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There will be many in the 23–boat offshore race fleet that would prefer to forget the long drawn out finish of ISORA's Race three on Saturday.

The 14-5 hour Dun Laoghaire to Dun Laoghaire race (full report here) came to a slow close at the harbour mouth with leaders Sgrech II and Rockabill II carrying the breeze all the way to the line as captured below by Sam Hall in this unique aerial perspective.

The race was won by Chris Power Smth's Aurelia from the Royal St. George Yacht Club, read his account here.

Check out the vid below.

The next ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire is on May 26th with a change of finish from Holyhead to Pwllheli in North Wales.

Published in ISORA

The Dun Laoghaire to Dun Laoghaire race three in the ISORA Offshore Series 2018 featured 'Champagne Sailing' for “Aurelia” writes ISORA's Peter Ryan. 

The first offshore race of the ISORA Offshore Championship 2018 took place on the 12th May with a starting time of 08.00. 23 boats from the entry list of 27 came to the start line in Dun Laoghaire.

The original starting port for this race was Holyhead. However, due to the disastrous consequences of the recent storm where their marina was destroyed, it was reluctantly agreed that the start should be changed. Being the first offshore, and typically only 50 miles, there were no other options but to start and finish in Dun Laoghaire.

Unfortunately, the position in Holyhead has also affected the next race on the 26th that was scheduled to be from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead. The finishing port for this race was to have facilitated those boats heading over for the Race 6, Midnight race in Liverpool. It was intended that some boats would remain in Holyhead after the next race and deliver from there to Liverpool.

ISORA light air startA light air start to ISORA Race three

The weather forecast for Race 3 was predicting no wind forecast until 11.00 and then south-easterly winds increasing to 10-15 knots after that. The winds were then forecast to drop later that evening. This is exactly what the weather did.

With the forecast in mind the course for the race was agreed as follows: Start – Rockabill (S) – East Kisk (S) – Muglins (P) – Finish at the Pier Heads – approximately 50 miles.

The start at 08.00 was provided by Grainne Ryan and Jo Thompson at DBSC’s Pier Mark. The fickle breeze at the start area was not kind to all boats and while some boats moved north off the line towards Rockabill, others were left behind.

Yo yo 0870The Sunfast 3600 Yo Yo was one of the lead boats off the line Photo: Afloat.ie

“Sgrech J111” Stephen Tudor, “Jackknife” Andrew Hall, “Indian” Colm Buckley and “YoYo” Brendan Coughlan, were the lead boats to break from the line. However at Howth Head, “Indian” and “YoYo” stalled and “Aurelia” Chris Power Smith and Mojito” Peter Dunlop, joined the other two boats heading toward Rockabill. At this stage the wind was filling in from the south east at 10knots and the fleet were under spinnaker. “Aurelia” took the unique passage between Lambay and the coast while the remainder of the fleet stayed offshore of Lambay. This appeared to have paid royally as they approached Rockabill behind “Jackknife” and “Sgrech J111”.

Rockabill lighthousePassing Rockabill lighthouse in calm conditions

The leg to east Kish was a beat in south easterly 12-15 knots. The main tussle at the front of the fleet was between the two equally rated boats “Aurelia” and “Sgrech J111” with “Aurelia” just tacking in front of “Sgrech J111” at East Kish. After that, it was a soldier’s race with a reach to the finish.

“Jackknife” took line honours with “Aurelia” and then “Sgrech J111”. At this stage the wind was dropping and slowing the remainder of the wide spread fleet.

“Aurelia” just did enough to take IRC Overall and Class 0. Read skipper Chris Power Smith's own report here) with “Sgrech J111) taking 2nd Overall and 2nd Class 0. “Jackknife” took 3rd place Overall and 3rd Class 0. “Mojito” took Class 1 while “Windjammer” Lindsay Casey, took Class 2. “First of September” Jerry Whiston, took Silver Class.

ISORA close racingClose racing

The fleet were also racing under ECHO but technical problems prevented the results being issued at the time of this report. These will follow.

The race was very successful for the boats from Pwllheli with the three boats, “Sgrech J111”, “Jackknife” and “Mojito” taking 2nd, 3rd and 4th in IRC Overall. Another factor is that the first seven boats, with the exception of “Rockabill VI”, were J-Boats!

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

Despite the sometimes frustrating wind conditions, the sun shone all day. After the race many of the visiting boats tied up at the National Yacht Club and the usual “apres sail” commenced.

Published in ISORA

The fourth ISORA offshore race of the season will race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli and not Holyhead as originally scheduled on Saturday, 26th May.

