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In really tricky conditions that saw the nine race series reduced to six races, the fleet of 22 SB20’s took to the water to contend the title this weekend on Galway Bay.  Ably commanded on the water by Galway Bay Sailing Club Commodore David Vinnell, the team battled the elements all weekend with massive shifts,  rain squalls, thunder and lightning storms and doldrums.

Race 1 on Saturday proved to be a presidential affair with SB20 International Class President Ed Russo getting off to a flying start with a win closely followed by Irish class President Justin Burke in 2nd.   Russo was sailing on chartered SB Mephisto and was crewed by Rob Smith and Americas Cup/Match race tour sailor Gilles Favennec.  The team were using the Irish Event as a warm up to their campaign for the SB20 worlds later this year to be held in Hyeres.  

Race 2 was won by Ben Duncan (Sharkbait) with Kieran Dorgan (The Bear) in 2nd who was definitely improving after a slow start to his day.  Russo crossed the line in 3rd .  By this time the crews were finding it increasingly difficult to get a measure of the tricky wind conditions.  The odd flurry of breeze from the Southern shore would not last long and would inevitably cause a bit of intense head scratching.  Vinnell and team boldly set the course for race 3 directly underneath one incoming cloud and it was Aidan O’Connell (Ruby Blue) took race 3  from Sharkbait.  O’Connell opted for the left side of the beat from the start and beat Duncan to the weather mark coming nicely in on the port lay.  O’Connell maintained his lead all the way to the finish.  Kieran Dorgan again showed good pace and finished in 3rd.

PRO David Vinnell had wanted to run 5 races on Saturday but a large thunder and lightning storm that came in from the southwest killed any gradient breeze.  What little breeze remained was shifting regularly by 30+ degrees which made it impossible to set a course so David wisely opted to send the fleet home.
                                                                      
The consistent Michael O’Connor and team (Should Be) won a very technically challenging Sunday race 1 with Ed Russo snapping at his heels.  Another large shift indicating an imminent sea breeze made for a dog leg to the finish.  Ed Russo now held the key to the event as Duncan could only manage a 7th.  The team on Sharkbait had a major hill to climb as now they were on joint 15 points with Russo who would have won the event had there been no more racing.   It was Duncan who had to dig deep and get a good result in Sunday Race 2.    Russo opted for a pin end start and went left.  Duncan took the committee boat and went right sensing that the developing sea breeze would come from the right hand beat.  Russo however picked up seaweed on the beat and had to back sails to remove the offending handbrake and lost places as a result.  Duncan meanwhile came out of the beat 3rd to the weather mark behind Mel Collins (Who’s the Boss) who came in bravely from the port lay, and Darren Martin (Soda Bread).  Sharkbait was able to get a sniff more breeze and reeled in the two leaders to win with Daragh Sheridan from Howth Yacht Club on Dingy Supplies in 2nd. 

For the final race 3 on Sunday,  Russo had to engineer a race win and try and force Duncan into deep results. However PRO David Vinnell caught two boats over early at the start on a black flag sequence and it was Russo who had to sit it out on the bold step along with Carrickfergus man Davy Taylor on Boatmec.com.  Sharkbait (Ben Duncan, Brian Moran and Joe Turner) commanded the final race and took a win to copper fasten their third consecutive SB20 Nationals Title with an impressive 1,1,1,2,5, (7) score and an 11 point margin over second.

Michael O’Connor from the Royal St George Yacht Club crewed by Howth pairing Breffini Jones and Simon Rattigan did enough with a 5th in the final race to merit a 2nd overall, a silver medal and some very nice Galway Irish Crystal.  Third overall was Mel Collins, Killian Collins and Mary Credon who improved greatly on their Saturday performances and made the podium position.

Silver fleet was won by Strangford Loughs Darren Martin and crew on Soda Bread with Justin Burke (Alert Packaging.com) in 2nd and Davy Taylor (Boatmec.com) in third.
Posted in: Racing
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