Nineteen-year-old Mike Senior, crewed by Graham Nelson, has won the GP 14 national championship in Bangor.

This year’s GP 14 national championship (28 July-2 August) was characterised by a singular lack of sunshine and generally light winds, but the Ballyholme YC did their best to compensate with a full social programme. The event was won with consummate skill and boat speed by 19-year-old Mike Senior, crewed by Graham Nelson. In the absence of Richard Estaugh and Neil Marsden, it was expected to be an open event but it was to prove otherwise.

In a short practice race, Carl Jeffs and Jim Toothill were the first of the three boats actually to finish and declare their intentions. This was to be followed by race one in which Senior quickly built up a strong lead in the triangle/sausage style course. However, a sudden 180 degree windshift on the third lap caught Race Officer Ken Green unawares and he mistook the boats now running towards him, where they should have been on a beat! The many resultant appeals for redress soon brought a race void outcome and an apology.

Monday brought light winds and rain for races two and three, as the lost race would have to be sailed later. Dave Young and Amy Finney showed that it was a big advantage to be pathfinder and made a good start to the race, but were gradually overtaken by Senior who held the lead to the finish, with Jonathan Sinclair and Liz Pugh in a close third place, behind Young. The back-to-back race three found Richard Instone and Andy Thompson in form until the wind started to die on the final beat, when they lost out in a tacking battle to Senior. Young followed in third place.

On the next day, starts were postponed until afternoon hoping for a steady wind to fill in. The fleet set out reluctantly on the promise of wind offshore, but frustration set in as the wind died on reaching the Committee boat. It was the Race Officer’s misfortune that, as soon as the cancellation was fired, the wind did fill in and stayed for the rest of the day. Stronger and steadier winds materialised for the next day as Matt Flint and Phil Cox proved the advantage for the pathfinder again with a good win in race five. Locally experienced Curly Morris and Laura Thompson showed that they could keep up with youthful sailors as they secured runner-up spot, with Instone in third place and Senior suffering a lowly eighth. Instone secured an early lead in the next race, which he held to the finish from fleet newcomer Blair Stanaway, with Brendan Brogan as crew, and Senior in third.

Thursday was to provide a full day’s sailing to make up for some lost races and the Crew’s Race. This time, in race seven, top Irish sailors Hugh Gill and Barry Canton gained the early lead to hold from Senior to the finish, with Young in third. This was now followed by the rerun of race one in which Senior again took an early lead in a good wind. But, as sunshine started to arrive, the wind dropped on the third lap and the fleet rafted up at the leeward mark. Senior rounded safely ahead and found new wind ahead. Young and Jeffs took opposite tacks away from the mark and held the positions they had gained. After this, 12 boats stayed afloat for the Crew’s Race sailed in the best wind of the week and Richard Lees, crewing for Jonathan Senior, took the winning gun.

For the final day, there was a good breeze for race eight, which suited Flint well to hold the lead from Gill with Jeffs having another third. This was Senior’s worst race with a discardable 12th. Race four brought the series to a finish, and the application of two discards for the eight races. Boatbuilder Alastair Duffin, with Steven Nelson, again proved the advantage of pathfinder by winning and holding Senior to runners-up place, and Flint in third. So Senior?s score of three firsts, two seconds and a third gave him a comfortable win.

Overall Results
1 13417, Mike Senior/Graham Nelson, Bolton & BFYC
2 13747, Richard Instone/AndyThompson, Chase SC
3 13686, Carl Jeffs/Jim Toothill, Trimpley SC
4 13177, Hugh Gill/Barry Canton, Sutton DC
5 13764, Matt Flint/Phil Cox, Northampton SC

Silver Fleet
13393, Blair Stanaway/Brendan Brogan, Sligo YC

Bronze Fleet
13609, Phil and Alison Eaves, Bartley SC