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Displaying items by tag: Offshore

Dun Laoghaire Harbour sailor Kenneth Rumball a previous successful competitor on the ISORA circuit, along with teammate Pamela Lee has been competing in the toughest offshore sailing circuit, the one-design Figaro circuit in France. This circuit has produced some of the worlds greatest sailors including Jean Le Cam, Armel Le Cleach and Mike Golding to name a few.

In the past 18 months, the pair under the banner of 'RL Sailing' has been racing, training and coached by the most experienced French coaches in the training hubs of Lorient and St Gilles Croix De Vie.

The aim of RL Sailing is to qualify and represent Ireland in the mixed double-handed offshore class at the Paris 2024 Olympics

RL Sailing has similar aims to grow the sport of sailing in all disciplines in Ireland and here the pair explain their latest initiative.

Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in FranceKenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee onboard their Figaro 3 foiler in France

A key ethos for the enjoyment of the sport is understanding. If more crews and skippers alike have a better understanding of the sport, they are more likely to enjoy their time on the water and will want to spend more time on the water. 

RL Sailing in conjunction with a sponsor of the team are offering pre and post-race analysis of the two ISORA training races pre the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and also a pre-race briefing for the D2D race. These sessions will be delivered via Zoom unless restrictions ease to allow briefings to be held in an outside well-ventilated area such as a marquee.

Pre-Race briefings will be conducted to look specifically around the wind and tides to be expected during the training races and also to look at some generic boat set up discussions.

Different weather models will be discussed along with local weather trends such as sea breezes, tidal variances and current changes.

However given the wide variety of boats sailed in the ISORA races, specific boat type settings and setups will not be discussed. These briefings are standard practice in the Figaro circuit to help skippers and crews discuss and understand the weather ahead of them to give a better understanding of the race and racecourse.

The post-race analysis will be a led discussion centring around which weather models were most accurate, the course and route taken by the leading boats, sail selection and options for different boats.

A certain amount of this discussion will be prepared from the Yellowbrick trackers to give skippers and crews an understanding of boat speeds and courses taken by each boat.

Once again this information sharing is a key training tool used in the Figaro circuit. While we are all competitors on the water, for all sailors to improve, information is shared and discussed to build knowledge.

We believe that training like this is invaluable to all skippers and crews and will only lead to a better understanding of offshore racing which will improve the standard of sailing and the performance of Irish offshore sailors both in home waters and abroad.

These sessions are currently subsidised by a generous RL Sailing sponsor to all ISORA sailors competing in the training races on the 15th and 29th of May 2021 and the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, however, in due course, there will be a modest fee for later races for this service.

The initial weather briefing for the race commencing on the 15th of May will take place on the 14th of May at 20:00 hours and will last for approximately 1.5 hours.

Zoom link here;

Topic: ISORA Training Race 15-5-21 Pre Race Weather Briefing
Time: May 14, 2021 08:00 PM Dublin

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87838370799?pwd=ZHpQZU44UWtHa2ROT2lTY0Q3Q1RqUT09

Meeting ID: 878 3837 0799
Passcode: 297492

Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee

Published in ISORA
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Following an update on COVID-19 compliance and revised restrictions, the Royal Western Yacht Club in the UK has postponed the OSTAR & TWOSTAR race.

The 60th-anniversary race entry list will officially re-open on May 9th. The date is particularly symbolic as it was going to be the start day for the race. The new start date is confirmed as Sunday 15th May 2022.

As regular Afloat readers know, Howth solo sailor and mixed offshore sailing campaigner, Conor Fogerty was an Ostar class winner in 2017.

Race director, Adrian Gray said; "Whilst postponing the race was a huge disappointment to all concerned, this has uncovered a significant number of entries who could not prepare for this year due to COVID restrictions not allowing them to visit and prep their boats or allow the opportunity to qualify themselves for the race, whether that be completing the various safety and first aid courses, or the sailing miles required to enter the race. Some current entries have rolled into next year's start and we have been in constant communication with those who have expressed an interest in entering. Considering the number of sailors who we are in contact with, this Iconic race clearly continues to hold the imagination of the short-handed Corinthian, oceanic sailing world. We look forward to receiving entries from Sunday onwards."

The Royal Western Yacht Club says it is delighted to confirm that the OSTAR2022 will remain as a recognised qualifying mile builder for the Global Solo Challenge (GSC) 2023/24.

Further details can be found on the Event website here

Published in Offshore
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COVID-19With six months to go to the start of the 42nd Rolex Middle Sea Race on Saturday, 23 October, the Mediterranean’s premier 600-mile offshore classic looks well set. Some 47 yachts from 17 countries have entered, currently ranging in size from the mighty 42.56 metres (140 feet) ClubSwan 125 Skorpios down to the 9.14m (29.12 ft) Pogo 30 One & Only. Following last year’s successful running of the race, the Royal Malta Yacht Club is quietly confident that not only will the 2021 edition take place, but it is on track to do so with a sizeable fleet, COVID-19 allowing.

