SB20 crew Aidan O'Connell, John Driscoll and Andrew Vaughan were the winners of the inaugural SB20 visit to Carlingford Lough at the weekend. The 12–boat fleet were treated to a brand new venue at Carlingford Sailing Club for the first SB20 regional event of the 2016 season on 23rd/24th April and it proved a tremendous success. Overall results are downloadable below.
The warmth and hospitality of the club members, flag officers and event management team combined with perfect 15-25 knot breeze meant that there are plenty of sore, but very happy, bodies after racing on Sunday.
The fleet launched on Saturday morning from the pier beside the clubhouse and headed out for a very civilised 1.30pm start. Conditions on the Lough were ideal for downwind SB20 sailing with speeds of over 15 knots being recorded across the fleet. Although the northerly breeze was moderate to fresh, it was still oscillating through 50° so the race officer called a short postponement to allow the wind direction to settle. After a brief delay, the fleet were off from a heavily committee boat biased line. As with all new venues, there were differing views about how best to approach the first upwind leg with seemingly better breeze to the right but less tide inshore to the left. In the end, those boats holding on starboard tack up the shore line fared best. At the first mark, Sin Bin (Michael, John and Gareth) led narrowly from MSS (Colin, Chris et al). A better hoist from MSS saw the old boys career over the top of Sin Bin and take the lead as the boats hurtled down the run towards the leeward mark. Also making a charge for the front were Ruby Blue (Aidan, John and Andrew), 2 Men and their Monkey (Daragh, Shane and John) and Venuesworld.com (Ger, Chris, Maeve and Blair). There were massive gains and losses to be made on the downwind legs and catching an extra gust could mean the difference between 1st and 8th place. At the finish, Ruby Blue showed a great turn of speed to win convincingly from 2 Men and their Monkey in second and MSS in third.
Race 2 again saw a heavily biased committee boat and there was a drag race out left once more to get out of the adverse tide. 2 Men and their monkey were again showing good pace up the first beat with Project Mayhem (Davy, Joe and Ric – welcome back lads!) in the thick of it at the weather mark. By now, the wind was beginning to howl and cheeks were firmly clenched on the downwind sleigh ride… Sin Bin was able to take advantage of a big gust down the left hand side of the run to come in just ahead of the pack at the leeward mark. They held on to their lead and at the finish it was Sin Bin from Project Mayhem followed by Ruby Blue in third.
Race 3 saw the wind build further to a punchy 20 knots but the fleet managed to get away cleanly. Unfortunately, a collision up the first beat put an end to Bad/Kilcullen’s (Enda, Jerry and Jimmy) mast and regatta but we hope to see the lads back on the water very soon. It’s a measure of the men and the venue that they still had smiles on their faces and pints in their hands by that evening’s après sail. Back up the course, there was a terrific battle for the lead between the boys on Ruby Blue and the boys and girls on Venuesworld.com. The boats were neck and neck down the last run with Ruby Blue eking out the narrowest of leads by the last leeward mark. However, a better spinny drop by the crew of Venuesworld.com and a quick tack at the leeward mark enabled Venuesworld.com to get to the favoured left side and get their nose out in front. Ruby Blue tacked to cover once their spinnaker was stowed away but when Venuesworld.com tacked back for the cross, they had snatched the lead and were leading by a couple of boat lengths. Ruby Blue was not done yet however and they somehow managed to reel Venuesworld.com in by the finish line, finishing by a nose in front. Ruby Blue were really beginning to dominate the regatta now having claimed their second victory of the day from Venuesworld.com in second and Lia (Dave, Ollie and Ben – welcome back Ben!) in third. The Race officer decided that a fourth race was not on the cards and sent the boats back ashore for pints and steaks. Carlingford is a party town and the SBs partied…
Sunday dawned with a fresh northerly, shifty breeze once more and the Race Officer informed the fleet before launching that he would attempt to get the races off quickly as the forecast was for the wind to build further. A few sore heads and many sore bodies made their way out to the race course to do battle once more. Race 4 saw Aidan and the lads on Ruby Blue take up where they left off showing great pace and cool heads to take their third race win of the series. Lia had begun to get into their stride after some “difficulties” on day one with marks attacking them and stormed into a very well-deserved second place ahead of the resurgent Manamana (Graeme, Ronan and Diana) who were showing the fleet how you are supposed to pick your way around Carlingford Lough.
Race 5 saw the wind start to abate slightly and begin to shift around more making the upwind and downwind legs more about making sure you were in phase with the shifts than favouring one side of the course over the other. At the last leeward mark the three lead boats rounded within 2 boat lengths of each other with Sin Bin getting water inside Lia and 2 Men and their Monkey right on their transom. 2 Men and their Monkey had a slick drop and rounding and tacked straight away at the mark. Sin Bin tacked to cover once up to speed and Lia kept on going a few lengths further into fresher breeze before tacking onto starboard. The three boats were neck and neck drag racing up the short last the beat. After a three-way tacking duel, there was a photo finish at the end of the race with Sin Bin taking the win by a quarter of a boat length from 2 Men and their Monkey with Lia a further few feet astern.
Ruby Blue struggled for the first time all weekend and uncharacteristically found themselves back in 6th place. As the points stood, Ruby Blue were on 6 points (12 points without discard), 2 Men and their Monkey were tied in second with Sin Bin on 12 points and Lia was back in fourth on 16 points. Unbeknownst to themselves, Ruby Blue had managed to seal the event with a race to spare… like true champions though, they came out fighting in Race 6 and after a storming second downwind leg, climbed up from third place to take the lead and their fourth race win out of 6 for the weekend. Project Mayhem finished in second in another close finish, this time pipping Sin Bin into third with Lia a close fourth.
When the dust had settled, Ruby Blue emerged victorious on an impressive 7 points with Sin Bin in second place overall on 15 points, a single point ahead of 2 Men and their Monkey in third overall. After a most enjoyable weekend, the fleet returned home to nurse their (happily) exhausted broken bodies back to health.
Next up is the DBSC season opener this Thursday (28th April) evening followed by the first DBSC Saturday (30th April). The SB20 Easterns are being held in Howth as part of the Sportsboat Cup (27th – 29th May – the Easterns are on Saturday and Sunday but there will be a separate series for those interested in racing on the Friday too) which is shaping up to be the event of the summer so get your entry in now and avail of the early bird rates before 1st May.