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The annual East Antrim Boat Club's Hot Toddy GP 14 meet was back last weekend after Lockdown, albeit with a vengeance. Thirty-five-knot winds and a nasty chop on Larne Lough on the east coast of County Antrim on Saturday played havoc with the fleet when it was survival of the fittest, with Sunday whilst lively, was more manageable.

Race Officer Richard Doig managed to get two races on the first day and three on Sunday, resulting in a successful event despite the conditions.

Race officer Richard Doig (left) and his team, Nicola Williamson and Kathryn BoyleRace officer Richard Doig (left) and his team, Nicola Williamson and Kathryn Boyle

Eighteen entered but some fell foul of the weather. Greystones Sailing Club's Shane McCarthy and Josh Porter made a worthwhile trip north to dominate the fleet, clocking up four firsts to take the overall prize.

Hot Toddy Shane McCarthy (14203) and Ger Owens (14256) in close combatHot Toddy Shane McCarthy (14203) and Ger Owens (14256) in close combat

Runners – up Ger Owens of Royal St George crewed by East Antrim's Melanie Morris had to use his DNC in Race 2 as a discard. Third overall were Hugh and Dan Gill of Sutton DC just one point behind.

Hugh and Dan Gill of Sutton DCHugh and Dan Gill of Sutton DC

In the Silver fleet, the top place went to Bill and James Johnson from the Lough Foyle club in the northwest followed by Steve and Dan Nelson of Newtownards SC in the north end of Strangford Lough.
Jennifer Bryce and Lara Sunday from Newtownards took Bronze.

There was some 'misbehaving' in Race 3 with two general recalls and the threat of U flag but they reined in and made a clean start at the third attempt.

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As with so many events over the last 18 months, East Antrim Boat Club's annual Hot Toddy GP 14 event suffered the effects of the pandemic but next weekend (23rd/24th October) the class will take to the waters of Larne Lough on the Antrim coast for the end of season 'bash'.

Way back in 1982, East Antrim had been invited by the GP14 International Association to create a new end-of-season event for the class in Ireland. And so, the Hot Toddy was born and while today's event is somewhat different from the original it has remained a well-recognised gathering in the GP 14 calendar. Club historian Tom Jobling remembers; " Sponsored by Howden's, the then major coal importer in NI, presented a brand new silver cup to the Association for the event. As well, several competitors received complimentary bonus of bags of coal – remember; it was October!"

The first winner was Peter Duffy crewed by John Nixon from Ballyholme.

EABC enjoyed a well established and enthusiastic fleet of GP 14 sailors, expressed wholeheartedly by a particular rivalry between Co. Down and Co. Antrim clubs, which resulted in a fleet the envy of clubs north and south.

Ger Owens of Royal St George YC who will be crewed by EABC's Melanie MorrisGer Owens of Royal St George YC who will be crewed by EABC's Melanie Morris

Among the runners and riders for the silverware (no coal this time) are the obvious favourite, the current All Ireland sailing champion Ger Owens of Royal St George YC who will be crewed by EABC's Melanie Morris. Another contender will be the runner-up in that same event, Royal North's Ross Kearney from Belfast Lough, crewed by wife Jane. Then there's Greystones's Shane McCarthy and from Lough Foyle Yacht Club at Culmore the McGuiness brothers.

Royal North's Ross KearneyRoyal North's Ross Kearney from Belfast Lough racing in this month's All Ireland Sailing Championships in a National 18 dinghy Photo: Bob Bateman

Seventy years ago that well known Irish sailor, John McWilliam, introduced the GP14 to fellow EABC members and many of those have their names on the class trophies - Fekkes, Gingles, Morris, Nixon, Rowan and Thompson to name but a few.

Tom Jobling continues "The boat introduced to Larne Lough back the '50s was something of a revolution in plywood crafting but the current GP design whether in wood or fibre reinforced epoxy, is a revelation in modern marine architecture. It continues to ensure the GP14 is placed at the pinnacle of double-handed/multi sail competitive dinghy sailing across Ireland".

The appearance of the class off Curran Point next weekend should be an encouragement to those thinking of entering the club's Winter Series which starts on 31st October and runs to 27th March.

Entry to this event will cover or the Halloween Regatta, Christmas Regatta, early and late Winter Series, as well as boat storage for the period.

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Fresh from victory on Lough Erne, the 2021 GP14 National Champion Ger Owens from the Royal St. George Yacht Club is likely to be back in action on his home waters of Dublin Bay for September's Autumn Open & Youth Championship.

So far this season, the Irish 470 double Olympian has made it a clean sweep of the Geep Irish calendar so he's unlikely to pass the opportunity of a local championship title on the far side of the Bay. 

Owens pipped former GP14 World Champion Shane MacCarthy of Greystones Harbour by a single point on Lough Erne, so MacCarthy has some unfinished GP14 business to deal with.

Both helms are, of course, working up for a tilt at the world title to be raced next August on Irish waters at Skerries in County Dublin where a 100-boat fleet is expected.

The NOR for the Championship at Sutton Dinghy Club on Sep 11/12 has been published by Sutton Dinghy Club and is available to download below as a PDF.


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In a clean sweep of the GP14 Irish calendar this season, Ger Owens sailing with Brendan Brogan of the Royal St. George Yacht Club won both of today's final races of the Irish Nationals Championships on Lough Erne to take the title. 

Owens pipped former GP14 World Champion Shane MacCarthy and John Port of Greystones Harbour by a single point.

As regular Afloat readers know,  following their success at the Ulsters in June, Ger Owens, sailing then with Mel Morris, were crowned GP14 Leinster Champions at Blessington Sailing Club in early July making Owens for the form boat for the National Championships.

Day three report:  Two races sailed today and hats off to our PRO Derek Bothwell for managing to complete the full schedule.

Ger Owens & Brendan Brogan won both races to just pip Shane MacCarthy & Josh Porter by a point but it was a nail-biter that went right to the wire.

According to the mathematicians in the fleet, only 2 wins would do for Ger & Brendan and he took a clear victory in the morning's first race. Colman Grimes & Ross Gingles were 2nd with Ross and Shane fighting it out for the 3rd spot.

With Ger and the leaders on their way up the last beat, the PRO was left with no choice but to apply the dreaded blue flag and sailing through the line downwind SI which claimed a good portion of the fleet. A harsh lesson for many Silver, Bronze and the odd Gold fleet sailor.

Into the deciding last race and a great start on the left by Ger looked like the Championships was now his to lose as Shane and Ross were buried in the fleet on the other side of the course.

If Ger thought he just needed to sail to the finish he soon realised it wasn't the case, as Katie Dwyer & Michele Rowley paced them all the way around and Ger & Brendan couldn't shake them off. Meanwhile, following the poor start, Shane & Josh came from way back to move into 3rd. No one was quite sure but Ger by holding off Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley on the last beat ensured they clinched the deal.

A superb 4th following his 6th in Race 7 from James Hockley & Alan Thompson (Lough Foyle) gave them 5th Overall and Silver fleet victory from Steven & Daniel Nelson (Newtownards) and fleet newcomer Patrick Hamilton & James Dewhurst (East Down). Gold Fleet next year guys!

Bronze fleet victory went to Sutton Dinghy Club newcomers Matthew Cotter & Tom Mulligan who just held off a late rally from locals Michael & David Brines (LEYC) to take the honours. Class President Michael Collender & Brian Walker ( Mullingar) were 3rd.

A superb 4th Overall including a Race 4 win by Yin Tang helped ensure Hugh and Dan Gill took the Masters Championship.

The new boats under Hugh and Norman Lee were very quick and should mean a few enquiries to Alistair Duffin before next years Worlds.

Ciaran Keogh and Adam Leddy finished 20th Overall and took the Youth Championship.

JP McCaldin along with LEYC Commodore Neil Ireland presented the prizes. The PRO Derek Bothwell was given a great reception and complimented for his efforts in getting a full schedule completed. JP and Michael Collender, Class President thanked everybody, and particularly the Youth sailors for getting up to Lough Erne making it such a great event and encouraged a good turnout for the next event which is the Autumn Open & Youth Championship to be held in Sutton Dinghy Club on Sep 11/12.

GP14 National Champion Ger OwensGP14 National Champion Ger Owens (right) collects his trophies. Scroll down for a photo gallery of prizewinners

Results summary below and full results downloadable as a pdf below. 


