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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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The 2018 ISORA Offshore Championship was decided in a nail-biting finish to the last race on Saturday. Reigning ISORA Offshore Champion, “Mojito” (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), had led the series for much of the season but Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” just had to win the last race to snatch the coveted Wolf’s Head trophy back from “Mojito”.
The race was the annual James Eadie Race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire, a distance of 80 miles. There were 27 entries for the race but only 15 were confirmed starters. Of these only 13 managed to get the Pwllheli for the start.

The forecast for the race was strong South-West winds backing to South later in the day. The forecast also indicated no winds in Dublin Bay for the finish. As well as the strong winds at the start, driving rain made the exit from Pwllheli challenging. The strong winds had whipped up big seas on the beat from the start to Bardsey, with mountainous overfalls at St Tudwals islands.

“Aurelia” took an early lead followed by Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” with “Mojito” close behind. By the time the fleet had slipped through Bardsey Sound three distinct groupings were starting to form. “Aurelia” and “Jackknife” were out in front, “Mojito” and Brendan Coughlan’s “YoYo” formed the next group. The remainder of the fleet was led by Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech J111”, Cris Miles “North Star” and Derek Matthew’s “Pleione of Dee”. Grant Kinsman “Thalia” and “Pleione of Dee” were sailing two-handed.

Exiting Bardsey Sound the 60 mile leg to the finish was a tight reach. With the strong winds, gusting up to 30 knots, no boat attempted to fly anything but their main and jib. The feature of the last leg was the strong spring tides that had just started to ebb south against the fleet. The fleet would be approaching the Kish Bank at low springs and selecting the position for crossing the bank or not, was significant.

More drama unfolded in Dublin bay when “Jackknife” enter first only to find that the wind had totally disappeared and was limping towards the finish while “Aurelia” was thundering along behind them. However, “Jackknife” did enough to hold on and took Line Honours, IRC Overall and Class 0. “Aurelia” took 2nd IRC Overall and 2nd Class 0 but unfortunately “Mojito” survived the doldrums in Dublin Bay and finished ahead of “YoYo” and “Sgrech” to take 3rd IRC Overall and Class 1. This was enough for “Mojito” to block out “Aurelia” from the Championship win by only 3 points – 0.5% of the season score.

Lindsay Casey’s “Windjammer” took Class 2 and “Plieone of Dee” took the 2-handed class.

After this difficult and challenging race “Mojito” were worthy ISORA Offshore Champions again, retaining the Wolf’s Head Trophy. “Aurelia”, despite been prevented from winning the Offshore Series, won the Series where all results count (no discards). They also won the ISORA Viking Marine Irish / Royal Alfred Coastal Series.

Full results as well as the YB tracking of the race can be found here

Prizes for the season will be presented at the Annual ISORA Dinner to be held in the NYC on 10th November.

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With a clear lead of 27.1 points, defending ISORA champions Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox in the J109 Mojito look set to retain their title in tomorrow's final race of the season.

Royal St. George's J122 Aurelia skippered by Chris Power–Smith can still topple them but it will take some doing.

15 starters are expected for the Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire race where the season-long outcome for the Wolfs Head Trophy will be settled.

See race documents downloadable below.

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ISORA's Race 14 was the final race of the Welsh coastal series, which would decide the Global Displays Welsh Coastal Series. With 23 boats competing in Ireland for the Viking Marine Coastal Series, and 7 in Pwllheli, both coastal series have been well supported this year writes Mark Thompson.

Leading up to race day, the forecast showed light northwesterly winds, with a potential to reduce through the day and back. After much discussion, the race committee set a 29-mile course from Pwllheli to the Westend mark, round St Tudwals Islands, Porthmadog Fairway and back to the finish via a turning mark at the south of the Westend.

With a steady 12-15kt breeze, the fleet got away cleanly for a fetch down to the west end before the reach down to St Tudwals. “Jackknife” lead the charge with “Sgrech J111” close behind. Round the first mark “Sgrech” elected to hoist an A5 which enabled a more direct course to the sound. Most of the fleet flew running A sails but struggled to stay high enough to make the sound and had to revert to white sails close to the islands. Once round St Tudwals West, a glorious 9-mile spinnaker run to Porthmadog, with just a few gusts to contend with, and crew working hard to stay high enough to lay the mark. It was great to be sailing in such fantastic conditions, with stunning views of Snowdonia and the Gwynedd coastline. This was very welcome after the previous three very wet and windy ISORA races and a breezy IRC Nationals.

