EIGHT of the top 10 places are filled by Irish boats at the half-way stage of the Mirror class European championships in Osterund, Sweden. A third placing in race three yesterday maintains second overall for Dun Laoghaire's Ross Killian and Alex Blayney in an event which, due to a high pressure weather system, is being raced in light and flukey winds on the Swedish lake venue. Despite the strong Irish showing, the overall lead escapes them and sole English contenders - and defending champions - David and Joshua Gebhard of Derwent Reservoir SC are stamping their authority on the 52-boat fleet. Having won the warmup Swedish championships last week, the English pair have, with two wins and a second, already moved into a commanding lead with 3.5 points, compared to the 11 points of Killian and Blayney sailing their notorious Flashpoint II dinghy.
Ireland's Max Treacy and Ronan McNamara are in third place on 12 points but Per Backlund and Magnus Andermo of the host nation, who won the opening race of the series, are on their heels with three races left to sail. Meanwhile, only an accident caused by yesterday's strong winds have been able to stop Zuleika, the winner of the first two races of Mermaid Week at Skerries. Early yesterday morning Zuleika, owned by Derek Joyce of Wexford Harbour SC, was holed and had further damage to her clinker planking as strong north-westerly winds caused the 20-foot dayboats on trots of moorings to collide in Skerries' harbour. Fortunately for Joyce yesterday's third race was cancelled by race officer Peter Craig due to the continuing gale force conditions which also caused the committee boat, Dawn Mist, a 26-foot Westerly cruiser to be dragged from its moorings. Joyce, whose three-man team includes boat-builder Des Tyrrell, pulled his boat Zuleika out of the water for emergency repairs and late last night hopes were high that she would be ready for today's fourth race at noon. Having established a small lead over the first triangle, Joyce opened up a lead of two minutes and 20 seconds in the first race and forced home his boat speed advantage in race two by doubling the winning margin and finishing a clear five minutes and 47 seconds ahead of Cara II sailed by Frankie Brown of the host club. Overall, Zulieka leads with past champion Jim Carthy of Rush SC sailing Vee second. Sharing joint third is Frankie Brown and Jim Dempsey. Roger Bannon lies in fifth place overall.
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