Yellow Peril battles big breeze to win Puppeteer 22 National Championship

01 September 2019
Yellow Peril battles big breeze to win Puppeteer 22 National Championship
The 2019 Puppeteer 22 Nationals were raced at Howth YC over successive Saturdays, Aug 24 and 31.  The two weekend innovation was adopted to boost attendance and the 17 boats entered was 6 more than in 2018.  Six races were completed over the two days and produced a clear winner, Yellow Peril from Howth YC, owned by Neil Murphy and Conor Costello.
Day 1 produced idyllic conditions with a flat sea, steady 14 knot south easterly and warm sunshine.  A further Class innovation for 2019 is the facility for three course options in order to produce more varied racing - Windward Leeward, Triangle / Sausage or ‘around the cans’ using the HYC Club racing courses.  One race was sailed on each course layout under the direction of Race Officer Harry Gallagher  and Yellow Peril settled quickly into the routine of getting to the first windward in the lead, finishing the day with two 1sts and a 2nd to lead overall by 4 points, ahead of Eclipse (Andrew /Robin Hegarty) with two 2nds and a 4th.  Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson / Alan Blay), the most successful Pup of the 2019 season, secured three 3rd places to leave them in third overall, just one point behind Eclipse.
Those hoping for the second Saturday to repeat the balmy conditions were disappointed.  The gusty westerly of 20+ knots, occasionally hitting 30, added to a big spring tide to make for a challenging day’s racing.  The conditions in Howth Sound left no doubt about what was in store and six of the fleet immediately decided that returning ashore to wait for the forecast moderation would be wise.  The rest of the fleet got down to Race 4 on a Club marks course that saw Harlequin (David Clarke), after a 45 minute race, take 1st place by a one second margin from Eclipse with Gannet (Tim Chillingworth) a further second back in 3rd while Yellow Peril struggled to 4th place, having damaged their headsail at the start.  Harlequin’s win, added to their 1st place in Race 3, and Eclipse’s third 2nd place of the series, opened up the overall results and left Yellow Peril’s lead under threat.  The expected moderation in the wind did not arrive and Race 5 got under way on a Windward Leeward course with the gusts producing big changes in wind direction.  Eclipse and Harlequin suffered poor results, Gannet took the win and Yellow Peril grabbed a 3rd, securing the title for them bar some unusual last race results.  The wind speed increased a few notches for the last race, not good news for the now tiring crews, and a start line coming together by Eclipse and Trick or Treat saw both of them retiring.  Gannet repeated their Race 5 success, leading home Yellow Peril and confirming the overall standings as Yellow Peril, Eclipse and Harlequin.
The Handicap Trophy was won by WehHey (Michael McKeon), whose four firsts out of six races showed their comfort in the conditions, finishing ahead of Ghosty Ned (Donal Harkin) and Mr Punch (Olibhe Ni Bhraonain/ Peter Wilson) who were rewarded for finishing all races in difficult conditions.
The well attended prize giving dinner in HYC first dealt with the mundane distribution of silverware to the successful before moving on to the presentation of the serious awards for the Championship - most spectacular collision (Crunchie trophy), broach of the event (Andrex trophy) and man overboard trophy (fishing net).  The top award of the evening - and one only presented on rare occasions - is for the most enthusiastic grounding (beach bucket and spade), with the trophy this year going to a boat that spent an entire race (and a little extra) looking at the sea bottom getting ever closer to them.  The award winners’ modesty (and discretion) prevents their identification but their good humour in adversity was a credit to them all.