Sailing: Phelan makes the most of Rockall's gear fault to keep Juice flowing
The sailors of Cork have got the new season off to a fine start with success in the RORC Easter Challenge in the Solent and victory in the ISA Youth Nationals in Schull.
While the Easter weather may have started with winter conditions, at both venues the events concluded in sunshine and perfect sailing.
In Schull, National Optimist champion Seafra Guilfoyle of Royal Cork showed that keen edge which won her the Irish championship. With four wins in six races, Guilfoyle's success was reinforced by Cork sailors in all the podium positions. Sean Gambier-Ross of Kinsale was second, with Crosshaven's Peter McCann third.
But this south coast domination was offset in the Junior Pathway series in Laser Radials by east coast sailors, with Dun Laoghaire's Matty O'Dowd clear ahead. Philip Doran of Courtown and Oliver Loughead of Belfast Lough battled to make runner-up in a class of 30.
The Laser 4.7s also saw an east coast early leader with Leo Hickey of the National YC a couple of points ahead of John Flynn of Dungarvan, with Mark Condy of Howth in third.
In the Solent, the pointers for this season's Commodore's Cup teams were there, but folks were keeping their cards close. Very close. Conor Phelan's Ker 37 Jump Juice from Cork slipped in under the radar and made the start for IRC Class 1.
And they made the finish with the overall win, though only by the skin of their teeth, ahead of Hamburg owner-skipper Chris Opielok's Rockall III. This is the former Corby 36 Rosie, campaigned by Roy Dickson for many years, but now reborn after a massive refit in Cowes, into which noted boat expert Brian Mathews of Dun Laoghaire made a significant input.
Mathews was lined up to race on Rockall III, but was suddenly taken ill and had to organise Jamie Boag to take his place. After a slow start with gear problems, the Rockall III series hit top gear, and they won six races on the trot. But as there were no discards, the no-shows saw Jump Juice retain her lead.
Phelan revealed that Jump Juice is on the campaign trail at the Irish Nationals in Dublin Bay in May and Cork Week in July. And the Commodore's Cup? Perhaps.
There was nearly a second Cork overall win in IRC Class 0, where Anthony O'Leary's Ker 39 Antix was head-to-head with Nick Zenstrom's Ran (it's his Farr 45; his Fastnet Race-winning 72-footer is in the US preparing for the Bermuda Race).
In the end, it came down to the last race, and Ran did the business.
The last race also gave encouragement to a Dun Laoghaire boat, Tim Costello's Mills 43 Tiamat, which is being modified in England. Fresh out of the yard, the Tiamat's improved pace secured the last race.