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Ger Owens & Mel Morris Crowned GP14 Ulster Champions

22nd June 2021
GP14 Ulster Champions for 2021, Ger Owens and Mel Morris
GP14 Ulster Champions for 2021, Ger Owens and Mel Morris Credit: Bob Given

Ger Owens and Mel Morris were crowned Ulster Champions in the first event of the GP14 dinghy calendar at Newtownards Sailing Club at the weekend writes Andy Johnston

Day 1 of the Ulster Championships at Newtownards Sailing Club and 3 great race under the watchful eye of PRO Ruan O Tiarnaigh. Some great performances in what was for many the first racing since 2019. Some expected faces at the top of the Gold fleet, but the top 3 shows some new ones too. Adrian Lee bagged another gun in Race 1 and lies 3rd, with Ger Owen in 2nd after 2 bullets. Consistency or lack of a good night sleep has helped Colman Grimes to the top of the pack. Steve Nelson heads Silver fleet lying 5th overall with Michael Brides leading the Bronze fleet in 19th. Great turnout from Newtownards Sailing Club with 11 boats. 4 boats have travelled from Sutton Dinghy Club and Youghal the furthest travelled of the 28 boats on the water.

Day 2 of the Ulster Championship and the weather gods continued to indulge us. PRO Ruan O Tiarnaigh again managed to get 3 cracking races in while changing the race format to Olympic from yesterday's Windward Leeward. The top of the leader board coming into Sunday saw Colman Grimes lead from Ger Owen but with Ross Kearney not too far away. Adrian Lee with Richard Gallagher in the front was there or thereabouts. Shane Mac Carthy surely would have his say before the end of the event.

Colman GrimesColman Grimes

Tricky conditions saw a few false starts before fleet got away for Race 4.

Left was the order of the day and even with lightening breeze it was Ross who lead around the windward and despite Ger Owens, Katie Dwyer and Shane Mac Cathy all getting close Ross took the gun. Ger hung on for 2nd but Alistair Duffin came through for 3rd with Lough Foyle James Peter Hockley setting down a mark for the Silver fleet in 4th. Curly Morris took 5th with Steve Nelson on 6th.

Katie DwyerKatie Dwyer

Race 5 again saw Ross take an early lead and get around the gybe mark before tide and lightening breeze created a separate race between the rest of the fleet. Despite strong pressure from Ger, James Peter Hockley held on for a superb 2nd with Shane MacCarthy 4th. Behind them saw 3 Sutton Dinghy Club boats battle it out with Peter Boyle taking a 5th just ahead of David Johnston and Hugh Gill.

David JohnstonDavid Johnston

Despite the light and tricky breeze, our race office Ruan got the 6th and final race of the event underway. Shane MacCarthy got a super start and lead by a boat length from Ger Owens at the weather mark. The pair batled it out all the way with the lead changing hands a few times. Behind them overnight leader Colman Grimes, Katie Dwyer, Keith Louden and Ross Kearney were nip and tuck looking to take the final podium spot in Race 6.

Ger held off Shane for the gun with Ross taking 3rd from Suttons Katie Dwyer in 4th, Lough Foyle Keith Louden 5th and Skerries Colman Grimes 6th.

A great event to kick start the 2021 GP14 season with 28 boats and all the more important after the lack of racing in 2020 due to Covid.

The open air prizegiving was held in sunshine with Event Organiser Josh Porter presenting the Ulster Championship to Ger Owens and Melanie Morris and Ulster Youth Championship Trophy to Peter Boyle and Joe Doherty.

Class President Michael Collender thanked Josh Porter and Michael Cox and the Newtownards Sailing Club for all their efforts in making it such a great event. He reminded everybody that our next event on the calendar is the Leinster Championships originally planned as part of the Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta but now to be held on Jul 3/4 in Blessington Sailing Club.

Gold Fleet
1) Ger Owens & Mel Morris
2) Ross Kearney & Jane Kearney
3) Shane MacCarthy & Josh Porter

Silver Fleet
1) James Peter Hockley & Alan Thompson
2) Steve Nelson & Daniel Nelson
3) Michael Cox & Claire Cromwell

Bronze Fleet
1) Michael Brines & Peter Bridnes
2) Michael Collender & Brian Walker
3) Newenham DeCogan & Maggie Sinnamon

Afloat.ie 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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