The level and depth of talent in the 49 boat National Squib fleet was seen in the final day's race off Ireland's Eye at Howth. The wind was between 15 and 20 knots from the south-east. The outcome of the Squib Championship 2015 was yet to be decided. The three leading contenders being Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsay from RCYC in Lady Penelope, on 12 points, Nigel Harris and John Stephenson. SCYC, in Banshee, on 14 points, and David Jones and Mark Hogan, from SCYC in Ric O'Shea, on 20 points. Which of these talented sailors had the ability to pull the championship out of the bag? Unusually, the scoring system used allowed for two discards in eight race series. Would the winner be an older boat such as Banshee, no.65, or Ric O'Shea, no.136, or would it be the newer boat, Lady Penelope, no. 819? There was another significant variable in the mix, would the winner use Batt Sails or Hyde Sails? Ric O'Shea is the only one of the three to use a complete wardrobe of Batt Sails the others only use Hyde Sails.
The course selected by race officer Dick Lovegrove was Course Number Two, a windward-leeward race of with five beats of 1.7km. each. The sea conditions were a little 'lumpy', and the tide was due to change mid-race.
On the start line the tide was flowing against the Squibs, which enabled the fleet to start on their first attempt, without recourse to the 'U' flag, which had been used for most of the races earlier in the week. The race officer did not use the dreaded 'black flag' at any race this week.
On the first beat against the tide it was Ric O'Shea which appeared to get the bit between their teeth. The wind was steady in strength and direction, so it was a boatspeed race. At the first windward mark Ric O'Shea led from Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall in Alchemy. The locally Howth based Too Dee sailed by Dave and Simon Sheahan rounded the mark within the top six boats. Banshee rounded in about eighth place and Lady Penelope about five places behind. These two had a lot of work to do, it was going to be a long nine mile race. On each round Ric O'Shea sailed to her pre-determined tactical plan, and increased her lead until she was more than 100m. ahead of the bunch of Squibs following. Crossfire sailed by Dave Best and Pete Richards worked their way into second place.
At the last leeward gate marks it appeared that Lady Penelope had done enough to take her place on the podium and lift the championship trophy. But there was still one more beat to be completed, and the tide had turned. Lady Penelope and Banshee rounded different leeward gate marks, and by the end of the beat at the finish line, Banshee had overhauled her opponent. As they passed the finish line the order was:
- 1st Ric O'Shea, 136, David Jones and Mark Hogan (SCYC)
- 2nd Crossfire 797, Dave Best and Pete Richards (SCYC)
- 3rd Alchemy, 800, Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall (RYYC)
- 4th Helmut Shöing II, Nigel and Jack Grogan (RCYC)
- 5th White Magic, David Wines and Keith Davies (WHSC.)
- 6th Moonstone, Malcolm Blackburn and David Shiel (SCYC)
- 7th Pani-Munta, Mike Probert and Richard Delves (RCYC)
- 8th Banshee, Nigel Harris and John Stephenson (SCYC)
- 9th Lady Penelope, Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsay (R.C.YC)
So, who had won the championship?
Remarkably after eight races and two discards, Ric O'Shea, Banshee, and Lady Penelope were all on equal points. Each had 21 points after discards.
Ric O'Shea discarded a 15th. and 21st. place. Lady Penelope discarded 25th. and 26th. places. Banshee discarded an 8th. and 29th. These figures are not relevant under the current scoring system, where a draw is resolved by the highest place boat in the last race which, as noted above, was won by Ric O'Shea.
The top Irish Squib is Aficionado, 78, John Driscoll and David Cagney in 9th place.
Of the top ten places overall, 4 were from South Caernarvonshire YC, 4 were from Royal Corinthian YC, one from Royal North of Ireland YC, and one from Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club, which indicates that strong fleets at the local clubs are significant to developing the boatspeed necessary to win championship races under all conditions.
The top lady helmsman is Megan Pascoe with crew Hannah Stodel in Squibble from Weymouth who finished in 31st place. Their performance in this fleet is commendable. The also won the trophy for the top ParaSquibbers. They were thrilled by the friendly and welcoming atmosphere which exists in the Squib fleet. They are newcomers in this fleet, and are more accustomed to the 2.4mR class, and Sonar Paralympic circuits.