Last Sunday the penultimate race of both the Matthews Chandlery Autumn League, including the South Coast Offshore Racing Association League at Crosshaven, was not without its thrills and spills.
Competitors arriving at the RCYC Marina could hear the frapping of the halyards as the southerly wind whistled through the rigging of the moored yachts, a welcome change given the light winds of the previous week. Sensibly, hard working Race Officer, Richard Leonard kept the fleet inside the harbour given the wind of 12 – 20 knots and this gave him a large number of course options for the fleets. Positioning the Committee Boat, Golden Apple, again kindly supplied by Clayton Love, close to the Spit Lighthouse he set a beat to W1 for Class 1 in a southerly breeze. Cautioning the fleet in the final minute of the countdown as there were one or two close to being over the line, he got them away cleanly on the first attempt but not without a coming together of Mary O’Keeffe’s Tux and John Downing’s Samba helmed by Jim Sheeran. The majority of the fleet opted to dodge the tide by sailing in on the Curlane Bank and hugging the eastern shore before rounding the mark at the mouth of the harbour. Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice looked very powerful upwind round the weather mark in first place. Her close rival Dave Dwyer’s Mariners Cove had some moments of indecision shortly after the start when she appeared to be starting to tack before resuming her course and lost valuable seconds. Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy’s Checkmate got away to a great start and has been steadily improving as the League progressed. These three finished first, second and third respectively in IRC1 and in ECHO Checkmate finished first with Simon Coveney’s Wavetrain second and Ted Crosbie’s Excuse Me third. Overall in the league in IRC 1 this leaves Mariners Cove and jump Juice tied on 5.5 points each. In IRC Restricted Rob McConnell’s Surfarosa was first with Conor Doyle’s Freya second and Excuse Me third. Nicholas O’Leary and the CIT sailing team members who have been working up during the Autumn League on Antix Dubh are due to leave for La Rochelle to compete against 19 other countries in the Student Sailing World Cup next week. They carry all our good wishes for success with them. Classes two and Three were given a shorter course with No. 4 Buoy as the weather mark and a return to form by Colm Dunne’s Grin and Bear It saw him take the gun for IRC 2 followed by Kieran and Liz O’Brien in Magnet with Clem McElligot’s Seahawk third. In Class 2 IRC only 2.5 points separate the top three boats, Grin and bear It and the two Corbys, Obsession and Yanks & ffrancs. In ECHO Stuart Nairn’s Maximum had her first and very popular win of the league followed by Derry Nash’s Capalta second and Dave Ellis’ Kodachi in third place. Class Three sailed the same course as Class Two with the Lostys’ Woody taking first place in IRC 3 followed by the Nyhan/Buwalda Outrigger in second and Ian Travers’ Bandit third. In ECHO 3 Alan Mulcahy’s Sundancer took the laurels followed by Woody in second and Peter Webster’s Thistle third. However, it was in the White Sail Fleet, now nearly more competitive than Class 1, that there was the most dramatic action of the weekend. In their jostling for position at the line Niall Palmer-Sheehan and Eric Rose in Windborne squeezed Frank Murphy’s Dream Catcher who was forced to the extent she was forced between the committee boat and the protective buoy that prevents contact. Quick thinking by Dick Gibson of the Race Committee saw him release the buoy that was carried away by Dream Catcher and later a diver had to go down to cut away the rope from around the propeller. The course for this fleet was out to the mouth of the harbour, back to Cuskinny and back up to East Ferry then proceeding back to a finish at the grassy in Crosshaven, as did all the fleets on the day, Winner in ECHO was Noel Coleman’s’ Cole Play, second was James McKenna in Wishbone and third in Tír na nÓg was Damien Collins. This win was very sweet for Noel Coleman and his crew Billy Treacy who had only recently recovered from their Crosshaven/Fastnet/Schull Race where they encountered heavy conditions with Coleman suffering a damaged knee and Treacy suffering three broken ribs. In White Sail IRC Pat Vaughan’s Aramis finished first with with Stephen McCarthy’s Nadie second and Billy Duane’s Expression third. Some well known members of the White Sail Fleet were disqualified as a consequence of not being able to produce a current ECHO certificate and are now seeking redress from the Race Committee. The outcome of this dispute is eagerly awaited. Hard working PR for SCORA, Michael Murphy, tells me that this seasons racing is very nearly over with next Saturday’s race deciding the final outcome. The SCORA season started on April 1st and encompassed major events held around the south coast. For IRC 1 they sailed some 22 races and an entry list of 35 boats. Heading into Saturday’s race Anthony O’Leary in Antix Dubh has 48.5 points followed by Jump Juice with 57.25 with David Scott’s EOS on 92.5. In IRC Div.2 with 19 races sailed it is very close between Yanks & ffrancs with Bad Company and with Obsession some 16 points adrift. In IRC Div 3 Woody leads followed by Bandit and Chameleon in that order. Racing continues on Saturday for the final race of the Matthews League with first gun at 11.55 and final day of racing for the Cobbler Optimist League will take place on Sunday with first warning signal at approximately 12.00 hours..