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GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club Won By Owens and Morris

24th September 2022
Off the start line at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club
Off the start line at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club

With the GP14 World Championships less than a month behind us, many of the Irish sailors would be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas writes Andy Johnston.

But with the arrival of autumn, the GP14 Ireland fleet moved to Mullingar Sailing Club and Lough Owel last weekend for their Leinster Championships. And while not en-masse, a turnout of 35 boats is not to sneeze at. The event did see plenty of changed crew lineups with also the return of some past regulars. Great to see at this end of the season.

Last year's winners Ger Owens & Mel Morris were here having missed a couple of events this season but surely wouldn't have it all their own way with a stellar fleet that included 3 Olympians and the top Irish helms from the recent GP14 and Fireball World Championships.

Curly Morris and Ger Owens were joined on the start line by 2021 Olympian Rob Dickson. It was a bit of a busman's holiday away from the busy 49er circuit for Rob, who was catching up with his buddies and GP14 regulars Conor Twohig & Matthew Cotter. The GP14 is not wholly unfamiliar, as Rob has done a number of GP14 events in the last couple of years.

Top Fireball duo Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella from the Royal St. George Yacht Club at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing ClubTop Fireball duo Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella from the Royal St. George Yacht Club at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club

With next month's Champions Cup in Sutton Dinghy Club being sailed in GP14, two of the GP14 Classes representatives were hoping to get much-needed time on the water. Ger Owens and Jane Kearney will be joined next month by Shane MacCarthy in what is the 75th Anniversary of the event.

Robert Dickson and Matthew Runswick from Howth at GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing ClubRobert Dickson and Matthew Runswick from Howth at GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club

Colman Grimes, who finished 5th at the recent GP14 Worlds in Skerries, is joined by another star Worlds performer in Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella, who finished on the podium at the Lough Derg Fireball Worlds last month. Barry is a nominee for the Champions Cup, so having never sailed a GP14, the Mullingar event is a chance to get some time on the water.

The forecast was for very light conditions and particularly on the Saturday so PRO Jim Lambkin had the fleet on the water promptly with expectations that the best chance for racing was early in the day and getting 35 boats to the race course was in itself a challenge.

Race 1 got underway in 5-6knotss, the fleet away cleanly. The first leg saw a number of boats, including Jane Kearney, Niall Henry, local Alan Pinder & Ross Kearney, all crossing closely on the first beat, but it was Blessingtons Simon Cully & Libby Tierney who were first to weather mark. A massive shout could be heard, the pair delighting in the feat but then showed great skill and patience in continuing to lead through the triangle and sausage and, with a shortened course held off Ger Owens & Mel Morris to take their first ever race win. The celebration was epic with the famous Lough Owel trout joined by the Blessington helm.

"A stellar fleet included three Olympians and the top Irish helms from the recent GP14 and Fireball World Championships"

Race 2 saw an initial abandonment when a big wind shift caused a surge on the line with 10 seconds to go. Our PRO had the fleet back in sequence in very quick time and the race was finally underway with Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty showing early ahead of Ross KearneKearney & Katie Dwyer. With the wind gone very light again, the PRO shortened the courses after the sausage, however, an OCS meant Ross & Katie get the gun with John & Donal McGuinness taking 2nd ahead of Colman Grimes & Samuel Wray. At that stage it certainly looked like no more racing for the day.

Patience is a virtue and having moved the Committee boat a little further down the lake, the PRO had the fleet under starter orders for Race 3. With the wind very light now but still holding direction, the fleet were away first time. Up the first beat, and its like buses..none for hours and then 2 together. Simon Cully & Libby Tierney with blue spinnaker lead at the weather mark again. Closely followed by son Max Cully & Tighe Wardell with Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella 3rd, Owens & Morris 4th, Jane Kearney & Rebekkah O’Tiarnaigh 5th and Kearney & O’Dwyer 6th. Down to the leeward mark, Blessington's father and son swap places a number of times with Max Cully retaking the lead at the next weather mark and holding it to the end of the sausage ahead of Kearney & O'Tiarnaigh, Kearney & Dwyer and McCartin & Kinsella.

Light wind concentration at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing ClubLight wind concentration at the GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club

Cully & Wardell, the GP14 nominees for the Junior Champions Cup in Schull this weekend, are enjoying the moment, and the youngsters are singing down the leg. However, on the short beat to shortened finish experience and some neat tacking in a diminishing breeze sees Kearney & Dwyer take the gun just, from Kearney & O’Tiarnaigh with McCartin & Kinsella squeezing out our long-time leaders young Max Cully & Tighe Wardell. Great effort from the young guys.

Day 2 dawned with a little more breeze and a different look to the leader board with Cully & Tierney separating Kearney & Dwyer and Owens & Morris, with Kearney & O’Tiarnaigh and McCartin & Kinsella making up the top 5.

Race 4 got underway promptly in about 8 knots breeze. Owens & Morris lead at the end of the sausage with McCartin & Kinsella and Dan Gill & Mark Bolger a good 10 boat lengths behind. By the finish of the second triangle, Owens & Morris had opened a massive lead. However, big changes were taking place behind with now Kearney & Dwyer up to 2nd ahead of Kearney & O'Tiarnaigh 3rd with Gill & Bolger head to head with Keith & Matteo Louden for 4th with the former just getting there.

