#squib – Hosted by the ever welcoming Howth Yacht Club on 22-23rd. June, this event was held in some of the heaviest wind conditions experienced for Irish Squib Championship Events, with wind from the west varying in strength from 18 knots to 36 knots.
A small but high class field of eleven boats took to the water for the second of the four Irish regional events for the Squib Class this season. The entry was disappointing for the organizers, with 6 boats from the host club, 2 visitors from the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, and only 3 visitors from the Dublin Bay Fleet in Dun Laoghaire.
With a forecast of 16-25 knot South-Westerlies, with sunshine and only occasional showers the fleet was understandably keen to get on the water and get the five race series started despite the distraction of the first Lions test on the TV in the Howth Yacht Club bar. Given the expected 35 knot breezes forecast for Sunday, PRO Rupert Jeffares wisely planned to get as many as 4 races sailed on the first day of the series, and with this in mind ran a series of 2 lap windward/ leeward courses in the steadily building winds.
Following his exceptional speed, and high pointing in the strong winds at the Baily Bowl in Dun Laoghaire some weeks before, there was expectation for Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan in Quickstep III to run away with the event, but it was not to be.
Pre race plans on most boats seemed to focus on hitting the right hand side of the first beat, to take advantage of the strong ebb tide but this proved costly as a left hand shift saw Howth's Fergus O'Kelly and Jonathan Wormald in No.223 Selik, and Des Clayton & Paul Henry of the RNIYC sailing 794, Inismara and Vincent Delany & Paul Maguire of the RSGYC get to the windward mark off Portmarnock Beach first. Selik made use of the clear air at the front to extend his lead and took the bullet by an impressive margin from Delany in second and Jonathan Craig & Hazel Ruane sailing Kerfuffle in third.
The second race followed a similar pattern with the boats that went left from the start coming out on top. This time Delany, in 24 Femme Fatale, led from Craig in Kerfuffle in second. The closeness of the racing was clear to see, as both O'Kelly and 820 Quickstep III sailed by Gordon Patterson with Ross Nolan of the RNIYC, made large gains on the final downwind leg by staying uptide, to leave the top 4 neck and neck at the last leeward mark. The order was Kerfuffle, Quickstep III, Femme Fatale and Selik. At the finish only 150 meters away four consecutive hoots led to some confusion about the final positions, but the gun went to Femme Fatale from Kerfuffle, with Selik in third and Quickstep III fourth. The Finishing time between first and fourth finishers was no more than 10 seconds after almost one hour racing over two laps of the race course.
The third race was started in increasingly strong winds, with gusts of 36 knots recorded on the committee boat, and the conditions had begun to take their toll. By the first mark just seven boats remained. Delany/Maguire led from the right with O'Kelly/Wormald, Patterson/Nolan, Jill Fleming/ Conor O'Leary in Perfection 44 and Michael O'Connell/ Eddie McCarron in Tais 642 (Irish language word for damp) in hot pursuit. By the finish both O'Kelly and Delany were battling for the honours. They approached the finish line, Selik on starboard tack and Femme Fatale on port on a collision course. The latter tacked too early and as a result could not lay the finish mark, and had to gybe around leaving the podium position to her rival, with Patterson in third place and Fleming fourth. This manoeuvre was the critical one which won the Championship.
The PRO, Rupert Jeffares then made the sensible call to send the fleet to shore as winds continued to increase and gear failure put paid to a number of competitors. This left O'Kelly/Wormald (1, 3, 1) holding the overnight lead on countback from Delany (2, 1, 2) with Craig in third, Patterson fourth and Fleming fifth.
On Sunday the wind increased and conditions at Howth were unsailable, so the results of the first days racing stood.
Several things can be noted from this event, 1) Less boats are traveling to events, possibly due to traveling costs and to family commitments, 2) The Race Committee at Howth have all the skills and good judgement necessary to run the Squib UK National in 2015, 3) The Squibs are tough boats, well capable of handling whatever conditions are thrown at them, on condition that you man the pumps from time to time..
1st. Selik, No. 223 sailed by Fergus O'Kelly & Jonathan Wormald, of Howth Yacht Club
2nd. Femme Fatale, No.24 Vincent Delany & Paul Maguire of Royal St. George Yacht Club
3rd. Kerfuffle No. 37, Jonathan Craig & Hazel Ruane of Howth Yacht Club.
Silver fleet: Inismara No. 794, Des Clayton & Paul Henry of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.
First Lady Helm: Perfection, No. 44 Jill Fleming supported by Conor O'Leary of Royal St. George Yacht Club