The headline contest looks to be between the soon to be launched Skorpios and the 30.4m (100 ft) racing Maxi Comanche, which will also be making its race debut. On paper, both are more than capable of challenging the elusive monohull race record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds, which has stood firm since 2007. An intriguing tussle should be in store and there will be more on this story in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has always been a melting pot of nations, just as the island of Malta itself. A quick look at the Double-Handed Class confirms this. The division has steadily grown over recent years, in keeping with the global offshore racing trend. So far, nine entries have made the commitment. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are currently represented, with some creditable teams in the list.

The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021.The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021. Photo: Rolex Kurt Arrigo

British entrant, Richard Palmer and the JPK10.10 Jangada’s experience of the Rolex Middle Sea Race is less than positive. Forced to retire on Jangada's only previous appearance at the race in 2018, Richard will be hoping for a result more in keeping with his racing efforts in 2020. Last year, Jangada took the overall win under IRC at the RORC Transatlantic Race (racing two-handed), as well as winning the IRC Double-Handed Class at the RORC Caribbean 600 and capped it off by taking home the RORC Yacht of the Year.

Gerald Boess & Jonathan Bordas, crewing Jubilee, the French J/109, have form of their own having won the John Illingworth Trophy for first in the Double Handed Class on corrected time under IRC at the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race. “Preparation is very important, especially sailing double-handed,” explain the pair. “Everything from stowing the provisions on the boat to organising a watch system. You also need to be thinking ahead about what is coming. Trust in one another is also very important, so you can have proper sleep during the race!”

Another French yacht with potential to push for the podium is Ludovic Gérard’s Solenn for Pure Ocean. The JPK10.80 has appeared twice before at the Rolex Middle Sea Race, both times racing fully crewed. In, 2018, Solenn finished second in IRC 6, following up this impressive debut by winning IRC 6 in 2019 by four seconds on corrected time. Ludovic has some solid short-handed results to back up this pedigree with a second in the Rolex Giraglia and a third in the Quadra Solo-Duo Méditerranée

Beppe Bisotto with the Fast 42 Atame from Italy have been regular attenders for many years, mostly racing fully crewed to good effect. More recent efforts have been in the Double Handed Class. Beppe’s best result to date is a third in 2015, and for that he should not be discounted. Björn Ambos and Mandalay (GER), Peter Luyckx and Blackfish (BEL), Sergio Mazzoli and Nuova (ITA), Leonardo Fonti and Ultravox (ITA), and, Sergey Pankov and One & Only (ESP) round out the double handed entries for the time being.

Over the years, Maltese crews have consistently punched high above the relative weight of their country, taking on the larger sailing nations and securing some spectacular results on time correction. The first ever race was won by local boat Josian and the past two races have been won by Elusive 2, another yacht representing the island state.

Jonathan Gambin has yet to add his name to the list of overall winners, but it is not for want of effort. Jonathan has raced the course 13 times since his debut in 2008 with his Dufour 44 Ton Ton Laferla. Finishing eleventh overall in his first appearance, he has experienced the highs and lows of the race: ranging from retirements to third overall and first in IRC 5 in 2020.

“I love this race!” enthuses Jonathan. “Often, it marks my first “days-off” after a gruelling summer of work. I am fortunate to race with a good crew. They are all amateurs, mainly work colleagues and friends, but proven sailors. What they lack in experience with this type of race they make up for with attitude even when the going gets difficult. ”

“My favourite part of the race is the leg from Favignana to Pantelleria,” continues Jonathan. “It is usually a fast fetch in rough seas. As well as my crew, I am lucky to have a very supportive sponsor in Laferla. This year we will have a complete suit of sails for the first time. This will stand us in good stead and hopefully help us to an even better result than last year.”

Can Malta make it three wins in three year? The 42nd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday, 23 October 2021.

Published in Middle Sea Race
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ISORA will be running training events this month ahead of the first big Irish offshore fixture of the season, the 320-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race on June 9th. 

The training events, starting on the 15th of May, will allow boats to get boats up to speed for the biennial offshore race, which is run under the auspice of the National Yacht Club.

As ISORA Chief Peter Ryan told Afloat last week when government restrictions were eased; "It's all systems go!"

ISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15thISORA race training begins on Dublin Bay on May 15th

16 Races

The offshore body has a busy 2021 season planned with a total of 16 races on both sides of the Irish Sea and a new title sponsor signed up; Musto.

Six Offshore (Qualifying Q1-6) races are scheduled, with the best five to count for the Championship title and the prestigious Wolf's Head Trophy, which was not awarded in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

Coastal Series

ISORA also have two Coastal Series running concurrently:

  • Viking Marine Irish Coastal Series - Five races best four to count
  • Plas Heli Welsh/UK Coastal Series - Five races best four to count

The first coastal race was held in North Wales on Saturday in accordance with ISORA's COVID-19 protocol with crew limited to 80% of the IRC crew number. The race was tracked using a new AIS system.

Updated Calendar

An updated ISORA 2021 calendar is being prepared to take account of last Thursday's government announcement and Saturday's disappointing news that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta has been cancelled.

Published in ISORA
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club organised two races over the May Bank Holiday weekend. 58 boats entered, including a 91nm race for IRC Two Handed, the first overnight race of the year. Giovanni Belgrano’s Classic Whooper won the race for crewed IRC boats. Mike Yates’ J/109 Jago, racing with Eivind Boymo-Malm, was the winner for IRC Two-handed. 

