The Irish RS400 fleet took its first foray into the North West last weekend, dipping their toes, and in many cases their heads, in the strangely mild waters of Sligo Bay. Sligo Yacht Club, under the watchful eye of Mick Spain, welcomed the fleet for the first time, and despite the drizzly conditions, ran a superb event in what must be one of the best race areas in the country. Download results below.
In the absence of Alex Barry, Gareth Flannigan and Dave Fletcher in 1259 from Ballyholme were rather dominant, with only John Downey and Sandy Rimmington in 522 from Monkstown able to properly put them under pressure. Welcome too to Conor Clancy, who was giving it a first rattle in the fleet gypsy, Pinkie, brought up from Belfast for them to use.
Winds started lightish on Saturday, and Race Officer Robin Gray, who now knows the fleet well enough to get the Black Lady out rather quickly, managed to get three good three lap races off, and still got us back ashore to catch the Northern Ireland Wales match – strong work Robin. Matters were largely uneventful for the 18 tubs, with much place changing and congested mark rounding, and most folk seemed happy to save their more eccentric manoeuvres for the windy forecast on Sunday.
Winners Gareth Flannigan and Dave Fletcher from Ballyholme
After a very boisterous Saturday evening, which spilled into Austies pub in the next street, the locals being no doubt delighted to be serenaded by the RS400 choir in full voice, singing such classics as Eric Cantona’s “Will Grigg’s on fire”, a foggy looking fleet dragged themselves into their wet coldsuits, and drifted out onto the river to pay the penalty that they had earned the night before. As the winds topped out at a fruity 18 knots, Red Cards were handed out to Brian Holmes, Trevor Darcy, and in the last race, John Downey, with repair bills, and Liam Donnelly, Robbie O’Sullivan, Michael Ferguson, Dave Cheyne and Owen Laverty, with swimming lessons, generally at the wrong point in the race. In fact with the frequent kite trawling at the top mark (well, we haven’t raced in more than 3 knots of wind all year so far it feels, so a bit out of practice), matters were rather less professional looking than the previous day.
After a few cracks at starting under black, the viz went poor, and Robin Gray wisely declared a generalised drag race back to the slip, with kites popped and a full foam up back to the slip (needless to say all arriving at the same time, doh!) and some wave jumping in the standing waves at the river entrance.
So Gareth and Dave continue to rise, and it looks like the Nationals will be a hard battle with Alex, and plenty snapping at their heels, with in particular Dave Rose and Ian Hef finally starting to get their act together, and John Downey going ever quicker. Next is off the Inlands at Lough Ree in July.