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After a hiatus of two years, Northern Ireland's RS400 Winter series is back. The Belfast Lough sailing event will kick off on Sunday 31st October for eight consecutive weeks up to 19th December.

This event was the last run in 2019 before the Covid pandemic paused things; at that point, it was a well-supported winter event with a regular 18 boats on the start line and an extensive fleet turnout for the last day, known as the Christmas Race.

The series draws boats and very talented sailors from all over the country, with some boats travelling from Dublin.

Race Officer Gerry Reid told Afloat, "A typical Sunday race will consist of three quick-fire races of about 20 minutes each. We remember that it gets cold for the competitors and the event team, so we don't hang about. This all came about back in 2007 when a few 400' guys approached the Club and asked about a few races around Halloween; this developed into its present guise of three races per day over eight weekends the numbers just built. We are delighted to get this event going again."

Racing can be watched from the shore at Cultra, starting at 1.30 Sunday 31st October.

Published in Belfast Lough
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The RS Nationals were recently held at Rush Sailing Club. The event included the RS400, RS200, and Feva classes.

Three days of racing were scheduled under David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher and the Rush racing team. 

Day 1

Friday started light and shifty and took a while for the breeze to settle. After a few false starts with fickle winds racing eventually got underway. Only RS400 and RS200s were racing on Friday. A full programme of three races were conceded with some very tight and competitive racing. In the RS400s it was very close racing at the top with the venerable Robert Espey & Richard McCullough leading by a slender margin of 5 point just ahead of Christopher Eames & Rachel Tilley fresh from competing in the UK RS400 Nationals in second with 6 points, followed by Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney in third on 8 points.

In the RS200s Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'Leary dominated proceedings with 1,1,2 - followed by David Jones & Rob Keal, Sarah Dwyer & Henry Start, Tadgh Donnelly & Meabh Ryan, and Martin & Vicky Dews at their first event having recently joined the RS200 fleet!

Dying breeze and strong tides made conditions challenging for both the race committee and competitors with up to 4 marks drifting at various stages due to strong tides. 

Barry McCartin & Andrew PenneyBarry McCartin & Andrew Penney in the RS400 Photo: Sean Weldon

Day 2

Day two dawned with the promise of more wind. It didn’t disappoint! The competition was fierce from the start with UFD flags very quickly being deployed for all starts as the battle for position on the line intensified.

In the RS400s Robert Espey & Richard McCullough continued to dominate with two race wins from 4, closely followed by Christopher Eames & Rachel Tilley who secured a race win in the last race where the wind shut down completely at times on the last leg. Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley won race three proving that the fleet is tough and competitive and the leaders will have to work hard to stay ahead.

A similar story unfolded for the RS200s with Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'Leary extending their lead, but not without challengers as Tadgh Donnelly & Meabh Ryan won the first race of the day, and Martin & Vicky Dews won the last race with some impressive “ferry-gliding”/tactical use of strong tide and no wind!

RS Feva racing at Rush Sailing ClubRS Feva racing at Rush Sailing Club Photo: Sean Weldon

The Fevas had their first day of racing with Isobel Bloomer & Oscar Legge keeping their noses in front on countback from Emily Ridout & Annabel Ridout with 2 race wins as both teams were tied on points. Siofra O’Donnell & Saoirse Corry followed in a close third meaning that it was all to play for in the final day of racing. Isobel Bloomer & Oscar Legge continue their strong form after winning the RS Feva Inlands and Emily Ridout & Annabel Ridout are serious contenders after a 3rd place at the RS Feva Northerns.

Day 3

The final day of racing was going to be a challenge - the forecast was not looking great coupled with strong tides in Rush. After an initial postponement ashore a whisper of breeze developed above what was forecast and David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher pulled the trigger to proceed. One final race was sailed enabling an additional discard for the RS400 and RS200 fleets.

