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Bookies Get it Wrong As UK Visitors Win GP14 Leinster Championship at Dun Laoghaire Regatta

13th July 2017
Ross Killian and Ger Owens teamed up for the GP14 Leinsters Ross Killian and Ger Owens teamed up for the GP14 Leinsters Photo: Afloat.ie

The GP14 fleet returned to Dun Laoghaire for a most enjoyable three day Leinster Championship at the 475–boat Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta where 27 GP14s competed, for the various honours over the full complement of 8 races. With both World Champion, Shane McCarthy, and Olympian, Ger Owens entered, there was much discussion as to who would win out. However the bookies would have had a field day as the championship was won in a most emphatic fashion, by visiting UK sailors Fergus Burnham and Andy Hunter from Snettisham Beach and Nantwich sailing clubs.

All was not as it appeared however, as Ger Owens took the unusual role of crewing for his good friend and former Olympic crew Ross Killian. 

Friday saw the fleet on the South Bull race course with Barnham/Hunter laying down an early marker in Race 1, by pulling away to establish an early lead with Keith Louden and crew Alan Thompson signalling their intent by notching a definite second. Norman Lee showed a good turn of speed to sail into third place. Silver fleet sailor, young Peter Boyle crewed by his dad Stephen sailed a great race to slot into fifth place.

Race 2 threw up a great surprise with the first four rounding the weather mark heading off for the outer loop not realising that the inner loop was the correct course. Not quite believing what was unfolding in from of him, and ready to take full advantage ,was Hugh Gill and Conor Twohig who promptly led the rest of the fleet back down the run on the inner loop and went on to take the gun, followed home by the up and coming young guns of Sutton Dinghy Club, Alan Blay & David Johnston in second place, with Louden & Thompson taking third. This left the favourites slightly embarrassed and determined to do better. The final race of the day finally saw Shane McCarthy & Damien Bracken unleash their potential, and left the fleet looking at their transom as they took the bullet with Blay & Johnston showing early consistency by again taking second, and Barham & Hunter not letting go by taking third. Beer, food, sunshine and happy sailors on the deck at the Royal St George YC afterwards, lent a very Mediterranean atmosphere to the entire weekend!

Saturday ‘s forecast was for very light breezes but a good steady breeze blew all day long, providing great racing for the fleet. The highlight of the day was the three wins recorded by UK pairing of Barnham and Hunter, firmly establishing them in an unassailable position after 6 races. Gill and Louden took a second each with Lawrence Baalham and Robbie Richardson surprising all, by rounding the weather mark in fourth place and finishing the race in second place. The lads are still smiling! Blay & Johnson maintained their pace by notching a 4th and 3rd leaving them in second place with 2 races to go followed by McCarthy and Bracken in 3rd with Gill & Twohig in 4th overnight and all to play for.

In the Silver Fleet, the Boyles held a commanding lead on Saturday evening in front of the Gallagher brothers from Lough Foyle and Doire Shiels and Graham Burns from Skerries.
There was a great battle going on in the Bronze fleet with only 4 points separating the three contenders: Mathew Street from Blessington, Jack Buttimer from Youghal and Martin & Vicki Dews from Donaghadee in that order.

The fleet moved to the Salthill course on Sunday, and were treated to the close up sight of the Moth dinghies up on their foils and racing at incredible speeds in comparison to the comparably rather sedate speed of the regular classes. Quite spectacular! Well, the boys from the UK decided to do a bit of sightseeing around the bay and cruised to a leisurely 4th & 6th in the 2 races which they proceeded to discard, becoming worthy Leinster Championship winners. Keith Louden and Alan Thompson clocked in a very smart 1st & 5th to jump from 5th overall to 2nd overall – a great performance with Gill & Twohig surprising themselves to finish third in the Championship with a 6th & 3rd.

Consistent performer of the day was surely Curly Morris and Laura McFarlane who racked up a 3rd and 2nd.

In the Silver Fleet, Sunday saw Peter & Stephen score steadily. But in the last race Gareth & Richard Gallagher threw caution to the wind, started at the pin and steadily drew away to a convincing win which lays down a marker for the future. These are boys to watch when they get the consistency sorted.

Martin & Vicki Dews took a closely fought Bronze fleet by taking a 13th in the last race which saw them win by a mere 2 points from Mathew Street who was on equal points with Jack Buttimer.

Peter Boyle continues to show promise among the youngsters in the fleet and in finishing 7th overall was the leading Youth sailor and so is the new GP 14 Leinster Youth Champion for 2017.

A great Championship sailed in great conditions by a great fleet of sailors and friends. Long may it continue.

Gold Fleet:
1. Fergus Barnham & Andy Hunter - Snettisham Beach and Nantwich Sailing Clubs
2. Keith Louden & Alan Thompson – The Irish Sailing Association
3. Hugh Gill & Conor Twohig – Sutton Dinghy Club

Silver Fleet:
1. Peter & Stephen Boyle – Sutton Dinghy Club
2. Gareth & Richard Gallagher – Lough Foyle Yacht Club
3. Doire Shiels & Graham Burns – Skerries Sailing Club

Bronze Fleet:
1. Martin & Vicki Dews – Donaghadee Sailing Club
2. Mathew Street & Rionn O’Hailaigh– Blessington Sailing Club
3. Jack Buttimer & Adam McDonagh – Youghal Sailing Club

Full results here

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