Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

GP14s Gather at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club for Belfast Lough Spring Series

1st March 2023
Ruan and Natasha O’Tiarnaigh from Ballyholme YC lead the GP14 Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast Lough
Ruan and Natasha O’Tiarnaigh from Ballyholme YC lead the GP14 Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast Lough

The 12-strong GP14 fleet managed four races last Sunday (26th) in the Royal North of Ireland Spring Series, sailed on Belfast Lough, after missing the previous weekend due to adverse weather. After a fourth in the first race, Ruan and Natasha O’Tiarnaigh from Ballyholme YC, six miles to the east, romped home ahead of the fleet in the remaining three races to create a substantial gap of eight points ahead of Steven Nelson and Martin Weatherstone from Newtownards SC on Strangford Lough and Donaghadee SC on the north Down coast.

In his report on the racing, Joe Devitt wrote, “This outing saw a number of new pairings in the teams. Ross Kearney has been joined by Daniel Nelson who has made way for Martin Weatherstone to crew for Steven Nelson. Jane Kearney has been joined by Rebekah O’Tiarnaigh, who has freed up the pointy end in her father’s boat to be filled by her twin Natasha, hot off the heels of her baptism of fire in the UK Nationals and Worlds last season”.

Peter and Andrew Todd, David Mellor and Mike Shaw are new additions to the Royal North fleet.

Racing was brisk, with very shifty and patchy winds coming off the County Down shore. An unforecast gradual and persistent veer made course laying tricky, but Gerry Reid and his team made the best of the conditions.

GP14s prepare for a are start at the Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast LoughGP14s prepare for a are start at the Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast Lough

Race 1 saw the Royal North and Newtownards pairing of Ross Kearney and Daniel Nelson get a flying start and they capitalised to lead through two windward/leeward laps to the finish. Keith and Matteo Louden, the farthest travellers coming from Lough Foyle YC in the Northwest were rewarded for their efforts with a second. Race 2 saw former Olympian Curly Morris and Rachael Stewart straight into the lead, closely followed by Ruan O’Tiarnaigh and Ross Kearney. The O’Tiarnaighs held the lead from the second lap.

Race 3 brought shifty conditions at their most fickle but again it the father and daughter team O’Tiarnaigh take line honours and having found their groove from the start line in Race four, they showed the fleet clean transom flaps to the finish line.

The new teams, as well as the regulars look forward to the rest of the series in the coming weeks.

GP14s at Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast Lough resultsGP14s at Royal North of Ireland Spring Series sailed on Belfast Lough results

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.

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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