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SB20 Racing on A 'Mediterranean' Dublin Bay

17th June 2015
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SB20 Racing on A 'Mediterranean' Dublin Bay

#sb20 – The SB20 fleet were treated to conditions more befitting the Mediterranean on Sunday afternoon as they battled it out on Dublin Bay in 10-15knts of breeze and blistering sunshine. Although some of the fleet regulars were

absent due to the fact that they have already departed for the Italian Nationals on Lake Garda in preparation for the upcoming World Championships, the fleet were delighted to see the welcome return of "Lupi d'Irlanda" (Marco Sorgassi et al) helmed on the day by veteran SB'er Tim Burke and "Mephisto" (John Lyons et al) helmed on the day by team racing legend Sam Hunt. In fact, there were three guest helmsmen in the fleet with regular SB crew Gavin Murphy ably getting to grips with the tiller once more on Seriously Bonkers (Peter Lee et al) as Peter familiarises himself with the role of "middle man" in preparation for the Worlds.

OOD Barry O'Neill and his team set up the windward/leeward course in the vicinity of Merrion mark between the west pier and Dublin Port, the area used to such good effect in the recent Leinster Championships.

With a strong ebbing tide favouring the left hand side of the course and a wind forecast to clock around to the right all day long, this was going to pose a tricky test for the competitors.

After a brief postponement to gather the fleet, Race 1 got off at the first time of asking. By the weather mark , it was clear that the left hand side of the course had paid as the expected right hand shift had yet to materialise. First around the mark was the SB prodigal son Tim Burke and team in Lupi d'Irlanda followed closely by Sam Hunt and team on Mephisto. Clearly nobody had told the newbies that it was just plain rude to give the regulars a spanking in their first race back! The two leaders were hotly pursued by Sin Bin (Michael O'Connor, Owen Laverty and Kevin Johnson) with a small gap to a bunch consisting of Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Chris Nolan and Rory Groves), Rubadubdub (Nick Doherty, Conor and Rob) and Bango (James Gorman, Ted Laverty and Keith Staunton).

Lupi were the first to gybe off approximately one third of the way down the first run with the remainder of the fleet holding on longer on starboard gybe. At the leeward mark, Lupi's decision to gybe off early was vindicated as they led Mephisto around the leeward mark by a length with Sin Bin rounding on Mephisto's transom. The wind started to oscillate as the boats progressed up the second beat and it was Mephisto that picked out the best path to the weather mark, overtaking Lupi and leading the
fleet at the second weather mark, a lead they were to hold onto to the finish. Bango also made good gains on the second upwind leg picking their way through the fleet and improving up to fourth place. Misfortune struck
Lupi while hoisting their kite at the second weather mark as they tore a sizeable gash in their spinnaker but commendably, they held on to second place to the finish despite the best efforts of Sin Bin and Bango chasing
hard. At the end it was Mephisto followed by Lupi, Sin Bin, Bango, Rubadubdub and Venuesworld.com.

Race 2 saw a return to form of the "regulars" (phew!). Once again, the left hand side of the first beat paid handsomely with Sin Bin and Lupi coming in from the left hand corner while the remainder of the fleet seemed to play the percentages and the shifts closer to the middle of the course. At the weather mark, Sin Bin led by a few lengths from Mephisto, again putting in a solid showing, with Venuesworld.com a few boatlengths further back in third. Unfortunately for Lupi, they had marginally overstood the weather mark and lost ground ducking boats and trying to find a gap to tack onto the starboard layline and get around the mark.

After a lot of shouting, Lupi rounded in fourth overlapped with Rubadubdub in fifth and Seriously Bonkers also overlapped in a very close sixth.

Down the first run, Venuesworld spotted a new line of breeze coming down the left hand side and were first to gybe off, followed by Sin Bin some moments later. The remainder of the fleet continued on starboard towards
the right hand side of the run. The new breeze also came with a significant right hand shift favouring Venuesworld and Sin Bin, allowing these two boats pull out a lead on the chasing pack who by now were struggling to get up to the leeward gate. The significant right hander meant that passing the leaders was going to be difficult for the chasing pack so at the finish it was Sin Bin in first followed by Venuesworld.com in second. Lupi followed them over in a creditable third place and Bango managed to get the upper hand on Mephisto after the pair had rounded the
leeward mark with Mephisto overlapped to weather. In sixth was Probably (Ian Simmington, Billy Riordan and Mark Nolan) after a "Lazarus-style" comeback to get back into the fray.

After a brief delay to allow the Race Officer and his team of rescue crew reset the course, Race 3 also got off at the first time of asking. This time, it was clear that the tide was going to be less of a factor and playing the shifting breeze and finding more pressure was where the
largest gains lay. It seemed that the pressure was better on the right hand side of the course and shortly after the start, Seriously Bonkers and Mephisto were the quickest to peel off onto port tack, ducking transoms in
search of the fresher breeze and expected shift. The move paid off handsomely as by the time the remainder of the fleet had peeled off onto port (only a minute or two later), the pair of early tackers were already in a new breeze and were able to cross the fleet as they came back towards the fleet on starboard.

However, the fleet did manage to reel in the early leaders and by the weather mark, Mephisto lead by the narrowest of margins from Sin Bin with Seriously Bonkers and the chasing pack near astern. A savage hoist by
Kevin and Owen on Sin Bin allowed them to roll over Mephisto at the spreader mark, forcing Mephisto to gybe onto port immediately.

Sin Bin followed suit a few boatlengths later heading off towards the left hand side of the run with Mephisto. The remainder of the fleet spread out evenly down the run. As the fleet converged in the middle of the run, it was clear that those boats that kept on longer on starboard gybe had fared better and gained ground with both Lupi and Bango coming into contention half way down the run. By now, the wind was quite light and the boats were in low mode, soaking down to the leeward marks at only 5 knots.

By the first leeward, Sin Bin had managed to hold on and led around the mark by five boatlengths from Mephisto and Lupi in a battle for second. Up the second beat, the wind was oscillating by up to 20 degrees so large gains and losses were still to be made and positions changed regularly. By the second weather mark, the wind was in a left hand phase making starboard the favoured gybe initially down the final run of the day. Those
boats that gybed off at the second weather mark were punished severely as the boats that held on made significant gains. At the finish, it was Sin Bin in first followed by Lupi in second with Bango charging through the fleet on the second run into third place. Venuesworld.com came home in fourth followed by Mephisto in fifth and Rubadubdub in sixth.

Congratulations to Barry O'Neill and his team on the committee vessel managing to get off three great races in a tricky shifting breeze.

In other news, the next Sunday races (for those not lucky enough to be in Lake Garda already!) are next Sunday, 21st June followed by the final three races of series two on Sunday 28th June. Mid-July and early August
will see the SB20 class joining the Dragon fleet for some Saturday racing - something to look forward to. Finally, best of luck to the nine-strong Irish contingent preparing to compete in the World Championships in
Torbole, Lake Garda from 4th - 10th July. The Irish sailors will be joined by, amongst others, former Olympians Glenn Bourke and (silver medallist) Rodion Luka. At the time of going to print, there were 86 registered entrants so exciting and tight racing is assured.

Published in SB20
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