The wind was blowing at 17 knots with gusts to 23 on Sunday at the tenth and last race of Coleraine Yacht Clubs Winter Series 1.
This is the second time in eight weeks that reliable wind filled in for the weekend and the sailors were looking forward to sailing in quite trying conditions. This northerly with just a touch of east is inclined to set up a rough chop in the river and this is what it did as the boats launched from the slipway at the Marina. Before the start one of the hot favourites for line honours James Burnside sailing a Laser developed gear failure necessitating a return to shore for repairs.
At the start gun James Campbell in a Laser Radial broke through and immediately went into a good lead followed by Duncan Chapman. Both these sailors are the age to compete in the Junior division but have chosen to race against the big guns and with some success. They were followed by Jimmy Dempsey, Russell Yates and Mervyn Montgomery all in Lasers. The boat of Jamie Gilmore with Lisa and Grant as crew were OCS (on course side) of the line at the start and had to return leaving them last through the gate behind the Feva with Adam and Josh Weisman and Alex Magee.
Campbell rounded the windward mark first having drawn out a bigger lead on Chapman and these two were well ahead of the rest of the fleet. On the downwind leg Duncan appeared to ride the gusts better than James and closed the gap considerably but on the beat after the leeward mark Campbell pulled away again. This set the pattern for the whole race. Both these junior sailors were handling the tough conditions well. The same could not be said for all the boats in the fleet and most of the rest capsized more than once. Russell Yates had a spectacular capsize to windward at the gybe mark which resulted in him having to swing the boat through another capsize before remounting and getting going again. This resulted in the loss of three places.
Yates was sailing particularly well apart from this mistake and has shown great improvement during the series. He caught up on his arch rival Mervyn Montgomery and had a real ding dong battle for the rest of the race. Jimmy Dempsey meanwhile was in third place for two laps until a capsize again at the leeward mark left him behind Yates and Montgomery. Chapman and Campbell fought it out at the head of the fleet James crossing the line first less than a minute ahead of Duncan.
Within ten metres of the finish Russell Yates called starboard on Mervyn Montgomery and sneaked through to take third place with Jimmy Dempsey fifth and James Burnside sixth after a restart. The best junior boat was the Feva crewed by Josh and Adam Weisman and Alex Magee. Congratulations to them on handling these difficult conditions so well.
When handicaps were taken into consideration Duncan Chapman was the winner by one and a half seconds from James Campbell the third place boat being eight minutes further back.
The AGM of CYC is to be held on Thursday night next when the guest speaker is Matt Neill who last year sailed to the Antarctic on the MV Ernest Shackleton and spent several months on the ice. Matt gives a very interesting talk with many amazing photographs and a big crowd is expected to attend. There will be a Fun Race next Sunday.
All Club members and friends will also be welcomed at the Boxing Day Cold Finger regatta when mulled wine and mince pies will be served after racing. Sailors should not miss this legendary day at CYC.
1st Duncan Chapman Laser; 2nd James Campbell Laser; 3rd Russell Yates Laser; 4th Mervyn Montgomery Laser; 5th Jimmy Dempsey Laser; 6th James Burnside Laser
Juniors: 1st Adam and Josh Weisman and Alex Magee RS Feva