Marty O’Leary & Kevin Johnson secured the win throwing a cat among the pigeons wich might have seen Christopher Eames & Rachel Tilley win the event on countback had they secured the win, so they had to settle for 2nd. Robert Espey & Richard McCullough secured a 3rd ensuring a 2nd National title in a row. Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney had a tough day finishing 6th, but this did not affect their 3rd place finish.

Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'Leary also had a tough day finishing 6th but this did not change their dominant performance on previous days to secure another National title. Tadgh Donnelly & Meabh Ryan made the best of the conditions to secure a final race win cementing their 2nd place overall. Sarah Dwyer & Henry Start managed to fend of a last-ditch 3rd place finish by David Jones & Rob Keal to secure 3rd place overall on count back, pushing the Cork lads to 4th.

Sarah Dwyer & Henry StartSarah Dwyer & Henry Start Photo: Sean Weldon

Isobel Bloomer & Oscar Legge stamped their authority on the event with a final race win after a disappointing 5th in the last race on Day 2. Ronan Blake-Hickey & Hugh Meagher secured a 2nd to cement a solid 4th place overall. Jane Collins & Noah Doherty from Cullan SC had their 1st podium finish which is great to see different teams securing top spots. Emily Ridout & Annabel Ridout and Siofra O’Donnell & Saoirse Corry had a tough last day but they had both done the hard work on Day 1 to secure 2nd overall and 3rd overall respectively. 

Results

RS400

RS400. winners - Robert Espey & Richard McCulloughRS400 winners - Robert Espey & Richard McCullough

1 - Robert Espey & Richard McCullough

2 - Christopher Eames & Rachel Tilley

3 - Barry McCartin & Andrew Penney

RS200

RS 200 winners - Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'LearyRS200 winners - Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'Leary

1 - Frank O'Rourke & Rachel O'Leary

2 - Tadgh Donnelly & Meabh Ryan

3 - Sarah Dwyer & Henry Start

Feva

Feva winners - Isobel Bloomer & Oscar LeggeFeva winners - Isobel Bloomer & Oscar Legge

1 - Isobel Bloomer & Oscar Legge

2 - Emily Ridout & Annabel Ridout

3 - Siofra O’Donnell & Saoirse Corry

Next Events

Marty O’Leary will represent the RS400s in the Senior Champion of Champions event in the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Conor Galligan will represent the RS400s in the Junior Champion of Champion event in Schull. The next event will be the RS Southerns in Baltimore on October 2nd/3rd and the final national event will be the RS Easterns in Greystones on October 23rd/24th

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Hoping to kick things off in late April at Greystones in County Wicklow, the RS Ireland dinghy class has set out its 2021 racing calendar.

The class has seen a resurgence of RS numbers in the garden county harbour, with the 400 fleet growing to 16 boats, the 200s to 12 and eight Fevas actively sailing through a reduced season in summer 2020.

Greystones Sailing Initiative

Greystones Sailing Club have put two new initiatives in place to further encourage the growth of the RS class, with one Saturday of each month being designated as an open day, meaning anyone can come along with their boat and join in the racing free of charge.

There are usually three races each Saturday with the first gun at 2pm. For those who are keen to do more and join the growing fleet, there is a discounted visitor rate for those who are already a member of another club.

RS dinghy sailing in Greystones Bay, County WicklowRS dinghy sailing in Greystones Bay, County Wicklow Photo: Scott Evans

Irish RS Dinghy 2021 Fixtures

All dates below are obviously subject to the relevant COVID-19 guidelines in pace at the time of the events.

  • Easterns - Greystones Sailing Club - Wicklow - April - 24/25
  • Southerns - Baltimore Sailing Club - Cork- May 29/30
  • Leinsters Dun Laoghaire Regatta - Dublin - July 2/3/4 - 200/400 Only
  • RS Eurocup - Lake Garda, Italy - July 26-30
  • Inlands - Blessington Sailing Club - Wicklow - July 24/25
  • Northerns - Carrickfergus Sailing Club - Antrim - August 14/15
  • Nationals - Rush - Dublin - September 10-12

The class is also targeting the Volvo Dun Laoghaire one design event, entry is now open. it falls nicely three weeks before a number of Irish boats are planning to decamp to Lake Garda for the 2021 RS Eurocup, planned for the end of July.

