SUPERIOR boat speed enabled Zuleika, helmed by Derek Joyce of Wexford Sailing Club, to claim her third win in race four of the Carlsberg sponsored Mermaid national championship at Skerries yesterday. The win gives Joyce and his crew, Des Tyrrell and David Herterich, a clean score sheet following the abandonment of racing on Tuesday. Today's scheduled lay day has been annulled by race officer Peter Craig in an attempt to resail race three, thereby completing the six race series in full. Zuleika did not have it all her own way yesterday and was 12th at the first weather mark in the light north westerly breezes that built steadily to 10 knots during the course of the race. At noon there was little wind and after postponement flags were flown from the committee boat, Joyce continued upwind in a pre-race wind tracking routine, only for the wind to drop leaving him quarter way up the first beat as the race officer initiated the starting sequence. Limping back under spinnaker, Joyce managed to reach the stern of the committee boat as the starting gun was fired. "It was a nervous moment on board," said crewman Tyrrell.
Zulieka is also nursing four split planks after a collision on her moorings, but neither of these near disasters has thwarted the championship progress of the newest boat in the 52 boat clinker fleet. "We closed the gap on a shift at the top end of the second beat and and just kept closing because we're very fast downwind," Tyrrell said. Zulieka extended her lead to two and half minutes over nearest rival Jim Carthy, sailing Vee, by the finishing line and added fuel to the current class debate that there should be a minimum weight for the 17 foot hulls. There is speculation that newly built Zuleika's hull is very light as there would be little water soaked into her planks, which is typical in clinker construction. Carthy of Rush, a four times winner of the event, now counts two seconds and a third to be placed second overall. In third position, Jim Dempsey's Elizabeth of the host club counts two thirds and a second place.
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