Smart work by O'Connell


SAILING: Fresh from his victory as a tactician in last week's British Melges 24 championships, Maurice O'Connell returned to home waters yesterday as a helmsman and, with 9.75 points, opened up an overall lead in the first day's racing of the Cork Dry Gin 1720 National Championships off Ireland's Eye.

Steering Des Faherty's Aquatack, O'Connell and his four- man crew won the opening windward-leeward race of the nine-race series in a day when smart boat handling was at a premium and retirals caused by gear failure proved commonplace.

Relishing the 15-20 knot breeze from 310 degrees, the Royal Cork sailor outwitted the 26-boat fleet with some slick spinnaker hoists at a top mark set east of Malahide inlet and took second in the second race when winds eased slightly and tactics involving a south going tide came into play.

Second overall going in to this morning's next three races is local boat Wet 'n' Black (Paul Reilly) on 10 points with O'Connell's Royal Cork club-mate Anthony O'Leary, showing the same form that won him late May's Scottish series, in third on 12.75 points.

1720 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (at Howth YC) - Race 1: 1, Aquatack (Des Faherty/Maurice O'Connell) ; 2. Red Green (Shaun Douglas); 3. Wet n' Black (Paul Reilly). Race 2: 1, Ford Racing (Anthony O'Leary); 2, Aquatack ; 3, Peugeot Motorcycles (Tommy and John Murphy). Race 3: 1, Hibernian (Brian Lennon /Roger Cagney); 2, Wet n' Black; 3 Ford Racing. Overall (after three races in a series of nine): 1, Aquatack 9.75 pts; 2, Wet n' Black 10 pts; 3, Ford Racing 12.75 pts.