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The RS200, RS400 and RS Feva dinghy classes have published a provisional 2021 racing calendar subject to COVID restrictions.

The year starts at Greystones Harbour with the Eastern Championships on April 24/25 and a month later the three fleets will travel to the Southern Championships at Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork on May 29/30. 

As Afloat previously reported, the RS class was an early sign-up to Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta for its one-design event from July 2nd.

The full calendar is below:

RS200, RS400 and RS Feva 2021 Fixtures (Provisional)

  • Easterns - Greystones Sailing Club - Dublin - April - 24/25
  • Southerns - Baltimore Sailing Club - Cork- May 29/30
  • Leinsters Dun Laoghaire Regatta - Dublin - July 2/3/4 - 200/400 Only
  • RS Eurocup - Lake Garda, Italy - July 26-30
  • Inlands - Blessington Sailing Club - Wicklow - July 24/25
  • Northerns - Carrickfergus Sailing Club - Antrim - August 14/15
  • Nationals - Rush - Dublin - September 10-12
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The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club hosts the RS 400 UK and Irish National Championships on Belfast Lough this weekend.

This is the first time this event has been hosted in Ireland waters, and also the first time that both the UK and Irish have been combined. This combination should throw up an interesting challenge, for the top UK RS 400 sailors and the Top Irish RS 400 sailors. Currently, we are expecting 56 boats on the start line!”, according to Gerry Reid, the Event Director.

From England, Mike Simms, a former Laser aficionado, and in more recent years a very quick RS 400 helm, and former winner of the Nationals is competing. Also, racing is England's Nick Craig. 

From home waters, Barry McCartin has had a terrific year along with his regular crew Andrew Penny, winning most of the Traveller events this year, and is the current holder of the Bosun Bob trophy, He knows Belfast Lough well.

Bob Espey also knows the Lough well and has won many past events, we would expect to see these guys at the top of the fleet. Peter Kennedy, a former Olympic sailor, is the local
guy who can make any boat go very fast, and Peter will be mixing it up at the front.

From Greystones, Sean Cleary was second in Garda recently. Sean will be a threat to those at the front, and can certainly show a turn of speed!

Other local contenders showing form are Paul McLaughlin from Cushendall, and Hammy Baker and Mike Ferguson. Ross Vaughan is making a welcome return to sailing at this event, sailing with his cousin Andrew Vaughan and it will be interesting to see how they get on.

The fleet arrives on Saturday, with racing starting on Sunday afternoon (25th) running through to Thursday (29th), with two races per day scheduled.

The Race Officer Robin Gray plans to run the racing between Royal North and Greypoint. The event also has a busy social schedule to keep the competitors entertained off the water.

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As the RS400 fleet comes together on Belfast Lough this weekend, the newly crowned RS200 champion Chris Bateman reviews the recent RS gathering at Galway Bay Sailing Club that provided a weekend of racing in tight competition. 

As Afloat previously reported here, several events were to be run over the three days. RS 400s and Fevas were competing in their Western championships, with the RS200 fleet competing in their National Championships. Two days of racing were scheduled for those entered in Westerns, three days were scheduled for those racing in the RS200 Nationals.

Feva sailingRS Fevas were competing for Western championships honours

It was a grey start to day one of the RS 200 nationals. Cloud and light rain created an authentic scene for the west of Ireland. The sailors arrived early to rig their boats. With a short briefing at 10:30am, the competitors were ready to sail.

A twelve-knot breeze blew down the bay. With a long course set, racing was underway. Taking the win for race one was Conor and Jack Galligan from Greystones SC. Race two was won by Chris Bateman and Atlee Kohl (MBSC/RCYC). With the wind dying slowly, racing became tricky. Jocelyn Hill and Katie Kane from Co. Antrim SC showed good speed, winning the final race of the day. Conor and Jack Galligan sailed well, giving them an overnight lead after day one.

