Nearly 30 sailors attended the joint 420 and Fireball Ulster Championships last weekend with a mixture of conditions to test out the sailors writes Mark Mackey. Most of the visitors travelled up from Cork and Dublin to compete in the two different classes – both are double handed dinghies with a single trapeze wire for the crew, but there the similarities end.
The 420 is a rounded more plastic style mini version of the 470 class which is sailed at the Olympic Games by both male and female crews. The 420 is used as a youth pathway class and many of the teenage sailors had already visited Ballyholme over Easter at the ISA Youth Championhips. All-girl crews dominated the event despite the strong winds on Saturday, occupying the first 3 places overall. It was great to see local sailor Adam Lockart getting a run out having struggled to find a regular crew – Daniel Thompson from Wexford Harbour helped out this weekend.
The Fireball is a much sleeker craft orginially built in wood – in fact many were built in the Ballyholme chnaging rooms over the winters back in the 1970's. These days they are glass-fibre with lots of controls and tweaks to be made whilst racing. As opposed to the teenage crews of the 420's, the Fireball attract the older generation with many of the sailors well into their 60's and some their 80's – a marvellous example of the length of time that people can continue to compete and enjoy sailing. These are not sedentiary boats however with big mainsails that power them up to speeds that are only surpassed by the Olympic skiffs and multihull dinghy classes. See Fireball class report here.
After Saturday's breeze and lumpy seas, the sunshine came out for Sundays races with a light 5-8 knot breeze and flat water. A range of conditions is always useful to test out the best sailors who still manage to excel no matter what they are faced with. Malahide's Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher followed their second place 2 weeks ago with top of the podium in the 420 class, while Noel Butler and Stephen Oram are no strangers to the top of the Fireball fleet either. Both classes gave their thanks to the club, sponsor P&O Ferries and Race Officer Robin Gray.
1st Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher, Malahide YC
2nd Grace O'Beirne and Kathy Kelly, Royal St George YC
3rd Nicola and Fiona Ferguson National YC