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The first offshore race of the ISORA Offshore Championship 2019 took place on the 4th May with a starting time of 08.00. 19 boats from the entry list of 20 came to the start line in Dun Laoghaire writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan

The course was decided early by the Racing Committee due to the long term forecast of northerly winds. The forecast promised gusty and cold conditions in the Irish Sea. With Races 1 & 2 blown out due to Storm Hannah on the previous week, the fleet needed some “comfort racing” conditions. It was decided that the race would be from the start, direct to the finish in Holyhead harbour leaving South Burford to Port – approximately 55 miles.

Rockabill Windjammer 1557The J97 Windjammer alters course to make the pin end of the start line off Dun Laoghaire Photo: Afloat.ie

The weather forecast for Race 3 was predicting northerly 15-20 knots however the winds picked up in the afternoon and veered more north-easterly.
The start at 08.00 was provided by NYC’s Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power at the DBSC’s Pier Mark. Difficulty in distributing trackers to boats at the line caused the race to be postponed for 5 minutes.

ISORA Dublin Bay 2029The forecast promised gusty and cold conditions in the Irish Sea

Sigma 33 ISORA 2075Great sailing at the start of the first ISORA offshore race of 2019 Photo: Afloat.ie

Technical issues arose with some boats even before leaving Dun Laoghaire harbour. Paul Sutton’s new J109, a replacement for “Pipedreamer” that was damaged on the Holyhead marina failure, developed a slight rudder problem and he decided to pull out of the race. Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s, “Mojito” form Pwllheli, the current ISORA Champion, developed a rig issue just at the start and also had to retire.

Early in the race John Hughes “Rebellion” and David Bolger’s “Lady Rowena” retired and returned safely to Dun Laoghaire.

Those less experienced with offshore racing would suggest that the course selected would just be a “soldier’s race”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The direction of the wind tested crew who attempted to fly Code 0s. The apparent wind direction was too far forward for those boats on the rhumb line to fly anything but a jib. Decisions had to be made whether pushing up north of the rhumb line early to allow the use of the Code O later in the race also taking into account the strong south going tides that will be present as the fleet approached Holyhead.

ISORA Race 2108The course selected suggested a 'solider's race' but that is not what transpired as the fleet closed on Holyhead Photo: Afloat.ie

As the fleet crossed the Irish Sea, Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” led the way followed closely by Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia”, Brendan Coughlan’s “YoYo” and Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI”.

Jackhammer J125 ISORA 1598Andrew Hall’s J125 Jackknife Photo: Afloat.ie

The lead position on IRC changed constantly during the race amongst these four lead boats. However, it was “Rockabill VI” ability to fly a Code 0 for the last hour and a half of the race that got them over the line to take the race Overall and Class 0.

Rockabill JPK10.80 ISORA 1693Rockabill VI's ability to fly a Code 0 for the last hour and a half of the race that got them over the line to take the race Overall and Class 0 Photo: Afloat.ie

YoYo Sunfast3600 ISORA 1722Brendan Coughlan’s Sunfast 3600, YoYo Photo: Afloat.ie

Aurelia J122 1987Chris Power-Smith’s J122, Aurelia Photo: Afloat.ie

Class 1 was won by Nigel Ingram’s “Jetstream” and Class 2 was won by Irish Offshore Sailing’s boat “Desert Star”. They also took the two-handed prize.

Nigel Ingrams J109 Jetstream 1904Class One winner, Nigel Ingram's J109 Jetstream Photo: Afloat.ie

After the race, many of the visiting boats tied up at the Holyhead Sailing Club who had put on entertainment for the arriving crew.

The Race Organiser for Race 3 was Grainne Ryan. Anita Begley was Safety Officer. The finish was provided by Dawn Russell of Holyhead Sailing Club.

The next two races, as part of the Viking Marine and Global Display Coastal Series, are on the 18th May. These ware coastal races with one starting and finishing in Dun Laoghaire and the other in Pwllheli. It is hoped that great numbers will take part in these races as “champagne sailing conditions” have been booked for the events.

Full results and the YB tracking of the race are on the ISORA website here

Rockabill JPK10.80 ISORA 1628Paul O’Higgins' Rockabill VI Photo: Afloat.ie

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Race No 3. in the 2019 ISORA Series is on this Saturday 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead where a warm welcome awaits after the devastation there following Storm Emma in March 2018. 

This is the first of the 'Offshore' qualifying races and the forecast is good - well better than last weekend when Storm Hannah disrupted Race 1 (cancelled) and Race 2 (postponed)!

