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Irish GP14 National Championships at Sligo Yacht Club

by Irish GP14 Association 22 Jul 2014 19:09 BST 19-20 July 2014
Ready to launch for the Irish GP14 National Championships 2014 © Boyd Ireland / www.boydireland.com

With the upcoming GP14 World Championships in August, this year's Irish Nationals was shortened to a 2 day event and held under the burgee of Sligo Yacht Club. A fleet of 41 boats (including 12 boats from the host club) set up camp at Rosses Point, just north of Sligo to compete for the 2014 GP14 Championship of Ireland.

Despite light and variable conditions, the weekend didn't disappoint and with some masterful sailing, Olympian Ger Owens sailing with Melanie Morris retained the GP14 Championship title they won in Sutton last year.

OD, Gus Henry, took his fleet of rescue and mark boats out on the water early on Saturday despite a forecast of low winds. The fleet were initially held ashore but after a short 30 minute postponement due to the fickle wind, were told to take to the water. Stephen Boyle was unable to make this event but it was great to see crew Eanna Lawless take over the helm of his boat and with Sinead Dickson crewing they had the bragging rights of being first boat to the first weather mark in race 1. However as the wind continued to veer and the first reach turned into run the race officer made the decision to call the fleet back and restart the race.

This time it was Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken who led at the first mark followed by Curly Morris & Laura McFarland. On the second upwind however, places changed with Ger & Melanie taking the lead which they held for the rest of the race. Second were Tim Corcoran & Brendan Brogan who up to now had been taking a year's sabbatical but showed that this hadn't affected any of their boatspeed. Third place went to recent Ulster champions Alan Blay & David Johnston.

Race 2: With the fleet starting under the black flag, there were a number of recalls and subsequent casualties. It seems a combination of over enthusiasm and strong tidal current caught out many crews. After 2 general recalls there were 10 who were deemed to be over and had to sit out and watch the race which eventually got away at the 3rd attempt. Local sailors Damian Mullen & Sam Wray seemed to benefit from the ebbing tide on the left hand side of the beat and came in to the first mark with a big lead. Ultimately they were overhauled by both Ger & Melanie and Sligo pairing Paddy O'Connor & Colm O' Flaherty.

Race 3: Race 3 saw the breeze again move to the west but gain in strength and become more constant. The OD decided to move the course more out to sea. Another black flag start and two more victims included the pairing of Paddy & Colm who were leading at the windward mark before being hauled out of the race. This left Tim & Brendan to take over the lead and they sailed a great race to take the win from Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty.

So after day 1 with three races completed the overnight leaders were Ger & Melanie followed by Alan Blay & David Johnston and John & Donal McGuinness in third. The silver fleet was led by Cathal Sheridan, with Ronan Armstrong leading the bronze fleet.

On Sunday morning the fleet launched to what initially looked like more breeze but which subsequently started to ease off again. Race 4 saw the fleet split upwind, hitting both the left and right corners of the beat. Ultimately boats that went right benefitted hugely from more pressure and a right hand shift. Local sailors Niall & Ossian led at the first mark and were never challenged. They were followed home by Coleman Grimes & David Lapin and Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken.

Race 5 was a close fought race between the lead boats of Ger & Melanie, Tim & Brendan, and Alan & David, and this is the order they finished in. The race win cemented the stranglehold that Ger & Melanie had on the event, as they showed great skill and speed in the prevalent light winds of the weekend.

Race 6 a further wind shift led to yet another resetting of the course for the final race of the event. At which point some crews decided they had had enough of the pernickety winds off Rosses Point and headed ashore. Of the remaining fleet, first around the weather mark was Norman & Ken Lee, who had a good lead over the event leaders Ger & Melanie. Norman was even able to extend his lead over the first two laps. On the upwind leg of the sausage, there was another wind shift which Ger & Melanie made the better use of to emerge around the weather mark in first place, which was maintained to the end of the race. Norman & Ken finished the race in second place with Shane & Damian crossing the line in third. The wind then died completely leaving about half the fleet stranded on the run. The SIs allowed for all to be given their position at the weather mark as their finishing position rather than a DNF. The majority of the fleet having been towed ashore due to the wind dropping anxiously awaited the results of the event although there were to be no surprises as to the overall winner!

After the numbers were crunched the 2014 GP14 Champions of Ireland were Ger Owens & Melanie Morris with a points total of 7. In second place was local sailor and rear-commodore Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty who beat Shane McCarthy & Damian Bracken by virtue of their win in race 4.

Winner of the silver fleet was Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley of Sutton Dinghy Club sailing in their first event together and finishing a very impressive 10th overall. Winner of the bronze fleet was Simon Jeffery crewed by Rebecca Jeffery of East Down Yacht Club.

Winner of the Championship Junior Helm (u19) was Dan Gill from Sutton Sailing club.

At the prize giving Ger Owens said a few words on behalf of the sailors highlighting that all three GP14 events this year have been won by different crews and that with excellent turnouts, the fleet is in good health and should be confident of doing well in a couple of weeks at the World Championships in East Down YC

Overall Results:

1. Ger Owens & Melanie Morris (7 points)
2. Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty (25 points)
3. Shane MacCarthy & Damian Bracken (25 points)
4. Alan Blay & David Johnston (30 points)
5. Dan & Mairin O'Connell (36 points)
6. Tim Corcoran & Brendan Brogan (38 points)
7. John McGuinness & Donal McGuinness (38 points)
8. Paddy O'Connor & Colm O'Flaherty (39 points)
9. Alastair Duffin & Brendan McGrenaghan (44 points)
10. Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley (48 points)

See full set of race results [PDF]

Photographs and video of the weekend event are also available on Facebook on www.facebook.com/groups/gp14world

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