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Dead Heat for GP14 Ulster Title

3rd September 2012
Dead Heat for GP14 Ulster Title

#gp14 – Top placed Irish boat at the recent GP14 World championships Ger Owens and Melanie Morris have won the GP14 Ulsters. Held over the weekend 1st & 2nd September on Larne Lough the 2012 Championship produced a series of races packed with excitement, a tinge of terror and a dead-heat for first place.

Hosted by East Antrim Boat Club the championship was scheduled for six races with Irish Olympian Ger Owens partnered as usual by local girl Melanie Morris defending the title against 42 other competitors.

Day one race one saw the expected forecast materialising. The capsize list grew. In the end it was the McGuiness brothers John & Donal who took the 50-year-old Belfast Telegraph trophy back to Moville in the county of Donegal. By the start of the second race the conditions blowing across Larne Lough were way ahead of the forecast. Wind speeds of some 28 knots were recorded. Race officer Richard Doig kept the show running to allow Shane McCarthy & Damian Bracken a white knuckle victory. With conditions worsening – wind speeds of plus 38 knots – the fleet made its dramatic dash for shore. Many crews displayed the tell-tale black (mud) mainsail top, and pale complexions! Safety Officer Stephen Craig and his team were at full stretch.

Sunday dawned with contrasting conditions. Although shifty the light SWS breeze held to allow a further three races to be sailed. The keen fleet encountered several general recalls and continually bunched up featuring an abundance of place changing.

However it was the Owens-Morris team who mastered the intricacies of this inland Irish Lough. They took three straight bullets! Their late late show resulted in a tie on overall points which was resolved on count-back. Owens & Morris had successfully defended their title to again accept the ancient and battered brass bell which was first presented to the class in 1953.

Running in tandem with the main championship was the 'masters' series. This was won by 68-year-old Curly Morris crewed as usual by Laura McFarland. Keen competition was also recorded within the Silver and Bronze fleets. Son and father Daniel & Hugh Gill from north Dublin's Sutton club took the silver league while Newtownard's Michael Cox & Joshua Porter won the bronze league.

Speaking at the slick prize-giving the GP14 Irish Association's new President Laurence Balham echoed Ger Owen's comments on the professionalism of East Antrim's organisation. He plied particular praise on the race committee's skill in completing the series in the most challenging of conditions.






Ger Owens & Melanie Morris

Royal St George YC/East Antrim BC


Shane McCarthy & Damian Bracken

Greystones SC/Clontark Y&BC


Tim Corccoran & Brendan Brogan

Sligo YC


Danial & Hugh Gill

Sutton DC


Curly Morris & Laura McFarlane

East Antrim BC


John & Donal McGuiness

Moville BC

Published in GP14 Team

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The GP14 is a popular sailing dinghy, with well over 14,000 boats built.

The class is active in the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and parts of north-eastern USA, and the GP14 can be used for both racing and cruising. 

Designed by Jack Holt in 1949, with the assistance of the Dovey Yacht Club in Aberdyfi. The idea behind the design was to build a General Purpose (GP) 14-foot dinghy which could be sailed or rowed, capable of also being powered effectively by a small outboard motor, able to be towed behind a small family car and able to be launched and recovered reasonably easily, and stable enough to be able to lie to moorings or anchor when required. Racing soon followed, initially with some degree of opposition from Yachting World, who had commissioned the design, and the boat soon turned out to be an outstanding racing design also.

The boat was initially designed with a main and small jib as a comfortable family dinghy. In a design philosophy that is both practical and highly redolent of social attitudes of the day the intention was that she should accommodate a family comprising parents plus two children, and specifically that the jib should be modest enough for "Mum" or older children to handle, while she should perform well enough to give "Dad" some excitement when not taking the family out. While this rig is still available, and can be useful when using the boat to teach sailing, or for family sailing, and has some popularity for cruising, the boat is more commonly seen with the full modern rig of a mainsail, genoa and spinnaker. Australian boats also routinely use trapezes.

At A Glance – GP14 Dinghy Specifications

Crew 2
Draft 1,200 mm (47 in)
Hull weight 132.9 kg
LOA 4.27 m (14 ft)
Beam 1.54 m
Spinnaker area 8.4 m2
Upwind sail area 12.85 m2

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