Magherafelt yachtswoman lifts coveted dinghy sailing trophy

Brenda Preston lifts the Lady Helm Trophy at the GP14 World Championship held at the Barbados Yacht Club in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Brenda Preston lifts the Lady Helm Trophy at the GP14 World Championship held at the Barbados Yacht Club in Bridgetown, Barbados.

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Magherafelt yachtswoman Brenda Preston has lifted the Lady Helm Title at the GP14 World Championship held in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The event attracted a record fleet for a yacht racing event held on the Caribbean island as 104 boats lined up to take on the rest and the fresh North Easterly trade winds that at times reached some 25 to 30 knots and some exceptionally large swell

Brenda Preston helming her GP14 Gizmo during one of the World Championship races in Barbados with husband Steven Preston crewing.

Brenda Preston helming her GP14 Gizmo during one of the World Championship races in Barbados with husband Steven Preston crewing.

These conditions were testing ones for many of the boats and the first two days of races saw multiple capsizes throughout the fleet. By the second day, 37-year-old Brenda and her crew, husband Steven Preston (55), had a narrow lead over Barbadian sailor Joanne Lammens.

However the next two days 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, of Donaghadee Sailing Club, managed to out sail 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, Brenda had to pull out all the stops and finish ahead.

Finding a good start, some clear air, and showing a clean pair of heels in some gusty blasts, it was all out racing in the last race 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 series finished with Brenda just one point up on the Barbadian boat to lift the First Lady Helm trophy.

The overall Men’s winner in 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 Irish sailor Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davies from Greystones in County 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 an Irish sailor in the class.