Irish South Coast Dragon Championship 2008

18 September, 2008

Martin,Triona and Conor with Pedro

Five Race Winners, One True Champion.
The beautiful town of Kinsale hosted the annual Irish South Coast Dragon Championship sponsored by Dragon sailor and local chandler James Matthews last weekend seeing some very close racing in a variety of light breezes. Eleven boats made the 4 hour drive down from Dublin to join the 10 local Kinsale boats, along of course with Simon Brien who is the lone steadfast representative from Belfast.Martin Byrne IRL 201, as the current National Champion, was the hot favourite but he was not going to win the Trophy easily. The strength in depth of the Irish Fleet could never be more demonstrated than by seeing each of the 5 races won by different teams. Alan Crosbie set some excellent challenging courses that saw the opening two races sailed in a light oscillating offshore wind. With boats trying to anticipate which side of the course would gain the favourable shift at the ever important top end of the beat, it was Michael Doorly IRL 110 who got it right. Rounding the windward mark first he never looked back and won the race in style. Mick Cotter, who sold this 1991 Petticrow spheretex boat a long time ago,could only scratch the remaining hair on his head thinking where did it all go wrong!

Race 2 was won by another ex National Champion Simon Brien in IRL 202. He again came in from the favoured right side at the top of the first beat and was never challenged. With both Michael and Simon scoring a 5th in their other races they were tied after the first day with 6pts. However, the favourite Martin Byrne had been very consistent with a 2nd and a 3rd to be the Club House leader on 5pts.

The second day saw a change in the wind direction as it swung around to its more normal direction blowing from the Old Head. This suited Olaf Sorensen in IRL 190 who battled hard to take the lead and then had to battle even harder to finish just ahead of the very quick Martin Byrne. After a quick turn around Alan Crosbie got the second race away with four boats un-knowingly over the line. This meant that Garry Treacy IRL 198 took the winning gun to add to his 3rd place in the morning’s race, putting him equal with Richard Goodbody IRL171 and Tim Pearson IRL 159 who were both sailing very consi stently, on 13pts. Just ahead was Olaf Sorensen on 12pts and Simon Brien on 11pts, with Martin Byrne 7pts. So it was all to play for going onto the 3rd and final day. Although it was only possible for Sorensen or Brien to beat Byrne for the Championship, many other teams could finish in the top six.

A very light-wind start saw Peter O'Reilly IRL 197 scrape across the fleet on a port end flyer, a brave but rewarding gamble, as he went on to win the race comfortably. However, a number of boats were OCS again, including Neil Hegarty in IRL 176 who had been showing some of his past National Championship form in the later races, and Simon Brien also blew his overall chances by joining the OCS list. Even Martin Byrne picked up an OCS but he had done enough to take the title and possession of this prestigious historic South Coast Championship cup. Richard Goodbody IRL 171 sailed a brilliant last race to take the runners up spot with Garry Treacy 3rd.
Olaf Sorensen, Cameron Good and Michael Doorly finished a commendable 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. Outside the prizewinners there were strong performances from local boats, notably Jee IRL 145 with Caroline Matthews on board, who came within a place of embarrassing brother James by beating him.

So another Trophy for Martin Byrne ably crewed by his son Conor and Pedro from Quantum Sails. But the real winners yet again are all the Dragon competitors sailing these wonderful, competitive one design keelboats. A fantastically well run event by the Kinsale Yacht Club team, led by sponsor James Matthews.

Higher, faster, longer.