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The Isle of Man is back on the ISORA calendar after an extraordinary race at the weekend.

.A fleet of 17 boats left the Isle of Man at 08.30 on Sunday morning heading for Dun Laoghaire in the third race of the ISORA offshore series.

The Silver Class took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Overall, Class and Silver  in this incredible, exciting and unique result.  Results below.

The entire fleet finished the course in light winds by 07.00 Monday morning. The time gap between the first and last boat was only 2 hours 15 minutes.

The next ISORA race is the Pwllheli to Wicklow on the 1st June. Details of the race and the SI's will be issued shortly.

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#isora – The recent ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead provided a novel development for one of the lesser known sailing clubs based on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, Sailing in Dublin Club. The club entered their Sigma 33 'Obsession' and the skipper,  Hungarian born, Attila Védő and the four crew, all relatively new to sailing, were happy with their placing at 14th position in what was their first competitive Offshore race.

Amongst the crew on Obsession was artist Claidhbh O Ghibne from Newgrange Currachs  who joined SID to improve his seaman skills and, in particular, his knowledge of maritime navigation.  Claidhbh is in the process of recreating a 7 bench, (36 ft) currach made from wicker and leather, a craft that would have been in existence around the 3,500 BC or the period when Newgrange was being built. 

Claidhbh's eventual aim is to retrace the journey thought to be made by early settlers across the Atlantic from Spain to Ireland but first he has to build up his sailing skills – and that is where club sailing has met his need.  Sailing in Dublin (SID) Club was founded in the 80's by sailors dwelling in the capital who had completed summer sailing courses at the Les Glenans Sailing School in the wilds of the Western seafront.

The basic founding objective of the club remains to offer regular sailing for a low cost in a club environment, all the benefits of club sailing such as skill development, racing and cruising with little of the difficulties associated with boat ownership such as maintenance cost and finding crew.

In 2011, on completing yacht sailing courses with Sailing West, Claidhbh found he still wasn't confident about determining the wind direction. He was advised to take up dinghy sailing to get a better feel for the wind and since he wasn't at sufficient standard to crew for a racing dinghy and wanted to build up his skills with a safety boat close at hand, he joined SID dinghy sessions for regular Dublin Bay sailing.

In the meantime, back in his studio and workshop, the artist and boatbuilder was continuing to produce different prototypes of seagoing currachs and also writing a book on the Boyne currachs, the last remaining wicker craft. The book 'The Boyne Currach: from Beneath the shadows of Newgrange' was published last year and provides the fascinating story of Ireland's smallest currach with prehistoric origins.The book also gives an account of the methods used by Claidhbh to recreate the 7 bench currach of the Dal Riada, an ocean-going craft with the capabilities to withstand the wrath of the Atlantic.

While the craft is near completion, financial constraints have meant that the maiden test voyages have been put on hold for the moment and Claidhbh has been using the time to brush upon his navigation skills on board SID's slightly more modern Sigma 33. While the boats taking part in the ISORA race  series may seem a long way from hazel and cowhind boats, the opportunity to practise 'course made good' will be imperative for the arduous journey envisaged by the Newgrange Currach project from the western Atlantic coast of Europe to the Boyne Valley.

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#isora – After a magnificent race from Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay to Holyhead on the Welsh coast under sun and blue skies, the J109 Sgrech, Stephen Tudor, the reigning ISORA Champion, crossed the line after seven hours hard sailing to take line honours, first Overall and first in Class 1 too.

Of the 24 boats entered for the race, the 15 boats that came to the start line in Scottman's Bay were rewarded with another spectacular days sailing from both a race and weather point of view.

The weather forecast for the race was as had been predicted for some days previously, westerly at the start, backing south westerly. The wind strength at the start was 22-25k and dropped slightly to 10-12k when the fleet was at the M2 but increased again back to 22-25k for the finish. The tide had only just turned south against the progress of the fleet.

Despite the best efforts of the Race Committee to provide a beat, even using the "virtual" marks, it was not possible with the westerly winds while being mindful of getting the fleet to Holyhead. Instead they back to option of a more tactical race involving tight reaches against strong tides. The course selected on the day was as per the sailing instructions – Dun Laoghaire – M2(S) – Holyhead – 62 miles.

