Sailors up against testing conditions and larger fleet at World Championships
David Gorman targets top-10 finish as he competes at world level for first time
As with the previous occasions in 2003, pictured, and 1992, the National Yacht Club is organising the worlds event while Royal St George YC is staging the Irish championships. Photograph: Eric Luke
With autumnal weather set to deliver testing conditions on Dublin Bay, final preparations are under way for the Subaru Flying 15 World Championship, which has attracted a fleet of almost 80 boats from around the world.
Equipment compliance measurement begins this weekend leading into the pre-worlds series that doubles as the Irish Open Championship.
As with the previous occasions in 2003 and 1992, the National Yacht Club is organising the world event while Royal St George YC is staging the Irish championships, reflecting the spread of the class to the neighbouring venue.
Although the Irish fleet can expect some local knowledge advantage, the scale of challenge facing them is best summarised by current national champion David Gorman who reckons that a top 10 result overall would be a good outcome given the strength of the visiting crews.
“A quick read through the entry list reveals multiple world champions and Olympians – many of the top 15 boats are professional sailors,” he told The Irish Times. “Sailmakers have a definite edge given the recent developments in the class.”
But the biggest obstacle that Irish crews face is at race starts where 80 boats on the line will be a new experience for many crews more accustomed to turnouts of half that size; the usual challenge of winning a front-row starting position to get clean air for the upwind stage is a doubly difficult prospect.
However, Gorman reckons local boats could have an advantage if winds are onshore as many of the visitors especially from Britain sail on lakes that often lack the bigger waves experienced on coastal waters.
While Gorman will be competing at world level for the first time, his crew and fellow national champion is Chris Doorly, a veteran of four previous world championships whose previous best was a 21st place sailing with Justin Burke in 2007.
Burke delivered the best Irish result at this level in 2003 sailing with Alan Green when they placed fifth, a result since matched by Strangford Lough’s Dan Martin with Simon Murray.
Gorman might yet have another edge if he follows the example of the next generation of up and coming sailing talent as his daughter Claire is one of the leading Laser Radial sailors.
“I’m definitely not as good a sailor as Claire but from years of watching her racing and especially how they commit themselves to a starting position and even risk incurring a black-flag disqualification,” he said. He also notes how younger sailors place more importance on diet during race days and also recovery after racing such as going for a cycle after coming ashore.
Meanwhile, the Irish class continues to enjoy consistent numbers from year to year, regularly attracting 30-40 boats at regional and national championships. Plus, it doesn’t so far appear to be suffering from the affliction experienced by other classes hosting major championships of inflated numbers followed by decline in the aftermath of the event.
“Class numbers have been steady despite the worlds, thanks mainly to the qualifying system that prevents people from simply jumping into the class at the last minute,” said Doorly who is also the current Irish Flying 15 class association president.