Three boats sailing under Irish yacht club burgees are in the top six of the 2016 Dragon Edinburgh Cup that concludes in Wales today.
British sailor Lawrie Smith's Glandore Harbour Yacht Club entry continues to lead the event after five races, Royal St. George's Martin Byrne is fourth and sixth is yesterday's race winner, and Byrne's club–mate, Neil Hegarty.
The 18-20 knot south-westerly kicked up quite a swell against the ebbing tide, creating an upwind dilemma for the tacticians who had to decide between sailing in the relatively flat water on the right hand side of the course or heading left out into the faster current but much bigger seas. Another dilemma for everyone was finding the marks as the visibility was so poor that at times you couldn't even see the rest of the fleet, never mind either end of the course.
Revelling in the conditions was Neil Hegarty sailing IRL176 Phantom with Peter Bowring and David Williams. After a rather slow start to their regatta this very experienced trio found their form today and despite constant pressure from the chasing fleet sailed a superb race. Asked what gave them the jump Neil said; "We won the pin. We thought that the tide was ebbing so going out left would be best, plus we had some space down there and clear wind."
It was an extremely close race and following Hegarty across the line for second was overnight leader Lawrie Smith, sailing GBR801 Alfie with Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers. Mike Budd, Jez Entwistle and Mark Greeves sailing GBR793 Harry took third with Grant Gordon, Ruairidh Scott and Kasper Harsberg in GBR8780 Louise fourth and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor in GBR761 Jerboa fifth.
In the overall standings Smith now leads by three points from Gordon but his lead is not unassailable and if Gordon wins tomorrow's race Smith must finish sixth or above to claim overall victory. Budd goes into the final day in third place, 8 points off the leader, putting victory out of reach but leaving the door open for move up to second. Martin Byrne, sailing IRL 201 Jaguar with Adam Winklemann and Donal Small, is also still in with a chance of a place on the podium so it's going to be an exciting finale tomorrow.
The Corinthian Division for all amateur crews will also be decided on the final race with Mike Budd currently leading the fleet by two points from Rob Campbell, sailing GBR788 Quicksilver VI with Paul Fletcher and Luke Malissa. Mark Dicker sailing GBR610 Rackham with Selina Dicker and James Campbell is one further point back in third, while today's race win puts Neil Hegarty firmly in contention for a Corinthian podium finish too.
Mark Dicker and Rackham are also leading the Vintage Class for boats more than 20 years old. He has a four-point lead over second placed Peter Marchant who is sailing GBR746 Beauty & The Beast with partner Katie Cole and Andy Biddle, while third in the Vintage class is GBR655 Phormerly Phanton sailed by Chris and Selina Thomas and George Bind-Jones.
The regatta concludes today, Friday 5 June, with a final championship race starting at 11.00. There is a last start cut off time of 12.00, but with the weather forecast promising 15 to 20 knots from the west-south-west the race committee should have no problem getting them underway in time.
Full results are here