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The Biggest National 18 Championships ever.

I can only start by thanking everyone who made the effort to make it to the event this year, we had people come from far and near and because as we all know without them an event like this cannot happen, so thanks again to all.

The practice race, was on Sunday the 24th of July and all 52 boats made it to the first start of the practice day, the largest number of National Eighteens ever to compete for one start line, in the history of Class Championships ever, the practice race was raced about half a mile south of Roches Point. Colin Barry in Happy Days won the first practice race and Colin Chapman won the second practice race, a dual that would continue till the last and deciding race of the championships.

That night we had our opening ceremony with the class’s most successful helm Summers Payne raising the class flag, which was centred between the eight country flags being represented at the event this year. The 2011 class games followed and you will just have to ask someone who was there but trust me it was good, really good.(well done to the bar staff!!).

Race one day one, and in a very light northerly breeze Colin Barry takes first blood with Colin Chapman in a very surprising tenth, but Antony Ellis (2010 champion) was very much in the frame again this year with a close second, but when he went on to win the second race from Colin Chapman and Colin Barry back in fifth, it gave Antony Ellis the overnight lead but Tom Crosbie was also now in the mix with a very consistent third in both races.

That night we all convened for the class Christmas dinner and Carol singing with about 120 people all dressed in Christmas jumpers and Santa giving out the prizes for that day, the night was a great success and the festivities went on till the early hours of the morning.

Race three day two, Colin Chapman was first out of the blocks, but Colin Barry was not far behind in second spot, I think you can see the pattern that is starting to develop; unfortunately Antony Ellis and Tom Crosbie had a sixth and a seventh respectively. But the top four where very close indeed with Nick Walsh not far back in fifth. Race two saw a big upset for Colin Chapman with an eighth, and Colin Barry getting another second from Tom Crosbie this time in first, Antony Ellis had a Seventh which meant if Colin Chapman or Antony Ellis where to have any chance of winning the event there would have to be at least eight races to enable them to discard the two bad races they had accumulated so far, Colin Barry was now leading after day two with Tom Crosbie in Second and Antony Ellis in Third.

That Night We had poor old porky on a spit for dinner, for any of you that don’t know porky is the pig that the class was fattening up all summer, so he could be cooked on the Tuesday night for dinner, this was followed by the National Eighteen Supreme Court with the honourable judge Barter and some very well dressed bailiffs we even had a national TV star as one of the accused but again you really need to talk to someone present because I could go on forever, also a special thanks to the Rubber Bandit for his guest appearance truly class!.

Day three, the Wednesday brought rain and cold but no wind and at around 1pm Dave O Brien the OOD called all racing off for the day, which was met by a big cheer from the now very wet and cold fleet.

Onshore you could tell it was the midpoint of the event, because the club was deserted, bar a few hard core guys like myself and Peter, the plan was to have a boat building nations cup, but due to the lack of teams available for the afternoon we postponed this till next year in Findhorn. That night we had piano man and open Mike it was a great night again and all had good fun.

Race Five Day four, the breeze was up to 10 or 15 knots from the north and the OOD had made an amendment to allow three races today so we were in for a long day at the office, race one went to Colin Chapman with Colin Barry in fifth so he was closing the gap all the time (but after race five and half the week was over Colin Barry was crowned the Cock O The North, but at this stage eyes were firmly fix on the overall prized the Cork Harbour Trophy) the only other top five boat to feature in race Five was Nick Walsh, but to little to late as he produced a fifth in race six, Colin Barry had a second and Colin Chapman a fourth, but it was Antony Ellis with the race win in race six to keep him in what was now after becoming a three boat race for the 2011 title. Race six shortened the odds even further with Antony getting a sixth and with three results outside the top five it was now a two horse race and Colin Barry had a two point advantage over Colin Chapman over night into the final day and hopefully two more races.
Thursday night was the class dinner, and three hundred current and past members put on the glad rags for a fabulous night of fun speeches good music and fine wine.

Race eight day five, we all got towed out to the race area and prepared for the start but just as the gun was to be fired the postponement flag was raised and stayed up for a long time, most people were ready to get a tow home again, I would say Colin Barry was within ten minutes of being the new champion, but the breeze started to build very slowly from the south and after half an hour there was enough to send us off, due to the discards Colin Barry needed himself and Colin Chapman both to be fifth or worse or if they both ended up in the top five he needed to beat Colin Chapman by 2 or more, but unfortunately Colin Barry spent the majority of the race recovering from a bad start to finish fifth, and Colin Chapman Finished third in what was now very light breeze. The OOD decided that was that and Colin Chapman became the 2011 National Eighteen Class Champion.
It was truly an amazing week for the National Eighteen foot class with all sorts of records being broken (including the takings at the bar) all the thank yous were done at the event but I must finish by thanking the Royal Cork Yacht Club for all they did in helping making this event happen and the help in making it such a huge success and of course our sponsors (North Sails, Planning Inc. And Ferring Pharmaceuticals) without them it would not happen. So hope to see you all next year in Findhorn for another massive week of sailing and fun.


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