The Irish Multihull Association introduced an innovative approach to their National Championships this year by inviting the 49er and 29er fleets to join them in a high-speed weekend of competitive sailing on Belfast Lough where we hosted the World F18 Championships in 2014 writes organiser Richard Swanston
Catamarans of various types arrived on Friday evening to give us a very competitive fleet of Dart 18’s Dart 18’s Hurricane 5.9 SX and a very competitive F18 fleet including four of the Irish team that attended the recent European Championships in Spain.
The fleets were met with an uncharacteristic SSW shifty wind on Saturday 5 to 15 knots. A very packed committee boat end provided for some bumps/words of aggression not often heard. The racing was extremely tight with usual front-runners Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston well down the fleet. Last years winners Wyatt Orsmond and Patrick Billington winning race one but not before newcomers in a Nacra,
Mat and James McNichol rocketed around the course making some great decisions in the tricky winds. Wyatt’s experience finally ran Mat and James down. Peter and Dee Mc. Dowell pushed into a third place in their Viper.
Matt and James overturned the first race with a storming race win with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Place.
Wyatt and Patrick winning this race with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Swannie and Mat Mc. Murty showing a bit of form with a 3rd. place.
Adrian and Barry in their Cirrus R1 were starting to really take control with another race win, Wyatt down in 7th. Place and Mat in the Nacra in 2nd. Beginning to assert a regular top three placing.
Saturday night was hugely enjoyed by all. A bbq followed by a table quiz and an open mic music night provided for the necessary sore heads on Sunday morning.
Sunday dawned with a very brisk 15 to 25-knot breeze. Time for the speed machines to stretch their legs with very high speed downwind sprints and very close upwind racing
Swannie and Matt in their Windrush Edge show real potential and despite many place changes took control on the 3 rd. lap only to blow a race win by finishing incorrectly. Mark roundings with 4 f18s at top speed made for great viewing.
"The IMA Festival of Speed event is to become an annual event. Next year looks like it may come to Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay"
Race 2 and 3
Adrian and Wyatt swapped race wins and second places albeit with Mat and Swannie, David Biddy Biddulf and new crew Emma roaring around the course to add yet another competitive boat to the mix with some great racing and no quarter being given.
Was won again by Wyatt and Paddy with Adrian and Barry in 2nd. Biddy in 3rd. Swannie had to retire with a broken shackle on his mainsheet.
Controversy, however, was the deciding factor in the end, race one was started one minute early a protest was heard and it was decided to throw out the race, however, a last minute counter protest reinstated the race allowing Wyatt to claim the first race win and win the event overall by one point !!!
All in all a very successful weekend with a great interaction with the junior 29er fleet and top 49er sailors.
The IMA Festival of Speed event is to become an annual event. Next year looks like it may come to Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay.