The weather forecast was depressing for the 2014 KONA Offshore Perpetual Trophy Race on Saturday 26th July from Dun Laoghaire to Pwllheli. The only conversation during the pre-race get together in the NYC on the previous evening was “how can any boat manage to get to Pwllheli with that forecast???” The ISORA Sailing Committee decided after extensive deliberations to shorten the course to go direct to Pwllheli.
All the forecast for the entire week prior to the race was predicting little or no winds for the entire weekend. As the week went on, a small glimmer of hope started to appear that there would be some freshening of the condition late on Saturday evening.
The weather forecast appeared to deter those boats whose crew had anything planned for the following day and early into that week??? Of the 19 entries for the race 12 came to the start line. As a fitting reward for those who race offshore the Gods provided 5 knots of and easterly breeze to help the fleet out of Dublin Bay. At the time of the start line there was a strong flooding tide pushing the boats away from the line. Eventually all boats crossed and the “Starter”, NYC Commodore, Larry Power could stand down.
The route from the start was a beat out of Dublin Bay. The winds were very fickle as the fleet beat their way against a strong tide towards the Muglins. “Sgrech” was to first boat to draw blood by negotiating the fickle winds and taking an inside route to avoid the tide emerged to be the first boat out of Dublin Bay. Even at that stage the entire fleet was spread in the north south line leaving across most of the mouth of the bay.
After that, I have absolutely no idea what happened!!!
Some of the fleet appeared to take a southern route, beating towards Bardsey while other found themselves heading north being taken by the tide. There was little or no wind anywhere. The wind rose and fell all through the day with progress being made when the wind was there and the boats drifting back when the wind fell.
There were times when one could view the sea conditions from Wicklow head to Howth head and there was not a wisp of wind around. Despite the clear conditions the fleet dispersed and only immediately adjacent boats were visible.
Leader out of the Bay, “Sgrech” took a southerly path with fellow J109s, “Mojito” and “Jetstream” and “Adelie” following. “First of September” was there also but taking a midway route. Current holder of the KONA trophy “Ruth” and “Jackknife 2” tacked out and disappeared, not to be seen again.
It was a long frustrating day with the wind rising and falling, veering and backing, jibs and spinnakers and anchors up and down. And then came the night!!! With a clear sky and a most wondrous display of stars, masthead lights started appear as the fleet neared Bardsey. By this time the tide was ebbing and all boats took the route through the Bardsey Sound.
“Ruth” took a huge lead and finished with line honours miles in front of the “Jackknife 2”. Next over was “First of September” and “Sgrech” followed immediately by the Class 2 Sigma 33 “Elandra”. “Mojito” was next to cross the line in dying wind conditions for the ISORA finisher and ISORA Vice Chairman, Gerry Williams. The last boat finished after 10.00 on Sunday morning.
“Ruth” took the Overall win and retained the KONA Offshore Perpetual Trophy and also took Class 1. “Elandra” after sailing a great race took Class 2 and Silver Class.
Pwllheli Sailing Club who had been expecting the fleet in the previous evening had breakfast and refreshments available for all the finishers. All boats finishing were welcomed with much appreciated refreshments served from a PCS inflatable.
The race Sponsors KONA have created a photographic competition where all photographs taken during the race will be judged. All entries should be emailed to email@example.com and also copied to me firstname.lastname@example.org . All entries will also be posted on the ISORA website picture gallery.
At this stage in the Series “Ruth” is in a commanding lead and only needs to take care during the last three races to win the coveted “Wolf’s Head Trophy”. They will be mindful of this position after their experience in the last race when “Sgrech” overtook them within 3 miles of the finish of the last race to steal the Series from them. “Ruth” will be hungry for success after also being robbed of the Round Ireland Race win when within 10 miles of the finish.
The next race is the ISORA RAYC Night Race on Friday 8th August. This is always a popular race with the course heading south around North India and along the well lit Wicklow coastline. A night race is also arranged for the Pwllheli ISORA Fleet on the same evening.
Congratulations Ruth – a fantastic race win.
The full provisional results are now on the web site here