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GP14 Hot Toddy Event Won by Greystones McCarthy and Porter in Newtownards

23rd October 2022
Strong wind conditions for the GP14 Hot Toddy event at Newtownards Sailing Club
Strong wind conditions for the GP14 Hot Toddy event at Newtownards Sailing Club

GP14 champion Ger Owens reports on October's Hot Toddy event at Newtownards Sailing Club

Newtownards was the venue for the GP14 annual Hot Toddy event. Last year's event at East Antrim was barely sailable yet despite the weekend's forecast, 32 boats arrived at Newtownards for the Hot Toddy for what was going to be a hotly contested event. With the Worlds earlier in the year, our event calendar had seen some alterations with our traditional end-of-year event, the Hot Toddy now coupled with the Youth Championship, so everyone was in good spirits. The format would be two Hot Toddy races followed by two Youth races on Saturday with the order switched on Sunday.

When we arrived to rig we were greeted with calmer conditions than the forecast but the apprehension on shore was palpable. I was approached to provide my opinion in relation to the weather and our prospects for getting racing, I gladly said we shouldn’t race. Sam Lyness our race officer listened intently and decided a prompt start was in order, we launched and very quickly it was apparent the wind was building.

Race 1 saw Shane McCarthy motor away, relishing the conditions closely contested by Ross. I struggle to recall the exact placings as I mixed up the starting flags and was late for the start by approx 1 minute if my timing was correct, I watched from a distance and admired Paddy O'Connor taking third, beaming from ear to ear only to be out grinned by Simon Cully & Richard Street in fourth. Back in the chasing pack, we had a great ding-dong with Hugh Gill, who gave no quarter. We were very happy to have climbed back up to 7th. Race 2 was quickly underway, but we were wise to this wily race officer's tricks and stayed close to the committee to get the gun.

It made little to no difference, we had decided the annual ferocious blow that is the Hot Toddy was getting too much for us, the gun went, and we headed for home. Ironically the race was shortened, and the leaders were almost home before us, not before Shane and Josh had won their second race and our sparring partner from race 1, Hugh and Dan in second. By this time, the PRO had already decided that there would be no Youth racing that afternoon. With the wind now gusting to 30kts, the dwindling fleet was struggling to make it around even the shortest of race courses, but those that managed to were rewarded with a hot toddy once back on shore. There was a team of volunteers catching boats and helping us land safely, which was no mean feet with the heavy winds and big waves. A big shout out to those Youth who had also raced in the senior Hot Toddy races. For many, it was conditions they certainly hadn't encountered, and most wore grins from ear to ear.

Dinner was at the Club that evening and with a better weather forecast for the following day, the days racing didn't seem so tough, especially with a glass of the Hot Toddy.

Sunday morning dawned and we were to head to Newtownards right after Eva’s (Mels 5yr old daughter) 50th park run. Once in Newtownards, we stayed on shore chatting amongst ourselves. Slowly we made our way out for the start of race 3 not before seeing Bobby Driscoll and Sam Street in a tacking duel up the last beat of the youths. A big cheer went up before the finish line when expert crew Ross Kearney took a tumble out of the boat in a particularly aggressive roll tack. Bobby recovered and managed to clinch the victory.

Basking in the fact that several of the fleet had sailed 2 races while I slept gave me a warm feeling for the days racing. The full tank and the lighter conditions was a tremendous relief and we managed to get near the front; Shane had to do a spin at the weather mark, which would have slowed anyone else. Peter and Stephen we holding on to a tight lead with ourselves and Ross in hot pursuit!!! (Hot Toddy!!!). Peter stretched his lead and his leverage on the fleet which opened a very small window for yours truly to close the gap, Peter managed for a long while two close boats and the rest of the fleet around what was to be a large racecourse. Peter found himself isolated on the right of the racecourse which gave 2 and 3 the opportunity to slip through. A brilliant tight race that saw Shane climb back to fifth.

Winners Shane McCarthy (right) and Josh Porter with GP14 Hot Toddy event organiser Lara SundayWinners Shane McCarthy (right) and Josh Porter with GP14 Hot Toddy event organiser Lara Sunday

Ross and Shane were neck and neck with 7 points each heading into the final race. Boats that could extricate themselves successfully from the strong pin-end bias found themselves, front runners, at the weather mark. Keith was the standout performance and was revelling in the dying breeze. Shane secured the title of Hot Toddy champion with a second place. Newtownards were amazing hosts putting on an amazing spread and a fantastic team of wonderful volunteers. Event organiser Lara Sunday kept the energy up throughout the week in the lead-up to the event and over the weekend.

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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 Ireland Event Dates 2023

  • O'Tiarnaigh (Apr 22-23) Blessington Sailing Club
  • Ulsters (May 20-21) East Antrim Boat Club
  • Munsters (Jun 17-18) Tralee Bay Sailing Club
  • Leinsters (Jul 7-9) Dun Laoghaire Regatta
  • SOYC (Aug 19-20) Rush Sailing Club
  • Nationals (Sep 1-3) Sutton Dinghy Club
  • Hot Toddy (Sep 30-Oct 1) Royal North of Ireland Yacht 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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