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GP14 Worlds at Sligo Yacht Club, Ireland - Overall

by Declan Sheridan 7 Aug 2006 15:01 BST 28 July - 4 August 2004

Dobson & Tunnicliffe win World Championship

Sligo Yacht Club hosted sailors from as far away as Nigeria and Sri Lanka for the Failte Ireland sponsored GP14 Class International World Championship. One hundred and eleven boats entered for the event. The GP14 has proven to be a very popular sailing dinghy since it was designed by Jack Holt in the 1950s. It is sailed in clubs worldwide including Australia, America, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and of course Ireland and the British Isles.

Sligo Yacht Club adopted the GP14 as its dinghy of choice when the club was revitalised in 1963. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength, hosting provincial, national, European and World championships for a number of boats. Since it was asked to host the 2006 GP14 World Championship back in 2003, frenzied activity has been seen in the club culminating in the demolition of the old clubhouse to be replaced by our state of the art magnificent clubhouse that has replaced it.

Visiting sailors began arriving at the club on Thursday 27th July. Use of the Scout den was kindly given to the yacht club for the week of the event and it was used on Friday and Saturday for scrutineering of all the boats, where their weight, sails, black bands and rudders were measured to ensure that they were within the rules. Irish Chief Measurer, Jimmy McKee from Belfast led this effort.

The event was officially opened by Paul McLoone of Northwest Tourism.

Racing was due to start with a practice race on Sunday morning followed by race one of the qualifying series. The championship was to be split into a qualifying series of five races where all 111 boats sailed as one fleet, followed by 6 races where the fleet was split into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets based on their qualifying positions. Principal Race Officer Gus Henry, took his fleet of rescue craft and mark boats out to the racing grounds in winds reaching 30 knots. These very strong winds allied to big rolling waves meant that it was unsafe to race so after waiting a suitable period of time and knowing that worse was to come, the practice race was abandoned and race one of the qualifying series was postponed to the next day.

Monday morning also began with strong winds but with 20 knots of wind so the entire fleet went on the water for race 1. As there was a large number of boats out, the qualifying series were to be started with gate starts rather than the usual line start. Here a competitor sails on a port tack from the leeward mark thus opening a starting line through which the remainder of the fleet must start. Gate boat in race 1 was Tim Jones of Holyhead. After sailing for an hour and a half in mountainous waves and strong winds the leading boats were dicing for the win and a photo finish with Carl Jeffs of Trimpley S.C. pipping Rick Peacock of Bartley S.C. Tim Jones, the gate boat was 3rd and local sailor Niall Henry was a very promising 4th. Unfortunately a number of boats were damaged during racing, most noticeably Curly Morris of East Down Y.C. and Alastair Duffin of East Down Y.C. They could not finish race 1 and could not compete race 2 putting them out of contention for the event.

Race 2 was started as soon as the fleet had finished. Again it was a gate start in very high winds, the gate boat this time was 10th place boat Ruan O’Tiarnaigh of Sutton D.C. Irish boats showed strongly in this race with the win going to John and Donal McGuinness of Moville B.C. closely followed by the newly elected President of the International GP14 Association, Hugh Gill of Sutton D.C. Third place went to the winner of race 1 Carl Jeffs. Carl had won the Irish National Championship hosted by Sligo in 2005 and was mounting a strong challenge for the World Championship. As the wind was continuously increasing there was no further racing that day.

Tuesday was blown out again with gale force 8 winds promised and duly arrived.

Wednesday promised to be more benign and it was decided to try to finish out the qualifying series with 3 races. 10th place boat in race 2, Diarmaid Mullen of Sligo Y.C. was the gate boat. The race win went to Andy Hateley of South Staffs S.C. closely followed home by Neil Platt of Bolton S.C. and Rick Peacock of Bartley S.C. First home of the Irish boats was Ruan O’Tiarnaigh in 4th place.

Race 4 was started very soon after the finish of race 3. Eventual World Champion Ian Dobson of Burwain S.C. gave a masterclass by getting out in front on the first beat and stretching out his lead on each leg to win the race ahead of Tim Jones of Holyhead and Neil Platt again showing strongly in 3rd place.

Race 5 was run straight away giving the back end of the fleet little time to recover. The winds remained perfect with a force 2 to 3 northerly wind blowing. Once more Ian Dobson got out in front early on and stayed unchallenged out in front. Second place went to a resurgent Carl Jeffs and Neil Platt came in 3rd.

This finished the qualifying series at which point the 111 boats were split into Gold, Silver and Bronze with 37 boats in each fleet. The top 37 going into the Gold fleet, the next 37 into Silver and the last 37 in Bronze. The leader after the qualifying stages was Carl Jeffs of Trimpley S.C. with 11 points, closely followed by Ian Dobson with 12 points and Rick Peacock with 13 points. Four Irish sailors were in the top 10, with Hugh Gill leading the Irish challenge in 6th place with 24 points and the Sligo challenge led by Niall Henry in 9th place with 35 points. There were five Sligo boats, Niall Henry, Paddy O’Connor, Tim Corcoran, Colm O’Flaherty, and Diarmaid Mullen, in the gold fleet thus showing the strength of GP sailing in Sligo.