The course for Race 3 will be published this Thursday 2nd May and it marks the return of the fleet to the North Wales Harbour.

Supplemental Sailing Instructions are downloadable below.

Holyhead MarinaThe ISORA finish line shall be a line between the green light at the “centre elbow” of the Holyhead breakwater and the Quarterdeck of Holyhead Sailing Club, bearing approximately 226(T). Boats should keep clear of the rocks immediately inside the end of the breakwater

ISORA's Hon Sec Stephen Tudor has issued an appeal to the fleet for last entries. "We urge everyone who have not yet entered to do so. The entries will affect the class splits - so please enter now" 

The online entry form is available here.

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Due to the uncertainty of the track and conditions of Storm Hannah, the ISORA Sailing Committee have decided to cancel Race 1 scheduled for tomorrow morning.

It was a difficult decision for the Sailing Committee, drawn from all sized boats from both sides of the Irish Sea, but the safety of crew and boats is of paramount important to ISORA.

Race 2 will be rescheduled for another weekend as that Global Display Coastal Series has only 4 races, with 3 to count. The Viking Marine Coastal Series had 5 races with 4 to count. This will be amended to 4 races with 3 to count.

The next race will be the offshore next Saturday 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead.

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Viking Marine will sponsor the ISORA Coastal Series again this year for the third year running writes Ian O'Meara.

I have always loved offshore sailing. To this day, I remember my first offshore in 1980 onboard Barry O'Donnell's Oyster Yacht 'Sundowner'. Great sailing and great fun brings out the best in all of us. 

As Afloat previously reported, the Coastal series kicks off this weekend and I will be onboard Paul and Finnoula O'Higgins' JPK 1080 'Rockabill VI'.

The 2019 series promises to be an exciting one with ISORA and Afloat keeping everyone up to date on racing Instructions and results.

Wishing everyone a great series and stay safe. On that note, Spinlock has launched the new Deckvest Vito Offshore 170n Hammar Lifejacket at €260.00 and with harness €289.95

VITO Front side three quarter webDeckvest Vito Offshore 170n Hammar Lifejacket

If you need any assistance with safety equipment for the Coastal Series please do pop into us.

Editor's note: It's clear that Ian O Meara's love for Oyster Yachts continues, this year O'Meara was appointed the Oyster Representative in Ireland

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ISORA has a full and exciting schedule of races in its 2019 series with a total of 16 races which will include the two Coastal Series, Night Races and, of course, its traditional Offshore Races. The series has been designed to combine with many top-class regattas and the classics races in the Irish Sea catchment area.

The 2019 series starts with the Viking Marine Coastal Races in Ireland and the Global Display Coastal Race in Wales, both on Saturday 27th April.

The coastal race weekend will be followed by the first Offshore race on 4th May from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, an important return after the storm disaster there in 2017.

ISORA have again this year teamed up with other races in the Irish Sea and arranged the racing so that deliveries are minimised. This includes the Classics; Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race (D2D) and the 100th edition of the Liverpool to Douglas Midnight Race.

The Royal Dee Yacht Club, in conjunction with ISORA are running the RDYC Irish Sea Offshore Championship again this year as part of the VDLR. This includes the Race from IOM (Race 9) and the four coastal races in the VDLR.

ISORA has also been working with ICRA to set up a good programme of day offshore races that will be exciting. Quite a lot of effort and planning has been made to offer boats that are more interested in offshore day racing a quality programme of demanding day races. More Information about the ICRA Championships (7th - 9th July) here.

The full ISORA 2019 Schedule of 16 Races is available downloadable below as a pdf.

Published in Offshore
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Save the dates 9 to 11 August 2019 in your calendar for the Spinlock IRC Welsh National Championships, which promises a long weekend packed full of great racing and fun ashore

Once again the Welsh Nationals have been selected as the Welsh leg of the RC35 class Celtic Cup, won in 2018 by Irish boat Storm.

The Welsh National Sailing Academy and Events Centre in Pwllheli looks forward to welcoming sailors from across the UK and Ireland for racing in the world-renowned waters of Cardigan Bay, with the majestic backdrop of the mountains of Snowdonia and the rugged coastline of the Llyn Peninsula.

The championships will feature two separate race courses, one for the IRC fleets and Sportsboat class and a separate course for the Cruiser class, so there will be something for everyone.

The Notice of Race and entry form are now available online. IRC certificates are not required at this time, only basic details and general information about your boat.

