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Tight Battles at 420 Dinghy Connaught Championships at Lough Ree Yacht Club

1st September 2020
420 Connaughts 2020 at Lough Ree - preparing to launch on Sunday morning 420 Connaughts 2020 at Lough Ree - preparing to launch on Sunday morning

Following hot on the heels of the Irish 420 National Championships held in Dunmore East the Connaught Championships were held last weekend at Lough Ree Yacht Club as part of the clubs Double Ree regatta celebrating double-handed youth sailing. The adrenalin rush of the open seas and big waves was replaced with two contrasting days of excellent lake sailing. Home advantage lay with the Lough Ree Yacht Club crews who had claimed both the Gold and Silver fleet honours at the nationals with some dominant displays. But this event featured contrasting results to the National Championships where Graf/Farrell previously had such a dominant display, Lough Ree, in contrast, produced five different race winners across the six-race starts.

2020 Connaught Championships - Winners of Gold Fleet - Jack McDowell of Malahide Yacht Club and Harry Thompson of Wexford Harbour Sailing Club2020 Connaught Championships - Winners of Gold Fleet - Jack McDowell of Malahide Yacht Club and Harry Thompson of Wexford Harbour Sailing Club

2nd place Gold Fleet - Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell of Lough Ree Yacht Club2nd place Gold Fleet - Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell of Lough Ree Yacht Club

3rd place Gold Fleet - Harry Shackelton and Cara McDowell of Malahide Yacht Club3rd place Gold Fleet - Harry Shackelton and Cara McDowell of Malahide Yacht Club

Saturday delivered a moderate breeze with winds strength ranging from the low teens into the low twenties blowing down the length of the lake from the north. The choppy lake waves provided a new challenge in contrast to the rollers at Dunmore east the previous week. The Race Officer David Dickson was able to run three excellent races before calling a halt to proceedings with Graf/Farrell holding a one-point lead over Rickard/Pank who held a further two-point lead over McDowell/Thompson in third. Each crew had one race win with the leader board looking like a game of snakes and ladders through the day, but Graf/Alexander were the more consistent crew on the day allowing them to hold the overnight lead.

Sunday dawned with clear blue skies and not a breath of wind as the sailors prepared for an early start. A light lake breeze soon settled in time for racing to commence. The light shifty breeze give the sailors plenty to think and the first race on day two went to McDowell/Thompson parachuting them into the lead temporarily. The next two races say two new race winners with race five won by a country mile by Leech/Paul and race six won by Shackelton/McDowell. Leader positions in both fleets changed frequently but the more consistent performance of Graf/Farrell and McDowell/Thompson saw both crews etch out a small advantage over the rest of the fleet. The pair were separated by half a boat length at the finish of race five handing the advantage to the Graf/Farrell crew heading into the last race. Shackelton/McDowell took the early lead of race 6 with Graf/Farrell tucked in with the leading boats and McDowell/Thompson trailing in 7th place. Steady improvements up the fleet during the race say McDowell/Thompson reach the top of the final beat just behind Graf/Farrell who had the misfortune to get a twist in their spinnaker in the reach across the top of the trapezoid course. With the spinnaker problems ironed out a game of cat and mouse began down the final leg towards the leeward mark before the final turn for home and a reach to the finish where the winners crossed the finish line a sweaty palm one boat length ahead of the Graf/Farrell team. The winning crew of McDowell/Thompson got the title on a tie break with a score of 10pts. Positions three to five were separated by only one point with Shackelton/McDowell in third on 16pts and Richard/Pank plus Leech/Paul both on 17pts.

The podium for the silver fleet saw new names stepping up to take first and third-place positions. McMullan/Smyth took the title with McGrady/O’Sullivan in third and second place again going to Hauer/Micka as they did in the nationals the previous week.

Winners of Silver Fleet - Sam McMullan and Daniel Smyth of Lough Ree Yacht ClubWinners of Silver Fleet - Sam McMullan and Daniel Smyth of Lough Ree Yacht Club

2nd place Silver Fleet - Imogen Hauer and Hugo Micka of Malahide Yacht Club2nd place Silver Fleet - Imogen Hauer and Hugo Micka of Malahide Yacht Club

3rd place Silver Fleet - Adam McGrady and Aly O'Sullivan of Galway Bay Sailing Club3rd place Silver Fleet - Adam McGrady and Aly O'Sullivan of Galway Bay Sailing Club

Gold fleet

1st Place Gold Fleet – Jack McDowell, Malahide Yacht Club & Harry Thompson, Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club.

2nd Place Gold Fleet – Ben Graf & Alexander Farrell, Lough Ree Yacht Club

3rd Place Gold Fleet– Harry Shackelton and Cara McDowell, Malahide Yacht Club

Silver fleet

1st Place Silver Fleet – Sam McMullan & Daniel Smyth, Lough Ree Yacht Club

2nd Place Silver Fleet – Imogen Hauer & Hugo Micka, Malahide Yacht Club

3rd Place Silver Fleet – Adam McGrady & Ally O’Sullivan, Galway Bay Sailing Club

Published in 420
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At A Glance – 420 Dinghy Specifications

Crew 2
Type Monohull
Design One-Design
Construction GRP
Rig Bermuda
Keel Centerboard
Trapeze Single
LOA 4.2 metres (13 ft 9 in)
Beam 1.63 metres (5 ft 4 in)
Draft 0.965 metres (3 ft 2.0 in)
Hull weight 80 kilograms (180 lb)
Mast height 6.26 metres (20 ft 6 in)
Main & Jib area 10.25 square metres (110.3 sq ft) [1]
Mainsail area 7.45 square metres (80.2 sq ft)
Jib / Genoa area 2.8 square metres (30 sq ft)
Spinnaker area 8.83 square metres (95.0 sq ft)

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