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Irish 1-2 at UK IRC Nationals

16th June 2008

Irish boats claimed the top spots in Class 1 and Class 2 at the UK IRC Nationals over the weekend, with a podium finish for Anthony O'Leary's Antix Eile in Class Zero.

Royal Cork's Conor Phelan's Jump Juice won class one and in class two Howth's David Nixon sailing Roy Dickson's Rosie took the overall RORC title.

Lack of wind caused a delay to racing in the final day of the IRC National Championship organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Racing finally got under way at shortly after one o’clock. Windward/leeward courses with a leeward gate in the central Solent were the battle grounds for some superb sailing and plenty of drama.

There were numerous general recalls and Z flag penalties as competitors, right through all five classes, were too eager to nail the start line.

As the Class Super Zero fleet got away on Sunday the wind picked up to about 12 knots from the south west. This was just as the seven speed machines were approaching the line and caused virtually every boat to be over, even though the Z Flag was flying. A general recall was announced and on the restart, with the Z Flag still flying, Charles Dunstone’s Rio and the UK Sailing Academy’s Chernikeeff 2 were over once again.

On the beat Ran, Colm Barrington's Flash Glove and Stay Calm showed good pace. Many hours spent on the water and a top class crew paid off for Ran who eventually took the gun.

Ran continued to dominate in the last race of the day which was a re-sail of the abandoned race at the end of Day Two. The wind had dropped to about nine knots and continued as shifty as it had been all weekend. Ran continued to play the shifts to extend their lead over the competition. Rio and Stay Calm were second and third respectively but some distance behind Ran who made it five wins out of eight to take the big boat national title.

In Class Zero, there were several restarts in Race 7 and, eventually, two boats fell foul of the Z Flag penalty - Gery Trentesaux’s First 45, Lady Courrier and, sensationally, class leader Anthony O’Leary’s Ker 39, Antix Eile.

Meanwhile Belgian, Francois Goubau’s First 47.7, Moana, revelled in the heavier airs, winning her first race of the championship with Tony Buckingham’s IRC 40, Ngoni second. John Shepherd’s Kerr 46, Fair Do’s VII was just behind in third, but with Antix Eile’s Z flag penalty taken into consideration Fair Do’s was now winning the class with one race to go.

Race 8 was won by Lady Courrier, a great comeback after the disappointment of the previous race. Antix Eile was second and Tim Costello’s brand new Mills 43 finally got a podium finish with a third place. Fair Do’s VII was in equal fourth place and did enough to secure a class and “psychological” win over their arch rivals for the forthcoming Rolex Commodores’ Cup.

Class One was also subject to several restarts and eventually the fleet got away in Race seven with three boats taking a Z Flag penalty. Dramatically the class leader, Eamon Rohan’s Mills 40, Blondie IV was scored OCS. Connor & Denise Phelan’s Ker 36, Jump Juice, took full advantage with a win. The Army Sailing Association’s Archambault 40, British Soldier, showed electric pace, especially upwind and scored a second with Bernard Moureau’s Archambault 40, Aria in third.

Although Aria won the last race in Class One, it was a Jump Juice that scored a crucial second place to win the class. Blondie IV could only manage a fourth. Such was the level of competition in Class one Blondie IV made just one slip up in the entire regatta but it cost them the title.

The Class Two fleet had a long wait to get away due to the large number of restarts in the other classes. They then added to the wait with two more general recalls of their own. They got away third time lucky, but with no less than six boats receiving a Z Flag penalty. Steve Northmore’s Archambault 35, Waterjet has improved all regatta and came out on top in Race 7, Eamon and Alan Crosbie’s Teng Tools (Voodoo Chile) was in second place and Peter Rutter continued to impress in third. The real story here was David Nixon in his Corby 36, Rosie who decided to race sistership Quokka 7 off the course to settle the class win. Skipper David Dixon admitted they got themselves in a real mess.

“We thought there was only going to be one race today and we decided to sail Quokka to the back of the fleet. But it all went badly wrong for us and fair play to Quokka, they sailed smartly and got out of the trap.”

So, the pendulum swung towards a class win for Peter Rutter’s Corby 36, Quokka 7. In the last race, Jamie McWilliam’s J/109, Yeoman of Wight, won by a comfortable margin and it would have been two “bullets” today for the team from Hong Kong, if it had not been for a Z Flag penalty in Race 7. Quokka 7 had a shocker, managing only seventh when they had the Class win within grasp. In the end, David Nixon’s team from Howth on Rosie hung on for a class win, a big relief for them after the shenanigans of Race 7.

For full results, click here Team

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