All entries made before Thursday 31 January will be included in a super early-bird prize draw with Spinlock goodies to be won.

Events pontoons will once again be available for use before and during the championship without any additional charges. Book your space now in the entry form.

Berthing will also be available for boats competing in the ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on Saturday 27 July for those who wish to leave their boat in Pwllheli ready off the IRC Championships.

This year the camping facilities at the academy will be available for participants. Bring your campervan or caravan to set up your base camp right on the venue site. More details and online booking can be found on the Plas Heli website.

There will also be a limited number of bunk beds available on on a first come, first served basis. Details about this added facility will be circulated to entered boats first.

Organisers will arrange shore storage so that your delivery sails, life-rafts and associated gear can be stored for the duration of the event. Please indicate on the entry form if you would like shore storage.

And of course, there will be a full social programme ashore. Details will be circulated by e-newsletter and published on the official championship website in due course.

Published in ICRA

The Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association has a long and varied history extending back to the 1930s writes W M Nixon. For although ISORA, as we know it today, was inaugurated as recently as 1972, it is directly descended from the North West Offshore Association, which in turn emerged from the Mersey & North Wales Joint Offshore Committee. That, in turn, was spun out of club groupings which ran events like Tranmere SC’s annual Midnight Race to the Isle of Man from the Mersey, and cross-channel races – traditionally at Whitsun – from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead or the Isle of Man run by the Irish Cruising Club.

As the new organisations developed from the old, they either inherited existing trophies for long-established events, or else new trophies were donated. Either way, over the years it has been vitally important that the inscriptions on the trophies are kept up-to-date for the annual prize-giving, because it is surprising how often written records can go missing, and so the trophies themselves become integral to knowledge of the history of the Association.

Thus it came about that at the recent ISORA 2018 Prize Giving in the National Yacht Club, Darryl Hughes – owner, skipper and restorer of the immaculate and keenly-sailed 1937 Tyrrell 43ft gaff ketch Maybird – was surprised to be called up to the stage to receive ISORA’s Penmaen Plate. For although Maybird had gallantly participated in several ISORA events – including the historic Midnight Race – she and her enthusiastic crew had not knowingly won anything under even the most benign imaginable corrected time system, and for good measure, their season was to include setting the longest time ever for a finisher in the Round Ireland Race.

j24 pathfinder2Philip Watson’s J/24 Pathfinder II, winner in 1978 of what is now the Penmaen Plate. Photo: W M Nixon

But all became clear when ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan announced that the Penmaen Plate goes to the boat which best expresses the “true spirit of ISORA”. And he added that if you asked the officers and committee to define the spirit of ISORA, they couldn’t do it, but they knew it when they saw it, and they saw it very clearly indeed in the Maybird approach.

However, when you’re dealing with a bunch of canny Dubliners and shrewd Welshmen and hard-headed north of England folk, you don’t get owt for nowt, and Darryl Hughes had no sooner got used to the idea of this unexpected but very welcome honour than Stephen Tudor, ISORA’s Pwllheli-based Hon Sec, suggested that as he’d have the trophy for the winter, they’d be much obliged if he could record the names of all the winners over the years, as they seem to have gone missing in ISORA records, and the Penmaen Plate had been used for several purposes since it first became part of the Irish Sea and St George’s Channel sailing in 1966.

It sounds perfectly simple. But to begin with, nowhere on the trophy does it even say that this is the Penmaen Plate. Originally, it was an anonymous silver salver presented by N V Smith in 1965 to Pwllheli Sailing Club for an annual award for outstanding seamanship, and the early listings reflect this. But in due course it became part of the ISORA lineup, and it was particularly associated with one of the great men of Pwllheli and ISORA sailing, Anthony Jones of the Nich 30 Mererid o Lyn.

The word “convivial” is inadequate to describe Squire Jones. He was a one-man 24-hour party, with the pre- and post-race gatherings at his hospitable manor house of Penmaen in the heart of Pwllheli a long-established part of the ISORA way of life. And when Pwllheli finally acquired its marina in 1993, the Squire was particularly well pleased, with the celebrations that night at Penmaen becoming epic regardless of the fact that we’d all to race back to Howth next day in what was also an RORC Race.

penmaen house3Squire Jones’s convivial abode – Penmaen House in Pwllheli was the setting for some of ISORA’s greatest parties.

Such days are now long gone, but they were great days while they lasted. When Anthony Jones died, the salver became the Penmaen Plate in honour of his memory, and in recent years instead of being for a specific race or set of results, it for this intangible yet very real “Spirit of ISORA”.

