The St Patrick's weekend was set to be the season launcher of the 29er class racing season with a first trip to the west to race the 2019 Westerns. Tralee Bay Sailing Club with the support of the Tralee Bay Maritime Centre had everything in place for the 'fastest growing class in the country' with teenagers ready to display their skills on the fast little skiff... except for the weather!
But the sailors are resourceful, love their sailing and could not leave Kerry without some racing. The idea of using the bank holiday Monday was already floating on the boat park on the Saturday so it did not take long to convince club volunteers and parents to put together an alternative regatta, baptised the Western Grand Prix, on Monday the 18th with 10 out of the 13 boats able to stay the extra day and enjoying 5 superb competitive races set up by visiting race officer Andrew Crosbie (Cork) just south of the Marina.
"It did not take long to convince the club and parents to put together an alternative regatta, baptised the Western Grand Prix"
Five races of 25-30 mins were sailed with great battles at every corner of the course in a 14-15kts Westerly breeze. It may not have been a ranking event, but the sailors gave it their all.
The first race saw an early retirement for gear failure (IRL2873) leaving the battle at the front to be between 2002 (Atlee Kohl and crew Jonathan O’Shaugnessy) keeping a fast Alana Coakley and Crew Marcus O’Leary hot on their tail. The heavier partnerships were definitely enjoying the breeze on offer!
The fleet was very competitive showcasing the hard work these teenagers have completed over the winter. Atlee Kohl and crew Jonathan O'Shaugnessy from RCYC emerged champions and will be the first pair to put their name on a trophy presented by Commodore Liam Lynch on behalf of Tralee Bay Sailing Club. Second overall and best U17 pair were Alana Coakley and crew Marcus O’Leary. They stayed ahead of 3rd placed Rian Geraghty McDonnell and Nathan Van Steenberge on countback.
A couple of these pairs will be travelling next weekend to the Torbay Grand Prix in the UK to test their skills against the established UK fleet.