Fitzpatrick keeps hold of title after battle


Reigning title holder Tom Fitzpatrick emerged winner once again of the Church & General ISA Helmsman Championship at the Royal Cork Yacht yesterday after a close battle in the final series.

The 470 class hopeful for the Sydney 2000 Olympics saw off 1720 European champion Mark Mansfield in his own class on home waters in a full vindication of his title "Champion of Champions". The event had two flights of 12 boats sail on Saturday to decide yesterday's final 12 places for a six race, one discard series. Matching the contrast in weather over the two days, Fitzpatrick barely qualified in the same flight as Mansfield on Saturday; the 1720 class master won three out of four races, while the title defender from Howth YC scrapped into qualification in sixth place.

While Mansfield appeared set to fulfil predictions of a clean sweep in his own class by winning the opening race of the final series, Fitzpatrick moved steadily into form as the local helm appeared to slip from the top places. Accidental damage to his rig on the fourth race of the day saw Mansfield in the protest room where he received redress of one place but his single discard for the series was used for an 11th in the penultimate race allowing Fitzpatrick to win the series by over four points.

Other results in the event included a fine third place for Skiff class nominee Maurice `Prof' O'Connell who narrowly missed taking second from Mansfield by just .25 points. Gerbil Owens, winner of this year's Halidon Junior Helmsman Championship and another 470 campaigner took fourth while Mermaid class nominee Derek Joyce took fifth.