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#IrishIOMclass – Three sailors of the Irish IOM (International One Metre, model boat class) fleet travelled to Paisley in Scotland, near Glasgow. After meeting up in Belfast ferry terminal Gilbert Louis / HYC, Brian O'Neill / EDYC and Neil Suitor from Omagh boarded the 3:30am ferry to Stranraer.

A two hour drive followed to reach the Paisley Model Yacht Club. After travelling for most of the night a good full Scottish breakfast was in order to wake up the mind.

Other sailors started to arrive as we started to rig up our boats. A short breifing to explain the fleet system, the course and we were off to start sailing the seeding race. Having 14 boats we had the option to sail altogether but the committy decided to opt for the heat system to ensure fair and smooth sailing to all due to the wind conditions and the size of the pond – And smooth it was. We sailed race after race until our well deserved break. A hot soup with beans on a tart went down a treat in the cold weather.

There was a good panel of boats, some old ones, in wood or fibreglass, some professionally made while others were home made and even home designed. One of the strength of the IOM box rule class is that it does allow for various boat design as long as they comply with the class rules.

We started the racing with a mix of sailors opting for the top and intermediate rig. The class rules allows 3 rigs to enable sailing from light to 35/40 knots. Everyone progressively changed up to the top rig although some of the gusts prooved too strong for that rig and the skills of the skippers were pushed to try to keep their boat up right and accelerating. But some of the gusts were too strong and I remember one of the afternoon race I was leading, I saw 2 boats which were behind me nose diving in a gust and managed to pull away in the process to be cought by the same gust a few seconds later which resulted in my boat doing a chinese gybe and a 180 in the process, facing head to wind and more worryingly my 2 competitors who kindly passed me. Just showed that we had to be vigilant at all times until the finish line was crossed.

The course was a triangle + a beat and a run to the finish. 4 top skippers from the B fleet would be promoted to the A fleet and the last 4 on each A fleet relegated to B fleet.

Brian O'Neill who was sailing his new Frank Russell Design MX14 started in the B fleet but quickly found his way to the A fleet to improve throughout the day and went on to win the last race. He learned a lot in tuning his boat and he will no doubt be a hard man to beat soon. His MX14 is showing a good potential and Brian too as he is still relatively new to the fleet. He went on to finish 3rd overall – a great result.

Neill Suitor who is newer to the fleet sailed his newly acquired V8 from New Zealand and he is still learning to sail and tune it. Neill started well showing a good early pace but he went through a lull in late morning and visited the B fleet a couple of times before the break. A bit of tuning together and he found a new pace, going on to win 2 races. Overall he gained valuable experienced and he will no doubt progress quickly.

Gilbert had a great start winning the seeding race and he managed to stay all day in the A fleet. Winning a number of races, struggling a bit more in the afternoon as the wind eased off a bit but never worse than 4th place. Though built in 2006 his V6 is still showing good pace against the more modern designs. Consistency paid off and he went on to win the Paisley Open with 19 points, 4 points ahead of a local sailor.

It was a fantastic regatta organised by our Scottish friends. We take this opportunity to thank them for their warm welcome as ever and we all had a great day.

Quickly it was time for us to pack and drive back to the ferry. We all arrived back in our home safe and sound, and well tired as I finally parked the car in our driveway at 2am on Sunday morning. My bed never felt so comfy and it didn't take me long to fall asleep.

Published in Racing