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Bobby Driscoll Triumphs at GP14 Youth Championship

25th October 2022
Winner Bobby Driscoll (right) and Ross Kearney with the 2022 GP14 Youth Trophy at Newtownards
Winner Bobby Driscoll (right) and Ross Kearney with the 2022 GP14 Youth Trophy at Newtownards

The GP14 youth championships looked set to be a great event, running alongside the Hot Toddy, which still attracted an excellent turnout for the time of year writes Ross Kearney

The weather forecast potentially put a few off, with Saturday looking like a blowout. 16 youths turned up to challenge for the title of Youth champion; great to see many new faces trying out the GP for the first time. Unfortunately, the weather experts were right, and PRO Sam Lyness made the decision to cancel the Saturday racing for the youth sailors, a sensible decision as the wind got up to 30 kts at the end of the 2nd race and 35kts when coming ashore.

Sunday morning dawned, 10kts and a flat sea was a very welcome sight for all of the sailors. The Youths Championships, now reduced to a two-race event set off in lovely conditions. First out of the blocks were GP14 youth stalwarts Peter Boyle sailing with dad Stephen. Mark Greer & Adrian Lee, Jessica Greer & John Greer, and David (U16) & Jon Evans all hot on their heels around the windward mark. At the first gybe mark, the top boats were all bunched together, leaving a gap for the chasing pack to sneak into.

Big breeze for the GP14 youth championships and Hot toddy event in NewtownardsBig breeze for the GP14 youth championships and Hot toddy event in Newtownards

Bobby Driscoll & Ross Kearney managed to get inside and sail into 2nd place after chasing down Mark & Adrian. After plenty of place changing and many close battles throughout, Mark& Adrian took the win followed by Bobby & Ross, Sam Street & Josh Lloyd recovering well for 3rd, Peter& Stephen 4th and Jessica & John in 5th.

Race 2 got away shortly after, the wind starting to drop to 6-7kts. The fleet was battling for every inch, with excellent boat handling on show. Bobby & Ross led the fleet, followed closely by Sam & Josh. Following very tight cover tacks, and a nail-biting finish, Bobby & Ross managed to just pip the ever-impressive Sam & Josh to the Dobson, despite Ross deciding to roll backwards following a final roll tack for the finish line. (Those helms really do need to practise the art of crewing). In 3rd place was Ollie Lloyd sailing with Dan Gill, with the Boyles in 4th and Jessica and John Greer in 5th.

This gave the Youth title to a very impressive Bobby Driscoll from RNIYC, a runner-up at the recent Topper worlds in Garda. Bobby not only won the overall trophy but did so at 16 years of age. Sam Street and Josh Lloyd were a close second, followed by Peter Boyle in 3rd.

Second in the U19 was Jessica Greer, with David Evans the U16 runner-up, who, by the way, also helmed the four Hot Toddy races and won the Bronze fleet. With the switch over to the seniors for the final Hot Toddy races, it was great to see so many of the youths taking a turn at the back of the boat to gain excellent experience for future years sailing in the larger fleet.

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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.

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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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