Sea-Pie just missing the 'cauldron' off the Point of Ayre

Sea-Pie just missing the ‘cauldron’ off the Point of Ayre – Photo by Vincent Campbell

Write-up by James Penn.

It was a fifth IRC division win for Jerry Colman in Sea Pie of Cultra in the Manx Sailing & Crusing Club’s 60th Round The Island Race over the bank holiday, sponsored by Tekmos of Gladstone Park, Ramsey.

It was also an overall win on adjusted time for Sea Pie for only the second time in Colman’s extensive history with the event.

A gale had been blowing the previous day, and conditions were difficult for sailing on Sunday. Of the original 12 entrants only four made it to the starting line.

Sorcery turned back on the way up from Douglas that morning, while Polished Manx had slipped over in the harbour the previous day while rested against Sea Pie. Polished Manx lost a spreader and suffered other damage to its rigging and was forced to withdraw, but fortunately didn’t do any serious damage to Sea Pie.

The race kicked off at 10.45am in a Force 6-7 South Westerly with competitors Sea Pie, Heck Syndicate’s Albert Penguin, Jim Edge’s Cadenza, and the all lady crew of Charlene Howard’s AJ Wanderlust, who had all been sporting pink tops bearing the slogan Sail Like A Girl in the clubhouse the previous night (interesting acronym – think about it).

There was only one start as the smaller Class B boats had pulled out because of the conditions.

Kites were hoisted and it was a case of running with the wind down the north coast to the Point of Ayre.

On the western side of the island the sea state was better but boats had to tack into the wind all the way south.

The fog was particularly bad in the southern half of the island and complicated conditions still further.

About 5 pm Sea Pie went through the Chickens, south of the Calf, raised the kite and started heading north, with Albert Penguin in hot pursuit.

Sea Pie had been in the lead since the start, but Albert Penguin did tremendously well to catch up (having got out of Ramsey harbour fifteen minutes after the others due to a late breakfast), and between Douglas and Maughold managed to get in front.

At Maughold Head Colman was worried that the boat might go onto the rocks. ‘The wind speed had got up, we were doing 12-14 knots, and I was worried that we might do a Chinese gybe. We just managed to get the kite down in time,’ he said.

Albert Penguin maintained its lead to the finish, and would be the fastest boat home on elapsed time by two minutes, arriving at 9pm for a time of just over 10 hours.

Albert Penguin also won the Coronation Cup, the race’s oldest and most venerated trophy, named for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, now awarded for Division II, non-IRC rated boats.

‘It was tough going and the sea state was sloppy,’ said Phil Hardisty, skipper of Albert Penguin.

As a first Class 8 it gave time to the Sigma 33, so Sea Pie took the Golden Jubilee Trophy for overall monohull winner on adjusted time.

AJ Wanderlust was the only other finisher and came in just after midnight

Cadenza was forced to retire off Maughold. One of the crew had injured a hand in a gybe, and for several minutes the boat was going round in circles in 40 knots of wind, unable to get the sails down. Eventually the crew managed to lower the sails without any damage to rigging, and the boat motored in to Ramsey.

Many thanks to Patrick Harnett of Tekmos (who was incidentally crewing on Sea Pie) for sponsoring the event. Also race officer Andrew Dean, and to the ladies for dinner on Saturday night, and a tea on the Monday.