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Paul O'Higgins is the first Royal Irish Yacht Club skipper in the 42-year-history of ISORA to win its overall Wolf's Head Trophy with previous winners (see list below) reading like a who's who of the Irish Sea offshore racing scene.

O'Higgins became 'top dog' of the Irish Sea following his overall win of the 2019 ISORA Championships beating the overall leader in the last race on Saturday.

Sailing the JPK10.80 Rockabill VI, O'Higgins is also the first Irish champion in three years after beating defending champions Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox's Mojito from Pwllheli Sailing Club in North Wales.

As Afloat reported earlier, O'Higgins overtook Welsh overall leader Andrew Hall 's J125 Jackknife in a thrilling three-boat climax to the series in the final race of 16 last Saturday afternoon.

The Wolf’s Head Trophy, initially presented as a Royal Dee Yacht Club race prize to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's 25th Jubilee Race in 1977, was subsequently repurposed and since awarded annually to the 'top dog' in Irish Sea racing and has been presented every year thereafter by ISORA.

The last Irish winner was Liam Shanahan's Ruth from the National Yacht Club in 2015.

Wolfs Head trophyISORA's Wolfs Head Trophy - Photo: ISORA

The ISORA victory marks a stand-out season for the RIYC sailor who also counts wins in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, the ICRA Championships and Calves Week.

O'Higgins also currently leads the table in ICRA's Boat of the Year Award that will not be decided until after next month's Autumn Leagues conclude.

A list of Wolf's Head winners from 1977 - 2018 is below:

2018 - Mojito - Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox
2017 - Mojito - Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox
2016 - Sgrech - Stephen Tudor
2015 - Ruth - Liam Shanahan
2014 - Ruth - Liam Shanahan
2013 – Sgrech – Stephen Tudor
2012 – Sgrech – Stephen Tudor
2011 - Raging Bull – Matt Davis
2010 - Raging Bull – Matt Davis
2009 – Tsunami – Vincent Farrell
2008 – Galileo – Tennyson, Lemass & Kelliher
2007 - Gums 'n' Roses - John & Guy Rose
2006 - Gums 'n' Roses - John & Guy Rose
2005 - Galileo - NYC
2004 - Trinculo - HYC
2003 - Gums 'n' Roses - John & Guy Rose
2002 - Jackhammer - A Hall
2001 - Sigmagic - R Dobson
2000 - Sigmagic - R Dobson
1999 - Keep on Smiling - J T Little
1998 - Keep on Smiling - J T Little
1997 - Corwynt Cymru III - GF Evans
1996 - Jackhammer - A Hall
1995 - Jackhammer - A Hall
1994 - Megalopolis - U Taylor
1993 - Megalopolis - U Taylor
1992 - Grenade - HS & CS Morris
1991 - Megalopolis UC Taylor & N Biggs
1990 - Scenario Encore - A Fitton
1989 - Decibel - J Marrow, J Reynolds & P Watson
1988 - Checkmate - JM Biggs
1987 - Canterbury - AJ Vernon
1986 - Banga Wanga - CM Hill
1985 - Glider - L Kertesz
1984 - Demelza - N Maguire
1983 - Rapparee II - B Kelly
1982 - Rapparee II - B Kelly
1981 - Rapparee II - B Kelly
1980 - Swuzzlebubble -WB Lyster
1979 - Sundancer - GR Haggas
1978 - Dai Mouse III - DWT Hague
1977 - Jublilee Race - 'Andromeda' AL Stead

Source: ISORA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round Ireland 2020

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

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

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

Full results are here

Race 16 Race Report by Peter Ryan, Chairman ISORA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackknife 9244

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ISORA is set to crown a new Irish Sea offshore champion this weekend with three boats able to win overall going into tomorrow's final race that looks set to be a light air conclusion to 2019.

The final race, for the James Eadie Trophy, is the high-scoring Hendrick Ryan sponsored 60-miler from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire that looks set to be on the nose with south-westerlies (less than 10-knots) from North Wales across the Irish Sea to Dublin Bay.

