The GP14 Leinster Championships had an early start this year but this didn’t put off enthusiasm with 36 boats showing up in Mullingar to contest in the breezy conditions. At the briefing we had a minutes silence to remember Graham Elmes, a life-long sailor and a good friend of many in the fleet who very sadly passed away earlier in the week.
Beautiful sunshine with a solid force 4 gusting 5 made for very exciting sailing and Shane Mac Carthy & Damian Bracken showed their class by taking the opener followed by Sutton pair Alan Blay & David Johnston in second and Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty in their new boat in third.
The second race was won by Niall & Ossian with the McGuinness brothers in second and Shane & Damian in third. The McGuinnesses then won the third race after a tussle up the last leg to beat Shane & Damian with Niall & Ossian in third.
Things were fairly tight after the breezy first day with the 3 boats very tight on points but Shane & Damian had a small advantage, thanks in no small part to 24 months of year round training and dieting. Keith Louden & Alan Thompson were also rumoured to be considering giving up the drink in preparation for the Worlds after watching their performance. Niall & Ossian will also have been happy to put gear failure in Swords behind them and show a real turn of pace in their new boat. As always in Mullingar there was a great social aspect with everyone back to the town and a great BBQ with very solid portions appreciated by all.
The following day all awoke to rain and light winds, a complete contrast to the day before.
This was the day for Ger & Melanie to shine and we all knew it and they didn’t disappoint. They had been carrying two fourths and a DNF from the windy day and had a lot of ground to make up. The first race had a general recall and subsequent black flag which made the start tense. Paddy O’Connor under instruction from crew Colm O’Flaherty got the favoured pin and then got a shift on the left to get away and won the race from Ger & Melanie and Keith Lauden & Alan Thompson (light wind specialists). The next race was won very easily by Ger & Melanie with Alan & David in second and Colman Grimes & David Lappin in third. Ger & Melanie cruised home in the last also with blistering speed followed again by Alan & David and with the McGuinness brothers in third and Rob Lee & Troy McNamara from the silver fleet in fourth
As they went ashore it was generally considered that Ger &Melanie had done enough as all three first day leaders had tripped up at various stages in the light conditions but there was a surprise in store. When the results were posted it showed a black flag DSQ for them and with the first day retiral to count, this took them out of the reckoning.
In the end the trophy went back to the cheque book sailors from Donegal in their new boat and nicely placed new rudder with Shane & Damian in second and Paddy & Colm in third
Rob Lee & Troy McNamara took the silver fleet with Simon Cully & Libby Tierney in second (despite very thin jib sheets) and Grahame & Rebecca Farrington in third. Andy Vanbeck honoured us with his presence from Canada and won the bronze fleet with rock star crew Nigel Sloan. Simon & Rebecca Jeffery finished second in the bronze fleet and Adrian Lee & Edward Coyne in third.
1. John & Donal McGuinness
2. Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken
3. Paddy O’Connor & Colm O’Flaherty
1. Rob Lee & Troy McNamara
2. Simon Cully & Libby Tierney
3. Grahame & Rebecca Farrington
1. Andy VanBeck & Nigel Sloan
2. Simon & Rebecca Jeffery
3. Adrian Lee & Edward Coyne