Dr C and Mr B Hit The Jackpot
Cheyne and Burlton win closely contested McAllister Volkswagen SB3 East Coast Championships.
Howth Yacht Club played host to 38 SB3’s for the East Coast Championships, sailed over 2 days last weekend and 6 races. The large Dublin fleet was joined by a number of top sailors from the North, Cork and the Midlands clubs. As the crews adjourned to the bar after Race Officer, David Lovergrove’s briefing on Friday night, speculation mounted as to who would be favourites. From the domestic fleet, Olympic 49er sailor Tom Fitzpatrick was back sailing ‘Helly Hansen’, and looking to defend his 2007 title. 2006 SB3 European Champion Craig Burlton from the UK was in Ireland to sample some hospitality and check out the Irish Fleet in advance of the Worlds in September. Craig was to helm Dave Cheyne’s ‘Redman Fisher’ for the event. Gareth Flannigan has been no stranger to the podium at SB3 events, and was again helming ‘McCready Sailboats’.
Conditions for Saturday were ideal, and far better than the Friday forecast of 30kts. Racing was held past Irelands Eye in the north east corner of north Dublin Bay, with a steady 18kts from the South East and rolling sea. Craig Burlton got the perfect start to his event, heading right after a committee boat start and crossing the fleet to round the first weather mark with a significant lead. He held this lead through to the finish with Gareth Flanigan second and Tom Fitzpatrick third. The second race saw the breeze shift left on the first beat. Tom Fitzpatrick was first to take advantage of this to lead after the first leg and hold on to take the win, with Burlton in second and Royal North sailor Gordon Patterson in third. Race three saw another race winner, with New Zealand sailor and Howth Yacht Club member Ben Duncan getting the first beat right this time to move into a big lead which was never under threat. Mike Evans finished second making it a host club 1, 2. Burlton and Fitzpatrick both had difficult races with Burtlon having to bail out at the weather mark after not making the layline, rounding second last but recovering to 8th, and the Helly Hansen crew trawled their spinnaker at the last leeward mark to fall from 3rd to 12th. The overnight leaderboard had Burlton leading, with Gareth Flanigan 2nd and Colin Galavan of Dun Laoghaire in 3rd.
Again the forecasters were wrong for Sunday, with heavy rain replaced by bright sunshine and 10kts of northeasterly breeze. The lighter breeze made for much closer racing with the fleet very tightly packed at weather and leeward marks. Race one saw the closest finish of the weekend with Duncan and Burlton both shooting for the finish line. Burlton took the gun by a quarter of a second, extending his overall lead, with Duncan in second and Fitzpatrick in third. The second race saw a very close battle around the race course between Fitzpatrick and Burlton, with places changing constantly between the two. Fitzpatrick finally got the upper hand and took the lead on the final run, which he maintained to the finish. With Duncan and Flanigan finishing 7th and 8th respectively, the title would be a showdown between Fitzpatrick and Burton in the final race with only 2 points separating them.
The final race took place in 8-10 kts, with the leaders coming in from the left hand side. Northern boats were to the fore at the first weather mark with Gareth Flanigan leading, Tom Molloy, sailing ‘Belfast Kitchen Co.’ in second. Burlton and Fitzpatrick rounded together in close quarters next. Flanigan extended his lead on the first run with the next three boats all within a boat length. The second beat made for some of the closest racing on the SB3 circuit so far, with the four boats all within 2 boat lengths for the entire beat. There was a huge number of tacks, ducks and crosses as Fitzpatrick tried to get a boat between him and Burlton. In the end Flanigan sailed a flawless final beat and run to take the race win. Fitzpatrick moved into second but Burlton was able to get by Molloy into third at the finish and take the event by 1 point.
The final overall (platinum fleet) positions were Craig Burton, sailing ‘Redman Fisher’ with Dave Cheyne and Stephen Kane in first place on 9 points. Tom Fitzpatrick, sailing ‘Helly Hansen’ with David Quinn and Colm Cunningham in second. Gareth Flanigan, sailing ‘McCready Sailboats’ with Brian Spence and Jeremy Tomalin in third place. The Gold Fleet was won by Aidan O’Connell, from the Royal St George sailing with Graham Elmes and the Silver Fleet was won by John Driscoll, of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, sailing with Mervyn Gilfillan and David Cagney.
Thanks must go to event sponsor, McAllister Volkswagen, event chairman Mike Evans, PRO David Lovegrove and the many other volunteers who helped organise a fantastic event.