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The RIYC Annual Flag Officers Challenge Race for the Mount Gay Trophy (sponsored by Captain Morgan) was hotly contested within the protection of the Dun Laoghaire harbour walls in superb conditions on Saturday April 14th being the day following the Members Dinner.  Crews assembled in various degrees of physical, mental and emotional well-being given the previous evenings proceedings.  

While crews had obviously been carefully selected by each of the Flags in their quest for glory, a stricter interpretation of the Corinthian philosophy which had applied to that date was being applied as the Vice Commodore arrived on the pontoon with a weighing scales and the RIYC Membership Log to ensure no jockeys.  With each boat containing many national and international champion sailors from the Royal Irish Yacht Club, once again the Commodore out-shone the standards of his fellow Flags with his Olympian crew.

Henry Leonard and Paul McCarthy assumed position as Race Officers aboard Spirit of the Irish and took responsibility once again for setting the course and getting the competitors started and finished in 2 gruelling windward/leeward races followed by a 3rd race decider which observed Club tradition and finished at the mast of our lovely Clubhouse before many, many (possibly thousands) of spectators.

With Spirit of the Irish on station, the crews of our four 1720’s left the pontoon and started warming up in the harbour tacking, gybing and trimming their charges to within an ounce of perfection.  

At 13:50hrs, as the deadline for submission of all Protests passed, the Flag Officers finished their G&T’s and were ferried out into the harbour to board their respective vessels by Sailing Manager and Event Chairman, Mark McGibney in one of our new RIB’s.  

It has been reported that each of the Flags were satisfied with the condition of their boats and their crews upon boarding.

Race 1
The warning signal for Race 1 sounded at 13:55hrs and sadly the Commodore and our very brilliant Rear Commodore Sailing both came early on the start line giving a significant lead away to the Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore House.  By Mark 1 this lead had been eroded and while the Vice Commodore managed to hold on to 1st place, a contentious decision split the two Rear’s for 2nd and 3rd place as they extended various body parts over their bows to gain maximum extension.  The Commodore also ran.

Race 2
Race 2 followed in short order with the leeward shore paying off on the upwind leg.  Junior sailors and their coaches (from RIYC) had temporarily taken up post at the weather mark causing confusion for competitors as our most wonderful Rear Commodore Sailing led the fleet to Mark 1.    Ultimately Rear Commodore House was in the ascendancy with superior tactical positioning downwind taking the bullet in 1st place, the Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore Sailing battled furiously for 2nd position with the Rear Commodore Sailing assuming the necessary position to cover the Vice Commodore in style but to little advantage – a late break from the Rear for the pin end of the finishing line tested the nerves of the Vice who snatched a single point margin on the line.  The Commodore also ran.

Race 3
Race 3 became the crucial battleground where all was to be won or lost.  Pride and privilege were at stake and bragging rights for years to come.  As all our Members know, the 3rd Race of the RIYC Annual Flag Officers Challenge Race for the Mount Gay Trophy (sponsored by Captain Morgan) is the most prestigious of the entire event and is widely acknowledged as the one race which clearly brings to the fore our most skilful and talented Flag and crew.  The first beat started with a nice breeze which veered more Southerly as the afternoon had progressed.  Race Officers Leonard and McCarthy had already altered to weather mark positioning to reflect the changing conditions and all crews responded.  Leading around the weather mark for the second time was our truly magnificent Rear Commodore Sailing who straddled the best efforts of the Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore House both of whom tried to take him on the harbour side of the breakwater.  The lead narrowed as the Vice Commodore pursued the Rear Commodore Sailing eastward through the channel towards the finishing line with controversy emerging as the Vice Commodore attempted to punch through on starboard with the Rear Commodore in need of navigable water.  The waiting spectators were wild with excitement as the Rear Commodore Sailing took 1st place in the final race.  The Commodore also ran.    

Overall Result
Prizegiving was held on the deck as the Commodore, the hitherto undefeated Champion, presented the RIYC Annual Flag Officers Challenge Race for the Mount Gay Trophy (sponsored by Captain Morgan) to the winning crew and their Flag – the Vice Commodore.  The speeches were magnificent (though this reporter chose to join in on the celebrations which lasted long into the evening and cannot remember a single word of what was said in those speeches) and I will never forget the smiles, laughter and bon homme that cloaked our members on the water, on the deck, on the terrace and in the clubhouse throughout the day.  

Another wonderful event to witness and enjoy at the Royal Irish Yacht Club and another wonderful memory to hold and to share in the future.  

*Notes to Editor:
1. The names and identities of flag officers and their crews have been withheld to protect reputations and to foster goodwill. 
2. Our Olympian has an excellent sports psychologist and will overcome the trauma of this event.
3.  It is entirely coincidental that the only Flag Officer who now continues as a Flag Officer is the Champion, our new Commodore, Mr. Joe Costello. 
4. It is understood that Commodore Costello accepts that Ordinary Members Sherry, Burke and McStay did not ‘throw’ any of the races for fear of recriminations from the incoming Commodore or his new team
5. All Members and all Staff of the Royal Irish Yacht Club are “very pleased” for Commodore Costello and are “in admiration” of his supreme excellence etc etc

(Grateful thanks to Patrick Burke for the story)