The forecast for the day did not make for great reading with less than 6 knots from north west. However as boats started arriving and getting set up for launch there was a decent breeze and hope it might hold on for the day. Briefing was short, the introduction and welcome of the Classic fleet and reminder that the event was also raising funds for Make a Wish Ireland.
At this stage PRO Scorie Walls and the race management team and RIB’s were headed out into the bay. With 49 boats entered, 47 launched with some top names and a great days racing in store.
First attempt at Race 1 resulted in general recall with large portion of a nervy fleet over the line. PRO went to black flag and that had the desired affect with a clean start. Curly Morris (14077) at the pin end along with Ger Owens (14076) and Graham Elmes (13982). Sutton’s Hugh Gill (13915) is initially up the middle but tacks out right early on. At the weather mark it seemed right had paid with Ruan O’Tiarnaigh (14116X), Tim Corcoran (14047) and Hugh Gill (13915) first to the top and no more than boat lengths between them. The downwind was a cagey affair with boats spread across the course. Gill (13915) took a left side approach with other leaders hanging right. Again very close at the bottom mark but Corcoran (14047) now leading with Gill (13915) just sneaking in ahead of O’Tiarnaigh (14116X). But incredibly close with Owens (14076), Elmes (13982) and Boyle (14116) around in a bunch next. Junior David Johnston (13977) showing well was in top 20 around bottom mark. The Classic fleet were also having a good battle with Duncan Greenhalgh (12661) battling out with Stephen Parry (4615). Local knowledge with a lightening breeze might be important.
Gill (13915) and Owens (14076) started down right with rest of the leaders staying left and centre. Owens about halfway down the beat tack back looking for a little extra breeze on the left side. The lead boats are 14047, 14116X with Alasdair Duffin (14130) and Shane McCarthy (14061) around first. Owens (14076) around in 5th. His tack left a good call as Gill (13915) was a big loser out right and rounded 13th.
The downwind leg and last beat were close thing with Corcoran and O’Tiarnaigh maintaing their lead all the way to the finish. Duffin (14130) take 3rd followed by McCarthy (14061). McGuiness (14056) with a late showing just pips Owens (14076) for 5th.
With an ever ligthening breeze, all the fleet managed to finish within the tight 15 minute deadline. Good racing considering some of the older boats. The PRO didn’t waste much time getting second race underway, and went with a black flag from the off. Obviously worried about delays with wind due to die away.
Second race and all away. Very shortly up the beat all looked a bit upright as wind dropped. 2 boats on right Corcoran (14047) and Morris (14077) looking the best as the fleet made its way to the top mark. A little bit more breeze and Morris (14077) is first to top mark with McCarthy (14061), Gill (13915), Corcoran (14047) and Owens (14076) all very close.
The top 7 boats were all very close, McCarthy (14061) out left with Gill (13915) and Corcoran (14047) out right. At the mark it still very close with Morris (14077), Owens (14076) also in the mix. Wind shifted and C flag indicates weather mark has changed. Wind has moved back to 285 and now wind is very light. With Classic fleet getting a finish on end of lap 1 they all continue with main fleet. Owens (14076) tack out left early on and is moving very well in the light breeze.
At the top mark and another C flag indicating bottom mark is now at 90. Owens (14076) has done well on left and is first around. Shortly followed by Corcoran (14047) and Morris (14077) and then Gill (13915) and McCarthy (14061). Down the leg Owens seems to have the legs and starts to get away from the others. Wind is lightening and most of the fleet holding up on a close reach. The leading group for the first time are getting spread out with Owens doing the most damage and round the bottom mark with decent lead and only short beat to the line and the hooter. Second over is Corcoran (14047) but no hooter, followed by Morris (14077) and again no hooter. Gill (13915) get a hooter as he crosses. It turns out Corcoran and Morris had been black flagged. McCarthy (14061) takes 3rd with Louden (14055) and Niall Henry (13993) in 4th and 5th.
With the wind dying a good portion of the fleet did not make the 15 minute time limit, which makes it a great reason to be in Classic fleet who all had their finish in the bag at end of round 1.
So at end of the day Ger Owens (RStGYC) is leading from Shane McCarthy (Greystones)and Hugh Gill (SDC). Leading Silver fleet sailors are Bill Johnson (Lough Foyle YC) in 11th, David Lappin (Skerries ) in 14th and Stan Shepard (Skerries) in 15th. Leading the Bronze fleet is Tim Davies (Chelmarsh) in 23rd from Sutton Dinghy Clubs David Johnsto in 28th and James Ogg (Donaghadee) 30th.
The Classic fleet leader is Stephe Parry (York RI SC) from Duncan Greenhalgh (Derwent Reservoir SC) and Pat Murphy (SDC).
All to play for today with 3 races scheduled. GP14 AGM due to start at 10:45am Sunday morning. Photos to follow later.