Dublin Bay tests all challengers


Sailing/Flying 15 World Championship: Last week's prediction by local ace sailor John Lavery that Dublin Bay would throw up all types of surprises proved frustratingly accurate yesterday when the opening race of the Subaru Flying 15 World Championship was sailed in light and altogether fluky conditions.

Of the variety of tricks the bay can produce, yesterday's big one came in the form a large windshift - estimated to have been as much as 40 degrees - as the fleet headed upwind on the first leg of the course.

Nevertheless, if the pre-world's was supposed to indicate a likely running order for this week, then Britain's Mick Hart and Richard Rigg were more than pleased to upset the form guide by winning the opening race.

Australia's Ashley Smith and Kym Thumpkin went even further. Their first competitive outing produced a second place as this pair didn't even appear last week. Speculation that the crew's weight was considerably below average may well be true but this cannot take away from their result.

Best Irish boat also produced a welcome surprise in the form of class master Gerry Dunleavy with Ciaran Crummey placing third yesterday. Upon a time, this place might have been the minimum result expected of this National Yacht Club helm though in recent times other stars have shone more brightly.

But what of the big guns of the pre-worlds? Tellingly perhaps, fourth-placed Steve Goacher and Steve Evans were pretty consistent with last week's standard, in spite of the light airs. It was the same too for Charles and David Apthorp in sixth place. These two British crews are well placed to move into the overall leaders' pack today.

The other home fleet surprise came from Lavery and David O'Brien - newly crowned Irish champions but disqualified from yesterday's race thanks to an OCS (On-course-side) starting penalty.

Although the duo sailed on to finish in 13th place, they must count maximum points until the single-event discard comes into force later this week.

In effect, this "get out of jail free" card has now been played and the series restarts for them today with pressure to hit consistent top-of-the-fleet results to keep any hope of the world title alive.

In a similar position are a clutch of other top performers from last week.

Husband and wife crew Nick and Janet Jerwood from Western Australia scored a 22nd place while the second-best Irish crew, Sean Craig and Stephen Boyle, were 25th out of the 75 starters. Class newcomer Richard Estaugh, with Tim Harper, endured a 44th placing.

Meanwhile, the turnaround in results saw three other Irish boats score top-10 results yesterday. Carrickfergus Sailing Club's Andrew McGleery and Colin Dougan led a trio of boats in eighth place, followed by locals Ian Matthews and Ben Mulligan in ninth. The National YC's Justin Burke and Alan Green, Irish class champions in 2002, placed 10th.