Saturday April 8, saw the start of a new event in the RIYC calendar and a new tradition for the Club.Through the course of the off-season Mark McGibney and Miguel Walker put in huge hours to refurbish our fleet with significant investment in new sails, running rigging and a refurbishment of our four 1720’s while the Spirit of the Irish also benefited from a full refurbishment and two new engines.

To celebrate the preparation of the fleet and to mark the start of our 2017 summer Sailing Season the gauntlet was thrown down for the inaugural RIYC Flag Officers Challenge Race which was held in beautiful sunshine within the harbour.  Strong winds provided testing conditions for the first of three races while tactical awareness became critical later in the afternoon as the wind eased in races two and three.  With large and frequent wind shifts changing the winning order several times during these races it was dogged and fiercely competitive racing.

The Spirit of the Irish acted as Committee boat and the courses were expertly set by Race Committee - Henry Leonard, Paul McCarthy and Fintan Cairns.  The compliment was complete with Mark McGibney standing-by in the RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat after answering a shout off  Bray Head just before racing.  Allegations that Mark was concerned for the safety of crew and the condition of the newly refurbished fleet were squashed on the terrace after racing though some suspicions remain.

Members will be delighted to hear that all four Flag Officers survived the event and that our esteemed Commodore and his crew won the event in RIYC 1 (see photo) with line honours in the final race which finished in front of the Mast on the deck of the Clubhouse.  The West Pier and Breakwater were thronged with spectators throughout the afternoon and the prize-giving was more or less a ticket only affair in the Clubhouse after refreshments in glorious sunshine on the terrace.  Congrats to all competitors and lets hope that next years race is sailed in such wonderful conditions