Cullaun Sailing Club, Co Clare, hosted the Irish GP14 fleet for what turned out to be the 1st event of the year following the postponement of the Mullingar event in April.
Competitors travelled from the 4 corners of Ireland with visitors from Derry, Dublin, Cork and North Down and many points in between and were
warmly welcomed to the brand new clubhouse which had only been completed two weeks previously.
The race officer had a challenging weekend with light very shifty conditions on the Saturday and windier but still shifty conditions on the Sunday. He did a great job to get in 6 races over the 2 days and gave the class plenty of starting practice!
Race 1 was dominated by Colman Grimes and Matthew Street who built up a considerable lead of almost a leg at one stage but JP and Carolyn McCaldin got very lucky and hooked up with a gust on the final run and then took advantage of a 20-degree lift at the leeward mark to pinch 1st place. 3rd place went to class newcomers Alex Barry and Richard Leonard from Cork in their 1st competitive outing in the GP.
1st Silver fleet boat was Lawrence Baalham and Robbie Richardson with a 5th place and 1st bronze went to Michael Collender and Brian
Race 2 followed a similar pattern with big shifts and multiple place changes. The McCaldins decided to start before the gun and had to go back! Keith Louden and Alan Thompson had a great battle with Alex and Richard to take the win. Lawrence and Robbie had another great result with a 3rd place with Norman and Ken Lee taking 4th. Michael and Brian were again 1st bronze.
Race 3 again saw lots of place changes with big gains (and losses!) to be made in the shifts. Alex and Richard won the race showing us all that they are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with as the class builds to the worlds in Skerries in 2020. The Derry boys, James Peter Hockley and Owen McCauley taking 2nd place and 1st silver with Keith and Alan 3rd. 2nd silver was son and father team Conor and Barry Twohig. Again Michael and Brian were 1st bronze home.
Alex and Richard's consistency gave them a 4 point overnight lead from Keith and Alan with the McCaldins 2 points further back.
All competitors enjoyed an evening of BBQ and music in the local pub in Tulla and were treated to the skills of pool shark Hugh Gill beating all comers!
Sunday dawned with more wind, hiking would be required. Conditions still shifty, but thankfully not quite as extreme as day one.
Race 4 was led from start to finish by silver fleets Adrian Lee and Edward Coyne, giving them their first ever event race win. The McCaldins applied pressure at times but were unable to get past and took 2nd. Alex and Richard were 3rd with James Peter and Owen 4th and 1st silver. The theme continued with Michael and Brian again dominating the bronze fleet. Four races in, 4 different winners – showing how competitive the fleet is.
Race 5 was won by the McCaldins putting them on equal points with Alex & Richard going into the last race. Josh Porter and Andy Corkhill had a fabulous race to take 2nd at a photo finish with Keith and Alan 3rd. James Peter and Owen took 4th and 1st in the silver fleet - with this form they won’t be in the silver fleet long!! Richard decided to test the buoyancy of the spinnaker pole and his helms swimming ability was noted in this race! No prizes for guessing the 1st bronze boat!
The final race of the event was underway at the 5th or 6th attempt after numerous ‘U’ flag general recalls. With the wind in a left phase Alex and
Richard started at the pin end and crossed the fleet to lead from the McCaldins at the weather mark, with James Peter and Owen in 3rd. James Peter and Owen took a flier to the right on the 2nd beat to lead considerably at the windward mark followed by Alex and Richard. The Derry boys headed right again on the final beat followed by the McCaldins but this time left paid and Alex and Richard led comfortably at the final weather mark which they held to the finish to take the race and the event. James Peter and Owen were 2nd in the final race, 4th overall and 1st silver.
Event organiser Des McMahon and Pat Biesty stopped a clean sweep in the bronze fleet which was dominated by Michael and Brian.
Overall a great event, many thanks to everyone at Cullaun Sailing Club for their hospitality and effort.
The next event, the Ulster Championships, is hosted by Lough Foyle Yacht Club on 8th & 9th June. Rumour has it the fleet will be joined by some English raiders.