2022 was a special year for the Gordon Cup event as a new trophy was to be raced for. The Gordon Cup as always been a GHYC event that encourages our younger sailors to get out and race. This year, Eileen Boyd kindly donated the Rocket House Cup to be presented for the first time, in memory of her late husband Shane Boyd and this Cup is to be awarded to the best finishing sailor over 18 years of age in the GHYC Gordon Cup Dinghy event.
In anticipation of being the first name on the new Rocket House Cup several over 18 club sailors ‘togged out’ on Sunday morning. Despite the very light winds forecast, 30 boats had registered to compete in this year’s Gordon Cup with representatives of 7 different dinghy classes (Aero 7, Castletownshend Ette, Fireball, Laser, Mirror, Quest and Topaz) with Laser 4.7, Radial and full-size rigs signed up. The Portsmouth Yardstick was the talking point of the morning, and maybe even also the days prior!!
Club Dinghy Captain, Harriet Emerson, held the race briefing at 10am, noting especially to watch for the ‘shortened course’ flag and swinging winds! With no guarantees of surer winds appearing during the day, racing proceeded as scheduled with only a small delay to allow all boats to reach the race area. After the first start, but before all the boats had even crossed the line, it appeared that the wind had disappeared!
Frustrating for the sailors but almost entertaining to watch, the winds died and the tide took over – almost reversing the fleet back over the start line. Everyone except the Quest hung in there, hoping, and eventually the sun came out and the sea breeze arrived. It was the very lightest of winds but suddenly everyone was moving. The Aero (Peter Hayes) and Fireball (Oisín & Tiarnan Brown) were out in front, initially locked in a slow-motion battle to outmanoeuvre the tides and make it around the gybe mark but then to outwit each other as they demonstrated their different strengths on upwind and downwind legs. The Fireball took line honours in the first race. The different rigs of Lasers vied with one another; both skill and luck playing a part in performance as the wind dropped and then recovered a little. Ava Scarlett (Laser Radial) sailed a lovely, consistent race coming over the line 3rd.
With the wind still gently apparent, a second race was commenced around a shorter windward/ leeward course. The Fireball again made the finish ahead of the Aero which was followed by Christian Houlihan (Laser Radial). It was a delight to see other classes up in the middle of the action; having been pipped at the finish by Paddy Moynihan and Louise Lynch in their Mirror, Jimmy O’Brien’s Castletownshend Ette made good speed around the course, outpacing both Mirrors by a good margin in the second.
The third race reverted to the longer course of the first but with a 180’ wind shift, so the boats crossed the start line the other way! The wind was more consistent with the race completed in half the time of the first and the sun also helped raise everyone’s spirits as it was more smiles than speed around the course. This time the Aero took line honours from the Fireball, followed again by Christian Houlihan’s Laser.
Across all three races there were strong performances from Laser sailors with Jamie Zimmerman (Laser Standard), Dan O’Leary (4.7) and Cillian Punch (Radial) warranting special note. There were very good performances amongst the Topaz too; with a close battle for best placed boat in this class between Mia Scarlett and Cormac O’Grady. Cormac ultimately managed to pull ahead but both kept well up with the Lasers in all three races. Also in Topaz, Rua and Cassian Mahmood, Zaiba Mahmood and Isabelle Murphy, and Joy and Saoirse O’Brien were in close contest with one another.
Dinghy sailors often roll their eyes when told that it takes more skill to do well in light airs but the more novice sailors and those with less experience of racing that took part did well to complete three races under often frustrating conditions where their abilities were tested. The improvement of many competitors and great future potential was noted at the prize-giving.
While the competitors took the edge off their hunger pangs with the customary sausages and wonderful baking (thank you to the Superhumans who provide this for us!) the numbers were crunched, Portsmouth Yardstick handicaps applied and the final results emerged.
The overall winner was the Fireball, helmed by Oisín Brown and crewed by his brother Tiarnan, and – being over 18 – they became the first recipients of the Rocket House Cup. The second placed boat and adult was Peter Hayes (Aero 7) and Sarah Doolan (Laser Radial) – last year’s winner of the Gordon Cup – was the third adult to finish.
At the inaugural presentation of the Rocket House Cup, Shane’s & Eileen’s daughter, Catherine, explained how much her father had loved Glandore and enjoyed the Yacht Club and that this perpetual award was a positive way through which they, and others, can remember and celebrate his life. Catherine fondly recalled how her father believed anyone, irrespective of age, could learn to sail and how he always encouraged others, especially those more mature, to take up the sport. The Club is delighted to receive this generous gift and recognises the precious memory that it represents. The trophy adds a new dimension to a commemorative event that remembers the life of Michael Gordon (the Gordon Cup Dinghy Competition) encouraging participation from dinghy sailors of all ages and across all classes, as was seen in this year’s competition.
The first-placed sailor under 18 years (third place overall) was Christian Houlihan (Laser Radial) who was this year’s winner of the Gordon Cup. Second place went to Jamie Zimmerman (Laser Standard) and Ava Scarlett (Laser Radial) came third.
Thank you to all our competitors, race officials and volunteers, and those who catered for the day, helping to make new memories!