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GP14 Leinster Championship 2024 at Howth Yacht Club

by Ross Gingles & Andy Johnston 7 Jun 22:21 BST 1-2 June 2024

A fleet of 34 boats gathered at Howth Yacht Club for the third event of the 2024 GP14 calendar, showcasing the impressive depth of talent in the fleet.

Predictions favoured Ross Kearney & Daniel Nelson (Royal North of Ireland YC), Sean Craig & Stephen Boyle (R St George & Sutton), and Colman Grimes & Ross Gingles (Skerries and Derwent Reservoir) to excel in the Leinster Championship.

However, the increasing competitiveness within the fleet is making predictions more challenging. The standout feature of the GP14 fleet is the emergence of home-grown talent, with elite sailors joining the races to test their skills. Among those drawn to the class at Howth were the 13th ranked ILCA 7 sailor Ewan McMahon, along with his father Jim, Howths Diana Kisane & Graham Curran, and Monkstown Bays Chris Bateman, now a familiar face on the GP14 circuit.

Noteworthy home-grown talent includes David Evans & William Draper, who continue to lead the charge for a large number of youth teams impressing this season.

The PRO Score Walls kindly accommodated gate starts for the event, enabling the fleet to prepare for the upcoming World Championship in August. Many of the fleet had never experienced gate starts and for some the honour of being pathfinder, on back of 5th place in prior race also came with some trepidation.

Notably the two-day event saw six different race winners across the two days of racing. Saturday featured a reasonably steady northerly breeze, warmed by a high-pressure system that brought hazy but clear skies. With Alan Blay & Hugh McNally as pathfinder, the first race win went to Class stalwarts John & Donal McGuiness (Moville BC). Race 2 with Chris Bateman & Kate Neville as pathfinders saw Hugh Gill & Richard Street (Sutton Dinghy Club and Blessington SC) take the honours from Sligo YCs David Evans & William Draper. Taking 5th in Race 2 meant Diana Kissane & Graham Curran were pathfinder for Race 3 and the Howth's pairing found their footing to take the race win, leading from start to finish.

The emerging youth stars of the season David Evans & William Draper took 5th to be pathfinder for Race 4 with Colman Grimes of Skerries SC and Ross Gingles of Derwent Reservoir taking victory and becoming the overnight leaders despite holding a 10-point discard among their scores.

The championship remained open to six pairings overnight, with Sean Craig & Stephen Boyle holding the best discard and gross score, closely followed by Ross Kearney & Daniel Nelson, then Colman Grimes & Ross Gingles with Diana Kissane & Graham Curran, David Evans & William Draper and Hugh Gill & Richard Street still capable of pushing for podium spots. But would there be sufficient wind to complete the scehdule on Sunday.

Sunday's race course was met with a lighter north-westerly breeze, which, combined with the land heating, created bands of calm and pressure and an ebbing tide. After an initial postponement to let the wind fill, PRO Score Walls managed to get the fleet away, with Blessingtons Sam Street & Josh Lloyd pathfinding in 5 knot breeze. The race saw light, tricky conditions with the event leaders covering each other with Michael Collender and Brian Walker of Mullingar SC storming up from the bronze fleet to grab the first race win of the day ahead of Alan Blay and Chris Bateman in 3rd.

The top three in the overall rankings fared poorly in this race, likely making it a discard for all of them, giving Sean Craig & Stephen Boyle 13 points over Ross Kearney & Daniel Nelson's 16 and Colman Grimes & Ross Gingles' 17.

For Race 6, the PRO Score Walls' job was made easier with a sea breeze steadily setting in from an easterly direction. Ross Kearney & Daniel Nelson read the course well and secured their first race win of the event but not before having to battle David Evans & William Draper who led at the top mark from Curly Morris & Rachel Stewart the pathfinder for the last race. For a moment on the water the RNIYC pair were virtual fleet leaders but there was still time for changes.

Sean Craig & Stephen Boyle, lying 5th behind Sam Wray & Luke Henderson and Paddy O' Connor & Brendan Brogan needed to finish 3rd or better for the championship. They eventually edged past the Sligo pair at the weather mark and into the finish to give them a single-point advantage over Ross Kearney & Daniel Nelson, with Colman Grimes and Ross Gingles finishing third overall.

In the Silver Fleet, David Evans & William Draper (Sligo YC) continued their dominant season, taking 1st (5th overall), followed by Rory Higgins & Chris Clayton (RNIYC) in 2nd, and Sam Wray & Luke Henderson (Sligo YC) in 3rd. The Bronze Fleet was won by Michael Collender & Brian Walker (Mullingar SC) who also celebrated their first ever Champiinship race win, with Riaghan Boardman & Maedbh Butterly (Rush SC) taking second, Dennis Cully & Ollie Lloyd (Blessington SC) third.

