Archive for May, 2011

Training 05/05/11

Monday, May 9th, 2011

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!