60 Mirrors enjoyed excellent racing at the Mirror Eastern Championships held at Malahide Yacht Club on Broadmeadows over the Easter Weekend.
With Easter so early this year, Malahide proved the ideal location for the first regional event of 2005, with sailors rewarded by moderate winds, sunshine, excellent and very close racing, and a huge fleet from all corners of Ireland.
PRO Neil Murphy was able to use the full extent of Broadmeadows waters to set excellent courses, and his "threat" of the black flag got all 5 races away with the minimum of delay, leaving the black flag firmly in the bottom of the bag!
With lots of new faces in the fleet, many crews now helming, and changes at the top end of the fleet, it was all to play for and no one had shown particular form. Also the new GRP boats, with 15 boats at the event, proved equal to their wooden counterparts, making for a very open event.
The Sligo, Skerries, Royal North, Royal Cork and George fleets showed that winter training counts with all these clubs featuring high up in the places on day 1. Mark & Ciara Armstrong of Sligo (from the Silver Fleet) showing early form, leading the pack after 2 races. However the wily older "dogs" began to emerge from the pack with Ross Kearney (crew Adam McCullough) RNIYC, Doire Shiels (crew Graham Daly) SSC, Gerard O'Sullivan (crew Simon Pearson) SDC/HYC all counting a win after 3 races and with other luminiaries hot on their heels in close racing. The same proved true in all 3 fleets with a large number of bronze fleet sailors doing their first regatta.
In the end, after 5 races, Ross & Adam pulled away to win the event, with 3 boats tied for 2nd place, and Gerard & Simon leading the tie break for 2nd place from Doire & Graham in 3rd with Simon McGrotty (crew Melissa Daly) taking 4th. The next three boats were within 4 points making everything very close at the top.
The silver fleet was almost a Sligo benefit with Oliver McCormack (crew Aoife Considine) showing consistency to win from the two Armstrongs with Colm Malone (crew Diarmuid Fahey) SSC taking a well deserved 3rd place. This fleet shows lots of promise with new sailors (many previous crews) in contention.
Niall Carbery (crew Ben Hickey) of Malahide led the charge in the Bronze Fleet from Aoife O'Connell (crew Jennifer Dobbyn) RSGYC in 2nd with Rachel Guy (crew Mikey McLoughlin) LDYC in close contention at 3rd. The Bronze fleet was the largest with 24 entries, many new faces (and boats), and lots of new talent in evidence.
Malahide, as always, ran an excellent event both ashore and on the water.
With the Worlds in Sweden in August, with 35 Irish boats traveling to that event, the season promises to be full on. The next event, at Ballyholme, over the May weekend will give all the opportunity to prove early form or catch up, who knows?
Details on the Mirror events on www.imcai.com and great pictures of both Malahide prize giving and sailing on www.myc.ie .