Max Cully and Tighe Wardell (Blessington Sailing Club)Max Cully and Tighe Wardell (Blessington Sailing Club)

Race 5 saw a general recall with PRO resisting the temptation to go to the Black flag but getting them away quickly as he sought to ensure 6 races. By the bottom of the first triangle, Colman Grimes & Sam Wray lead Gill & Bolger, Owens & Morris and Paddy O’Connor & Adrian Lee. Having gone out right Curly Morris & Meg Tyrrell make big gains and are up to 5th. By the end of the sausage, Owens & Morris have taken the lead from Grimes & Wray with Alistair Duffin & Steven Nelson up to 3rd and Gill & Bolger 4th ahead of Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty and Morris & Tyrrell. A broken tiller sees O’Connor & Lee drop to 6th. With wind holding steady, PRO opts to let the race run its course and on the final downwind leg Kearney & Dwyer and McCartin & Kinsella make some moves to recover ground. Owens & O’Dwyer take the gun followed by Grimes & Wray with Kearney & Dwyer 3rd to keep the event in the balance till the last race. McCartin & Kinsell show they are getting to grips with the GP14 take 4th on the nod from the father and son Louden pairing.

Race 6 got underway under Black Flag after the 2nd General Recall of the day. That late push in Race 5 by Kearney & Dwyer meant the Championship was still on the line with the pressure on Owens & Morris to beat them by more than 4 places. The wind is down to 6 knots as Owens & Morris lead around the weather mark, now looking for a hat-trick of wins for the day and to heap the pressure back on Kearney & Dwyer. Adding to the pressure were O’Connor & Lee with repaired tiller now a clear second ahead of Henry & Geraghty with Grimes & Wray and Duffin & Nelson also ahead of Kearney & Dwyer. The PRO lets the fleet complete the set course with Owens & Morris taking their 3rd gun of the day. All eyes were now behind to see if Kearney & Dwyer could make any inroads to the deficit. A recurrence of the tiller problem dropped O’Connor & Lee back to 6th, with Duffin & Nelson passing Grimes & Wray for 3rd behind Henry & Geraghty. 5th was the best Kearney & Dwyer could do and just not enough to take the title from the holders Ger Owens & Mel Morris.

A super event hosted by Mullingar Sailing Club under the stewardship of event coordinator and Club Commodore David Maxwell. A super dinner in the Annabrook Hotel was preceded by the Class's first face-to-face AGM in a few years.

Outgoing President and Mullingar club man Michael Collender thanked the sailors and his Committee for their support throughout his tenure and particularly in this GP14 World Championship year which had been such a success. Michael also extended best wishes to Ger Owens, Jane Kearney, Shane MacCarthy and Max Cully, who would be representing the GP14 Class in the re-badged Irish Sailing Champions Cup, reflecting that the GP14 Class are honoured to have been asked, in its 75th anniversary year, to host the event, formerly known as the Helmsman's Championship. It will be held in Sutton Dinghy Club in early October and has been graced down the years by a number of GP14 winners, including a couple who sailed in Mullingar this past weekend.

The prize-giving on Sunday saw Club Commodore David Maxwell & GP14 President Andy Johnson present prizes to Youth, Junior as well as Bronze, Silver and Gold fleet winners. Ger Owens in receiving the Leinster Championship trophy thanked everyone for traveling in such numbers and again demonstrating the appeal of the Class to both the young and the more experienced(!) who want close and competitive racing in a friendly fleet and looked forward to all catching up again later in October for our Hot Toddy & Youth Championships.

GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club results

GP14 Leinster TrophiesGP14 Leinster Trophies

Gold Ger Owens & Mel Morris (Royal St.George Yacht Club & East Antrim Boat Club)
Ross Kearney & Katie Dwyer (Royal North of Ireland YC & Sutton Dinghy Club)
Colman Grimes & Sam Wrays (Skerries Sailing Club & Sligo Yacht Club)

Silver Simon Cully & Libby Tierney (Blessington Sailing Club)
Alan Pinder & Jack Hayes (Mullingar Sailing Club)
Conor Twohig & Matthew Cotter (Sutton Dinghy Club)

Bronze David Evans & Jon Evans (Sligo Yacht Club)
Max Cully & Tighe Wardell (Blessington Sailing Club)
Denis Cully & Ollie Lloyd (Blessington Sailing Club)

Youth Champion (U22) Peter Boyle & Hugh McNally (Sutton Dinghy Club)

Junior Champion (U16) David Evans & Jon Evans (Sligo Yacht Club)

GP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing ClubGP14 Leinsters at Mullingar Sailing Club results - download pdf below

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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.

GP14 2022 Irish Fixtures 

Spring Open (Apr 30 May 1)
Sligo YC

Ulsters (May 21-22)
Lough Foyle YC

Nationals (Jul 2-3)

O'Tiarnaigh Pre-Worlds (Jul 30-31)
Skerries SC

GP14 Worlds (Aug 14-19)
Skerries SC

Leinsters (Sep 17-18)
Mullingar SC

Hot Toddy/Youth Championship
(Oct 15-16) - Newtownards SC

Munster Championship
(Nov 5-6) - Cullaun Sailing Club

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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