This will be the deciding race for the 2019 Championship Winner for the Wolf's Head Trophy, Class Winners and Silver Class Winner and any number of competitors could win.

Results to date are here

With six races to count and this last race counting for a 1.3 multiple, it is likely that the overall winner will be counting their result in this race. So if you only take the best results so far, the results are Andrew Hall's J125 Jackknife leading on 561.2 points, Chris Power Smith's Aurelia on 554.3 and Paul O'Higgins's Rockabill VI on 550.6. Any of these three can win and it also appears that the defending champion Mojito, currently in fourth overall, cannot overtake Jackknife, even if the J125 does not compete tomorrow.

Aurelia J122 6001Aurelia - in second overall

Rockabill VI 2219Rockabill VI - in third overall

Interestingly too, tomorrow's result may also impact ICRA's revamped Boat of the Year Award. It's not entirely clear from the ICRA website how much ISORA's final race counts towards these overall points in the new Boat of the Year calculations, but if they do then O'Higgins' Rockabill VI, who is top of the ICRA table, might well be able to wrap it up too with a win in ISORA. It's all to play for on the Irish Sea this weekend.

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Conditions couldn’t have been more glorious for a bank holiday weekend of ISORA races in Pwllheli writes Vicky Cox. The last two races of the Global Displays three-race Welsh Coastal series.

The first race of the weekend, the Global Displays Day race, was a 30nm coastal race taking in Pwllheli Sailing Club (PSC) Mark 10 off Penychain, the Causeway buoy and the Tudwal islands before heading back to the finish via the Tom Buoy. Given the winds forecast (none!), some felt the course was a little ambitious but with a steady 6-8kts at the start, all boats got away cleanly and steadily along the beach.

Andrew Hall’s Jackknife rounded PSC10 first, closely followed by Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s Mojito and once their kites and code zeros went up they progressed at a steady 6-7 knots down to the causeway cardinal buoy. Meanwhile, back at Penychain, it looked like the wind had dropped and Peter Ashworth’s ZigZag, Mark&Jo Thompson’s Jac y Do rounded 30 -40 minutes after the leading boats.

As the wind died further offshore, boats had the added problem of waves close to the bar. For Keith Greenwood’s Hullabaloo Encore, who rounded the PSC10 last, progress was painfully slow at less than 2kts and they were forced to eventually retire.

Meanwhile, at the causeway buoy, Jackknife managed to get some wind and sped away at an impressive 7-8kts leaving Mojito to round in the dying airs now 3 miles behind. It certainly looked like Jackknife had the race in the bag.

In consideration for the slower boats, the course was shortened - straight to the finish from the Tudwal islands but that’s where Jackknife ran into trouble and appeared to be heading west along the headland rather than east through the sound. An hour later they were joined by Mojito who soon realised the problem - barely any wind and significant tide against them.

Much merriment ensued in the deathly quiet of the sound and Jackknife were heard hailing from a distance ‘Starboard!’ Both boats erupted in laughter. Trying all tactics to get through, they both ended up close inshore next to Bear Grylls island where a gentleman appeared at the edge of the cliff asking ‘Are you alright?’, ‘Do you need any help?’, ‘Do you need any fuel?’. ‘We could do with some beer!’, was the reply.

Jackknife tacked away to try the other side of the sound while Mojito floated past hoping for more wind being funnelled through the islands.

Now joined by ZigZag and Jac y Do two hours after they had arrived, Jackknife appeared to be parked for the night under the cliffs of the headland so put up their kite in a desperate attempt to get the boat moving. Mojito appeared to be in a worse position as they were floating backwards between the two islands watching the slightest of zephyrs on the water, all frustratingly too far out of reach. The discussion onboard was a debate on how Bear Grylls managed to keep the flag flying on his island with such vigour while all around there was no wind to be seen. Boredom started to set in, so up went Mojito’s kite - at least it would dry it out after a heavy 10days of sailing.

