HYC Victory at Fireball Ulster Championships
Author: Richard Colwell Posted on: 21/6/12 Print Version

With two weeks to go before the fleet descends on Howth Yacht Club for their National Championships all the top crews took the opportunity to fine tune their preparations at the Ulster Championships hosted by East Down Yacht Club over the weekend on Strangford Lough and they weren't disappointed with some extremely tight racing over the course of the two days.

The strong breezes forecast for Saturday where nowhere to be seen at the start of racing and the first two races took place in only about 5 knots of wind with a strong current, large shifts and pressure differences across the course making life difficult for everyone. Between races 2 and 3 the breeze built quickly to give the competitors a full range of conditions over the course of their four races for the day.
Neil Spain from HYC, sailing with Francis Rowan from Dun Laoghaire, made the most of the mixed conditions and after discarding an 11th place in race 2 went on to win races 3 and 4 to add to their 5th place in the first race to give them a one point lead over Noel Butler and Stephen Oram from the DMYC overnight.

With everyone posting big scores in the mixed conditions the results sheet showed the top six boats separated by just 5 points with everything still to play for in the remaining two races scheduled for the Sunday.

Francis Deane and Neil Spain
There was a sense of déj� vu as the fleet gathered on the race course the next day, and although the wind was blowing from a different direction, again there was only about 5 knots of breeze, large oscillating shifts and a strong tide to deal with. Neil Spain again took 1st place in the opening race of the day but with Butler and Oram finishing a close 2nd there was still plenty of work to be done in the last race to secure the title with the next four boats still all within reach of the podium.

After almost an hour's delay waiting for the breeze to settle the final race got away although a large shift just before the start made the first beat a very one sided affair. Neil Spain rounded the first windward mark in 3rd place and held on to that position until the finish, thus securing the title from Bulter and Oram who could only manage a 6th in the final race with Niall McGrotty and Neil Creamer from Skerries taking the race honours by a considerable margin. Also representing HYC at the event were Luke Malcolm and Shane Diviney who finished in 16th place overall.
So with some of the tightest racing so far this year things are shaping up nicely for the National Championships in Howth starting on the 29th June. If any HYC members are interested in competing in the Championships but don't have access to a boat the Class Association will be happy to try and help any suitably experienced crews find a competitive boat for the three days of racing.

For contact details check their website at
The top three ....
1st Neil Spain & Francis Rowan 11 pts
2nd Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 16 pts
3rd Kenneth Rumball & David Moran 18 pts