There was an enforced lay day due to lack of wind at the RS400 Nationals, RS200 and RS Feva Northerns when the fleets decided they'd rather head to the bar at Ballyholme Yacht Club to watch the Ireland v Canada rugby match. This proved so popular that some suggested a lay day in the middle of future events although only if rugby readily available which means we'll have to wait 4 years for the next time.
This morning, Race Officer Robin Gray brought the start time early in a hope to fit in five races if possible before the 1500 time limit. Having witnessed the giant killing of South Africa by Japan on Friday night, some of the locals were hopeful that one of them would be able to take down the all conquering English pairing of Michael Sims and Richard Brown from Carsington Sailing Club in Derbyshire. After the first two races of the day, the upset looked on with Ballyholme's Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher only 1 point behind with a 3rd and 1st. The other stars of this morning were the Welsh pairing of Josh Metclafe and Jack Holden, conspicuous with one of the few Dacron mains in the Mylar fleet.
In the afternoon however, Alex Barry and Richard Leonard won Race 6 with Michael and Richard just behind. Flannigan and Fletcher scored a DNF, while the other local boat we expected to see featuring earlier – Robert Espey and Michael Gunning scored the first of 2 seconds despite having fallen out of the back of the boat on Race 4. It can happen to anyone.
The breeze all day was a 10-16 knot southerly with flatter water than Friday and little sunshine. The racing was just as tight with the RS400 fleet pushing the line even under U. After a general recall, Race 7 managed to get away cleanly with only 2 minutes before the time limit. The UK National Champions got away cleanly up the middle of the beat and had a comfortable lead by the gate on the downwind, carrying this through to win the race and the Open Championship overall.
They were followed up the beat closely by Flannigan & Fletcher but a busy windward mark and a wrong manoeuvre at the first gybe suddenly found the BYC boat only 10 places from the back, such was the tight nature of racing even for the last race of the day. They recovered to 14th place but not enough to see off the current Irish National Champions Alex Barry and Richard Leonard who slipped through with a 4th to win 2nd overall and retain their title as Irish champions.
The RS200 fleet saw equally tight racing over the 4 races today with only 3 points separating the top 3 of the 20 boat fleet who raced on the outer loop of the trapezoid course. Despite Frank O'Rourke winning 2 of the 4 races, it was Marty O'Leary and Rachel Williamson who won the RS200 Northerns from Sean Craig with Olympian crew Ciara Peelo.
The RS Feva fleet showed good speed with the front boats keeping away from the chasing RS200s until the bottom of the outer loop. In fact such recognition was rewarded by the RS200 fleet dropping to O2 from O3 for all but the first race. The biggest smiles were in Race 3 for Lucy Bell and Emma Greer who won the race courtesy of the 4 boats who were pushing the pin end of the start line all scoring OCS. Alex and Henry Start revelled in the windy conditions all day winning the final race and the RS Feva Northerns Championship.
This was the largest RS400 fleet this summer with 51 boats taking to the water today, and over 80 boats between the 3 classes, and all were thoroughly happy but tired at the end of racing. It was great to see so many boats travelling from all corners of the UK and Ireland and shows the strength of the class, especially when looking at the calibre of the sailors involved with numerous Olympians, offshore talent and National champions. Overall RS400 Eurocup winner Michael Sims thanked Ballyholme Yacht Club, their event team for the great event and warm welcome given to all in Bangor over the weekend, and the sponsors Bangor Fuels, Ards and North Down Borough Council and Corona for their support.
Ballyholme Yacht Club looks forward now to next year with the hosting of the Topper World Championships in July 2016.
Winners Marty O'Leary and Rachel Williamson with Frank O'Rourke winner of RS200 Travellers trophy and Corona models
1st Michael Sims and Richard Brown, Carsington Sailing Club, 1, 1, 1, (5), (12), 3, 1 7pts
2nd Alex Barry and Richard Leonard, Monkstown Bay Sailing Club / Royal Cork 2, (7), (4), 2, 2, 1, 4 11pts
3rd Gareth Flannigan and David Fletcher, Ballyholme Yacht Club, 3, 4, 2, 3, 1, (50, DNF), (14) 13pts
4th Josh Metcalfe and Jack Holden, Y Felinheli SC, (5), (11), 3, 1, 3, 5, 3 15pts
5th Robert Espey and Michael Gunning BYC 9, 5, (50, DNF), (10), 4, 2, 2, 22pts
6th Barry McCartin and Finbarr Bradley, Cushendall Sailing Club, 11, 3, 8, 4, (26), (34), 11 37pts
1st Marty O'Leary and Rachel Williamson, Greystones Sailing Club, 2, 1, 2, (3) 5pts
2nd Sean Craig and Ciara Pello, Malahide Yacht Club, (3), 2, 3, 1, 6pts
3rd Frank O'Rourke and TBC, Greystones Sailing Club 1, 5 ,1 ,(5) 7pts
Alex Start and Henry Start, Royal St George Yacht Club, U18, 2, 3, (12 OCS), 1 6pts
Lucy Bell and Emma Greer, Strangford Lough Yacht Club U16 3, (5), 1, 5 9pts
Catherine Pooler and Anna Wilson, SLYC, U18, 5, (6), 2, 4 11pts