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Crewsaver Irish RS Feva, RS200 and RS400 Nationals at Galway Bay SC

by David Rose 11 Aug 2014 15:58 BST 8-10 August 2014

Galway lights up with RS Nationals

Sixty-one Fevas, RS200s and RS400s descended on Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) from the 8th to the 10th of August to compete in what was each class's 2014 National Championships sponsored by Crewsaver. This organisational marriage of classes from RS continues to work really well together and brings with it a wide range of sailors from all over Ireland. There were many new faces in all classes and the atmosphere was really inclusive and enthusiastic for the competition ahead.

GBSC was represented fantastically by its members with amazing support for the event. Launch and recovery was aided by a team of helpers, and the race officer and commodore David Vinnell and team were outstanding throughout, providing a tactical and interesting race course every time. All races were sailed in planing conditions. For the strong breezes, the sea was tame for the west coast, but was still challenging, as crews worked for each wave upwind and down. True beats and good lines make for great racing and we had them throughout.

RS Feva Nationals (9 races, 2 discards, 15 boats)

The Feva is one of Ireland's most successful boats and they have become visible on the water sailing out of most of Irelands sailing clubs. They provide a platform for young people to race competitively in a high performance boat with a modern configuration and build that makes them damn near indestructible. The Nationals this year was a superb showcase for the boats, with young sailors coming together to fight it out on the same course as the larger 200 and 400's. This generation of two handed sailors look set to have a great impact on Irish sailing going forward.

The racing was excellent, and one team stood tall with an amazing display of speed, recording eight race wins and a fifth. It is always an outstanding achievement to discard a bullet, and that is just what happened for the Blessington SC team of Alison Dolan and Grainne Younge.

The battle for second was an altogether tighter affair, coming down to the last race and being edged by only a point by Grace O' Beirne and Helen O Beirne of RstGYC over Triona Hinkson and Katherine kelly also of the RstGYC. Local sailors David Carberry and Ciaran Jordan showed great pace and represented the host club with a string of seconds and thirds to remain competitive in fourth.

Chatting in the dinghy park with the parents who help make this class tick, it was clear that the event had been a great success, with many teams camping around the club in all classes and the kids and adults alike having fun late into the evenings. The comparison was drawn to the Mirror hay days, and it's hard to ignore this fleet as an option to any parent wanting their kids to sail a boat that requires teamwork and that is exciting to campaign.

There are some great ideas for enhancing the RS Feva Circuit further next season, but if you feel you could help us with these please don't hesitate to get in touch, as we are at the planning stages for next season already.

RS200 Nationals (9 races, 2 discards, 14 boats)

Roy Van Mooney and Kevin O'Rourke (GYC) have dominated the RS200 Nationals from start to finish, recording an impressive 6 race wins and a second after discard. Stephen Craig fought back on day two and three with a string of seconds and bullets but it was never going to be enough to outdo the other pairing.

Graeme Noonan and Harry Noonan were consistent throughout and finished 3rd on 18 points, with Trevor Fisher and Heather Craig also in the vicinity on 21 points.

Congratulations also go to the John McKelvie and Sarah Watson, 2013 Irish National Champions for their strong showing in Garda recently recording a 9th in a strong 28 boat fleet.

This was competitive, fast and furious racing in a class that looks set to grow in 2015, as the profile of the RS sailing increases throughout Ireland and the many excellent features of the 200 become better known. This is a design that has advanced from the success of the RS400 and has a hugely strong UK and Irish fleet.

RS400 Nationals (9 races, 2 discards, 31 boats)

In the 400 Class, after an opening day and 4 races, McCready Sailboats sailed by Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher were showing the form of past and future champions and led clear of the pack. There was to be no resting on ones laurels however as several boats were still within striking distance with a gaggle of teams on 12 and 13 points overnight.

It had been a fast and furious day, with no let up from hiking after the weather mark, and no shortage of adrenaline as the fleet came thundering downwind trying to out gybe and think each other on lay-lines. With 3 rounds, there was ample time to work your way into better or worse positions on the race course.

Interestingly the following pack included sailors from every corner of Ireland, showing how strong the class has now become throughout the country, including "The Full Irish" single handed sailor Dave Kenefick who at his first event teamed up with Sandy Rimmington of MBSC eventually finishing 11th overall, David looking exhilarated after day one, described the boats as "all the fun of a 49er without the swims".

Day two was to be very similar and just as exciting and fun as day one. The story was of another team now sailing like champions and leading the pack. Alex Barry and Richard Leonard of MBSC and the RCYC were now sitting clear by a few points from Sean Cleary and Steven Tyner, the talented pair from GSC who were Eastern champions earlier in the season. Also a prominent challenger now was the UK pairing of Howard Farbrother and Dan Martin, who had featured well in the Europeans at Garda recording a seventh. Two Irish 400's had also made the trip to Garda for the Europa cup recently with Emmet Ryan and Jay Stacy finishing 10th and David Rose and Ian Heffernan Finishing 12th at that event and both teams were in the hunt here, as was the ever present Dave Cheyne and Richie McCullough. These teams were to fade away however by the end of day two when the final discard was applied after 8 races.

Day three was expected to be a huge storm, but the forecast had been inaccurate all week, and this appeared to be the case as the fleet launched in light air. This calm however was not to last long, and the race offers managed to squeeze in another exciting race for all classes, before an "End of the World" style storm cloud made for a spectacular and at intimidating scene in Galway bay. Visibility reduced and it blew very hard for a short period of time.

The Race officer had his regatta and called time on proceedings. It's a testament to the three classes that no rigs were lost for the entire event, and apart from some worried parents and competitors all was okay and the fleets got home safely to finish what had been a fantastic 3 days sailing out of GBSC.

When the dust settled, Alex and Richard of MBSC and RCYC had won the 400 Nationals, followed by Howard and Dan from QMSC and Sean and Steven in third.

Alex had this to say after the event, "What a fantastic event, consistent breeze and excellent competition meant for exhilarating racing. The RS classes are the only place to be at the moment. It's great to see such prestigious sailors such as Ross McDonald and Dave Kenefick who had moved into the yachting scene back in dinghies and picking it up so fast. Thanks to all who were involved in the organisation of the event, delighted with the win, absolutely knackered now though."

This movement of accessible high performance sailing dinghies continues to bloom, and be enjoyed by a wide variety of competitive and enthusiastic sailors of all ages. The classes are supported by the ever present and well stocked McCready Sailboats, who at the drop of a hat delivered a new rig and even helped set it up for the unlucky 400 sailors who damaged theirs on the way to the event going through a slightly low toll gate.

We look forward to seeing you all at the final event of the season, the RS Southerns in Kinsale on the 13th and 14th of September 2014. For those on a budget consider the activity centre for hostel style accommodation. Kinsale is a great venue so please support the event.

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