The F18 & Hurricane 5.9 UK National Championships were held last weekend in Yaverland Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight. Ireland fielded a strong team consisting of the 3 Ballyholme boats with Adrian Allen/ Richard Gunning and Andrew Gallagher/ Cat Gunning in the F18 fleet and Richard Swanston/Matt McNicholl in the Hurricane 5.9 fleet.
The Hurricane 5.9 fleet has seen a revival in the UK in recent years with the addition of the square top main and SX kit. With several of the Stone Sailing Club teams being labelled as favourites to win the title, Swannie and Matt gave the top boats a scare after leaving the rest of the fleet for dead on the start line. Always quick in breezy conditions, the boys put in an outstanding performance in a fleet of 27 boats taking four 4 top 3 positions Unfortunately, a broken spinnaker halyard block and an unfavorable protest outcome kept them from the top spot overall but still on the podium in 3rd. Stone Sailing Club’s Richie Hanmore and Steve Pyeman managed to squeeze the top spot by just 1 point ahead of Neil Connelly and Hugo Bull.
With the F18 fleet seen as the training boat for previous Olympic Multihull campaigns, competition was as strong as ever in the 32 boat fleet. 2009 Texel Winner Rob Wilson and Marcus Lynch discarded two 2nd places to become the 2011 National Champion. Adrian Allen and Richard Gunning improved on last years performance gaining 14th overall and breaking into the top ten in Race 7, an excellent result from Irelands current top team.
With mixed teams in the spotlight due to the Multihull selection for Rio 2016, more mixed teams than ever were battling it out for the top spot. In the end, Ireland’s Andrew Gallagher and Cat Gunning took the top spot for the second year running in 13th place overall, seeing off competition from Oman Sails team coach Paul Wakelin and Nikki Boniface, fresh from her medal winning performance at this year’s Youth Worlds as well as former Dart 18 lady champion Abbey Ledger and Grant Forward.
A fantastic weekend all round and a huge thank you to Yaverland Sailing Club and Wildwind Holidays for all the hard work. Adrian, Richard, Swannie and Matt are now getting geared up for this years IMA National Championships in Blessington Sailing Club on 10th and 11th September, whilst Andrew and Cat continue their campaign on the UK circuit with just 2 events remaining in this years overall rankings.