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Brenda Preston queen of the waves at GP14 World Championship

By Robert Jones

Published 13/04/2016

Winning partnership: Brenda Preston helming her GP14 ‘Gizmo’ during one of the World Championship races in Barbados with husband Steven Preston crewing
Winning partnership: Brenda Preston helming her GP14 ‘Gizmo’ during one of the World Championship races in Barbados with husband Steven Preston crewing

Ulster yachtswoman Brenda Preston of Donaghadee Sailing Club left the rest trailing in her wake to lift the Lady Helm Trophy in dramatic fashion at the GP14 World Championship in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Brenda, from Magherafelt, was partnered to victory by her husband Steven Preston.

The event attracted a record fleet for a yacht racing event on the Caribbean island as 104 boats lined up to face the fresh north easterly trade winds that at times reached 25 to 30 knots, causing some exceptionally large swells.

The conditions proved to be testing for many of the boats and the first two days of action saw multiple capsizes.

By the second day Brenda and her crew - 55-year-old Steven - had a narrow lead over Barbadian sailor Joanne Lammens.

However the next two days of racing proved difficult and saw the Barbadian team take the initiative in the strong winds.

After a lay day ashore for all boats, and two races down, day five was make or break.

Brenda (37) managed to outsail Joanne in both races, pushing the Irish boat back into contention.

The last day's two races would clinch the title.

The Barbadian boat finished just ahead in the penultimate race, so then Brenda (pictured receiving her trophy) had to pull out all the stops and finish out in front.

After a good start, some clear air, and showing a clean pair of heels in gusty blasts, it was all out racing in the last contest of the series with the spinnaker flying at every opportunity.

The results, not posted until the closing awards ceremony that evening, showed that in the crucial last race Brenda had won by eight places.

The thrilling series finished with Brenda just one point up on the Barbadian boat to lift the Lady Helm trophy.

The overall men's winner was decided after a closely fought battle that saw the series lead change almost every race as the top five teams fought it out on the water.

The boat that secured an unassailable points lead in the ninth race was helmed by Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davies, hailing from Greystones in Co Wicklow.

This sealed a triple crown for the duo as they now hold the World, British and Irish titles, in what is understood to be a unique feat for Irish sailors in the class.

Belfast Telegraph

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