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Sligo Yacht Club Pair Win GP14's O'Tiarnaigh Challenge at Skerries Sailing Club

2nd August 2022
Almost 50 boats had amassed to get their Worlds practice in, gate starts and all...
Almost 50 boats had amassed to get their Worlds practice in, gate starts and all...

In final preparation for the World Championships in Skerries in a fortnight, the Irish GP14 fleet enjoyed the O'Tiarnaigh Challenge on the Worlds race track

The O'Tiarnaigh Challenge has always been a different kind of event. Pioneered by the late great Riocard O’Tiarnaigh, it’s an innovative occasion that encourages sailing and competition throughout the fleet, adding further uncertainty as to what might happen next. In this year’s format both conservatism and daring were to be rewarded, with short courses and overall scores from the first day all due to be counted, leading to knockout rounds and a final race where the top 3 from bronze silver and gold fleets would battle it out for the overall win. With a moderate breeze forecast on Saturday and little wind Sunday, who knew what would happen next?

Almost 50 boats had amassed to get their Worlds practice in, gates starts and all.

Racing got underway on Saturday with a moderate and shifty offshore breeze. Hugh and Dan Gill led the fleet away as pathfinder, and with everyone successfully away, those sailing through the middle were able to take advantage of some big oscillations, join the dots of pressure and trade tacks. The weather mark rounding was the usual and expected busy affair, with the crew of Coleman Grimes & Ross Gingles squeezing in ahead of Josh Porter & Sara Gowdy closely followed by, Ross Kearney & Andrew Vaughan and Adrian Lee & Gareth Gallagher. The following reaches saw the exchange of places with Lee / Gallagher and Kearney / Vaughan rolling through to weather ahead of the gybe mark. A luffing battle ensued between this pair on the next leg that subsequently allowed Grimes / Gingles back in and close out the positions for the race on the next beat.

Peter & Stephen Boyle took on pathfinder duties for race two with great success. Coming in from the right-hand side they were able to round at the top pack and secure a race win from there on. Norman” Lee & Alan Leddy showed their form and enjoyed bagging the second spot. For some of the fleet, the left looked promising off the start, as they could see additional pressure coming down the course. It was only Jane Kearney & Ollie Goodhead who could convert this strategy into a gain, by getting far enough to the right at the top of the beat. They subsequently took the third spot. Lee & Gallagher had a terrific race to finish first over the line but failed to round the weather mark ahead of the windward finish, this leading to the first of their two DSQs for the same misdemeanour. They weren’t alone by any means, with many re-reading the race instructions later that evening.

Race three saw Keith & Mateo Louden lead the fleet away as pathfinder, and like the Boyles in the previous race, they had great success converting their duties into a well-earned 1st. Lee & Gallagher again showed great skill on the water to bag their almost 3rd podium, but subsequent 2nd DSQ. Josh Porter & Sara Gowdy took home 2nd with Alan Blay & Hugh McNally taking the 3rd spot. Race 4 saw Grimes & Gingles take on pathfinder duties, and with the fortune of a lasting lift from the gun, they could convert this into a 2nd, reaching down to a shortened course to finish just behind Steven & Daniel Nelson, with John & Donal McGuiness close behind claiming 3rd.

Curly & Abby Kinsella prepare to launchCurly & Abby Kinsella prepare to launch their GP14 dinghy

Having set the fleet away on 4 excellent “World-sized” races with 2 beats in 3 of 4 of them, the Race Officers Liam Dineen and Bill O'Hara called an end to the days proceedings and sent the fleet ashore, to attempt to count up the scores and determine who was fairing the best in each fleet.

The overnight positions on Saturday and most consistent were:

Gold fleet, Kearney & Vaughn 19 points, Grimes & Gingles 26 points and John & Donal McGuiness on 26 points.

Silver fleet, Christopher Clayton & Rory Higgins 52 points, Doire Shiels & Graham Burnes 58 points, Bill & James Johnson 73 points.

Bronze fleet, James & Colm Hackett 97 points, Meg Tyrell & Sorcha Donnelly 107 points, Daniel O’Hare & Muriel Carthy 109 points.

Worlds’ Preparation, through a rules talk with Czema Pico, an international juror who shared his wisdom and stimulated great discussion on the good, the bad and the ugly.