Jac y Do watched as Mojito slowly disappeared between the islands, with just their masthead showing and then witnessed them being catapulted back out at speed. The zephyr had arrived! A desperate attempt to tack the kite meant it was wrapped in the very moment it was needed - of all the times!! But they managed to get it free and it filled. After over 3 hours of floating it was such an uplifting moment, almost worthy of a cheer. Off they shot smartly at 6kts.

But it was short lived, the wind had gone in the shadow of St Tudwals East. They could see wind at a flag on a lobster pot up ahead. Did they have enough momentum to get there? Yes, they did! And they managed to stay in it all the way to Pwllheli leaving the rest of the fleet to float at 0.5kts for another hour at least.

Mojito finally finished at 2133 taking 1st overall and class 1, Jackknife finished an hour later taking class 0 and Jac y Do an hour and 15 mins after that took 2nd overall and class 2 1st. Tremendous perseverance saw ZigZag finish at 0122 in the morning, taking 2nd in class 2.

After the struggle in the day race, there was little appetite for a lengthy Global Displays Night race in similar wind conditions, so it was kept short - PSC start, St Tudwal islands, and back to the finish. St Tudwals again?! Hadn’t we learned?! This time the fleet were sent through with the tide, rounding St Tudwals East, St Tudwals West and the bell buoy all to port.

Mojito got a good start along with Jackknife and managed to keep with them on the beat all the way to the islands, playing the shifts. Jackknife rounded St Tudwals West, up went the kite and off they went. Luckily the 6-7kts breeze was steady, with puffs of 8kts coming from the east. Mojito managed to capitalise on the wind bend with fewer gybes managing to finish just 10 minutes behind Jackknife to take 1st overall again. While Stephen Williams’s Darling xx were visibly closing the gap they were unable to beat Jackknife on handicap and had to settle for 3rd overall.

Mojito missed the first of the Global Displays three race coastal series in Pwllheli by taking part in the Irish coastal series sponsored by Viking marine. All the talk was of Mojito potentially winning the coastal series on both sides of the water. Had they compromised their lead in the Viking Marine series on the Irish side by being in Pwllheli?... As results came in from both sides of the Irish Sea it was evident that Mojito had brought back some Irish luck that weekend, and by a fluke of events and results, they had won the Viking Marine series overall without doing the last race. But with no discards on the Welsh side, they had to settle for 3rd overall in Pwllheli despite taking top spot in the last two races.

Jackknife had done enough to take the Global Displays series in Pwllheli with a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd, meaning that they retained the Midland Punch bowl. In time-honoured tradition, the bowl was filled by the two coastal series-winning skippers with vodka & tequila sunrises and the party continued well into the early hours.

Full results for both coastal series and ISORA offshore series can be found here

Pwllheli Sailing Club will welcome the ISORA skippers back on the 7th September for the last and deciding race of the overall ISORA series for the Wolf’s Head.

Racing then continues inshore in Pwllheli, with the very popular Autumn and Winter series, starting on the 21st September and every other weekend till Christmas.

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Race 14 of the ISORA Offshore Series 2019 took place from Dun Laoghaire on Saturday, 24th August 2019 writes Peter Ryan. 

As Afloat previously reported, the race was a Coastal Day Race with a 10.00 start. The race was part of the ISORA “Viking Marine” Irish Coastal Series and also a feeder race to the Greystones Regatta

The race was the last race in what was to be a five-race series for the Viking Marine Coastal Series. However, one of the earlier races was cancelled due to severe weather. The discard was still to be applied after this race. It was hoped that this could open the challenge for the series. Peter Dunlop’s “Mojito” was leading the series into the last race followed by Lindsay Casey’s “Windjammer” and Paul O’Higgins' “Rockabill VI”.

Of the 24 entries, 14 boats came to the start line at DBSC “Pier” mark and were sent on their way by Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power. The race organiser for the race was Grainne Ryan and the Safety Officer was Anita Begley.

