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Olympic Gold Medalist Wins RS Elite Champs on Belfast Lough

3rd July 2018
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RS Elite start on Belfast Lough RS Elite start on Belfast Lough

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club hosted the RS Elite UK National Championships over four days last weekend at Cultra on Belfast Lough. The event has added interest for Irish sailors as next year it comes to Dublin Bay for Dun Laoghaire Regatta where it will be rebranded the European Championships.

The Local Club enjoyed, like we all did the glorious weather, with a kind sea breeze to aid very close racing. The fleet of 19 included boats from the host club, Carrick, Bangor, Strangford and the South coast of England with a few past Olympic sailors to add to the competition of the event.

Elite natioals winners Mike McIntyre 20181988 Olympic Gold Medalist Mike McIntyre (left) was the RS Elite nationals winner

The race officer Ruan O’Tiarnaigh on loan from Ballyholme Yacht Club, did a superb job with the ten race series. It came as a surprise to everyone with the hot conditions that the wind stayed steady for all four days averaging 10 knots. This made for some of the tightest racing ever seen in the RS Elite Fleet, with the daily leaders changing each day.

On the first day(Thursday) was won by Royal Ulster boat “Storm”, helmed by Stephen Polly, they scored two seconds and a filth totalling nine points, three ahead of the next boat from Hayling Island “Foudafafa” helmed by Mike McIntyre on twelve points and Ossie Stewart on thirteen points on his “More Tea Vicar” also from Hayling island yacht club.

A social evening was held on board SS Nomadic, for all the competitors, giving the visitors a glimpse of Belfast Shipbuilding heritage.

On Friday, day two, all the competitors arrived fresh (ish) ready to go for another tough day of three more races. Racing got away bang on time as it did every day. Again competition was tight throughout the fleet. A simple mistake could cost six or seven places.

Elite nationals down wind 2018 tapRS Elites downwind

Today the points were tied for third, with” More Tea Vicar” and “Shaken not stirred“ (Hayling Island) Helmed by Colin Smith both on thirteen points, Royal North Boat “AnchorMan” helmed by Oliver Loughead took second for the day, ten points, with two seconds and a sixth. But the Day went to “Foudafafa” with a very impressive three firsts.

The social on Friday evening included a BBQ, music and Late bar, with much craic, had by all.

On Saturday the penultimate day of racing all competitors arrived with the same disadvantage, sore heads! The scorching sun was not helpful. But despite this the racing was intense, the race committee didn't think it could possibly get tighter, the last race was one of the most completive the committee boat had ever seen or had been part of.

Three more races on the day's schedule, the event was still wide open, with the second discard due to kick in. Saturday’s daily point came down to “Storm” and Brian Corry’s “Tuppence” ( Strangford Lough YC) both on fifteen points on joint third. Second “Foudafafa” on thirteen points and Paul Fisk’s “Legs Eleven” (Hayling Island) on eleven points to win the day. On Shore the fleet gathered for the Gala Event dinner hosted by the events kind sponsors Brewin Dolphin, the competitors and guests enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by a humorous game, and comedy speeches, by the event director Mark Brien and others. Another late bar licence ensued and the great atmosphere and craic of the venue continued.

Many were hurting on Sunday morning for the last race of the series. Once again racing got off bang on time. Today only had one race so it was easy to calculate the day's points.

Third went to “Shaken not Stirred” second to “Legs Eleven” and the lead boat of the day was Royal North’s “Anchorman” This was a popular win for the fleet as the Sponsors were on board!

The overall results all came down to the final race, it would be safe to say that “Foudafafa” had it in the bag by Saturday evening, however, 2nd to 10th was still open. In Fifth overall “Anchorman”, Fourth,”Shaken not Stirred” Third, “Legs Eleven” Second was the local boat “Storm” and the overall Winner was Mike McIntyre’s “Foudafafa” congratulations to Mike and his crew the new National Champions. Also well done to the two other Hayling Island boats who finished in the top four.

In the prize giving and speeches, Mark Brien thanked the kind Sponsors Brewin Dolphin, the event Team, mark layers and Ruan O’Tiarnaigh for superb race management. Mike McIntyre also thanked the usual suspects, and congratulated the venue Royal North for one of the best RS Elite Nationals so far!!
It would be fair to say with the combination of the blistering sunshine, iconic yacht club location, constant steady breeze, high level of tight sailing, excellent race management and a packed social programme, this event will be hard to top, even by Royal North itself.

Next year the event moves to Dublin for the first time, retitled the Europeans, to be held as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. At least 30 Elites expected on the start line for that event.

Published in RS Sailing
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