regatta staged in 1828, and participation by yachts from the northwest of England and North Wales was regularly recorded. This is the Royal St George YC regatta of 1871.

So when we say that the Royal Dee has always been a stalwart of offshore racing in the Irish Sea, we're not referring to a story spanning only the 20th and 21st Centuries. On the contrary, it goes well back into the 1800s. And now, with the revival of keelboat sailing in the Mersey with several of Liverpool's myriad docks being given over to recreational use, we have in a sense come full circle with enthusiastic Dublin Bay support of the Bicentennial celebrations reflecting sailing links which go back almost 200 years

The Lyver Trophy is the Royal Dee's premier offshore challenge, and this year it is special, as it's a fully-accredited RORC event counting for points in the annual championship, and a highlight of the ISORA Programme 2015. It's start scheduled for yesterday evening in Holyhead will see the fleet – mostly regular ISORA contenders – sail a course of at least a hundred miles before finishing in Dun Laoghaire. Then as VDLR 2015 gets under way, races in it, combined with the Lyver Trophy results, will count as part of a series towards finding an overall winner of the RDYC Bicentennial Trophy.

Only entrants in the Lyver Trophy race are eligible, and for that race itself – which can be followed on the Averycrest Yellowbrick Tracker - the favourite has to be the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth, still buoyed up by her great victory in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race three weeks ago.

Back in The Bay – the Shanahan family's J/109 Ruth will be back in her home waters of Dublin Bay after winning the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and completing the Lyver Trophy Race from Holyhead which started last night. Photo: David O'Brien

At the other end of the size scale, the VDLR2015 Dublin Bay programme includes several dinghy classes, and the biggest fleet will be mustered by the International GP 14s, who have designated the racing in Dublin Bay as their Leinster Championship. In an interview with Sailing on Saturday in March, VDLR Chairman Tim Goodbody emphasised that, overall, the event should be seen as a regatta rather than a championship, and for most boats that's just what it will be. But the GP 14s with their great esprit de corps have always done things their own way, and with their compact boat size – albeit comprising a large fleet of dinghies – they reckon they can get in a proper championship while sharing in the fun of the event.

v6.jpgThe brothers John and Donal McGuinness of Moville Sailing Club in Donegal are expected to be among the pace-setters in the GP 14 class with their superb Alistair Duffin-built boat. Photo: W M Nixon

The GP 14 Ulsters 2015 were recently won on Lough Erne by Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken of Greystones

As to who is favourite, the McGuinness brothers – Donal and John - from Moville in Donegal, with their top-of-the-line Duffin boat built in Northern Ireland, have to be in the reckoning after being top Irish at last year's Worlds on Strangford Lough, but there's fresh blood in the fleet with the newest class developing at Youghal, while this year's recent Ulster Championship on Lough Erne was won by the Greystones duo of Shane MacCarthy and Damian Bracken.

The dozen and more boats coming south from Scotland, most of them substantial cruiser-racers, are testimony to a growing trend in sailing on Europe's Atlantic seaboard. Given a choice of venues, your average yachtie on this long coastline will incline to head south if at all possible. Other things being equal, it's reckoned the further south you go the warmer it is likely to be. And from the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde, there are times when Dublin Bay might seem like the distant and sunny Mediterranean.

Maybe so, but we'd caution that much depends on the moods and location of that all-powerful weather determinant, the northern Polar Jetstream. In July, so long as it's well clear of Ireland -whether to the north or the south - we will have glorious high summer, and that occurred for the previous VDLR back in 2013, where the photos speak for themselves.

So we hope for the best in looking forward to welcoming a fleet of around 415 boats to Dun Laoghaire between July 9th and 12th, with all four of our in-harbour yacht clubs extending the hand of hospitality in a regatta tradition that goes right back to 1828. But while heritage and ceremonial are all very well in their place, it's the prospect of good sport which energises the participants and their sailing, and with several major contests already logged in 2015, what can we expect on the leaderboards next week?

At the top of the tree, Class 0 has formidable competition, including former Scottish champion Jonathan Anderson racing his XP38i Roxstar against the Royal Cork's Conor Phelan with the Ker 37 Jump Juice, which was one of the best performers in last year's ICRA Nationals at the same venue, and this year again became a force to be reckoned with as the breeze sharpened in the four day Kinsale ICRA Nats 2015/Sovereigns Cup a week ago.

v8.jpgFreshly squeezed – her storming finish to last weekend's final race of the ICRA Nats/Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale makes Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice one of the top contenders in the VDLR2015. Photo: David O'Brien

With a win in the final race, Jump Juice came in second to seasoned campaigner George Sisk's class overall winning Farr 42 WOW (RIYC), the pair of them in turn displacing the early leader, lightweight flyer Mills 36 Crazy Horse (ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly & Alan Chambers, HYC) down to third in the final day's racing, so Crazy Horse will be hoping for a return of lighter breezes when racing starts next Thursday on Dublin Bay.

