Surfin' Shoes loses to Sarah J


THE first real event of the season for Dublin-based keelboats proved eventful and set the scene for the coming months. The Royal Alfred Carlsberg-sponsored Superleague had its opening race on Saturday with the combined fleet spread over three courses that again neatly avoided conflict with the new super ferry's route north of the Burford Bank and across the bay to Dun Laoghaire.

In class zero, Cormac Twomey's production Beneteau, Sarah J, did the business over Colm Barrington's Surfin' Shoes after handicapping. With winds up and down through force two or three, the Bashford Howison 41-footer should have had the edge but the Bruce Farr French boat stole Barrington's thunder by just over a minute on Channel handicap (CHS).

The other new boat on the bay, Roy Dickson's Cracklin' Rosie, finished fourth behind Max McMullan's IMX 38 Innovision III. The third IMX of the fleet, Richard Burrows' Prospector, is out of action following a `t-boning' in the Howth YC weekly series last Wednesday.

Arguably, the closest racing of the handicap classes was to be found in division one where Peter Beamish's Aztec romped around the course to win convincingly by three minutes and 25 seconds on CHS. Nevertheless, it must surely be lonely so far ahead on the water among the back markers of class zero and the real action appeared to be with the runners-up in Aztec's class.

Tony Fox and Vincent Farrell's Escapade enjoyed close racing with Bob Stewart's successor to Paddinton, a brand new SJ32 called Little Bear. There was pressure, too, from X-boats Saxon Girl and X-Claim while Marissa VII and Scenario Encore were also nearby throughout the race. After these, a clear gap to the next set of boats, mostly sailing under the dual entry of the classic division, saw the Sigma38s thirsting for more breeze to get them back to the front of the fleet.

Meanwhile, numbers in class two have been swollen by the Impala One-designs requesting the Alfred to withdraw their well-establsihed separate start due to insufficient numbers. Neil Love and Des Collins won the class with Finbar Tighe's Impala La Camarguaise second by a whopping six minutes on CHS.

Among the one-design classes, Saturday's opening volley will have been good practice for next weekend's RAYC Baily Bowl One-design championship. Sean and Chris Craig's J24 Gossip had the edge over Frank Heath and Ivan Schuster's Crazyhorse which parachuted into the season by taking a rake of second places in regular Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing but is awaiting its inaugural winning bullet.

The thriving Dragon fleet had the best turnout with 18 boats racing and Simon Brien repeated his recent East Coast Championship performance with a first place. Mick Cotter's Whisper was nowhere to be seen at the front of the fleet while wooden boats were up with the `plastic-fantastic' leaders in the light airs