John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II (RIYC) put in a cracker of a start in the opening two races of the ICRA Nats at Royal Cork this afternoon with a couple of straight bullets in IRC 1 writes W M Nixon. The word is that with all sorts of meteorological mayhem threatening, PROs Jack Roy and Peter Crowley made sure that two good races were in the pot before the first day’s sailing ended. So although a blanket of increasingly heavy rain was spreading across by late afternoon, there was no question of rain stopping play in good sailing conditions in an onshore breeze.
Rob McConnell of Dunmore East with the A35 Fool’s Gold was next best. He’d a 2nd and 3rd, while Ronan Harris’s J/109 Jigamaree got onto the podium once with a second to go with her fifth in the first race and finish the day lying third overall.
IRC 2 saw Jonny Swann in tune with Harmony, the classic Half Tonner notching a 1st and 4th to put her ahead of Ross McDonald’s veteran X-332 Equinox which came in on a 2nd and 3rd, with the other win going to ICRA Nats organizer Paul Tingle who campaigns the X34 Alpaca with his wife Deirdre. A fifth in the first race was enough to have them lying third overall at day’s end.
With Howth boats taking first and second in IRC 2, IRC 3 had to come up with something similar to underline the Dublin eastside club’s new lease of life. However, Crosshaven skipper Paul Gibbons decided otherwise, taking two wins with his Quarter Tonner Anchor Challenge, while the Howth men had to be content with two seconds for Robert Colwell’s Corby 25 Fusion to be second overall, and two thirds for Anthony Gore-grimes X-302 Dux.
Local boy gone abroad Flor O’Driscoll came home to show consistency with two seconds in his J/24 Hard On Port in IRC 4 to lead overall. In fact it was J/24s all the way down to seventh place in this class, which tells us something about the enduring appeal of the Rod Johnstone classic. Darragh McCormack finished second overall, while Mark Usher was third.
Non-spinnaker A/IRC was won by the Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo (Denis & AnneMarie Murphy) with a couple of J/80s – Rioja and Jedi - in second and third overall, which you’ll have to agree was a bizarre mixture of boat sizes. However, things were more normal in IRC B Non-Spinnaker where Clodagh O’Donovan’s Beneteau 35s5 Roaring Forties notched a 2nd and first to keep her ahead overall of Pat Vaughan’s Contessa 33 Aramis and Tom McCarthy’s Impala 28 Whistlin’ Dixie.
Certain well-known boats of high reputation were undoubtedly out there racing with great expectations which weren’t fulfilled on the day, but we’ll spare their blushes for the moment as everyone waits in wonder to see how the determined race managers will cope tomorrow with a very mixed weather pattern.
Link to Bob Bateman's day one photo gallery here
Day one results below:
All seven divisions had a full schedule of races on the opening day of the ICRA National Championships on Cork Harbour this afternoon with close racing and surprises in several fleets. Of three defending champions present, just one is currently on course to retain a title.
ICRA Boat of the Year and defending Division 1 champion Joker 2 skippered by John Maybury of the Royal Irish Yacht Club is set fair for a hat-trick this weekend after winning both yesterday's races under IRC while also leading under Progressive ECHO.
Division 1 shared a start with Class Zero where defending champion Conor Phelan from the RCYC went head to head match-race style with Tony Ackland's Dark Angel from Swansea. The visitor gained the upper hand in race one, winning the first shift and covering the local boat around the cans inside Cork Harbour.
Phelan's crew led on the water in race two but were unable to open sufficient separation in another close race and the visitor took two bullets for the day on IRC.
The lighter conditions south of Roche's Point for the other divisions saw David Cullen's Checkmate XV slip to fifth overall on IRC handicap placing his title defence under pressure. Jonny Swan's Harmony, another Half-tonner from Howth YC leads the division on both IRC and Progressive ECHO but this eight strong fleet is tight with just a three point spread from first to fifth places.
If racing can be held in the weekend's forecast high winds, Cullen may yet find the edge to retain his title.
Paul Gibbons Anchor Challenge leads Division 3 overall, both on IRC and ECHO after two solid wins yesterday leaving Howth's Richard Colwell's Fusion and Anthony Gore-Grimes' Dux to hold both runner-up places, split on tie-break at the front of the ten boat division.
Former national champion Flor O'Driscoll with Hard On Port from the Royal St. George YC is proving hard to dislodge from his favourite status in Division 4 where J24 footers hold the top seven places under IRC handicap. Racing in ten knots off Roche's Point saw the Cobh sailor prove the worth of consistency with two second places for the day while Foynes Daragh McCormack with his newly acquired Stouche is looking like his main challenger after finding form with a win in the second race of the day.
Amongst the White Sails fleets, Denis and Anne-Marie Murphys' Nieulargo, a Grand Soleil 40 tops the A-fleet ahead of a pair of J80's while Clodagh O'Donavan's Roaring Forties, a Beneteau 35s5 leads the B fleet, both on ECHO handicap.
Meanwhile, Principal Race Officers Jack Roy and Peter Crowley are expected to wait until Saturday morning before making a decision on racing for the day in light of the the Near-Gale conditions forecast. If racing off Roche's Point is untenable, there may be an option to sail some or all of the divisions inside Cork Harbour.