#cruiserracing – The Irish Cruiser-Racing Association had a weekend to celebrate after its three day Teng Tools Nationals at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire from Friday June 13th to Sunday June 15th writes W M Nixon.
The mood afterwards was buoyant to the point of exuberance despite losing an entire day's sailing with complete calm throughout what should have been the peak-hitting Saturday. Yet thanks the crisp race management, and the extraordinary machine which is Dublin Bay race administration on top of its form, they zapped through the complete programme in a light to moderate southeast breeze on the Friday, and then took full advantage of gentle but viable onshore breezes on the Sunday to provide a full championship with a very valid set of results.
Lesser souls might well have despaired at the virtually flat wind gradient, but this was a fleet determined to have sport. With 115 boats in six classes, it hugely outshone the British ICRA Nationals taking place in the Solent at the same time, where they mustered just 45 boats in four classes. And even there, it all added to ICRA's lustre, as the winner was Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix, flagship for ICRA's Commodore's Cup challenge for Ireland next month.
As for the setting for the Irish championship, the hosting Royal Irish Yacht Club was the essence of hospitality, with Commodore James Horan leading his members in making the visitors more than welcome, while the summertime atmosphere each night in the classic clubhouse was an experience to be savoured. And the club itself fielded a remarkably good turnout of members' boats, including the overall winner, Jonathan Skerritt's Quarter Tonner Quest.
Vintage boat aficionados will pay prick up their ears at this news of the supreme champion. Quest is no Spring chicken. She was designed mostly by Marcus Hutchinson in the Rob Humphreys office in Lymington in 1987 for Justin Burke of the National YC, and with Gordon Maguire at the helm, she placed second in the 1987 Quarter Ton Worlds in Cork.
The 27-year-old Quarter Tonner Quest (Jonathan Skerritt) from the host club provided a popular overall winner. Photo: David O’Brien
With Barry Cunningham helming for Jonathan Skerritt during the ICRA Nats, and the crew including Alan Crosbie of Teng Tools, the sweet little Quest saw off the formidable challenge in Class 3 of the Kenefick clan in Tiger, racing in Dublin Bay as Nathan Kirwan Trust.
The overall win for Quest made it a remarkable regatta for classic Rob Humphreys boats. The all-conquering Humphreys Half Tonner Checkmate V of Nigel Biggs (RStGYC) notched yet another win in Class 2, her closest challenger being the Evans brothers from Howth with their near sister-ship The Big Picture, which has been up-graded in Alan Power's workshop in Malahide with a ton of helpful information from the Checkmate squad.
Nigel Biggs’ vintage Humphreys Half Tonner Checkmate XV has had lots of TLC lavished on her, and it shows in her appearance and performance. Photo: David O’Brien
Although the Keneficks may have had their campaign from Crosshaven pipped by Quest, in the big boat classes it was Royal Cork all the way. The J/109s set the pace in Class 1, and after the first day it looked to be going the way of Mark Mansfield helming John Maybury's Joker II. But the joke was on Joker on the Sunday, when Ian Nagle's Jelly Baby made a mighty leap to the top with the owner on the helm and Killian Collins calling the shots.
The Division 0 winning Ker 37 Jump Juice (Denise Phelan, RCYC) still looks bang up to date after several years of racing. Photo: David O’Brien
Class 0 was Jump Juice rampant. This superb Ker 37 still looks state-of-the-art, and with Conor Phelan doing the driving and David Rose calling the shots, the Juice showed an almost uncanny ability to claw her way out of setbacks on the rare occasions when things hadn't gone right, but most of the time she was so out on her own that she emerged at the end of the series ten points clear of runner-up WOW, the Farr 42 of George Sisk, RIYC.
At the other end of the fleet in size, Div 4 was won by the Sonata Asterix (Boushel, Coonihan & Meredith), while the two non-spinnaker Corinthian classes were in their own happy little world, a sort of waterborne croquet, with Paul Tully's Elan 33 White Lotus taking Div 5 while the Club Shamrock Demelza (Windsor Laudan & Steffi Ennis, Howth) swept the board in Div 6 with five wins and four bullets.