Skippers have already received the change of course after extensive discussions with Holyhead Sailing Club who are still dealing with the aftermath of the loss of the marina in Storm Emma.

ISORA Chair Peter Ryan told Afloat.ie: 'After deliberations by the sailing committee, it has been agreed that the least bad option we have is to change the finish to Pwllheli'. 

'Please be assured, this decision was not taken likely' he added.

The devastation in Holyhead has had a significant impact on the ISORA 2018 schedule. The consequence for the committee now is not only to choose the course for each race but to choose a start and finish point too.

As Afloat.ie previously reported, Welsh Government funding will boost the Holyhead Marina clean-up so the hope is the normal racing calendar there can resume quickly.

Published in ISORA

In the build up to next month's all–important Round Ireland Race, yesterdays' ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire was an important tune–up. Chris Power–Smith's J122 Aurelia crew showed the depth of their ambition by outwitting some of the ISORA big guns over a tricky course – Start (Dun Laoghaire); Rockabill (S); East Kish (S); Muglins (P); Finish (Dun Laoghaire) – that lasted over 12 hours.

Afloat.ie caught up with Chris after post race celebrations at the National Yacht Club and he gave us this background to his own sailing and how he and his Royal St. George Yacht Club crew came out on top yesterday evening to lead the ISORA Championships overall.

Aurelia is my sixth J Boat. Having started with a J24 and then through, a J92, J92S, two J109s, Jetstream and the very successfully campaigned Rollercoaster in which we won two Dublin Bay Championships and two out of three of the first ISORAs we tried. I am a self–taught sailor who took up sailing at age 34. I was also fooled into thinking it might be easy to win ISORA races. In fact it is a very very competitive fleet, with hard won races, and some of the races can be very grueling. Winkie Nixon didn’t mention me in the recent history of J109s but I had the second one in Ireland after George Sisk had sold his one and bought the J133. I think the fact that I, as a relative novice, was so successful in mine spurred others to buy into the fleet. Rollercoaster had a full new set of Norths and I think this was a big help to the sailmaker in launching their sails onto the bay.

"I needed a new challenge outside of bay racing & offshore fitted the bill"

Deciding I needed a new challenge outside of bay racing, offshore fitted the bill, I decided to buy a bigger boat and moved up to the 40 footer. I have found the J122 to be a very fast, competitive and comfortable boat. I have really enjoyed the offshore racing and my first long race was D2D 3 years ago when we came third. I also took part in the last round Ireland and it was a big personal achievement for me to skipper the boat with a fully corinthian crew.

Aurelia 1572Aurelia is the 2017 Class Zero ISORA champion Photo: Afloat.ie

We won the ISORA series in Class Zero last year and came third overall the previous year.

Yesterday, we got smothered at the start off Dun Laoghaire Harbour and made our way painfully slowly over to the Baily Lighthouse on the north shore of Dublin Bay. The other boats that got clean starts went out of the bay and got more breeze. We were neck and neck with Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) and Jedi (Kenneth Rumball) at the Baily, but managed to break away with our A1 up. We then decided to go inside Lambay to take advantage of the lower current gradient in the ebbing southerly flowing tide and where we expected more breeze, closer to the clouds on the shore. We were the only boat to go inside the Island and it was a hard battle to persuade all on board that this was the way to go, with constant discussion until the point of no return.

"We got smothered at the start and made our way painfully slowly over to the Baily"

When we converged at Rockabill VI, Jacknife, who rounded first and Sgrech second were over two miles ahead. We dropped the A1 and hoisted the J1 for the long one sided beat 22 miles to East Kish. We had to put in a couple of tacks to get around the Easter tip of Lambay. We slowly ground Sgrech down, and as the wind got up to around 12 to 14 knots we peeled to the J2. We tacked and dueled with them all the way down in choppy wind against tide conditions, eventually crossing ahead close to East Kish and tacking ahead of them to make the mark.

This year I decided to rate the boat higher on IRC in anticipation of the Round Ireland Race. We extended the bow sprit from 6.1m to 6.42 and we bought a new larger 155 square metre North Sails kite moving up from the old one of 143 square meters. We chose gold to match the name of the boat Aurelia, which means "golden one”.

