2013 Mirror Worlds

2013 Mirror National Championships

At the 2013 Mirror Worlds held on Lough Derg, N. Ireland, South African's Ryan & Michaela Robinson where crowned World Champions!

Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer, North Tipperary, hosted the 2013 Mirror World Sailing Championship, the first world sailing championship to be held on the inland waters of Ireland.

Lough Derg

Simon Coveney, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, officially opened the Championship on Sunday evening, July 28. As a former Mirror Dinghy Champion, Minister Coveney maintains a keen interest in the sport. The championships are held every two years, in 2011 they were held in Australia, and in 2015 they will be held in South Africa. It was anticipated that eighty boats would compete with sailors travelling from the UK, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Denmark, and all parts of Ireland.

Con Murphy was the Principal Race Officer for this championship. Lough Derg, a fresh water, non-tidal lake, provided competitive and challenging racing, on courses set by Mr. Murphy and his Racing Committee. Ian Roberts, and his team on the event committee, worked hard for the past eighteen months organising a championship that competitors and their families found memorable, both on and off the water.

The packed social calendar began at the launch of the Championship, Sunday July 28, where visitors heard pipe Major Joe Barry of the Thomas McDonagh Pipe Band. In addition to its reputation for providing racing in a beautiful setting, Lough Derg Yacht Club is renowned for the care and hospitality it extends to its visitors: brewed coffee and home baked scones were served in the clubhouse each morning and there were dinners in the evenings. An Irish Dancing night, a Ceili Mor, was organised where the visitors were taught a few steps. The social calendar concluded with the Nations Night where all the visiting teams had a turn to perform for the host nation.

The classic boat, the Shannon One Design, an 18ft clinker built wooden vessel, is the emblematic dinghy sailed at Lough Derg since 1922, and visitors were provided an opportunity to race in these dinghies. The Ku-ee-tu Water Bus, (an original liferaft to the QE11), helmed by Teddy Knight, a former commodore of Lough Derg Yacht Club, was available each day to bring spectators out to the race area.

Day 1

182 sailors in 91 boats competed on day 1 on Lough Derg. Sailors travelled to Lough Derg Yacht Club from the UK, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Sweden as well as all parts of Ireland to compete in this highly respected two-man dinghy regatta. The biennial regatta was last held in Australia in 2011 and will be hosted by South Africa in 2015.

Racing began late in morning in squally, rainy conditions with gusts reaching as high as 20 knots. The 91 boat fleet got off to a clear start for Race 1 but three teams in particular clearly dominated from the beginning. Leading around the first mark were David and Edward Coady from the UK followed closely by mother and son duo Sarah and George Richards, also from the UK, and Ridgely Balladares and Rommel Chavez from the Philippines. Try as they might, none of the other sailors were able to catch the three pairings but competition for the prestige of first race win was fierce. Battling hard and coming up from behind, it was ultimately Balladares and Chavez from the Philippines that took the win followed by Richards and Richards in 2nd with Coady and Coady 3rd.

The breeze died down slightly, the clouds parted and the sun emerged for Race 2. As the fleet rounded the first mark it was the Irish that were dominating by taking the lead and also filling two more of the top five spots. Young Douglas Elmes and his crew Scott Levie from Cork made a break and left the rest of the fleet behind, all except for siblings Ryan and Michaela Robinson from South Africa who tailed them frantically. In a hotly fought game of skill and tactics it was eventually the Corkonians who reigned supreme winning Race 2 and finishing Day 1 in 4th overall.

Leading after the day's two races were the Robinson siblings from the South Africa, second overall was British pairing David and Edward Coady and third are mother and son Sarah and George Richards also from the UK.

Day 2

Race 3, the first race of the day, began with a total of three general recalls and two race abandonments due to severely quick shifting winds. Eventually, sixth time lucky, the fleet were clear and the race finally got under way. Sarah Richards and her son George (GBR) took the win in this race followed by Katie Davies & Gemma Keers (GBR) in second and father and daughter Jeremy and Lauren Stephens in third (GBR).

