2022 GP14 World Championship Report
August 14 – 19, Skerries Sailing Club Update by Andy Johnston
The long delayed GP14 World Championship finally got underway and completed in Skerries this weekend. Initially to be held in 2020, the GP14 Ireland Class took a decision to delay after Covid intervened in 2019. Full credit to the organising Committee in Skerries Sailing Club for their perseverance and effort in weathering that delay and putting on a magnificent event. Back at the end of 2019 when the decision was made, 140 boats and crews had registered so postponing for 2 years was a big risk. As the event approached in 2022, the Ukraine situation rasied its head, presenting issues that might have derailed the event. However despite all that was thrown at them, Skerries and the GP14 Class Associations managed to encourage 105 boats to travel to Skerries which included South African, Barbados, USA and Australian representation.
With over 60 Irish boats, the drop off came as one might expect from the UK fleet where travel and financial costs had significantly increased. That being said, the event attracted some of the cream of British GP14 and dinghy sailing with 6 time Endeavour winner Nick Craig among the entries. Former GP14 World Champions Neil Marsden (2003) and Ian Dobson (2014) also travelled with the aim of regaining a crown they had not held for a no. of years. In addition multiple GP14 British Nationals winner Matt Mee as well as the likes of Tim & Ciaron Jones, John Hayes and Graham Flynn were also across.
Despite the unavailability of Irelands last World Champion Shane MacCarthy, the Irish fleet has been strong through the Covid impacted seasons and with plenty of emerging young sailors to support the more experienced Ger Owens, Hugh Gill, Ross Kearney and Pre-Worlds winner Niall Henry. Coming into the event the likes of Peter Boyle, Adrian Lee, Jane Kearney, Alan Blay and Colman Grimes had all shown great form in the seasons event. Another aspect of the Irish fleet has been the emergence over the last few years of more female helms and crews and greater number of youth crews. The support from both the GP14 International and Ireland Class Presidents Curly Morris and Michael Collender has been a major contributor to this situation.
Last Sunday the long wait was over, or at least we thought it was. Despite getting a practice race, the wind disappeared and it was Tuesday before the first races manged to take place. Left with no choice, Irish Olympian and event PRO Bill O’Hara scheduled 3 races. In very strong winds and a huge, confused sea caused by a north and north westerly direction, the fleet arrived back ashore shattered, exhausted but with thankfully minimal damage to the boats and crews. The conditions were an eye opener for some of our overseas visitors, particularly the lighter crews but nevertheless our South African and Barbados competitors all completed the 3 races and then went out and enhanced their wet gear for the rest of the event. Within those 3 races, local hope Colman Grimes/Ross Gingles had laid down a marker with a superb 5th in race 1 to lie 4th behind favorites Ian Dobson/Andy Tunnicliffe and Matt Mee/Chris Robinson at the end of the day.
On Wednesday and with the leaders halfway up the final beat, the wind fell away and created a veritable car park with 90+ boats congregated around the leeward mark. The PRO didn’t wait too long before sending the fleet home, as it became obvious there was little hope of getting any further racing.
On Thursday, the forecast had changed and with the wind forecast from the south and south west, the PRO was still under pressure to get 3 races completed to ensure the event might deliver two discards by close on Friday. Racing was run with a much flatter sea and didn’t disappoint with an Irish race victory in race 4 when Ger Owens/Mel Morris led from the start and despite a late charge held off Matt Mee/Chris Robinson and Neil Marsden/Derek Hill. Race 5 was probably the closest and toughest race of the event with 4 boats vying for victory right from the gun with 2 Irish crews in the mix with Jane Kearney/Ollie Goodhead and Alan Blay/Hugh McNally. Eventually it was between Ian Dobson and Alan Blay all the way up the last beat, tack for tack with rarely a boat length between them. On the line Ian Dobson/Andy Tunnicliffe experience and doggedness saw them home literally on the dip.
At that point you could be excused for thinking that the former World Champions would push on to take the event in comfort. Not so, with the final race of the day seeing Matt Mee/Chris Robinson recover to take a clear victory from Neil Marsden with Ian Dobson/Andy Tunnicliffe back in 4th. The event was heading to the last day without a clear winner despite Ian Dobson/Andy Tunnicliffe holding a 2 point advantage.
Skerries local Colman Grimes had continued to sail consistently well to head the Irish challenge in 4th place but with 2 other Irish boats, Ruan & Rebekkah O’Tiarnaigh and Hugh & Dan Gill in the Top 10 and another 6 in the Top 20, it was turning out to be a very good Irish performance.
