Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club and the Royal Dee Yacht Club, will again host the2024 IRC Welsh National Championships which are scheduled between Friday 17th May to Sunday 19th May 2024.
A change from our traditional mid-summer dates to May last year proved a great success, allowing competitors an early opportunity to test crew set up and boat performance, before enjoying more regattas in Cardigan Bay and further afield later in the year.
This open event will use the facilities of Plas Heli - The Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre,and will draw on the skill and experience of the Plas Heli, Royal Dee Yacht Club and Pwllheli Sailing Clubs race management and event teams, who have a long and excellent record of hosting World, European and UK National Championships.
The racing will take place on the world renowned sailing waters of Cardigan Bay with the dramatic scenery provided by the mountains of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula and is only a short sail from the Marina. Minimal tidal influences and being open to the prevailing winds will provide superb championship quality racing conditions.
The Plas Heli pontoons, and the Hafan Marina berths forms part of the excellent Pwllheli Harbour, with chandleries, boat yards, sail makers.
Plas Heli has ample free parking and spaces for camping and motorhomes/caravans in our two secure sites - the compound or quayside. All our plots have hook up electricity.
There is plenty to do ashore before or after the event (or for shore crew during the event). Please visit the great selection of boutique, shops and facilities in the market town and taste and experience the offerings of the new and refurbished bars, cafes and restaurants. A train ride to the Castle in Criccieth - or onwards to Porthmadog where you can catch the steam train to Caernarfon with the majestic castle or to the quarries in Blaenau Festiniog in the Snowdonia National park - all delightful experiences.
Whilst here with the boat why not explore the coastline and anchorages of Abersoch and an exploration sail up the river to Porthmadog.
The Academy facilities will be used for the Championships including the pontoon berths.
The Academy building incorporates a café/restaurant and bar, serving freshly cooked meals using locally sourced ingredients, with superb views of the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia and mid Wales which provide a spectacular backdrop for all events.
We know you will have a memorable IRC championship in Pwllheli – both on and off the water – and we look forward to greeting you all.
Mark Thompson - Commodore Pwllheli Sailing Club
Vicky Cox - Rear Commodore and Racing Captain Pwllheli Sailing Club
IRC Welsh National Championships at Plas Heli - photo by Andy Green
IRC Welsh National Championships at Plas Heli - photo by Andy Green
This years IRC Welsh National Championships, hosted by Pwllheli Sailing Club in conjunction with the Royal Dee Yacht Club, at the Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre, proved challenging for the race officers.
Flags flying at Plas Heli on the first day of racing - photo by Victoria Cox
Friday got off to a great start with Plas Heli flags flying in glorious sunshine, as crews on the pontoons enjoyed a fly past of fast jets out of RAF Valley. But once out on the water, not even a zephyr could be seen and AP was raised for both IRC classes.
No wind on the Pwllheli start line - photo by Victoria Cox
Meanwhile, further inshore, race officer Robin Evans managed to get the cruiser class off on their first race along the coast, heading down towards Penychain. Percy, racing with their parrot by the same name got off to a good start, winning race one but failed to maintain consistency for the next three races, leaving Cryd-yr-Awel to take 1st in race two.
Percy, Ella Trout and Last years cruiser class winner Quattro - photo by Angela Jenkinson
Eventually, race officer Mike Butterfield was able to get the IRC classes off on their windward/leeward course after a lot of work by both race officer and mark layer.
Mark layer Jon Close - photo by Paul Kitteringham
IRC Class 1 underway on day one
Sadly the shifting winds disappeared and racing had to be abandoned for the day and crews headed to Plas Heli for daily prize giving and jugs of beer sponsored each day by Tudor Estate Agents, Partington Marine Services and Firmhelm respectively.
Sponsored jugs of beer and glassware, handed out by the Pwllheli Sailing Club commodores at the daily prize giving - photo by Nick Smith
Day 2 and light winds prevailed again but race officers persevered to provide a full day of racing for all classes. Race officer Mike Butterfield was determined to get as many races in as possible so hoisted the U flag after race 1 much to the disappointment of Gelert who were pushed over the line just seconds before the gun.
Gelert and Jackknife battling it out just after the start in IRC 1 - photo by Ian “Sammo” Jones
At the end of the day, Eazitiger and Checkmate were on equal points at the top of IRC2 with Altima in third place.
Checkmate in IRC2 - photo by Paul Kitteringham
Mojito lead class 1 with a four point lead over Only Magic, closely followed by Xpletive. Although Cryd yr Awel wining the first race if the day, a consistent performance and a win in race 4 put Suspicious Minds in the lead in the cruiser class.
IRC fleet viewed from Gimblet rock - photo by Sam Kitteringham
With day one abandoned, day 3 was brought forward with an earlier start for both IRC classes to extend racing time and fit in another four races.
Mojito followed by Excession and Jezebel in IRC1 and sigma Jondo in IRC2, all heading for the leeward mark - photo by Paul Kitteringham
Grey skies soon turned to mist but visibility was sufficient to start racing and the 10-15kts from the south was welcomed by the fleet.
Darling xx enjoying the breeze as mist lifted - photo by Ian “Sammo” Jones
As the mist lifted and winds clocked right as forecast, race management worked hard to keep to the schedule. By the final race, a windward/leeward race finishing with a round the cans element, the sun appeared and winds started to drop, favouring the faster boats in the fleet, allowing Jackknife a comfortable win, putting them in 2nd place overall in IRC class 1.
Jackknife in IRC class 1 as mist lifted - photo by Paul Kitteringham
As the fleets retired to Plas Heli for refreshments and prize giving, everyone agreed that it had been a fantastic weekend.
Crews enjoying the après-sail at Plas Heli - photo by Victoria Cox
Whilst runner up positions changed, top spots in each class were cemented.
Suspicious Minds and Tamur in the cruiser class - photo by Angela Jenkinson
Suspicious Minds taking 1st in cruisers, Eazitiger pulling away from Checkmate to take IRC class 2 and Mojito taking 1st in IRC 1 and overall Welsh Championship.
Congratulations to our Champions and to all competitors.
'A Great Championship on and off the water'
Thank you to all the competitors who attended the 2023 IRC Welsh National Championships in Pwllheli last weekend, we hope you enjoyed your racing , and we congratulate our class winners and overall IRC Welsh Champions - Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox - J109 Mojito (PSC/RDYC) and runner up and winner of class 2 - Eazi Tiger (Adam Kyffin - LYC) and winner of NHC cruisers - Suspicious Minds (Gavin Nicholas - PSC)
I also wish to thank my fellow flag officers Lyndsay and Vicky for all their help, and to the race officers and team Mike, Robin, Brian, Tom (Bacardee), Alan and Jon. Thanks also to Stephen and Richard for their help with entry, scoring, IT and ribs plus berthing, and Pip for finance.
Thanks also to Sean and Kellie for the catering and bar service, to Kirk and Greg for open mic and to Andy for photography, and everybody else who has contributed.
Finally I thank our sponsors Tudor and Co, Partington Marine, Firmhelm and Spinlock for their generosity.
We know that you can't visit us at the moment so please take a virtual tour by looking at these videos.
We are sure you will want to visit once the lock-down restrictions are lifted!
So for now please keep safe and well.
Pwllheli and the Area
Great Sailing Waters and close to the fantastic shore facilities at the National Sailing Academy.