1) Ger Owens & Brendan Brogan ( RSt.GSC)
2) Shane MacCarthy & Josh Porter ( Greystones)
3) Ross & Jane Kearney ( RNIYC)

1) James Hockley & Alan Thompson (Lough Foyle)
2) Steven & Daniel Nelson (Newtownards)
3) Patrick Hamton & James Dewhurst (East Down)

1) Matthew Cotter & Tom Mulligan ( Sutton)
2) Michael & Peter Brines (LEYC)
3 ) Michael Collender & Brian Walker (Mullingar)

Masters Champion - Hugh Gill (Sutton)

Youth Champion Ciaran Keogh & Adam Leddy (GSC)

GP14 National Championships Prizegiving at Lough Yacht Club

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The second day of the 2021 GP14 Championship of Ireland got underway more than two hours later than scheduled. Little or no breeze saw the AP up outside Lough Erne Yacht Club all morning and well into the afternoon.

Patience was rewarded, with the wind eventually filling in and PRO Derek Bothwell managing to get the fleet on the water and ultimately complete another three great races. Earlier, this looked far from a certainty.

Unlike Friday, race conditions were between four and eight knots. At the end of the day, the three early leaders were still in the top three but had been shuffled a little, and they certainly didn't have it all their own way.

Race one saw Hugh & Dan Gill in Yin Tang take first place (and the International Shipping Services Cup) from Blessingtons Richard Street, with Ger Owens maintaining his consistent showing in 3rd. Shane MacCarthy was 7th and Ross Kearney 9th.

Race two again saw YinTang to the fore until some gear failure late on allowed Ger and Shane through, with Hugh & Dan settling for 3rd. Great to see Richard Street back on the stick as he followed up his 2nd with a 4th in the day's second race.

Robert & Chris Gingles took fifth to rattle a few cages. Our overnight leaders Ross & Jane Kearney, were certainly not having it their own way and had to settle with 12th.

If anyone thought it was now just between Ger & Shane, Ross & Jane had other ideas. A second in Race three puts them well in touch, but they could do nothing to stop Shane & Josh's taking their third bullet of the event. Norman Lee with Adam Leddy revelled in the conditions to take third ahead of the McGuinness brothers and jumped into 5th overall behind Hugh and Dan Gill in fourth.

So with two races on Sunday, Shane & Josh lead Ger & Brendan by three points, with Ross & Jane four points further back.

The Masters' Championship is also on offer here this weekend and sees Norman Lee chasing Hugh Gill, but any slip-up from the top three you feel will allow Hugh in for a podium finish in the main event and a medal.

Steven Nelson and son Daniel did enough to sneak past East Downs Patrick Hamilton to lead the Silver fleet. A top ten beckons for both these Silver fleet entries. Good going in a fleet of 40.

Today, the top five finishes of Blessingtons Richard Street & Conor Flynn saw them move ahead of Sutton Dinghy Club Matthew Cotter & Tom Mulligan at the head of the bronze fleet.

Two races on Sunday in what should be slightly breezier conditions will finally sort the top five positions. 

Overall results after day two are downloadable below

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The 2021 GP14 Championship of Ireland got underway at a breezy Lough Erne Yacht Club.

With wind regularly between 15 and 20+ knots, Race Officer Derek Bothwell had the fleet on the water pretty much as scheduled and completed three championship races.

All three were 'Windy and shifty, blowing 12 one minute, 20+ another, some great reaches and plenty of capsizes.' as related by Dan Gill crewing for his dad Hugh.

Sutton Dinghy Clubs Hugh & Dan managed a third in Race one and lie fourth overall, but they were the only ones to get a look in on the scoreboard as Ross Kearney, Shane MacCarthy and Ger Owens between them owned the remaining top three slots in today's races. Download results below.

Ross & Jane Kearney (RNIYC) lead after day 1 with a race win and a couple of seconds. Shane MacCarthy & Josh Porter (Greystones) lies 2nd after winning Race 2 & 3 and taking a 4th in Race 1 behind Hugh Gill. Ger Owens & Brendan Brogan (RSt.GYC) finished the day in 3rd after a 2nd and a couple of 3rds.

East Down's Patrick Hamilton leads the Silver fleet after a very solid day that included 2 top 10 finishes.

