The RS 2018 season kicked off over the weekend of 7/8 April with County Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead (CAYC) hosting the Northern Championships for RS400s/200s/Fevas.
In total 35 boats entered and 70 sailors for the event from all corners of Ireland with travellers from as far afield as Cork so the anticipation for the first event of year on the RS calendar was high after the off-season.
Conditions for the weekend were to prove a mixed bag, with postponements both mornings to wait for the wind to pick up allowing time for extra boat tinkering and good craic among sailors. However, the wind picked up both days allowing for 5 great races for all classes.
Day 1 saw a cold breeze come in from the sea in the afternoon and a good call from the PRO, Sheela Lewis, to keep sailors out for 3 races – finally getting off the water at 6:30pm. In the 400s fleet Alex Barry from Royal Cork Yacht Club proved he hadn't slowed over the winter with an emphatic first race win over the fleet. The 2nd race was won right at the finish by Gareth Flannigan from Ballyholme overhauling Barry McCartin from Cushendall, and the 3rd race won by the runaway off the pin end start by Alan Ruigrok. Scores were very tight with only a point separating the top 3 overnight and just 5 points separating 4th-10th, proving just how close the racing is in this fleet. The 200s also saw close racing for all but the top spot which was dominated by the home team of Jocelyn Hill/Katie Kane, who stole the show with 3 bullets. Andrew Mitchell and Michael Rock, also from CAYC, started the regatta with fast upwinds and great starts which put them in first position to mark 1 in races 1 and 3. Ben Ferris and Peter Darragh from CAYC pulled consistently high results to sit 2nd overnight with Frank and Kevin O’Rourke from Greystones sitting 3rd. In the Feva class, another CAYC boat sailed by the Corbett brothers led overnight with wins in races 2 and 3, with the Royal St George Yacht Club duo, Elysia O'leary/Lily Dwyer, close on their heels in 2nd.
A long day on the water was rounded off by great hospitality, live music, dinner and ‘much cheaper than over the border’ drink on offer until the early hours.
The winds on day 2 afforded the opportunity for 2 races to decide the championships for all fleets. In the 400s, the first race went to Alex Barry putting himself in the driving seat ahead of Barry McCartin in 2nd and Alan Ruigrok in 3rd. With the championship still open going into the final race Alex Barry got the better of Barry McCartin off the start to be in control to take 1st overall, while Gareth Flannigan won the final race taking him to 2nd place overall. 3rd overall was Barry McCartin, 4th Paul McLaughlin putting in consistent results ahead of Alan Ruigrok in 5th. In the 200s, Jocelyn/Katie added 2 more wins to make a perfect scorecard and take a triumphant win for the home Club, with the other 3 new 200s to the CAYC placing 2nd, 3rd and 4th cementing the Club’s new fleet as a force to be reckoned with in the circuit. In the Fevas, an open and competitive series resulted in the honours eventually going to Elysia O’Leary and Lily Dwyer of RStGYC with a 1st and 2nd on the final day, with CAYC duo James and Daniel Corbett runners up and 3rd place going to Erin and Matthew McLernon of Carrickfergus Sailing Club with a 1st in the final race. Well done to all.
A great credit to County Antrim Yacht Club for hosting an excellent event, including PRO Sheela Lewis and all her team on the water to complete 5 races in some very trying conditions; and to the event organisers, shore teams, and catering and hospitality teams. Also a big thanks to the photographers for some great footage of the weekend.
The next RS event coming up is in North Dublin, where Rush SC will be playing host to the RS Easterns for the 200s and 400s (and an open event for Fevas). Once again a lot of planning is already in place for this, and it should prove another great event not to be missed.