The names of the winners from the racing times, and the awardees under the new regime, will ring bells a-plenty for old Irish Sea racing hands. If only Cass Smullen were still with us to give us the full lowdown on the stories of all these people and their boats…….

PENMAEN PLATE

1966 C D Yapp Nida III
1967 E A Burnham Vreny
1968 R M Seal Allegro
1970 H J Hart NBN* (No Boat Name)
1972 I&A Holton Eastwind
1973 J C Wallwork I’m Alone
1975 A J M Jones Mererid O Lyn
1976 G J Hickton A La Carte
1978 P&G Watson Pathfinder II
1979 R Fitzgerald Ella Trout II
1980 A W H Cowper Stargazer
1981 I J Poole Feanor
1983 G R E Evans She Of Lleyn
1984 JH&HS Morris Grenade
1985 D&N Maguire Demelza
1986 C M Hill Banga Wanga
1987 F F Wilson Impulsif
1989 BJ Cox& J Morris NBN*
1990 BJ Cox&J Morris Greased Lightning
1991 D Hughes Shy of Lleyn
1992 H S Morris Grenade
1993 U Taylor Megalopolis
1994 C Foley Stormbird
1995 A Hall Jack Hammer
1996 D Cummaford Converting Machine
1997 HS & CS Morris Grenade
1998 J T Little Keep on Smiling
1999 D Cummaford Converting Machine
2000 A Hall Jack Hammer
2003 D Cronin White Rooster
2005 Julian & Sue Wells Storm Force
2006 Matt Tucker Crazy Puffin
2007 M Craddock NBN*
2008 Liam Coyne Tyred Dreamin
2009 J Roberts Quite Correct
2010 R Mossop Yahtzee
2011 J Roberts Quite Correct
2012 M Creedon Sarnia
2013 K Szymanski Polished Manx
2014 L Coyne & B Flahive Lula Belle
2015 Simon Byrne Yahtzee
2016 D Matthews Pleione of Dee
2017 C Howard (AJ) Wanderlust
2018 D Hughes Maybird

From the days when it was still a racing award, we note that the first Irish winner in 1978 was sailmaker Philip Watson, who raced with business partner Kieran Jameson in the J/24 Pathfinder II in the days before the Fastnet storm disaster of 1979 - with its subsequent increase in stability requirements - made J/24s ineligible for offshore races.

lula belle4Liam Coyne & Brian Flahive on their way to the Two-Handed victory and many other trophies in the 2014 RORC Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland race. Photo RORC/Rick Tomlinson

Then in 1985 Neville Maguire with the Club Shamrock Demelza won the Penmaen Plate – the year before, he’d been ISORA overall champion, and had also done well in the Round Ireland race, while his son Gordon became the 1984 Irish National Windsurfing Champion. Busy family, the Maguires….

In 2008 when it was still purely for racing in ISORA, the name of Liam Coyne comes up for the first time. But when it appears again in 2014, it’s the Penmaen Plate in its modern guise, and he and Brian Flahive are awarded it for their storming performance in the gale-wracked Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race with the First 36.7 Lula Belle.

Thus you can be awarded the Penmaen Plate for a diversity of achievements. But as Peter Ryan says, you know the spirit of ISORA when you see it, and Maybird is a worthy winner.

maybird sailing5The keenly-campaigned 1937–built 43ft Tyrrell of Arklow ketch Maybird is reckoned to have best represented the “Spirit of ISORA” in 2018

Published in ISORA
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The annual November awards ceremony of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association is a highlight of sailing’s social calendar, a convivial gathering of friendly rivalry from both sides of the Irish Sea. But though 2018’s was staged with the usual black-tie style in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, the top trophy went back across the channel to Pwllheli. Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop had done it again (albeit by the narrowest of margins) with their very actively-used J/109 Mojito, which emerged as top boat when the numbers were tallied after the final race in September.

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With the publication of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) ambitious 16-race 2019 calendar, Chairman Peter Ryan warns that future fleet growth is contingent on the repair of Holyhead's 450–berth marina writes David O'Brien in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column. 

Ryan says the port is a central hub for ISORA boats and one that is an 'easy hop' from Dun Laoghaire for Dublin crew putting their toe in the water of offshore sailing.

Read much more here.

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Following Saturday's agm and prizegiving dinner at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, ISORA has published its 2019 fixtures calendar but it is in 'draft' form until matters at Holyhead can be settled following the break up of the Welsh marina earlier this season.