"We hoisted the kite as we rounded the mark, with Sgrech close behind"

Prof O’Connell of North Sails Ireland came along for his first ever ISORA yesterday to show us the ropes and check out the cut and fit of the new sail. All the way down the beat, we were really worried that it was going to be too tight back to the finish in the harbour mouth to fly our beautiful gold brand new kite. But the wind continued to veer southerly and the true wind angle opened up to 115 to 120 in about 14 knots. We hoisted the kite as we rounded the mark, with Sgrech close behind. Sgrech, former J109 owner and ISORA multiple champion Stephen Tudor's new J111, rates exactly the same as us 1.083, so this was a one design style race to be first over the line. We stayed high and bore off just before the harbour to make the entrance. Sgrech went lower, anticipating a dying wind. We then came up to pass through the harbour finish with the kite up at 19.04. A real thrill for us and spectacular sight for the pier walkers. Sgrech finished only three minutes behind us after 11 hours of racing. Jacknife got line honours and we worried that she might have pipped us on handicap, but she came third overall to Sgrech second overall.

J122 Aurelia 0800The J122 Aurelia is Chris Power–Smith's sixth J-boat, He's also has campaigned two J24's, a J92 and two J109s Photo: Afloat.ie

We were really delighted with the new North Sails kite and while we also have to carry the rating penalty upwind, we saw a huge performance increase on the last leg yesterday. We had no problem carrying the extra sail area at a tight angle and she accelerated superbly as we bore away.

Aurelia SpinnakerAurelia has a full inventory of North Sails and yesterday the crew were flying a new North Sails A2 asymmetric yesterday which Prof O'Connell trimmed on the leg home from East Kish to Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Combined with the last race’s second place, we are now leading the championship overall.

J122 aurelia 1(Above and below) Aurelia crosses the in–harbour finish line at the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta in front of the Royal St. George Yacht Club. The J122 now leads the 2018 ISORA championships as skipper Chris Power–Smth prepares for next month's big one, the all important Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. Photo: Afloat.ie

Aurelia 1631

Aurelia's winning crew yesterday consisted of: owners: Chris and Patanne Power Smith (RSGYC, RORC); Chris Power Smith: Skipper; Aileen Kelleher, just back from Caribbean 600 on J122 Noisey Oyster; Bernard McGranaghan (just back from Caribbean 600 on J122 Noisey Oyster, he chartered her); Francois Penn Ditto; Ger Walshe; Lynda McCracken; Niall Smythe; John McManus; Michael Keatinge and Prof O’Connell North Sails Representative

Overall ISORA results here

Published in ISORA

Frank Whelan's Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera goes into Saturday's first ISORA qualifying race of 60–miles as the overall series leader but the Greystones Sailing Club entry is only narrowly ahead of second placed Royal St. George's Chris & Patanne Power Smith's, J/122 Aurelia. The overall results after two races are here

This weekend's race to Holyhead has been amended due to the loss of the North Wales marina. Instead, a 30–boat fleet will race an offshore course that begins and ends off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The first warning signal will be at 0755 off Dun Laoghaire's East Pier.

ISORA's 2017 champion Mojito, the J109, from Pwllheli Sailing Club, skippered by Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox has already arrived at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in anticiptation of Saturday's amended race.

Published in ISORA

Exposure Lights are sponsors of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) Coastal Night Races for 2018.

Both races take competitors over a 35 mile course through the night. One race is based in Dun Loaghaire while the other is based in Pwllheli, Wales. Both events take place in July 2018 and are part of the Global Communication and Viking Marine Coastal Series. Thirty two competitors from Ireland and Wales lined up for the first joint day race of the series.

Competitors will benefit from a sponsorship package aimed at enhancing the event and includes generous Exposure Lights vouchers for the top three podium winners in both the IRC and ECHO classes.

The races will be tracked using the latest GPS technology with the Yellow Brick tracker system. This allows the race to be followed by supporters on land and sea.

Tom Harrop, Brand Manager at Exposure Lights comments, “We are very pleased to announce our new partnership with ISORA. The Exposure Lights Coastal Night Races are a great opportunity for all the competitors to experience the benefits of our lights within their own race campaigns. Exposure’s compact, ultra-lightweight, powerful LED spotlights, safety lights and head torches are designed for the rigours of endurance offshore sailing, with red LED options to preserve night vision too.”

Peter Ryan ISORA Chairman adds, “ISORA was set up to promote and encourage offshore sailing in the Irish Sea. We are thrilled that through this partnership our competitors will have the opportunity to use the same products and technologies that are used and recommended by Volvo Ocean Race, Vendee and Figaro sailors alike. Exposure’s high precision engineering is bringing new ways to make night sailing and personal safety more effective and affordable for all offshore sailors.”

Published in ISORA

Frank Whelan's Eleuthera, the Grand Soleil 44 yacht that broke the dominance of the J109s to win the first ISORA race of the season yesterday, is the former famous Dutch yacht 'Holmatro' with a race winning pedigree. 

