Shifty challenges and some sleepy Teletubbies

Chris Doorly puts a DLFF spin on his Northern Championship event report published in a more neutral form on afloat.ie

WHAT a weekend that was in Cushendall at the foot of the amazing Glens of Antrim. With wind and sunshine you would be forgiven for thinking we were on the continent. Twenty boats took part in The Flying Fifteen Northern Championships in the picturesque village of Cushendall, hosted by Cushendall SBC over Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15th.  The welcome and hospitality were great and very much appreciated by those who traveled.

 Nine boats travelled up from the National Yacht Club with high hopes, there was our national champs, Ian & Keith, Dave Mulvin and Ronan in his new boat, Dave Gorman and Chris, back after a two year break, the Meaghers in their Ffantastically fast new boat, Alan and Ben in the frequently winning Frequent Flyer, Mick and Peter, John and Ken, Joe & Andrew, who were a force to be reckoned with, and of course Tom with his Brazilians. Alas it was not to be, as Roger Chamberlain & Charlie Horder (SLSC) won the event comfortably on the scoreboard with some very consistent results and could even afford to retire from the last race.

Ian Mathews & Keith Poole (NYC) were second with McKee & Gibson (SLSC) third.

Saturday morning was a clear and bright even though some heads were not after a very pleasant evening/early morning visit to JJ's. We could tell from Andrew's breakfast bbq that there was a light breeze, more than enough for racing, but it was to be shifty in a challenging tide. Andrew and some of the lads were staying in the Teletubbies village adjacent to the club.

Race 1: The fleet got away at first time of asking. On the beat, the fleet split tacks but those on the left came in to the weather mark first. Niall & Nikki sailing Ffantastically Mr Fox led the way followed closely by Green/Mulligan in Frequent Flyer. Downwind they increased their lead, on the second beat the Meaghers stayed out as Green went left closer to the shore. As they tacked for the weather mark there was a drop in pressure and a major shift, the two lead boats had their spinakers up before the mark!

Unfortunately for the Meaghers, Green got inside as did many others who went in towards the shore... despairing stuff!. On the final run with the course shortened as the wind dropped the whole fleet bunched up but Alan held on to take the gun beating over the line,  followed very closely by Chamberlain, McCleery, Marcus Creighton and Dave & Ronan who all drifted towards the line faster. So well done Alan and Ben, a great start to a regatta. Was this to be their weekend?


Race 2:  The fleet set off in shifty conditions even though it was a sea breeze, the tide was also a factor and was strong running south towards Belfast but it was supposed to be going out! Chamberlain was going well with McCleary and Ian and Keith chasing them, also having another good race was Marcus Creighton (SSC), and Joe and Andrew − the power breakfast was working!

The PRO again shortened the course and the top positions didn't change, even on the last beat places lower down were lost and gained with the shifts, boats on the same tack were pointing in at least three different directions!


Race 3: We thought the wind had settled to the prevailing but there were a couple of shifts shortly after the start; there was also a strong tide, especially out on the right. On the beat most boats headed towards the shore, after a few short tacks Dave and Chris, who were now getting their act together, got to the weather mark first just ahead of Chamberlain, with Dave & Ronan who had a great first beat third, with Mathews and McCleary close behind.

The wind remained steady. On lap two, Chamberlain got inside Mulvin at the gate, rounding to take second place. Mulvin, sailing extremely well, kept the pressure on Chamberlain but remained in third place at the finish. Ian & Keith were fourth and sailing consistently to be in the top group overnight. All three laps were completed −the first full race of the day!

Once ashore, the club put on great entertainment and food. After the refreshments some crews headed up to Giant's Causeway for a bit of culture others into JJ's pub also for an alternative bit of culture. Sunday morning greeted us with beautiful sunshine and a nice breeze from the NW, perfect conditions for racing. The tide was coming in most of the morning but even though it is open sea the tide does turn well before the high water. There was little or no life from the Teletubbies village after the night before.

Race 4:  The fleet got going at the second time of asking. The pin end was favoured and the majority of boats headed inshore, some including McKee went right. McKee arrived at the weather mark first just ahead of Gorman and Mathews. Today we had a triangle and the reaches were exciting. McKee held on to take the gun with Mathews second and Chamberlain third crossing the line with Gorman. Chamberlain was now in pole position to win the event.

Race 5: Again the pin was favoured and most boats headed for the shore, there was an individual recall and McCleary and Chamberlain had to go back. McKee again went right. It clearly paid as he came to the weather mark followed very closely by Mathews, Gorman and Murphy, who all came from the left side.

Downwind, Malcom Crighton along with Tom & Diego went left. We thought this was a ploy for Diego's wife Tássia  to take photos of them from the committee boat, but they went into second and third place.

The next beat was again shifty with different wind strengths up the course. Tom & Diego were in the groove and sailing high and fast and moved into second place. There were three Dun Laoghaire boats in the top five at this stage, with Ian & Keith and Dave & Chris just behind them. On the exciting reaches some places changed but Mc Kee held on to win with Murphy second and Mathews third.

The silver fleet was won by Tom & Diego, and the bronze was won by Mick McCambridge & Peter Murphy.

The next event is the Championships of Ireland, which will be held in Portaferry in August.

DLFF Shifty challenges and some sleepy Teletubbies