Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association Race 11
Race 11 was the rescheduled Pwllheli night race, always a popular race for the UK based fleet, and the final race of the Global Displays Welsh Coastal Series.
Once again in the build up to the race, forecast light winds dropping to 1-2 kts by midnight left the race committee with great difficulties setting a course. With many of the lit marks not appropriate for the wind direction, a decision was taken to use a "virtual mark" as part of the course.
This is one of the advantages of using Yellow Brick trackers and one of many innovative race management decisions ISORA has made over the years.
With breeze most likely to be found to the SW a course was set for a 20:15 start: PSC start/PSC2/Carreg Y Trai/52 44N 004 31W/Carreg Y Trai/Plas heli Finish
The fleet assembled for the 20:15 start for a gentle fetch down to the west end mark into a glorious sunset, with many electing to fly an A3 even at a fairly tight angle to save a sail change at the mark. Mojito used a code zero and peel to A3 around the first mark with a text book demonstration, getting ahead of Sgrech. Meanwhile Jackknife got away in the 5-6 kt breeze toward Carreg y Trai and darkness came very quickly.
The wind held for the leg up to the virtual mark, but with the wind starting to veer a little sail choices were difficult with many boats changing between Jibs and A sails. A clear gap opened up, between the leading J's and the pack at the rear of the fleet, but with decent speeds being maintained, we elected to retain the A3 for the whole of the leg up to the virtual mark, and with thoughts of making it back for last orders, and a fast race, we broke out the wine gums! this signalled a sudden drop in the wind and with the direction fluctuating widely we were buried ..again. This affected the group of four boats at the rear, and certainly dampened the high spirits.! With the next leg a reciprocal, we knew it would also have an impact on the leading pack, so hopefully not a disaster. Luckily the wind although reduced steadied, and we were able to make reasonable progress up to the mark, and hoped to see the sail choices of the leading boats as they passed in the moonlight. With Jackknife Sgrech and Mojito all using different sails, we learnt nothing!
Round the virtual mark, steady progress with three sail changes back down to Carreg y trai with the breeze steady from the North at 3-4kts. With careful trimming, minimal movement and a bit of tide, we were able to maintain a steady 2-3 kts on the flat oily sea, and noticed the leading pack were parked 1/2 a mile or so from the finish, and we were closing the gap! Queue spirits back up! So decision time....it looked like the wind was slowly veering, so we elected sacrifice a little boat speed to keep pushing North of the Rhumb line, and try and use the weak flood and lay the finish in one tack, hoping the wind would not veer too much. Hearing nothing on the radio we continued to close the gap at a steady rate with one eye on the ais! Constant trimming and hard work by the crew kept the boat moving at a reasonable VMG. We heard Sgrech finish at 01:30 but nothing from Jackknife and Mojito. As we crept into the home straight we got a massive and sudden wind shift requiring a 45 degree heading change ....doh! hearing Jackknife and Mojito finish gave us the encouragement that although shifted, there was still some breeze at the finish. One tack and we crossed the long Plas Heli line in the company of XP33 Darling xx and got the finish signalled by ISORA vice chairman Jerry Williams and Gwen Williams. Another great race with Line honours and overall win by Sgrech, who now leads the series overall table from Mojito by 3 points.
The fleet all finished within an hour or so, and a great Aprês sail was held in Plas Heli, with race sponsors Tudor estate agents buying a huge round for the whole fleet. Great discussions were had, lots of "refreshing beverages" consumed, with the ever competitive "Mojito" crew last to leave at 10:30am, much to the amusement of the dinghy sailors arriving for Saturday racing! Special mention to Charlene Howard and crew on "AJ Wanderlust" coming al the way from the IOM for the race, and to race sponsor Stephen Tudor, and Global Displays Welsh coastal series sponsor Richard Cook for their valuable contributions.
The next race is the series ending "James Eadie" race to Dùn Laoghaire, with places up for grabs in all classes, and a great match race in prospect between Mojito and Sgrech for the Wolfs head. Results and information at www.isora.org