A low sun arose over Cork Harbour in the early hours of the morning. A slight chill in the air was enough to inflict a bite, but not enough to stop thirteen enthusiastic sailors from arriving on the Sandquay at 9 am. A windy forecast was on the cards and gusts of up to 27 knots were due later in the morning. The sky was cloudless and Monkstown Bay looked promising.
A south-westerly breeze blew across the bay, peaking at a low 10 knots of wind. The tide was high and weak. The competitors launched their Lasers off the Sandquay, to join the race committee.
A windward/leeward course had been set, with a windward mark situated in the creek near Raffeen. The 10:10 am scheduled start was right on time and the thirteen Laser sailors found their positions on the small start line. Three minutes went by and race one was underway.
Launching off the line was MBSC’s Ronan Kenneally, who crossed the fleet with a spectacular port tack flyer. This put him into the lead just ahead of the fleet. Conditions were tough, with a gusty wind mixing things up. Kenneally held his lead around the windward mark just in front of BSC’s Fionn Lyden MBSC’s Chris Bateman. But things were not all as they seemed and the ace Finn sailor (Lyden) sailed past Kenneally using his downwind skills. The breeze was increasing slowly as they sailed downwind. Bateman chose the opposite side of the course and managed to round the leeward mark just ahead of Lyden and Kenneally. Paths were chosen carefully as the competitors travelled upwind, working through the shifty wind. All remained vigilant and two rounds later, your correspondent took first place. Taking the second position was Lyden, with Kenneally following just behind in third.
In the Radial category, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard took first place, with MBSC’s Philip Doherty following up in second place.
Race two began with much more wind. There was now a steady 13-knot wind gusting up over 16 knots. The high tide was still weak and the competitors had no trouble beating up to the mark. Pulling away into the lead was Sunday’s Well sailor Paul O’Sullivan, followed by radial sailor Philip Doherty in second. The top mark was seeing heavy wind and a wild gust caught out O’Sullivan, as he spun into an almost-saved death roll. This capsize let Doherty pull into the lead, with Bateman just behind. Doherty blasted away from the fleet in the high wind and rounded the leeward mark in first. As they continued on the upwind leg, Doherty’s radial rig lacked the extra ‘grunt’ in the lulls, allowing your correspondent to sail through in the full rig. The last downwind leg saw Fionn Lyden sail through the radial sailor, followed up by MBSC’s Alex Barry. Taking first place was Bateman and in second place was Lyden. Light-weight sailor Alex Barry managed the heavy weather well and took third place.
In the Radial category, MBSC’s Phil Doherty showed heavy weather speed and took a comfortable first place. MBSC’s Harry Pritchard followed up in second, having struggled in the big breeze.
The wind had piped up for race three, the last race of the day. A strong, gusty wind blew across the land from the west. These are tricky conditions at best, with rogue wind shifts threatening to capsize the laser dinghies. The competitors set off and immediately started to work their boats to maximum speed. Leading around the windward mark was O’Sullivan, with Kenneally in second. A heavy gust of over 22 knots let Kenneally sail through O’ Sullivan. As the competitors planed towards the leeward mark, the wind was gusting over 25 knots. Your correspondent sailed around the leeward mark just ahead of Kenneally, with Lyden closing in. The wind whipped across the water, making the windward mark rounding a task. Lyden and Kenneally battled it out, with Kenneally sailing over the top of Lyden. The heavy wind was of no moment to the fleet as they all blasted downwind to the finish line. Taking first place was your correspondent. In second position was Kenneally, with Lyden sailing through into third.
In the Radial fleet, Heavy weather specialist Phil Doherty took another win. Harry Pritchard finished up in second place.
So, a great end to what was an epic morning on the water. The sailors headed for shore, whipped with wind and spray. Warmth and rest awaited on shore, all the that was needed to relax after a hard morning’s sailing.
Join us next week on the water, where the stellar race committee and mark layers will make sure you get the most out of your Saturday morning, and will never disappoint!