Event first-timers from Sutton Dinghy Club Matthew Cotter & Tom Mulligan in 'The Wrong Trousers' lead the bronze fleet with 3 finishes and 2 in the top 20.

Racing continues tomorrow and Sunday, with the forecast looking less breezy which will certainly be welcomed by some of the younger and lighter crews in the 40 boat fleet who have travelled up to LEYC.

Download results below.

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There is plenty of wind for the first races of the GP14 National Championships in Lough Erne today but the fleet is currently still aiming for a First Gun at 12:30 under race officer, Derek Bothwell from Howth Yacht Club.

Despite a few notable absentees, there are 40 entries at this stage which is being viewed as a "very healthy turnout from the Class in these challenging times".

A few new boats from builder Alistair Duffin are in the fleet this season, with Hugh and Dan Gill's YIN Tang getting plenty of attention. This is the second outing for YIN Tang having raced the Skerries Regatta two weeks ago.

As Afloat previously reported, aside from the GP14 start in Skerries a couple of weeks ago, the class have completed two events this year with Ger Owens & Mel Morris winning both the Leinsters (Blessington) in July and the Ulsters (Newtownards) back in June.

However, both events were quite close affairs with the likes of Shane MacCarthy and Ross Kearney knocking on the door with Colman Grimes, Diana Kissane, Stuart McCormack and the Gills all in good form.

GP14 Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club

GP14 Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club

GP14 Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club

There is a healthy number of youth sailors involved too and a good number are in Enniskillen this weekend. With Greystones Youghal, Blessington and Sutton Dinghy Club,  particularly embracing GP14 Youth, the class association says "this has been a particularly satisfying aspect of the GP14 Class in recent years".

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The fact that Royal St. George Olympic 470 helmsman Ger Owens has won the Ulsters, Leinsters and Skerries Regatta, which are the three GP14 events sailed so far this season, means he is a clear favourite to take the Championship of Ireland when it returns to lower Lough Erne for its 2021 edition next week.

Lough Erne Yacht Club stages the event from Friday 13th – Sun 15th August. 

Half a dozen local boats will be joined by up to 45 visiting boats from all over Ireland for the eight-race championships. 

Despite his current form, Owens, who is sailing with Brendan Brogan (with no less than 10 Irish GP14 titles between them), will not have things all their own way. 2016 Word Champion Shane McCarthy and 2019 Irish Champion along with World Championship runner up Ross Kearney are set to test the Beijing and London Olympian. 

Royal St. George helmsman Ger Owens has already won the Ulster and Leinster Championships Royal St. George helmsman Ger Owens has already won the Ulster and Leinster Championships

Derek Bothwell from Howth is the national race officer in charge of the event. 

The event also includes the Irish Masters and Junior Championships, which are always hotly contested.

The last time the fleet visited Lough Erne was for the Hot Toddy event in October 2019, and the planned 2020 Championship of Ireland was postponed to 2021 due to COVID.  

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Skerries Sailing Club Regatta next weekend (July 24/25) will feature a separate GP14 dinghy start and five championship-style races in anticipation of next year's World Championships to be staged at the north Dublin venue.

The annual Skerries regatta is also well placed to give Geep crews some timely race practise coming just six weeks ahead of the class national championships on Lough Erne this August. 

As regular Afloat readers know,  following their success at the Ulsters in June, Ger Owens and Mel Morris were crowned GP14 Leinster Champions at Blessington Sailing Club in early July 3/4 making them the form boat for the National Championships.

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A year and a half ago, Afloat reported on a famous GP14 called Ventura, which had been saved from destruction and was being restored by Derek McCune of Newtownards Sailing Club. 

Now Ventura, no 796 built in 1955 and once owned by Ernie Mawhinney of Belfast Lough, is back in the water on Strangford Lough at Newtownards. Three weeks ago, he sailed her for the first time in what is essentially Ventura's second life.

Ventura's  decks are varnised Ventura's decks are varnised

After sorting out the inevitable teething problems, Derek will then concentrate on future plans, which include possibly the Irish Nationals at Lough Erne Yacht Club in August and hopefully the postponed GP14 Worlds next year in Skerries.

Vintage GP14 dinghy Ventura a year and a half ago - work to be done

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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