Autumn League Final Round-Up
What a great finish to the 2023 monday.com Autumn League!
With earlier races lost due to weather conditions, the Race Committee (under guidance from PRO, David Lovegrove) managed to catch up on missed races and completed the full six-race series. With two races sailed on the last day, it made for very competitive racing right up to the last moment for the ultimate winners to come through successfully. Read on for a breakdown of the final day's events.
Going into the final day of the 2023 monday.com Autumn League, J109 Storm had a two-point lead for the Kelly family over First 50 Checkmate(Nigel Biggs/Dave Cullen) and J99 Snapshot (Michael & Richard Evans), who were tied for second place. Race one was a windward-leeward race, with two rounds in a difficult sea state: wind between 12 and 18 knots from the northwest, and a flooding tide. A slightly premature start from Checkmate unfortunately cost them time in returning to re-start, leaving Storm and Snapshot neck and neck at the first mark. Super tight racing gave Snapshot a win by just three seconds, from second place Storm closing the gap for the overall lead of the series. The second race was an around-the-cans course, which started in quite a lumpy sea state and about 14 knots of wind. First around the top mark was Checkmate, and by the second mark both Ghost Raider and Snapshot were jostling for position. Storm took the best course to the next mark, however Snapshot held on to win by 23 seconds in yet another close battle. This was enough for the Evans brothers and team to win the Autumn League with a tied result on countback. Storm had a solid second for the Kelly family and third overall for Checkmate.
In HPH, the winner was Nobert Reilly’s J111 Ghost Raider, followed by Storm and Snapshot. Although racing for this year’s Autumn League was challenged by weather conditions, there was superb and very enjoyable racing in Class 1 and the class looks forward to seeing more boats partake next year.
The final days racing for Class 2 provided the front runner in both IRC and HPH, Maximus (Paddy Kyne), the opportunity to consolidate her lead in both divisions. Maximus won the windward-leeward race convincingly, with a dominated race win in IRC by over two minutes from second place boat No Excuse (Wormald, Walsh, O'Neill). With the Autumn League in both divisions now secured, Maximus could afford to take her foot of the gas for the second race of the day, a challenging round-the-cans race in lumpy sea conditions. The X302 Xebec (Bourke, McGirr, Ball) took the IRC race win, with No Excuse recording a second place finish and Mata (Wright/De Neve/Sherridan) taking third spot. Once ashore with the results posted, Maximus was crowned Class 2 overall winners in IRC for the second year running; second overall went to No Excuse, and third to Dux (Caroline & Nico Gore-Grimes). On the HPH overall, it was first Maximus, second No Excuse, and third Impetuous (Noonan & Chambers).
With the breeze seemingly lighter than the sea state was insinuating, all entries bar Kilcullen (HYC K25) were on the water for the final day. For race one, a pin-end bias saw many of the fleet sailing down the line, which resulted in a clear start. By the windward mark, Insider (Stephen Mullaney) was in first, closely followed by Alliance II (Vincent Gaffney) and Gecko (Kevin Darmody). This remained the order on the water, but Insider got caught up with the Class 2 boats at the leeward mark, allowing Alliance II to take full advantage and break Insider's clean sheet, with a well-deserved first on IRC followed by Insider and Gecko. On HPH, it was a first win for Pat and Neil Higginbothom’s new Beneteau First Class 8, Lazy Bones, whilst second went to anther Malahide boat, Running Wild (Anton Korshunov). Running Wild was recently refurbished to an extremely high level by the famous John Corby, who was in Dublin to sail this week with Anton.
For race two, a round-the-cans race would bring the season to a close, and with a bunched start the fleet got away. Insider was first to the windward mark but behind the fleet was extremely close, with Alliance II, Gecko, Running Wild and Kahara fighting it out on the first downwind leg. Alliance II ultimately pulled ahead of the bunch, with Running Wild just pipping Kahera (RusselL Camier) on the line. On IRC it was Insider in first from Alliance II but Kahara jumped ahead of her sistership, Running Wild, due to a slightly lower rating. Kahara also took the win on HPH ahead of Running Wild and Alliance II.
Overall on IRC, Insider won -- carrying all bullets -- and were able to discard the second place from race five. After a tough Week 5 for Alliance II, their race five win meant they were able to jump back up to second overall, whilst Gecko finished off the podium in third. On HPH, it was last year’s winner who had not lead all series but by winning the last race Kahara was able to take first, ahead of Alliance II and Gecko.
