Lia (Dave Barry, Gareth Nolan, Sam Hunt & Rory Groves) were winners of the SB20 Eastern Provincial Championships. The regatta, run under the excellent stewardship of race officer Rupert Jeffares and the flag of Howth Yacht Club was challenging for all fleets at the Sportsboat Cup with predominantly light winds prevailing. The race course was shared by 4 fleets comprising twelve 1720s, eight J80s, three ½ Tonners and seventeen SB20s. All enjoyed the Mediterranean weather conditions, not quite T shirts & shorts, except for Marty Cuppage of course, but thermals were not required.
It is a signal of the welcome resurgence of the SB20 fleet with some boats coming out of storage such as Toucan (Ross Vaughan, Andrew Vaughan & Mattie O’ Dowd), Ridgefence.com (Peter Kennedy, Greg Bell & Stephen Kane), Sunday Brunch (Dave & Nick Dwyer & Barbara Heftman), Lupi d’Irlanda (Marco Sorgassi, Luca Corona & Deno Debic) and some new faces such as Timber (Marty Cuppage, Barry Glavin & Niall O’Riordan).
Friday saw the start of the 2nd Sportsboat Cup in Howth, now a biennial event and seven SB20s took to the water. Sailing took place in glorious sunshine and light winds of 6 to 10 knots in a Northeasterly breeze, conditions that were to hold for the following 2 days of sunbathing also. Former SB20 supremo, Ben Duncan made a guest appearance with his old bow Briany Moran and regular Shane Murphy and clearly showed that he was not the monkey on board ‘Two Men and a Monkey’ with 3 bullets out of 3. Keith Cassidy, Mick McCormack and Murrough Kavanagh were in flying form scoring a 2,2 and 4 proving Murrough’s new rig settings were in the money. One point behind in 3rd was VenuesWorld with Ger Dempsey, Blair Stanaway, Chris Nolan and Maeve Judge.
Saturday saw the start of the SB20 Eastern Provincial Championships with the fleet swelling to 17 boats. Lia got off to a flying start with a 3, 1 and 2 with staying in the pressure and consolidating any leads being the key ingredients and Sam Hunt navigating the fleet expertly on tactics and strategy. This run of form for Lia came to a grinding halt in Race 4 with a tide induced moment of intimacy with the weather mark, not the first or last boat to suffer such a humbling moment in the regatta, leaving Lia no way back through a competitive closely matched fleet. Toucan returned to the fleet after a break of a few years with a loud bang, recording a 4,5,6 and a 1. Chris Arrowsmith, Colin Galavan and David Cahill aboard MSS had a solid day scoring a 3,3 and 4 and Stefan Hyde with the Jimmy and Jerry Dowling double act on board Bad Kilcullen were well in the hunt with a 2,4,5,5 followed closely by James Gorman, Ted Laverty and Keith Staunton on Bango with a 2, 4 and 7.
So going into the Sunday it was wide open with 2 races scheduled and a discard for the inevitable clanger of a result that most were getting in the light conditions. MSS got off to a resounding start with a win in race one with Bad Kilcullen coming 2nd. Lia with Rory Grovez in the middle and Gareth Nolan providing consistency in presence and performance had to be happy with keeping Toucan a point behind with a 6th and 7th respectively. 4 boats were in the hunt going into the last race. Lia rounded the weather mark in 1st with the fleet in close pursuit. Toucan and Venuesworld reeled in Lia with some impressive downwind sailing with Two Men and a Monkey turning up for the party towards the end of the race also (rather joltingly for some) which secured the Sportsboat Cup victory for them over the 3 days. 2nd in the Sportsboat Cup on countback was MSS followed by Lia in third.
Race 6 finished Toucan 1st, Venuesworld 2nd and Lia third which was enough to provide Lia with their maiden victory on 15 points, followed closely by Toucan on 17 points, Bad Kilcullen on 18 points and MSS on 19 points. Lia had the benefit of super sub Rory Grovez in the middle on Sunday with Gareth Nolan providing the consistency in presence and performance up front.
The teams at the top of the finishing board were very different to the previous event. Many of the regular top finishers were down the fleet. Is this a signal of change in the fleet or will the old order be re-established at the next event? We shall see as the SB20 fleet keeps up its tradition of sailing in new and stunning locations with excellent choice of cuisine with the Western Provincial Championships on 11th and 12th June in Clew Bay, Mayo, hosted by Mayo Sailing Club, Westport, Co. Mayo.
The SB20 fleet extends a warm thanks to Howth Yacht club in its various guises as OOD, Rupert Jeffares, the fine cuisine and bar staff in HYC, Ross Macdonald, Aoife English, Dylan Gannon and their extended team who masterminded the Sportsboat Cup placing it permanently on everyone’s calendar going forward.
Full results from the SB20 Easterns can be downloaded below