Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club hosted the Brewin Dolphin RS Elite UK National Championships over four days last weekend at Cultra. The Local Club enjoyed, like we all did the glorious weather, with a kind sea breeze to aid very close racing. The fleet of 19 included boats from the host club, Carrick, Bangor, Strangford and the South coast of England with a few past Olympic sailors to add to the competition of the event.

The race officer Ruan O’Tiarnaigh on loan from Ballyholme YC, did a superb job with the ten race series. It came as a surprise to everyone with the hot conditions that the wind stayed steady for all four days averaging 10 knots. This made for some of the tightest racing ever seen in the RS Elite Fleet, with the daily leaders changing each day.

On the first day (Thursday) was won by Royal Ulster boat “Storm”, helmed by Stephen Polly, they scored two seconds and a filth totalling nine points, three ahead of the next boat from Hayling Island “Foudafafa” helmed by Mike McIntyre on twelve points and Ossie Stewart on thirteen points on his “More Tea Vicar” also from Hayling island yacht club.

A social evening was held on board SS Nomadic, for all the competitors, giving the visitors a glimpse of Belfast Shipbuilding heritage.

On Friday, day two, all the competitors arrived fresh(ish) ready to go for another tough day of three more races. Racing got away bang on time as it did every day. Again competition was tight throughout the fleet. A simple mistake could cost six or seven places.

Today the points were tied for third, with” More Tea Vicar” and “Shaken not stirred” (Hayling Island) Helmed by Colin Smith both on thirteen points, Royal North Boat “AnchorMan” helmed by Oliver Loughead took second for the day, ten points, with two seconds and a sixth. But the Day went to “Foudafafa” with a very impressive three firsts.

The social on the Friday evening included a BBQ, music and Late bar, with much craic had by all.

On Saturday the penultimate day of racing all competitors arrived with the same disadvantage, sore heads! The scorching sun was not helpful. But despite this the racing was intense, the race committee didn’t think it could possibly get tighter, the last race was one of the most completive the committee boat had ever seen or had been part of.

Three more races on the days schedule, the event was still wide open, with the second discard due to kick in. Saturday’s daily point came down to “Storm” and Brian Corry’s “Tuppence” (Strangford Lough YC) both on fifteen points on joint third. Second “Foudafafa” on thirteen points and Paul Fisk’s “Legs Eleven” (Hayling Island) on eleven points to win the day. On Shore the fleet gathered for the Gala Event dinner hosted by the events kind sponsors Brewin Dolphin, the competitors and guests enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by a humorous game, and comedy speeches, by the event director Mark Brien and others. Another late bar licence ensued and the great atmosphere and craic of the venue continued.

Many were hurting on Sunday morning for the last race of the series. Once again racing got off bang on time. Today only had one race so it was easy to calculate the days points. Third went to “Shaken not Stirred” second to “Legs Eleven” and the lead boat of the day was Royal North’s “Anchorman” This was a popular win for the fleet as the aponsors were on board!

The overall results all came down to the final race, it would be safe to say that “Foudafafa” had it in the bag by Saturday evening, however second to tenth was still open. In fifth overall; “Anchorman”, fourth; “Shaken not Stirred”, third; “Legs Eleven”. Second was the local boat “Storm” and the overall winner was Mike McIntyre’s “Foudafafa” – congratulations to Mike and his crew the new National Champions. Also well done to the two other Hayling Island boats who finished in the top four.

In the prize giving and speeches, Mark Brien thanked the kind Sponsors Brewin Dolphin, the event Team, mark layers and Ruan O’Tiarnaigh for superb race management. Mike McIntyre also thanked the usual suspects, and congratulated the venue Royal North for one of the best RS Elite Nationals so far!

It would be fair to say with the combination of the blistering sunshine, iconic yacht club location, constant steady breeze, high level of tight sailing, excellent race management and a packed social program, this event will be hard to top, even by Royal North itself.

Next year the event moves to Dublin for the first time, retitled the Europeans, to be held as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. At least 30 Elites are expected on the start line for that event.

Overall Results:

Pos Sail No Boat Helm Crew Crew Club Pts
1st 76 Foudafafa Mike McIntyre Caroline McIntyre Simon Childs HISC 16
2nd 37 Storm Stephen Polly John Gunning David Kelso RUYC/BYC 27
3rd 110 Legs Eleven Paul Fisk Nick Peters Pippa Jubb HISC 28
4th 7 Shaken Not Stirred Colin Smith Paul Smith Anna Wells HISC 34
5th 50 Anchorman Oliver Loughhead Hal Catherwood Stephen Cartwright RNIYC 38
6th 67 More T Vicar Ossie Stewart Tom Stewart Mark Darling HISC 44
7th 19 Tuppence Brian Corry Maria McGrogan Henry Greer SLYC 54
8th 111 KIN Simon Brien David Gomes Stephen Milne RNIYC 54
9th 61 Prodigal Greg Bell Harry Bell Alan McLarnon RNIYC 62
10th 56 Upfront Jeff Ralston Robin Flanaghan Stuart Vaughan RNIYC 65
11th 44 Eclipse Ryan Wilson Chris Penny Simon Martin CSC 68
12th 64 Toucan Mike Vaughan Gavin Vaughan Liam Donnelly RNIYC 70
13th 46 The Doctor Peter Copsey Max Sparks Alison Rodgers HISC 71
14th 52 b’Have Mark Hunter Ian Hunter Rory Graham RNIYC 92
15th 58 Sea Breezes Adam McCullough Jimmy Hanna Neale McCullough RNIYC 103
16th 83 Fullmarks Mark Brien Mark Ennis Mark McNeill RNIYC 119
17th 82 Usain Bolt Tom Molloy Colman Byrnes Richard Moore EDYC/RNIYC 122
18th 93 Merlin Angus McRobert Graeme Farrington Keith Maxwell SLYC 135
19th 49 Swallow John McRobert Paddy McMullan Ita McMullan BBC 150