It certainly does not seem a year ago since the 2003 Autumn League where near Mediterranean conditions prevailed for the majority of races. This year has started in conditions in what most crews would like to be encountering in week two or three. To get a race in at all was a feat given the bleak forecasts being obtained from all quarters.
With expected winds of 30-55 knots the PRO's, Peter McKenna (Offshore) and Neil Inglis (Inshore) set to sea with their respective teams to assess the conditions. A prudent decision was taken to keep the races short and ensure that should the foul weather materialize it would only be a short sail home. This proved an admirable decision and all sailors agreed that to get a race in was a bonus.
The only General Recall of the day was had by Class 1. Given the forcast, the black flag was flown for the restart and for the following classes purely to ensure completion of the starting sequence and to finish early.
While there were many who stayed ashore, they should be applauded in acknowledging and respecting the conditions faced and the limitations of their crews and boats. A thank-you to all who retired in advising the Race Office of your decision which is of major assistance to the Race Committee in cross checking results.
This year sees entries at 175 and with visiting boats from the usual local clubs and from across the bay. Wexford Harbour Sailing Club is represented by R McConnell in Wound Up, a brand new Grand Surprise 32 in Class 0 accompanied by E Conneely's Dubois 38 Dark Angel from Galway Bay SC.
A note must be made of Colm Barrington's new Kerr 38 Flying Glove and the spectacular quality of the build, detail of finish and pure elegance. Martin Reilly again represents Sligo Yacht Club in his 36.7 Whats The Rush.
This year sees the inclusion of the Etchell Class lead by Dave Murnane . This class of boat has not been actively sailed in Ireland for many years and only emerged in HYC this season. Not only does it boast 12 boats, but they held the inaugural Irish Championships (in HYC in August) with a guest appearance from Russel Coutts and hope to host the 2005 Etchell Europeans. These boats have seriously taken off and any one interested should contact Dave Murnane.
The Daily results are available on the Results section of the Web Site.
As with every Autumn League Race there are incidents and accidents. Water Rat was out and about as usual and made it down to the Class 1 start line. A loud bang was heard as a collision occurred between two X332's, one a Sports job and one not. Apparently some damage occurred but no Rox's were thrown in what seems to have been an amicable encounter.
Two other X yachts hit the headlines this time in Class 2 and for different reasons. One X302 was seen romping home with an emphatic win while her sister-ship had some fumbling of the hands after washing the spinnaker with slippery bars of Soap and then hung it out to dry!!!!!
Many other spinnakers, spreaders, windex's and crews all got good wettings with some spectacular wipe outs and chinese gybes. The photograph of Jameson Whiskey in the Lighthouse Bar up the village was in jeopardy of being bettered by some very experienced sailors. Perhaps John Deane our Web Master and photographer on the water has some compromising photo's. One which was noted by Water Rat was on a Pupp, and Team Mojo who was awarded a perfect 10 for their efforts by the judges.
In Cruiser 3 there were very few spinnys flown but the Day belongs to Joe Nolan and the crew of Lady Frances. Do you remember the TV program 3-2-1 with Dusty Bin some years ago. Well, Joe in class 3 with 2 keels (Bilge folks) took 1st place on Echo. Well done guys.
On a lighter note, that Jameson Whiskey spectacular knockdown photograph in the Lighthouse Bar was taken at the West Mark in 30 plus knots of wind during the 1987 Admirals Cup Trials on a wind direction of 210 degrees!!. The PRO for that event was the legendry Jock Smith and he was ably assisted by none other than Sean Flood who was a team member on the Free Enterprise on Sunday.
Sean is great at the old stories and himself and the one and only Neville Maguire were overheard reminiscing about competitors and PRO's radio conversations discussing up to what wind strengths and conditions should racing go ahead. The story was recalled when Jock was speaking to Clayton Love before the start and the question was asked. The reply to the PRO was If you can lay the marks you can race!!. .
So on to next week and hoping for moderate conditions!!!