International juror Czema Pico gave a rules talk at SkerriesInternational juror Czema Pico gave a rules talk at Skerries

With the wind dropping off, the racing format changed that night, and Sunday would now see the slate wiped clean and the whole fleet battle it out for the top spots overall and in their divisions.

After an initial abandoned race, and a competitor-gate boat-pathfinder sandwich, the fleet were off to see if they could complete a race in the now very light onshore flow.

Those in phase and able to keep momentum fared well, though either side of the beat could be made to pay. A rare mistake from Kearney & Vaughan saw them unable to gain clear air off the start, a mistake they couldn’t recover from. The pairings of Ruan & Bekka O’Tiarnaigh, Lee & Gallagher, Grimes & Gingles, Blay & McNally and Curly Morris & Abbey Kinsella were going well. Having started early, they could all eek out an initial lead.

Ruan & Bekka O'Tiarnaigh finalise their rig before going afloatRuan & Bekka O'Tiarnaigh finalise their rig before going afloat

With a little more pressure coming from the right, the race was then on to get across to it. Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty showed their vast experience as they calmly glided through the fleet, with the Loudens doing likewise, however, Blessington's Simon Cully and young Lukasz Flynn came through to be first at the weather mark.

The gybe mark saw the top 4 boats congregate with Grimes & Gingles having to give mark-room to Henry & Gerraghy, then the Loudens. Grimes & Gingles were fortunate that Cully & Flynn were being “more like Jane” and didn’t capitalise on their momentum and the space left to squeeze through on the inside. The wind continued to drop and the positions for the podium held. For the rest of the fleet, the clock started once Henry & Geraghty crossed the line, and only 27 of the 49 could cross in time, with Josh Porter & Sara Gowdy picking up an unusual prize for them, in being the last placed boat.

Niall Henry & Ossian Geraghty from Sligo Yacht Club took the overall win.

Results are downloadable below

Overall 2022 Riocard O'Tiarnigh Winners: Niall & Ossian with Muriel O'TiarnaighOverall 2022 Riocard O'Tiarnigh Winners: Niall & Ossian with Muriel O'Tiarnaigh

1st Silver fleet - Simon Cully and Lukasz Flynn 1st Silver fleet - Simon Cully and Lukasz Flynn 

1st Bronze fleet - Max Cully and Tighe Wardell1st Bronze fleet - Max Cully and Tighe Wardell


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The GP14 is a popular sailing dinghy, with well over 14,000 boats built.

The class is active in the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and parts of north-eastern USA, and the GP14 can be used for both racing and cruising. 

Designed by Jack Holt in 1949, with the assistance of the Dovey Yacht Club in Aberdyfi. The idea behind the design was to build a General Purpose (GP) 14-foot dinghy which could be sailed or rowed, capable of also being powered effectively by a small outboard motor, able to be towed behind a small family car and able to be launched and recovered reasonably easily, and stable enough to be able to lie to moorings or anchor when required. Racing soon followed, initially with some degree of opposition from Yachting World, who had commissioned the design, and the boat soon turned out to be an outstanding racing design also.

The boat was initially designed with a main and small jib as a comfortable family dinghy. In a design philosophy that is both practical and highly redolent of social attitudes of the day the intention was that she should accommodate a family comprising parents plus two children, and specifically that the jib should be modest enough for "Mum" or older children to handle, while she should perform well enough to give "Dad" some excitement when not taking the family out. While this rig is still available, and can be useful when using the boat to teach sailing, or for family sailing, and has some popularity for cruising, the boat is more commonly seen with the full modern rig of a mainsail, genoa and spinnaker. Australian boats also routinely use trapezes.

GP14 2022 Irish Fixtures 

Spring Open (Apr 30 May 1)
Sligo YC

Ulsters (May 21-22)
Lough Foyle YC

Nationals (Jul 2-3)

O'Tiarnaigh Pre-Worlds (Jul 30-31)
Skerries SC

GP14 Worlds (Aug 14-19)
Skerries SC

Leinsters (Sep 17-18)
Mullingar SC

Hot Toddy/Youth Championship
(Oct 15-16) - Newtownards SC

Munster Championship
(Nov 5-6) - Cullaun Sailing Club

At A Glance – GP14 Dinghy Specifications

Crew 2
Draft 1,200 mm (47 in)
Hull weight 132.9 kg
LOA 4.27 m (14 ft)
Beam 1.54 m
Spinnaker area 8.4 m2
Upwind sail area 12.85 m2

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