The testing conditions at the start line did not prevent Larry Power, Vice Commodore of the NYC from sending the fleet off towards the M2 on time at 08.00. Almost immediately there was a split in the fleet as they reached out of the bay, against the tide, towards M2. Only three boats managed to hold spinnakers at the start, "Sgrech", "Mojito" and "Lula Belle". The remainder of the fleet took a more northerly course to attempt to get a better wind angle to hoist their spinnakers. This ability to hold the kites gave the two "J boats" the edge. However, the hoisting of kites in those conditions was not without casualty – "Mojito" and "Lula Belle" will now require the assistance of a good sailmaker!!

The split in the fleet, those going north and those heading towards M2, caused concern on the reigning champion "Sgrech" as to why the other boats were taking such a northerly course. Very soon "Sgrech", the only boat to uneventfully hold their kite were at front but at the extreme leeward side of the course.

Approaching M2 the winds became fickle and the usual "difficulties" of rounding M2 arose due to the strong tide. "Sgrech" rounded first followed by "Team Kingspan". As the passage to M2 was fast, the tide was still going
south when the first boat rounded. "Sgrech" took advantage of this and headed fast south to be in the best position for the approach into Holyhead in the following north going tide. The fleet followed a similar line.

On approaching Holyhead the winds increased, as forecast and backed to a more southerly direction causing spinnakers to be dropped and jibs to be hoisted. The approach into Holyhead had the usual tactical issues, making sure not to "plug" the strong tide at the North Stacks.

After a magnificent race conditions under sun and blue skies, "Sgrech", Stephen Tudor, the reigning ISORA Champion crossed the line at 15:28 to take line honours, 1st Overall and 1st in Class 1. The ISORA Champion for 2011, "Team Kingspan", Matt davis, came next some 6 minutes behind to only take 3rd in Class 1 and 4th Overall. The other boats that "risked all" and hoisted their kites in Dublin Bay were rewarded when "Lula belle" took 2nd place Overall and 1st in Class 2 and "Mojito" took 3rd place Overall and 2nd in Class 1.

The dark horse "Yahtzee" relished the conditions and snatched 2nd place Class 2 and 1st Overall in the Sliver Fleet – watch this boat!!! "Adelie" took 3rd place Class 2. "Windshift" took 2nd place Silver fleet while "Mistral of St Helier" took 3rd place in Silver Fleet. The last boat to cross the line did so at 17:35. The finish was provided by Dawn Russell of HSC.

The fast race under excellent conditions allowed the entire fleet to pull into Holyhead Sailing Club for a great social get together where the events of the day were exchanged between boats with great hilarity and mirth.

It was a great and rewarding days offshore racing followed by a superb social gathering that is a fundamental part of ISORA and those who race offshore.

The next event is the race from the IOM (Douglas) to Dun Laoghaire on Sunday 19th May. This promises to be another great race as ISORA has not been to the IOM for many years. A social event has been arranged on the Saturday night for all those taking part. More about this later.

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From an entry list of 22 boats 19 boats came the start line on Saturday in Dun Laoghaire for the first day race of the ISORA lynx metmAsts Offshore Series 2013 run in conjunction with the Royal Alfred Yacht Club's Offshore Series wites Peter Ryan.

As well as the "regular" ISORA boats there were many new faces and some faces we had not see for some time. Our double ISORA Offshore Champion Matt Davis with his reformed "Raging Bull" now called "Team Kingspan" was there after a whole season missing from the fleet. A new comer to the ISORA J109 family but by no means a new comer to ISORA is Liam Shanahan Jnr and his J109 "Ruth". Liam sailed in ISORA for many years with his father Liam on "Emircedes", "Lightning" and "Emer Herr". It is great to have him back.

"Mojito", Peter Dunlop's J109 from Pwllheli was there. Peter, although a regular ISORA sailor had changed "Midnight Mojito" for a J109. "Lady Rownea", David Bolger's Sadler 34 was there for the first time and I hope will race again.

The original course was the head south to round North Arklow. However, taking into account the recent strong northerly winds and exceptionally strong spring tides that could combine to produce "unpleasant" conditions over the banks, the Sailing Committee agreed to head north to Rockabill.

The course was from the start to round Rockabill and back to the finish. Lambay Island was not a mark on the course. The weather forecast was for the winds
to be 24k northerly at the start and drop to 3k in the afternoon!! North Arklow was never going to happen.