Giovanni Belgrano’s Classic Whooper Photo: Rick TomlinsonGiovanni Belgrano’s Classic Whooper Photo: Rick Tomlinson

A race of approximately 24nm was set for the IRC Crewed boats, essentially a windward leg from the Squadron Line to Bembridge Ledge Buoy with a reciprocal downwind leg back. David Collins’ Botin IRC 52 Tala took line honours in just over four hours. However, the breeze built during the latter part of the race, giving an advantage to the smaller boats. Whooper won the race after time correction by a big margin. The smallest boat in the race, Ross Bowdler’s J/80 Justify, was second. The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 British Soldier, skippered by Henry Foster, was third.

“it was an awesome tactical race against all the forecast odds!” explained Whooper’s Giovanni Belgrano. “The wind speed ranged from 5 knots at the start to 20 knots in a rain squall. We had to use every trick we know to win the race. Going inshore on the return leg was the biggest gain. Whooper weighs about the same as Tala, but we only draw one metre, so we could go right over Ryde Sands.”

“A big thank you to the RORC for the race,” commented J/80 Justify’s Ross Bowdler. “It is so cool to race against the big boats and get a great result. Congratulations to Whooper, they sailed an impeccable race.”

Congratulations should also go to Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader. With all three races completed, Dawn Treader is the overall winner of the RORC Spring Series for IRC Crewed boats. Second is Rob Bottomley’s MAT12 Sailplane 3 skippered by Nick Jones. Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood was third overall.

Mike Yates’ J/109 Jago, racing with Eivind Boymo-Malm Photo: Rick TomlinsonMike Yates’ J/109 Jago, racing with Eivind Boymo-Malm Photo: Rick Tomlinson

29 teams racing in IRC Two-Handed were set a separate 91 nautical mile course with crews racing through the night for the first time this year. Starting from the Squadron Line the fleet raced upwind to the east. After exiting The Solent, the fleet were off the breeze for a spinnaker run along the South Coast of the Isle of Wight. After passing The Needles, a broad reach into Poole Bay was followed by a harden up to finish at North Head.

Mike Yates’ J/109 Jago, racing with Eivind Boymo-Malm, was the winner for IRC Two-handed. Sun Fast 3200 Mzungu, sailed by Sam White and Sam North was second by just 12 seconds in a race lasting almost 17 hours. Richard Palmer’s JPK 1010 Jangada, racing with Jeremy Waitt, was third.

“It was a very complex race, with many sail changes and tactical decisions from beginning to end,” commented Jago’s Mike Yates. “A big cloud at the Nab Tower caused a split in the fleet and we just managed to hold our kite. Our jib top was very effective on the southside of the island and the decision to go offshore at St Catherine's worked well with a breeze filling in from the southwest. We also just made several tidal gates in the latter part of the race. We are delighted to win and all credit to Elvind, two-handed racing is heavily reliant on teamwork, so he deserves just as much credit.”

“ A great race, with lots of opportunities for people to get back ‘into it’ if they had been unfortunate enough to find a hole, as there were a lot around.” commented Mzungu’s Sam White.

Racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club goes inshore for the Vice Admiral’s Cup Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd May. Offshore racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday, May 29th with the Myth of Malham Race. The 230nm race around the Eddystone Lighthouse is expected to have a substantial RORC fleet, as the start mirrors the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Results here

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After a year and a half of disruptions to offshore racing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has confirmed an overnight race for Two-Handed teams starting on May 1st.

The combined entry list for May 1st has a fleet of 48 yachts, including all the top Two-Handed boats from the inshore RORC Spring Series. The three-race series came to a dramatic conclusion on April 17th. James Harayda racing Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo with Dee Caffari, was just one second ahead of Kelvin Rawlings, racing Sun Fast 3300 Aries with Stuart Childerley.

The result in the last race gave Gentoo victory in the series by a single point from Aries. Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600 Bellino racing with Deb Fish was third.

Dee Caffari shares her thoughts about the takeaways from the RORC Spring Series and the return to offshore action in the vid below.

“The Spring Series had a super-competitive fleet which just literally proved that every second counts,” commented Dee Caffari. “We have had the chance to blow the cobwebs off in The Solent, and on May 1st we will finally stretch our legs offshore. The next race is about preparation and also boat speed rather than the manoeuvres. We have seen how challenging this fleet is, so I am assuming we will all be testing each other to the max.”

For crewed entries, the RORC Spring Series will come to a conclusion this weekend. Two teams are tied for first place going into the deciding race. Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader and RORC Commodore James Neville, racing HH42 Ino XXX, have equal points. Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood is just two points behind the leaders, whilst Rob Bottomley’s MAT 12 Sailplane 3 is five points off pole-position.

“Safety always comes first, it is just too early to run an overnight race for fully crewed teams, however when the club offered to run an offshore race for Two-Handed teams, the response was an overwhelming – Yes Please!” commented RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone. “Details of the course for IRC Two-Handed will be determined by the weather, but our intention is to set an overnight race, taking the Two-Handed fleet out of the Solent. For crewed teams racing under IRC, the final race of the Spring Series will be inshore with a target time of 6-8 hours.”

The RORC fleet are scheduled to start racing from the Squadron Line Cowes from 10:00 BST on Saturday 1st May.