Class 4 had the new addition of Splashdance (Andy George & Tom Beckett) and with the IRC splits, Toughnut (Dermot Skehan) and Out and About (Terry McCoy) were both in Class 4 too. The first race of the day saw Splashdance start well and led from the front. A good race in 12+ knots ensued. Splashdance crossed first on the water, but Bite the Bullet and Toughnut took the spoils on handicap. In race six, Splashdance erred on direction to the garbh mark on the penultimate leg and Bite the Bullet overtook, leading to a showdown in Class 4. Toughnut won race six by two seconds over Bite the Bullet adjusted which allowed Splashdance the overall IRC and HPH victory on count back with three firsts for Splashdance versus two for Bite the Bullet in IRC. Congrats to Andy George and John Beckett from HYC for taking the Evora class IV IRC Trophy with Splashdance. And to David Greene and White Pearl from MYC taking the HPH Nissan trophy.
In this class, only two boats competed on IRC: Demelza, and the new addition to the Class 5 fleet, Leeuwin (Eamonn Burke & Jay Murray). Unfortunately, Leeuwin didn't get to compete on the last day due to mast damage, so with five race wins the first prize was claimed by Demelza. On HPH, first place for Class 5 was awarded to Mary Ellen (O’Byrne & Carty) and second place to the ever present Bandersnatch (Kyran O’Grady), with Jokers Wild (Lorcan Greene & R Flood) taking third.
Overall winner in this fleet was Trick or Treat owned by the two Alans (Pearson/ Blay). They had five top-three finishes, including three race wins on scratch. In the HPH, fleet Sarah Robertson and crew won the Snowgoose Trophy, which was presented to HYC many years ago by her parents David and Kate Lovegrove. Sarah was sailing her first event of 2023, having been kept ashore until the Autumn League by an injury; but well rested and now in winning form!
The Squib Class was the next to start, and Tears in Heaven was the runaway winner in the Squib fleet.
Tom McMahon’s Squib, Tears in Heaven -- helmed by Jill Sommerville and, on the final day, by Tom’s son, Jack -- delivered a relentless performance in this year's Autumn League, bagging a first in each race. Last year's winner, Rob Marshall (Slipstream, Killyleagh Yacht Club) travelled home with a well-earned second prize. This year’s league saw eight Squibs taking part, an increase over last year, with newcomers Ger Loughran & Ross Hathaway (don’t mention the All Blacks), braving their first open event in 3point9, finishing sixth overall.
The last class to start on the inshore course were the Howth 17s. They had 13 boats on the start line for the last day of sailing for the 2023 season. With winds of 12+ knots from the northwest, a near-clean start to race one windward-leeward; unfortunately No 19 Isobel and No 14 Glady were OCS and had to return to the start line. Continuing on from their success last week, No 11 Deilginis (Skipper Luke Massey) crossed the line first, with No 17 Oona (Skipper Peter Courtney) taking second place. There was a battle for third position between No 21 Orla and No 9 Hera; however, as they came up to the line, Hera (Skipper Michael Duffy) went ahead and crossed the line 11 seconds ahead of Orla.
The second race started. It was around-the-cans, and although No 19 Isobel (Skipper Conor Turvey) took an early lead and was first around the windward mark -- and again first around the Cush and Island marks --positions changed on the long beat up to the Portmarnock mark. Isobel sailed into a hole in the wind, and No 20 Sheila seem to take the lead; however that didn't last, as No 9 Hera -- who found her own private wind supply by sticking to the Eastern side of the beat -- took first position as she approached the Portmarnock mark. (Race Officer, Scorie Walls, had already signalled a shortened course as the fleet went around the Island mark). So, No 9 Hera (Skipper Michael Duffy) crossed the finish line first, followed 45 seconds later by No 20 Sheila (Skipper David Mulligan), and the third boat across the line was Isobel (Skipper Conor Turvey). All boats returned home to port with no damage reported.
The leading team out of four never changed through the whole event, and “Stormed Inside Erica” -- made up of Storm in Class 1, Insider in Class 3, and Erica in Howth 17s -- were the clear team winners.
The overall winner of the 2023 monday.com Autumn League was Delginis, a Howth 17 with an 8-point winning margin in one of the best supported classes.
With the Autumn League all wrapped up, the Brass Monkeys series will start on the 5th of November, and run for five Sundays with the final day on Saturday, 9th December. Pat Connolly hopes to see many more boats out; it can be some of the most inclement weather of the year, but always great racing and craic afterwards. For smaller boats, the Dinghy Frostbites begins the same day, 5 November, with a postponed Round the Island Race carried over from this summer.
A big thank you to Gary Cullen for bringing sponsorship from monday.com to the Autumn League, which is very much appreciated by all series participants.
Prizegiving photos, courtesy of Brian Turvey, can be found here:
---Report by Jill Sommerville