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Ger Owens and Mel Morris were crowned Ulster Champions in the first event of the GP14 dinghy calendar at Newtownards Sailing Club at the weekend writes Andy Johnston
Day 1 of the Ulster Championships at Newtownards Sailing Club and 3 great race under the watchful eye of PRO Ruan O Tiarnaigh. Some great performances in what was for many the first racing since 2019. Some expected faces at the top of the Gold fleet, but the top 3 shows some new ones too. Adrian Lee bagged another gun in Race 1 and lies 3rd, with Ger Owen in 2nd after 2 bullets. Consistency or lack of a good night sleep has helped Colman Grimes to the top of the pack. Steve Nelson heads Silver fleet lying 5th overall with Michael Brides leading the Bronze fleet in 19th. Great turnout from Newtownards Sailing Club with 11 boats. 4 boats have travelled from Sutton Dinghy Club and Youghal the furthest travelled of the 28 boats on the water.
Day 2 of the Ulster Championship and the weather gods continued to indulge us. PRO Ruan O Tiarnaigh again managed to get 3 cracking races in while changing the race format to Olympic from yesterday's Windward Leeward. The top of the leader board coming into Sunday saw Colman Grimes lead from Ger Owen but with Ross Kearney not too far away. Adrian Lee with Richard Gallagher in the front was there or thereabouts. Shane Mac Carthy surely would have his say before the end of the event.
Tricky conditions saw a few false starts before fleet got away for Race 4.
Left was the order of the day and even with lightening breeze it was Ross who lead around the windward and despite Ger Owens, Katie Dwyer and Shane Mac Cathy all getting close Ross took the gun. Ger hung on for 2nd but Alistair Duffin came through for 3rd with Lough Foyle James Peter Hockley setting down a mark for the Silver fleet in 4th. Curly Morris took 5th with Steve Nelson on 6th.
Race 5 again saw Ross take an early lead and get around the gybe mark before tide and lightening breeze created a separate race between the rest of the fleet. Despite strong pressure from Ger, James Peter Hockley held on for a superb 2nd with Shane MacCarthy 4th. Behind them saw 3 Sutton Dinghy Club boats battle it out with Peter Boyle taking a 5th just ahead of David Johnston and Hugh Gill.
Despite the light and tricky breeze, our race office Ruan got the 6th and final race of the event underway. Shane MacCarthy got a super start and lead by a boat length from Ger Owens at the weather mark. The pair batled it out all the way with the lead changing hands a few times. Behind them overnight leader Colman Grimes, Katie Dwyer, Keith Louden and Ross Kearney were nip and tuck looking to take the final podium spot in Race 6.
Ger held off Shane for the gun with Ross taking 3rd from Suttons Katie Dwyer in 4th, Lough Foyle Keith Louden 5th and Skerries Colman Grimes 6th.
A great event to kick start the 2021 GP14 season with 28 boats and all the more important after the lack of racing in 2020 due to Covid.
The open air prizegiving was held in sunshine with Event Organiser Josh Porter presenting the Ulster Championship to Ger Owens and Melanie Morris and Ulster Youth Championship Trophy to Peter Boyle and Joe Doherty.
Class President Michael Collender thanked Josh Porter and Michael Cox and the Newtownards Sailing Club for all their efforts in making it such a great event. He reminded everybody that our next event on the calendar is the Leinster Championships originally planned as part of the Volvo Dún Laoghaire Regatta but now to be held on Jul 3/4 in Blessington Sailing Club.
Gold Fleet1) Ger Owens & Mel Morris2) Ross Kearney & Jane Kearney3) Shane MacCarthy & Josh Porter
Silver Fleet 1) James Peter Hockley & Alan Thompson2) Steve Nelson & Daniel Nelson3) Michael Cox & Claire Cromwell
Bronze Fleet1) Michael Brines & Peter Bridnes2) Michael Collender & Brian Walker3) Newenham DeCogan & Maggie Sinnamon
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