Published in RORC
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club has launched an updated Crew Match portal that aims to simplify the process of matching boat owners and crew wherever they race in the world.

The RORC Crew Match website has been upgraded to work with modern communication systems and is easy to use and anyone can register, whether a RORC member or not.

“Finding crewing opportunities can often be quite difficult if you are new to the sport or new to a particular sailing area. For boat owners finding experienced crew can often be trial and error through recommendation and often a time consuming and unsatisfactory exercise for both parties,” said RORC Commodore James Neville. “RORC Crew Match will simplify the process allowing crew to post their experience and owners to advertise crewing positions they are looking to fill and hopefully lead to more boats out on the water competing. It’s a one-stop-shop to find available crew and boats to race.”

Sailors are encouraged to log their details on the website posting their previous experience and their availability for a particular location and can view crewing opportunities being advertised before making the initial contact that will lead to being part of a committed race team.

For more go here

Published in RORC
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The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Spring Series continued on Saturday 10th of April with the second race of the series.

The RORC Race Team set an inshore race in the Solent, approximately 38 nautical miles for the IRC fleet, and 32 nautical miles for IRC Two Handed. A north-easterly wind of 10-13 knots provided sub-planing conditions. Tactics and boat handling were the keys to performance. Class winners were Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader and James Harayda’s Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo.

Ed Bell’s JPK 1180 Dawn Treader the winner of the IRC Class. Michael O'Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood was second. RORC Commodore James Neville, racing HH42 Ino XXX took line honours for the class and after IRC time correction was third by just 13 seconds.

“We are delighted especially as this is our first RORC win,” commented Dawn Treader’s Ed Bell. “It was a great race with a good course, which suited us very well. Dawn Treader is a crew that has been racing together in the Contessa class including our kids, plus some friends who have offshore miles. I got the boat with a view to do the Fastnet, and at the moment we are trying to build our offshore experience. It is difficult to celebrate in the current circumstances, but I will definitely be having a drink with my wife this evening!”

James Harayda & Dee Caffari Sun Fast 3300 GentooJames Harayda & Dee Caffari Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo. Photo: Paul Wyeth

In the IRC Two-Handed Class, James Harayda racing Sun Fast 3300 Gentoo, with Dee Caffari, was first across the line and won IRC Two-Handed by 53 seconds. Kelvin Rawlings racing Sun Fast 3300 Aries with Stuart Childerley was second. Rob Craigie racing Sun Fast 3600 Bellino with Deb Fish was third.

“It’s great to back racing and the Two-Handed Class is getting more and more competitive,” commented Gentoo’s James Harayda. ”There is a really good atmosphere in the class, it was especially nice to get congratulated by Kelvin and Stuart after a really good tussle with Aries.

We had so much downtime over the winter so it’s great to be busy competing. It was close race the whole way, almost one design racing and that really does push you. Great fun and really exciting.” 

IRC Two Handed Coach

The Royal Ocean Racing Club provided Olympic coach Hugh Styles to assist the IRC Two-Handed class. “The main aim of today’s coaching was to look at rig settings and sail trim,” commented Hugh Styles. “At this early stage in the season, teams are a little rusty, that is understandable. Understanding mast tune and sail trim techniques is a good way to start the development that can continue through the year. We will have a Zoom debrief to analyse today’s racing for all of the class.”

Olympic coach Hugh StylesOlympic coach Hugh Styles assisted the IRC Two-Handed class

The RORC Spring Series comes to a conclusion with Race 3, scheduled to start on Saturday, 1st May. The Notice of Race requires that all crew shall comply with current Covid-19 guidelines, and with respect to social distancing at all times.

Full Results here

Published in RORC
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On Sunday, August 29th 1971, a group of offshore devotees who had campaigned the previous day's annual cross-channel Abersoch-Howth Race for the James C Eadie Cup gathered in the bar of Howth Yacht Club and gave some purpose to their noontime drinks by progressing a discussion about expanding the North-West Offshore Association – the governing body for the race they'd just completed – into becoming the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA).

Offshore racing in the area was nothing new, with Dublin Bay's Royal Alfred YC – founded 1870 – noted in the 19th Century for its cross-channel events to Holyhead, and more recently for overnight races which honed 24-hour seagoing skills in the club's Corinthian crews. Before that, the pioneering Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race of 1860 – repeated in 1861 and 1862 – had shown what could be done if there were sufficient levels of enthusiasm. And some recent research has suggested there may even have been a Round Ireland Race from Dublin Bay in 1831 or thereabouts, but there's much more work to be done before anyone can be sure whether or not that truly ground-breaking event actually took place.

Historic snapshot of the frontline yachts of the late 1880s – the start of a Royal Alfred YC cross-channel race to Holyhead in 1888Historic snapshot of the frontline yachts of the late 1880s – the start of a Royal Alfred YC cross-channel race to Holyhead in 1888

Meanwhile, there's quite enough to be going along with on what we know about the early days, with the Liverpool area's 1838-founded Royal Dee Yacht Club, and the 1844-founded Royal Mersey YC, running races and cruises-in-company for their super-wealthy members' large yachts, events which reflected links to both Dublin Bay and the Clyde, while the more modest Liverpool Bay YC established the Midnight Race to the Isle of Man in 1907.