The series leader “Mojito” was not to be seen. It was back home in Pwllheli taking part in the ISORA UK Global Communications coastal series taking place the same day. Just prior to the start Rupert Barry’s “Red Alert” developed steering problems and retired.

The forecast for the day was for SSE winds 10-15 knots and possibly reaching 20 knots. The winds were very local with very light winds in all other parts of the Irish Sea. To ensure that the fleet finished in Greystones in sufficient time to take part in the “Taste of Greystones”, a 33 mile course was selected by the Sailing Committee

The course was:

  • Start at DBSC “Pier Mark”
  • Muglins (S)
  • North India (S)
  • Wicklow Outfall (S)
  • Finish at Greystones

As the boats exited Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the start the winds were SSE 14-18 knots. However, soon after the start, the wind dropped to 10 knots.

At the start, there was still two hours of south going tide. The first leg to the Muglins was a beat with the fleet splitting, some heading inshore and the remainder staying out in the tide offshore.

Frank Whelan’s “Eleuthera” led the fleet from start to finish followed closely by Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” and George Sisk’s “WOW”. The second leg down the coast started with a fetch but the veering wind to South headed the fleet inshore and produced another beat. The fleet made landfall at Greystones but had to keep going another 8 miles to North India. Close tacking along the beach to avoid the tide, paid off.

Eventually, the fleet had to strike out into the tide for North India. As the leaders arrived at North India the wind dropped to 3-5 knots making rounding the buoy very difficult for all boats. The leading Class 0 boats managed to round North India before the tide became too strong in the light winds to make any progress to the mark. Many of the boats retired at this point, unable to reach North India.

ISORA courseThe ISORA course for race 14

Those boats that managed to round North India crabbed their way against the tide in the zephyrs for the 6 miles fetch to Wicklow Outfall. Once Wicklow Outfall was rounded, good progress was made in a dead run towards the finish in Greystones.

Finish times were recorded automatically using the YB trackers and results were displayed immediately a boat crossed the finish line.

“Eleuthera” took line honours, Class 0 and the Overall IRC. “Windjammer” took Class 2. Grzegorz Kalinecki’s “More Mischief” took Silver Class. Full results are on the ISORA website www.isora.org

The Greystones Regatta committee presented prizes for 1st and 2nd Overall in the ISORA Race.

The results in this race, after the discard was applied, did not knock “Mojito” off the top, despite not even taking part. “Mojito” won the Viking Marine ISORA Coastal Series and Class 1. “Windjammer” took 2nd Overall and Class 2 while “Rockabill VI” took 3rd Overall and Class 0. “More Mischief” took Silver Class.

The next race is the final offshore to take place on the 7th September from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire. It will be the decider race for the Overall ISORA Championship with Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” leading the series. A weighting of 1.3 will be applied to the results of this race. This weighting with an anticipated large fleet taking part could topple “Jackknife”, “Aurelia” and “Rockabill VI” are in position to challenge for the coveted Wolf’s Head trophy and Overall ISORA Offshore Championship.

To encourage ISORA boats to take part, the entry fee for the race is been waived for any boat that has raced in ISORA in the past. A complimentary Crew Bus is also being organised to bring crew taking the afternoon ferry, from Holyhead to Pwllheli.

To further encourage boats to take part, an end of season party has been arranged in the National Yacht Club after the race, no matter what time the boats finish. This is always a great social event where the new ISORA Champion will be toasted.

Entries for any of the remaining ISORA races are welcomed. Online entry can be made on the ISORA website 

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Greystones Sailing Club yacht Eleuthera (Frank Whelan) was the winner of Saturday's final Viking Marine ISORA Coastal Series Race from Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay to Greystones Harbour in County Wicklow.

Only eight of the 14 starters finished the 40-mile race that started at 0955 am in perfect 10-knot southerly breezes at DBSC's Pier Mark. 

The Wicklow Grand Soleil 44 was impressive from the first tack out of Dublin Bay but Whelan was too eager at the start arriving too early for the pin end and having to gybe around.  