The whole fleet made great progress down this leg and were all very close on corrected time approaching the Madog fairway. Round the mark it was a beat back towards Llanbedrog, with crew working hard to utilise the many shifts, to attempt to stay close to the rhumb line. J109 “Jetstream” elected to take an inshore route and managed to make the mark with minimal tacks. Most of the fleet stayed out in the bay, with potentially more breeze, particularly as the forecast showed the wind died during the afternoon. This never really happened and the wind stayed steady from the NW all day, giving flat water but shifty gusts. Round the final mark, a reach to the finish along the Westend and south beach, under spinnaker, a great spectacle for the many holidaymakers on the beach with a couple of decent broaches!

J125 “Jackknife” took like honours with “Sgrech” close behind and winning class O but it was “Jetstream” who took a fine overall win and class 1, after taking the inshore route.

Class 2 was won by “Hullabaloo Encore”, and the final results gave the series win to “Jackknife” winning the midland bowl and becoming the Global Displays Welsh Coastal Series winners for 2018.

After racing crews gathered in Plas Heli to discuss the race and Andrew Hall generously filled the midland bowl with a very tasty punch for all crews to enjoy.
It was a great day sailing, and we now look forward to the final race in two weeks time, the James Eadie 75 mile race from Pwllheli to Dún Laoghaire which will once again establish the 2018 ISORA overall series winner, to receive the much coveted wolfs head trophy.

Results here

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The Royal St. George Yacht Club J122 Aurelia continued her winning offshore form in the ISORA Series today by winning Race 13 from Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay to Greystones Harbour in County Wicklow.

The Chris Power Smith skippered entry, that is vying for the overall ISORA title as well as the Viking Marine Coastal Series, saw off a strong challenge today from Poolbeg J109 Roger Smith as well as a challenge from Frank Whelan's all-conquering Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones Sailing Club.

A 23 boat fleet had a hectic start at the pin–end of the line in Dun Laoghaire before the reach south at 10 am this morning in the 24-mile race.

Making a return to ISORA racing after his retiral from the Round Britain and Ireland Race was Howth Yacht Club's Conor Fogerty in his Class II entry, the vintage Silver Shamrock. 

See photos below

ISORA Start 0027(Above and below) There was a schmozzle at the pin end (DBSC Pier Mark) of the start line Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA start 0028

ISORA Eleuthera 0284The Greystones crew of the Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Eleuthera 0243Eleuthera set a staysail to work out an early on the water lead Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA WOW Farr 42 0080WOW Farr 42 flies a huge asymmetric spinnaker in the gusty northwesterly Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Samaton 0564Robert Rendell's Samatom, an XC45 from Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 0554Two Sunfast 3600s – Hot Cookie Sunfast 3600 (John O'Gorman) to weather and Brendan Coghlan's YOYO (also below) from the Royal St George Yacht Club Photo: Afloat.ie

Yo Yo 0498

ISORA Flashback 0185Paddy Gregory's First 34.7 Flashback from Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Waker Wakey 0128Poolbeg entry Waker Wakey is skippered by Roger Smith Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Aurelia 0146Chris Power Smth's race winner Aurelia was helmed by Duncan Lyster of the Royal St. George Yacht Club Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Aurelia Wakey wakey 0113Aurelia chases Wakey Wakey Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA Silver Shamrock 0065Conor Fogerty at the helm of Silver Shamrock Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA fleet 0097(Above and below) The 23-boat ISORA fleet head south from Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

ISORA fleet 0068

Top Five 
1 IRC Class 0 Aurelia IRL 35950 J122 Royal St George Yacht Club Chris & Patanne Power Smith
2 IRC Class 1 Wakey Wakey GBR 5909R J109 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club Roger Smith 
3 IRC Class 0 Eleluthera NED 7025 Grand Soleil 44 Race Frank Whelan 
4 IRC Class 0 WOW IRL 4208 Farr 42 Royal Irish Yacht Club George Sisk 
5 IRC Class 0 Lively Lady IRL 1644 First 44.7 Royal Irish Yacht Club Derek Martin 

ISORA Full results here

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The 12th race in the ISORA Offshore Series took place on Saturday the 11th of August, with 11 of the 13 entered boats coming to the start for an 08.00 gun writes ISORA Chief Peter Ryan. Many of the regular competitors were elsewhere engaged, with this month’s busy event calendar. Bam (Read about her retiral here) and AJ Wanderlust taking part in the Round Britain and Ireland Race. Others that did and did not take part were still suffering from the August “crew blues”.

