J Boats dominated the last race of the Avery Crest ISORA Offshore Series 2017 that took place on Saturday 9th September. The race was an 80 mile course from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire.
What made this race so significant was that it was to decide the ISORA Offshore 2017 Championship. The currant Champion, Stephen Tudor in J109 “Sgrech” from Pwllheli was competing against fellow Pwllheli sailors Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox in J109 “Mojito. Also in the race was Kenneth Rumball’s INNS J109 “Jedi”, Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles J109, “Indian” form Howth and Chris Power Smith’s J122 “Aurelia” from Dun Laoghaire. Andrew Hall’s J125 “Jackknife” was also racing
Prior to the race, Tudor’s “Sgrech” would win the Championship and retain the coveted “Wolf’s Head” if they beat “Mojito” or even if they were within one place behind “Mojito” in the results, irrespective of the placings. This tight situation led to a build-up of apprehension before the race.
The weather conditions for the race were not ideal with strong north westerly winds forecast providing a long beat for the fleet. Also the fact that there were spring tides on the day just made conditions worse.The course for the race was from the Start at Pwllheli to round a local racing mark PSC2 before heading through St Tudwal’s Sound, Bardsey Sound and a long 60 mile beat to Kish Lighthouse before the final fetch across Dublin Bay to the finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.
The weather at the start was rather benign with a north westerly wind of about 15knots and a flat sea. This soon changed as the 20 boat fleet raced through St Tudwal’s Sound and into the start of the overfalls. The first leg was a tight reach. The leg to Bardsey Sound was a fetch with increasing winds and deteriorating sea conditions. As the fleet approached Bardsey Sound the wind had built to a steady 25 knots and the flood spring tide was at its strongest. Bardsey Sound is not the best place at most times but these conditions revealed the nastier side of the area. Mountainous breaking seas bounded the fleet as they were shot through the sound at speed up to 11 knots over the ground. “Aurelia” made a short video of them exiting the Sound – this says it all!!
After the fleet exited Bardsey it was a full beat to the Kish Light. At this stage it was obvious that most of the J Boats were match racing with “Jedi”, “Sgrech” and “Mojito” side by side. “Jedi” eventually took the westerly leg and headed towards the banks on the Irish side. “Sgrech”, in an attempt to force “Mojito” to break cover, headed north. “Indian” and “Aurelia” were there but not heavily involved in the “match”. “Jackknife” took and immediate leg north after Bardsey.
When the tide ebbed, the fleet faced tide flows of over 4 knots against them and little progress was made until this ebb tide waned.
Most of the fleet eventually converged around the India Bank, off Wicklow, and it was obvious that the westerly leg was more advantageous. Of the boats that headed north, “Mojito” just led “Sgrech”. When the converge happened “Jedi” had made great progress and was 2 miles ahead of “Mojito”. However “Indian”, who was close to “Jedi , slipped in between “Mojito” and “Sgrech” for the procession fetch along the Codling and Kish banks and the Kish Light.
The last leg from the Kish was a fetch and there was no opportunity for any gains to be made. “Aurelia” took line honours followed by “Jackknife”. The main procession behind was led by “Jedi” followed by “Mojito”, “Indian” and “Sgrech”.
Due to “Indian’s” gains by heading west with “Jedi” from Bardsey, they slipped between “Mojito” and “Sgrech” to forced “Sgrech” out of their Champion position and allowed Peter Dunlop and Vick Cox and “Mojito” to be crowned ISORA Champions for 2017.
“Jedi” won the race with “Mojito” taking second, “Indian” third and “Sgrech was fourth. Full details are on the ISORA website here
An end of season party was arranged in the National Yacht Club immediately after the race. Many of the exhausted crew dragged themselves there for some light refreshments. Hon Sec of ISORA and Skipper of “Sgrech”, Stephen Tudor, made the announcement of the new Champion.
The Wolf’s Head will be presented to Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox at the ISORA Annual Dinner, to take place on the 11th November at the National Yacht Club. The ISORA AGM also takes place that afternoon where the race schedule for the 2018 season is set by the members.