Second was the Royal St. George's Aurelia, Chirs Power Smith's J122 who beat off Wow (George Sisk's XP44 from the Royal Irish) and Paul O'Higgins's JPK10.80, Rockabill VI, also of the RIYC.

The boats are now positioned for today's BJ Marine Taste of Greystones Regatta. More here

Results are here

ISORA Start 1 5925With approximately 20 seconds to go, the 14-boat fleet lines up for the start off the East Pier...

ISORA Start 2 5928...but Eleuthera arrives too early.....

ISORA Start 3 5929and bears away from the line....

ISORA Start 4 5931....also early was overall contender, the J97 Windjammer 

ISORA Start 5 5933but timing the start to perfection was Chris Power Smith's Aurelia

ISORA Start 6 5937....who nailed the pin end right on the gun

ISORA Start 7 5949Windjammer made a port tack start as did Eleuthera below her and headed into the Dublin Bay shoreline

Aurelia 6001Aurelia - second

WOW 6015WOW -third

Rockabill 6046Rockabill VI - fourth

Lively Lady 6169Lively Lady - sixth

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The final race of the Viking Marine Coastal Series ISORA series on Saturday will see an expected fleet of 18-20 boats race to Greystones Marina in County Wicklow on Saturday. 

As Afloat reported earlier, this, the 14th race in the ISORA calendar begins at 0955 am and the aim is to race over 40-miles but with the light air forecast, the course will not be published later today.

The ISORA champion Mojito, the Welsh J109 of Peter Dunlop & Victoria Cox, leads for coastal honours but Royal St. George's Windjammer Lindsey J Casey & Denis Power is only 2.6 points off the lead.

Read more in today's Irish Times here.

Read W M Nixon's Greystones Regatta focus on Saturday here

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Race 12 of the ISORA Offshore Series 2019 took place from Dun Laoghaire on the 16th August 2019. The race was a Night Race with a 20.00 hrs start. The race was part of the ISORA “Viking Marine” sponsored Irish Coastal Series writes ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan.

The race has taken place in the past with mostly balmy conditions when the fleet glided down the coast, illuminated by the lights on land. Well, this year was not to be like that. The weather for the previous day and for the morning of the race was very windy with a Gale Warning in operation for most of the country. The weather was so unsettled that the Night Race from Pwllheli, that was to take place at the same time, was postponed.

Viking logo

Fortunately, the weather moderated on the west Irish Sea and the forecast for the race was for SW 10-15, Gusting 25 knots. This was the weather that existed for much of the race except when conditions became very squally when winds up to 35 knots were recorded.

Of the 22 entries only 13 boats came to the start line at DBSC “Pier” mark and were sent on their way by Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power. The race organiser for the race was Grainne Ryan and the Safety Officer was Anita Begley.

Conditions at the start were light with 8-10 Knot SW winds providing a spinnaker start for the fleet towards the first mark. The tide on the day was a strong spring tide so the course for the race, as set by the Sailing Committee, ensured that the least amount of tide plugging took place. The tide was fast flooding north at the start. The fleet headed north.

The 39-mile course was:

  • Start at DBSC “Pier Mark”
  • ISORA Dublin (Virtual Mark ) (P)
  • Taylor’s Rock Cardinal (S)
  • Lambay Island (S)
  • Bennet (S)
  • ISORA Dublin (Virtual Mark ) (S)
  • Finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.

Conditions leaving Dublin Bay became light with winds dropping to 5-6 Knots for a time. Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” led the charge out of the bay and was first to round ISORA Dublin virtual mark. As the fleet rounded ISORA Dublin the first of many squalls hit and caused a huge amount of frenzied activity on many boats, trying to get spinnakers down and jibs up. The squalls did not last long, but it changed the Leaderboard.

“Aurelia” and Paul O’Higgins “Rockabill VI” led the fleet north towards Taylors Rock Cardinal, located just north of Lambay Island. This leg was a tight reach and suited those boats with asymmetric spinnakers. Rounding Taylor’s Rock caused some confusion to the fleet as there was no light on the buoy and the first boats approached the buoy in darkness. Well used to rounding virtual marks, the fleet successfully rounded the “dark shape” and turned south toward Bennet. This leg was a fetch. Squalls were still blowing through.