The Greystones crew emerged as winners in impressive style over Chris Power Smith's Dun Laoghaire–based J/122 after a three hour Viking Marine sponsored coastal race off Dublin Bay. More details here.

A true winner fifteen years ago, the 2003–Italian built Judel Vrolijk design was a Cowes Week 2003 winner, a Rolex Fastnet Race 2003 class winner, an Antwerp Race winner 2003 and a Gotland Rund Sweden race winner too.

"The Judel Vrolijk design was a Cowes Week 2003 winner, a Rolex Fastnet 2003 class winner, an Antwerp Race winner 2003 and a Gotland Round Sweden race winner too"

Eleuthera's crew is largely made up of Greystones Harbour sailors. Paddy Barnwell runs the boat and crew, comprising young dinghy racers from the ranks of the RS 200 and RS400 fleets. The main core crew are: Frank Whelan (skipper), Barnwell, Gary Hick, Conor Clery, Kevin O'Rourke, Killian Fitzgerald, Andrew Smith, Matt Sherlock, Gavin Laverty and Shane Hughes (North Sails Ireland).

Eleuthera Grand soleil 44 0798Eleuthera's crew is largely made up of Greystones dinghy sailors under skipper Frank Whelan and crew boss Paddy Barnwell. Photo: Afloat.ie

Noted Dublin Bay tactican Marty O'Leary, who was aboard yesterday for the ISORA win, says the boat plans to do all the ISORA coastal races, as well as Cork Week, Calves Week, the ICRA nationals in Galway and the Taste of Greystones Regatta at her home port at the end of the season.

Published in ISORA

Frank Whelan's well sailed Eleuthera, a Grand Soleil 44, was the winner of ISORA's Viking Marine Coastal Series first race in ideal sailing conditions on Dublin Bay this afternoon. 

An exotic mix of new and nearly new entries into the 2018 Dublin offshore fleet included the race winner Eleuthera (named after an Island in the Bahamas, there is more on the race winner here) but also a 1976 World Champion vintage Half–Tonner, a brand new SunFast 3600, as well as a heap of ultra competitive J109s and an all conquering JPK10.80, all adding to the excitement of the much–anticipated first race.

ISORA coastal race start Eleuthera 0800IRC Class Zero 2017 Champion, the J122 Aurelia, skippered by Chris & Patanne Power Smith, of the Royal St George Yacht Club was second overall 

The colourful 25–boat ISORA fleet departing Dublin Bay in ideal westerly winds – and sunshine – made sure it was a very auspicious start to the offshore sailing year. 

"An exotic mix of new and nearly new entries into the 2018 Dublin offshore fleet included the race winner, Eleuthera"

After weeks of gloom, following Storm Emma's path of destruction, finally there was a tonic for Dun Laoghaire Harbour sailors and spectators alike as spinnakers filled Scotsman's Bay to mark the arrival of summer and the first offshore race of the year.

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Race officers Larry Power and Barry MacNeaney prepare for the off as a bumper fleet make for the ISORA line off Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA fleet SandycoveStill well bunched as the ISORA fleet passes Sandycove on the way to the Muglins Rock. Photo: BJ Marine/Facebook

The 21.5 mile course for race one of the Viking Marine Coastal Series was as follows: Start at DBSC Pier mark, Muglins (S), Bray Outfall (P), Kish Lighthouse (P), North Burford (P) and Finish - at Dun Laoghaire Pier Heads.

It didn't take long for the front runners to find their form. In truth, last week's practice race had ironed out some of the wrinkles so there was not time lost in setting kites off the line in a 10–15-knot west to south west breeze with some strong gusts thrown in for good measure. An ebb tide meant a fast departure across Scotsman's Bay leaving the Muglins to starboard.

See our Afloat.ie photos below as the fleet headed south with leaders back in Dun Laoghaire for a 1.30pm finish.

In all, an excellent start for the ISORA season with a good turnout in Pwllheli for the Welsh coastal race, running concurrently, bringing a total of 32–boats in ISORA competition this weekend. Next stop is the 60–mile race from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire on May 12th. 

