This year the Irish Nationals were hosted in Dublin as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, some 400 boats attended this biannual event. With only 8 Elites on the start line, it was however, a strong field with the usual suspects attending, including Steve Powell’s, E’tuand Buss Keck on Pipefish. The Irish Elites included defending champions Full Marks, Toucan, Anchorman, Scaddy, Momentary Laps and Storm.
Most of the fleet arrived on the Wednesday night for the four days of racing, starting with some revelry in Café Milano, followed by some late toots in the Royal Marine hotel. The following morning, Full Marks and Anchormanarrived on the scene all ready for the opening afternoon race. The opening race was going to be interesting with strong winds across the race areas. Race one consisted of 4 laps in tough conditions, but the conditions didn’t hold back on close racing. At the first mark the fleet all arrived together with inches separating the train like fleet as they rounded the windward Mark the leeward marks were similar with the fleet descending simultaneously, but as the laps wore on Storm emerged as the lead boat with Buzz on Pipefish hot on their heels and E’tu 3rd. After a long tough race a tired fleet returned ashore to our host club The Royal St George for much needed lubrication. Full Marks had mast damage on their track and a speedy repair was required. Entertainment was laid on in all the combined clubs, after spending the afternoon in the George, we moved to the Royal Irish next door, and I do mean next door!! Yet another late night ensued.
Friday had a civilised start time of 1155, two races scheduled but with high winds forecast the race committee posed a postponement, Full Marks checked the forecast, building winds expected! On this information the boys decided not to race as there might be no racing or at best one race and their mast repair hadn’t cured just yet. An hour later the postponement flag was dropped for the racing to get underway. This was to prove the most challenging day on the water strong winds and big seas. A two lap race, the J24’s and SB 20s started first followed by the Elites 5mins later, then followed by the Dragons. What is amazing about these two races is the results both races had exactly the same outcome, Storm 1st, Pipefish 2nd, Anchorman 3rd, E’tu 4th and Momentary Laps 5th etc. We all arrived ashore delighted to see no buildings had been damaged!!! Everyone (apart from the Marks) totally knackered, soaked and very thirsty.
Saturday also had a civilised start time and the winds had dropped considerably with flatter seas. The race area was to the south side and close to shore. John Patterson’s Momentary Laps had a cracking start going for the pin end and was the first boat to the windward mark, the downwind leg proved to be very tricky with winners and losers.Momentary Laps was forced to the left leeward gate in sixth place and consequently the right hand side of the course the other side of the course was favoured on the downhill. The fleet went left with Pipefish and E’Tu leading by a long way, all looked very promising. Having been forced right Momentary Laps wanted to get to the left but lack of air was against them. Then one of those magical/frustrating moments happened, depending on which side of it you are on, as a dark cloud appeared over the Wicklow Mountains. Spotting it John Patterson took full advantage of the lift that carried Momentary Laps straight to the Mark, well ahead of the rest of the fleet, and on to win the race, magical. E’tu, who had been leading, came 6th, frustrating. Storm were 2nd, Pipefish 3rd and Full Marks 4th.
Going into the 2nd race of the day in similar conditions to the first, 3 boats were tied on 3rd. The shifty breeze wasn’t helpful to anyone. Once again John Patterson was first to the mark, sadly the shifts played against him. John Driscoll on Anchorman went up the right side of the beat on lap 2 to find himself lead boat and race winner, Storm 2nd andE’tu 3rd. Much celebrating was done on shore with both boats jubilant. The Royal St George laid on a huge party with live bands, drink promotions etc, the atmosphere was electric and the Elites know how to party!
On the last day one race scheduled again light and shifty. Storm already had the event in the bag and mathematically couldn’t be caught. The Vaughan’s on Toucan, led the race to the first mark, but they then lost the lead to Steve Powell on E’tu, on the first run. The second beat saw E’tu extend their lead as they took control of the race. A lead, which they defended in shifty conditions to the finish. E’tu1st, Toucan 2nd, Pipefish 3rd
Congratulations to Storm for 1st overall and the new Irish National Champions, Pipefish 2nd and E’tu 3rd. The Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta returns in 2017 the Elites hope to attend and we would recommend that you add it to your list of events to do. This event was also important as a showcase, there is staggering interest in the Elites from the Dublin perspective, and we drew a lot of attention, maybe next time there will be a Dublin Fleet to join us!
Race report by Gerry Reid