#matchracing – The Champion vs the Pretender. The King vs the Prince. On paper the match between Peter Baylys Team Top Gun (Peter Bayly, Richie Murphy, Ian McNamee and Paddy Blackley) and Graham Barkers Whitefire Racing (Graham Barker, Ryan Scott, Sam O'Byrne, Luke Malcolm and Shane Diviney) looked to be a matchup between the nouse of Bayly for the champions and the exuberance of Ryan Scott at the helm of the challenger. The better prepared Whitefire Racings chance was to take it to the Bayly from the off, while the longer the match went on the more the champions would begin to find their groove.
In practice giving up 45kg in crew weight in the brisk 17-20kt open water conditions in Howth left the champions without their predicted ace and the sharper boat handling of Whitefire and prestart of Scott prevailed 3-0.
That Team Top Gun haven't match raced competitively since winning the title as the Royal St George Gladiators in 2011, whereas Scott and the DUC Sailing Team that made up Whitefire Racings crew, have been active for the last 18 months became immediately apparent. In race one Top Gun took a soft port/starboard penalty during circling in the prestart and, although given opportunity to pull away at the top of the first beat, never managed to open enough of a gap to take their turn before the finish loomed.
The second race began with Top Gun opting for the favoured pin end but seeding the power of the right. When Bayly chose to tack and duck before the layline and Scott took the opportunity to slam dunk the extra power and weight of the Whitefire Racing crew became apparent. Despite the entire crew hanging off sheets and bottle screws Top Gun couldn't get any bow forward and the challengers took control of the series 2-0.
A failed attempt to cross in prestart left Scott with a penalty and with a better round up off the start and power of the right the fight back from the Champion looked to be on. But as the breeze picked up to 20kts the challenges upwind advantage told and they managed take the starboard approach at the windward mark and lead the race, extending far enough by the finish to clear their penalty.
In the end a 3-0 win for Barker fairly reflected the difference between the crews with small advantages in all areas adding up to make Whitefire Racing the new Irish National Match Racing Champions.
The event gave rise to discussion on holding regular Friday night match racing at HYC. More news on that as we have it.