Race 4 got off first time under a black flag. Up the middle seemed to be the optimum tactic in the steady 18 knots breeze. First to weather mark were Davies & Keers followed closely by Nigel Thomas & Felix Jefferies (GBR), Ridgeley Ballardes & Rommel Chavez (PHI) and the Irish boat, 15 year olds Dougie Elmes & Scott Levie. With less squalls than earlier but wind of around 20 knots, the leading pack swapped places down to the leeward mark.
Up the second beat with wind now gusting 25 knots Ireland's Elmes & Levie fought their way into 2nd place just rounding the weather mark ahead of Ballardes & Chavez. Davies & Keers had extended their lead at the second weather mark and chose not to fly the spinnaker on the reaching leg. One of the leading GBR boats Sarah Richards and her son George were not far behind the leading pack, and having won the first race of the day, are major contenders for this championship. South Africa's brother and sister duo, Ryan & Michaela Robinson, were also in this pack. The pair were leaders after Day 1 and Ryan arrived at this event straight from ISAF Youth Worlds where he competed in 420 class.
Only four or five boats in the top 30 flew spinnakers on the reach. With a lot of capsized back markers this may have been a wise move. Dougie Elmes fought hard to maintain his second place spot but was caught by his Philipino rivals before the finish. The Richards' consolidated a strong start to the event to finish 15th following their victory in Race 3.

With wind constantly between 20 and 25 knots and quite a few retirees, the PRO called the fleet temporarily ashore after the second race of the day. However, with no reduction in wind the fleet did not venture out for a third race.

After Day 2 and four races of the Mirror World Sailing Championships on Lough Derg, Dromineer, Co. Tipperary, the overall lead was held by South African's Ryan and Michaela Robinson.

Day 3

Day 3 and PRO Con Murphy made it clear from start he was going to try and get 4 races in, especially after losing a race on Tuesday and with an uncertain forecast for days 4 and 5.
However, with over eager sailors and a few big shifts, Race 5 only got going on 4th attempt. The fleet was reduced as a number of sailors fell foul of black flag on the recalled 3rd start.

Irish boat Jack Ryan got a corker of a start and along with fellow Irish sailor Dougie Elmes, the pair led the field down the first leg swapping places but keeping rest of field at bay. South African Ryan Robinson and GBR Isabel Davis fought over other placings around top mark and down the spinnaker leg.
A steady enough breeze saw Dougie Elmes and Jack Ryan consolidate the top two positions for an Irish 1, 2 and great start to day 3 for the Irish. SA?s Ryan Robinson consolidated his series lead with a 4th.

Race 6 started under black flag, and the fleet heeded the warning and got away clear. Dougie Elmes again stormed up the beat for another top 3 position but SA Ryan Robinson was again not far away but out on the left (Aus) Tim Pilbeam led at first weather mark and never lost the lead all the way to the finish. There was a ding dong battle all the way to the line between GBR Sarah Richards, Dougie Elmes (IRL), Ridgely Ballardes (PHI) and SA Ryan Robinson leaving the South African leading the series now from Ireland Dougie Elmes with Sarah Richards (GBR) in third.

With wind freshening all the time up to 18 knots, Race 7 under black flag got away clear. The chop and stronger wind now was making life difficult for some of the fleet with capsizes and broaches across the course. SA Ryan Robinson was again to the fore on first beat, closely followed by GBR Katie Davis and Ridgely Ballardes (PHI). Alfie Wisdom and Tiarnan Dickson were best of the Irish with a strong 4th and 6th place down the spinnaker leg but Dougie Elmes was struggling to stay in top 20. GBR Katie Davis took the lead on downwind and never lost it with SA Ryan Robinson clearly delighted with a 2nd to consolidate their series lead. PHI Ridgely Ballardes came late on last 2 legs to pick up a very valuable 3rd place. Alfie Wisdom (Irl) worked hard to take a 4th.

With the wind now constant at 18 knots Race 8 was always going to be a struggle for the less experienced and younger crews. PRO Con Murphy went into sequence with another black flag start that ensured a clean start and recovered Tuesday's lost race. There was only one boat going to win this race and SA?s Ryan Robinson, clearly in form, roared up  the beat and never looked back and extended his lead at every mark. Again Dougie Elmes struggled early on but managed to claw his way up to 11th and ensure Ireland would have a boat in the mix going to Day 4. GBR Sarah Richards had a great race to take 2nd and along with Joanna Calderon (3rd) and Katie Davis (5th) ensured a good day for GBR. Ridgely Ballardes (PHI) had a capsize and ultimately retired but still lies in top 5 heading to Day 4.