That special event was taken over in 1925 by Tranmere Sailing Club on the south shore of the Mersey in Birkenhead, underlining the greater uncertainties of life after World War I of 1914-18. But TSC and more recently Liverpool YC have kept it going, staging the hundredth on 5th July 2019 with the winner being the Dublin Bay J/122 Aurelia (Chris & Patann Power Smith, RStGYC).

The J/122 Aurelia from Dun Laoghaire (seen here starting the Round Ireland race) maintained long-established cross-channel links by winning the 100th Isle of Man Race from Liverpool in 2019The J/122 Aurelia from Dun Laoghaire (seen here starting the Round Ireland race) maintained long-established cross-channel links by winning the 100th Isle of Man Race from Liverpool in 2019. Photo: Afloat.ie

Back in the 1950s this race, together with others which were staged in response to the fact that each August the focus of Liverpool saltwater sailing moved from the Mersey to North West Wales and Anglesey, had resulted in the formation after World War II of the Mersey & North Wales Joint Offshore Co-ordinating Committee.

The uniquely and splendidly complicated title surely deserves some sort of prize for accurately reflecting the challenges its committee were trying to achieve, something further exacerbated by the fact that further south around Tremadoc Bay to the east of the Lleyn, the sailing enthusiasts of Birmingham and other large English conurbations were seeking their brief period of summer sport from Abersoch, Pwllheli and Portmadoc. Thus it required the wisdom of Solomon to balance the brief programme such that each key offshore and passage race staged in the waters between Conwy and Pwllheli could achieve optimum turnouts for MNWJOCC-supported events.

Things had been a bit more simple, geographically speaking, on the Irish side even if the politics were now complex, but after the Irish Cruising Club had come into being in 1929, it took on the tradition of an offshore Whitsun Race in the Irish Sea, so much so that by the 1960s the ICC – along with the Royal Alfred YC - was playing quite an active role in Irish offshore racing generally.

In 1963, the Irish Cruising Club effectively illustrated the growing complexity of the area's offshore programme by attempting to set it in order, though it should be remembered that some of these events only attracted a handful of starters. Highlight of the season was the RORC/RStGYC Morecambe Bay Race of 220 miles on August 23rd, which also involved the NWOA. Sailed in heavy weather with a real southwest to west gale in the midst of it, the heroic overall winner was the Dublin Bay 24 Fenestra skippered by Arthur Odbert (Royal Irish YC)In 1963, the Irish Cruising Club effectively illustrated the growing complexity of the area's offshore programme by attempting to set it in order, though it should be remembered that some of these events only attracted a handful of starters. The highlight of the season was the RORC/RStGYC Morecambe Bay Race of 220 miles on August 23rd, which also involved the NWOA. Sailed in heavy weather with a real southwest to west gale in the midst of it, the heroic overall winner was the Dublin Bay 24 Fenestra skippered by Arthur Odbert (Royal Irish YC)

The M&NWJOCC for its part continued to see racing numbers expand, and it had felt confident enough to re-style itself the North West Offshore Association in 1962. And then with growing numbers from Ireland involved, and a strengthening association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (which co-sponsored a main event with the NWOA in the Irish Sea-Cork area), any land-centric title began to seem inappropriate, and the idea of going head-on for the straightforward, self-explanatory and rather catchy Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association had obvious appeal by the end of the successful 1971 season.

The most immediate attraction of ISORA was that its acronym could be pronounced as an easily-remembered and distinctive neologism - not really an option with NWOA, and definitely not with M&NWJOCC. And the main mover in quietly promoting this move to a new stage was Dickie Richardson, who was the very personification of Liverpool sailing.

While he'd moved his sailing base to Holyhead SC (near which he and his wife Elspeth were getting much entertainment from converting a former Methodist chapel into a summer base for their exuberant family) he was the essence of best Merseyside, a consultant anaesthetist who was, of course, a member of the Royal Mersey, but felt much more at home next door in Tranmere Sailing Club with fellow boat bodgers, discussing technical boat matters in a ferocious cloud of pipe tobacco smoke.

Dick Richardson in 1972 aboard his boat of the time, the Hustler 30 Skulmartin, which he'd completed himself from a bare hull. Photo: W M NixonDick Richardson in 1972 aboard his boat of the time, the Hustler 30 Skulmartin, which he'd completed himself from a bare hull. Photo: W M Nixon

Not that he was a bodger himself – he made a very competent job of finishing several cruisers from bare hulls, with the boats taking up all of his front garden in a west Liverpool suburb. We got some of the flavour of this great man in our 2015 appreciation of him after his death at the age of 89 but that obit should have been titled "Sir John Richardson 1926-2015".

You see, during much of the time J. C. "Dickie" Richardson was playing a key role in Irish Sea offshore racing, one of his sidelines was chairing a committee to expedite the commissioning of a new hospital in Liverpool. As with all such projects, it had been running so desperately late that the directors took on board the suggestion that if they just had the nerve to appoint one of their own consultants, the no-nonsense Dr Richardson, as the chair of a special commissioning committee, then the hospital would be up and running within the foreseeable future.

