The 2008 Fat Face RS400 Irish Nationals and last Fat Face Eurocup event of the year took place in exceptionally friendly Wexford Harbour Boating and Tennis Club, in rather testing conditions from 10 - 12 October. Contestants arrived by various means from many corners of many lands.
Up for grabs was the 2008 Fat Face Irish National Championship and the deciding event of the Fat Face Eurocup.
Overall, Gerry Cannon and Roger Britton of Greystones SC won the Fat Face Irish National Championship, with Fiachra Etchingham and James Gargan, also of Greystone, runner-up. Howard Farbrother and Nathan Pinch of Queen Mary SC took the event and with it the coveted title of 2008 Fat Face Eurocup winners.
Day 1, Friday morning a nice little F5-6 and lots of lovely rain. The PRO wisely decided to keep the fleet in the flat water of the inner harbour, where the potential for carnage was at least contained by the shore and limited depth. From the shore, looking downwind, conditions looked relatively benign, an illusion that was promptly shattered once away from the shelter of the shore.
Most of the entrants made it safely to the start area, with the notable exception of 1275, staffed by Sam Parker and Stu Sagger, whose mast decided after the first gybe that enough was enough and blew into three mutually exclusive parts.
Josh Metcalfe/ Iwan Basten (645) and Howard Farbrother/ Nathan Pinch (1251), were first out of the gate, followed closely by Chris and Jane Bailey, and the pursuing Irish hordes.
The first beat was a matter of surviving the gusts, and spotting any workable shifts that the upwind land was providing. Farbrother/Pinch got to the windward mark just ahead of Metcalfe/Basten, and the Baileys. Strong gusts made the hoisting on the spreader leg problematic, but really quite rewarding thereafter.
Farbrother/Pinch came through on the second lap to take the shortened race from 645 in 2nd and 1308 Gerry Cannon/Roger Britton in 3rd. The tough conditions had taken their toll, and only 1276 with Fiachra Etchingham and James Gargan survived to take 4th place.
A quick snapshot of the course revealed more upturned hulls than upright ones, and the PRO decided to halt racing for the day before his overstretched safety teams mutinied.
After enjoying the local hospitality, day two dawned slowly, with competitors stunned to find a mirror-like Wexford harbour.
Day 3, and yet another windless start. It was not looking good for those who wanted a regatta attached to their extended social. Fortunately, the wind eventually slouched in, and a very relieved fleet drifted downwind and downtide to resume racing. With an initially strong incoming tide, and patchy wind the PRO did a superb job in getting two races in before the wind died completely.
Race two took place in variable light winds with big shifts in both direction and pressure. The reborn combo of Parker/Stagger took a great port end flyer at the pin to clear the pack. The effect of the tide tripled upwind gaps once they turned the corner and it looked like an unassailable lead for 1251.
However some quick work by the pursuing boats and a failure to cover in the shifty conditions resulted in 1275 and 1313 shooting ahead by the windward mark. Positions were maintained on the downwind, to finish Parker/Jagger 1st, Bailey/Bailey 2nd, 1251 3rd, and Herriott/MacCarthy 4th.
A long agonising pause for a late lunch followed, while the fleet waited to see if a) the wind would hold b) the tail-end RS200s were ever going to complete the course.
With no discards and a plague of snakes and ladders on the course everything was still very much up in the air with Farbrother/Pinch currently leading, Etchingham/Gargan lying 2nd and Cannon/Britton just behind them in 3rd. The Baileys were first away, but an over-zealous start forced them to return to the line, and ruined their chances.
Herriott/MacCarthy pulled off a great legal start and were off and running, a lead which they led to the windward mark, followed by Cannon/Britton, Michael McAllister/Michael Patton, and Arthur Mehigan/Laura Walsh. The fading wind swung to provide a one-side last lap, and it was with some relief that Farbrother/Pinch crossed the finish line to take the gun, Herriott/MacCarthy held onto 2nd throughout the race, and Cannon/Britton drifting hard on their heels to secure 3rd.
Overall, the 2008 Fat Face Irish National Champion was thus Gerry Cannon and Roger Britton of Greystones SC, with Fiachra Etchingham and James Gargan, also of Greystone, runner-up. Howard Farbrother and Nathan Pinch of Queen Mary SC took the event, and with it the coveted title of 2008 Fat Face Eurocup winners. Phew. RS400 Results, Ireland
1 1251 Howard Farbrother Nathan Pinch Queen Mary SC 5pts 1 3 1
2 1308 Gerry Cannon Roger Britton Greystones SC 14pts 3 8 3
3 1276 Fiachra Etchingham James Gargan Greystones SC 16pts 4 6 6
4 1349 Simon Herriott Brian Mac Carthy Greystones SC 17pts 11 4 2
5 1313 Chris Bailey Jane Bailey Draycote Water SC 20pts 11 2 7
6 582 Michael McAllister Michael Patton RNIYC 20pts 11 5 4
7 1275 Sam Parker Stuart Sagger WSC 21pts 11 1 9
8 581 Arthur Mehigan Laura Walsh GSC/GHYC 23pts 11 7 5
9 645 Josh Metcalfe Iwan Basten Port Dinorwic SC 24pts 2 11 11
10 893 Ruth Iliffe Ben Smith Port Dinorwic SC 33pts 11 11 11