In the previous Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in 2013, the most successful boat in was Nigel Biggs' much-modified Humphreys Half Tonner Checkmate XV, but this year the Biggs team is racing as Checkmate Sailing with the newest boat in the fleet, the Mark Mills-designed American-built C & C 30 OD Checkmate XVI. She may be only 30ft LOA, but she's such a hot piece of work with so many go-fast bells and whistles that she has a rating of 1.140 to put her in Class 0.

The oldest boat in the cruiser-racer fleets will be found in Class 3, where the 44ft Huff of Arklow is making an historic return to Dublin Bay racing. Originally built in 1951 by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow to a design by dinghy genius Uffa Fox, Huff is so-called because her concept is reckoned three-quarters Uffa Fox and one quarter Douglas Heard. The latter was the founding President of the Irish Dinghy Racing Association in 1946, and he later went onto to become Commodore of the Royal St George YC and a noted cruising and offshore racing enthusiast with this unusual boat, which is like a very enlarged Fying Fifteen with a lid – in fact, with her 30ft-plus waterline, she was described as a Flying Thirty. In recent years she has undergone a total restoration with Cremyll Keelboats near Plymouth in Devon, and Dominic Bridgeman of the Cremyll group will be racing her with trainee crews in her old home waters of Dublin Bay.

The Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow racing off Dublin Bay while under Douglas Heard's ownership in the 1950s. Built by Tyrrell's of Arklow in 1951, the hugely innovative Huff has recently had a major restoration, and will be making her return to Dublin Bay to take part in VDLR2015.

Among the newer boats on the bay, the 2013 champion Checkmate XV is still very much in the picture, but now she's owned by Howth's Dave Cullen, and took second overall in class in the Kinsale series a week ago. In Dun Laoghaire next week, she's with other Half Tonners at the lower end of the Class 2 rating band on 0.944, almost 200 rating points below the new Biggs boat. Class 2 also includes the Division 3 winner at Kinsale, Richard Colwell & Ronan Cobbe's Corby 25 Fusion (HYC) which bested VDLR 205 Chairman's Sigma 33 White Mischief in a real duel after they went into the final day's racing equal on points, while another Kinsale success story in the Class 2 lineup is Paddy Kyne's X302 Maximus from Howth, overall winner of the Portcullis Trophy for top ECHO boat.

Dave Cullen's modified Half Tonner Checkmate XV will be looking to take the top slot on Dublin Bay after being runner-up in Kinsale. Photo: David O'Brien

In between the two Checkmates on ratings, we find most of the cruiser-racer fleet, with Class 1 shaping up some interesting competition between the likes of Paul O'Higgins Corby 33 Rockabill (RIYC), Kenneth Rumball skippering the Irish National Sailing School's Reflex 38 Lynx, and two very sharp First 35s, Prima Luce (Burke, Lemass & Flynn, NYC & RIYC) and another former Scottish Series champion, John Corson (Clyde Cr C) with Salamander XXI.

This year's Scottish Series Champion and the "Sailor of the Month" for May, Rob McConnell of Dunmore East, will certainly be racing in the VDLR 2015, but whether or not it's with his all-conquering A35 Fool's Gold (second in class at Kinsale) or aboard another boat (a Flying Fifteen) remains to be seen. And the Top Sailor Count doesn't end there, as there'll be at least four Olympic sailors involved in four different classes, with Robin Hennessy racing in what has all the marks of a quality International Dragon fleet against the likes of former Edinburgh Cup winner Martin Byrne, Annalise Murphy racing in the Moths which will surely be a change from the Water Wag which she raced with her mother Cathy MacAleavy (also another ex-Olympian) last time round, and Mark Mansfield helming John Maybury's J/109 Joker 2. After Joker 2's class overall win in Kinsale, we can expect a battle royal in the J/109s with boats of the calibre of Ruth for the National title fight.

The Shipman 28s find that the sport and socializing which the VDLR guarantees will provide some of their best racing of the year. Photo: VDLR

The J/109s are the queens of an impressive array of One Design keelboats which includes Sigma 33s (where VDLR 2015 Chairman Tim Goodbody's White Mischief is racing under the command of Paul McCarthy), Beneteau First 31.7s, Shipman 28s having one of their best gatherings of the year, Ruffian 23s with a good turnout, the attractive First 21s which are steadily gaining traction as a Dublin Bay class, and best OD keelboat turnout of all is by the Flying Fifteens, nearly all of them under the NYC flag.

