As is the usual Dun Laoghaire week format, there was an afternoon start and two races were scheduled for day 1 (Thursday). The SB20s were placed on the centre course in the middle of Dublin bay and the race officer got the fleet off in a light easterly breeze of 7-10knts. The fleet split shortly after the start with the leaders at the first mark including Bad and Sin Bin (Michael O’Connor, Owen Laverty and Ed Cook) coming out of the right hand side of the first beat. Some pundits were predicting a good regatta for Alert Packaging (Justin Burke, Henrik Olerund and Gareth Nolan) after several good showings in recent regional events and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Alert Packaging took a route to the left of the leaders down the first run and overtook both Bad and Sin Bin to lead out of the first gate. Alert Packaging thereafter extended their lead and won comfortably from Bad in second and Sin Bin in third. Race 2 was a trickier affair with the fleet again splitting up the first beat. Bad were again to the fore but this time it was Lia (Dave Barry, Sam Hunt/Ted Laverty and Bob Allen) and the class newbies Binn Eadair (Diana Kissane, Graeme Grant et al) and Bango (James Gorman et al) doing the chasing. In the end, Bad won well from Lia in second and Binn Eadair in third. This race was notable for the closeness of the finish with the boats in second to ninth all finishing within approximately four boat lengths of each other! At the end of day 1, Bad led on three points from Binn Eadair in second on seven point and Lia in third on eight points.
Day two brought some trickier conditions with the wind shifting and varying in speed quite dramatically throughout the day from very light to moderate conditions. Race 3 (first race of the day) again saw the boys on Bad demonstrate their light airs prowess and they took their second bullet of the regatta, followed by Venuesworld.com (Ger Dempsey, Chris Nolan and Rory Groves) who were showing a return to form after a shaky start to the event the previous day. In third place were the prodigal sons on Altair (Kieran Dorgan, Jason Losty and Hal Courtney) making a welcome return to the fleet this year before the Europeans in 2018 (to be held in Dublin Bay). After a brief wait for the wind to settle and fill in, Race 4 got off in a slightly stronger 10 knots of breeze. The boats that went left up the first beat favoured best with Sin Bin taking the win from Bad in second and other class newbies, the ever-improving Lofly (the Doran clan, Simon, Philip and Paul) showing an impressive turn of speed to take third place. Race 5 (third and final race of the day) followed a similar pattern but this time Bad took line honours from Sin Bin in second and Alert Packaging in third. Alert Packaging had led the fleet around the leeward marks but the lads on Bad picked their way up from third by hooking into better tide and wind direction on the left side of the second beat and once they took the lead they were not to be caught. After day 2 and at the half-way point of the regatta, the first discard kicked in and Bad had increased their lead with a very impressive 2,1,1,1,2 scoreline. Bad were on 5 points and led by six points from Sin Bin in second on 11 points and Alert Packaging in third on 14 points.
Day three brought similar conditions to the end of day two with slightly stronger moderate winds on the north course. If the chasing pack were hoping of a let up from the leaders they were to be disappointed with Bad winning the first race of the day from Sin Bin in second and Lofly taking third once more. Race 7 saw Alert Packaging convincingly take their second win of the series with Sin Bin taking their third second place in a row followed by Bad in third. Race 8, the third and final race of the day saw a close battle all the way around the course between the top four or five boats with Altair taking a well-deserved win from Bad and Venuesworld taking third place. The second place in Race 8 meant that Bad had effectively wrapped up the series with a day to spare. Sin Bin were also sitting relatively comfortably in second but the race for third was wide open with Alert Packaging, Venuesworld.com and Lofly all well in contention. The fleet got together en masse in the George for many, many pints and post sail craic.
Day four brought light and sunny conditions with a shifty westerly for race 9. The somewhat (largely) worse-for-wear fleet got off at the first time of asking with a couple of the boats including Alert Packaging and Sin Bin being recalled for jumping the gun early. Race 9 was won comfortably by Venuesworld.com bringing them right into contention in the battle for third place overall, with their nearest rivals for third overall counting a ninth (Alert Packaging) and an eighth (Lofly) respectively. The wind shifted to the south east just before the start of Race 10 so the OOD sensibly postponed and reset the course for the new wind. After some drama at the pin end of the starting line with one or two boats being recalled, the fleet shot off up the beat with Venuesworld.com, Lofly and Alert Packaging all in contention up the first beat. Venuesworld.com had won the favoured pin end of the starting line and trucked out into slightly stronger breeze on the left. At the weather mark, Venuesworld.com led from Sin Bin with Lofly in third and Alert Packaging chasing hard behind. Venuesworld.com were not to be caught and won by a length from Sin Bin with Lofly taking third. Alert Packaging could only manage fourth so there was some mental arithmetic that needed to be done!
Overall, Bad won the event on 13 points from Sin Bin on 21 points. Venuesworld.com and Alert Packaging were tied for third on 31 points. Both boats had two first places to count and in the end, it was Venuesworlds third best result (a second place in race 3 versus Alert Packaging’s third place in Race 5) that separated the two boats for third place overall, with Venuesworld just shading it on countback. Alert Packaging took fourth from Lofly in a commendable fifth. Altair took sixth ahead of last years convincing winners Lia in seventh, showing the depth of competition in the fleet at present. The fleet seemed to unanimously agree that the racing over the four days was excellent and some of the best they had done.
Other notable mentions include Roger Bannon and Rory Byrne. It was great to see Roger back on the water after a short layoff, taking a not-too-shabby 11th place, one point ahead of Rory Byrne and his team in 12th. Rory has had a much longer layoff from the fleet having been an original SBer back in the late noughties and it was great to see him back on the water. It was interesting to note that he managed some top finishes including a fourth in race 3 and two seventh places in the last two races as he got back into the swing of things. Hopefully we will see more of his ilk returing to the fleet in advance of the Europeans next year in Dublin Bay.