Another dull morning greeted the fleet for day two. The RS 200’s were joined by the 400’s and Fevas, who arrived early to make it in time for the 11 am start. Howling winds blew across the bay, with winds in excess of 25 knots. A one-hour postponement later, and racing was called off for the day.

Day three dawned with much more promising views. A steady 10-12 knot breeze had filled in overnight and racing was sure to go ahead. The competitors had a quick briefing and in no time were on the water. Four races were scheduled, and conditions were perfect.

The RS 400 fleet started first, with 11 boats lining up on the start. Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney (CSBC/RstGYC) took first place in race one of their westerns. The RS 200 fleet started second, and as points were tight the start line was a competitive place. Taking another win was the Galligans. In the Feva fleet, two boats joined the other RS sailors to race in their Westerns.

Race two saw Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney take first place. This was the second of four wins in total (a clean sweep). In the RS 200 fleet, Adam Power and Jack Young (Previous RS 200 nationals winners) took the win, having sailed exceptionally well around the course.

Race three and four were got underway quickly, to finish racing within the time limit. In the RS 400’s McCartin and Penney got two more wins. In the RS 200 fleet, Chris Bateman and Atlee Kohl also clinched two wins, in very tight racing.

The sailors returned to shore, tired but having had a solid day sailing. A few protests later, and prizegiving was underway. In the RS 400 fleet, Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney took first place, winning the Western championships. In second was Chris and Niall Eames (SLYC). In third place was Govan Berridge and David Coleman (Killaloe SC).

For the RS 200 Nationals, it had been tight racing with high competition. Winning the Championships was Chris Bateman crewed by Atlee Kohl (MBSC/RCYC). In second place (a point below) was Conor and Jack Galligan (Greystones SC). In third place was Frank O’Rourke and Emma Hynes (Greystones SC), having sailed fast, and holding a very consistent series.

FrankORourke HynesFrank O'Rourke and Emma Hynes, 3rd place RS 200 Nationals

 The Galligans The Galligan's, 2nd RS 200 nationals

Chris BatemanChris Bateman crewed by Atlee Kohl, 1rst RS 200 nationals

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Ireland’s expanding RS Classes are in acceleration mode as they build towards the Irish & UK RS 400 Nats at Royal North of Ireland YC at Cultra on Belfast Lough from 25th to 29th August, and the all-classes RS Southerns within the Royal Cork Yacht Club Dinghyfest on the weekend of 14th to 15th September.

The west coast came into the developing programme over the extended weekend of August 9th to 11th, when Galway turned its attention from the horses of the annual Galway Races to the prospect of riding white horses on the seas off Galway Bay SC. But on the first day, the RS 200s were frustrated in some of their hopes, for the winds were easterly, and with the big breeze arriving over the land and showers passing through, the sea was flat but the wind was very variable in strength and direction.

The course was set up with a windward mark and a leeward gate. The strong and shifting winds gave the sailors plenty to think about, particularly on the downwind legs, with a variety of strategies being employed to maximise the effectiveness of the large asymmetric spinnakers.

Despite the challenges, the day saw four races successfully completed, with Conor and Jack Galligan from Greystones leading the field, having taken two of them. Friday evening saw the arrival of the RS400 and RS Feva fleets ahead of their Westerns, but there was disappointment on Saturday morning as high westerly winds whipped the sea into a frenzy of short, sharp breakers. It was white horses in profusion and then some. But after an inspection of the race area, Safety Officer Mox Henderson concluded that the sea state would make race management impractical, and racing had to be postponed for the day.

rs racing2Keen to get going – the RS 400s had fewer days in Galway Bay, and were out to make the best of them

It was all change as brighter conditions dawned on Sunday. The wind came around to the North, the sea calmed and the force 3 - 4 winds allowed the boats to reach quickly to the course. Four races were completed by Race Officers David Vinnell and Aoife Lyons for all three fleets, with the shifting winds again rewarding an appreciation of micro-meteorology. In the 200 fleet, Chris Bateman and Atlee Kohl from Monkstown Bay made the most of the conditions to finish the overall series ahead of the Galligans. Another Greystones boat, with Frank O'Rourke and Emma Hynes aboard, came in third.