They accepted the advice, Dickie and his hand-picked committee then worked their heads off, and the much-admired hospital was functioning within a reasonable time - so much so that all his colleagues and friends assumed he'd be getting a knighthood in the next New Year's Honours List as a very well-earned thank-you. Not a bit of it. For it emerged that in order to get the job done, Dickie had eventually been so utterly blunt (or brutally rude as some shy types claimed) to every civil servant and politician with whom he'd had to deal that there was absolutely no way he was going to get a gong.

So this then was the man who, around one o'clock on Sunday, August 29th fifty years ago, was persuading us that it was high time the NWOA became ISORA. And beyond that, the sky was the limit, as he saw the re-shaped Association's remit extending northward to the Clyde and southwest to Cork.

But where he might have sometimes been tough in his dealings with hospital contractors and managers, in Howth YC among fellow sailors fifty years ago, with us sharing the space with the likes of Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire, Bill Cuffe-Smith of Howth, Ronnie Wayte of Skerries who'd just taken second in class in the '71 Fastnet with the Hustler 35 Setanta, and Alan Stead from Holyhead, in HYC that Sunday it was a matter of quiet persuasion, leading to agreement to hold a more formal inaugural meeting in the winter, an event which went so well that in the Spring of 1972 the new Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association published its first comprehensive programme, listing full sailing instruction for events which ran from May until September, taking in all the main offshore races between the Clyde and St George's Channel round to Dunmore East.

Some of the ISORA fleet in Howth after a cross-channel race in 1980, with the fleet including (at centre) Dai Mouse III (now Sunstone) and the McGruer yawl Frenesi, as well as the first Round Ireland Race winner Force Tension (Johnny Morris) on right. Despite the primitive facilities at most ports, more than a hundred boats regularly entered the ISORA Championship each season. Photo: W M NixonSome of the ISORA fleet in Howth after a cross-channel race in 1980, with the fleet including (at centre) Dai Mouse III (now Sunstone) and the McGruer yawl Frenesi, as well as the first Round Ireland Race winner Force Tension (Johnny Morris) on right. Despite the primitive facilities at most ports, more than a hundred boats regularly entered the ISORA Championship each season. Photo: W M Nixon

The Association was based on a minimal but effective structure, with Dickie Richardson (who was also Commodore of Holyhead SC) as Chairman, his close friend and fellow medic Alan Stead as Honorary Treasurer, and Liverpool sailor Frank Drabble as Honorary Secretary. In those early years, the offshore brigade were happy enough to leave the basic "clerical" work to a Holyhead nucleus, as the Committee was based on largely autonomous local representatives, including Sandy Taggart in the Clyde, Jim Blaikie in Belfast Lough, John Ellis in Lancashire, Peter May and George Peake in the Isle of Man, and Hal Sisk in Dublin.

In its first full season of 1972, the programme attracted 102 boats from 20 clubs taking part in a total of 11 races, and there was also a "short regatta week" of inshore and coastal races, the Captain's Cup, at Holyhead, a precursor of subsequent big fleet biennial ISORA Weeks which were to run for several decades.

There were many reasons why the modestly-launched ISORA programme was such as success, and one of the more extreme yet plausible was The Troubles. With life ashore being blighted by unrest and atrocities, being at sea and then meeting with fellow-competitors afterwards at an enclosed venue provided security which facilitated hassle-free socializing among people from every nation around the Irish Sea.

Certainly the three-day absence - which participation in an ISORA race implied - put you in something of a cocoon, and as the programme became part of sailing's basic structure, there were those for whom it was essential to mental well-being. A classic case was Alan Lawless of Malahide, who raced the Shamrock Half Tonner Jonathan Livingston Vulture. Through the week he ran a demanding television sales and servicing organisation, but for seven weekends of the summer, he would simply disappear for his necessary ISORA medicine of a cross-channel offshore race against a fleet of like-minded souls.

Liam Shanahan's Dehler db2s Lightning (NYC) was an ISORA star in the 1980sLiam Shanahan's Dehler db2s Lightning (NYC) was an ISORA star in the 1980s

That said, those who sailed regularly in ISORA found that each season was slightly different, as the many areas involved – when they saw what could be done - became much keener to take possession of what they regarded as their part of the widespread ISORA programme. For the overall results from 1972 had revealed how widely the net had been spread, and how effectively the International Offshore Rule was providing effective handicaps.

The largest fleet was in Class A, and here the overall winner was Dick and Billy Brown's 35ft Ruffian from Strangford Lough, which they'd designed and built themselves in 1970-71. After a successful early season in the northern events, they came south for the concluding Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire Race, and showed the St George's Channel fleet a clean pair of heels to clinch the class title.

Class B was also finalised in that last race by HYC's Bill Cuffe-Smith with his new deep-keel Mark 2 Arpege Leemara, which he campaigned with efficient determination. Being an Aer Lingus Jumbo Jet captain, he had traditional first call on any unused airline meals left over at the end of each Transatlantic flight, and it's said that he once arrived home at his house above Howth Harbour with 37 ready-to-go airline dinners, which duly went aboard Leemara in several allocations, for as one of his crew observed, as long as they were winning they were perfectly happy to rotate through the airline ready meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner…..

