Today was the final day of the 2013 Mirror World Sailing Championships on Lough Derg, Co. Tipperary and it was all still to play for. Two boats were still in with a shout and separated by just three points; Ryan and Michaela Robinson from South Africa and Ridgely Ballardes and Rommel Chavez from the Philippines with the Robinsons holding a few more aces due to better discards.
A nice bright breezy morning greeted the 182 sailors with 15-18 knots when the boats launched but rain with plenty of wind shifts was forecast. The fleet got away eventually on the third start, not before about eight boats had fallen foul of a black flag on general recall at the second start. The UK’s Robert Bellfield and Sally Lorrimer tied up but the biggest casualty was Royal Cork Yacht Club’s Dougie Elmes who had been lying fifth overall. The middle of the line looked most favoured before the fleet moved to the left side of the course up the first beat. The wind lightened and not as many white horses were evident. The first boats to show were Jeremy and Lauren Stephens from the UK, South Africa’s Robinson and Robinson, Isabel Davies and Milly Moss and Ireland’s Shane McLoughlin & Ben Jennings. The first boat around was Ballardes and Chavez who were certainly doing all that could be asked at this stage, closely followed by Stephens and Stephens, Davies and Moss and Robinson and Robinson. McLoughlin and Jennings went round sventh with locals Alfie Wisdom and Sam Warren about 12th, ahead of Cian Hickey and Caolin Cosadell.
A tight situation was unfurling at top of the leader board and with the wind increasing provided a great spectacle with a number of capsizes. With the fleet spread across the course down to the bottom mark, Ballardes and Chavez were still leading but Robinson and Robinson were very much in touch around the bottom mark. The leaders initially went left but seemed to have settled on the middle, with Sarah Richards and her son George now very much in the mix. With the top three boats in the series up near the front, this race was turning into a real battle. Stephens and Stephens were now leading as they approached the weather mark for the second time, now in second with Katie Davies and Gemma Keers in fourth. Ballardes and Chavez seemed to have dropped back to seventh behind Hickey and Cosadell who were having a great race.
The wind picked up as the lead boats went down the close reach, with Davies and Keers broaching but making a fantastic recovery. Richards and Richards, currently third overall had dropped back to about eleventh. The final legs could be key to the destination of the title. If Robinson and Robinson kept a few boats between themselves and Ballardes and Chavez then it would make it very difficult for the Philippine boat. With the leaders around the final mark, Stephens and Stephens holding off Davies and Kerr and then Robinson and Robinson. Best of the Irish were Hickey and Cosadell in sixth.
The first attempt at Race 2 was AP’d when a huge rain cloud descended and PRO Con Murphy held off starting for five minutes. The next attempt was a black flag and general recall with four numbers on the blackboard and a few boats heading for an early bath. First to go were David Johnston and Rory McEvoy from Ireland but then as boats readied for the one minute it became apparent that Robinson and Robinson had sails down and tied up beside a support boat. They had been black flagged also. It was only when the fleet got away clear that a cheer went up on the support boat behind the starting line along with the South African flag. The other boat black flagged was Ballardes and Chavez and the Mirror Worlds title was heading to South Africa for the first time. The new champions Ryan and Michaela Robinson stayed around the course to watch the concluding race.
With Ballardes and Chavez now out, the battle was on for second and third place. Richards and Richards, the initial leaders looked to be out onthe left hand side of the course. Kerri-Ann Boylan and Ros Morgan and Wisdom and Warren, all from Ireland, were strong early on. Boylan and Morgan were first to the weather mark to a rousing cheer from the Irish supporters. Closely followed by David and Edward Coady from the UK, Wisdom and Warren, Richards and Richards and Davies and Keers. After the reach Richards and Richards and Coady and Coady were having a major battle having passed Boylan and Morgan. Widsom and Warren were fighting hard to hold onto fourth place. In to the finish it was neck and neck between Richards and Richards and Coady and Coady with the latter taking the win. A great cheer greeted the two Irish boats Boylan and Morgan who took third and Wisdom and Warren fourth. However it transpired that Boylan and Morgan were OCS so third went to Wisdom and Warren.
That battle down the final stretch gave runner up spot to Sarah Richards and her son George with two other UK boats filling third; Katie Davies and Gemma Keers and Isabel Davies and Milly Moss in fourth, Ridegly Ballardes and Rommel Chavez from the Philippines took 5th. Then top Irish boat was Dougie Elmes and Scott Levie in sixth after a great series that included two race wins, with Alfie Wisdom and Sam Warren in tenth making it two Irish boats in the top ten.