Isle of Man Midnight race

On Friday 8th June Liverpool Yacht Club, Tranmere Sailing Club and the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association joined together for the 99th Isle of Man Midnight race. Altogether there was 25 racers, one cruiser by the name of Salty Lass and additional support vessels, who were needed to talk to Mersey VTS, as the whole fleet was classed as one vessel for the purposes of traffic control along the Mersey.

We were joined by Charlotte and Niel who fancied joining us on this adventure. Beverley and I love having people aboard, its one of the reasons we chose to buy Salty Lass, she has one good sized guest cabin and two pilot berths which are very comfortable. In this particular race we were acting as the baggage train carrying camera equipment for Jackknife, spare equipment for the race officers and other equipment that was deemed weighty by the racers.

We joined the first lock out as this was the lock for the shallow drafted vessels such as ours with her 1.6m draft. In the end there was a total of three lock outs required and not all the racers were in the marina as one had travelled all the way from Dún Laoghaire near Dublin and were still out on the river after sailing 20hours to get to Liverpool. Even though we were not in the race the atmosphere was electric and incredibly exciting, we were going to be racing (technically motoring for us) through the midnight hour all the way to the Isle of Man.

We got the sails up and for about half an hour we thoght that we would be able to sail across, but while we were waiting for all the yachts to get out on the water, the wind died to bearly a wisper. This meant that all the spinikars and cruising shoots came out, a luxury we do not currently have. I love all the colours that you get with the spinikars but with the fading light and cloudy conditions they were not seen at their best.

Start of the race

Soon the race started and we were off, in normal conditions the racers would of out flanked us very quickly as they can turn a good speed under sail. In the light conditions that we were experiencing however, our iron sail was making all the difference and we led the pack down the channel. Realistically this was a race where knowing where the channel flows the strongest could give you an advantage, but those on home turf were outclassed by the yachts from the ISORA series.

We watched a beautiful sun set before we reached Q2 that marks the north end of the queens channel at which point we set our course at 315° and headed straight for the Isle of Man.

The cruise across the Irish sea was crazy as it was so calm, and we saw bio-luminesence for the first time. The night was short, which is why the Isle of Man midnight race is always set for as close to the summer soltice as possible. On the morning we had hoped for some wind, but there was absolutly nothing and the racing boys would of been becalmed in these conditions. One of racers, I later learned, had his spinikar up for a total of 21hours before deciding to retire from the race and resort to his motor.

As well as the bioluminesence we saw lots of wild life in the form of jelly fish, birds, porpoises of several varieties and one minky whale. The minky whale takes such a long time to surface and has such a small dorsel fin in comparison to his body.

Soon Douglas was in sight and we crossed the finish line first at just under 14 hours and we managed to get into the harbour with the last raising of the gate. The next two yachts that crossed the line were Jackknife at 14hours and 35minutes and Aurelia at 14hours and 51minutes, but because Jackknife has a handicap of 1.15 and Aurelia a handicap of 1.083, Jackknife came in 15th and Aurelia 8th in the final table once all the times were ajusted by their handicaps.

I gave Jackknife the camera equipment that I had carried for them and watched a few more yachts come in, but for us the race was over.

Raising money for the RNLI

The RNLI turned 200 years old on 4th March 2024. So as sailors and people who promote the joy of sailing, we thought that we would like to raise just £200. What we hope is that other people take up the shout and raise their own £200. In the last 200 years the RNLI have saved over 144,000 lives and yet they are funded entirely by people like you. They are not government funded.

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