Commodore of the Royal Alfred YC, Barry MacNeaney sent the large fleet beating north with the strong tide towards Rockabill. The wind at the start was slightly less than forecast. The fleet split leaving the bay but the J109's remained close to each other inshore. The leader was hard to call as there were many boats on the leading line heading north. A further split came just north of Howth when "Tsunami" tacked to go inside Lambay Island and get out of the lumpy seas. At that stage the winds were starting to slacken and before long boats were changing to the No1's.

The fleet converged on Rochabill from both sides. "Team Kinspan" lead the attack from the east while "Tsunami" manoeuvred from the west. At this stage it became apparent that the tide had changed early and the fleet were punching into a strong tide with ever decreasing winds. "Team Kinspan" was the first to round Rockabill followed closely by "Mojito". A procession of boats then rounded the rock and set sail for a very tight reach back to Dun Laoghaire. Fortunately the winds held long enough to get the fleet finished.

The leg from Rockabill, although with the tide, required constant trimming of sails to keep the boats going as fast as possible. As the winds decreased the J109's came into their own but not sufficient to catch the Sigma 400 "Team Kingspan". Matt Davis took line honours, and won the overall and class 1. Then three of the J109's crossed the line in close procession "Jedi", Andrew Sarratt was the first J109 over the line to take 2nd place Overall and Class 1. Next over with only 4 seconds between them were "Ruth" and "Mojito". However, the ratings favoured "Mojito" who took 3rd place Overall and Class 1.

Peter Hall's "Adelie" won Class 2 with Jerry Whiston's "First of September" taking 2nd in Class 2 and two-handed "Lula Belle", Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive, taking 3rd Class 2.

In the Silver Fleet Ronan O'Siochru's "Desert Star" won overall while Dirk Van Breda's "African Challenge" took 2nd with new comer David Bolger's "Lady Rowena" taking 3rd place.

The après sail took place as usual in the National Yacht Club where many of the crews met and exchanged "pleasantries" while imbibing a glass of sherry!!!

It was encouraging to have such a fleet out so early in the season after such a poor winter where many boats had not the opportunity to get prepared.

The next race takes place from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead and is a traditional offshore. It is hoped that the numbers of boats taking part will remain strong as they prepare for the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and the Fastnet race.

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#isora – Irish offshore sailing chief Peter Ryan from Dun Laoghaire is calling for a strong turnout of cruisers for the first day race of the 2013 ISORA lynx metmAsts Offshore Racing Series series this Saturday (April 27th) (Notice of Race downloadable below).

The first race of a nine race series (that includes June's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race) starts at 0955 from Dun Laoghaire over a course to Arklow and back,  distance of some 50 miles. A briefing is planned in Dun Laoghaire Marina prior to the race start.

Saturday's ISORA race will be run with the Royal Alfred Yacht Club 2013 Coastal Series race using the same start, course and finish line.

The start line shall be located in Scotsman's Bay in the vicinity of DBSC 'Pier' mark between the mast of a committee boat flying the RAYC burgee and a start mark at the port end. A boat shall not start later than 15 minutes after her Starting signal.

Prior to the start of each race boats are requested to obtain acknowledgement from the Race Committee.

The course will be confirmed at a briefing at 08.45 at the Marina offices and afloat to the competitors on channel 72 before the start.

The course will be text to all entrants immediately after the briefing.

The course may include "Virtual" marks. These are coordinates of a position that each yacht must round. Evidence of rounding the "virtual" mark must be taken and may be requested by the Race Officer.

This evidence may include: Photographic (iPhone or similar) evidence of the yacht's GPS showing its position at the mark. Yacht's chart plotter track showing the yacht rounding the "virtual" mark.

The onus of proof of having rounded the "virtual" mark will be with each yacht.

THE COURSE
The course may be as follows:
1. STARTING LINE
2. Muglins to starboard
3. Arklow North to Port
4. Muglins to port
5. FINISH LINE

The rekindled offshore racing fleet of more than 20 boats with interest  on both sides of the Irish Sea  is enjoying an active programme of offshore racing each summer. ISORA organise offshore races that include cross channel, coastal and overnight races for a mix of skills.

 

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#isora – Preparing for the offshore racing season and especially the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race and Fastnet Race is the subject of Wednesday's pre-season ISORA talk at the National Yacht Club on Wednesday at 7pm. 'Prof' O'Connell of North Sails Ireland will talk about "Offshore Trim and Speed" and Mick Liddy will talk about "Offshore Tactics and Navigation".
There will be a wine reception afterwards.

