Andrew McCleery and crew Colin Dougan were crowned Masters of Strangford Lough this Saturday as Strangford Sailing Club played host to the Tyrone Crystal October Series, the concluding event of the Strangford Lough Flying Fifteen Masters Trophy.
McCleery and Dougan have led the series from race one back in August and entered the final day of racing on Saturday in a commanding position.
Despite a valiant effort by Gerry Reilly and Peter Quail in Over the Moon and Roger Chamberlain and Charlie Horner in The Final Resort, the Killyleagh pair, like their boat, proved to be 2 Fast’n Furious for the rest.
While McCleery and Dougan claimed the overall Masters win, Strangford pair Neil Logan and crew Barry Bridges won the Tyrone Crystal October series in impressive style with two firsts and a fourth.
In race one, fairly robust 18mph winds saw Logan and Bridges in Ffiring Blanks, start as they meant to continue by leading the way round the first lap of the course.
In this highly competitive fleet, they held off the best of the rest until the last beat when Brian McKee in Stiffler’s Mom crept ahead and claimed pole position on the run home.
A superb gybe on the approach to the finish line allowed Logan and Bridges to reclaim first place just in time for the gun, with both The Final Resort and 2 Fast’n Furious also sneaking ahead of Stiffler’s Mom to claim second and third places respectively.
It was all change in race two, with McCleery and Dougan sprinting ahead in 2 Fast’n Furious to reach the windward mark first. Close behind were both Stiffler’s Mom and Over the Moon and local knowledge appeared to pay off for Reilly and Quail as they gybed to the port side of the course on the downwind leg, a classic move that saw them emerge as the new lead boat at the leeward mark.
From then on the outcome was decided as Over the Moon held off all contenders to easily take line honours from 2 Fast’n and Furious in second and Stiffler’s Mom in third.
The deciding race of the day provided the most excitement for the competitors with close racing and plenty of variation as the main contenders vied for first place.
The Final Resort, Over the Moon and 2 Fast’n and Furious all came together at the weather mark on the first leg with Logan and Bridges in Ffiring Blanks just behind and despite trying to lose crew member Horner over the side Chamberlain maintained this lead well into the second lap.
It was all change as a pile-up at the second rounding of the weather mark saw McCleery and Dougan hit the mark and lose ground as they took their penalty turn.
Over the Moon and Ffiring Blanks both held the starboard side of the course on the run home and with only a few hundred metres to go, Logan and Bridges gybed inside of Reilly and Quail. A massive broach almost spelt disaster for the race one winners, but they recovered just in time to claim victory from Over the Moon in second and The Final Resort, with Horner still safely on board, in third.
Logan and Bridges claimed the Tyrone Crystal October Series to enjoy their first championship win this year with Masters champions McCleery and Dougan second. With three boats tied on 13 points, third place was awarded to Reilly and Quail by virtue of their win in race two, leaving The Final Resort and Stiffler’s Mom in fourth and fifth place respectively. In the silver fleet, David Branniff and Johnny Patterson came first in Olimsea.
A prize-giving ceremony was held in The Spinnaker Restaurant, Strangford on Saturday night and the Masters Trophy was presented for the first time by sponsors Vincent and Etheline Hanna of Costcutters Supermarkets. Andrew McCleery and Colin Dougan lifted the coveted, custom made trophy, while Gerry Reilly and Peter Quail received the second place award with Roger Chamberlain and Charlie Horner in third place, just one point behind.