It was wet, windy and cold in Crookhaven on Saturday but that did not dampen spirits at the 2023 Marconi Cup.
After an early registration and briefings from 08:45, accompanied by very welcome coffee! racing got underway before 09:30. The Relay event was sailed around a sausage course parallel to the shore and directly off the pier/pontoon, in a decent westerly breeze. The close proximity meant that those on the shore could follow the progress of teams and those afloat could hear their supporters…. and GHYC supporters are mighty! especially at the changeovers on the pontoon. Eolann Miles and Scott Fuller established an early lead for the GHYC Smugglers team, and a lightening changeover saw Max Tubb and Cassian Mahmood confirm their position, which was cemented by Christian Houlihan and Anna Martin ultimately claiming line honours. Fionn Brennan Moriarty and Saoirse Collins starting out for the GHYC Prisoners team got an excellent start despite a dysfunctional kicker which cost them places as the lap progressed. The problem worsened for Mia Scarlett and Ciara Perez, and ultimately Mark Buggy and Rua Mahmood sailed their (final) lap without any kicker! This cumulative gear failure, flagged to the Race Committee before the initial start, was addressed at a subsequent protest, with a final position of joint 3rd awarded to the team. The Prisoners were complimented both on their determination in continuing to sail to the best of their ability despite their disadvantage, and on the quality of their representations to the protest committee.
The Team Racing event began immediately the Relay was completed, with the first four teams to race sailing the boats beyond the moorings towards the open water nearer the harbour mouth. Other teams were stationed at a second remote pontoon here and spectating was restricted to the old quayside and the path down to this. There was a slight delay in ensuring that the boats the Smugglers team were to sail out were seaworthy, in the midst of which GHYC coach Paul Beechinor (who came prepared) produced a vital bung at the critical moment! Visibility was poor and the sailors raced (or waited) in almost unrelenting rain. Despite this – or maybe because of it – handovers were efficient and there was minimal time between race starts. Both GHYC teams: Smugglers (Joe Barrett & Conor Foy, Scott Fuller & Moana Leyden, Emma Barrett & Eoghan Sheehan) and Prisoners (Conor Creswell & Sarah Fuller, Jess Tubb & Zaiba Mahmood, Ava Scarlett & Isobel Murphy) sailed well against stiff competition, each winning 4 out of their 7 races. The match between the two Glandore teams was close, demonstrating the most tactical team racing of the day and ultimately a strategic result, offering great spectating! Both teams finished on exciting wins (against Baltimore 1 and Bantry respectively) showing buckets of character and commitment to their team performance. Taking advantage of their upwind location, screaming team members, parents, as well as instructors, helpers and other GHYC club members that had travelled down for the day, bellowed, chanted and waved their support.
The winds mounted throughout the 28 round robin races, with a small rash of capsizes towards the end. A decision was taken to finish when this was complete, rather than begin multiple semi-finals and finals races. Two great performances from GHYC teams were topped off with acrobatics on conclusion of the last race as Jess Tubb was catapulted from her boat when the boom broke. The GHYC teams were clapped and cheered on their return to the pier, and displayed the energy and good humour the Club is famous for in running their boats up the slip for de-rigging. (Vouchers provided by the hosts to each team member for the chipper on the pier were much appreciated!)
The GHYC teams included subs Lorelle Houlihan and Teddy Crowley, kitted up and ready to step in if needed, they gave up their day to ensure the teams had back up. Senior Instructor Aoife Goulding and coach Paul Beechinor accompanied the teams on the day, who also benefitted from training with Tiarnan Brown and Peter Hayes.
Many patient parents kindly drove sailors down, provided food, and stayed to support them…. some having demonstrated huge staying power at the Ladies Lunch(!) the day before… and were rewarded with huge smiles and somewhat humid cars on the return journey.
GHYC retained the Relay Trophy, placing 1st and joint 3rd in the event, and both GHYC teams came joint 3rd in the Team Racing event with Baltimore 1. Crookhaven 1 won the Team Racing and the overall Marconi Cup with GHYC’s Smugglers in second place.
Roll on Marconi 2024 in Schull!-
The Dinghy Captain