For the All Ireland Championship it is always very difficult, if not impossible, to predict with any certainty who might receive the famous trophy. However, this year the defending champion, Nicholas O’Leary of the host club must surely rank foremost following his spectacular win last year. The defender will once again be pitted against his father, Anthony O’Leary, the 1720 Sportsboat representative who gave him a close run by taking second place last time round. Once more all eyes will be on the battle between the O’Leary father and son. Since taking the title last year Nicholas O’Leary has also won the Irish National Match Racing Championship and led the Cork Institute of Technology sailing team to victory at the 2008 World Student Yachting Cup at La Rochelle, France. With the light wind, conditions on the water at Cuskinny were flat with a 5 to 6 knot westerly breeze. Racing was delayed for approximately 30 minutes while the Race Officer, David O’Brien, waited for the wind to settle. Racing for Flight One began the series to-day. Many pundits considered this would be the most competitive of the flights, in fact it was being referred to as the “group of death”. Anthony O’Leary put in a virtuoso performance to win two races and come second in the third. His performance was particularly evident in the second race where he had an indifferent start. Race two also saw an incident at the first windward mark where Phil Lawton had just squeezed in on port to round first and at this mark O’Leary and Stefan Hyde suffered an infringement for refusing to cede water at the mark to Ben Duncan. Both boats were penalised by the on the water Umpire and each had to complete a 720 degree penalty turn. This left Lawton and Duncan well ahead. However, by the leeward mark Lawton was still ahead but O’Leary had gained four places to round in second, closely followed by Nicholas, with the rest of the fleet in hot pursuit, and by the windward mark on leg two O’Leary senior had climbed to lead the fleet and held this position to take first place followed by Nicholas in second. Ewan Barry took third, followed by Ben Duncan in fourth, Phil Lawton fifth, Flor O’Driscoll sixth and Stefan Hyde seventh. Meanwhile, it was to be the wily O’Leary duo who were to prove successful and it was the senior O’Leary who crossed the line first with son Nicholas second followed by Flor O’Driscoll, Stefan Hyde and Ben Duncan. Ewan Barry managed to stay ahead of Phil Lawton in a race where the second beat saw the wind increase to 8 knots. In Race 3 conditions clouded over and the wind picked up again to 6 – 8 knots and racing was very close. Phil Lawton attempted to cross the fleet on port at the start but ended up having to tack behind the fleet. At this stage racing was very tight with less than 5 seconds separating the boats. Nicholas had his father “boxed” in at Whitegate and never relaxed his grip on the race after and went on to take the win. Stefan Hyde, a former winner of the trophy, had been leading at the first windward mark and the at the second rounding of the windward mark the fleet was still reasonably close but there was no let up by the O’Learys who finished Nicholas first and Antony second with Ben Duncan in third place, followed respectively by Stefan Hyde, Phil Lawton, Ewan Barry and Flor O’Driscoll.
Anthony O’Leary, Nicholas O’Leary and Ben Duncan now qualify for Sunday’s final series of Races. Considering the O’Leary sailing pedigree it would have been a major surprise if they had not qualified from this flight. Ben Duncan claimed the third place in the flight and a place in Sunday’s final.
RESULTS: Flight One Day One
Series Place Sail No Flight Helm Representing Club Ribbon Series Points Race 1 Race 2 Race 3
1 F1-2 1 Anthony O’Leary 1720 Class RCYC 4pts 1 1 2 (QUALIFIED)
2 F1-4 1 Nicholas O’Leary 2008 All Ireland Champion RCYC 5pts 2 2 1(QUALIFIED)
3 F1-7 1 Ben Duncan Laser SB3 Class HYC 12pts 5 4 3(QUALIFIED)
4 F1-3 1 Stefan Hyde ICRA Division 1 RCYC 14pts 4 6 4
5 F1-6 1 Ewen Barry 505 MBSC 15pts 6 3 6
6 F1-5 1 Flor O’Driscoll J24 RStGYC 17pts 3 7 7
7 F1-1 1 Phil Lawton Fireball Class RISC 17pts 7 5 5
Pictures from the event can be seen on the Bateman Gallery