Irish Universities Keelboat Championships

04 April 2019
Irish Universities Keelboat Championships
After an early briefing and draw for boats, the first five teams took to the water in the HYC J80s. The weather was kind with plenty of sun and light breezes.  Flight 1 included TCD, UCD1, CIT2, NUIG, & UCC. The racing was incredibly keenly contested with close quarters sailing all round. There was a maximum of five races scheduled per flight but unfortunately towards the end of race 4 the wind fell away and shifted 50degrees. The Principal Race Officer, Scorie Walls,  made the decision that, as a delay was now unavoidable, the flights should be curtailed to four races each and that it would be prudent to have the change over whilst the course was being reset. The results of Flight 1 couldn’t have been tighter, with UCD1 finishing on 5 points and both UCC and CIT2 finishing on 6 points, meaning CIT2 would have an anxious wait to see if, having lost out on count back to UCC, they would make the cut as the lower scoring third placed boat.
While the excellent RIB crews completed the crew change-over very efficiently, the wind was settling into the East and a very cold breeze, which started building, replaced our balmy sunny day. The suncream was quickly covered by double layers and woolly hats.
Flight 2 was contested by CIT1, QUB, DCU, DIT, & UCD2. Race 1 was sailed in winds of about 10 knots and the excitement level was increasing, however by and large the crews coped admirably. Race 2 saw the wind continue to build and we saw some interesting downwind handling techniques. During Race 3 the wind hit 17 knots with a number of spectacular broaches. It became apparent that it was probably more efficient to take the risk element out of it and leave the spinnaker in the bag. Some crews took this approach and made large gains. For Race 4, the PRO took the decision away from the competitors as all crews were instructed to reef their mainsails and no spinnakers were to be flown. This led to a much tighter race for Race 4 and saw UCD2 emulate their colleagues from UCD1 by winning their flight with a total of 3 points, followed by CIT1 with 7 points. DIT also finished with 7 points but they were unfortunate to lose out on count back, and also to lose out to CIT2 in the battle for the fifth place in the final. 
Sunday morning saw breezes of approximately 15 knots. The decision was taken by the Race Committee to start off with a reef in the mainsails and no spinnakers allowed. The trade-off was between closer racing or downhill action. With two races under their belts and the wind down to 12 knots the Race Committee decided to unleash the spinnakers. The crews were more than able to manage their boats and three great races followed. Although UCD1 & UCD2 had won their respective flights it was the Republic of Cork which came out on top with CIT1 the eventual winners on 5 points with UCC very close runners up on 6 points.