Winners Enclosure. At the conclusion of the final race of the inaugural ISORA season in 1972 from Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire, the berth at the East Pier near the National YC found (left to right) Class B winner and overall champion Leemara (Bill Cuffe Smith, HYC), Class A winner and overall champion Ruffian (Dick & Billy Brown, RUYC), and Class C wnner and third overall Casquet (Paddy Donegan, SSC)Winners Enclosure. At the conclusion of the final race of the inaugural ISORA season in 1972 from Holyhead-Rockabill-Dun Laoghaire, the berth at the East Pier near the National YC found (left to right) Class B winner and overall champion Leemara (Bill Cuffe Smith, HYC), Class A winner and overall champion Ruffian (Dick & Billy Brown, RUYC), and Class C winner and third overall Casquet (Paddy Donegan, SSC). Photo: W M Nixon

Class C in that closing race was won by Paddy Donegan's lovely Robb-designed CB yawl Casquet from Skerries, but in the season-long series, Casquet had to be content with third, as the winner was Bert Whitehead's up-dated own-built Dee 25 Timbobbin from Holyhead.

This was all in the olden days, when waterside berthing facilities were primitive, and many events which we see now as pillars of the annual programme had yet to be introduced. Thus ISORA in its early days had the field largely clear to itself, but the administrative pressures were rising. Yet here again they were lucky, as in Jean Scott they found an administrative genius for secretarial duties who took it all in her stride such that through the 1970s the annual championship usually had a well-managed entry of more than a hundred boats.

By 1974 a biennial ISORA Week added to the complexity, and in 1976 it went to Crosshaven, where for the first time the fleet experienced the benefit of marina facilities. But the entry net was now spread so wide that some sections of the fleet were speaking forms of English that the rest of us scarcely comprehended, while many of the North Wales sailors comfortably slipped into Welsh when it suited them to exclude others from their conversation.

Then too, the Cork men quite reasonably wondered why they were going to so much trouble to host a race week for a crowd including many strangers from the Irish Sea when they should have been staging a proper Cork Week with their own unmistakable stamp upon it, and that's how things became thereafter.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the rather over-extended ISORA empire, the annual Scottish Series centred on Loch Fyne was becoming a mighty force in its own right, so clearly the sensible thing was for ISORA to stick to the knitting, concentrate on its core programme at the south end of the Irish Sea and the northern part of St George's Channel, and that's more or less what they've been doing ever since.

This highly-focused approach produced great racing in high-strength doses, and over the years the build-up of racing memories involving many boats and crews and owner-skippers of enormous character in such a crazy narrative that it's difficult to escape the conclusion that it would be impossible to make a book out of it. The story is simply too complex, and the cast of thousands too numerous and varied. Perhaps the only way to manage it is simply to tabulate each season's results with basic notes about weather conditions, and analyse the way that boat types have developed over the years.

The Club Shamrock Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan NYC) was a regular participant in ISORA Racing, and also raced round Ireland and in the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race. For many years the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock in all its variations was a backbone of ISORA racing, and in 1984 Neville Maguire of Howth clinched the ISORA title with his Club Shamrock Demelza in the same weekend as his son Gordon won the All Ireland Windsurfing Championship.The Club Shamrock Emircedes (Michael Horgan & Peter Ryan NYC) was a regular participant in ISORA Racing, and also raced round Ireland and in the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race. For many years the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock in all its variations was a backbone of ISORA racing, and in 1984 Neville Maguire of Howth clinched the ISORA title with his Club Shamrock Demelza in the same weekend as his son Gordon won the All Ireland Windsurfing Championship.

And so too have the socio-economic conditions in which ISORA has existed in its fifty years. From a time in which waterfront facilities were so primitive that the only comfortable place in a harbour was aboard your own boat, we have graduated to a situation where totally-sheltered pontoon berthing is the norm, providing easy access to clubs and nearby restaurants which vie with each other in the standard of their "hospitality product".

We have also moved in from a time when it was thought normal for offshore sailing enthusiasts – both male and female – to disappear in pursuit of their strangely uncomfortable sport in preference to putting in quality family time ashore in a variety of user-friendly and sociable pursuits.

Thus as the world rolled on and moved into a new millennium in 2000, while there were those for whom the ISORA programme was the basis of their summers sailing, there was a definite trend among a growing majority to concentrate on fewer and bigger and inevitably highly-publicised events which were more in keeping with the noisy spirit of the age, rather than the essentially private pleasure which is ISORA racing.

Numbers were declining so markedly that by 2007 it was decided to hold a gala winding-up dinner in the Autumn for the old association in the National Yacht Club, where one of the many things to be decided would be the re-allocation of ISORA's many prizes. But Divine Providence decided otherwise. A mighty storm blew up, and the ferries were unable to sail from Holyhead to bring across the Welsh and English elements of the funeral party. The dinner went ahead regardless with the Irish section in top form, and happily the event failed completely in its objective.

Far from winding-up ISORA, the gathering decided to revive it in a turbo-powered and more concentrated form, with the National Yacht Club seeking a three-year agreement from the rest of the membership for the NYC to run ISORA for the benefit of all.

