The GP14 Riocard O'Tiarnaigh Challenge was again this year held at Swords Sailing and Boating Club on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of May. It was sailed as a combined event with the Purcell Trophy this year due to the 2016 World championships being held in Barbados at Easter. A warm welcome was given by the club to all competitors and their friendship and hospitality was extended thought the weekend, with their incredible race management on the water and their fantastic catering and ashore.
The results of the Purcell trophy were rolled over from the Saturday and used partly as qualifying for the Riocard O'Tiarnaigh Challenge final. A total of 7 races would be sailed for qualifying purposes with one discard to be used. After the Purcell event results were counted three shorter races with separate fleet starts were scheduled to be sailed on the Sunday morning.
Qualifying positions for the gold and silver fleets were wide open with a number of boats able to fill the four qualifying positions for each fleet.
In the first two races on the Sunday morning in the gold fleet Keith Louden and Alan Thompson took two race wins and Shane McCarthy & Damian Bracken took two second places. John & Donal McGuinness qualified in third place, this left the last place open and to be contested in the final race by three boats. Niall Henry and Ossian Geraghty took the race win and with other results going their way, they grabbed the final place. However they would later choose not to contest the final and pass on the final slot to Hugh Gill and Simon Revill.
The Silver fleet was just as hotly contested with the final places being decided in the final race of qualifying with Michael Cox and Josh Porter, Simon Jeffery and Alan Henry, Katie Dwyer and Michelle Rowley and Simon Cully and Richard Street all making it through.
The bronze fleet sailors Ian Nish and his crew Des, and Keith and Barbara Leonard who had already qualified, went out on Sunday morning to test out the conditions and get some practice in preparation for the final.
At lunch time the wind died away completely but when PRO Peter Smyth blew his whistle to signal end to lunch the wind duly obliged and within half an hour it had settled in to a steady force 3 in strength. However it was still shifting back and forth in direction, as it had done all weekend in preparation for the final.
The first race saw a great start by Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley and when they rounded the windward mark with a sizeable lead they could not be caught by Shane McCarthy & Damian Bracken, a result which would prove significant for the girls by the end of the day. John & Donal McGuinness crossed the line in third place.
Second race saw Shane McCarthy and Damian Bracken take an early lead which they would maintain to the end and with positions changing behind them Keith Louden & Alan Thompson took second and John & Donal McGuinness were third.
In the third and final race points counted double which meant any number of boats could still win the event, Keith Louden & Alan Thompson led at the windward mark and held on to that lead until the final leeward mark when they were passed by Shane Mc Carthy & Damien Bracken. Keith Louden & Alan Thompson finished second and Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley in third.
This result gave Shane McCarthy & Damien Bracken the Riocard O'Tiarnaigh Challenge win, Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley took second in a break of tie with Keith Louden & Alan Thompson in third place.