The Line Honour placings within the fleet remained the same except that the faster boats could not get sufficiently away from the remainder of the fleet to take overall leading positions. The leg from Bennet to ISORA Dublin Bay was a beat and the final leg to the finish was a very tight reach.

Finish times were recorded automatically using the YB trackers and results were displayed immediately a boat crossed the finish line.

“Aurelia” took line honours but not sufficiently far ahead to prevent “Rockabill VI” taking the Overall IRC and Class 0 win. Simon Knowles, J109 “Indian”, took 2nd place Overall IRC and 1st in Class 1, just ahead of Peter Dunlop’s “J109, “Mojito”. Lindsay Casey’s “Windjammer” took Class 2. Grzegorz Kalinecki’s “More Mischief” took Silver Class. Full results are here

The result for “Rockabill VI” tightens the top of the ISORA Overall Championship and focuses the spotlight on the top four contenders – Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife”, “Rockabill VI”, “Aurelia” and “Mojito”. As the championship uses the high point scores, the Champion for 2019 will not be known until after the last offshore race on the 7th September, from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire. This race is of further importance as the weighting for the points in the race is 1.3. In the Silver Class, “More Mischief” and Joe Conway’s “Elandra” are close together for the Silver Class Series.

As we head into the last coastal race next Saturday the Viking Marine Coastal Series will be decided in Greystones. A discard will kick in after that race and this will open the Series to several boats. At this stage “Mojito” is leading in Overall but “Windjammer” and “Rockabill” are close behind. Class winners will also be decided.

The next race is a coastal race and takes place next Saturday 24th August. The start is in Dun Laoghaire and finishes in Greystones. It is the final race in the Viking Marine Coastal Series and acts as a feeder race to the Greystones Regatta. Greystones Regatta is a great social and sailing event and takes place on Sunday the 25th. ISORA boats are encouraged to enter this event and join in the fun.

The Pwllheli ISORA Night Race, postponed from last Friday, is rescheduled for next Sunday 25th August, a Bank Holiday in the UK.

Entries for any of the remaining ISORA races are welcomed. Online entry can be made here

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ISORA offshore racing tops the offshore agenda again now summer Regattas and Championships are more or less completed writes Stephen Tudor.

ISORA has attracted 60 competitors (so far) in the 2019 series.

Top ISORA performer Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) scored a great win on the final day to claim the Calves Week overall title as Afloat reported here.

Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) competing in CowesRockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) competing in Calves Week Photo: Bob Bateman

On the Welsh, side competitors were treated to fantastic racing in the IRC Welsh National Championships with 6 races completed in two days.

Injenious, a local boat, won Class 2 and the Overall title by one point to Class 1 winner, Spirit of Jacana from Carrickfergus and Dee SC who in-turn beat Triple Elf from Clyde Cruising Club on countback! The full report is available here.

Race 12 and 13 - Friday Night 16th August

The next races are the Viking Marine Coastal Night Race (12) in Dun Laoghaire and the Global Display Coastal Night Race (13) in Pwllheli both on Friday evening 16th August 2019

Race 14, 15 and Race Re-Run of Postponed Race 2 - 24th & 25th August

On Saturday 24th August we will have two coastal races - one in Ireland and the other in Wales. (Races 14 and 15)

On Sunday 25th August the postponed Global Display Race (no.2) will be raced

There is a party in Pwllheli Sailing Club on Saturday Night 24th August between the two coastal races - all welcome!

Race 16 - 7th September

The final race of the 2019 series is the High Scoring Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire Race on 7th September. This will be the deciding race for the 2019 Championship Winner for the Wolf's Head Trophy, Class Winners and Silver Class Winner.

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A win in Saturday's offshore race from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli has put Andrew Hall's Jackknife into the overall ISORA lead after 11 races sailed.

