With just three days to the start of the ICRA National Championships, Saturday's annual Lambay Race at Howth Yacht Club on the same race track provided a last minute form guide. Current forecasts reveal a similar sub ten–knot wind for Friday's first day of the national cruiser championships.
Selected Lambay Race results are downloadable below.
The Lambay Race forecast was for a veering wind out of the NNE at approximately eight knots, but going into the east during the day. The start was held just north of Ireland's Eye which meant a beat against a strong ebb tide in order to round Lambay to starboard. The race was decided on the basis on whether you went for the slacker tide on the Portmarnock shore or if you tacked after the start and hope that the wind veered and favoured the boats that went right.
In the end, the shore won out and big gains went to those that got to the beach first. In a nine boat class one, the fleet split with Paul O'Higgins new JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, and Conor Fogerty's Bam heading right while Storm went to the shore. Storm rounded Lambay first and held that position through the later part of the race. Generally, the remainder of the race was uneventful and the gains on the first beat were all important to give Storm the handicap win.
In the biggest cruiser class, a 15-boat class two, again it was those that got to the shore had the advantage. A further tactical call was whether to continue up the Portmarnock shore out of the tide and ensure you made the island, or tack onto port earlier against the tide and bet that the wind held enough to get you around. Both options in the end worked out. Stephen Quinn's J/97 Lambay rules took the inshore course. Of those that tacked earlier, Mike and Ritchie Evans Half–Tonner Big Picture, with Cork Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield on board gained from the early tack to lead the four competing Half Tonners around. At this stage Lambay Rules was leading on corrected time. Over the next two hours however, Big Picture broke away from the other half tonners and started to grind down the time gap to be just behind at the last weather mark with a 30–minute run to the finish remaining. By the line the time difference had contracted further. Lambay Rules made steady progress to take the gun but Big Picture did enough to win on corrected time by two minutes. Dave Cullen's Checkmate took third overall.
It is likely that the four half tonners, the J/97 of Stephen Quinn and the X–332, Equinox of Ross McDonald will be the main contenders in Friday's ICRA championships in Class two. Equinox was sailing in class one in the Lambay race where she finished third.
Howth's own K25 crew were Lambay Race winners in class three
In a nine–boat class three fleet, the dominance of Howth's own K25 team in the J/24 Kilcullen continues. Flor O'Driscoll's Hard on Port was second with Vincent Gaffney's Alliance II third.
With light winds forecasted for ICRAs, in class zero it should favour Conor Phelan's Jump Juice who is normally very potent in those conditions.
Jump Juice – a light wind contender in class zero
Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club – this JPK 10.80 yacht has an international track record when the breeze is on
In class 1, if it stays light the J109's will be potent. Defending Champion Joker 2 with Mansfield calling the shots, will likely be prominent as will Tim Goodbody's White Mischief, Kelly family's Storm from Howth and John Hall's Something else from Dun Laoghaire. If the breeze comes in and stays in then Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI will be a favourite to take the win.
In class 2 in light airs, then one of the half tonners should have the edge. Both Checkmate and Big Picture will be without their normal tacticians who are both sailing in class 1. If the breeze comes in Equinox will be hard to beat, as was the case last year in Kinsale.
In Class 3 it will be more open but in the expected light winds the J24's and well sailed quarter tonners will be hard to beat.