What a great weekend it was for the 37 braves who travelled to Kinsale for the 3rd edition of the annual Christmas regatta! All the ingredients were there to allow for a great event : a nice forecast and a high quality line up including the defending champion, many “green life jackets” and fast progressing sailors from all corners of Ireland.
The light Easterly breeze on saturday provided very shifty and gusty conditions torturing the brain of the sailors on a constant base. Sophie Browne was the fastest to catch on the challenge to take the win by the narrowest margin on local Sean Gambier Ross and Eoin Lyden. The second race was as difficult! Dublin sailor Conor Kneafsey picked the right shift to conclude an excellent first beat; he was never caught. Behind him, Sean Gambier Ross was showing good pace to clinch another 2nd place ahead of Jill McGinley. The third race was to be a one man show with Sean taking a comfortable lead he kept increasing with superb placement and control over the fleet. Sophie Browne had a timid first half of the race but displayed great speed downwind to catch right up to 2nd ahead of defending Champion Daire Cournane. Disaster could have striked for Sophie with a broken tiler just about hanging on allowing her to finish the race. A quick swap of rudder was performed as the OOD decided the conditions were good enough to squeeze another race and race 4 went underway. Provisional leader Sean faded a little and found himself fighting mid fleet whilst Peter McCann eventually showed his number upfront. But he fel victim of Sophie’s superior speed downwind and lost the inside lane on the final mark rounding allowing her to round in a lead she maintained to the finish line. 3rd place was once more Daire Cournane. At the conclusion of the day, Sophie took a deserved lead ahead of Sean. Both are pretty solid but have a huge discard hanging above their head. Consistent but further back, Peter, Daire and Conor have their eyes on the third place and will hope for another slip from the two leaders.
Sunday welcomed the sailors with a cold morning, about 8-12kts and gorgeous sunshine. The northerly breeze allowed the OOD the use of the full lengh of the harbour setting the scene for two “championship size” races. If the former regatta fleet sailors found the going difficult, no-one gave up and all enjoyed friendly battles all around the course. The first start saw Sophie and Peter off a great start off the starboard end. Peter however missjudged the strengh of the current and fell right back in the pack. Sophie took a comfortable lead she almost lost by going into the tide too early towards the top of the beat. She however just rounded the top mark ahead of Robert Dickson and Scott Levie and was never caught again. Robert maintained his 2nd. Cliona Ni Sullibhean had a solid race climbing back to 3rd whilst Sean despite a slow first half of his race kept his challenge alive taking 4th from the mcCann’s ( James beating Peter to 5th). Before the final race, Sophie had a solid lead over Sean and just needed a top 5 to secure the trophy… Peter was still mathematically in contention but had to hope for a major slip from Sophie to keep his hope alive. It was not to be! Race 6 went underway with Former champion Daire Cournane retaining some pride by taking the lead at the first windward ahead of Scott Levie. They both maintained a good margin on their opposition finishing in that order. The ever improving Ewan Mahon took advantage of the safe approach taken by Sophie to take 3rd on the line. Sophie kept it safe scoring a 4th which was more than enough to take the trophy to Tralee as Sean was completely Burried in the fleet and Peter was unable to find that extra gear he usually has!
Overall, Sophie Browne was a very deserving winner ahead of Sean Gambier Ross and Daire Cournane. First junior was Daire and first junior Silver was Howth sailor Ewan McMahon. The complete results are available in the results section above.
A DVD recalling this great weekend is being produced! The sailors enjoyed a pre-view of the saturday’s races (Start line up, mark rounding battles, great tacticals moves…) before price giving. Copies will be available by the end of the week at the cost of 20EUR (email me your adress to obtain a copy; all copies will be made on DVD-R; let me know if your DVD player requires DVD+R)