Racing into his home port of Pwllheli after 75 miles of sailing, Hall and his J125 crew now top the overall ISORA championships points table by 30 points in the 60-boat fleet.

The overall result is calculated from the best nine races sailed so far this season with three discards applied.

Aurelia J122 2116

Second in race 11 was Royal St George Yacht Club's J122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith) with Dublin Bay JPK 10.8 rivals Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in third place. 

Rockabill Paul OHiggins 3302Chris Power Smith's J122 Aurelia is lying third overall in the 2019 ISORA Series Photo: Afloat

See race 11 results here and overall results here

Race report from Marc Thompson below

The build-up to race 11 showed a consistent NW wind in the mid Irish Sea, with potentially less in both Dublin and Cardigan Bays. The general consensus of the sailing committee, was to start as published and route direct to the finish line at Pwllheli, with the only mark of the course the ISORA bay mark to keep clear of Dublin Port. The talk in the bar the night before however was the tidal gate at Bardsey, and its impact on the race - with a potential in light airs for the class 2 boats to take advantage of a parked fleet, or in stronger winds to allow the faster boats to get through before the tide turned.

Saturday dawned brightly, and a fleet of 15 gathered off the Dun Laoghaire harbour entrance, ready for the 75 mile race to Pwllheli, with the up to date forecast promising a little more wind, particularly on the Welsh side.

Barry MacNeaney and Larry Power of the National Yacht Club started the fleet from the pier mark, with the fleet getting away cleanly in a 10 kts North Westerly breeze, with spinnakers hoisted on the line on Starboard Gybe

J125 Jackknife taking an early lead, chose to remain on starboard and go south of the rhumb line, with most of the fleet gybing onto port shortly after passing Muglins. Leaving Dublin bay the wind built as promised averaging 12-17kts allowing a fast crossing, with the fleet bunching in class order! The south going tide was with the fleet for 5 hours, allowing most of the fleet to sail just south of the rhumb line, and soak further down when able, to mitigate the later tide turn. The fleet enjoyed a great spinnaker run, with some impressive boats speeds, and frankly champagne sailing!

Approaching the Welsh side, the north going tide didn’t trouble the fleet too much, particularly as the wind veered a little to the north as the tide changed, which was very helpful in being able to lay the sound without gybing. A few boats went close to the North coast of the Llyn Peninsula , and reported some big windshifts and turbulent water. Jackknife managed to get to Bardsey Sound just at the end of slack water and blasted through with speeds of 10-12ts over the ground, with Aurelia arriving as the tide turned. The rest of the fleet lead by Rockabill and Mojito got to Bardsey a little later and had to sail though against 4-5 kts of tide, but with the wind holding at 15 kts were able to maintain good boat speed. The sound was reasonably calm considering wind over tide, but a few boat experienced the overfalls and disturbed water south of the tripods!

The whole fleet got through Bardsey against the tide without any major problems.

Once through Bardsey a straight forward sail to Pwllheli with a few wind holes for the backmarkers to negotiate, in a generally dying northerly breeze, with a fetch from St Tudwals to the Plas Heli finish line under white sails, manned by ISORA finishers Brian Metcalf and Robin Evans. The last boat finished at 21:20 , and all enjoyed a “boisterous” aprés sail in Plas Heli, with Richard Tudor (Jackknife) and Pete Ashworth (Zig Zag) celebrating a special birthday milestone this weekend. Congratulations to Andrew Hall J125 “Jackknife” who took line honours, class O and overall, Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox J109 “Mojito” who won class 1 and Lindsay Casey and Denis Power J97 “Windjammer” who won class 2 giving the J109’s a great race.

“Jackknife” leads the ISORA overall from “Rockabill VI” with coastal races on both sides of the Irish sea in August, before the high point scoring “James Eadie” race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire in September

Race management by Peter Ryan at the Dun Laoghaire end, with Jo Thompson and Awel Tudor managing the trackers in Pwllheli. Thanks also to safety officer Anita Begley .
The next races are the Exposure lights night races on August 16th

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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