Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough hosted the RS Elite Championships last weekend. There was strong competition on the start line of a 16–strong fleet. The Current UK Champion Mike McIntyre on Foudafafa was over from England to get the feel of the local waters before the UK National Championships in two weeks time over at Royal North. Other contenders were Tiffany Brien on Kin, Jeff Ralston on Upfront and local Carrick sailor Ryan Wilson on Eclipse.
Day one started with a brisk breeze, Ryan Wilson showed his local knowledge and was quick of the mark, He led for most of the first lap with Foudafafa hot on his heels by Lap 2 very little separated the fleet with the top five boats all in the running for the finish in the short run from the leeward marks to the finish. Foudafafa got the win with Ryan Wilson second and Oli Lochead on Anchorman Third Jeff Ralston fourth and Ross Vaughan on Toucan Fifth.
On Race two a large squall came down the Lough ramping up the wind. Mike McIntyre’s Foudafafa once again stayed on top this time Tiff Brien giving the leader all the pressure on second and the Bangor Boys Stephen Polly on Storm third and Ryan Wilson on fourth.
All was to change for race three the lid had gone light and was coming from the direction of the shore, a correction of the race course and the race got underway, Oli Lochead started very successfully on a port flyer. Ross Vaughan was also up at the top of the fleet, all looked good then the wind stopped playing. After about 10 minutes the breeze picked up from a totally new direction, paying dividends for those at the back of the fleet and upsetting the former leaders. Storm was now in pole position to take the win followed by Jeff Ralston In second Kin in third and Foudafafa in fourth. After Day one Mike McIntyre’s Foudafafa was leading the event, Storm on second and Kin third.
Day two and the competitors not at there best post the championship dinner! But again today's wind was steady. Race four was again tight between the fleet, and the start was key to this race, a boat length misjudgement and your race were over. Foudafafa once again took the line honours, followed by Storm with UpFront third and Ross Vaughan’s Toucan in fourth. At the start of the fifth race, the points at the top were tight. Storm going better today tacking the win followed by Tiff Brien and Foudafafa on third once again Ralston on fourth.
The last race was all to play for and a wee bit of controversy. Tiff Brien was leading this race, however on the downwind leg approaching the committee boat the blue finish flag was hoisted during lap one, (In the sailing instructions you could not sail downwind through the start/finish line while this flag was up) Tiff had to crash gybe sail around the committee boat and lost her comfortable lead. (The flag was later lowered again, oops) Storm took this final race and the Championship on nett points, Mike McIntyre on second although with gross equal points to storm Positions third and forth also had joint equal gross points, after discards Tiff Brien on third and Ryan Wilson on fourth Jeff Ralston fifth.
The UK National Championships are in a weeks time First race Thursday 28th.hosted by Royal North, to have two national championships in such a short period in unusual but great for the fleet! Several South coast English boats are expected, the local boats don't plan to make things easy for them!