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957At the pin end of the line it was the J109 Jigamaree (red spinnaker) skippered by Ronan Harris of the Royal Irish Yacht club that got the best start with club mates Keith and Rodney Martin preferring to white sail Lively Lady of the line. Paul O'Higgins' JPK!0.80 is behind them with blue and lemon kite with the overall winner Frank Whelan's Eleuthera obscured. To leeward of the bunch is Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot, also of the Royal Irish. Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below: There was some strong gusts shortly after the start leading to some early boat handling issues Photos: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below: The fleet races south with DBSC Yacht of the Year, the J97 WindJammer going strong under red spinnaker. Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957The IRC Class one First 35, Platinum Blonde skippered by Paul Egan of the Royal St George Yacht Club was fifth overall. In a high speed dash, she raced out of the bay neck and neck (below) with the JPK10.80 Rockabill (Paul O'Higgins) Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Royal Irish Yacht Club IRC Class 0 entry Rockabill VI finished sixth overall. Photo: Afloat.ie

Jigamaree ronan harris 0622The J109 Jigamaree skippered by Ronan Harris of the Royal Irish Yacht club was fourth overall. Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957All in a day's sailing – Daragh Gafferky's IRC Class 1 entry AnotherAdventure, an Archambault A35, sailed up from Greystones Marina for the 10am start. After her 12 mile delivery, she completed the 21–mile ISORA course by 2pm and then headed back home to Wicklow. Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957(Above and below) Inspite of a cracking lead on the first leg to the Muglins and into Killney Bay, Roger Smith's Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club entry, Wakey Wakey, that won last weekend's warm–up race, finished third overall Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957Above and below The Martin Brother's Lively Lady was second boat to the Muglins Rock Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

ISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957(Above and below) New Jeanneau 3600 entry Yoyo (Brendan Coghlan of the Royal St. George YC) was 14th overallISORA coastal race start Muglins 0957

For full results click here 

Published in ISORA

The ISORA 2018 offshore sailing series starts this weekend on both sides of the Irish Sea with Racing on Saturday in Pwllheli and Race two in Dun Laoghaire this Sunday.

The fixture is part of ISORA's 'Viking Marine Coastal Series'. Weather permitting the course will be no longer than 40 miles long and will be chosen so that the last boat may complete the course shortly after 17.00. 

'The fixture is part of ISORA's Viking Marine Coastal Series'

First gun is off Dun Laoghaire at 0955 on Sunday. 

Pre–Season Race

Ten boats took advantage of the pre-season race in Dun Laoghaire last weekend sponsored by Jack Ryan at Beggars Bush.

Wakey Wakey won class one and overall, with Silver Shamrock 1st in Class 2, 1st in the Silver (restricted) Class and YoYo first in Class 0. You can read more about YoYo here.

Read about how ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan save Irish Sea Racing here in a recent piece by W M Nixon.

The results for the pre-season Race are available here.

Published in ISORA

“Peter Ryan of ISORA”. That’s all you have to say to anyone who knows anything of the Byzantine workings of the sailing scene in and around Ireland, and they’ll immediately know not only know exactly who you mean, but will almost as quickly have a vision of how well things can work when the right people are doing both the heavy lifting, and the clear thinking. W M Nixon shoots the breeze with a man who makes good things happen in sailing, and particularly in local offshore racing.

Peter Ryan’s life in sailing - and how he came into our sport in the first place - is instructive for those who would hope to establish an accessible structure with enticing programmes which get worthwhile newcomers engaged, and keep them engaged.

For he isn’t from a sailing family, and he hasn’t been through any formalized introductory and instruction sailing course. On the contrary, he’s from a classic Dublin family of publicans. The family house is Ryan’s of Beggar’s Bush, in which he still has a share, though we hasten to inform readers unfamiliar with Dublin that despite its name, the Beggar’s Bush neighbourhood is in Dublin 4, one of the city’s most affluent areas.

But as for this boy from Beggar’s Bush, he has spread his wings - professionally he’s now a leading Dublin-based chartered structural engineer, thanks to navigating his educational way through the Jesuits at Belvedere and the rather different yet still quintessentially Dublin atmosphere of Trinity College. And in sport, he has become one of the most quietly yet significantly influential figures in sailing.

peter ryan2Peter Ryan on his election as Commodore of the National YC in 2008

As he will be turning 60 in June this year – though he has the energy and continuing enthusiasm of someone twenty years younger – it can be quickly calculated that at the time of his youth, a proper Dublin family pub was a serious business, and fripperies like sailing would be way down the agenda. Yet he was sailing by the age of twelve, thanks to a school friend at Belvedere being Mark Cassidy, whose father Liam raced the 25ft Glen One-Design Glengesh out of the Royal St George YC with the Dun Laoghaire fleet.

However, it was not with regular DBSC racing that his interest was whetted – instead, it was a school vacation-time expedition with the Glens and the Dublin Bay 21s and others to Wicklow Regatta on the August Bank Holiday weekend, a complete experience with a spot of “offshore” sailing which introduced an observant schoolboy to many aspects – some of them good, some of them maybe quite not so good – of the Irish sailing scene.

