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Irish Flying Fifteen Nationals 2021
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Irish Flying Fifteen Nationals 2021

Strangford Lough Yacht Club 27th-29th August

Twenty-two entries to the Flying Fifteen Nationals translated to twenty boats on the water with 12 boats arriving from South of the border. Of these, all bar three were from Dun Laoghaire.

Dunmore East had a 100% turnout with Lee Statham/Andy Paul and Charlie Boland/Rob McConnell here, both sporting green spinnakers. Howth had a solitary entry in the form of Nigel Biggs of Checkmate fame sailing with Simon Pritchard Jones. The rest of the nine travellers were all DL based.

At the briefing the Race Officer indicated that given Saturday's forecast she would try for a third race today. She further encouraged an early launch to facilitate a punctual start, which she delivered on.

The first boat to get a positive start to the regatta was Dave Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (4068) who took the first gun of the day in a race where their worst position was third.

Race 2 was taken by John Lavery & Alan Green (4083) who, after a mediocre start and first beat, moved up a gear to lead the majority of the remaining race and lead the fleet over the line.

Race 3 went to Roger Chamberlain & Paddy Spratt (3962) who came in from the left on the first beat to lead the race from start to finish.

The aforementioned Biggs & Pritchard Jones (4092) showed the best consistency to score a 7, 3, 3 to secure 2nd overall, followed by Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920) scoring 4, 6, 4 for third overall.

However, Lavery & Green bested them all to score 5, 1, 2 and sit in first overall overnight. In fourth overall sits Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756) with a 3, 4, 8 while Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson round out the top five with a 2, 11, 6.

Conditions were light, though not as light as Portaferry a few weeks back. Races were started promptly despite a wind that fluctuated, back and forth through 30 degrees during the day's racing.

Saturday's apparent promise was for very little wind. 

As was feared at the close of business Friday, the weather on arrival at Strangford Lough Yacht Club was reminiscent of the British Championships sailed at the same venue a couple of years ago when we sat ashore for three days under an AP flag.

This morning a combination of inshore mirror-like conditions combined with a mist that hid the race area from view meant that the flying of an AP flag was inevitable even though there was insufficient wind to make it flutter. Instead of a scheduled 10:55 Warning Signal the suggestion was that it might be closer to 14:00 before we would get under way... and so it proved.

Under very light conditions, a la Portaferry of a few weeks back, the fleet got away. The majority of the fleet started along the outer half of the start line, but a few pioneered the right hand-side including this correspondent sailing with Ben Mulligan (4081) and Roger Chamberlain, sailing with Paddy Spratt (3962). Chamberlain made his way to the middle of the course first before coming back right again. Mulligan persisted in his right-hand side quest and was rewarded when he crossed the entire fleet to lead into the first weather mark. Chamberlain closed on him in the final approach to the mark but at the mark there was a few boat-lengths between them.

Initially both boats led the fleet down the right-hand side of the beat before Mulligan broke away to head left. Regrettably and hopefully understandably, I can't tell you who was following Chamberlain. As the fleet made their way downwind there were increasing indications from the committee boat, conversing with the rib at the weather mark, that they had growing doubts that the race was fair and ultimately those doubts prompted an abandonment of the race. From a jaundiced perspective (again understandably) I have to question why the race was abandoned where it was when the fleet was sailing back down towards the start area. As we approached the committee boat the RO admitted there would probably be six boats who would not be happy with the decision. I suggested she might need both hands for that count!

The wind then faded away before a slightly stiffer breeze came in from the south, prompting a move of the weather mark westwards. Under a black flag start, the fleet got away apart from three transgressors of the revised starting protocol - Messrs McCarthy (4085), Chamberlain (3962) and Biggs (4092). This time it was the left side which paid from which exited Bryan Willis and John McPeake (4074), Niall Meagher & Nicki Matthews (3938) 3782. Regatta leaders overnight, Lavery & Green (4083) were at the committee boat end of the start and may have worked middle and left to work their way up the fleet.

This correspondent with his helm had a biblical race - those who had been first were last, etc, etc, well not quite, but you know what I mean.

A shortened race saw Willis & McPeake win with Meagher & Matthews second, 3782 third, Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920) 4th and Lavery & Green 5th. The previous day's other winners, Mulvin & Beirne had a 13th.

Sunday 29th August produced grey skies and a wind that had undergone an almost 180 degree shift to come from a northerly quarter. Contestants were encouraged to launch as promptly as possible due to a falling tide and the Race Officer's declared intention to start racing on time with the prospect of three races for the day.

The fleet obliged, and after some deliberation as to where the weather mark should go due to the wind shifting left and right, the fleet got under way under another "Black Flag" starting procedure.

Regatta leaders John Lavery & Alan Green (4085) stamped their authority on the fleet again by taking the race win, followed home by Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson (40485) and Niall Meagher & Nikki Matthews (3938) who continued from where they had left off the previous day, counting a second in race four. Lavery & Green led this one from the start and were never really challenged.

Race 6 saw another win for Bryan Willis & John McPeake (4074) giving them a second bullet which one would have thought would help them up the overall ladder. However, the previous 2 x 9th and an 11th put a brake of sorts on their upward trajectory. They did win this race with a margin on the rest of the fleet. Second and third went to Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756) and Lavery & Green, who benefited yet again from finding an extra gear to get through the fleet after an average, by their standards start and first beat. Fourth went to Roger Chamberlain & Paddy Spratt (3962), while 5th went to Ian Matthews & Keith Poole (4093). Newcomers to the Irish fleet, Nigel Biggs and Simon Pritchard Jones (4092) were finding the going a bit tougher on the Sunday compared to their exploits on Days 1 and 2. They weren't the only ones!! McCarthy & Thompson "hung in" with a sixth place.

