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Flying Fifteens at the the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

by Cormac Bradley 16 Jul 10:56 BST
David Gorman and Chris Doorly with the 'Boat of the Regatta' Trophy - Flying Fifteens at the the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta © Frank Miller

Gorman & Doorly dominate biggest domestic regatta of the season

In advance of the Subaru-sponsored Flying Fifteen World Championships in Dun Laoghaire in September, the local fleet had the small matter of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta to attend to!

Except, that in 2019, the event was no small matter with two short of five hundred boats entered across a wide range of Classes, from Zero all the way down to the Myths from Wales. In between there were, GP14s sailing a Leinster Championship, Lasers, IDRA 14s, Wayfarers, Dragons, RS Elites sailing a UK Nationals, and twenty-four Flying Fifteens sailing on the waters that will host a Worlds (that to date has an entry list in the high seventies).

A ten-race programme was on offer for the Fifteens over the four days of Thursday to Sunday with all but two of the races under the management of an International Race Officer and the other two under the management of a very popular National Race Officer who probably had the most challenging wind conditions of the entire four days. The Fifteens sailed on a different course each day, sharing Friday's course with the 30+ fleet of RS Elites in which there were two Olympic medallists from the UK.

Thursday's proceedings opened on a light winded Salthill course and a trapezoid course and the first bullet of the day went to a new combination of John O'Sullivan (Rhubarb, 3762), a former DLFF Class Captain, crewed by Adrian Cooper (Gulfstream, 3198). Second went to our second youngest boat in the fleet, Tom Murphy's "Fflagella", 4057, crewed by Carel la Roux, and in third was David Gorman & Chris Doorly in "Betty" 3920.

If Race 1 was difficult for the fleet and the Race Officer alike, Race 2 was even more trying as the wind faded and came in from the completely opposite direction. The race winner was Peter Murphy, sailing "Hera", 3774 and his win was not down to the vagaries of the wind. Gorman & Doorly finished second while third went to another combination who have come in from the Fireball Class, Frank Miller and Ed Butler, sailing "Glass Half Full", 3845.

Thus, at the end of a difficult session, two boats were tied at the top of the table, Gorman and O'Sullivan, each carrying five points. Murphy slotted into third on nine points, just one ahead of Ben Mulligan and Cormac Bradley, "As Good as it Gets" 3688 carrying ten points, courtesy of two fifth places. Miller & Butler closed out the top five with thirteen points. O'Sullivan & Cooper took the prize of the day!

Friday saw the fleet sharing the course with the RS Elites with a programme of three windward-leeward races. The wind strength was much stronger than any of the forecasts suggested and a healthy day of racing ensued, with tired bodies hitting the shore later in the day. An error by the Race Management Team saw the first race extend to three laps of the course in an area just to the west of the approaches to the Liffey River and Dublin Port. While the RS Elites would seek redress for the error, the Flying Fifteens stoically sailed the three laps and let the results stand.

Gorman & Doorly and Mulligan & Bradley hit the highs, with the former pair scoring three firsts and the latter pair scoring 3,3,2, only losing to the former combination late on in the last race. Elsewhere, a good position for Neil Colin & Margaret Casey ("No Name" 4028) in Race 1 evaporated when the soft shackle on their jib sheets gave way, dropping them from a single digit position to 20th. They recovered later with a 6,4. Murphy & la Roux enjoyed a 4,2 in the latter two races but a 14th in Race 1 would have taken the shine off their day. Others who had to take the rough with the smooth included Alistair Court & Gordon Syme ("ffinisterre, 3753), scoring 2,7,10 while Niall Meagher & Nicki Matthews (ffantastic Mr Fox, 3912) put together a useful 9,5,9.

Bodies were tired by the close of play on Friday afternoon. Gorman & Doorly took the day's prize.

Saturday saw another course and another mix of classes on the start line. This time we were under the management of Volvo (Round the World) Race Officer, Bill O'Hara and a course area to the north of Dun Laoghaire harbour. Having got their groove, Gorman & Doorly saw a perfect score day slip away when they were beaten in the middle race of the day by Mulligan & Bradley who led from start to finish on another windward-leeward course. This result appeared to get them the day's prize. To this they added a 9,5 to consolidate second place overall after the day's close of play. Needless to say; Gorman & Doorly were "untouchable" in first place overall.

However, the attention now was all on third place overall. Meagher & Matthews were in the "hot seat" with 45 points, followed by Court and the returning Conor O'Leary on 45.5, Colin & Casey on 46 and Miller & Butler on 47.5! All to play for!! With two races scheduled for the Sunday, the fleet were a bit more relaxed, and ready to socialise on Saturday night.

Sunday saw the Fifteens move further north and a very busy race area where there were three starts ahead of them, two cruiser classes and "mixed sports-boats". However, conditions were light, and this was the area closest to the ebb tide sweep out of the Liffey River. While the pre-race deliberations between some boats was that the tide would be even across the course this did not manifest itself in the racing.

Two "sorties" up the right-hand side of the beat left Mulligan & Bradley with their worst score of the week, 12th, while others took advantage to post their best scores. David Mulvin and Ronan Bierne (Ignis Caput Duo, 4068) counted a 4,2 to jump up the rankings, Court & O'Leary counted an 8,3, Gerry Ryan & Peter Dolan ("No Name, 4045) scored a 3,7 and Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (Fandango, 3697) saved their best to last with a fifth in the lightest wind race of the entire regatta.

After a poor third day, Murphy & la Roux redeemed themselves with a 2,9. Gorman & Doorly won the first one with some ease but had to come from behind to seal the race win in the second. Mulligan & Bradley also scored better in the last race with a sixth, to get back on track in consolidating second overall. Others would be less satisfied - Meagher & Matthews scored a 9,12, Colin & Casey a 13,14 and Miller & Butler a 5,15. This combination of results across the four boats contesting 3rd place overall saw Court and O'Leary take the last podium spot.

At the formal prize-giving Tipperary Crystal prizes were awarded to the 1-2-3 and David Gorman and Chris Doorly won the "Best Boat of the Regatta" prize - a great fillip for the Class in their World-Championship hosting year and a fitting acknowledgement of David and Chris' domination of a very competitive 24-boat class. In David's own words, "the points don't reflect the tightness of the racing".

To the organisers and our four race officers; Harry Gallagher, Peter Crowley, Bill O'Hara and David Lovegrove - our thanks for a great four days!

Overall Results:

PosHelm & CrewBoat nameR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10Pts
1David Gorman & Chris DoorlyBetty32111121119
2Ben Mulligan & Cormac BradleyAs Good as it Gets5533291512630
3Alistair Court &
Gordon Syme/Conor O'Leary
Ffinisterre 41827107.54118345.5
4David Mulvin & Ronan BierneIgnus Caput Duo688115111184252
5Frank Miller & Ed ButlerGlass Half Full10361087.525351552.5

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