Anyone who might have thought that the Ross McDonald & Co on Atara would have an easy time of it defending their 1720 European Championship title at the Simply Blue Sovereign’s Cup will have to tear up that script based on the evidence of the first day’s racing off sun-soaked Kinsale. Julian Hughes and team on Root 1 may have set the pace with a bullet and two seconds, but seven different boats shared the nine available podium places today – such was the tight racing enjoyed by the fleet. Rob O’Leary on Dutch Gold currently lies in sixth place by virtue of consistent performance, the only team in the top 8 not to land a top three finish in any race.
After a short postponement racing got underway and out of the blocks Root 1 took a commanding lead in Race 1. Waterford Harbour clubmate Rob McConnell came home second and Donagh Good from RCYC claimed the final podium spot. OD Ciarán McSweeney got Race 2 underway promptly and the fleet headed up the beat to the windward mark off Black Head. This time out After Headcase claimed the bullet and Fionn Lyden on Spiced Beef was snapping at the transom of Root 1 which came home in second place. The forecast sea breeze filled in before the third race so the course was realigned allowing competitors time to admire the white sail fleet that was passing through on their way to the Sandy Cove mark. A tightly-bunched fleet battled their way up to the first mark, where a mid-fleet schmozzle at the mark saw one of the veteran stalwarts of the class end up in the water. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries and up front the Atara team got their show on the road with a welcome bullet to wipe away the stress of finding themselves stranded on the side of the M8 motorway with Atara just north of Mitchelstown the evening before! The Root 1 team were not letting them away – claiming their second consecutive second place. And the winner of the recent Southern Championships – Dave Kenefick on Full Irish – claimed the final podium spot. The fleet returned en masse to Kinsale providing onlookers with the spectacular sight of 22 1720s flying their colourful spinnakers as they made their way up the harbour past the historic Charles Fort.
Racing continues tomorrow with a further three races scheduled and first gun at 10:55 with more sunshine and champagne sailing on the menu.