A fleet of 10 RS400s gathered for the Southerns, with several significant teams missing. Last year’s National Champions Emmet and James Ryan from RSGYC, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern who are back on the Olympic 49er campaign, Mike Ferguson and Jeremy Tomalin from Ballyholme and Team Artemis, and the majority of the RNIYC fleet save for DrC and Stevie Kane were absent. This gave a few teams the chance to focus on toppling this season’s top duo of Dr Bob SP and Mike G. Sadly for the rest, the current hotshots swiftly gave them a good seeing to, with a trio of runaway victories on Day 1, with only local Monkstown man and top 505 driver Alex Barry, teaming up with fellow Monkstowner Dave Doherty, to chase them down, as the rest struggled to come to terms with the ripping tides on the spring tide weekend. Indeed the new pairing demonstrated a potent turn of speed, after some sneaky two boat tuning with Royal Cork’s Aidan MacSweeney. This just went to show that Dave’s “old yellow boat” was anything but slow, cementing a strong second place overnight.
As the freshly beaten crews rushed off to Cronins for some of Ireland’s finest Guinness and Seafood Chowder, a critical three way protest hearing was being played out, which would have a dramatic though ultimately irrelevant effect on the overall standings. Multiple Irish Champion Garrett Flannigan from Ballyholme, sailing with Dave Fletcher, was flicked as a result of some leeward mark chaos, though by the time he got to Cronins, no-one understood what the issue was, and a jovial night’s craic ensued. Mature heads managed to limit the damage, leaving the event leaders to make a few poor decisions at the RCYC Bar late in proceedings, and come out for Sunday’s racing having lost some of their polish.
With the tide now pointing in the opposite direction, and a large ship parked just upwind of the windward mark, opportunities were aplenty to throw it all away, and the Bangor duo set about doing just that. Whilst Simon Herriott and Tom Moran (aka Sprinkles) from Greystones chipped away with another couple of podiums, the big story was a turbocharged challenge from Flannigan, who was clearly giving it some Ben Ainslie, and promptly yotted past everyone downwind with a rude turn of speed, to take bullets in races 4 and 5, with some ease. Witnessing this performances, SP and Gunning decided to see who else was racing and sailed round at the back of the fleet, posting a “shocker” in race 5, to make it game on again.
So race 6 set off with DrC winning the pin for the first time in his illustrious 35 year campaign, and Garry Flannigan tacking into some oncoming traffic or similar. Sadly this mirrored precisely Race 5, only the wrong way round for Gary, as the win he needed to match with SP having a 5 or worse, was in fact reversed, and SP took the gun and the whole shebang, whilst Flannigan disappeared out the back, having to settle for runner up. The 400 is an unforgiving mistress!
Great fun altogether, and especially good to see Dave Doherty and Alex doing so well, only missing out to Dr C and Steve on countback for the bottom step of the podium. Hopefully these guys will form the nucleus of a new planned Cork based contingent and give us an excuse to come back here again in future, to one of Ireland’s most beautiful venues.
Like the 400s, the 200s arrived in Cork on Friday evening quite an eclectic but incomplete bunch… we were missing our usual head of the fleet boats but knew there would be healthy competition with Stephen Craig and Conor Foley from the George who, although comparatively new to the fleet, made their mark at the Nationals coming in fifth overall, the Greystones pair Conor Cleary and Aaron Jones who have spent so much of their summer on the water and Lisa Smith and Kate Hayes who are soooo good downwind. After a summer of light wind events we were all really looking forward to some screaming reaches...
On Saturday we woke to very calm conditions. We waited for an hour after the briefing and it began to pick up a little…. So we headed out for the long reach North to find some depth in Cork harbour and race 1 began as the tide was on the turn.
First up wind leg was a jostle for places and there proved to be chopping and changing throughout the race. But race one belonged to the young guns with Royal St George’s Stephen Craig and Conor Foley pulling ahead on the second downwind leg, maintaining their lead to the finish. They were followed by Greystones’ Conor Clery/Aaron Jones in second with Sarah & Molly Byrne narrowly taking third from fellow Greystones sisters Rachel & Sarah Hoolahan.
