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Simon's Blog

RealBoats

The following may not be the official opinions of ISORA etc etc......... PR

Mid April comes around, it’s freezing cold with winter weather STILL here but the hardy souls that make up the wonderfully challenging ISORA fleet dust off the cobwebs, break out the foul weather gear and once more head out into the wilds. Waving goodbye to the wife and kids I quote Tom Crean “I’m just going outside and may be some time”. What I really meant was “I’ll see you mid September”.

Race one of the new season sees the course being changed from Arklow to Rockabill. Perhaps it was to accommodate the Munster and Leinster semi finals but more than likely it was to allow for more favourable tidal conditions by going North rather than South. After missing the whole of last season through storm damage Team Kingspan Raging Bull returned to fight it out with the now five J 109’s as favourites for the season. Yahtzee, having had a miraculous season finale in the Pwhelli to Dun Laoghaire race had high hopes of continuing where they left off and had a new kite to boot. Result? Matt Davis and his team take up where they left off in 2011 by winning while Yahtzee finishes last on the water, last in class and last in Silver Fleet – I can hear that continuity announcer from the TV in my head “ We apologise for the interruption to your viewing – normal service has now been restored”.

The second race was Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead in conditions that Yahtzee relished. Strong winds all day saw us right up in contention. With the skipper / owner absent it is always the worst time to blow out his new kite – so of course we did just that but still managed second in class and first in fleet. That’s two great results in 3 races although they were seven month apart. This dizzying display from Yahtzee even prompted Peter Ryan to call us a ”dark horse” and a boat to be watched. Hello?

So with the season now well and truly underway we all looked forward to the next race which was to see a long awaited return to the Isle of Man and no doubt was eagerly anticipated by Polished Manx.

 

Here’s an idea, thinks Kuba. How about I get ISORA to reintroduce my home port of Douglas, Isle of Man, to the roster after a twenty year hiatus. I can finally have a race where I may have a slight advantage due to local knowledge of tides and course plotting – God knows I’ve done the delivery from Douglas to Dun Laoghaire enough times to know the optimum route no matter what wind or tides are prevalent. I can royally entertain them all the night before (just as the Paddies have patented to all visiting sporting teams over the years – shower them with drink and bonhomie in the evening prior to smashing them next day in the competition) and then to cap it all I’ll just go and sail the race of my life and win the whole bloody thing the following day. Now that would be great craic, no? As Private Baldrick said to Captain Blackadder:

“I have a plan, Sir”.
“Really Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?”
“Oh yes, Sir!”

Kuba Szymanski, resident in Douglas, Isle of Man, did indeed sail the race of his life on Polished Manx last weekend to win the first ISORA race out of that port in many moons. Methinks, however, that in spite of his excellent tactical sailing in very light tricky winds, in fact the bould Kuba won the race weeks earlier when he sat down to work out how he would organise the whole shebang. No doubt he was very conscious of making the best possible impression on the visiting fleet, and judging on how we were greeted and treated over the weekend, his preparation work was extensive. From my memory (very hazy indeed) here is how Kuba acted out his ideas as to how to treat some visiting comrades.

We on Yahtzee were greeted just outside the inner harbour by Kuba on Polished Manx, motoring around busily, who welcomed us to Douglas and escorted us through the bridge lift to find a berth in the marina basin. It transpires that every other boat got this welcome also – and we thought we were special! Team Kingspan lost their prop on the way up – no problem, Kuba towed them in to the visitors pontoon and towed them back out to the start line the next morning. I love the subtlety of that – two times ISORA champion gets towed to the line by a relative non contender who then proceeds to trounce him in the race. As an aside – Team Kingspan, after twelve months down in Noonans Yard, returns to racing this season and looses their prop this weekend and lost their steering on the Rockabill race a few weekends ago. Mr Flahive from Lula Belle – now where does he work again? Sabotage anyone?

Yahtzee rafted alongside Mr Roberts, who no doubt thought he was Quite Correct in tying up on the harbour wall right in front of a very large, prominent bright yellow sign declaring to all and sundry “NO BERTHING”. We adjourned to the Bridge bar and restaurant for a most enjoyable pre race get together kindly sponsored by Sgrech’s Andrew Rosewarne through his company Nmi. Those who had arrived earlier in the day had recounted tales of breakfast being served on shovels in the Railway Bar. Of course nobody believed that until picture evidence was produced. The generic statement in most reports for a very wild and alcoholic experience is that “a good night was had by all” and this is certainly apt for Friday nights endeavours.

After breakfast in Douglas Yacht Club, organised of course by Kuba and his handing out of updated weather forecasts to all competitors, the early rising locals were greeted with the wonderful sight of 16 yachts queuing in the inner harbour at 07.30 to escape to the starting line once the bridge was lifted. As all boats were out at the line good and early, a lot of jockeying for position ensued as well as trying to figure out which end of the line was the optimum. And on Yahtzee? Well we were sober(ish) enough to begin to have a premonition that Kuba had everything so well organised that it wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that this guy was going to top off his great weekend by winning the race. Kuba took the lighthouse / coastal end of the line so we followed along with Orna. With a forecast of very light wind for most of the day and then filling later from the North West, it was clear that this would be a very tactical race. Shortly after the start the fleet split in two – half of us stayed in shore to avail of the early morning sea breeze on a more northerly route while most of the so called big guns headed south to maximise the tide.

The first number of hours saw us tacking to avoid holes in the wind and with the southerly half of the fleet hidden in mist we were left in a scattered group of eight boats who managed to keep going in under 8 knots of wind without ever actually becoming becalmed. Our near neighbours on the water, Polished Manx, Pipe Dreamer, Desert Star and Sarnia swapped early position until Polished Manx made an excellent tactical tack and created a lead of 200 metres on us which took us until Lambay before we finally overhauled him as the wind eventually and very belatedly filled in.

As we approached the Bailey we heard Ruth calling the finisher – they took line honours after over twenty hours on the water. We took seventh on the water and overall, fifth in class and fifth in fleet.The fact that all boats finished within 150 minutes of each other in a 22 hour race was truly remarkable. Also remarkable was the crew of Yahtzee driving home along the seafront in Sandycove and seeing 5 competitors out in the Bay heading for the line. The only gripe about the length of the race was that Polished Manx didn’t get the recognition they deserved in the National afterwards for their first ISORA win as all Irish boats went straight home to shower and go to work. No matter, they had an outstanding weekend and will no doubt get the plaudits they deserve in Pwhelli in two weeks time. Now, about Pwhelli:

“Have you ever been to Wales, Baldrick?”
“No, but I've often thought I'd like to.”
“Well don't. It's a ghastly place. Huge gangs of tough, sinewy men roam the Valleys, terrorizing people with their close-harmony singing. You need half a pint of phlegm in your throat just to pronounce the place names. Never ask for directions in Wales, Baldrick. You'll be washing spit out of your hair for a fortnight.”

Hmm, not sure I agree with the Captain on that one. Pwhelli is always a great trip or at least that’s what Garret (Cheese) from Adelie tells us.