12 knots and blistering sunshine greeted the racers as they exited Dun Laoghaire harbour and veered left and right to the two courses. With the consistent northerly wind oscillating through an arc of 20 degrees, things got underway without delay.
By race two of three, the fleets had found their confidence on the start line, evidenced by a handful of restarts and disqualifications for false starts.
At the top of the blue fleet, South African helm Dave Hudson described as ‘dangerous’ some of the early windward mark roundings, with almost 70 boats converging on the windward mark in tight formation after the first leg.
“If you came in at about five to ten boat lengths below [the mark] you could generally find a gap,” said Hudson, who won the SB3 class at Cork Week in July. “One to five boat lengths was really dangerous and that’s where a few of the boats got trapped.”
Plenty of boats found themselves doing penalty spins before re-joining the queue - Hudson, however, steered clear of much of the chaos to emerge among the front runners again, with a 1,6, 4 scoreline for the day keeping him in second overall behind British pairing Tim and Sue Fells.
It’s another British boat at the top of the other fleet, Mark Richards holding the top space on equal points with Aussie Daniel Geoghegan.
The top Irish slot falls to Peter Kennedy, an Irish Olympian from 1988, who sits in third overall after a tough first day, with three results inside the top six.
Plenty of spills and knocks on the racecourse will keep the protest teams busy long into the evening, but the overall mood in Dun Laoghaire is hugely positive.
Top Irish helm at the recently-held nationals, Gareth Flannigan, remarked that racing was incredibly close, and that it was ‘all or nothing’ on the first beats of the course, after which finding clear air to mount a comeback was nearly impossible.
Other Irish performances of note included Bád, crewed by Olympians Peter O’Leary and Tim Goodbody, who posted consistent results to leave themselves seventh out of their 67-boat fleet.
Racing resumes tomorrow morning, with three more qualification races.
Full results here