A calmer start for the second race, those choosing to go right made gains out of the tide. Mother daughter team, Sarah and Molly lead from the start with Conor and Aaron slipping back throughout the race and RStGYC daughter/father pairing Clodagh & Adrian Hinkson taking second with Gabrielle Igoe/Trish Clery in third and Stephen and Conor in fourth.
Race 3 began with all boats very close up the beat. Stephen Craig and Conor Foley took the lead early but found it difficult to shake off Lisa Smith/Kate Hayes and Conor Clery/Aaron Jones for two laps leaving quite a stretch between them and the following fleet. However on the third lap Sarah & Molly Byrne gradually picked off boats to round the windward in second in a very strong tide and slackening breeze. Lisa Smith’s supremacy downwind ensured she snuck ahead before the final leeward mark rounding as both boats caught up with Stephen and Conor who had found a hole. All three rounded the mark in quick succession with Sarah/Molly forced to tack off into the tide immediately. However, they just managed to cross the two boats before the finish but Stephen got ahead and Sarah/Molly only just managed to tack and pip Lisa/Kate to the line in a sudden unexpected gust sneaking in around the Committee Boat as the Hoolahans watched the close finish from fourth place. Overall there was very close racing up and down the fleet, leaving Royal St George pairing Stephen Craig/Conor Foley and Greystones Sarah & Molly Byrne on equal points overnight but the George boat with two firsts. A protest from race three later forced Lisa Smith/Kate Hayes to lose their best result of the day before the party started.
Sunday dawned to a very calm Cork Harbour and a long sail out to Cuskinny. Greystones boats, Sarah/Molly and Lisa/Kate chose the pin end to start, going left and led up the first beat. Very close downwind racing and some admirable sportsmanship from Lisa, allowed the Byrnes to sneak ahead and take the first, Lisa and Kate second with the young guns from the George taking a third.
With the discard, the Craig/Foley George duo and Greystones Byrnes were still on equal points. The next two races were confidently led by the Hinksons who had really got in to their stride with Stephen Craig and Conor Foley successfully covering the Byrnes to maintain their lead and in the process managing to take another two bullets and first overall, the Byrnes second and the Hinksons third. The finish of race six had the first five boats round the last mark in quick succession and finish within a minute...a testament to the close racing over the weekend across a diverse mix of crews in terms of gender, age (16-50) and weight (couldn’t possibly comment) – a very 200 finish!
In the RS Feva class, the Royal Cork’s Luke McGrath and Eoghan O’Regan won the first race in what was their first outing in the boat but were soon ousted by RCYC Jill McGinley and Maeve O’Sullivan who in spite of a split jib, won the 2nd race. Monkstown’s Luke Fehilly and Shane Dunlea took the last race of the day with Monkstown Bay’s Martha Fehily and Jenny O’Leary also performing well on Saturday with two seconds in the bag.
On Sunday, Jill and Maeve, armed with a new jib, dominated day two for the Fevas to win the event with another 3 bullets. Luke and Eoghan remained consistent to claim 2nd place overall and Monkstown’s David Hyland and Charlie Moloney came in third.
We didn’t get the sunshine nor the signature RS screaming reaches the forecasts had promised, but the superb race management more than made up for it with three fleets on the same course and all races sailed. Huge thanks to PRO Peter Crowley and his efficient team, Rear Admiral Darren O’Keeffe, Feva Class captains Rory Fitzpatrick and Ed Rice and the extended team at RCYC for a really good event, camping facilities, yummy food and a great welcome.
For full results see www.royalcork.com
The last event of 2013 for the Irish RS Classes, the RS Feva RS200 and RS400 Inlands hosted by Blessington Sailing Club on the 12th and 13th of October. Early entry discount closes Friday 4th October.