SA?s Ryan Robinson now looks to have a formidable lead at the top of the table adding a race win to an already very consistent results card. Ireland?s Dougie Elmes lies 2nd, closely followed by Katie Davis, Sarah Richards (GBR) and Ridgely Ballardes (PHI). It?s hard to see a winner outside these 5 but clearly South Africa's Ryan Robinson is favourite at this stage. With 8 points between 2nd and 6th this looks like it will go to the wire for the minor placings.

Day 4

Day 4 of the Championships and the weather forecast for Lough Derg was more amenable than had been expected. Boats launched in incessant rain with a light southerly breeze. Race 9 took three attempts as has become the norm for first race of each day. Third time lucky and all got away with Ridegly Ballardes from the Philippines took the left side of the course along with Ireland's Alfie Wisdom and the UK's Robert Bellfield. As the leg progressed the left side certainly looked like it was paying off with Sarah Richards (GBR), Ridgely Balladares and Ryan Robinson from South Africa following suit. Douglas Elmes (IRL) took the middle but certainly looked separated from the leaders during the early stages.
Sarah Richardson was first to weather mark followed by Ryan Robinson and Ridgely Balladares. A few boat lengths later was Nigel Thomas from the UK and local Alfie Wisdom who was having a great leg. The left side certainly paid off with right hand side boats well back at weather mark. Down the spinnaker leg Isabel Davies and Katie Davies started to make a move on the leaders. With the wind starting to increase and visibility reducing with the rain it was hard to see where the leaders were coming from during the early part of the upwind leg. Sarah Richards seemed to go right with most of the others up the middle. Nigel Thomas and Alfie Wisdom had now overtaken Ridegly Ballardes however Sarah Richards had extended her lead at second weather mark and held it to the finish. A battle ensued between Nigel Thomas, Ridegly Ballardes and Ireland's Alfie Wisdom down the reach and spinnaker leg with Thomas and Wisdom eventually taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Overnight leader Ryan Robinson sailed conservatively and finished in 6th while Douglas Elmes who had been 5th overall could only manage an 18th. The wind picked up at the end and a number of backmarkers capsized with a few retiring before the second race of the day.

Race 10 got away the first time with wind steady about 180 degrees. At the pin end David Coady from the UK had a great start followed closely by Rachel Grayson, Esme Shepard and Ridegly Ballardes. With the rain now belting down it looked like the fleet were favouring left side again. Rachel Grayson was the clear leader up the beat with Douglas Elmes now showing alongside Ridegly Ballardes, Robert Belfield, Sarah Richards and Katie Davies. Alfie Wisdom looked like the next Irish boat but he had to do penalty turns and was slow away from the mark. The PRO called for weather mark to be moved further out for next beat as fleet made their way down to bottom mark in a lightening breeze. The lead boats maintained their positions around bottom mark but Rachel Grayson had extended her lead. Series leader Ryan Robinson had been sailing conservatively and at times looked like it was not flying a spinnaker but was still in contact with the top five. Rachel Grayson came out of the right hand side of beat with Sarah Richards, Katie Davies and Ryan Robinson, while Douglas Elmes and Ridegly Ballardes took the middle left.
Rachel Grayson rounded weather mark for the last time with further extended lead with clearly the minor placing between the next five or six boats. Douglas Elmes seemed to get round second followed by Sarah Richards and Katie Davies. The latter had a great leg and got ahead of Douglas Elmes at bottom mark and moved in to second place as they rounded for the short beat to the finish. Douglas Elmes was also under pressure from Ridegly Ballardes and had to be satisfied with a 4th while Sarah Richards finished 5th. Overall leader Ryan Robinson seemed happy to not get too engaged and finished 9th and with a second discard kicking in he still leads.

Day 5

It was all still to play for today in the final day of racing. Two boats were still in with a shout and separated by just three points; Ryan & Michaela Robinson from South Africa and Ridgely Ballardes & Rommel Chavez from the Philippines with the Robinsons holding a few more aces due to better discards.

