Product Reviews

First ISORA 2023 Welsh Coastal Race at Pwllheli Sailing Club

by Victoria Cox 17 Apr 14:01 BST 15-16 April 2023

This weekend saw the first of three consecutive coastal race weekends in Pwllheli. Although still chilly in the shade, blue skies greeted the fleet with 5-6kts from the northwest.

Race officer Robin Evans set a course along the beach to club mark number 1 before heading out to the West cardinal buoy at the end of Sarn Badrig’s causeway and then returning to the Plas Heli/Fairway buoy finish line via St. Tudwall sound.

With winds dropping as forecast at the start, it was slow progress over the line with Mojito, Jackknife, Jezebel and Gelert getting good starts. The beach leg gave spectators a fine view of the race against the glorious back drop of the bay. Jackknife rounding the mark first closely followed by Mojito, Gelert and Jezebel and kites went up. Wild haggis and Excession taking a deeper, more Easterly route.

With winds dropping further to 2-3kts west-southwesterly, wind holes started to develop and shifting winds saw kites peeled to code zeros and back again before eventually resorting to jib. In one of these peels, a mix up of tack lines on Mojito allowed Jezebel and Gelert to get ahead. But with more shifts, Brian Dixon and Chris Williams’s Gelert, were forced to bare away to keep the kite filled, allowing Mojito to regain a place.

The forecast of dying winds from the north west, due to build again from the southwest, meant that some skippers tried to keep to the west of the rhumb line. The dark ripples on the water compared to glossy seas to the east, were evidence that this tactic was the best move, while Nigel Ingram’s Wild haggis and Excession’s more easterly course left them falling behind the leading pack.

As winds filled in to 6-10kts the fleet enjoyed some super sailing conditions, made even more exciting for the crew of Mojito when they were joined by a pod of dolphins that were determined to put on an aquatic display.

Jackknife rounded Causeway buoy first, followed by Jezebel, and Mojito, and with flying jib, Andrew and Sam Hall’s Jackknife, pulled away at speed.

Further back in the field, the wider transom boats, two sunfast 3200’s and Paul Kitteringham’s Elan 350, struggled to keep height upwind in the light airs. Mark and Jo Thompson’s Jac-y-do and Peter Ashworth’s Zig Zag had to put a couple of tacks in to make the Causeway buoy, both rounding together. Once round, they deployed mast head zeros, which produced a very fast leg to the islands.

Across the bay from St. Tudwalls, the leg was dead downwind allowing Gelert, with symmetric kite to gain some ground on Mojito but playing the shifts, and they managed to stay ahead, finishing 3rd on the water behind J125, Jackknife and Chris Miles’s J111, Jezebel.

Meanwhile, a spinnaker wrap on Jac Y Do in the sound, allowed Zig Zag to pull away, also letting Finally and Robert Temple’s X-yacht, Excession to make ground on the downwind leg to the finish. And with shifting winds, a couple of light air gybes were required to get over the line.

Peter Dunlop and Victoria Cox’s J109 Mojito, won overall, Jezebel took 2nd overall and first in class 0 with Jackknife taking 3rd overall and 2nd in class and Gelert 3rd in class 0.

Zigzag took 1st in class 2 with Jac-y-do 2nd in class. Full results on ISORA ( and club website

Next weekend sees the start of the Pwllheli Spring Series with the 2nd of the coastal races on Saturday followed by two round the cans races on Sunday so boats can start to warm up ready for the Welsh IRC National Championships in May.

Come and join us! We’d love to welcome you and your crew to Pwllheli to join our fleet of inshore, offshore and cruising racers.

No boat but still want to sail? Skippers are always looking for crew. Get in touch at and we’ll try and hook you up with skippers.


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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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