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Helly Hanson RS200 Irish Southern Champs

The Helly Hansen RS400 Nationals and RS200 Southerns

Greystones Sailing Club

By David Rose

Photos by Alan Leddy and Monica Schaefer

More photos at:

I would like to thank Paddy Blackley and his team of GSC volunteers for their efforts in providing a superb event; you have two very grateful RS fleets.  Details matter and there was free tea and coffee, food for lunch on the water, scones for breakfast all provided by a generous club and its members who gave their time and personality to a wonderful event.  The rescue cover was busy and very friendly and thanks to all involved.  This event will last long in the memory for all the right reasons. 

The Irish RS fleets, like Greystones harbour itself, have continued to evolve and renew with the times.  Both are in rude health.  Some of the first RS400’s in Ireland sailed here and the club honour board has a dedicated section to the GSC members who have been club and national champions of the past.  Son of GSC Sean Cleary won the southern championship event the last time the RS400 show was in town, and his family were involved again this year, with Conor Clery pairing up with Katie Noonan in a 400.  Sean still sails a RS400 in the UK where he has settled, hopefully just for now.    The RS400 has been a national fleet for a few years now, with strongholds in Cork, Northern Ireland, Dublin Bay and many other locations including GSC.  2017 has been a strong year and 30 of the best boats on the island descended on the town well prepared for the national championship battle. 

Tom Rusbridge, our race officer, who flew in from West Sussex for the event and his team provided great courses and went about their job with minimum delays between races and notably few recalls required.  They really did not put a foot wrong in difficult conditions, including 70 degree wind shifts in races two and four of the 400 event. Saturday was very exciting and the wind added to the tidal theatre with gusts regularly over 30knots.  Legend has it that one yacht clocked 38 knots, but we only have picture evidence of 33 knots from the committee boat.  The committee looked as though they were competing hard with the conditions themselves.   The final day of our events had to be called off due to a very grim forecast.  The PRO felt that it was not worth risking people’s safety and the majority of competitors agreed.  These are high performance dinghies and while they are wonderful fun in breeze, they do provide a challenge to rescue cover and crews on very windy days.  The event was to provide plenty of drama, with massive wind shifts on day one and a tidal race that caught more than a few people out on lay lines and rounding’s.  The locals explaining shore side that the tide generally goes south here, unlike everywhere else on the east coast where the tide will go out to the south and in the north.

The RS200 Class has had a fantastic year, and the fleet numbers are up in almost every event.  They had their national championships in Cork earlier in the season, where the fleet has taken hold.  As I mentioned earlier the second day of the event had to be called off due to a very bad forecast, however the fleet competed hard for honours on Saturday and there was something of a passing of the baton from Marty O’ Leary and Rachel Williamson bowing out of the class gracefully out of the results.  They have been a very dominant pair over the last few years and no doubt will be missed.  Frank and son Kevin O’Rourke sailing out of their native GSC stepped up and dominated with a whitewash.  Followed by RCYC’s Katie and brother Jamie Tingle who recorded a 2, 4, 2.  RCYC took third also with Cian Jones and Jonathan Sargeant.  There were 18 200’s and lots of new faces, the future is very bright for this class.


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