Conditions take toll on fleet

AS Cork Week enters its finale today, the traditional programme of races has been altered by yesterday’s near gale conditions off Roche’s Point.

Rough conditions in the open seas meant that the 13 classes sailed either the Harbour Race once more or an Olympic course.

The conditions took their toll on more than the schedule. Dozens of boats had gear failures and there were several minor injuries to crew.

Amongst the casualties were Rob O’Leary’s hopes for a class win in the J109 EuroCup on board Robert Prower’s Jeroboam. Having started yesterday in second place and in contention against Greg Burgess’ Blue Jay, the class leader, the UCC Sailing Club skipper retired from the race with gear damage.

“We were on the first downwind leg when our spinnaker pole exploded into two pieces,” O’Leary said last night. “We knew we’d have two tight downwind legs and we’d need the kite but without the pole it was hopeless.”

Jeroboam started the week with an emphatic win, ironically in the Harbour Race. Yesterday might have been a chance to repeat the result. As it happened, it was also Burgess’ worst result of the week when his boat struggled in the strong ebb tide and didn’t allow enough distance to round the turning-mark off Cobh.

Missing the mark, Blue Jay was forced back down the tide before tacking back again for the mark – slowly – but in the process obliged to keep clear of four other boats that stole ahead.

O’Leary’s team also took the race as their discard.

“Our worst result (previously) was a sixth so we were happy to take this as our discard,” he said. “We weren’t sure whether there’d be a second race so our plan was to head in and get a spare pole but as it happened there was only the one race.”

Blue Jay has a nine-point lead with two races remaining today so from third-place, Jeroboam might be able to challenge Brian Moreton’s Juke Box for the runner-up place. “It didn’t break because of something we did but I was still fairly annoyed,” said O’Leary. “Its very disappointing after all the work we put into it.”

Meanwhile, of the other 12 classes in Cork Week, today’s finale will prove crucial in three fleets that have close or tied results at the top of their respective leaderboards.

Class 2 sees Rockabill V tied on points for the second consecutive day and remains class leader only after the tie-break. The Sailing Logic school team on board Visit Malta Puma have once more risen up the ranks of the front-runners from third place, over-taking Donal O’Leary’s D-Tox and a battle royal is expected this morning.

Similar showdowns are expected amongst the other big boat classes.

Yesterday’s Harbour Race for the Class Zero boats saw Anthony O’Leary’s Antix win the day in a marked change of form in the week so far. But a second place for Dave Dwyer’s earned another small notch up the leaderboard as class leader Nemo of Cowes sees its lead down to two points as another showdown looms today.

Robert Davies’ Roxy 6 continued its winning form yesterday with a third consecutive bullet for the Corby 36 footer. Second-placed Jump Juice, owned by Conor and Denise Phelan, is a mere point behind but if the leading pair get too distracted with each other, British visitor Richard Fildes on Impetuous is within range too.

Most other classes appear to be decided such as Class 5 where Vincent O’Shea’s Yanks $ Francs has counted four wins and a second place so far to lead by 12 points.

In Class 6, Neil Kennefick and Joxer O’Brien’s Tiger had the enviable duty to discard a race win given their straight-bullets this week. It was all a given though. In the gentlemanly contest between the leaders and second-placed Flor O’Driscoll with Hard On Port, the J24 sailor was ahead of the leader on two occasions yesterday and two further races today could yet upset the neat array of first places.


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