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Strangford Locals Win Flying Fifteen Irish Title By a Single Point

24th August 2014
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Flying Fifteen champions Andrew McCleery and Colin Dougan
Strangford Locals Win Flying Fifteen Irish Title By a Single Point

#flyingfifteen – Strangford locals Andy McCleery and Colin Dougan won the 2014 Flying Fifteen Irish title at Portaferry Sailing club today by a single point but it was not until the final race of the six race series did the Killyleagh duo clinch the keelboat cup. Overall results are downloadable below as a jpeg file.

Dublin Bay's David Gorman and Chris Doorly made the best of Strangford's fickle north–westerlies on Saturday with some consistent sailing to be overnight leaders after four races.

Local skippers Peter Lawson and Brian McKee also proved consistent in races that featured forty degree windshifts or more and were in Sunday's shake–up for the top spot in one of Ireland's leading one design classes.

As it turned out, McCleery and Dougan took two final race wins on Sunday, enough it turned out to take the title North from Dun Laoghaire holders Ian Mathews and Keith Poole who finished 19th.

Going into Race 6, it was to be winner takes all between Dun Laoghaire pairing Dave Gorman & Chris Doorly (NYC) and local Killyleagh boys Andrew McCleery & Colin Dougan (KYC). After a long weekend of sailing in a variety of conditions tensions were high in the prestart, after a bit of cat and mouse the gun went with both boats close to the pin end but McCleery was to weather- general recal! All to do again now with a black flag up. The wind had shifted slightly to the right and Gorman had a good start at the committee boat end, this also gave him the option of taking off in the shifts, McCleery was down the line below him. McCleery came across to the right and did a few tacks up the middle but was covered by Gorman. Other boats went out to the left and to the right but it was the middle that actually paid with local Portaferry man Seamus Byers leading at the weather mark with Gorman second, Logan third and McCleery fourth. Gorman got held up at the gybe mark and eventually got over Byers to move into the lead as McCleery moved into second place on the reach, it was now the top two fighting it out at the front!

On the next beat both went to the right out of the strong tide, tack for tack Gorman covered and stayed ahead going down the run. Into the last beat, still the cover was on but it was close as Gorman was only a few boat lengths to weather but it was enough for now. Within 100 meters of the weather mark both tacked out to the apparently stronger wind, the wind pressure was very up and down on this beat, there were local gusts and patchy light areas. Suddenly there was a big knock and McCleery tacked to be above Gorman, opportunity taken! Rounding the weather mark it was McCleerys red and white spinnaker first with Gorman just a boat length behind, around the gybe mark Gorman was to weather, there was still a chance if he could get inside at the leeward mark but alas it wasn't to be, McCleery crossed the line to take the gun and the trophy in dramatic circumstances. It was their first time winning this trophy after many years getting very close and they were deserving winners. Previous winners Gorman & Doorly live to fight another day.

Further back the Lawsons were having a similar dual with McKee and it was the Lawsons who came third in race 6 and third in the regatta. David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (NYC) also had a great event and won the Silver fleet.

Race 1 was sailed on Friday with 29 boats at the start line, a windward leeward course was a strange affair, with the winds from the NW, the tide was going in and out at the same time depending where you were! Shortly after the start the winds died, those on the right with the tide with them seemed to be cleaning up, what to do? Some cut their loses and tried to get over but to no avail and were spat out the back door, others on the left just stayed and hoped something would come. To make matters worse it was very difficult to actually see the weather mark. The breeze came along the shore after a long wait, Gorman was in a good position with the Meagher but local boys Logan and Lawson got closest to the shore and got the wind and to the weather mark first. It stayed Logan first, Lawson second, Gorman third, McCleery fourth and the Meaghers fifth.

Race 2 on Saturday also had winds from the NW. Gorman got a good start and tacked out to the strong tide, taking some good shifts he built up a good lead from McCleery and Lawson. This is how it stayed till the last beat, dark menacing clouds were looming and the sea was getting rough. Most boats were out on the right but McKee and Lavery went left towards the Killyleagh shore. Gorman arrived at the weather mark after increasing his lead over McCleery, to strong winds and heavy rain. On the reach the visibility was poor and the mark couldn't be seen, the spinnaker was up and it was a full plane down, finding the gybe mark it was a reach to the finish to take the gun. McKee was second with Lavery third and McCleery fourth. It was a long way back to the others as the localised stormed had passed through and they drifted slowly to the finish line.

Race 3 was close, Gorman and McCleery were at the weather mark but McCleery jybed just before the wing mark to get inside and lead, there was no hurry for Gorman as there were still two laps to go. At the leeward mark the winds were light and to the surprise of all the course was shortened so it finished with McCleery first, Gorman a close second, the Meaghers a fantastic third and brother and sister act Peter and Jo Lawson fourth.

Race 4 the winds had settled or so we thought. After a great start Shane McCarthy got his nose in front and stayed there, up the first beat McCleery was second but Gorman had gone left and suffered coming into the weather mark in about tenth position. Down the run not a lot change but on the next beat many boats went left, strange as it didn't pay on the first beat. Shane covered them all but Lawson and Gorman went right and after a while the wind shifted to lift them up to the mark ahead of all those on the left! Shane won, followed by McKee. Lawson, Gorman and the Meaghers.
So overnight it was Gorman leading from McCleery and Lawson on equal points with the Meaghers and McKee tied in fourth place. A great meal was put on by the club that night and tales of an interesting day on the Lough were exchanged into the early hours.

What would Sunday bring, nothing in Strangford Lough is straight forward and anything could happen. The forecast was for little or no wind and that was the case for the morning but it was to fill in from the SE later. After arriving at the race area assisted only by the tide the wind did come in and the PRO soon got Race 5 going with a windward/ leeward course. McCleery hit the left side and got into a quick lead followed by Shane McCarthy and then Gorman. The wind was steady but there were small shifts, on lap two Gorman went out left and into the tide, quickly they went back but McKee and Willis had slipped through. This was how it stayed. McCleery and Gorman were both on 10 points going into the last race.

There is always a great welcome at Portaferry Sailing Club, many thanks to the members and volenteers for making a success of the event. Also thanks to the PRO and his team on managing the event in difficult conditions and getting a full programme of races in. Congratulation to Andrew and Colin on winning.

Published in Flying Fifteen
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Flying Fifteen - At A Glance

Overall Length 20 ft6.1 m

Waterline Length 15 ft4.6 m

Mast Height 22 ft 6 in6.86 m

Sail Area 150 sq ft14 sqm

Spinnaker Area 140 sq ft13 sqm

Hull Weight 300 lb136 kg

Keel Weight 400 lb169 kg

Minimum Weight 685 lb305 kg

Racing Crew Two

Ideal Crew Range 18 - 28 st145 - 185 kg

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