Fridays breeze was same direction as previous day but the breeze was forecast to be a little stronger. A decision had been made for 2 races rather than 3. This would be sufficient for 2 discards for the fleet and considering the tough conditions experienced this was particularly welcomed by those lower down the fleet if not at the top end.
That 2 point lead looked very tenuous when Mee/Robinson took Race 7 with Dobson/Tunnicliffe back in 4th. That lead had switched with a single point now between the pair. With the 8th race the fleet would now have 2 discards and final placings would be crucial to the destination of the World Championship. Mee/Robinson fought hard and won a fine race from Dobson/Tunnicliffe but ultimately lost the event on count-back. Despite the same Total (17) and Net (9) scores, the 4 race victories of Dobson/Tunnicliffe saw them home by the finest of margins.
An event beset by 2 year Covid delay and impacted by the loss of 3 days racing, the 2022 GP14 World Championship went all the way to the wire and was decided on count-back. It really couldn’t have been closer and a super end to what has been a superbly run event by Skerries Sailing Club.
The Overall result saw Dobson/Tunnicliffe 1st, Mee/Robinson 2nd. and Nick Craig & Toby Lewis 3rd. Top Irish boat was Colman Grimes & Ross Gingles (Skerries SC) who finished 5th. There were 3 Irish in Top 10 with Ross Kearney & Andrew Vaughan (RNIYC) finishing in 7th and Hugh & Dan Gill (Sutton Dinghy Club) 10th. Another 8 Irish crews in Top 20 made for a strong showing and highlights the strength of the Irish fleet.
With 105 crews and with entries from South Africa, Australia, Barbados and the USA, this was always more than just about the Gold fleet. Conor Twohig & Matthew Cotter (Sutton Dinghy Club) finished 21st overall and took Silver Fleet from Doire Shiels & Lewis Coppinger (Skerries SC) in 23rd and Sam Street & Josh Lloyd (Blessington) in 27th. Conor Byrne & Emer McNally (Darwin SC) and 22nd overall took Bronze Fleet from Kerri-Ann & Megan Boylan (Skerries SC) in 34th and Frankie Brown & Dave Lappin (Skerries SC) in 40th. Leading Youth crew was Robert Richardson/Steven Wilson (Royal Windermere YC) who finished 7th overall and are certainly ones to watch. Top Female Helm was Jane Kearney & Ollie Goodhead (RNIYC) who ended the event very strongly to finish 14th overall. Leading overseas boat was Jason Tinsdale/Lawrence Creaser (Barbados Yacht Club) who finished in 25th.
The event attracted 200+ sailors and in many cases their families were in attendance to make this a magnificent celebration of what the GP14 Class has always been about. Curly Morris, the outgoing GP14 International President and a great supporter and facilitator for Youth and Female engagement and involvement in the Irish GP14 Class announced a major surprise when additional World Sailing Championship medals were to be presented possibly for the first time at a World Championship in Ireland.
The GP14 International organization would normally present trophies at the GP14 World Championships to categories such as leading Female Helm, leading all-Female crew and leading Youth, but this was the first year World Sailing medals were to be presented to some of these categories as well as the Overall World Championship top 3.
To major cheers and emotional scenes the prize-giving ceremony concluded with the following presentations:
World Sailing Championship Medals:
Gold) Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliffe (Burwain SC)
Silver) Matt Mee & Chris Robinson (B&FYC/Red Wharf Bay) Bronze)
Nick Craig & Toby Lewis (Burghfield Frensham)
World Sailing Youth Championship Medals:
Gold) Robert Richardson & Steven Wilson (Royal Windemere SC)
Silver) Sam Street & Josh Lloyd (Blessington Sailing Club)
Bronze) Ciaran Keogh & Adam Leddy (Greystones Sailing Club)
World Sailing All Female Championship Medals:
Gold) Kerri-Ann & Megan Boylan (Skerries Sailing Club)
Silver) Katie Dwyer & Michelle Rowley (Sutton Dinghy Club)
Bronze) Meg Tyrrell & Sorcha Donnelly (Royal Irish YC/ Skerries SC)
World Sailing Mixed-Crews Championship Medals:
Gold) Ger Owens & Mel Morris (RoyalSt. George YC & East Antrim Boat Club)
Silver) Jane Kearney & Ollie Goodhead (Royal North of Ireland C & )
Bronze) Ruan & Rebekkah O’Tiarnaigh (Ballyholme YC & Sutton Dinghy Club)
2022 World Championship – Final Standings