He had by no means become a devoted sailor – at school he was “a reluctant Third Cs rugby player, but handy enough at cricket playing for Merrion in the summer, and Belvedere in term time”. But when he was courting Anne-Marie Horgan and her father Michael discovered the daughter’s new boyfriend had done a spot of sailing, he almost immediately roped the lad into crewing on his Flying Fifteen sailing out of the National Yacht Club, and Peter Ryan has been involved with the National – and the remarkable Horgan family – ever since.

flying fifteens dublin bay3The Flying Fifteens in Dublin Bay provided Peter Ryan with his first real introduction to sailing. The National YC continues to be a stronghold of the class, and will be hosting the F/F Worlds next year.

It’s timely here to reflect on how the Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen fleet has played a leading role in introducing people to sailing. Thanks to its little keel, a Flying Fifteen can provide what is otherwise almost the complete dinghy sailing experience without the inevitable capsize. For people who have never been through the Junior Training Programme, where learning how to handle a capsize is part of the curriculum, the Flying Fifteen is a Godsend, and for Peter Ryan it drew him ever more into sailing, and he went on to crew in the class for Richard Nolan.

On the educational side, he had been interested in studying chemical engineering at third level, but found that while his list of school qualifications best fitted the Trinity College requirements, the range of subjects available at TCD at that time simply didn’t include chemical engineering. However, he re-focused so neatly on the structural engineering course which was available that today it is difficult to imagine him doing anything else at a professional level.

Meanwhile, he was now thoroughly drawn into the life of the National YC, what with being on course to marry Anne-Marie Horgan in 1982 (their two children are now 30 and 21), continuing Flying Fifteens racing, and having his first taste of full-on keelboat racing with DBSC. So he cheerfully admits he began offshore racing when that renowned skipper Liam Shanahan came into the snooker room of the club and spotted a likely crew-member in young Ryan. In his early 20s at the time, he was signed on for an up-coming offshore race in Liam Shanahan’s newly-acquired db2S Lightning, and that was Peter Ryan hooked into the offshore game.

dehler db2s4The Dehler db2s. His first offshore race on Liam Shanahan’s Lightning gave Peter Ryan a livelong love of this side of sailing.

The Shanahan and Horgan families were comfortable with each other in the time-honoured National YC way, and as Liam Shanahan found himself in a two-boat situation as he still had his well-campaigned Ron Holland-designed Club Shamrock Emircedes, it seemed entirely natural that in due course Michael Horgan and Peter Ryan should team up to buy Emircedes as the family boat, mainly for Dublin Bay SC involvement and a very active offshore racing programme, but also for the occasional bit of cruising.

They did so much sailing with Emircedes between the mid 1980s and her sale in 2004 that we could comfortably devote several articles to their achievements, but sufficient to say they were usually in the frame. And with Michael Horgan becoming Commodore of the National Yacht Club in 1993, and the club’s biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race being inaugurated that same year, the offshore programme was becoming very crowded for a keen crew, as Wicklow’s Round Ireland Race (in alternate years to the Dingle dash) had been increasingly popular since its inauguration in 1980, while the Irish Sea Offshore Racing programme – with IS0RA founded through a combination of organisations in 1972 - was also still trundling along, though not with the large entries it had known in the 1970s and ’80s.

emircedes 1994rir5Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan) heading out of Wicklow port for the start of the 1994 Round Ireland race. Emircedes was one of the smallest boats in the fleet.

emircedes 1988rir6Small boat, big ocean – Peter Ryan enjoying helming Emircedes along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard in the 1988 Round Ireland Race.

Despite that, there was something about ISORA which particularly appealed to Peter Ryan. He enjoyed the rhythm of its offshore races, and the idiosyncracies of each course. He was stimulated by facing the challenges that the weather and navigation of those diverse courses could provide. He cherished the cross-channel friendships the racing brought with it. He relished the opportunity to race against a fresh selection of boats, boats that he wouldn’t regularly see in the routine Dublin Bay Thursday evening racing. And he found something special in the way that any of the ISORA races which had started in Ireland would usually finish in Wales - though sometimes in the Isle of Man – thereby providing a rewarding way of going right to the heart of a new community.

But as different ways of enjoying leisure developed, and new expectations emerged of what family life entailed, a decline in local time-consuming offshore racing inevitably tended to see a falling away in ISORA numbers among the less-committed. It saddened him, but he was busy enough with the demands of the ever-more-crowded sailing and family programme based around Dublin Bay and the pillar offshore events, while his ability to get things done found him being targeted for one of the most demanding jobs in the voluntary sector of the National YC administration.