ICRA's Barry Rose of Cork, who will be team manager for the Commodore's Cup next month, was more than happy with the regatta: "For sure, most of the boats in the fleet weren't in the first flush of youth. But people are moving on from the worst of the recession, and making the best of what they've got. They're going sailing, they're sailing well, and that's what matters".
Before the Commodore's Cup, he'll be racing Cork Week with his daughter Judy McGrath on her family cruiser-racer Bonanza, a much-loved Impala 28. "We'll be racing with a roller-furling genoa", says Rose, "but you can be absolutely certain we'll give it our very best shot. The sport is going to be better than ever".
Exemple needed more wind to defend her 2013 title, and had to be content with 5th in Division 1. Photo: David O’Brien
Rob O’Connell’s A35 Fools Gold from Dunmore East in a close tussle in Division 1 with John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II (RIYC) helmed by Mark Mansfield (RCYC). Joker II placed 3rd overall, while Fools Gold was 4th in a class of 26. Photo: David O’Brien
Peter Dunlop of Pwllheli SC was racing his J/109 Mojito (9047) in Division 1 against the XP 33 Bon Exemple (X Yachts UK/Colin Byrne RIYC), which was overall winner of the ICRA Nats 2013 in Tralee Bay. In Dublin Bay, they placed 15th and 5th respectively. Photo: David O’Brien
Slack Alice (Shane Statham & Trudi O’Leary) is a veteran GK 34 from Dunmore East, placing 7th out of 23 boats in Division 2. Photo: David O’Brien
Now there’s a neat start. Division 1 gets cleanly away on Sunday, with Bon Exemple (nearest camera) successfully seeking clear air at the pin end. Photo: David O’Brien
Summer night at the Royal Irish YC. The world’s oldest complete purpose-designed yacht club building provided an ideal setting for the après sailing at the ICRA Nats 2014. Photo: W M Nixon
ICRA NATS 2014 RESULTS (IRC)
Division 0: 1st Jump Juice (Ker 37, Denise Phelan, Royal Cork YC) 8pts; 2nd WOW (Farr 42, George Sisk, Royal Irish YC) 18; 3rd Roxstar (XP 38i, Finlay & Anderson, Clyde Cr C) 19; 4th First Forty Licks (First 40, Jay Colville, East Down YC) 32 (11 raced).
Division 1: 1st Jelly Baby (J/109, Ian Nagle, RCYC) 15; 2nd Rockabill V (Corby 33, Paul O'Higgins, RIYC) 24; 3rd Joker II (J/109, John Maybury, RIYC) 25, 4th Fools Gold (Robert McConnell, Waterford Harbour SC) 35.5, 5th Bon Exemple (XP 33, X-Yachts UK/Colin Byrne, RIYC) 36. (26 raced)
Division 2: 1st Checkmate XV (Humphreys Half Tonner, Nigel Biggs, Royal St George YC) 9; 2nd The Big Picture (Mg30, Richard & Michael Evans, Howth YC) 20; 3rd Fusion (Corby 25, R Colwell & B Cobbe, HYC) 22; 4th Movistar Bleu (Elan 333, Raymond Killops, Killyleagh YC) 28, 5th Dux (X 302, Anthony Gore-Grimes, HYC) 30 (23 raced).
Division 3: 1st (and Overall Winner) Quest (Humphreys Quarter Tonner, Cunningham & Skerritt, RIYC) 7; 2nd Nathan Kirwan Trust (Quarter Tonner, George Kenfick, RCYC) 19; 3rd Hard on Port (J/24, Flor O'Driscoll, RStGYC) 20, 4th Hamilton Bear (J/24, Stefan Hyde, RCYC) 25, 5th White Mischief (Sigma 33, Tim Goodbody, RIYC) 30 (19 raced).
Division 4: 1st Asterix (Hunter Sonata, Boushel, Coonihan & Meredith, DL Marina) 6, 2nd Chousikou (First 28, Declan Ward, DL Marina) 9.
Division 5: (Non-spinnaker) 1st White Lotus (Elan 33, Paul Tully, DL Marina) Div 6 (Non-spinnaker) 1st Demelza (Windsor Laudan & Steffi Ennis, HYC) (19 raced).