The ambitious inaugural Cork Dinghy Fest 2015 on 20-23 Aug in RCYC was to host over 200 boats in 10 fleets and 5 race areas proving dinghy racing flourishes across Ireland. The RS fleet took the opportunity to come together from all corners of the island to hold the RS Feva and RS200 National Championships and the RS400 Southerns.
In spite of a clash with the Laser Nationals in Dun Laoghaire, we had 65 RSs racing across the 3 classes comprising 14 Fevas, 18 RS200s, and 33 RS400s. Many competitors chose to stay close to the action taking advantage of RCYC’s accessible camping facilities, which also included use of two members’ gardens as a much needed and picturesque overflow. At the mercy of the Irish summer weather, there were diverse sea and wind conditions forecast in the mix to the weekend’s sailing.
RS Feva Nationals
Just a month after the Feva World’s in Travemunde, the Start brothers from the George, as the name would suggest, at their second ever RS event, stole day one at Cuskinny in Cork Harbour with the George’s Triona Hinkson and Katherine Kelly in close pursuit. Saturday had consistent breeze in the harbour, and while Dara Donnelly/Cliona Coyle from the National came in all-smiling with three bullets, steady sailing had the Hinkson/Kelly duo leading overnight as the Starts suffered an OCS. With just three points separating the top three boats it was all to play for as the boats launched into promising airs on Sunday morning. Locals Rob Keal and Killian Foster came into their own with a fourth and 2 firsts building on their consistency over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough to catch the top three boats and the National’s Dara Donnelly/Clion Coyle girls took first overall,the RStGYC’s Start brothers in 2nd and Triona Hinkson/Katherine Kelly in 3rd. It was a great family occasion with so many parents along for the weekend in support and a few new boats to the fleet and to eventing having fun and also taking prizes at the Redhead Convention taking place in Crosser at the weekend,
RS 200 Nationals
The larger dinghies were to be posted out beyond Roches’ Point on the open seas for the event. We had wind, sun and nice waves as we emerged from Cork harbour on Friday. While losing a few competitors to the Laser nationals, we also had an injection of youth in the fleet to fill the gaps as some of the stalwarts retire to steadier and less energetic crafts.
The Race Committee chose the windward leeward course with a beat of almost 1 mile and leeward gate. The early pace setters were Marty O’Leary and Rachel Williamson from the George, starting at the committee boat, going right hoping to catch some of the ebbing tide from the harbour. Frank O’Rourke, Greystones, sailing with Maeve Judge, HYC, started down the line and went left up the first beat. As the fleet spread out across the beat, by the weather mark it was clear the two lead boats were just 3 or 4 boat lengths apart with Marty having the edge. This was to be an even race course unaffected by tides and with wind steady across the course for the day. The race committee, wisely chose to shorten the course and run a fifth race to end the day in anticipation of light airs for the remainder of the weekend. While Marty/Rachel and Frank/Maeve dominated the day, there was much inconsistency further down the fleet with some fairly appalling infringements, unnecessary capsizes and turns along the way. Clive Coffey and Helen Cassidy from Newcastle consistently posting 4th and 5ths. However, Chloe Eggers and Paddy Lee from the George, new to the fleet, were making their presence felt with a second in race 2 and consistent sailing from Greystones’ Aaron Jones/Conor Clery lay 3rd after five races overnight. We retired ashore for R&R, some battered and bruised having completed half the scheduled 10 races and already enough under our buoyancy aids to form a series but a very light forecast looming for Saturday and Sunday.
Day two dawned with a breeze and the 200 boats were launched in anticipation of some calmer conditions than Friday. However, as we opened into the sea, the wind evaporated only to reappear hesitantly some hours later when Race Officer Jack Roy and Ciarán McSweeney managed to extract two races from the glassy waters for the 200 and 400 fleets. Race one was led by Clive Coffey and Helen Cassidy who unfortunately, after a night spent climbing a mountain, chose the outer loop losing out yet again to Marty and Rachel who proved they could manage the light stuff just as well. There was an ongoing steady performance from Frank and Maeve with Stephen Craig/Sarah Cooney showing more consistent sailing and Chloe and Paddy in close pursuit, Greystones Aaron/Conor dropped back in the fleet as their combined crew weight took its toll in the light conditions. Once towed ashore by the ever attentive and efficient safety crews, it was clear that Sunday’s forecast had improved and a SI change would have the RS200/400 fleet racing off Curlane Bank. As Saturday evening progressed, much Campervan envy was felt throughout the camping fraternity as the rain settled in for the night with some tents flooded.
