As ever Rosses Point in Sligo was a beautiful spot to arrive to bright and early Saturday morning. Some may have been up at an ungodly hour, but it's well worth it to come to the top of the hill and look down on a line of peeling surf, a clear sky and a strong breeze.
Race officer Gus Henry had us out early because he had four races to run off each day, two for the Open in the mornings and two for the Youths in the afternoon.
Once a year owners lend their most precious possession to sailors under the age of 23, the hope being they might get a gra for what we do. How could you not when it's blowing like that ?!
First race Saturday morning set off in a good breeze, nice square line, and enough room so we could all get away nice and clean. Steven and Jonnie looked to put the gold fleet to the sword and bet on the right hand side in emphatic style,no doubt what they thought would work. Having worked our way up the middle I'd like to think that they made that side look a lot better than it was just because they eat up the beats in a breeze. Those that had heavily split to the left came in looking just as good. As always if you could hook into a gust on the reach, you might just hold on to it and escape, and it seemed to be a feature of the day ,as ever, that a little bit of luck might put you in the path of something the others might not get.
The second beat found the leading boat having to try and cover a heavy right/ left split from the four closest pursuers ( guess which way Steven went ! ). But again, there wasn't much in it.
Some crews struggled a bit on the beats, and some even fell out but if they could hold even a slim gap, they would usually escape down the reach to set themselves a wee cushion. Coming down the final run the leader was going to need it. Paddy and Tania survived a late surge from the chasing pack to record a fine race win. Ah, the sound of gun...such a glorious thing....
Race two and the Race Officer raised the Black Flag, he had no intention of pissing about wasting time. This made some of us a little nervous and I know a bo.at that was very gun shy, Dessie and Keith however happily set off on Port at high speed and only one boat pushed them back into the middle of the course.Dashing their dream of owning the right hand side, and what they belived might have been eternal glory. It wouldn't have been. Niall with Oisin back in the boat, popped around the top in a good position having worked their way up the left late in the beat and set about reminding the fleet how good they can be. But they had the previous race winner and a few others besides to contend with. A fast reach, an exchange of opinions at the gybe, a climb on the next leg, no-one quite brave enough to go straight and risk others coming over the top ,the only real decisions came at the leeward mark. Paddy and Tania went left, and gained massively putting them right in contention, they protected their lead aggresivley down the final run, forcing a penalty on one of the competition, and in the process nearly losing 3, 4,5, and 6 who were nose to tail down the other side of the course and going faster. But they popped around the bottom just ahead and held on to record another bullet. Ha, who needs a six time National Champion in the front of the boat when you've got Tania !
Next up the Youths who were to bear the brunt of a strenghthing breeze, bits started breaking off boats and quite a lot of swimming interspersed a game of follow my leader, when someone took them all off on the wrong course....The RO gamely set them up for another one in the strongest breeze of the day. They all came ashore with grins on their faces , Especially Dan Gill who won the only Race.
A great feed was enjoyed in the Sligo Yacht Club , and a few dice were rolled to decide the fate of a nice new GOACHER spinnaker sponsored by the Grangecon Café in Blessington .
The spinnaker was a reward for those owners who had kindly lent their boats to juniors, thank you to all of you.
Next up the Hot Toddy in Mullingar. Fresh water to wash your boat in and the possibiity of new sails as prizes just by entering the event.