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GP14s Aim for East Antrim's Hot Toddy Event

20th August 2020
GP14s are heading for Larne GP14s are heading for Larne Photo: Afloat

An appropriate title for a GP 14 event to be held (hopefully) in October at the Larne club. The word toddy comes from the toddy drink in India produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees and its earliest known use to mean "a beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices", is from 1786. The latter will be just the thing to warm up sailors taking part in this widely anticipated meeting.

As entries aren't open yet for the event on 10th/11th October, and no one is confirmed but the Club hopes to have at least some of the following well known GP14 stalwarts competing: the host club's Curly Morris and Robert Gingles, with crews as yet unknown and Ger Owens and Melanie Morris, daughter of Curly.

Committee member Lucy Whitford says that " It would be great to see the former world champion and multiple National champions Shane McCarthy, and Ross and Jane Kearney, former Irish champions who have recently moved back to NI. Welcome too would be regulars on the GP circuit John and Donal McGuiness, Hugh Gill, Colman Grimes, Katie Dwyer and Michelle Rowley, and Bill and James Johnson. We would also hope to see some up and coming youth GP sailors competing, Peter Boyle, David Johnson and Conor Twohig".

The late Ronnie Thompson, with Andy Thompson. Andy is to team up with Shane McCarthy for this event.The late Ronnie Thompson, with Andy Thompson. Andy is to team up with Shane McCarthy for this event.

East Antrim has a long list and long history of champion GP14 sailors. Johnny McWilliam was among the first to shine when he won the 1957 Northern Ireland championship, with Curly Morris and Tommy Hutcheson taking the same title in 1964 followed the next year by Paul Rowan and Graham Gingles. Jump forward a few years to 1972 and we have Tom Jobling crewing for Ballyholme's Peter Duffy winning the Irish Championship and Des Nixon and Tommy Hutcheson NI Champions; Curly Morris and Bobby Jones Ulster Champions with Curly also on the Irish Olympic Team in Kiel. Into this century among other GP 14 helms to feature prominently are Mark and Paul Fekkes.

This Hot Toddy event first saw the light of day in the early eighties when the then GP14 Assoc of Ireland charged their East Antrim BC based fleet with the creation of a new and suitable end-of-season 'fun' event.

With the baton accepted a team lead by the legendry helmsman Curly Morris set to work and devised a new kind of 'freestyle' format to take advantage of what Larne Lough could offer.

So in October 1982, the mighty GP14 fleet descended on the Larne Lough club to be greeted with a perfect sparkling south easterly. A single windward leg from EABC into the [uncharted] upper Lough! Thereafter the fleet re-assembled for a spinnaker slalom in a freshened breeze, back from whence they came and, ashore for the evening festivities.

The event was superbly serviced with prizes by the 'shop-keepers' of the town and sponsored overall by the coal importer, Howdens Ltd, who also provided the solid silver winner's cup. And it looks like the first winner will be in the frey again for that was Curly Morris. That day as well as the cup, he received a 'bag of coal' to fend off the incoming Co. Antrim winter. Hopefully, a Hot Toddy will do the same!

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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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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