A week after hosting the Etchells Worlds, HYC is back in high-powered action again this weekend with another fleet of over 40 boats, this time with the SB3s who gather for the Investwise National Championships over three days.
Among the highly competitive fleet will be four or five past or present Olympians, former national champions in several classes and a couple of All-Ireland Champions, a formidable line-up by any standards. Such is the quality of the field that any one of 10 crews is capable of taking the title, with consistency the key over the 8 races on the schedule.
The 'bookies favourite' is undoubtedly 'McCready's Gill Racing' sailed by Gareth Flannigan/Brian Spence/Jeremy Tomlinson from Ballyholme who already have two wins and two runners-up places in the four regional championships sailed this season. Former Olympian Peter Kennedy from RNIYC is the defending champion and with a new crew on 'Belfast Kitchens' has been building slowly throughout the year - their performance at the recent Westerns suggests they are very much in contention.
While the Northern fleet has been dominant in SB3s since the class was formed, they cannot discount the top performers from Dun Laoghaire, Howth and the South. Leading the southside challenge will be 'Yeti' (Sean Craig/Stephen Boyle/Alan Green), a prediction for a top 5 finish, while 'Bad' (Stefan Hyde/Jerry Dowling/Jimmy Dowling) has been improving ever since the Northern Championships.
The host club's best bet is 'Sharkbait' sailed by Ben Duncan/Brian Moran/Ric Morris, a combination that is consistently at the top of the fleet (e.g. winning the Northerns) and tops the ranking ladder with Flannigan. A 'podium finish' is anticipated. The event sponsor David Quinn and his crew on 'Investwise' have enjoyed good form of late while 'Lia' (helmed by Dave Barry) has improved since a trip to Lake Garda.
The southern challenge is headed by 'Modus Operandi' (sailed by Ronan and Killian Collins and Donal Hegarty) which has the potential to upset the odds if they can put a steady campaign together.
Race Officer is David Lovegrove while Suzanne Carroll has masterminded the organisation of the event as chair of the Championship Committee.