On Sunday, with light breeze and flat waters, we set off for the new race area knowing that the 400s, with no space for a trapezoid, could affect the results. The 200s had just 3 races left to complete the series and with shifty light airs across the race area, the Hinksons took a comfortable 2nd in Race 1 of the day having stuck close to Marty and Rachel, who were not relinquishing their lead and Stephen and Sarah coming in 3rd. Lighter crews, risky port starts, tacking in the shifts and avoiding the 400 fleet at the gate in the last two races of the event paid off, Stephen Craig and Frank each taking 1st place in the last two races.
Marty and Rachel were crowned RS200 National Champions, Frank O’Rourke and Maeve Judge 2nd with Stephen Craig and Sarah Cooney Junior National Champions coming in third overall. Chloe Eggers deservedly took first lady helm at her maiden RS200 event. Marty and Rachel also won Boat of the Week prize with their performance.
RS 400 Southerns
27 Boats made the journey down to join the 6 and growing local RCYC fleet of 400's.
Racing started on Saturday and was particularly tough going with a long postponement on the water as we floated about, watching and waiting for the breeze to make a guest appearance. Finally late in the afternoon Race 1 kicked off with a not so easy to remember trapezoid course, resulting in a little confusion at the mark 3 on the 2nd lap, the Ryan brothers had it all figured out keeping their lead and their kite. Local RS400 hero Alex Barry followed by Paul Mc Mahon decided to mix things up a little with a rapid drop and hoist sequence keeping their crews Richie and Laura on their toes!!
Race 2 was somewhat less eventful, with the course figured out Alex and Richie showed a clean pair of heels to take the bullet, with Michael (Chunky) Ferguson and Gavin Doig second, followed very closely by locals Andrew Woodward and Richie Harrington.
With 2 races completed the fleet made the long journey in from Roches Point and straight to the bar for well deserved pints (although some of us were in the lucky position of getting a tow in - thanks George and Dave Kennefick).
Saturday night winding down got off to a good start with a lovely BBQ and a great talk from photographer Brian Carlin, quickly gaining pace at the bar, and ending with a traditional session, resulting in more than a few sore heads on Sunday morning.
Day 2 brought an earlier start in an effort to get in 4 races. Racing took place inside the harbour with a light breeze and a strong tide making it a very challenging day for all. Although the familiar Windward /Leeward courses gave the brains more time to attempt to work out the shifts.
Race 3 saw Ewen Barry and Shane Dunlea cross the line 1st, followed by Andrew Woodward and Richie with Paul McMahon and Laura coming in third.
Race 4 saw Paul and Laura take the bullet with Ewen and Shane close behind. Peter Kennedy and Simon Hutchins coming in third.
Race 5, saw a big wind shift on the first beat with Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher taking advantage to finish ahead of Alex and Richie, followed in third by Chunky and Gavin.
Race 6 kicked off after a delightful squall and heavy rain to wake the fleet up. With no 2 races being won by any one boat it was all to play for. The wind decided to take a break by time the fleet rounded the leeward mark for the 2nd time, Alex and Paul stayed in close quarters of each other as they made their way up the beat. The 2 short blasts sounded by the OOD as they approached the windward mark were very welcome with Paul and Laura crossing first, followed by Alex and Richie, with Chunky and Gav taking third.
The points were tight and no one was quite sure of the final standings until they were posted. Event was won by Paul and Laura, by a point from Alex and Richie followed by another local boat Andrew and Richie taking place overall.
The next event, Nationals in Ballyholme is shaping up to be a great event for all three fleets. A bumper entry expected with the Scots and English coming to test the Irish 400 fleet and hopefully the Northern 200 fleet participating in force.
Full results available here