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GP14 Success for Royal St. George's Ger Owens & Melanie Morris

4th October 2013
GP14 Success for Royal St. George's Ger Owens & Melanie Morris

#Gp14 – The forecast for the first day of the Craftinsure GP14 Championship of Ireland at Sutton Dinghy Club did not make for great reading with less than 6 knots from north west. However as boats started arriving and getting set up for launch there was a decent breeze and with plenty of sun it was hoped it might hold on for the day.
The briefing was short, the introduction and welcome of the Classic fleet (same start, shorter course and separate prize for Mark 1 GP14) and reminder that the event was also raising funds for the charity Make a Wish Foundation – Ireland. While briefing was underway, PRO Scorie Walls and the race management team and RIB's were headed out into the bay. With 50 boats entered, 47 launched with some top names and a few great days racing in store.
The first race got away on a black flag at the second time of asking. The race was a close and cagey affair with 7 or 8 boats never far from the lead. Curly Morris and Tim Corcoran shared lead a few times with Shane McCarthy, Ruan O'Tiarnaigh, Graham Elmes, Hugh Gill and Ger Owens never too far away.
The downwind leg and last beat were close thing with Tim Corcoran and Ruan O'Tiarnaigh maintaing their lead all the way to the finish. Alasdair Duffin took 3rd followed by Shane McCarthy with Ger Owens taking 5th. Down the fleet, local junior David Johnston also showed well in top 20 with the Classic fleet having some close racing with Duncan Greenhalgh battling it out with Stephen Parry and former National Champion Pat Murphy back in a GP14 for the first time in 25 years.
Despite the ligthening breeze, the fleet managed to finish within the tight 15 minute deadline. Good racing considering some of the older boats. With the wind due to die away, the PRO didn't waste much time getting second race underway, and went with a black flag from the off.
Again a close race all the way around with Corcoran, Morris, McCarthy and Owen again all to the fore. A wind shift saw a C flag indicating weather mark change the second time around and with it Owens made decisive move out left as wind lightened. Owens never looked back and continued to extend lead with Morris and Corcoran, Gill and McCarthy leading the charge.
At the finish Owens had plenty to spare, over Corcoran and Morris who were then surprised to find themselves black flagged leaving local Hugh Gill to take 2nd ahead of Shane McCarthy. With the wind dying, a good portion of the main fleet failed to make it inside 15minute time limit.
This was not an issue for Classic fleet who all had their finish in the bag at end of round 1. And so at end of day 1 it was Olympian Ger Owens leading from Shane McCarthy with Hugh Gill in 3rd.
With a forecast suggesting a little more breeze than Saturday but locals concerned that the sea breeze might neutralise the northerly 8 knots, cautious optimism was the order of the day as the fleet followed PRO Scorie Walls out into the Bay.
With 3 races scheduled and HW at 3:30, there was not much room for delay, but it was still 3rd attempt under a black flag before the racing got underway. In 8 knots of breeze it was Ger Owens who laid down the first marker and led by 10 lenghts at weather mark and then extended his lead on each rounding. A great battle ensued behind for the minor placings with Morris, Duffin, Elmes, O'Connor, Corcoran and Boyle all in close contention. With 30 boat lenghts to spare it was Ownes ahead of Morris with O'Connor taking 3rd from Duffin, Corcoran and local boat Boyle in 6th.
Race 2 was always going to be a black flag from the start, but with a healthy 10 knot breeze, the fleet saw a few new faces at the top end. Along with Morris, Owens, Corcoran and Duffin , Shane McCarthy and Dan O'Connell were now in the mix. It took till leeward mark for Owens to take the lead and again from their it was a race for minor placings as Owens effortlessly moved clear of the fleet. Up the final beat it was Owens who held off a resurgent Morris, with McCarthy taking 3rd from O'Connell, Corcoran and Elmes in 6th.
