The SB20 fleet got the 2018 season off to a flying start with the first regional event of the year hosted by a very hospitable Greystones Sailing Club. The fleet were challenged by a mix of conditions over the two days with winds ranging from 5 to 8 knots on Saturday and 8 to 12 knots on Sunday in a confused sea state. Strong tides of up to three knots made life difficult for PRO Richard Kissane and his team, but they did an admirable job getting all six scheduled races completed over the weekend.
Racing was tight as usual with most boats counting at least one high number after the first three races on Saturday.
Results are downloadable below.
There were three different race winners on Day 1 with Bad Kilcullen (Stefan Hyde, John Malone and Jimmy Dowling) taking the first gun, Sharkbait (Darren Martin, Simon Murray and Roger Pannell) taking the second gun of the day and Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Chris Nolan and Rory Groves) taking the final gun of the day. At the end of Day 1, Team Ridgeway (Peter Kennedy, Stevie Kane and Hammy Baker) were clear leaders on 7 points after an impressive 3,2,2 scoreline followed by Bad Kilcullen in second on 9 points and Richard IV (Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Ed Cook) in third on 14 points. After racing, the fleet adjourned to the bar for pints and a barbeque in sweltering sunshine on the balcony of Greystones Sailing Club with superb sea views along the coast.
Day 2 dawned with plenty of sunshine once again but the 12-16 knot breeze that was forecast failed to materialise. Bad Kilcullen were fastest out of the blocks taking their second win of the championship in Race 4 but Team Ridgeway and Venuesworld.com were close behind in second and third places respectively. The discard kicked in after four races and that left Team Ridgeway on 6 points with Bad Kilcullen and Venuesworld.com on 7 points each in what was now effectively a three horse race. Race 5 saw a new race winner with local boat Broomsticks (Marty O’Leary, Brian Fenlon, Patrick Kirwan and Rachel Williamson) taking the race win in impressive style. They were followed over the line by Bad Kilcullen in second with Team Ridgeway (only!) managing a fourth and Venuesworld in fifth.
"So, on to the last race, Race 6, and all three boats were still in with a shout of victory"
So, on to the last race, Race 6, and all three boats were still in with a shout of victory. There were several permutations and combinations for victory but for Venuesworld.com, only a race win would do with both Team Ridgeway and Bad Kilcullen failing to score third place or higher. For Bad Kilcullen, a top three finish ahead of Team Ridgeway would seal the win for them irrespective of other results and for Team Ridgeway, a top three place ahead of Bad Kilcullen would do it for them irrespective of other results.
Team Ridgeway gambled that Bad Kilcullen were their biggest threat for the championship and shadowed Bad Kilcullen before the start, keeping them above the starboard layline to the committee boat. Bad Kilcullen had a 9th place finish in race three of day 1 compared to Team Ridgeways discard of a 4th place from Race 5 so if Team Ridgeway were able to keep them outside the top four places (and of course if Venuesworld didn’t win the race!), the regatta would be Team Ridgeways. Team Ridgeway started ahead of Bad Kilcullen in the third row off the line at the committee boat and both boats quickly tacked out right towards the favoured right hand side of the course. As the boats approached the starboard layline, Bad Kilcullen to leeward tacked first with Team Ridgeway putting a tight cover in their face. Bad Kilcullen believed that Team Ridgeway tacked in their water and protest flags were waved and there was plenty of shouting in this private duel. At the finish, Broomsticks took their second win but the real drama was unfolding behind them… Bad Kilcullen crossed the line in 7th place behind Team Ridgeway in 5th so it appeared that Team Ridgeway had done enough and that the title was going up North. After a brief discussion on land, it was decided that Team Ridgeway would retire from the race to avoid the inconvenience of a protest hearing. This would raise Bad Kilcullen up to 6th place but still not enough to claim victory. However, unbeknownst to both parties, two boats that had finished ahead of Bad Kilcullen were to receive a U-flag penalty for starting early. This raised Bad Kilcullen up to 4th place and a tie on points with Team Ridgeway. As a result, Bad Kilcullen took the title on countback due to their two race wins and despite the drama, were deserving winners.
Next up are the Northern Championships in Strangford Lough Yacht Club on 26th and 27th May 2018 where the fleet will continue their preparations towards the Europeans in Dublin Bay later this year.