Once the final series of races was reached there would be line starts again with the gold fleet starting first, their start being the five minute warning for the silver fleet, whose start would be the five minute signal for the bronze fleet.

Three races were scheduled to run on Thursday and time permitting three races on Friday. The forecast promised perfect sailing weather and thus it proved. Race 1 of the finals for the gold fleet was won by Luke Shaw of Budworth S.C. with local sailor Tim Corcoran now crewed by John Downey of Kinsale S.C. as his long time crew Brendan Brogan was injured. Third place went to Hugh Gill of Sutton D.C. The silver fleet race was led by Joanne McDonald of RNCYC when she was “yellow flagged” twenty yards from the finish with the ensuing penalty dropping her to 4th. The silver race was won by Curly Morris of East Antrim B.C. with John Greer of Sligo Yacht Club in second, and Stephen Boyle of Sutton D.C. in 3rd. The winner of the bronze race was Graham Knox of Hollingworth Lake S.C.

Race 2 was the race where Ian Dobson made his run for the title. He clearly won this race with second place again going to Tim Corcoran of Sligo Y.C. and third place going to Niall Henry of Sligo Y.C. Joanne McDonald again fell foul of the International Jury and was forced to retire from this race getting her second yellow flag. The silver fleet race was won by Curly Morris, following a general recall at the start. With the gold fleet bearing down on the leeward mark the bronze fleet got away with Sarah Collingwood of Chelmarsh S.C. winning.

Race 3 of the finals was again won by Ian Dobson, with Adam McGovern of Hollingworth Lake S.C. in second, and eventual runner up for the title Tim Jones in 3rd. Luck finally went the way of Joanne McDonald and she was first home for the silver fleet with Alastair Duffin of East Down Y.C. in 2nd. Steve Preston of Newtownards S.C. won the Bronze fleet race.

Going into the final three races when a discard would kick in Ian Dobson was leading with 25 points, with Tim Jones in second with 41 points and Carl Jeffs in third with 49 points, while the Irish challenge was being led by local sailor Niall Henry in 5th place with 65 points.

The race was started in a moderate south westerly with the gold fleet being sent off at 10:35 followed five minutes later by the silver and five minutes later the bronze fleet. Unfortunately for P.R.O. Gus Henry the wind died away almost completely when the fog descended on the course. This meant that the silver and bronze fleets got bunched up although the gold fleet remained clear out front. As the wind went around to the west and filled in the decision was made to alter the windward mark and shorten the course with the gold fleet doing two laps and a beat with the silver and bronze fleets doing a single lap and a beat. All three fleets descended on the finishing line together all mixed up due to the changing wind.

Ian Dobson was again victorious bringing him tantalisingly close to being crowned World Champion. Tim Jones kept the pressure on with his second spot and Rick Peacock trying to make up ground in third. Curly Morris maintained his strong showing winning his third race in the silver fleet. David Lappin of Skerries S.C. was second. Robert Gingles of East Antrim B.C. won the bronze race.

In race 5 all Ian Dobson had to do was win and he could not be caught and would be World Champion. He got off to a good start and had a good lead by the first mark, a lead he was never to relinquish. He crossed the line clear in the knowledge that he was now the new GP14 World Champion. His crew, Andy Tunnicliffe, let the moment get the better of him and dived into the waters off Blackrock lighthouse in front of the following cameras. Matt Burge of Poole Y.C. was second and Neil Platt was third. The silver race was won by Steven Boyle of Sutton D.C. while Sarah Collingwood of Chelmarsh S.C. pipped local sailor and long-time leader Paul Leydon for the bronze race.

Time was running out for the start of race 3, and there was only time to get the gold fleet away, without new World Champion Ian Dobson, who already had the title sewn up. There were a few boats “black-flagged” in this race. The race was won by Matt Burge of Poole Y.C. with Luke Shaw of Budworth S.C. in second and local husband and wife team of Paddy O’Connor and Tania McHale in third.

That night Ian Dobson and his crew Andy Tunnicliffe accepted the trophy and accolade of GP14 World Champions. In second place were Tim Jones and Dale Knowles of Holyhead S.C. and Bolton S.C., with Neil Platt and Derek Hill of Bolton S.C. and West Kirby in third. Leading Irish boat and local sailors were Paddy O’Connor and Tania McHale in 8th place with Niall Henry and Ossian Geraghty in 11th place.

The silver fleet was won by Joanne McDonald crewed by Greg Pitt of RNCYC, while Steven Preston and Vicky Meredith of Newtownards S.C. won the bronze fleet closely followed by local sailors father and daughter team of Bryan and Frances Armstrong.

Local hotel The Southern Sligo provided a marvellous spread for the prize-giving banquet that evening to round off a hugely successful and enjoyable week of sailing for the Failte Ireland GP14 Class International World Championship 2006.

More information at www.gpworldssligo.com

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