The Northern Area Championships got off to a fantastic start yesterday with 3 races sailed on the Belfast Lough in winds that began around 15kts from the North-West, then dropped to 6-8kts by the final race. This Championship has 8 races and will serve as a great “warm-up” for the Ediniburgh Cup which begins here on Wednesday. Although many of the “Big Gun’s” are yet to arrive, there was some fantastic close racing for the 31 boats as they tried to deal with the variety of wind shifts and the small, but important tidal currents.

In race one, Andrew Craig helming his brand new Petticrow “Chimaera” got a great start from the committee boat end of the line and managed to hold his lane, so that no one could cross ahead. Despite a right-hand shift halfway up the first beat, Andrew managed to cover the right-side just in time to have a clear lead at the top mark. He then was never challenged, so won comfortably.

In race two, Ron James sailing his beautiful Cold Moulded Borresen, made full use of a huge right-hand shift, to make a substantial gain on the fleet. Most boats had battled to start at the biased PIN end, so were all caught on the wrong side of the shift. Ron with “North Sails” tactician Nigel Young on board managed to hold on by the skin of his teeth to take the win just ahead of Klaus Diederichs.

In race three, local “Favourites” KIN helmed by Simon Brien, began to sober up and show some form!!  In fairness Simon, Davy and Mark had just returned from a Wedding hosted by the Famous Mick Cotter in Dublin. (It was Mick’s Daughter who got married). So the KIN team had an excuse for not performing in the first two races….. KIN won this final race by chosing the right side of the course on the final upwind leg. This move gave them victory just ahead of Mike Hayles who had held the lead from the start..

Overall consitency was the name of the game, so Chris Hunt helming is Petticrow “Dark and Stormy” leads with two 4th’s and a 3rd. Second is Klaus Diederichs just three points behind and third is Gavia Wilkinson-Cox having recorded two 6th’s and a 5th. I am sure there will be many more place change’s during the course of this competitive event, before many other top boats including the World Champion Lawrie Smith, current Irish Champion Martin Byrne and Double Olympic Medalist Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen join the fleet for the prestigious Edinburgh Cup…….

Higher, Faster, Longer………….    Stavros.  (GBR 761).