Tight finishes both on the water and on handicap were the order of the day for the penultimate sailing of this year’s Howth Yacht Club's Autumn League which was again blessed with fine conditions, with a pleasant 12-16 knot westerly breeze for the morning writes Graham Smith. Mere seconds separated the leaders in several classes while the biggest margins of victory were recorded in Class 3 and 5.
The League, with a three-way sponsorship from Irish Life Investment Managers, Today FM and Crystal Holidays, now looks forward to the final race next Saturday. Before the real socialising starts though, there are many titles up for grabs, with very few cut-and-dried winners already evident.
In race 5, the big winners were Vincent Gaffney’s ‘Alliance’ in Class 3 and Skerries visitor ‘Dobharchu’ (Fox & others) whose adjusted times gave them over two and half and five minutes of a margin respectively over the second-placed boats.
‘Alliance’ took the gun in Class 3 and the IRC honours but of perhaps greater satisfaction to the crew was the fact that major rival ‘Starlet’ (O’Kelly/Walsh) slipped to fourth (behind ‘Goyave’ and ‘Quickflash’), a result that gives them a single point advantage overall going into the final race. ECHO honours went to Lionel McMurtry’s ‘Hellyhunter’ but Antrim visitor ‘Quickflash’ (Alfred Mayrs) maintains the overall lead.
Last week, ‘Dobharchu’ won the Class 5 race (they only sail under ECHO) so this week they clearly decided they wanted to prove it was no fluke and duly won again, this time by the biggest margin of the day – five minutes. It’s too late, however, for the Skerries boat to make an impact on the overall standings where clubmates ‘Tully Too’ (Declan Higgins) lead by just two points from Andrew Knowles’ ‘Sandpiper’.
Another back-to-back winner was Katy Moore’s ‘Mystic Force’ in Class 4 ECHO although ‘Changeling’ (Kieran Jameson) now assumes overall leadership from Colm Bermingham’s ‘Bite the Bullet’ while the positions are reversed on IRC. Race 5 on IRC was won by the Toomey’s ‘Harmony’ from ‘Changeling’ and ‘Alphida’ (Harry Byrne).
A good win for ‘Equinox’ (Ross McDonald) in Class 1 (just ahead of ‘Flashback’ crewed by the ‘Kinetic’ contingent) upset the order of things at the top of the table and both boats now fill 1st and 2nd slots, with a point separating them and ‘Crazy Horse’ (Chambers/Reilly) another point further adrift. ‘Tiger’ (Hughes/Harris) again won on ECHO and a nine point gap overall on ‘Makutu’ looks like being enough to win the trophy this year.
Class 2 saw a new winner in the form of Dermot Skehan’s ‘Toughnut ahead of last week’s winner ‘Dux’ (Anthony Gore-Grimes), a result that pulls the latter to within three points of IRC series leader ‘King One’ (David Cullen) who had a day to forget. ‘C’est la Vie’ (Flannelly & others) kept up the winning streak on ECHO and with 13 points to spare, can be confidently declared the overall winner with a week to spare.
On the one-design course, 30 seconds separated first from last in the Etchells and Simon Knowles’ (‘Jabberwocky’) 17-seconds gap over ‘Crop Duster’ (O’Grady/Reilly) sets up a winner-takes-all last race, as they both share the lead on 6 points.
Biggest win on scratch came in the Puppeteers where David Clarke’s ‘Harlequin’ had an impressive 3-minute margin over Garret May’s ‘Ibis’ which should be enough to settle the series. HPH winner for a second successive week was ‘Mr Punch’ (NiBhroanain/Wilson) but second-placed ‘Papagena’ (Kieran Barker) has quietly slipped into the overall lead by 4.5 points with a race to go.
The Squibs had a few epic battles and only 9 seconds separated the first three over the line but almost inevitably it was Emmet Dalton’s ‘Klipbok’ which crossed first, a foredeck ahead of the McMurtrys’ ‘Pot Black’. That pretty well seals it for ‘Klipbok’ while another HPH success for ‘Pot Black’ puts them in the driving seat for next Saturday.
In the Seventeens, ‘Rita’ (Lynch/Curley) was another two-in-a-row winner, a minute ahead of Peter Courtney’s ‘Oona’ and Ian Malcolm’s ‘Aura’ (back after repairs) and that is precisely the same order overall after five races, with just 3.5 points between them. On handicap, ‘Deilginis’ (Massey & Others) has resumed the leadership the crew held earlier in the series after winning the fifth race from nearest rival ‘Bobolink’ (Walsh/Doyle).
The final races are next Saturday 17th, with first gun at 1155 hrs.
AUTUMN LEAGUE (RACE) 11/10/2009
Class 1 IRC – 1 Equinox (pictured above), R. McDonald, HYC, 2 Flashback, Breen/Others, HYC, 3 Mumbo, D. Cronin, MYC. Class 1 Echo – 1 Tiger, Hughes/Harris, HYC, 2 Off the Wall, Walls/Cawley, HYC, 3 Equinox, R. McDonald, HYC. Class 2 IRC – 1 Toughnut, D. Skehan, HYC, 2 Dux, A. Gore-Grimes, HYC, 3 Xebec, T. Giles, HYC. Class 2 Echo – 1 C'est la Vie, Flannelly/Others, HYC, 2 Rum Doodle, D. Byrne, HYC, 3 Joslim, J. Connolly, HYC. Class 3 IRC – 1 Alliance, V. Gaffney, HYC, 2 Goyave, Camier/Fitzpatrick, MYC, 3 Quickflash, A. Mayrs, ABC. Class 3 Echo – 1 Hellyhunter, L. McMurtry, HYC, 2 Drumbeat, F. & F. Magann, HYC, 3 K9, C. O'Dea, HYC. Class 4 Echo – 1 Mystic Force, K. Moore, HYC, 2 Out & About, T. McCoy, SSC, 3 Brazen Hussey, Barry/Stirling, HYC. Class 4 IRC – 1 Harmony, D. & H. Toomey, HYC, 2 Changeling, K. Jameson, HYC, 3 Alphida, H. Byrne, HYC. Class 5 Echo – 1 Dobharchu, Fox/Others, SSC, 2 Midnight Sun, Howard/Bolger, HYC, 3 Arctic Fox, Lalor/Others, HYC. Puppeteer Scratch – 1 Harlequin, D. Clarke, HYC, 2 Ibis, G. May, HYC, 3 Trick or Treat, A. Pearson, HYC. Puppeteer HPH – 1 Mr Punch, NiBhroanain/Wilson, HYC, 2 Papagena, K. Barker, HYC, 3 Flycatcher, Wright/Dillon, HYC. Squib Scratch – 1 Klipbok, E. Dalton, HYC, 2 Pot Black, I. & R. McMurtry, HYC, 3 Puffin, E. Harte, HYC. Squib HPH – 1 Pot Black, 2 Puffin, E. Harte, HYC, 3 Astrix, M. McCaughey, HYC. 17 Footer Scratch – 1 Rita, Lynch/Curley, HYC, 2 Oona, P. Courtney, HYC, 3 Aura, I. Malcolm, HYC. 17 Footer HPH – 1 Deilginis, Massey/Others, HYC, 2 Bobolink, Walsh/Doyle, HYC, 3 Sheila, D. Bothwell, HYC. Etchells Scratch – 1 Jabberwocky, S. Knowles, HYC, 2 Crop Duster, O'Grady/Reilly, HYC. 3 Blue, Johnston/Others, HYC.