Boathouse Captain is a title with a certain ring to it, but properly done in those days, it was not so much a position of status as one of being in a demanding role, a real grind with much hands-on work to ensure the smooth working of the complex interface between the suave presence that a club like the National presents to the world at large, and the nitty-gritty of the way it helps to get its members afloat in boats large and small, plus how it serves their boats and moorings.

Peter Ryan was catapulted into this job for a three year stint in 2002 in the tough days before the National YC had a professional Sailing Manager. Although after a year or so he no longer had to deal with personal demands of boat-ownership and was to sail in due course with Vincent Farrell on the 2004 First 40.7 Tsunami, being Boathouse Captain was no sinecure. But with typical thoroughness he set to, quizzing the boatmen on how things were done, researching and implementing the improvements that were possible, and generally restoring the Boathouse functions to their central role in club waterfront life.

nyc slipway7Flying Fifteens and Wayfarer dinghies being brought ashore on the National YC slipway at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta in July 2017. As NYC Boathouse Captain from 2002-2005, Peter Ryan was directly involved in re-organising and modernising the club’s waterfront facilities and procedures. Photo: W M Nixon

He acquitted himself so well in the challenge that when Con Murphy became National YC Commodore in 2005, he brought in Peter Ryan as his Vice Commodore - a rocket-like promotion. Yet so highly were the new Vice Commodore’s abilities and achievements regarded that when he made an unusual request of the National YC Committee in the Autumn of 2005, they obliged him.

An extraordinary event – a wake of sorts - had been scheduled for the National YC in November 2005. Although Peter Ryan’s own enthusiasm for offshore racing was to be even further increased by the great joy of racing the First 40.7 Tsunami, interest in the annual ISORA programme was draining away so rapidly that the Chairman from the British side had decided that it was time to wind up the Association – he reckoned it had clearly outlived its usefulness.

A grand Farewell Dinner, black tie and all, was scheduled for the National YC in November, when some of ISORA’s 47 trophies would be given out to the few winners, while all the others would be returned where possible to the clubs or individuals who had donated them.

The totality of it came home to Peter Ryan when he saw the trophies being assembled in the weeks beforehand in all their historic glory. Some of them went back to races which were first sailed in the 1930s or even earlier. Yet somehow he’d a feeling that reports of ISORA’s demise were greatly exaggerated. And at a practical level, he realised that the re-assembly of the trophies in the event of a revival some time in the future would be an insurmountable task.

national yc8 The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. Its Committee’s willingness to allow its office to be used as the base for ISORA saved the Association from being formally wound up in 2005.

So he set about doing some groundwork to see if the National YC would be prepared to provide the administrative paperwork in those digital changeover days to keep ISORA ticking over, and he had this approval in place as D-Day for the Final Dinner approached. Then fate took a hand in an almost spooky way. An exceptional storm (even by Irish Sea late-autumn standards) meant no cross-channel ferries could sail. The funeral party from the English and Welsh contingents were unable to get across to Dun Laoghaire.

In their absence, the Irish contingent went ahead with the dinner. But it was emphatically no longer a wake. On the contrary, ISORA was re-born, and with Peter Ryan making an input with a realistic sense of what was possible, it has slowly revived ever since, and is now once again a nationally and indeed internationally-respected force in offshore racing.

nyc commodores9National YC Commodores at Peter Ryan’s end-of-term Commodores’ Dinner in 2011 are (back row, left to right) Brian Barry (1990), Michael Horgan (1993), Con Murphy (2005), Barry MacNeaney (1996), and Malachi Muldoon (1987). Front row Chris Moore (2002), Peter Ryan (2008-2011) and Ida Kiernan (1999).

As for Peter Ryan, it was a case of a busy man getting ever busier. While quietly guiding the revival of ISORA with his effective mixture of under-stated determination and unrivalled knowledge of what the local offshore racing community requires from its sport, he had to continue for more than two years as NYC Vice Commodore, and then in 2008 he succeeded Con Murphy to take on the role of Commodore for three years as the great economic recession started to bite, with some of its most vicious effects reserved exclusively for Ireland.

But sailing life went on, albeit in muted style. Boats were still very much in being, even if they had to make do with sails no longer at their best. Yet as it happened, the fact that ISORA could provide accessible local offshore racing as economically as possible meant that its programme slowly revived and expanded despite the economic downturn.

isora racing10After the re-birth of 2005, ISORA numbers have been slowly but steadily increasing.

first407 tsunami11Vincent Farrell’s First 40.7 Tsunami, ISORA Champion in 2009 with Peter Ryan on board.