The prize-giving saw Emmet Dalton (Hon. Sailing Secretary), Christina Knowles (Rear Commodore) and Andy Johnston (GP14 Class President) present Race Winner as well as Bronze, Silver and Overall prizes. I must note that Race 5 and Bronze fleet winners Michael Collender (former Class President) & Brian Walker received a standing ovation drom the fleet on the occasion of their first ever Championship race win.

Receiving the McDowell Trophy as Leinster Champions, Sean Craig on behalf of the winning pair, commended the club on a terrific and hard-fought championship, paying tribute to the strength of the class in Ireland and the hospitality and organisation led by the race management team at Howth, which included stellar camping facilities at Howth

Congratulations also go to Lara Sunday, who was celebrating with an impromptu "Hen Do" for her forthcoming nuptials this summer.

The next event on the calendar is the eagerly anticipated Championship of Ireland at Newtownards Sailing Club June 28th to 30th.

Overall Results:

1stn/a14272Sean CraigStephen BoyleSutton DCGold4423‑13316
2ndRon14242Ross KearneyDaniel NelsonRoyal North Of Ireland YCGold2842‑17117
3rdYou Go Boss14Colman GrimesRoss GinglesSkerries SCGold10331‑141027
4thRufus14203Diana KissaneGraham CurranHowth YCGold‑1651471229
5thRed Boat14068 / 14203David EvansWilliam DraperSligo YCSilver13257‑18229
6thYinTang14275Hugh GillRichard StreetSutton DCGold31813‑19833
7thWally14235Alan BlayHugh McNallyHowth YC/Sutton DCGold5167‑232939
8thCurved Gold13624Chris BatemanKate NevilleMonkstown Bay SCGold610‑111131141
9thTrouble on the way14219Curly MorrisRachael StewartEast Antrim BCGold87‑23215647
10thn/a1427 / 14271Paddy O'ConnorBrendan BroganSligo YCGold1412910‑26449
11thSolaro14279Katie DwyerMichelle RowleyHowth YC / Sutton DCGold1996‑2741351
12thThe Wrong Trousers14165Conor TwohigMatthew CotterHowth YC / Sutton DCGold11181012‑21758
13thRobbers Dog1424Rory HigginsChris ClaytonRoyal North Of Ireland YCSilver12‑2014891558
14thCloud Nine13981Sam StreetJosh LloydBlessington SCGold181515511(DNF)64
15thEnigma14257Sam WrayLuke HendersonSligo YCSilver2113(DNS)188565
16thNone14214Keith LoudenMateo LoudenLough Foyle YCGold1511‑211561966
17thNone14247John McGuinnessDonal McGuinnessMoville BCGold1171320‑222071
18thLil Yachty13977David JohnstonBen DoverSutton DCSilver1714121415(DNF)72
19thWinston13939Ewan McMahonJim McMahonHowth YCGold222116616(DNF)81
20th;‑)14237JP McCaldinCarolyn McCaldinLough Erne YCGold(DNF)6171912DNF89
21stnone13907Jon EvansUna l'EstrangeSligo YCSilver92419‑25241692
22ndSmoke on the water14284Michael CollenderBrian WalkerMullingar SCBronze‑2828242611796
23rdN/A14036Riaghan BoardmanMaedbh ButterlyRush SCBronze2422‑269202297
24thGringer Sails Again14225Cathal SheridanDavid CookeSkerries SCSilver‑252518172318101
25thPig13207Denis CullyOllie LloydBlessington SCBronze(DNF)23DNFDNC1014117
26thALL13353Des MacMahonLara SundayCullaun SCBronze26‑2720242721118
27thNo Name14185Rob LeeStephen LynchGreystones SCGold20(OCS)28222524119
28thIce and slice14271Brian MorrisonOwen O'DonnellLough Erne YCSilver27262216(DNC)DNC126
29thn/a13308Jack McMahonIsobel O'GradyHowth YCBronze23292529‑3023129
30thGhost Light14215Ruan O'TiarnaighCharlotte O'TiarnaighSutton DC/Royal Ulster YCGold719(DNF)DNFDNCDNC131
31stBoatzart13865Jennifer BryceVivika TimmerNewtownards SC /Donaghadee SCBronze29‑3027282825137
32ndMr Mobius13238George FitzgeraldFrank MulqueenCullaun SCBronze30322932(DNF)26149
33rdFlatspin13569Tadhg McCarthyDeirdre FoleyGreystones SCBronze31‑3331312927149
34thK214041Paul SoffeGerry Blacoe (Sat) Neil Soffe (Sun)Malahide YCBronze‑323130303128150

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