The full 2019 ISORA calendar is downloadable below. 

The 2019 season will start on April 27th with simultaneous 40-mile coastal races sponsored by Viking Marine on either side of the Irish Sea at Pwllheli and Dun Laoghaire. 

A week later, on May 4th, the fleet, now totalling over a 60-boat entry, will undertake the first of the season's seven offshore fixtures from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, with the Welsh finish still to be confirmed.

On June 12th, the fleet take in the Dun Laoghaire Dingle Race as part of their offshore fixtures with the 270mile race, a season highlight.

A month later, and as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, ISORA will race on July 13th in a 35–mile Lighthouse coastal race. 

The season concludes with race 16 Race and a Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire offshore 80-miler.  

ISORA TrophiesThe impressive array of ISORA silverware goes on display Photo: Michael Horgan

The overall ISORA Champion, for the RDYC Wolf’s Head Trophy, must compete in four qualifying races and the best six scores of the 16 races will be used to decide prizes in Offshore, Coastal, Silver Class, 2-Handed Classes plus an overall Team Prize.

The AGM's key resolutions were:

  • Return to Holyhead
  • 16 Races
  • Must compete in 4 Qualifying races to be eligible to win the Wolf’s Head – and best 6 races to count
  • YB tracking to continue in 2019

The evening was attended by 160 guests and the National Yacht Club excelled in providing an exceptional venue which was enjoyed by everyone. The climax of the evening was the presentation of the RDYC Wolf’s Head to Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox for their overall win of the 2019 series.

Wolfs HeadThe Wolfs Head Trophy was presented to overall winners, the 'Mojito' crew from North Wales Photo: GP Photo

The full 2019 ISORA calendar is downloadable below. 

Stephen Tudor's report to the AGM: 

The 2018 ISORA series started in April and racing concluded on Saturday 8th September.

There have been 15 races with 60 competing boats from 14 Clubs. 

The fleet has visited seven ports including Dún Laoghaire, Pwllheli, Wicklow, Liverpool, Douglas, Howth, and Greystones. We are extremely grateful for the work an input of all Club representatives who have made our visits possible. The devastation in Holyhead impacted on the number of competitors and a loss of a key port in the 2018 schedule. We hope that we can return to Holyhead in 2019.

The ISORA Offshore Series for the Royal Dee Yacht Club’s prestigious Wolf’s Head was won again this year by the Mojito team for the best five offshore races, followed closely by Aurelia who collected most points in the season and consequently won the ISROA Points Series.

The two ISORA Coastal Series attract the largest fleets; The Viking Marine Series in Ireland and the Global Exhibitions Series in Wales. This style of point to point racing is very popular with competitors favouring the challenge of a longer race with the usual post-race social gathering.

ISORA 0028A 2018 ISORA race start off Dun Laoghaire Photo: Afloat.ie

The Club Team Trophy was won again this year by Pwllheli Sailing Club team.

Prizes are awarded to all principal winners and to each race winner, overall winners in each of the three IRC classes and the restrictive class ‘Silver Class’ and all races have been scored with the progressive Irish Sailing and ISORA ECHO handicapping.

ISORA is affiliated to the governing bodies; ‘Irish Sailing’ IS and ‘RYA’ and ‘RYA Cymru Wales’.

We have embraced many modern technologies for race management with an automated online entry and payment system, a dedicated website with over 1,000 recipients of the ISORA e-newsletters. All races are viewed by the ISORA YB Tracking which has enabled the use of virtual waypoints and unmanned finish lines such as the finish line set in the middle of the Irish Sea following the start in Douglas; this enabled competitors to disperse to their home ports - brilliant!

Tracking would not be possible without the support of our fantastic sponsors Viking Marine and Global Exhibitions for the Coastal Series, Exposure Lights for both Night Races and, of course, our race sponsors.
ISORA has been instrumental in providing shore bases for ‘Automatic Identification System’ (AIS), with support from Marine Traffic, providing better coverage of the Irish Sea area and making deliveries between ports safer.

ISORA 0574ISORA boats on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

The 2018 series was again scored using the ISORA High Points System with more points awarded for more challenging races and more reward in larger fleets. This complex system is possible by using the superb results program ‘Sailwave’ which also enables publishing of results as competitors finish and for all the different fleets and classes.

2018 was another great offshore series seeing new boats, more competitors, challenging racing and fantastic shore time for social gatherings and the usual warm ISORA camaraderie.

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