The Royal St George Yacht Club continues to develop as the cradle of team racing in Ireland. The “George Invitational” sailed on the 23rd and 24th of March marked another important step – with the inauguration of a flight of brand new Firefly dinghies.
Nine teams competed this year for the Invitational trophy The top Irish teams were competing: the National Champions; the George Knights, the newly crowned University Champions; University of Limerick and double School Champions (both UK and Ireland); Schull Community College. Two teams from the UK competed, 'Spinnaker' and, above all 'Wessex Exempt' the current Irish Open Champions, who had drafted in World Champion Andy Cornah into their line up making them the pre-event favourites.
The weather did not cooperate. Event organiser Marty O'Leary, acting as OOD, ably assisted by Nin O'Leary and Richard Bruton did well to complete two rounds of sailing on Saturday in a gusty 25 knot south-easterly.
Competitors raced in the home club fireflies, six of which were the brand new Orange and Blue boats. The multiple mark rounding in winds gusting up to 30 knots meant for plenty of thrills and spills. With some marks within feet of the the East Pier the passing Saturday strollers were entertained by some skilled and spectacular sailing.
After an initial mini round robin, the five top teams went through to the Gold Fleet with the bottom four sailing in the Silver. After this round Wessex Exempt led the Gold Fleet with three wins, breaking the tie break with their Southampton rivals Spinnaker who also had three race wins. The home club's team the RSGYC Knights had two wins to lie third, defending champions Howth Yacht club lay fourth with one win and the college stars of UL were fifth.
Sailors and Umpires enjoyed a great dinner in the Royal St. George's formal dining room on Saturday night, with Marty O'Leary acting as compere for the evening and encouraging each team to perform a party piece.
Sunday morning brought more South Easterly breezes but with winds now gusting 35 knots and an air temperature of 4 degrees, competitors, race committee and umpires were keen to stay ashore. A second Gold Silver league had been started on Saturday evening with the Knights making the early running. But ultimately the weather had the final say and the results of the previous Gold/Silver rounds determined the trophy.
So the team of Wessex Exempt; Jon Pinner, Sharon Quigley, Andy Cornah, Rachel Williamson, Claire Lasko and Bethan Carden ended up winners of the 2013 RSGYC Invitational.
For further information on team racing in the Royal St George contact John Sheehy on firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on team racing in general contact Gordon Davies, Hon Sec Irish Team Racing Association: