Forty seven boats arrived at Skerries Sailing Club for the GP14 National Championship. The impressive calibre included two World Champions, a European Champion, a two time Olympian, a six time Irish National champion and a multiple English National Champion. Steven Nelson and his brother Jonny slotted right in amongst them to blow most of the Gold Fleet away and take the crown in their division by a huge margin.
On day one Mike Senior and Chris White were consistency personified, two races and two bullets, as were Shane Mc Carthy and Andy Davis with two seconds. Race one paid off beautifully for those who headed straight inshore on the first beat, but if you made the mistake of repeating that on the second beat you got hosed. The main feature of the weekend was big breeze and some massive shifts. Keith Louden and Dessie Hughes got their result of the weekend with a third skinning their northern rivals the young Mc Guinness boys in the process.
Race two and a big right shift up the last beat got a few boats that weren’t looking too hot out of trouble. Curly Morris and crew Laura Mc Farland were chased into third by Curly’s daughter Melanie crewing for Ger Owens. Day two Sunday, blowing hard enough that rumour has it the RO wasn’t sending anyone out. A few launches put paid to that as they’ve raced in far worse.
The Imperious English pair got their first challenge as Shane and Andy took their first win. They had been led around the first windward mark by Steven and Jonny, until they repeated the feat the following day. Now if the two boys had popped the kite they might have held on to the lead but they got swallowed up. Mike and Chris had to work to hold onto the leaders and were chased home by Dave Young and Seonaid Fleming who registered their high point for the series. The effort must have taken its toll as they spent a large portion of the afternoon swimming, which meant utter exhaustion for them by the end of the day.
Race four looked like it might never happen. 30 and 40 degree windshifts coming down the course with each cloudburst. Rain that was thick as fog and more than one attempt at starting which had to be abandoned with twenty seconds to go. Inevitably when the gun did go, a line that ten seconds earlier had been pin end favoured but congested, suddenly got much more so. A big shift to the left saw the fleet react, but back up the line, with room to move, Niall Henry and James Conlon crossed on port at full tilt to negate much of the advantage those by the pin had. In the lightest breeze of the weekend and heading straight into a short steep chop concentration was essential, lose it and you got spat out the back. The end of that race saw the score tied at two all as Shane took the win followed by Mike Senior.
With a building breeze and direction settling, the course swapped to a quick fire windward leeward. The two leading boats at the top mark both missed the wing, the boys behind said thank you very much. A short windward leg meant a hectic pressurised run, nothing settled until halfway up the second beat. There was little time to catch breath, let alone think. At the end the overall result had reversed itself. While both incredibly consistent, the Irish boat had scored three bullets to Mikes two.
Monday morning, cold and grey. The final denouement. Race five, again a windward leeward and a great breeze, a tight stack at the top mark meant boat handling was at a premium, who popped out in the lead at the top, Shane and Andy, with a narrow lead over a chasing pack which had buried in it the challenger, Mike and Chris had to work hard to stay in contention, those running down the left side of the second run weren’t looking too good until a nice right shift came in making it all look sweeter. At the bottom the Mc Guinness brothers took the starboard gate while Shane went to the left, they rounded in exact sequence but someone had picked the wrong side. Shane and Andy took the gun and with it the title. Curly Morris and crew Laura Mc Farland had come around the bottom three or four back but played a beautiful final beat to come away with second.
The new Champions headed for shore and a tepid shower, while a new winner Clive Goodwin and Tomasz Wrobel took advantage of mayhem at the windward mark and stepped up onto the podium in race seven. Nigel Sloan and Michael Cox had a stunning race to fend off an Olympian and grab second place.
Irish National Champions 2011 are Shane Mc Carthy and Andy ‘Taxi ‘ Davis.
Runners up - Mike Senior and Chris White.
Winners in the Silver Fleet - Steve Nelson and his brother Johnny.
Winners of the Bronze Fleet - local Skerries crew, Shay McGee and Owen Boylan.