A big ISORA turnout of 25 boats raced from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead yesterday. Winds ranged from 8–14 knots for the 55–mile voyage to Wales
Provisional results from yesterday’s 55–mile ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead reveal Royal St George Yacht Club J122 Aurelia (Chris & Patanne Power Smith) were winners in a bumper turnout for race three of the 2016 season. Second, was former ISORA champion Sgrech skippered by Pwllheli Sailing Club’s Stephen Tudor. Third place went to Peter Hall’s First 34.7 Adelie of Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club.
The fleet for Race 3 of the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Series was the largest assembled for many years. 28 boats took part. It is hoped that this number will increase for the next race when 29 boats are expected to return to Holyhead for the 100 mile return leg to Dun Laoghaire on the 28th May.
The weather forecast for the race was not good since the beginning of the week. All indications pointed to a “drifter”. However, a window was spotted by the Sailing Committee that showed easterly winds backing northerly 8-12 knots would prevail from the start to late into the evening. However the “drifter” conditions would form on the west side of the course from mid-morning. With this limited window of opportunity available, the Sailing Committee decided to shorten the course to go direct to Holyhead.
At the start, the winds were Easterly 10-12 knots giving a beat to Holyhead. The tide was running south. The fleet took the port tack and all boats headed south. The south going tide took the entire fleet over 10 miles south before the winds started to back allowing boats to head further north towards Holyhead.
For whatever reason, the tide was over an hour late in turning and the winds did not start to back until early afternoon. This kept the boats on a tight fetch for most of the race. The northerly winds for the previous few days had produced a slightly choppy sea which made driving the boats at top speed more difficult.
Although all the boats were on the same tack, speed was the object as all the boats worked hard to maintain top speed through the choppy sea. When the winds eventually started to back and the tide weaken, the decision had to be made about what the approach to Holyhead was to be? Does one free off and head directly toward Holyhead or does one stay on the wind and head further north, knowing that there will be a strong south going tide as boats were approaching the finish line.
On the approach to Holyhead, many of the fleet underestimated the strength of the south going tide at the North Stacks and across the mouth of the harbour. Also by the time the leading boat was passing the North Stack the infamous “Holyhead Hole” was forming under the Stacks.
The trouble was not yet over at the Stacks as boats negotiated around the pier head and tried to fly a spinnaker down to the finish located half way along the breakwater. At that stage, the winds were light and were coming over the breakwater. Due to the huge bias on the line, boats had to sail down along the breakwater and cope with the wind reversal off the breakwater.
Despite the forecast, most of the fleet got to Holyhead. Some of the later boats could not make progress against the tide and slackening wind and were forced to retire.
Chris Power-Smith’s “Aurelia” took an overall and Class 1 win. Peter Hall’s “Adelie” took Class 2 while Mark Thomspon’s “Aquaplane” took Silver Class.
The next race in the 100mile Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire on the 28th May. All ISORA races can be followed by downloading the YB tracking app or on the tracker viewer on the ISORA website www.isora.org.
Image and article courtesy of Afloat.ie