The GP14 Ulster Championship sponsored by "Stairlift Solutions" took place at the weekend, 28-29th June, at Donaghadee Sailing Club. A fleet of 25 boats took to the water on Saturday on a cracking day for sailing - constant strong wind and sunshine greeting the crews for the day's racing.
Race officer for the weekend was the well-seasoned James McKee, ably assisted by his own crew of handpicked and experienced helpers. Once the committee boat was finally secured at anchor (we won't go into that one) and a few mark adjustments made due to shifting winds (a task loved and endeared by the safety boat crews with precise positioning instructions provided by the PRO), the first of the day’s races got off around 1 o'clock. This was a tight race in many ways and the strong tide caught a few crews off-guard as they approached the leeward mark, only to be "mashed" in close proximity with other crews suffering the same fate.
There were some reports of "rammed boats", "timber splintering" and offenders getting dizzy with 720's. One crew who shall remain nameless apparently will have 3 fleet insignia Bells stencilled on the side of their boat! Escaping from the carnage, Sutton Dinghy Clubs’ Alan Blay & David Johnston took line honours in race one.
With the weather conditions remaining steady, PRO James McKee ensured little time was wasted before the start of race 2. This provided more of the same conditions with the winners this time Curly Morris & Laura McFarland from Newtownards Sailing Club.
Race three was accompanied by the onset of fatigue for some teams as crews began to tire due to the prolonged effect of the wind and sailing conditions with one or two boats deciding to call it a day before the race. However for the remaining crews battling for position on the start line, the 3rd and final race of the day began in great conditions and provided for an exciting race that was ultimately won by Niall Henry & Ossian Gerraghty of Sligo Yacht Club.
After the days racing, with all boats and crew safely on shore the fleet retired to the club house for a well-deserved supper and the odd exchange of insurer details.
Sunday again was blessed with glorious sunshine, however the wind had dropped overnight to little more than a light puff and even this was intermittent. James McKee postponed the planned race start as crews and organisers mulled about the club house and the dingy park waiting for a decision. Eventually just before noon it was decided by consent to go for a start and crews set out for the days racing.
A further two races were held with Dan & Hugh Gill from Sutton Dinghy Club taking 1st place honors in race four. The final race of the event was won by John & Donal McGuinness from Moville Boat Club. Once all were safely ashore the final results revealed that overall event winners were Alan Blay & David Johnston from Sutton Dingy Club. Prizes were awarded by the event sponsor Ken Wallace of Stairlift Solutions.
Donaghadee Sailing Club commodore Nick Butler thanked participants and all those whose efforts contributed to a very successful weekend and whose numbers are too many to note here - you know who you are and thank you! The final say went to Lawrence Balham who reminded all about the upcoming Irish championships at Sligo YC and the upcoming GP14 World Championship at East Antrim - if you have not yet registered please do so soon.
Pictures from the weekend’s event can be seen on Facebook -GP14World- Group page.