With the wind holding PRO wasted no time and had 3rd race underway with black flag from the start. Owens, O'Connell and Morris with local junior Johnston get away to a great start. Not far behind we have Niall Henry, Molloy, and Duffin. This race is far closer with Owens unable to shake off Molloy and O'Connell with Morris and Duffin also in close contention. It was not till final spinnaker leg that Owens got a clear lead of 4-5 boat lengths to stay ahead of O'Connell and Morris. With 3 bullets , Day 2 was a masterclass from Owens and his crew Melanie Morris, with hardly a foot wrong and great to watch.
With 2 races scheduled for Monday, Owens led by 13 points and really only needed a top 10 placing in either race to take the title. However a mark of how close the racing was behind the leading pair, the next 5 boats are separated by 7 points and Corcoran, Morris, McCarthy, Duffin and O'Connell all in with a chance of 2nd.
The forecast, 3 knots gusting 4 is not conducive to getting in 2 races. With the day looking like it would be warm with plenty of sun, the hope was a sea breeze would kick in. Shortly after 2pm, the breeze shifted more easterly and with 10 knots, PRO Scorie Walls soon had the fleet in sequence. Windward leeward course, Black flags and the fleet was away all clear.
All the main contenders were in the mix, and the first separation downwind saw Morris and Owens take a slight advantage. Up the next beat O'Connell joined Owens and put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack of McCarthy, Morris, Corcoran, Elmes and O'Tiarnaigh.
Both boats were neck and neck, tack for tack down to weather mark with Owens just creeping inside O'Connell. A great rounding and the momentum was now with the event leader. Corcoran had now re-connected with Owens and O'Connell and these 3 headed the fleet with Owens out right and Corcoran and O'Connell down the middle to leeward mark for the last time.
Owens held the short lead to the finish, taking 5 races on the bounce and becoming the new GP14 Champion. In a close finish, Corcoran pipped O'Connell for 2nd with Morris 4th ahead of Elmes and McCarthy 6th. With one race to go, it was still all to play for the minor placings.
Ger Owens lined up on the start line for 7th which got away first time under Black flag and south easterly 6-8knots. Shortly after rounding the weather mark Owens heads home and the race is truly on for the minor placings.
O'Connells showing over last 4 races had put him right in contention for a podium finish, but with Corcoran not in top 10 on final downwind leg, a top 3 or 4 in the final race behind McGuinness would be enough to take a well deserved 2nd overall. John McGuinness took the gun, ahead of O'Connell from Sutton Dinghy Clubs O'Tiarnaigh with Niall Henry 4th and former National Champion Richard Instone in 5th.
The prize giving ceremony introduced by Hugh Gill from Sutton Dinghy Club was attended by Make a Wish Ireland representative Martina Madden who thanked Sutton Dinghy Club and the GP14 Class association for selecting them as charity of choice. With over €3500 raised by the 50 GP14 crews who entered the event, the initiative was a huge success.
Sutton Dinghy Club Commodore Andy Johnston presented the Championship trophies to Ger Owens and Melanie Morris, very worthy Craftinsure GP14 Championship of Ireland winners for 2013. Harry Hermon, CEO of ISA was also in attendance to present the Gold, Silver and Bronze ISA medals to Owens/Morris, O'Connell/O'Connell and Corcoran/Brogan respectively.
The rude health of the GP14 Class in Ireland with 50 entries for its Nationals bodes well for the GP14 Worlds in East Down (Northern Ireland) in 2014.
Gold: 1st - Ger Owens/Melanie Morris (RStGYC), 2nd – DanO'Connell/Mairin O'Connell (Swords), 3rd - Tim Corcoran/Brendan Brogan (Sligo).
Silver: 1st Bill & James Johnson (Lough Foyle), 2nd - David Lappin/C Grimes (Skerries), 3rd with S Sheppard/A Sexton (Skerries).
Bronze: 1st - David Johnston/ Darragh White (Sutton Dinghy Club), 2nd - Tim Davies/T Mawby (Chelmarsh), 3rd - James Ogg/M Rutherford (Donaghadee). An overall 22nd place also gave David Johnston (Sutton Dinghy Club) top Junior and Championship newcomer prize.
Classic fleet was won by Stephen Loton Parry (York RI) from GP14 International President Duncan Greenhalgh (Derwent Resevoir).

Published in GP14
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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.

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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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