Despite forecasts of heavy winds a large fleet of dinghies turned out for the 5th race in the Coleraine Yacht Club Winter series.
Last week’s racing had to be abandoned due to high winds which prevailed for most of the day. It was only the second abandoned since last September despite the poor weather we have had for some months.
On the starting line the junior Pico of Oonagh Jordan and crew Kate Barton were first across followed by Bruce McFarlane in a Laser and Duncan Chapman also in a Laser. Others getting a good start were Johnny Campbell and Aoife Mitchell in a Feva. Some others were too far away from the line at the gun to gain any advantage.
Bruce McFarlane soon caught the slower boats and took the lead at the windward mark followed by Duncan Chapman who sailed a superb first leg. Third round the mark was Alan McCann followed by Russell Yates James Campbell and Peter Rainey all in Lasers.
First Junior at this stage was the Feva of Johnny Campbell and Aoife Michell then Ooonagh Jordan and Kate Barton in the Pico. Michael Simpson the only Topper in the field had a poor start but rounded third of the juniors.
The very broad reach to the gybe mark was sailed in gusty winds with a strong current flowing north. Decisions had to be made as to whether or not to stay out of the current on the west bank and risk losing wind close to the shore or to endeavour to stem the current in the middle of the river where the winds were stronger. Neither decision was right nor indeed wrong as the tricky conditions gave advantage to one and then to the other.
Bruce McFarlane was still ahead at the gybe mark with Duncan Chapman sailing a great race right at his transom. The rest of the fleet were only half way down the run when these two rounded.
Back in the fleet a battle of the Lasers ensued as McCann ,Yates and Campbell changed places from third to fifth. Peter Rainey had capsized to windward at the windward mark which left him with work to do to rejoin the main body of the race.
In the junior fleet places remained as before as they approached the next mark. McFarlane chose a course close to the pontoon on the east bank on the next beat and Chapman followed for a while before tacking across to lay the line. This early tack paid off for Duncan and he gained a few yards on the wily Bruce.
The positions of the leading boats remained unchanged to the third leg when Duncan Chapman gybing in a heavy gust capsized right behind Bruce McFarlane.The capsize was to windward which made it very difficult to right the Laser without capsizing again and indeed this is just what happened. By this time the rest of the Lasers had caught up . Alan McCann took over second place followed by Russell Yates ,James Campbell and Duncan Chapman now in fifth.
The junior positions remained unchanged.
The junior fleet has made great strides this winter showing great competence in boat handling even in the difficult conditions prevailing on Sunday. The all girl crew of Jordan and Barton have got their boat going really well and young Michael Simpson is making great strides in his Topper. Look out for these in next summer RYA events.
Close racing continued in the middle of the fleet with places swopped on a regular basis but although the distance between them and Alan McCann had decreased they were unable to catch him before the end. Bruce McFarlane sailed a magnificent race in his recently restored Laser to come out the winner once again.
1st Bruce McFarlane Laser; 2nd Alan McCann Laser; 3rd Russell Yates Laser
Juniors - 1st Johnny Campbell and Aoife Mitchell RS Feva; 2nd Oonagh Jordan and Kate Barton Laser Pico; 3rd Michael Simpson Topper