Peter Ryan's has contributed greatly to the significant contemporary relevance of ISORAPeter Ryan's has contributed greatly to the significant contemporary relevance of ISORA

Since then, success in this bizarre outcome of event has been thanks to many, but mainly to two people - the NYC's Peter Ryan, who started his ISORA career with Liam Shanahan on the all-conquering Dehler dbs Lightning in the 1980s and then went on to race the Club Shamrock Emircedes with his father-in-law Michael Horgan, and Stephen Tudor of Pwllheli, whose family's offshore sailing probably goes well back to beyond the time of a young Henry Tudor who eventually became Henry VIII.

They've created an effective, leaner, fitter ISORA which has proven its underlying strength as sailing has tried to accommodate the pandemic and the on-off nature of lockdowns. Peter Ryan is currently the ISORA Chairman, and in this time of stress, he and Stephen between them cover most of the administration with a nimbleness of movement which is denied to sailing organisations with a significant shoreside structural element.

Stephen Tudor also plays a key role in ISORA todayStephen Tudor also plays a key role in ISORA today

For if you've the means of electronic positioning on the starting line markers, and race trackers on the boats, even a coastal race can take place completely independently of the shore providing you're dealing with qualified crews and compliant boats.

Yet it's something that involves escaping from the rigidity of thinking. Thus ISORA may have announced the possible parameters of a 2021 programme starting in late April, but those seriously interested know that it all may change from week to week, or even day to day.

Through the ins-and-outs of 2020's truncated sailing programme, ISORA steered a skilled path which resulted in a championship that was acknowledged as being well worthwhile. So much so, in fact, that at the end of the year we made Peter Ryan the Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for December in an adjudication which was as much as token of hope that the best will be made of 2021 - whatever it may bring – as it was an expression of thanks for what he and ISORA had managed to achieve in 2020.

The supportive and congratulatory greetings which this adjudication inspired were very impressive indeed - positively heart-warming, in fact. So as the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association faces into its Golden Jubilee season, we know that, however difficult the outlook becomes, ISORA will make the best of it with as little fuss as possible.

RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and 2017 ISORA Champion Vicky Cox (J/109 Mojito, Pwllheli SC) at the ISORA Prize Dinners in the National YC 2017. In November 2007 a dinner was held in the NYC, ostensibly to wind up ISORA. The diners decided otherwise. Ten years later, this ISORA awards dinner attracted an attendance of 240.RORC Commodore Michael Boyd and 2017 ISORA Champion Vicky Cox (J/109 Mojito, Pwllheli SC) at the ISORA Prize Dinners in the National YC 2017. In November 2007 a dinner was held in the NYC, ostensibly to wind up ISORA. The diners decided otherwise. Ten years later, this ISORA awards dinner attracted an attendance of 240.

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The 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race will see a collaboration between two eminent yacht clubs; The Royal Ocean Racing Club and Yacht Club de France, as they team up for the next edition of the 3,000 nm (5,500km) race from Lanzarote, Canary Islands to the Caribbean.

With an interest in expanding their programme of races, the Paris-based Yacht Club de France were keen to seek an alliance with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the International Maxi Association to promote the already established RORC Transatlantic Race to its members and affiliated clubs. Modern IRC boats, as well as classic yachts will be invited to participate in the 8th edition of the annual race which has attracted previous entries from around the world to date.

“With the still-growing popularity of offshore racing in France and amongst our membership, we are very happy to join together with one of the most active and renowned offshore racing clubs in the world – the Royal Ocean Racing Club. We will be honoured to present a trophy on behalf of our historic club and help promote the RORC Transatlantic Race to our members and through our 32 associated clubs in France,” explains President of Yacht Club de France, Philippe Heral.

The dramatic volcanic mountains of Lanzarote make an impressive backdrop as the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet head for GrenadaThe dramatic volcanic mountains of Lanzarote make an impressive backdrop as the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet head for Grenada Photo: James Mitchell

The longest offshore race in the RORC’s Season’s Points Championship, which consists of over 20 events, the RORC Transatlantic Race was originally set up as a feeder race for the popular RORC Caribbean 600, to allow RORC members and Maxi boat owners the opportunity to race across the Atlantic before competing in the Caribbean regatta season.

“We very much look forward to working alongside our colleagues at the Yacht Club de France, which is one of the oldest yacht clubs in France (1867), to promote the race to its members and associations, and open the event to a wider audience,” commented RORC Commodore James Neville. "This is not the first time we have worked together as the RORC has used the Yacht Club de France’s prestigious Paris headquarters for the organisation of dinners for RORC members based in France."

Since the inaugural race in 2014, the RORC Transatlantic Race has been run in association with The International Maxi Association who award an impressive silver trophy to the Line Honours winner each year and the 2022 race will continue this custom.

Teasing Machine arriving in the sunny Caribbean after the Atlantic crossing in the RORC Transatlantic Race Photo: Arthur Daniel

IMA Secretary General, Andrew McIrvine said: “Since Charlie Barr first raced across the Atlantic back in the early 1900s in his three-masted schooner, its lure has drawn dozens of sailors who have a shared dream. Whether a passionate owner of a Maxi yacht, a modern IRC or classic yacht, or an experienced or novice crew, those who have competed in the RORC Transatlantic Race have fulfilled their ambition and we are delighted to be working alongside RORC and Yacht Club de France to help achieve this.”

The RORC Transatlantic Race will start on 8th January 2022 from Lanzarote and hosted by Calero Marinas in the Canary Islands.

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