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National 18s Chase the Breeze in British and Irish Nationals at the Royal Cork

4th August 2022
All in a row at the 2022 National 18 British and Irish Nationals at the Royal Cork
All in a row at the 2022 National 18 British and Irish Nationals at the Royal Cork

After a two-year hiatus, the National 18 British and Irish National Championships were hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club from Sunday 24 to Friday 29 July, with the Irish fleet bolstered by 20 boats entered from England, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The practice race had been scheduled for the Sunday to warm up the competitors and iron out any creases of fresh or reunited teams. Unfortunately, with gusts of 30 knots forecast, the risk of broken boats or crews was too much so the day was cancelled.

Looking ahead at the week’s light forecast, OD Ciaran McSweeney decided to aim for four races of the 12-race series on the Monday, to minimise the risk of missing out on races later in the week.

National 18 British and Irish National Championships

Monday’s racing was greeted by 16 to 20 knots of northwesterly wind. Race one saw the victory going to Nacho Boat, helmed by Charles Dwyer and crewed by William O’Brien and Irish Laser Radial legend Harry Pritchard, followed in second by King Penguin from the Isle of Man, helmed by Phil Hardisty and crewed by Chris Hill and Peter Richardson, with Puss 'n' Boots — with Tommy Dwyer at the helm and crewed by Willie Healy and Richie Lestor — in third.

Over the next three races Nacho Boat showed their dominance with a second, fifth and then a win in the last race by a staggering 2 min 30 sec. Rupert White of the Nacra British Sailing Team, sailing The Shadow with crew Mary Henderson and Ed Gibbons, was the event favourite. However, The Shadow suffered rudder failure and missed the first three races of the day, eventually returning to the course for race four and delivering a ninth place.

Race two was won by an Isle of Man team on Shotgunn, helmed by National 18 newcomer Ben Batchelor and crewed by Mike Wilson and Donald Edwards, who showed incredible form in the fresh breeze and also scored a fifth and sixth during the day. In race three Aquadisiacs, sailed by Colin Chapman, Eric Lyons and Morgan O’Sullivan, managed to control the race in the fluky breeze to win the race.

Overnight the championship was led by Nacho Boat with a seven-point lead, followed by Puss 'n' Boots (3, 2, 8, 3 for the day) and King Penguin (2, 6, 4, 4).

ACE, helmed by Ollie HousemanACE, helmed by Ollie Houseman

On day two (Tuesday) the breeze had dropped considerably, with the forecast for light and shifty winds. Out of the start line, The Shadow took a solid lead with their rig in as far forward as possible. With their solid lead they looked unstoppable — until the young team of Chris and Olin Bateman, sailing Blacklist, found their stride with their slightly older wireman Stefan Peretti.

They put the pressure on the The Shadow and showed their talent as the future of Irish sailing but narrowly missed out on catching them and had to settle for second in race five. The two boats were followed by Aquadisiacs in third and Herbie 2.0 (Colin Barry, Paul Cotter and Ronan O’Driscoll) in fourth.  

The forecast for day three looked very similar to the previous day with a 4-6 knots northerly swinging to the south over the middle of the day. There was some surprise as the OD instructed the fleet to launch, only for them to be met by a decent easterly of 10-12 knots outside the harbour.

National 18 British and Irish National Championships

Day three (Wednesday) managed to produce two races before the breeze dropped completely. Race six delivered another bullet for The Shadow followed by #3 with Paddy Crosbie at the helm, Ewen O’Keefe and Conor Kelly crewing. Team #3 was managed by Conor Kelly Jr for the week which proved instrumental as the week progressed.

Nacho Boat struggled for the day due to the loss of their middleman and secret weapon, Harry Pritchard, to a mild illness. With only seven races, no discard was yet in play. Nacho Boat was still leading followed closely by #3 lying second and Herbie 2.0 in third.

Day four (Thursday) kicked off with a bullet for #3 in a nice 10-14 knots breeze outside the harbour, followed by The Shadow and Herbie 2.0, helmed by Colin Barry and crewed by Paul Cotter and musician Ronan O’Driscoll, who recently released his new single Cages, named after the harbour channel mark with the same name.

Blacklist representing the home clubBlacklist representing the home club

Race nine was won by The Shadow with Nacho Boat in second and #3 in third. Race 10, the final race of the day, gave The Shadow another victory with #3 finishing second. Herbie 2.0 and King Penguin battled it out for third, with Herbie 2.0 taking it at the finish.

At the end of day four (races eight, nine and 10 and all discards now in play) the championship was still wide open, with #3 on 24 points and Nacho Boat on 26 points, both with a mixture of results and discards.

The Class Dinner Dance was held on Thursday night with a special presentation to Jeremy Vines who is still racing 18s in his 85th year.

On day five (Friday) the breeze picked up and came in from the south, clocking slightly right over the course of the day to a solid southwesterly of 13-16 knots.

Race 11 started down towards the shore by Cuskinny House. Nacho Boat and #3 started the race in close proximity and headed towards the left side of the beat. Nacho Boat lead at the first mark followed by #3 and The Shadow. Downwind #3 took the lead only to lose it again up the next beat. As the race continued, Nacho Boat held the lead to the finish and The Shadow pipped Crosbie to put the two leaders on 27 points each going into the final race.

National 18 British and Irish National Championships

Race 12 started with #3 and Nacho Boat needing to finish in front of each other or with poor results to carry earlier discards. Again, the boats were glued to each other and headed for the left side of the beat.

As they tacked back to join the fleet the leaders came in from the right, leaving Nacho Boat and #3 mid-fleet. With unfortunate timing, #3’s main dropped a couple of metres only for Nacho Boat to tack directly on them as they resolved the issue and got back racing. Down the next run Nacho Boat took #3 away from the leeward gate to drag the pair down the fleet.

By the finish #3 had crept ahead of Nacho Boat but could only manage a ninth place and after applying new discards, Team Nacho Boat won the Nationals for the second year in a row — not counting the pause in 2020 and 2021 — on 33 points.

National 18 British and Irish National Championships

  • Overall 1st: Nacho Boat; 2nd #3; 3rd: The Shadow; 4th: Aquadisiacs; 5th: Herbie 2.0 (full results attached below)
  • Cock of the North – Nacho Boat
  • Medway Bowl – The Shadow
  • Family Trophy – Misfits, Stephen & Jonathan O’Shaughnessy and Mark O’Donovan from RCYC
  • Youngest Team – Blacklist
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At A Glance – National 18 Dinghy Specifications

The new National 18 ‘Ultra’ Specifications

Designer Phil Morrison
LOA 5.49m
Beam 2.36m
Hull Weight 160kg
Sailing Weight <200kg
Crew Weight No Limit
Main & Jib 22.5 m2
Kite 21.0 m2
PY 910
Construction Vinylester Foam Sandwich

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