Dun Laoghaire – June 7, 2019
A full schedule marked the opening day of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) National Championships sponsored by Frank Keane BMW on Dublin Bay today (Friday 7th June 2019) with back to back winners in five out of six divisions sailed.
Organised by the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, 93 boats from 24 clubs and venues around Ireland are competing for five national titles, the overall trophy and an Under 25’s competition.
Division Zero had a four hour coastal course that saw Paul O’Higgins from the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Rockabill VI emerge as winner as the first of three races for the series. “We’re definitely not counting our chickens, for sure,” he said afterwards. “Tomorrow could start with stronger breeze but finish lighter going by the forecast – that wouldn’t suit us at the lower end of the handicap range.”
The remaining divisions completed two scheduled races split across two course areas on Dublin Bay, both of which managed to deliver breeze ranging from eight to 14 knots at times though easing inshore as the afternoon progressed.
Defending Division One champion John Maybury on Joker II, who completed a hat-trick of titles in 2017 opened his 2019 defence with two back to back to wins with three J109’s taking the overnight podium lead.
ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell on Outrageous from Howth Yacht Club leads the pursuing pack in second overall on just the second event for his new boat. Tactician Mark Mansfield is also looking forward to fresher weather to upset the standings: “If there’s a bit more breeze, tomorrow might be quite different,” the multiple Olympic veteran said.
Division Two saw Johnny Swan’s Half-tonner Harmony from Howth Yacht Club take an early lead, again with two back to back wins for the day. Once again, a fresher breeze on Saturday will be welcomed. “It’s really tough competition – the half-tonners are being sailed really well,” commented Rob O’Leary, skipper of the modified 1720 Sportsboat Antix Beag from Baltimore Sailing Club. “We’re expecting more breeze tomorrow so we’re hoping our recent modifications will pay off.”
Not only did the leader in Division Three manage to continue the back to back theme for the day, but the top four boats in the 20-strong fleet repeated their results in the second race of the day that sees Rory Fekkes on F’n Gr’8 from Carrickfergus Sailing Club lead the field. Second placed is Brendan Foley’s Running Wild from the host club. “We’re (also) looking forward to more breeze tomorrow and we’ll have an extra person on board so we’ll be fully powered up in 12-15 knots,” said crew-member Mark Hennessy who is Rear-Commodore (Sailing) of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.
Only four out of the six entries in Division Four competed on the first day, the smallest turnout of the event that was nonetheless won with back to back wins by Philip O’Dwyer’s Supernova from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Division Five is a White Sails event competing for the ICRA Corithian Cup and the opening day was won, for good measure with back to back wins, by Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis on Demelza from Howth Yacht Club.