The forecast was for moderate South Easterly winds steadily building throughout the day and veering to strong Southerly. It was decided that the course would be direct to Pwllheli with Bardsey Island not a mark of the course. The fleet was set on it’s way to windward from Pier Mark at Dun Laoghaire by race officers Larry Power and Barry MacNeaney of the National Yacht Club.

The first leg toward Bardsey was a beat against strong north going spring tides. The tide was due to change south at midday.

“Jacknife” and “Aurelia” lead the fleet out of the bay taking the middle course followed by “Mojito” and “Wakey Wakey”. “Mojo” and “YoYo” took the more Northerly side followed by “Andante”. Meanwhile “Sgrech J111” was heading South through Dalkey Sound taking the Southerly track to take advantage of the stronger tide later in the race and the forecast Southerly shift in the wind.

The race developed into a long one sided beat and a short tack towards Bardsey and the race was on to arrive before the tide turned in the notorious sound where a late arrival can be greeted by adverse tides of 6 knots and big seas. The wind strengthened to 25 to 30 knots and all of the forecasted rain arrived. There was little change in the positions across the Irish Sea. The wind never veered, as the fleet battled to windward most with one or two reefs and heavy weather jibs, and needing to tack down the welsh coats towards Badrsey Sound. Strangely, the south going tide never took hold with the wind preventing the tide gaining strength. This did not help the fleet, particularly “Sgrech J111” who had banked on this tidal assistance.

“Aurelia” lead the fleet through the sound followed by “Jacknife”. Next were “Sgrech J111” and closely behind, “Mojito”. At this time the tidal gate at Bardsey was closing fast. The first boats passed through the sound with slack tide closing out the following boats with the renewed strong north going tide. T

With all to play for and the race far from over, the closely spaced boats fought for advantage as they fetched to the headland at Trwyn Cilan where at last sails could be eased for a reach home to Pwllheli, through the sound at Tudwals Island. The winds were a steady 28 knots at this stage and gusting over 30. “Aurelia” whilst lightly crewed decided not to hoist a spinnaker but continued in the lead with a J2 at 10 knots while the chasing boats hoisted spinnakers bravely to try and catch up. “Jacknife” hoisted a code zero and made speeds of over 17 knots, whilst “Mojito” and “Sgrech J111” hoisted an A5. “Aurelia” held onto the lead and crossed the line first after 11 hours of racing to narrowly win IRC overall by only 3 minutes from “Mojito”, with “Sgrech J111” in third. “Aurelia” also took line honours and the Cruiser Zero Race. “Mojito” won the Cruiser One Race. “Windjammer” won the Cruiser Two Race.

All the very wet participants headed to the marina for complimentary berthing assisted and marshaled by Richard Tudor and up to the Plas Heli sailing centre where they received a wonderful Welsh welcome from Heidi and her staff with hot food and a few cold drinks. As crews sat tired, battered and bruised in the bar, there was a quite satisfaction in having taken part in what turned out to be another classic ISORA.

The results for this race has concentrated the Overall Series on existing Champion “Mojito” and “Aurelia”. These are followed closely behind by “Rockabill VI” and “Wakey Wakey”. While anything is possible, the two leading boats will have to battel out the last race to secure the coveted Wolf’s Head Trophy. The other two boats can in theory take the title but it will depend on a large fleet taking part producing additional points in the high point system.

The next race is the feeder coastal race to Greystones on the 25th August. The final offshore is the James Eadie race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire on the 8th September.

