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Henri-Lloyd 2022 November - Gore-Tex - YY LEADERBOARD

Progressive Credit Union GP14 World Championship 2022 Update and more ones to watch

by Andy Johnston 16 Aug 06:04 BST 14-19 August 2022
John Hayes and Joel James at the Progressive Credit Union GP14 Worlds 2022 © Bob Given Photography

We have waited four years for a GP14 Worlds, so another two days to get the first race is tolerable. Just! Despite the great weather in Skerries the last few days and the obvious delight to be around a large gathering of crews once more, you can sense nervous tension and the desire to get on the water. Sunday was to be a practice race followed by the first race of the Championship proper.

The crew profiles provided the other day were part 1 of 2 sets of introductions I had hoped to present over the initial few days. And as luck would have it, many of the crews that showed first in what was Sunday's practice race were on the second list below.

In the end the best that can be said was the fleet got to practice 2 more gate starts. And with very little wind and an ebb tide, the first attempt was mayhem. With the tide pushing the Pathfinder and the guard boat downwind, many of the 104 boats struggled to keep clear. The PRO had no option only to abandon the race having probably got no more than a quarter way down the fleet.

The second start was far better, with a fraction more breeze. Pathfinder John Hayes & Joel James tacked out to the left and were always looking in contention coming to weather mark. It was hard work however with the tide and quite a light breeze all having its effect. The first 8 or 10 were an even mix of boats that either went well left, well right or up the middle. Best from the right was Keith & Matteo Louden (Lough Foyle) who came around the top mark a boat length or 2 behind the Pathfinder with Ross Kearney & Andrew Vaughan (RNIYC) also from the right. Adrian Lee & Gareth Gallagher (Youghal) were next from up the middle followed by Neil Marsden & Derek HilI who seemed to come out of the left. Alan Blay & Hugh McNally (Sutton Dinghy Club) were next and another who came up the middle.

By the gybe mark Kearney & Vaughan had overtaken the Loudens with Lee & Gallagher closing in. Marsden & Bell were in 5th just ahead of Blay & McNally. However Hayes & James were in complete control in the lightening breeze. Others in the top 10 as they made their way to the gybe mark were Sam Street & Josh Lloyd from Blessington and Ruan & Rebekkah O'Tiarnaigh (Sutton Dinghy Club) Back in the fleet big gains were to be made in staying high to the gybe mark and saw Hugh & Dan Gill, Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliffe amongst others make big moves. However the signs were starting to look ominous as the breeze continued to drop, and as the leader approached the leeward mark, with a couple of boats still to make the weather mark, the PRO sounded horns to abandon the race and very quickly after that racing for the day. It take a bit of time and effort to tow 104 boats home but effectively and efficiently handled by the safety and shore crews from Skerries.

Rarely is the practice race taken as anything more than a practice race, but the post race discussions on the effect of tide, wind shifts and gate boat protocols were fairly animated and extensive. Talk turned to Monday, but even on Sunday there was a sense it might not happen.

With hope if not expectations high, Skerries had arranged a talk on local tides by Gerry Byrne. Having seen the impact of tide on Sunday practice race, the talk was very well attended. However, despite an amendment to start earlier, the wind didn't play ball and Monday morning saw 2 postponements before racing was finally abandoned for the day around midday. Another amendment saw the lay-day lost and racing now scheduled for Wed with an earlier start on Tuesday. Looks like PRO Bill O'Hara will try and get 3 races in on Tuesday and hope to get back on track by end of Wednesday. The forecast does looks promising.

  • Neil Marsden & Derek Hill - The 2003 Champions and 3rd in Mounts Bay in 2018, Neil and Derek are back to contest another Worlds. Their victory in 2003 was in a 171 boat fleet and they pipped the legendary Richard Estaugh for the title. Not sure when was the last GP14 event they sailed, but we shouldn't be surprised if they are there or thereabouts next Friday evening.

  • Adrian Lee & Gareth Gallagher - A Youghal and Moville combination and one that has been on fire this season. Adrian has been a regular race winner in the last few season and they have race victories in pretty much all events this year, but the pair have now added consistency to their obvious speed. They have demonstrated at the Nationals at Royal North and the Skerries Pre-Worlds that they can deliver in both light and windy conditions.

  • John Hayes & Joel James - Another team in good form coming into the Worlds following 5th place that included a race win at the British Nationals and victory in the Scottish Championship earlier in the season. John has been a regular visitor to Ireland and will certainly be in the mix most days. Word on the street is his boat is on its way to an emerging GP14 Club in Northern Ireland.

  • Alan Blay & Hugh McNally - This is a strong team and getting stronger and finished last season with victory in the Munster Championship in November. They have shown patches of form in events so far and did well last November. strong team, won the last event of the year in 2021 and have shown showed good form early in the season. Have served their time in the class, is this year the year for them?

  • Ruan & Rebekah O'Tiarnaigh - The father and daughter team jumped into the class at the start of the season and have taken off very quickly. No surprise really with Ruan's vast experience and success, former National & Helmsmans Champion and 4th in the Durban World Championships back in 2000. They have been showing some great pace, took a podium in the Spring Open in Sligo and will be looking to have a good event.

  • Keith & Matteo Louden - Keith teaming up with his youngest son has been great to see, a very light pairing who could cause some serious trouble if the conditions go in their favour. One of the youngest in the fleet at 14, Matteo has taken to the front of the boat like a duck to water and despite their weight have shown they can handle windy conditions as well. The pair have race wins and a no. of top 3 finishes in races throughout this seasons events.

  • Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghy - Recent winners of the Pre-Worlds, which followed a 7th at a very competitive Nationals in July. The pair have not sailed much for a year or two but seem to be quickly getting back to their usual competitive selves. Get a good run going and they would certainly be hoping to be in top 3 Irish boats this week and always capable of a race win.

  • Chris Clayton & Rory Higgins - Newcomers to the Irish fleet this season and part of an emerging fleet at Royal North of Ireland. Chris, a Mirror World Champion back in 2003 had been out of sailing for quite a while but with Rory Higgins they have not taken long to find their feet in the fleet and have gone from strength to strength since their first event in Sligo back in April. Expect them to have a good event.

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