Yesterday saw the conclusion and final race of the Brewin Dolphin Irish National Championships, sailed over 4 exciting days in Dublin Bay…  It had been a tough few days both on and OFF the water for the 24 competing teams as the magnificent Irish hospitality once again proved to be a test of not only showing skillful sailing during the excellent and well organised racing, but also the competitors endurance with the mammoth onshore socialising……. The Irish pride themselves on the evening entertainments and all those who made the trip were not disappointed with the whole package offered by the hosting Royal St George Yacht Club in the most delightful setting.  Dublin Bay produced some strong oscillating winds from predominantly the west, which saw many place changes as tactical decisions were rewarded handsomely in the ever changing wind conditions….

The event was won by probably the best sailor ever to step into our wonderful Dragon Class, yes Campers, Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen secured his 5th Irish National title with a race to spare! Such is the consistency of the “Man” (pictured below)… He was helped this time by Dirk Oldenburg (left) from Germany and Andrew “Noddy” Norden from Burnham, pictured here standing next to the MD of Brewin Dolphin, Mr Ray Tilson.

Despite the Man not racing on the last day as Noddy had trouble finding his way home at 7.30am from the local night club in Dun Laoghaire, the rest of the fleet still had to battle hard for the remaining “Podium” places…   Early to throw down his challenge for the runner’s up position was Chris “Budda” Hunt, helming his “Dark n Stormy” Petticrow GBR 768, since winning race 1, Budda was keen to make up the 4pt’s he was behind the current UK National Champion Simon Brien helming IRL 214 KIN and your’s truly Martin Payne in GBR 767 the “Bear”.. However, despite sailing a near perfect race to take the winning gun, Budda and his team of Mark Hart and Mark “Crash” Daly, had to settle for a deserved 3rd place overall as the “Bear” and my fantastic crew of Shawn Kingston and Dave Dwyer managed to drag my 120kg’s around the race course and sneak into 3rd place on the final beat to clinch the runner’s up spot…. for which I am extremely delighted..

Shawn Kingston, Dave Dwyer and Stavros, receive the runner’s up Half-Model Dragon from Ray Tilson of Brewin Dolphin, at the Royal St George Yacht Club Dun Laoghaire…

Crash, Mark Hart & Budda GBR 768 “Dark n Stormy” receive their 3rd prize from Ray Tilson. The top Irish boat was the current UK National Champion, Simon Brien in KIN.

Now all eyes turn to the final Irish Grand Slam event which will be the Gold Cup in Kinsale, which is preceded by the South Coast Championship the weekend before. With over 75 boats already entered for the Gold Cup, this may turn out to be one of the largest Dragon Fleets for years..  I can recall over 100 boats for the 2006 Gold Cup in Douarnenez, so will this event in September in one of the most idyllic Irish/European settings prove as popular…. If you still are making up your mind about travelling to Kinsale, I would strongly recommend it so long as your have a complete health check with your local Doctor before you travel, as your “Liver” will need a complete recondition or overhaul when you return home from this South East of Ireland jewel …. 🙂

Higher, Faster, Longer………….. Stavros  (GBR 767)  the Bear.