After one of the most successful years of Slalom in Ireland – could the Irish Slalom Series 2009 get even better?With a huge increase in pre-event publicity Round 1 of the 2009 ISS was shaping up to be an event to remember. Recognising the success of 2008, Event 1 was supported by JP/ Pryde UK, Fingal County Council, Surfdock and Cadburys. Event 1 took place at Malahide Dinghy Club on April 4th/5th. The event was also the inaugural event of the 2009 JP/ Pryde Irish Sea Challenge.Could it get even better? A full fleet of JP/ Pryde Demo Gear, over 60 entrants, excellent prizes and Saturday night function – of course it could.
With registration out of the way the first briefing of the 2009 season was given by event organizer; Fintan Day. Gusty 10-20 knot westerly winds forced the race crew to set a 2 lap figure of eight course. The course was ideally placed in front of the club allowing the large crowd of spectators the ideal opportunity to keep a close eye on the action. To make the racing fair for individual fleets, the racing on the main course was alternated between the Gold Fleet (33 Competitors) and the Silver Fleet (25 Competitors). Bronze fleet sailors were rewarded with their own course, starting and finishing from the beach.
The sail choice of the day was around the 8.0m mark. Gusty conditions and a narrow start line – made racing very difficult. On the button starts were greatly rewarded. Despite the gusty and direction changing winds – the race crew managed to get in five ranked races. Only one race fell victim to the new strictly enforced wind minimum of 12 knots – forcing this race to be counted only as a fun race. Pearse Geaney sailed well to take a number of race wins, closely followed by Oisin Van Gelderen, Maurice Owens, Fintan Day and Chris Lewis, Hannes Louet and IWA president Gareth Nihill. Chris Loughridge flew the winner’s flag for the masters, while Tom Slomski (master) and Matthew McNutt (U-20) were both winners; they often traded places on the race course. Joseph Fletcher topped the leader board for the U-17’s, while Amy McBride flew the flag for the U20 ladies in the Gold Fleet. Other notable performances across the fleets were from Wicklow’s Eoin Kelly.
The Silver fleet seemed to be rewarded with the best wind conditions of all during day 1, with a steady force 5 wind blowing across the course for each of their races. Some were able to race on large wave sails, removing the need to pump their way around the course, which made the course so much more enjoyable. There was the usual carnage at the gibe mark, some dodgy starts, but some very enjoyable racing as you can make out from the action pictures! Many of the Silver fleeters were first timers to the Irish Slalom Series, with some traveling from as far away as Queen Mary Reservoir in London. Richard Bowman started well, but it was Mark Smith and Adam May who sailed consistently to take the 1st and 2nd positions in the masters. Cork windsurfer Paul Green took the Grand Master prize. David Minton was victorious in the Mens and young Ryan O’Leary from Dublin in the U-17 category. The silver fleet ladies were out in force to challenge all the boys in the fleet, with Alison Beirne taking the ladies title, Susan Honan taking the Master Ladies, and Rebecca Fletcher winning through in the U-15 girls.
Saturday evening saw over 60 competitors and friends attend the event function at the Malahide Yacht Club. Food, drinks and a live band entertained the crowd until the early hours. Sunday dawned with very light winds at first, although they did build to allow those with the larger equipment some “play-ning" time on the water. Windsurfing veteran and all round sportsman Greg Day, dusted off the longboard and his 12.5m race sail and was happy to blast about the estuary all day long. Hannes and Barry also took advantage of their large sails and floaty boards to blast about in the 8-10 knots winds. Unfortunately the wind didn’t build enough for racing, but Fintan Day did run a fun race with everything from 10.0m down to 2.0m sails being used. The race was enjoyable to partake in and enjoyable to watch from the shoreline - 10 competitors at a gybe mark, half in the water and half floating made for some amusing gibe mark tactics! So with 5 ranked races and 1 fun race in the bag, round 1 provided an eye opener for many newcomers to the Irish Slalom Series. Round 2 of both the ISS and final event of the JP/ Pryde Irish Sea Challenge will take competitors across the sea to Rhosneigr, Wales on the weekend of May 16th/17th . An evening on the ski slope with BBQ, PWA sailors taking part in the Slalom and Wave events, Saturday night function and excellent prizes – only 20 minutes drive from Holyhead you would be mad to miss it! For more information including travel itenary and special deals available from Stena Line log onto www.IrishSlalom.ie for a full set of results and lots of photos from Round 1 also available online…
A special thank you to all who made the event a success: Fintan Day (Event Organiser), Chris Lewis and Chris Martin (Jp/ Pryde UK), Fingal County Council, Malahide Yacht & Dinghy Club, Surfdock, DMG Sailsports, Cadburys, Oisin (Red Bull & Tent), Kathryn Geaney (Event Photographer), The Owens Girls & Friends (Catering Crew), Brendan and the Race Crew, Downings Gang (Event Bibs) and everyone who lent a hand over the weekend.