McCleery, Dougan stay on top form


The Flying Fifteen Western Championships took place in the Larne at the weekend (Oct. 1-2),  hosted by East Antrim Boat & Yacht Club. 22 crews descended on the town, in what was the last FFAI event of the season, The welcome and hospitality were great as usual and very appreciated by those who traveled.

The competition was as keen as ever, with the season’s Travelers prizes still on offer along with the end of season rankings. Going into the event, Gorman/Doorly(NYC) had to finish ahead of McKee/Smith (SLSC) to top the ranking list.

Race 1: A very close race, after the start in a northerly wind Mckee, who went to the left, came into the weather mark first followed by Hamilton/Rutherford (EABY) and McCleery and Gorman.

Places changed on the second beat, Gorman crossed Hamilton but failed to cover him. Hamilton and Logan, who went hard right, came out in front at the weather mark. On the last reach Gorman went high and overtook Logan and Hamilton and held on to win by a whisker.

Race 2: Hamilton stormed out of the start and quickly headed into the shore on the right, closely followed by McCleery all the way. At the last leeward mark, Hamilton tightened up too much and lost speed as McCleery cracked off low to pass him to leeward to take the gun, followed by McKee and Gorman.

Race 3: Wind still from the north and the tide was now going out. Hamilton and McCleery were still going strong and stayed in the lead. Once McCleery got ahead he showed the rest a clean pair of heals and won the race comfortably. Hamilton was second again, followed by Logan and Crighton.

On Saturday night the club put on great entertainment with food for a very reasonable price. Maybe other clubs should take note that it doesn’t need to be expensive!

Race 4: Sunday we all arrived at the club in good spirits after watching the rugby. There was no wind, the excellent PRO postponed for an hour and the wind came in from the s-sw. We got going without delay but the tide was strong pushing us over the line. After 2 general recalls the black flag came out and the fleet got away eventually.

There was a shift to the right half way up the beat. McKee led from a couple of classics followed by McCleery and Gorman. Gorman stayed high on the reach and took a few places and gybed inside at the mark to move into second place.

On the beat, McKee went left. Gorman stayed in the middle where there seemed to be more wind. He led at the weather mark, followed closely by Logan and Reilly. McKee had run out of wind. With the wind getting lighter and the tide stronger, the PRO shortened the course and Gorman/Doorly took the gun.

Race 5: all to play for, McCleery led Gorman by one point. The winds were now lighter but things were looking good for Gorman as he squeezed McCleery out at the start line and headed up the beat clear ahead of his rival. Then the wind died completely and after about 15 minutes the PRO called it a day, McCleery won with Gorman second and Hamilton third. With McKee finishing in fifth place, Gorman finished top of the ranking list at the end of the season. The classic fleet was won by McKenna/ McFarland (CAYC).

Tom Murphy (NYC) won the Silver Travelers Trophy and Joe Coughlan (NYC) the Bronze,  with Brian McKee winning the Gold.

Andy McCleery thanked the club for an enjoyable event, the PRO and his team, the shore team, his fellow competitors and even his crew, Colin Dougan.

A special word of thanks went to local commodore Pat Thompson who slept in the club to ensure it was open so as the competitors could watch the rugby. Those who didn’t travel missed a weekend of excellent racing and hospitality.

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