In the 400 fleet, first place went to Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney from Cushendall and the Royal St. George, who won all four races. Chris and Niall Eames from Strangford Lough managed to take second place by just one point from Govan Berridge and David Coleman from Killaloe. In the Feva fleet, GBSC's Robert Donelly and Aly O'Sullivan held out to take top spot ahead of Ella Lyons and Veronica O'Dowd.

And now, Belfast Lough and Cork Harbour beckon for a crescendo of RS dinghy sport.

rs galway prizewinners3Chris Bateman & Atlee Kohl of Monkstown Bay SC, winners of the RS 200s at Galway, with Irish Sailing Board Member (West) Rory Carberry

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Over 20 RS400 made the trip for the past weekend’s Inland Championships hosted by Blessington Sailing Club. Nestled to the west of the Wicklow Mountains the sailing club boasts a sandy beach, plenty of room for onsite camping and with a big BBQ planned it provided the perfect getaway for the weekend.

Racing on a reservoir with light winds forecast, flat water and high land, this event was going to be a mental test for competitors in what is normally a fast, physical class and could see some interesting results.

Race one got underway and it soon became clear just how challenging the tactics would be, shifts in the wind could have you laying the windward mark from the start line or headers that almost tacked the boat before the helms even had a chance to react.

Leading the way to the first mark was Strangford lough’s Hammy Baker with Barry McCartin in hot pursuit, though it wasn’t long before the changeable weather saw the chasing pack who had all gybed early to meet a new breeze coming from the other side of the run closing the gap. With only one lap completed the race was shortened with Barry taking the win closely followed by Simon Hutchinson and Chris Penny in third.

With weather holding race two managed to complete the scheduled number of laps and Barry started to show signs he was the man to beat by again taking the honours, John Downey second with serial RS400 event winner Robert Espey showing his face to complete the top three.

Two races in and where competitors might normally have started to figure out their strategies for the venue, here nothing was certain. Just as when you think you have the upper hand heading left you could look over your shoulder to see the guys to the right in a gust going twice your speed, but fear not as you receive a header to tack on that now has you pointing to the windward mark back in control… thank god there is no current to consider on a reservoir or it could become anyone’s guess what to do next.

Baker made the best of things playing the shifts up the middle of the beat to again lead at mark one, a lead he finally held onto until the finish taking the final race of the day. The battle for second saw some drama when a confusion on the number of laps to be sailed saw some competitors heading around the right gate mark for another round. Tom Purdon was unfortunate by losing out on a sure top three to fall to 18th and Espey even failed to finish. McCartin had to settle for second to round off a very impressive days performance on 4 points.

After a head-scratching day on the water everyone headed ashore to convert the sailing club into a festival scene with tents, boats and BBQ’s strewn over the lawn.

Blessington Sailing clubs members and volunteers put on a fantastic spread for dinner, burgers, sausages and every side imaginable kept everyone happy.

Next came the cultural experiences, Cushendall’s Paul McLaughlin and Barry started coaching a few into the finer points on how to swing a hurl before most settle into beers and campfires. The ‘Rock the Boat’ bonfire party carried on into the early hours of Sunday morning and could become an annual occurrence.

Sunday dawned with an albeit light but more promising breeze than the previous day and glorious sunshine that may have added to a few sore heads from the night before.

