GP14 World Championship win extends Irish expectation
Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davis win in Barbados to add to dinghy successes
Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davis (left) from Greystones SC won the 2016 GP14 World Championships after a 10-race series in Barbados. Photograph: David O’Brien.
A gold medal, a world title and a title sponsor announcement in Dublin on Thursday wrapped up a fortnight of international dinghy successes that is a shot in the arm for the new summer sailing season.
When Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davis hoisted the GP14 World Championship Trophy in Barbados on Monday, the Wicklow dinghy helmsman became the only sailor to ever hold the Irish, British and world titles concurrently.
The Greystones Sailing Club (GSC) entry outwitted a number of multi–world champions to seize the trophy, Ireland’s first GP14 world title win in 25 years.
A 22–boat Irish contingent celebrated the historic win at Barbados Yacht Club, the biggest event the West Indies club has ever held.
While the other contenders for the title won individual races, MacCarthy sailed a very consistent series, placing only once outside the top five for the duration of the 10-race event.
Moving into the latter part of championship with four races to go MacCarthy and Davis, a Birmingham-based sailmaker, were tied in second place with British pair Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe on 15 points, both two points adrift of British leaders Nick Craig and Toby Lewison.
When MacCarthy, sailing with Andy Thompson, won the British title in Brixham last August it was Ireland’s first British title win in 50 years. The last being in 1965 when Belfast’s Burton Allen and Issu Duffy won sailing Justmaidi from Ballyholme Yacht Club. Now MacCarthy’s unique treble this week means he is rewriting the class history books again.
MacCarthy’s is the third Irish name on to the worlds trophy and the first from the Republic. The Fekkes Brothers, Mark and Paul, from Larne in Co Antrim last won it in 1991 and Bill Whisker and Jimmy McKee from Ballyholme in Co Down were winners in 1975.
After some recent disappointing performances, the gold medal for Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern at the Trofeo Princesa Sofía raises the prospect of a strong Olympic skiff result in four months’ time. Rio will be the second Olympics for the Northern Ireland duo and the dream of a top-10 place in the men’s 49er comes with it.
Last week’s Mediterranean gold is an endorsement of the progress the Ballyholme YC Club pair have made, especially in beating 2012 Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen of Australia.
The co-funded Irish Sailing Association (ISA) and Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland team were 14th at the last Olympics and have had brief spots near the top of the fleet, including silver at the Sailing World Cup Hyeres Regatta in 2014, but last week they showed the depth of their ambition when they stepped to the top of the podium.