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RS400 & RS200 Northern Championships at Strangford Sailing Club

by Barry McCartin 19 May 00:45 PDT 6-7 May 2023
RS400 Northern Championships at Strangford, Northern Ireland © SSC

On the weekend of 6/7th May, a total of 28 RS400s and RS200s gathered at Strangford SC in Co. Down for the RS Northern Championships, the second event of the year on the calendar with furthest travelled from Killaloe in Co. Clare. Fortunately for fleet, they were met with sunshine, 10 knots of Southerly breeze and an incredibly warm welcome from the host club.... Bacon sandwiches included!

Several stalwarts of the class dusted off their boats after a long winter under covers, while others have been out training/racing more regularly. As there have also been a few new boats and personnel coming into the fleet, it was sure to be a competitive championship. Fresh from a win with "all firsts" at the RS Westerns, Luke McIlwaine/Ryan Wilson were sure to be in the mix, Stephen McLernon had upgraded his ship now sailing with Edwina Ternan and feeling confident while never discount "old dog" Liam Donnelly/Rick Mc Caig.

As it was to turn out, multiple boats showed impressive speed over the weekend. Relative newcomers to the fleet of Dan Sheriff/ Dan Corbett also impressed. Except for a windward capsize on the start line during Sundays racing, (captured in a Google photo reel by the way), one would have thought this pair had been sailing the boat for years!

Race officer, Gerry Reilly from the Host Club Strangford Sailing Club and his team did an impressive job operating with an oscillating Southerly breeze in 8-12 knots both days making for exciting racing conditions. Strong tides and overly keen racers knowing that every inch on startline counts in this fleet made for the early introduction of the Black flag, which quickly put manners on the 26-boat RS400 fleet.

With shifty conditions and large tidal variations across the course, it was a "snakes and ladders" sort of day. It was extremely close racing at the top and after 4 races on Day 1 (3 to count) put Luke McIlwaine (Newcastle sailing club) and Ryan Wilson (Carrickfergus sailing club) in first place overnight (1,2,16,1). They were closely followed by super consistency of Stephen McLernon/ Edwina Ternan of Carrickfergus (4,1,3,2) and Govan Berridge/ David Coleman of Killaloe in third (5,3,5,3) with 2 races still planned for Sunday.

Following Saturday racing, there was beautiful evening sunshine, multiple debriefs and topics over cold beers and a BBQ hosted by Strangford sailing club. This once again reminded all the competitors how lucky they were to have been welcomed to such an incredible location. Many camped onsite as well, keeping the fun going.

Sunday provided very similar racing conditions to Saturday, with a shifty southerly Breeze, big tides and startlines playing a part once again. Race 5 the top 2 finished in that order with Simon Hutchison/Ben Williams in 3rd place. That being said going into the last race of the championship there was everything to play for for the overall title in Race 6.

Right from the final race start, Liam Donnelly/ Rick McCaig finished the series with a now trademark Donnelly pin-end start and subsequently the race win....Not bad for an old sea dog. Followed in 2nd by Govan/David and the Purdon brothers in 3rd. Notably the top two in the series were not in the leading bunch as a match race ensued right from the start between McLernon/ Ternan (after some careful maths) and McIlwaine/ Wilson as they held each other to mid 20s around the first windward mark.

However, testament to their incredible speed all weekend, McIlwaine/ Wilson did start making their way back up the fleet (much to the worry of the other boat) coming back to finish with a score of an 8th on their scorecard. Incredibly though, this was only one point off that which was needed to secure the championship, so in the end the title went to Stephen McLernon/ Edwina Ternan of Carrickfergus Sailing club successfully overturning them in the last race.

In the RS200s, Jocelyn Hill/Emily Hill and Martin Dews came in the top 2 after some close racing over 6 races. On the same weekend the RS Feva fleet had a mega turnout of 26 boats in Dunlaoghaire so things are promising thus far in RS fleets in Ireland.

The next event for the RS fleet is the big event of the year "RS FEST" in Blessington Sailing Club on 23-25th June, which is to cater for all RS400, 200, Feva, Aeros with camping onsite, activities and BBQ nearby at Avon RI. With even more boats expected to be there including 10 or more from Greystones SC, Dublin, Cork and more, it promises to be an incredible event both on and off the water. Entries open now at

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