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26 RS200s for Championships at Strangford Lough Yacht Club

30th May 2019
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RS200 sailing on Strangford Lough RS200 sailing on Strangford Lough Photo: Photo: Sarah McKelvie

Strangford Lough is often accurately described as a ‘hidden gem’ writes John McKelvie. While only 30 minutes from Belfast, as you pass the rolling fields and gastropubs of Killinchy, you really aren’t sure what to expect - until you see it from the crest of a hill. 58 square miles of sea lough, over 300 islands, and a comfortable white clubhouse sitting in a bay jammed full of racing and cruising yachts.

26 RS200 teams made the journey from all over Ireland, Scotland, England, and even Guernsey - special mention to Henrik and Georgina who has now been on every ferry on these islands!

Download full results below

A crack race team under Angela Gilmore had been assembled, the competitors were keyed up, and then… nothing. Not a breath of wind on the first day so a decision to postpone was made Some took the chance to visit the sights around the Lough by RIB, while others found solace in one of the many aforementioned gastropubs. They serve Guinness,… certainly enough to dampen some teams’ performance in MJ Gifford’s brilliant pub quiz that night.

The fleet departs from Strangford Lough Yacht ClubThe fleet departs from Strangford Lough Yacht Club Photo: Sarah McKelvie

Saturday had four races in light and shifty conditions. Sophie Mear and David Jessop in 1659 put the schnell into schnellwurst and probably had the legs on the fleet, but overnight leaders were Alex Sutcliffe and Andy Brown. The fleets then sat down together for the famous three-course SLYC Championship Dinner.

Big Sunday brought a sold 20 knots, gusting 25 and more. The RS400s kindly stayed ashore and let the 2s go play. Only faintly terrifying at times - it felt fast downwind and looked even faster in the photos. Most of the fleet managed to get the centreboards out of the water and boats airborne, and those who stayed upright scored well. Alex and Andy had cemented their lead at the top, followed by Jill and Andy Peters, but the final podium step was where the action was, with Charlotte Cotter and SLYC local John McKelvie in 3rd, closely followed by Sophie Taylor and Brendan Lynch, and the 1659 combo likely still to be in contention when discards kicked in.

Ultimately it all came down the final race. Pre-start, 806 and 1546 circled with John driving Brendan down to the unfavoured end of the line. This continued through the first beat and run, but both boats kept popping out at the front of the fleet! Sophie/David recovered well after a bad first beat, and the three boats finished within touching distance of each other, with job done for 1546 who completed the podium and took the RS Northern Championship. Sophie/David claimed 4th overall with Sophie/Brendan rounding out the top 5.

Congratulations to Alex and Andy who sailed a fantastic series and are well deserved 2019 EuroCup champions. Thanks are due to all the members at SLYC who volunteered to make the event so successful - two favourite quotes were, “I don’t want to go home”, and “can we come back here next year?”

Download results below

Published in RS Sailing
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