Olympians all – in VDLR2013, Olympic sailors Cathy MacAleavey (1988) and her daughter Annalise Murphy (2012) raced the family Water Wag Mollie. But while Cathy will be sailing Mollie again this year, Annalise will be on her own racing a foiling International Moth.


Newest of the oldest – Adam Winkelmann and Doug Smith's new French built Water Wag No.46, Madameoiselle, has been launched in time for the regatta. Photo: Owen McNally

The Howth 17s of 1898 vintage will be the oldest class racing. Photo: David Branigan

Veteran classes include the IDRA 14s from 1946, the Glens from 1945, the Howth 17s of 1898 which pre-date the 1902 Water Wags, and the 1932 Mermaids, the latter being in the interesting position of no longer having an official division in Dun Laoghaire, yet it's a Dun Laoghaire skipper, Jonathan O'Rourke of the National, who continues to dominate the class both at home and away.

With large fleet numbers afloat guaranteed, the shoreside programme is appropriately busy, with the official side of each day's racing concluded by the evening's daily prize-giving at one of the four waterfront clubs. But with so many sailors involved, there'll be action in all the clubs – and at other establishments in Dun Laoghaire - throughout the week. The scene is set, let the party begin at a venue which has been staging regattas since 1828.

When the summer comes, the après sailing at the VDLR is world class. Photo: VDLR

Further reading:

Download the full entry list for Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 class by class below

Download the Sailing Instrcutions for Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 HERE


Published in W M Nixon

#isora – The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) in London and Dublin's headquartered Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) have joined forces to offer a unique offshore offering to Irish Sea sailors in July. 

ISORA boats can look forward to the cache of RORC medallions for their next race across the Irish Sea too!

The Lyver Race from Liverpool on Friday 3rd July  forms part of the Offshore Series of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and kick starts another intense peiod of offshore racing in the Irish Sea that follows on from May's frustrating but enjoyable Isle of Man offshore weekend and the just finished Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

In effect July's Lyver Race is "four races in one" – Liverpool Yacht Club's Lyver Cup, ISORA Series, RORC Race and the part of the Royal Dee YC Offshore Championship.

RORC medallions will be presented by the Commodore of RORC, Dubliner Michael Boyd, in the National Yacht Club immediately after race results are issued. 

The Lyver Race is also part of the inaugural Royal Dee YC 200th Anniversary Offshore Championship that consists of five races – Lyver Race and the four Offshore Series in the VDLR on the following week in Dun Laoghaire.


RORC Commodore Michael Boyd

Published in ISORA

#isora – It's always 'darkest before the dawn' the song goes on this onboard video from last weekend's 'frustrating but enjoyableISORA offshore weekend. An exhuasting overnight race from Holyhead to the Isle of Man in fickle conditions bore out the meaning of the Florence and the Machine lyrics with competitors in the 20–boat fleet taking many hours to get to Douglas after daybreak. The vid was shot by Shay Fennessy, one of the crew on Wakey Wakey, a J109 that competed in the weekend's Holyhead-IOM-Dun Laoghaire ISORA races. More on the ISORA weekend here 

Published in ISORA
Tagged under

#isora –Following our post race ISORA report on Monday, Peter Ryan follows up with an indepth report on last weekend's very frustrating, sociable and enjoyable offshore racing weekend. 

