Archive for the ‘Racing Events’ Category

ISORA Race 1 – Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Back in the water, all winter jobs finished, boat sparkling, systems tested, it was time for the first race of the season! 30th of May ISORA race from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, with Barry and Andy racing double handed against a mostly fully crewed fleet.

The start was at 08.00, and true to form Dinah was at the favoured end of the line, travelling at speed, in the right direction. Unfortunately another competitor had a moment of madness (at least I hope it was a moment of madness, because if it was a deliberate action then it would be wrong of me not to protest) and very nearly caused a huge collision on the startline. All the long hours of work over the winter flashed through my head at the thought of Dinah being holed on the startline of her first race of the season. Nothing but luck prevented the collision, and I reckon at one point there wasn’t a hairs breadth between poor Dinah and the other boat who probably weighs four times as much and who had no rights to be there!

We had wanted to go right anyway to get the most out of the slackening tide, but ended up forced to tack away from the start to get out from under the boat that caused all the consternation. As we headed out to sea there were plenty shifts to play, and about two and a half hours into the race we managed to cross in front of the fleet as we came back in from our position on the far right of the course. This was great given we are one of the lowest rated boats in the fleet.

The breeze built quickly to between 20 and 25knts. We slabbed in two reefs and went to ballast up. Rather stupidly I managed to get an airlock in the ballast system. It’s something I learned to avoid years ago, and I have no idea why I did what I did this time. I have nobody to blame but myself, and we struggled for about half an hour with the boat very overpowered. Eventually we got the ballast tank full and started to hit our target numbers again, but we had lost the leaders on the water by that stage.

It was a long hard beat the whole way to Holyhead. Big confused seas. Nausea from lack of sea legs at the start of the season. Frustration at having given away so much time due to the ballast issue. But we soldiered on… On the final approach to Holyhead we converged with ‘Lula Belle’, our old sparring partner. During the Round Ireland Race last year we spent days side by side. In the final race of last season we finished 1 second apart (!!!) after a long race across the Irish Sea. And here we were again, side by side with only a few miles to go to the finish. We crossed tacks a few times, and Liam’s ace crew sailed really well getting through us when we fell into some adverse tide. Even though they finished just ahead of us, Dinah was the victor on this occasion as we rate slightly lower than ‘Lula Belle’.

Overall we were 5th in the fleet of 18, which is not bad considering we were double handed against full crews, and the negative impact of user error with the ballast. The boat is now well tested after her winter, and we’re looking forward to a busy season. Barry and Andy are out training a few nights a week at the moment so as to keep improving right up to the Fastnet race in August. The next race is in a few weeks time from Pwllheli to Wicklow. That should be fun!

SORC Channel Week 2010

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

SORC Channel Week 2010 consisted of six legs over seven days, totalling 350nm of solo racing in a complete mix of conditions.

For various reasons the stopover in St Malo was moved to St Quay, so the actual route sailed looked like this below.

Leg 1:
The first leg, from Lymington to Alderney, began with a hectic hour of short tacking out of the Solent. Dinah rounded Needles Fairway Bouy in a decent position and headed off on the long leg towards Alderney. The hard part of this leg was always going to be judging the tide accurately so as to take best advantage of it on the crossing. As can be seen in the track below, we got it pretty much spot on. Dinah’s heading was constant for the whole crossing, with the tide producing a large S-shaped track, finally lifting us right up into the mouth of Braye Harbour.

One of the most memorable aspects of the race was the huge amounts of weed on the surface of the English Channel. Indeed we had to avoid “islands” of weed 30ft in diameter that had sea-birds walking on them! Unfortunately we picked up one clump of weed on the rudder and had to sail backwards to clear it.

Leg 2:
Leaving Alderney we were faced with a short drag race through the Swinge (the narrow channel between Alderney and Burhou) and across into The Russell (the channel between Guernsey and Herm) to finish just off St Peters Port in Guernsey. Dinah seemed to be intent on picking up every piece of weed nearby, and our speed suffered terribly as a result. After the finish, by motoring in reverse, we cleared an enormous clump of weed from the keel. The situation was so bad that I even swam under the boat in St Peters Port to ensure her bottom was clear. After picking up weed two days in a row, our luck simply had to turn for the next leg.

Leg 3:
On Monday morning leaving Guernsey there was not enough breeze to start the race. As a fleet we motored South hoping the breeze would fill in as the morning went on. The whole fleet motoring together made for some interesting photo opprtunities.

The race eventually got under way due West of Jersey, and was a simple broad reaching drag race. We managed to not pick up any weed this time and posted our first decent result of the week despite the wind angle favouring the dedicated assymetric boats.

St Quay was a fantastic stopover. The locals could not have been more accomodating, the facilities were superb, the town itself was a beautiful place to wander through, and I think St Quay will become a regular in the SORC calendar in future years!

Leg 4:
St Quay to Brixham was to be the longest leg of the week. It was also the leg with the toughest forecast. The leg itself was uneventful, being a simple fetch just West of North, with 25knts wind hitting the port bow the whole way. On the last section of the leg there were big gains to be had by approaching Berry Head from the Western side, but sadly we only discovered this when it was too late. Still though, Dinah posted a solid result, and suffered none of the difficulties faced by other competitors in dealing with the overnight leg through decent breeze and big seas.

Leg 5:
Brixham to Portland was a highlight of the week. Assymetric kite up, 20knts breeze at 90deg apparent, big waves. It took a while to get the boat balanced, spinning out and broaching regularly in the early stages. Once we settled into a groove the boat just screamed towards Portland Bill. Walls of spray either side. Top speed 16.3knts. Surfing past the tourists on Portland Bill only 50m away. An amazing morning on the water. I made a mess of the gybe in the big seas off portland, and ended up having to drop the spinnaker, but as it turned out most boats had already dropped theirs much much earlier so we didn’t lose out too much. Second in that leg, continuing the trend of better and better results all week. It’s worth mentioning that the facilities in Portland are the best I’ve ever experienced. We were lucky to be berthed in what will be the Olympic venue for 2012, and the purpose built facilities are simply superb.

Leg 6:
The final morning of the event dawned with the prospect of a windy dead run all the way back to the Solent. After Dinah’s usual aggressive start, we chose to run deep towards the shore to avoid the worst of the adverse tide.

Hugging the cliffs as close as we dared provided some spectacular scenes. Running at over 10knts, at times just 25m from sheer cliffs, exchanging greetings with the climbers on the cliffs, who were just as surprised as we were to be face to face! Being so close to shore paid handsomely, being able to stay out of the worst of the tidal races off the headland.

This windy running leg really suited Dinah, and we posted our best result of the week, first in class, and second overall. This was a great end to the event, and made up for some of the frustration in earlier legs.

Overall Channel Week again lived up to its name for providing superb close solo racing, in nice locations, against some really good competition. Added to that the social aspect was second to none, and as usual after this event we all come away having made some great new friends. This is one event that I would recommend to anybody, and I’m looking forward to coming back next year!

Round the Rugged Rock

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Barry and Hannah with the Fastnet Rock astern this morning about 0800 hours.

fastnet rock astern

Round Ireland Start

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Along with 36 other boats, Dinah started the race at 1200 today off Wicklow.  Ahead: 704 nautical miles around the island.

Round Irerland Race start 1Round Ireland Race start 2