A two-lap race course nearly twice the length of races 1 - 3 really opened the game up with big separation now possible in such fluky conditions it could be a day for snakes and ladders for any who dared to hit the corners. Chris Penny and Hammy found a lucky lane of breeze in the middle of the course to lead and holding the breeze extended down the run. Positions were changing rapidly and nothing was a sure thing, boats were tacking almost constantly trying to take what they could from the shifting breeze and escape the clutches of nearby rivals. Penny managed to take charge of the match race developing at the front to overtake and hold off Baker to finish first and second respectively. Emmet Ryan took third and after discarding his DSQ from day one was now back in the hunt. Ever-present McCartin was keeping constancy with a fourth.

Race 5 saw McCartin and Penny secure the top two spots overall with a race to spare by keeping their discard intact and scoring first and second. Espey added a third to a consistent score to maintain his claim for the podium.

As we heading into the final race, with points as they stood Barry could no longer be beaten and Chris was guaranteed 2nd leaving 3rd as the final spot still up for grabs. A left shift in the final seconds before the start meant most of the fleet tacked almost as soon as the gun went giving those towards the pin-end and early advantage. This left shift lasted most of the beat and again Baker lead around the first mark but despite already having the event in the bag McCartin was still pushing hard and right on his transom with Espey rounding in third. As the fleet continued to navigate its way around the fluky racecourse the wind started to drop and large holes began to appear which had to be avoided at all cost, good luck predicting where they would be. With one final downwind to the finish McCartian led from Espey who gybed early ahead of Baker who carried on straight. Now with the separation it seemed luck would decide the order at the finish. With the little breeze that was left Baker just manage to get to it first taking the win with Barry second, Bob third and Chis forth to show the two top boats overall with impressive constancy for the conditions.

Right on schedule the dying breeze dropped out as the fleet slowly limped ashore with the baking sun and previous nights festivities now starting signs of tiredness across most competitors who were ready for the Burger King pitstop on the drive home.

Results Overall:

1st - Barry McCartin & Andrew Penny
2nd - Chris Penny & Jess Rutherford
3rd - Hammy Baker & Liam Glynn

Emmet Ryan top southern boat in 5th.

Download full results below

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The second RS event of season kicked off in 2019 at Strangford Lough YC in Co. Down to host the RS200 Eurocup over four days and RS200/400 Northern championships racing over the weekend. In the 200s this attracted numerous British visitors for racing on Irish shores to make it more interesting and bigger fleets to contend with. It started off a misty morning with not much breeze but shortly after midday it began to clear and the boats all launched. The 400s along with the impressive 200 fleet on the same Windward/Leeward course racing began beside ‘Dead Mans’ rock, hovering over the course with Strangford’s infamous low tide. The first start went off without a hitch highlighting the importance of clean air and matching up the patches of gusts and shifts. The sun also decided to come out to play resulting in one of the warmest days of year! However, On the second lap, the race committee made the call to abandon the race due to wind falling below an acceptable level of 3 knots and a significant wind shift causing an unfair advantage. No favouritism shown to the Strangford local Hammy Baker in his shiny refurbed boat who made a nice gain on the second beat to be in the lead at the time.

Shortly after the wind picked up a bit more and steady enough to race so once some course adjustments made the fleet jostled for position and got away. In this one again McCartin/Penney lead from Baker/Chimney and Team Purdon early on but on second beat Donnelly/McCaig came back into it finishing second in end to McCartin/Penney and first and Penney/Rutherford recovering to 3rd by final downwind. The 2nd race of the day and one general recall later for the 400s the racing got away once allowing bit more even bias to spread boats along line away from the prime position and shiny committee boat of line. The wind had picked up at this stage closer to 10-12knots at times allowing for flat hiking and at-or-close-to planing conditions downwind to make it fun. This start had an individual recall (with the offender making amends going back) and led by the mighty pairing of Stephen McL and Ryan Wilson at the top mark but were caught up by McLaughlin/McKinley and the dynamic duo of Peter Kennedy/Stephen Kane on the downwinds. By the second lap McLaughlin/McKinley got the win with Kennedy/Kane in 2nd surviving a late charge from McCartin/Penney in 3rd. The introduction of dark clouds and an ever-increasing flooding tide meant that big gains were made on boats committing to one side of the course so consistency was proving difficult.

