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Liam Donnelly Wins the Day at RNIYC RS400 Winter Series

22nd November 2022
Ballyholme's Ben Martin (1179) prepares to overhaul Steven Nelson of Newtownards SC on a downwind leg of the RS400 Winter Series sailors at RNIYC
Ballyholme's Ben Martin (1179) prepares to overhaul Steven Nelson of Newtownards SC on a downwind leg of the RS400 Winter Series sailors at RNIYC Credit: Zac Dalzell

After last week’s crash and burn single race, this week, the RS400 Winter Series sailors at RNIYC on Belfast Lough were met by a more manageable 14-20 kts from the southwest, but about 10 degrees colder. Bob Hastings had done a good job on the RS 400 WhatsApp group rounding up and encouraging a good turnout, so 19 boats arrived on the start line. The female side of the fleet was boosted by the arrival of Sharon Corkhill in her first outing since motherhood, Jocelyn Hill in her newly acquired RS400 and Jane Kearney, recent runner-up in the Champions Cup.

The RS400 fleet go upwind at the Winter Series sailors at RNIYC Photo: Zac DalzellThe RS400 fleet go upwind at the Winter Series sailors at RNIYC Photo: Zac Dalzell

The first race start line was busy with a short line set and most of the fleet trying to pick the berth beside the start boat on the slight starboard bias. Robert Hastings got away cleanly to lead at the first mark with Peter Kennedy and Liam Donnelly recovering from poor starts by getting a nice right-hand shift after bailing out to the right. Hastings lost his mojo on the downwind, allowing Kennedy to take the whistle at the finish. Barry McCartin had overcompensated for arriving late for last week’s race by arriving early for this week’s race climbing his way back to 4th after his restart.

Tom Purdon and Purdon of Strangford Lough Yacht Club Photo: Zac DalzellTom Purdon and Purdon of Strangford Lough Yacht Club Photo: Zac Dalzell

There was a short delay whilst the rescue team attended to a couple of fallers, including Jane Kearney, who headbutted her boat and came off second best. Dan Sherriff’s mast was making ominous noises, so they called it quits too.

The second start was cleaner with Kennedy, McCartin (recently 4th in the Champions Cup) and Donnelly taking advantage of a left-hand shift off from the middle of the start line; this was the order at the top of the second beat, but Kennedy dropped his mainsheet and rolled into windward. This greatly amused the two chasers, McCartin keeping the lead to the finish.

The RS400 fleet gybe downwind at the Winter Series sailors at RNIYC Photo: Zac DalzellThe RS400 fleet gybe downwind at the Winter Series sailors at RNIYC Photo: Zac Dalzell

The third race was a humdinger with 6 boats vying for the lead all the way round, Tom Purdon with the lead at the first mark; Donnelly’s masterstroke was an early gybe to take advantage of a nice shift
and gust to plane into the lead and ultimate victory; Andrew Vaughan also took a lot of places on both downwinds, but in second place with only the last mark to round his spinnaker halyard knotted
and he slid down the snake to his worst place of the day.

12 boats finished the 3rd race, which was much less attrition than the previous week, but the windchill was playing its part and race officer Gerry Reid decided it would be prudent to get the fleet ashore
safely before any major mishaps and called off the planned 4th race. Congratulations to the evergreen Liam Donnelly for winning the day with scores 2,2,1.

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