Race 4, from Holyhead to Douglas, started at 19.20 on Friday evening 22nd May. Race 5 was the return race from Douglas to Dun Laoghaire and started at 06.35 on Sunday 24th May.
To facilitate the setting up of the race on the YB tracker system, the course had to be set on the previous day. At that stage the forecast for the weekend was bleak. Light northerly winds were forecast for the Friday night and moderate south westerly were forecast for the Sunday. This would provide a beat for the full duration of both races. For this reason the Sailing Committee decided to have the course for both races direct from start to finish. Another complication arose for the Friday evening race. The course took the fleet through the traffic separation zone to the north of Holyhead. To avoid any possible dispute about the use or abuse of this zone, the Sailing Committee decided to treat the zone as an "exclusion zone" for the race.
The start of race 4 in Holyhead was not its usual format as works to the pier prevented the usual starter position at the lighthouse been used. Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club took control of the committee boat and anchored at the opposite end of the line at the Clippera buoy.
18 boats for the entry list of 20 came to the start line. "Mahalar", a new entry from Conwy and "Adelie" headed direct to Douglas and did not take part in the race. All boats taking part were fitted with the recently acquired Avery Crest YB Trackers.
Wind conditions at the start of Race were very light and there was a strong south going tide ripping across the pier end. The boats bunched on the line struggling to get going. "Sgrech" was the first boat to break out west towards fresher winds and headed on its way towards Carmel Rock and the exclusion zone. Soon after, the fleet started moving. "Jackknife" persisted east and this paid off hugely when they shot up the Carmel Rock in a back eddy while the remainder of the fleet plugged the last of the foul tide.
Avoiding the exclusion zone was not a problem for most of the fleet. It kept them bunched. At this stage the tide has turned and the usual Irish Sea north going tide was now flowing east towards Liverpool pulling the fleet in that direction.
The winds during the night were fluky continually coming and going, backing and veering. By day light, most of the fleet had stayed bunched but some had managed to break away. "Aurelia" appeared to have headed west immediately after the exclusion zone despite plugging the east going tide. This paid dividends as he appeared to cruise to the finish line in Douglas while avoiding the huge holes that laid in wait for most of the fleet. "Jackknife" appeared to have missed the holes as well and crossed the finish line after "Aurelia".
Frustration awaited the rest of the fleets as the winds died and the boats were being pushed, first east, then west while looking at the Isle of Man and Douglas. After several hours the sea breeze started to fill and one by one the boats bunched out in the Irish Sea started to peel away and head for the finish.


Chris Power-Smith "Aurelia" receives his prize from the Sea Cadets on the Isle of Man

"Aurleia" took Overall and Class 1. Class 2 was taken by our Isle of Man resident, Kuba Szymanski and "Polish manx". Kuba also took Silver Class.
The fleet were met by the Sea Cadets of Isle of Man who distributed a complimentary hot meal to all the crew while they waited on the Visitors Pontoons for the bridge to rise to access the Inner Harbour. The cadets also arranged a BBQ in Douglas Bay Yacht Club that evening. A special prize giving was also arranged by the cadets – the prizes had little to do with racing!!!


The 20–boat ISORA fleet moored up in Douglas

Most of the crew retired reasonably early as the fleet had to vacate the Inner harbour at 05.45 latest on Sunday morning to go to the start for the 06.35 start. A record 22 boats from the 23 entries came to the start. "Mahalar", who was to race had to pull out of the race and generously acted as Committee boat for the start.
The winds were fresh north westerly, up to 20 knots. This was looking like a "drag race" to Dun Laoghaire as the fleet blasted along the IOM coast and head to seas towards Dun Laoghaire with the ebbing tide.
"Jackknife" led the charge with "Lively Lady" behind along the coast. "Aurelia" took the alternative route, taking a more southerly course. Expectations for a fast race were dashed at Lambay island where another hole waited to trap the then weary fleet. "Jackknife", who was just a dot on the horizon for most of the race, started to get "bigger"!!! "Lively Lady", "Ruth" and "Mojito", who were some distance behind the leader, started to slow. The fleet seeing this attempted to circumnavigate the hole by heading out further to sea. All this was fruitless and the fleet stopped. This was not to be a fast race.


Bam from Howth arrives in Dublin Bay on Sunday evening

Zephyrs eventually started to appear and eventually "Jackknife" broke through the hole and head past Howth head to Dun Laoghaire. "Lively lady" and "Bam" were next to get going and turned into the bay only to smash into what can only be described as a "wind wall"!!! The two boats came to a sudden halt. "Bam" stopped but "Lively Lady", who was close to "Bam" at that stage, managed to keep momentum and broke through the wall. The wind on the other side of the wind wall was from a directly opposite direction.
Most of the fleet did not witness this strange wind effect. However "Sgrech" who was following did, and tried to take the same route as "Lively Lady", but to no avail as they also slammed to a halt beside "Bam". Along came "Ruth" who took a more northerly path around "Bam" and Sgrech" but again slammed into the wall. Next to attempt the wall was "Adelie" – same fate. 2-handed "Jedi " – same fate. When all chances of getting through the wall appeared to have failed, "Mojito" approached the wall and a door opened and they stalled for a brief moment, sails backed onto the opposite side and they dashed off towards the finish line. Very slowly the remaining boats made their way, tacking and gybing, towards the finish.
"Jackknife" took Overall and Class 1 while "Desert Star" took Class 2 and Silver.
All told, it was a very frustrating, sociable and enjoyable offshore racing weekend.

Published in ISORA
Page 13 of 27

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