The RS400 crews gathered in the boatyard, scratching their heads considering if it was even worthwhile bothering to take the covers off as there wasn’t a breath writes Bob Hastings. The 420s were out drifting about and it looked like a day to go home and do something else, but just before 1 pm a westerly breeze started to fill in and everyone started to get ready. The breeze was lovely, a good F3-4 straight down the lough from Belfast.
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Gerry and his team didn’t waste time and they got the course set and the sequence underway. The first attempt resulted in a general recall and everyone returned to the start. The second start saw the fleet get away and the race course was evenly split. At the first mark, it was between Bob Espey & Hammy Baker and Stephen McLernon & Ryan Wilson. The downwind leg was confusing as it looked like there was more breeze to the left but if you kept right and stuck to the lay lines you would make the gains and this really split the fleet up. There was enough breeze that a few boats capsized. At the end, Barry Mac snuck past Stephen McLernon and but couldn’t get past Bob Espey who took the win.
In race two the course had to be reset as the wind was turning more to the west. Everyone got away cleanly and it seemed best to stay to the shore side of the course both up and downwind. Trevor D’Arcy & Ginge in Heavy Load, previous winners of the series put in a good result and came second, with Bob Espey & Andrew Baker taking the win. Liam Donnelly had a port-starboard incident with Tom Purdon which resulted in him doing turns like a good sport, but it really didn’t help his results.
By race three the wind started to fade away and the drizzle came in. Again the course had to be changed and thankfully shortened. It was frankly cold and miserable and the tail tails were sticking to the sails. Last week’s leaders Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley got a bit too keen on the start line and got an OCS which for them wasn’t ideal. The race got underway and this time featherweight Barry Mac & Andrew Penny drifted around the course fastest and took the win with Bob Espey and Liam Donnelly not too far behind.
With some of the usual suspects not in attendance and some dodgy results, this week the leaderboard is all change. With only a small number of discards, it pays to turn up, sail well and not to get into any bother. Before discards, Liam Donnelly & Rick McCaig would be leading but sadly for them, it doesn’t work that way. Last week’s leaders Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley had a bit of a shocker this weekend so they have been kicked off the top so after 15 races, Bob Espey & Richard McCullough are in the lead, followed by Barry Mac & Andrew Penny in second, Paul McLaughlin & Owen McKinley in third, closely followed by Liam Donnelly, Trevor D’Arcy, Peter Kennedy. There are nine more races scheduled so there is plenty of time for others to get to the top of the table.
So far this series we have had 26 boats take part which is fantastic for any class of boat. Next week there are rumours that Ross Vaughan will be turning up with his rather fresh RS400.
Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club is hosting the combined UK & Irish RS400 Nationals from the 25th – 29th August 2019.