For Race 11 a nice bright breezy morning greeted the 182 sailors with 15-18 knots when boats launched but rain with plenty of wind shifts was forecast. The fleet got away eventually on the third start, not before about eight boats had fallen foul of black flag on general recall at the second start. UK's Robert Bellfield & Sally Lorrimer tied up but biggest casualty was Ireland's Dougie Elmes who had been lying 5th overall. Middle of line looked most favoured before the fleet moved to left side of course up the first beat. The wind lightened and not as many white horses were evident. The first boats to show were Jeremy & Lauren Stephens from the UK, South Africa's Robinson & Robinson, Isabel Davies & Milly Moss and Ireland's Shane McLoughlin & Ben Jennings. The first boat around was Ballardes & Chavez who were certainly doing all that could be asked at this stage, closely followed by Stephens & Stephens, Davies & Moss and Robinson & Robinson. McLoughlin & Jennings went round 7th.
A tight situation was unfurling at top of the leader board and with the wind increasing a great spectacle with a number of capsizes. With fleet spread across the course down to bottom mark, Ballardes & Chavez were still leading but Robinson & Robinson were very much in touch around the bottom mark. The leaders initially went left but seemed to have settled on the middle, with Sarah Richards and her son George now very much in the mix. With the top three boats in the series up near the front, this race was turning into a real battle. Stephens & Stephens were now leading as they approached the weather mark for the second time, with Davies & Moss now in second, McLoughlin & Jennings 3rd and Katie Davies & Gemma Keers in 4th. Ballardes & Chavez seemed to have dropped back to 7th behind Hickey & Cosadell who were having a great race.
The wind picked up as the lead boats went down the close reach, with Davies & Keers broaching but making a fantastic recovery. Richards & Richards, currently 3rd overall had dropped back to about 11th. The final legs could be key to the destination of the title. If Robinson & Robinson kept a few boats between themselves and Ballardes & Chavez then it would make it very difficult for the Philippine boat. With leaders around the final mark, Stephens & Stephens held off Davies & Kerr and then Robinson & Robinson.

The first attempt at Race 12 was AP'd when a huge rain cloud descended and PRO Con Murphy held off starting for five minutes. The next attempt was a black flag and general recall with four numbers on the blackboard and a few boats heading for an early bath. First to go were David Johnston & Rory McEvoy from Ireland but then as boats readied for the one minute it became apparent that Robinson & Robinson had sails down and tied up beside a support boat. They had been black flagged also. It was only when the fleet got away clear that a cheer went up on support boat behind starting line along with the South African flag. The other boat black flagged was Ballardes & Chavez and the Mirror Worlds title was heading to South Africa for the first time. The new champions Ryan and Michaela Robinson stayed around the course to watch the concluding race.
With Ballardes & Chavez now out, the battle was on for second and third place. Richards & Richards, the initial leaders looked to be out on left hand side of the course. Kerri-Ann Boylan & Ros Morgan and Wisdom & Warren, all from Ireland, were strong early on. Boylan & Morgan were first to the weather mark to a rousing cheer from the Irish supporters. Closely followed by David & Edward Coady from the UK, Wisdom & Warren, Richards & Richards and Davies & Keers. After the reach Richards & Richards and Coady & Coady were having a major battle having passed Boylan & Morgan. Wisdom & Warren were fighting hard to hold onto 4th place. In to the finish it was neck and neck between Richards & Richards and Coady & Coady with the latter taking the win. A great cheer greeted the two Irish boats Boylan & Morgan who took 3rd and Wisdom & Warren that placed 4th. However it transpired that Boylan & Morgan were OCS so 3rd went to Wisdom & Warren.
That battle down the final stretch gave runner up spot to Sarah Richards and her son George with two other UK boats finishing 3rd; Katie Davies & Gemma Keers and Isabel Davies & Milly Moss in 4th, Ridegly Ballardes and Rommel Chavez from the Philippines took 5th. The top Irish boat was Dougie Elmes & Scott Levie in 6th after a great series that included two race wins.

The truly memorable week was rounded off with prize-giving on the final evening. Ian Roberts, his organising committee, Lough Derg Yacht Club, PRO Con Murphy with his bridge and rescue crew and many others who assisted are to be commended on a truly successful and enjoyable event. Bring on Mirror Worlds 2015 to be hosted in South Africa!

Adapted from the daily reports by Afloat Magazine and website, Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime publication (www.Afloat.ie)