In what was the best breeze of the weekend in terms of strength, though we are talking very fine margins here, the fleet got a seventh race in, under another black flag regime.

Yet again, an average start and first beat saw Lavery & Green mixing it with the "mere mortals" only for them to benefit from some judicious calls by Green, according to Lavery, and grind their way to another first place. It is uncanny watching how they repeatedly got themselves out of difficult situations in terms of place in the fleet to elevate themselves to podium places. As John alluded to in his prize-giving thank you speech, Tuesday night practice sessions, in company, went a long way to winning this title. Behind them the finishing order was McCarthy, Trevor Darcy (3782), Biggs & Pritchard Jones and Meagher & Matthews.

In overall terms, Lavery & Green dominated the regatta with three race wins. However, there were some races where, by their own admission, they had to draw on accumulated experience and practice sessions to extract themselves from middle of the fleet positions to get into the smaller single figure places that lend themselves to winning major regattas. After discard, they won by a whopping 16pts, with their worst result a 5th place in Races 1 and 4.

McCarthy & Thompson led three boats home on a post-discard score of 29pts, the final order here being McCarthy, Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756), Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920). Two boats were tied on 40pts after discard with Chamberlain & Spratt getting the nod over Biggs & Pritchard Jones. On 41pts we find Trevor Darcy & Crew, followed by two boats on 43pts, Willis & McPeake and Meagher & Matthews. The top ten was closed out by Ian Matthews & Keith Poole (4093) with 51pts.

The Race Officer Team are to be commended on getting a seven-race series completed. As the three reports for this regatta testify to, winds were light, resulting in one race being abandoned, with only one race completed on the Saturday. Three races were sailed on each of the two "short-working days" Friday and Sunday. In addition to being light, the wind fluctuated continuously giving the mark-layers lots to do over the three days.

SLYC's hospitality was to the fore again with teas and coffee and bacon butties available on all three mornings and despite the ongoing Covid regulations we were able to enjoy a sponsor hosted championship meal on the Saturday night in the clubhouse.

A special word of thanks to the regatta sponsor Ridgeway Engineering who were represented in the fleet by Stephen Kane, crewing for Peter Kennedy (3920). As was advised in the prize-giving, the sponsorship was provided in a very measured and generous fashion without a great deal of song and dance but in their prize-giving remarks both Peter Chamberlain, as Regatta Organiser, and John Lavery, as winning helm, thanked Stephen for his company's contribution to what was a very enjoyable and successful weekend.

The Race Team and the host of volunteers, in the kitchen and bar, on the water and in the water, in terms of the launching and recovery teams, were thanked by Peter and John as well.

In his closing remarks, John paid tribute to his crew, the "evergreen" Alan Green who has won this Championship of Ireland, with five different helms. He acknowledged the judicious decisions by Alan on the water that allowed them to convert "difficult" first beats to low single digit scores. In a wider context he suggested that the Flying Fifteen can accommodate a wide spectrum of crew weights as was evidenced by the teams here this weekend and suggested that his crew would be a very good point of reference to anyone who needs to attune their boats in accordance with their crew size.

John also acknowledged the contestants who had travelled to the event from Dunmore East, Howth, Dun Laoghaire, Belfast/Larne and within Strangford Lough itself.

For the Irish Fifteen fleet. The next event is the Easterns which are scheduled for Dun Laoghaire on the weekend of 18th & 19th of September. Just enough time for a recalibration for those who need it!

Report and photo courtesy of Cormac Bradley

 

Overall Results:

Pos Helm & Crew Sail  No. R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Total
1 John Lavery & Alan Green 4083 5 1 2 5 1 3 1 13
2 Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson 4085 2 11 6 23 2 6 2 29
3 Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain 3756 3 4 8 6 6 2 14 29
4 Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane 3920 4 6 4 4 4 12 7 29
5 Roger Chamberlain & Paddy Spratt 3962 14 5 1 23 14 9 4 40
6 Nigel Biggs & Simon Pritchard Jones 4092 7 3 3 23 14 9 4 40
7 Trevor Darcy & Crew 3782 9 12 9 3 10 7 3 41
8 Bryan Willis & John McPeake 4074 15 9 11 1 9 1 12 43
9 Niall Meagher & Nikki Matthews 3938 10 16 15 2 3 8 5 43
10 Ian Matthews & Keith Poole 4093 11 8 5 12 16 5 10 51
11 Peter Lawson & Chris Hannon 3893 8 15 7 8 8 14 6 51
12 Charlie Boland & Rob McConnell 3883 12 7 10 7 7 17 17 60
13 Lee Statham & Andy Paul 3896 16 2 16 10 13 11 9 61
14 Peter Murphy & Ciara Mulvey 3774 6 10 18 9 15 13 8 61
15 David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne 4068 1 14 12 13 11 16 19 67
16 Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley 4081 13 13 14 15 12 10 16 77
17 Tom Murphy & Carel La Roux 4057 17 17 20 11 17 15 15 92
18 Tom Galvin & Alan Balfe 3757 18 19 13 14 18 18 13 94
19 Niall Bradshaw & Lisa Byers 3454 19 20 17 16 20 20 18 110
20 Brian McKee & Crew 3198 20 18 19 17 19 19 20 112

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