Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September saw Howth Yacht Club play host to round 5 OCRI & round 4 OCRDA in the annual combined Irish offshore GP.
Teams started arriving to the splendid venue of Howth yacht club, situated on Dublins north coast, in some beautiful September sunshine. But the weather forcast for the weekends proceedings didn’t look promising, with strong southerly gales predicted for Saturday. Despite the weatherman’s predictions, the clubs set about laying the course on Friday evening, in the hope it would still be there in the morning.
Saturday morning dawned to see the race pits in howth yacht club filled, with the remaining teams arriving over night, entries comprised of 18 OCRDA and 6 OCRI boats between the 3 classes. Signing in and scrutineering commenced, despite the rising winds. The first race at 13.30 was stood down for an hour to assess the weather situation and the course. Some quick thinking and even quicker buoy laying allowed a rough weather 4 mark course to be set on the westerly more sheltered side of the harbour.
After a mandatory course familiarisation, teams mustered at 15.15. A rolling start saw the batboat of Brian Peedell roaring to a class and race lead, followed closely by the class 2 entries of Jeremy Gibson and Mark Mawby. The presence of the familiar class 3 red Phantom 19 “Y Knot”, now sporting Yamaha power, in the midst of the class 1 and class 2 frontrunners is testament to the state of preparedness at this stage in the season.
Immediately behind the race leaders saw a close class 3 battle between, “Eat Sleep Race Repeat”, “License to Thrill”, “Power Marine” & “AK Racing”
With Sunday morning came some eerie calm weather. Weather forecasts were promising for the day and teams were looking forward to a great days racing. One by one, faces appeared into the pits, coffee and breakfast roles in hand, some people fresher than others.. they had a long night fixing up there boats you know..
Officials worked away, busily setting up the original planned course on the more spectator friendly east side of Howth harbour, even if they hadn’t heard the racing was on there was no way they would miss boats roaring past the pier towards the first mark. The drivers briefing took place with O.O.D Roy Trott taking the reign to fill everybody in on the days plan. A feeling of energy and good humour filled the room, everybody was ready to race!
Race number two of the weekend was scheduled for 13:00 and the good weather and hard work meant that all was going to plan. The fleet made there way out to Muster area being lead by Tony McCarthy and Andy Nelmes in the start boat. 24 boats bobbing around in the sunshine with the island Ireland Eye filling the backdrop made for some fantastic photos.
The yellow flag was up, the fleet got rolling and when Tony and Andy were happy everyone was lined up accordingly.. off they went! Jeremy Gibson of Class 2 got a great start with the Eat, Race, Repeat and Y KNOT chasing closely behind. As the race went on and the fleet began to spread out there was some very closely contested duals. Power Marine and AK Racing raced hard and were superbly matched in the new design Banshee 595. Lily the Pink Phantom 21 ran very nicely to take the class 1 win with Fairplay taking class 2 and E.S.S.R taking class 3.
After a fantastic race the boats made there way to Howth Yacht Clubs pontoons with great efficiency, clearing the course so that the Dublin Bay Cruises ‘St. Bridget’ could make her way into port and drop off her day trippers coming in search of the best fish&chips in Dublin.
Propellers were changed, sand bags moved around and a few other adjustments made as teams seeked out that extra little bit in there chase of glory in the final race of the weekend. A little more wind whipped up and it was promising to be a fantastic final end to a brilliant weekend.
Race 3 was to be held up by a very eager fisherman as his boat ploughed through the course, frustrated racers sat bobbing again at muster area waiting for the boat to move through at only a marginally slower pace then they planned to. Crowds were now building up on the east pier, everybody hoping for the same exhilarating and breath taking show they saw earlier.
With the tide having changed, the swells rolling in were definitely bigger for race 3. The course was surrounded by many pleasure boats coming out to get the best view of the action. You could see that it was the last race of the weekend, drivers were leaving absolutely nothing behind in Howth, pushing there boats right to the limit. Y KNOT and E.S.S.R stuck to each other for the full 25 minutes but Y KNOT managed to hold out for the win in class 3. Class 1 was hit with technical difficulties with Lily the Pink unable to finish and with Circle Express having to nurse there way round, The Edge took the win.