Full results can be found here

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The 11th race in the ISORA Offshore Series took place on the 28th July with an 08.00 start from Dun Laoghaire writes Peter Ryan. 20 boats were due on the start line for the race but poor weather forecasts and a problem with adequate crewing levels for the race resulted in two boats withdrawing.

The 60-mile course was from the normal start at Dun Laoghaire – South Burford (P) – M2 Weather Buoy (P) – Rockabill (P) – Rowan Rocks (S) and to a virtual finish line set up just west of Rowan Rocks. M2 Weather buoy is located in the middle of the Irish Sea east of Lambay Island.

The weather started to deteriorate before the race when 20 Knots of wind built rapidly while boats were still in the marina. The weather forecasts for the race area varied widely. While Met Eireann was forecasting SW 7-8 for the general sea area north of Howth, other more site-specific weather forecasts were talking about SW 25 knots veering W and decreasing 15 knots. Unfortunately for the fleet, MET Eireann was more accurate.

CourseISORA's 60–mile Course 11 Screenshot:YB

At the start, the wind was 25 knots SW and gusty, as the fleet headed over the start line set by past Commodore of the NYC, Larry Power. Some boats attempted to set spinnakers for the short reach to South Burford but were very quickly knocked over. Boats started to retire very shortly after arriving at the race area.

By the time the fleet rounded South Burford and went on the 22–mile dead run towards M2 the winds had increased to 30 knots with stronger gusts. Nobody attempted to fly spinnakers and most boats had reefed mains.

Andrew Hall’s “Jackknife” led the charge from start to finish and Paul O’Higgins’s “Rockabill VI” soon took their place on the rollercoaster behind “Jackknife”. On the leg to M2 Stephen Tudor’s “Sgrech J111” was following the lead boats with “Mojito”, Wakey Wakey” and “YoYo” in hot pursuit.

“Sgrech J111” recorded a maximum speed of 22.3 knots while surfing the top of a wave"

On the leg to M2 the winds were a steady 30-35 knots with stronger gusts. “Sgrech J111” recorded a gust of 42 knots. Boat speeds on this leg were extraordinary. Again “Sgrech J111” recorded a maximum speed of 22.3 knots while surfing the top of a wave.

The thrill of the rollercoaster ride was soon to be paid for in the fetch west towards Rockabill. Having sustained some sail damage “Sgrech J111” slipped behind the two J109’s. During this leg the wind and seas decreased significantly with 15 knots from the SW at Rockabill providing another fetch to Rowan Rocks, east of Howth. While Lambay Island was not on the course the fleet was divided with some boats taking the inshore passage towards Ireland’s Eye and the Rowan Rocks buoy and the finish Line. The inshore passage appeared to be the best choice with those boats pulling ahead,

By the time “Jackknife” crossed the finish line, 9 of the 18 starters had retired. While “Jackknife” took line honours, “Rockabill VI” took IRC Overall and Class 0. “Wakey Wakey” took 2nd Overall and Class 1 while “Windjammer” took Class 2. “More Mischief” won Silver Class.

With Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” early withdrawal from the race, it kicked the 2018 Overall Offshore Series wide open. After the race, “Mojito”, the 2017 champions, have taken the lead in the overall table with fours races to go. “Rockabill VI” has slipped into second place followed closely by “Aurelia” and “Wakey Wakey”. Only 30 points separate these four boats, not a significant amount considering that up to 120 points could be awarded to a winning boat using the High Points Scoring system.

The next race will be critical for the shape of the series. That race is an 85 mile Offshore from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli on the 11th August. A win by any of the leading four boats could push them beyond reasonable reach for the last race, The James Eadie race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire on the 8th September.

Full details of the results and the race tracker can be found here 

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The Royal St. George Yacht Club J122 Aurelia, skippered by Chris Power Smith, will defend its overall lead in the 11th race of the 2018 ISORA Championships on Saturday. Power Smith will be chased by Welsh defending champions Mojito (Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop) who are second overall and five points adrift of the Dun Laoghaire entry.

The 60–mile race starts off Dun Laoghaire's East Pier at 8 am and will finish off Howth Yacht Club.

David O'Brien has much more on the weekend ISORA offshore fixture. that has attracted a fleet of 20 boats, in this morning's Irish Times Sailing Column here.

Download starters list below.

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