British National Champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner of Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club have taken an early lead in the Subaru Flying Fifteen World Championships at Dun Laoghaire today.
British boats took the top five places in the single race sailed in blustery north-westerlies on Dublin Bay that gusted up to 20 knots.
The top Irish finisher in the opening race was The Gruffalo sailed by Ian Mathews and Keith Poole of the host club who were second round the first weather mark and finished in eighth place.
The first day of the World Championship was raced in a gnarly offshore NW breeze. At midday, there were gusts of 28+ knots on the race course and white water so PRO Jack Roy had to be patient holding the fleet ashore. By 1500 hrs the wind had abated enough to send the fleet out for one race for the day.
A slightly reduced fleet of 70 boats representing 9 countries from headed out in overcast conditions for a 1600 hrs start. By the time the course was set the wind had reduced to around 15 - 18 knots with some feisty gusts. PRO Jack Roy set a two-lap windward/leeward course.
The first start was a general recall but competitors had been warned that the tide was underneath them and they could be carried over the line if they were not cau-tious. The second go under U flag was a lot more orderly.
The majority of the fleet headed out to the right (offshore) on the 0.9nm leg to the top mark. Rounding in the lead was the Anglo-Irish crew of Charles Apthorp and Alan Green representing Hayling Island SC, followed by local Irish boat ‘The Gruffalo’ sailed by Ian Mathews and Keith Poole.
On the first run downwind the lead pack split gybes and Graham Vials and Chris Turner (Ovington Boats) from Derwent Reservoir, surged down in a fast lane to close off the three lead boats and round the bottom gate in the lead. Apthorp and Green and Mathews and Poole rounded in tandem behind. A pack of British boats were closing down on the leaders split up by Australians Mike Hart and Dean McAullay, representing the Royal Freshwater Bay YC in Perth.
Some meaty gusts claimed a few victims with several boats suffering some damage. One boat capsized with a spinnaker halyard wrapped round their stays and a few victims of the choppy waters returned to Dun Laoghaire harbour full of water.
The shorter second lap was more a case of Vials and Turner covering their opposition to the finish to record their first winning gun of the championship claiming the Dixon Trophy.
Graham Vials (GBR) sums up the first day of the regatta:
“It was a relief to finally get sailing really, it was breezy as it has been for the practice event. We rounded in good shape, about 8th around the first mark and spotted some pressure on the run so we were the first to gybe and we had a nice lane by ourselves and could concentrate on going fast. The tricky thing out there was the chop, it was hard to get over the waves so we were able to power through to go from 8th to 1st by the bottom gate of the first leg. The second lap was just a job of consolidating and making sure we just bring it home and be first in the shower back at the club.”
There was a bit of a shuffle of the lead pack down the second run. Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado of Hyde Sails worked up to snatch second place on the final upwind leg to the finish. Taking third was current European Champions Hamish Mac-kay and Andrew Lawson from Royal Thames Yacht Club.
Charles Apthorp and Alan Green just snuck around the finish pin to finish a very bankable fourth and Andy McKee and Richard Jones (Dovestone SC) made it a British top 5. Hart and McAullay of Australia finished in 6th and a great result of 8th for the local National Yacht Club boat sailed by Ian Mathews and Keith Poole.
Four boats from Hong Kong had a tough time getting to the event with their con-tainer of boats impounded in customs for a few days but alas arrived in time to compete. Of those Barry Hayes and Helen Selden sailing a HKG flagged boat ‘Hakuna Katoa Katika’ under the burgee of the Royal Irish YC, sailed a great race to finish in 9th.
More good performances by the Irish boats include a very credible 13th for Gavin Doyle and Dave Sweeney from the National YC and 14th for Lee Statham and An-drew Paul from Waterford Harbour SC.
Ian Mathews (IRL) was happy with his opening race (8th):
“We had a good start, stayed away from the fleet in clear air down the line towards the pin and went initially left. Then we tacked across and went round the weather mark in second. Down the run the other guys came from left and right, we took the rhumb line, caught a few waves and we managed to round the gate in 3rd. We were delighted just to hold it, we lost a few spots on the final leg but to finish 8th we are very happy with that.”
The start time for racing on day 2 of the championship (Saturday) has been brought forward to 1055 hrs local time Dublin, to try to make use of a good forecast for breeze which is due to drop later in the afternoon.
Results are here