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#isora – The 2010 and 2011 ISORA champion Matt Davis has vowed to return to the circuit and regain ISORA's famous Wolf's Head trophy in 2013. Davis's chances were scuppered in 2012 when his championship winning yacht Raging Bull broke her moorings and came ashore in gales off Skerries in North Dublin at the start of the season.

The return of the Sigma 400 marks the start of a tough battle for Irish Sea honours next year against the dominant force of the 2012 champion Sgrech, a J109 from North Wales skippered by Stephen Tudor.

The announcement that Lynx metmAsts will sponsor the ISORA Offshore Series for 2013 is a further boost for the growing offshore scene that  follows a successful agm where an Irish Sea offhore cohort are expecting to boost numbers on both sides of the Irish sea next season with a number of new initiatives.

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from July 11 will for the first time feature a coastal series next July for those boats that prefer longer races. It will be a series with four races similar to ISORA's normal day races and ISORA commodore Peter Ryan is strongly encouraging all ISORA boats to compete in this event.

The ICRA Nationals, (June 14-15) hosted by Fenit are also proposing a Costal Series as part of their event.

This series occurs directly after the NYC's Dingle Skellig Hotel Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 8.

The 2013 race schedule for 2013 will involve 11 races and include the Isle of Man as a new venue. The details of the 2013 races can be downloaded here.

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#isora – ISORA saluted its annual prizewinners at a black tie dinner at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday night. The full prizewinners list is available to download as an excel file below. Scroll down for more photos. The ISORA agm agreed the 2013 race programme that will be sponsored by Lynx Metmasts.

Saturday's agm was followed by the annual Prize Giving where some of the most elegant sailing trophies including the overall Wolf's Head Trophy were presented. Having being runner up for the past two seasons the 2012 ISORA Championship Sgrech (Stephen Tudor) was saluted. His hardened offshore racing team from Pwlhelli in North Wales have many years experience of Irish offshore campaigns.

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#isora – ISORA has issued its 2012 AGM Agenda plus its 2013 draft Race Schedule for the Irish Sea next year. Both are available for download below as pdf documents.

The race programme will be approved on November 17th at the National Yacht Club. Unfortunately the date clashes with the one day Irish Cruiser Racer Conference (ICRA) in Kilkenny where offshore supremo Damian Foxall will give a presentation.

The ISORA agm is followed by the Annual ISORA Prize Giving Dinner at the NYC where some of the most elegant sailing trophies including the Wolf's Head Trophy will be presented.

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#isora – Having being runner up for the past two seasons the weekend winner of the 2012 ISORA Championship Sgrech is no stranger to the Irish Sea, her skipper Stephen Tudor and crew are a hardened offshore racing team from Pwlhelli in North Wales who have many years experience of Irish offshore campaigns for over 40 years.

Sgrech is a 2003 version J109. She was purchased in November 2010 by Hugh Williams, Philip Yapp and Tudor and replaced the team's J92 in which they achieved a very wet second overall in the 2010 ISORA series.

The team also achieved a second overall in Sgrech in 2011 again being beaten by Skerries Raging Bull.

Skipper Stephen Tudor has not yet been successful in persuading his brother, Richard, to join the crew. Richard skippered two circumnavigations in the Chay Blyth's Global Challenges and has provided considerable assistance in particular with Sgrech's preparation.

The 2012 Sgrech crew this year included the three co-owners and Stephen's son Thomas, one of many third generation ISORA competitors.

ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan who was on board Sgrech for the RORC Lyver Trophy race win in 2011 from Holyhead to Howth has also been on board this year to campaign for the ISORA series and June's Round Ireland Race.

Other crew members include RNLI member and veteran Round Ireland sailor Arfon Jones, Australian Andrew Rosewarne and Sarah Pemberton who sailed extensively with Andrew Hall.

The Tudor association with ISORA goes back to the 1970's when we raced with their father (Huw Tudor) on a Golden Shamrock, Gwobr Aur, at a time before DECCA or other navigation aids.

At that time there were regular ISORA fleets of about 40 which I think peaked at about 70. Stephen's first race was to Dun Laoghaire in 1976 (aged 16).

The Tudor's then campaigned a Contention 33, Panache and after that Greased Lightning. Richard and Huw went on to sail Corwynt Cymru III (Winner Class1 Cork Week 1992).

Corwynt Cymru was later renamed and is now known as Raging Bull, the 2011 champion that was wrecked in gales last May.

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