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  • Writer's pictureApril Boyes

ISORA - Dunlaoghaire -M2 - Dunany - Rockabill - Howth

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Part of the Irish offshore racing association completed on JackKnife J125 Skippered by Andrew Hall

Now this is a race I was looking forward to on a high performance J125. Before we start the racing story let's start with the first challenge.. Manchester Airport.. we've all seen those daily mail stories on the horrific delays... Luckily it was a breeze getting through security. So I finished work at 4pm and caught my 18:15 flight without any unprecedented drama! (admittedly 45 minutes late #ryanair but all things considered a good result!)

I arrived in Dublin an hour late... I knew it was a bus plus a train to get to Dun laoghaire Marina. However the lady informed me there were no more bus spaces for the next 2 hours so I had no hope of arriving before 1am! I may or may not have laid it on thick to plead my case so I could arrive at the marina before midnight and squeeze myself on the bus that was about to leave!

I arrived at the train station by bus then caught the train towards Greystones, all just over an hour from Dublin airport (if you can secure yourself on a bus....) Otherwise you're looking at around 60 euros in a taxi.

I met Andrew the skipper along with the rest of the crew in the national yacht club, we were all quite tired so headed back to the boat within the hour to get a good night's sleep in preparation for the ISORA race.

Good Morning JackKnife! - As you can see a perfect day to start the race!

Setting off and sailing past South Dublin Bay was idyllic with a fresh breeze and talks of hoisting the code zero we were all in good spirits. Other boats were hugging the coast line but Jackknife was speedy. Sam was in talks with his dad Andrew about sail choices and since we decided to point higher stuck with the J2... we were cruising at 9/10 knots at times and making good progress it looked neck and neck with Checkmate…

We joked about needing drysuits with me proclaiming I didn't think it necessary however Sam insisting he needed his drysuit especially being on bow. The above photo likely proves his point but it was not until another 10 hours into the race I understood what he meant by it being a very wet boat.. but we'll get onto that later.

Looking at the grey turquoise water with white horses riding the crests was exhilrating... I couldn't wait to get to Wicklow looking forward to reaching a 159/161 wind angle we had an A2 up but various sail changes were under discussion when we were sailing deep! In sailing it's what we call .... soaking low!

Just before 11am Andrew called for hot drinks and kindly Alex obliged after having had an early morning nap on deck... I would share these photos of Alex asleep but I don't want to get in trouble. At around lunch time we got the A4 up which is/was a beautiful sail white, blue and red. Andrew said enthusiastically this is one of our best sails! We we're at a 157 wind angle going 13 -14 knots making good course pretty sendy. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse and the kite blew up! It was awful I almost felt the pain internally as the kite ripped through it's body.

Racing is a brutal game.... we battled on and up went the A5 at around 15:00 BST we were screaming at 17-18 knots! There was a time a halyard was tangled and whilst I was trimming the kite at 14 knots Sam was being hoisted up the mast to sort it out... I remember Andrew saying ...don't look at Sam focus on the kite... it's the first time iv'e seen someone up the rig moving at such speeds!

Fast forward to 19:00BST and we were in the Irish Sea somewhat north of Clogerhead we also had an unexpected visitor.....a pigeon that decided it most certainly did not want to fly home and passage on a yacht doing 10 knots would bode much better. This was also around the time I felt the temperature dropping and even after the pork pie sustenance and sandwiches I couldn't fight off the cold.... I felt quite envious of those drysuits. The pigeon succeeded in multiple attempts to land after we tried to throw it/send it back to the skies as the boat was soaking wet and not place for a tired bird. Despite all of this the Pigeon was not giving up we let it remain on Jackknife with Andrew joking he would have it as Pigeon pie later!

20:30-21:30 BST What can I say apart from ... absolutely freezing! unfortunately the jib blew as well....which meant scrambling to the bow and tackling it down I felt icy water going up my legs and into my socks with full knowledge we still had hours to go we bundled the jib together and fed it like a snake to the back of the boat! Another sail change, stay sail and code zero and the end was in sight at nearly 22:00 hrs we had 18 nautical miles to go!

There is something magical about the Irish Sea, despite me asking myself why on earth I was sailing soaking wet and cold I would do it again and again and again!

Watching the sunset was like the embers of fire melting into the grey of ash but then as the evening progressed the softness of the pomegranate rose softness rebounded from the waves creating such a beautiful atmosphere.

So what happens next? Surely we must nearly be at the finish we kept checking the chart ...only 15 miles only 8 only 5 .... our hands were like icicles, we were wondering whether we would make it to the national yacht club for a beer... I'm sure at this point if you have read my previous blogs you might sense a theme here....

We did finish the race finally around 01:00… in second place which considering all things was a great result! On the way back we organised as many of the sails we could and stowed them in the bow which resembled a swimming pool…. Upon reaching the marina we then raced to the bar...the boat was soaking wet, my body to the skin was salty and felt cold. We meandered to the the yacht club the moment that ice cold Guinness touched my lips was bliss! After 17 hours onboard everyone was looking forward to the warmth of the club and a few beers. It transpired the boat was so wet we ended up sleeping on the terrace of the yacht club .....

In true sailing fashion I wrote this blog after a a wine fuelled evening with my friend Alex.

Thank you so much for reading, if you liked my blog please subscribe to my mailing list and leave a comment! I am also open to suggestions so please drop me a suggestion in my inbox if you have any ideas for my next post.

Happy Sailing ...

April xoxo

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