For Peter Ryan doing double duty as NYC Commodore and ISORA administrator, a very special year came in 2009 when he somehow found time to play a central role in Vincent Farrell’s First 40.7 Tsunami winning overall in the revived ISORA Championship in 2009. And though Tsunami has these days cut down on full-on offshore racing, Peter Ryan continues to campaign with her in DBSC and coastal races, while for the offshore stuff his growing treasure-hoard of cross-channel friendships has seen him filling regular crewing jobs on the Pwllheli-based J/109s Sgrech and Mojito, and he was on the strength of Sgrech for her overall victories in the 2012, 2013 and 2016 ISORA Championships.

sgrech at speed12Stephen Tudor’s J/109 Sgrech, three times ISORA overall champion. He has a new J/111 for 2018.

In fact, the role of the J/109s in the ISORA revival deserves praise – they were just what was needed when it was most needed, and duly received their reward. Stephen Tudor’s Sgrech won the championship from the Welsh side in 2012 and 2013, then Liam Shanahan Jnr’s Ruth from Ireland won in 2014 and 2015, while for 2016 and 2017 it has been back to Wales with Sgrech in 2016 and Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop’s Mojito from Pwllheli (though they regard the National as their Irish home) who were feted at last November’s mega-dinner as the 2017 champions, albeit with the title being settled by the tiniest of margins in the final race.

Yet in all this friendliest of cross-channel rivalries, Peter Ryan’s extraordinary ability to get on with people and fit into a team has meant that he can transfer seamlessly from one boat to another. Thus although he was on the strength of Sgrech when she won the 2013 Championship, in that same year he also successfully participated in both the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle and Fastnet Races as a leading crewmember on Mojito.

mojito 2013 fastnet13Dream sailing – fair winds and sunshine for Peter Ryan on Mojito’s helm in the 2013 Fastnet Race.

This breadth of experience helps to gives him a sort of sixth sense in gauging what ISORA crews expect from their programme, while he and co-administrator Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli (Peter is ISORA Chairman while Stephen is Secretary) have this almost telepathic relationship which enables ISORA to function effectively with a minimum of fuss through a programme which provides the maximum of racing with the least possible consumption of non-racing time.

Stephen tudor14Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli – he and Peter Ryan are in tune on offshore racing. Photo: W M Nixon

The Pwllheli skipper – in addition to his almost fanatical devotion to the cause of promoting his home port and the clear waters of Tremadoc Bay as a major sailing location – is renowned for his ability to maximize computer effectiveness. Thus we have this ten year parable for our time, whereby ISORA was saved in 2005 because the National YC was prepared to take on its administration through paperwork, but by 2015 it was thriving extremely efficiently because a successful owner-skipper in Pwllheli has a genius for modern computer-generated communication.

Yet that said, the old-fashioned ability to put a coherent account together immediately after the event is another key to ISORA-awareness, and Peter Ryan will willingly buckle down personally, and produce a report which speaks to participants and followers alike. It’s one of the many techniques he quietly employs to keep people interested, and think keenly of doing the next race in the series.

But all these management and communication skills would be much less effective were it not for the fact that Peter Ryan and Stephen Tudor are never happier than when they themselves are out racing offshore. They lead and inspire by example. Their quiet persuasion is underpinned by hugely-enjoyed action.

All that goes some way to explain why, just a dozen years after a dinner had been scheduled in the National Yacht Club for the doleful marking of the supposed demise of ISORA, in November 2017 Peter Ryan organised a joyful prize-giving dinner for 240 people from both sides of the channel at the same venue to celebrate a great ISORA year, and award those prizes which, back in 2005, had almost been scattered to the four winds.

mojito racing15The Champion. 2017 ISORA overall winner Mojito in perfect racing trim

michael boyd and vicky cox16At the record-breaking November 2017 ISORA Prize-giving Dinner in the National YC, RORC Commodore Michael Boyd (left) was Guest of Honour to see Vicky Cox (right), co-owner of Mojito with Peter Dunlop, receive the overall champion’s prize. With an attendance of 240, this 2017 dinner was in marked contrast to an event just a dozen years earlier, when it was originally intended to wind up ISORA.

It may have been a deservedly boisterous celebration. But behind the scenes, it has all been brought about through dogged belief in an ideal, and quiet persuasion with a keen sense of what is possible and what works best. It’s effective offshore racing without fuss. The ISORA Programme 2018 gets under way in a week’s time, and our sailing scene would be greatly diminished without it.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 3 of 26

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