There was no hanging about for the last race of the day with another busy committee end start. The leaders where mixed throughout the race with a big split on first downwind causing the fleet to almost reverse in order at one point but showing great skills McLaughlin/McKinley were once again in lead taking initiative to gybe off to better wind side to build an extending lead with O'Sullivan/McGlade in 2nd and Purdon/Purdon 3rd. On second lap the fleet got tighter once more with plenty place changes last downwind. McLaughlin/McKinley stayed ahead and Purdon/Purdon who got through to second on the last gybe to finish suddenly felt their rudder go right at finish which was very unfortunate. Penney/Rutherford came 3rd. The fleet retired a shore to a great social in the club and catering set up for a championship dinner as part of entry keeping everyone around which was great with music and good fun into the night as the fleets relaxed.

Day 2 woke up to the opposite scale of conditions and with high gusts coming through in the higher 20's region, the decision was made to race one fleet at a time on the course to minimise fleet overlap and potential collisions on a shorter Windward/Leeward course and also to ensure enough rescue cover. The 200s went first to the gaze of 400s from balcony as the sharp gusts caused a few early capsizes and breakages among many top boats retiring many of the fleet early. From this, the decision was made to call-off the 400s from further racing meaning results from Day 1 stood. This meant Barry McCartin/Andrew Penney won ahead of Paul McLaughlin/Owen McKinley and Chris Penney/Jess Rutherford finishing 3rd.

A final thanks here should be left to John McKelvie, the Club committee, Race team, marks, and the (busy) rescue/beach teams that made the event run so smoothly and professionally on all sides. Also, in particular, thank you to all the competitors who made the effort to travel and enjoy the lesser known spoils and toils of Strangford Lough! Many more events on the RS circuit to come with RS Inlands in Blessington 27/28July, RS Westerns in Galway 10/11 Aug, the biggest event of year RS400 UK/Irish Nationals in Royal North 25-29Aug and final one RS Southerns/Dinghyfest in Cork 14/15 Sept.

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Finally some racing again on Sun 31-Mar as the Spring series in RNIYC resumed! Sunshine and a lovely 12 - 15 kts from the east welcomed the RS400 class after a few weeks of no sailing due to poor weather. Some teams even brought out the new cloth in preparation for the season ahead which is fast approaching.

The plan for the day was 4 races starting on-time given the sublime conditions and it certainly was with tight racing around the course and any mistake punished. Barry McCartin and Andrew Penney continued to dominate the series with 3 race wins showing fantastic speed downwind with the new boat of the sailed by Ross & Andrew Vaughan nicking the final one. There were loads of changes throughout the racing with Peter Kennedy & Steve Kane, Ruan O'Tiarnaigh & Catherine, Trevor Darcy & Ginge, Stephen McL & Ryan Wilson, Liam Donnelly & Sharon Doherty all showing turns of great speed throughout mixing at the front. 

Some of the leeward gate action that took place during the 4 races caused some hairy moments as boats came planning back together and heated exchanges (no names mentioned). All this certainly acts as a prelude to what we will see in the summer when the UK/Irish nationals come to Belfast Lough when there could be upwards of 70+ boats!

Now less than month out from the first regional events, Barry and Andrew look the Partnership to beat from this series and the competition need to find an extra gear over the closing races to reign them in! It’s also great to see lots of new faces and some familiar faces who are getting back into racing.

Another 2 weeks remain of the winter series, hopefully some more of the same conditions. There were a few absentees due to Mother’s Day duties – so numbers back to full capacity next week would be great. Thanks as always to PRO Gerry and his sublime team of volunteers doing marks, safety, results etc giving us the opportunity for quality racing at 2019 UK/Irish Nationals venue.

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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.

Competitions

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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