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Its full title is the Irish Sailing Association Youth Pathway Nationals and Optimist Trials. It is a designation with a great air of seriousness about it, contrasting markedly with current public debate about providing more fun sailing, while making regattas as much about sport and enjoyment afloat and ashore as they are about winning.

Yet from time to time, sailing does have to be serious – deadly serious – if we’re going to have any more significant international medals such as those won at the Olympics by Annalise Murphy, at the Laser Radials Worlds by Ewan McMahon,, and at the ISAF Youth Worlds by Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan. The way those great achievements - hard won through a very serious training and participation programme - were able to immediately lift the public mood with their clearcut international success deserves full recognition. W M Nixon tries to put it into perspective for those whose own sailing does not aspire to the giddy international heights.

When you look at that title of “Youth Pathway Nationals and Optimist Trials”, you wonder that as many as 190 boats in six different classes have turned up at Ballyholme for the four days of racing. For there’d been a certain collective madness beforehand, with some folk talking of beyond 200 or even up to 250 boats. But that could be put down to an excess of exuberance following the impressive turnout of 125 Lasers for the Munster at Baltimore.

420 ballyholme2On a tight spinnaker reach in Ballyholme Bay, McDowell and Gallagher narrowly lead the 420s from Heather Spain and iseult Kneafsey of the National, with Lucy Kane and Grace Jennings (East Antrim) next in line. Photo: Mark Mackey
For that was - for many - a fun event in a fun place, with a fun fleet except for maybe the top ten - and even they were frequently seen to laugh. And for sure, there are kids who are having a ball at Ballyholme right now. But for just this one long weekend of the year, there are serious moves being made which will decide the development of junior sailing at the top level in the year ahead, and in many of the years beyond that. We should be worried if it weren’t so brutally focused, rather than being unduly concerned about junior sailing becoming too serious.

That said, the seriousness produces its lighter moments, though you could sympathise with the Topper person who noted that there are five Topper places up for grabs for admission to the Topper Pathway Scheme, yet there are 32 Toppers (39 including the 4.2s) racing their little hearts out at Ballyholme. “What are we going to say?” asked this conscience of the Topper class, “What are we going to say to the young skippers who come 6th, 7th and 8th.....?”

Then there was the Optimist dad who arrived into the Race Office letting the world know that his family’s budget for the event was already shot to ribbons. Heaven only knows what the accommodation pressure would have been like if the more optimistically anticipated fleet of 250 boats with all classes had all turned up. For as it is, accommodation pressures have resulted in people being forced to rent houses for the week – for there’s no way you can get a rental starting on a Wednesday night – and deciding that the sensible thing is to come for a week’s holiday for the whole family. Inevitably, it means lots of money running out the door before the one or two family members who are actually racing start their proper sailing.

laser ballyholme3After two days Ewan MacMahon of Howth has the overall lead in the Laser Radials. Photo Mark Mackey

So anyway this Opty dad is telling anyone who is listening that the budget is already shot with the family spending a whole week in a house in a village he’d never heard of before. But now, worse still, somebody has just told him that his daughter is seen as one of the rising stars of the class, and they wouldn’t be surprised, once this weekend’s racing is finished, to see her name down as a potential member for the Irish squad at the Optimist Worlds 2017 at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Thailand in July.

“And do you know what that means?” he demands. “It means that if we accept that offer of a place at the Worlds, within a week we have to divvy up €2,000 for the International Optimist Dinghy Association of Ireland. I can tell you something” he continues, now in full flight, “if she’s anywhere within range of a place with only one or two races still to go, we’ll be seriously thinking of feeding her a dodgy chicken sandwich.....”

Such are the joys of being an Opty dad. And it was something to contemplate along with the fondest recollections at an event on Thursday night in my own home club of Howth, when friends from times past – some of them friends from very long times past – joined with the great and the good including ISA President Jack Roy and his wife Rosemary, and HYC Commodore Joe McPeake – together with a whole raft of former HYC Commodores – to celebrate the award by World Sailing (formerly ISAF) of a Gold Medal to Howth’s own Helen-Mary Wilkes for her decades of service to the International Optimist Dinghy Association worldwide.

helen mary wilkes OptimistAt the conferring of Honorary Membership of Howth Yacht Club on Helen-Mary Wilkes in celebration of her Gold Medal from World Sailing are (left to right) Jack Roy (President, Irish Sailing Association), Joe McPeake (Commodore Howth YC, who is holding a copy of Robert Wilkes’ History of the International Optimist Class,) Helen-Mary Wilkes, and Robert Wilkes. Photo: John Deane

Her international career started when it was noted that she was the key player as Secretary of the Organising Committee when Howth ran the Optimist Worlds in 1981. After that, Helen-Mary’s international service was of such quality and duration that her most recent years with the IODA have been as President of Honour. For, in the many years she was actually running it all on a day-to-day basis with the backroom support of her husband Robert, they saw an increase of 78% in international membership of the world association to bring the total to 87 countries, and 57 of those countries regularly took part in international championships, while boat numbers increased stratospherically.

It was by no means an easy ride, for with main builders in several countries and different continents, the Optimists were by no means totally One-Design. But fortunately Helen-Mary Wilkes had the very man in Ireland with the skill, patience and diplomacy to sort this out - David Harte of Schull, at that time a Howth resident. As an Optimist builder himself, “Harty” knew everything about these very important little boats, and between 1995 and 1997 he was on an almost continuous worldwide mission to persuade the eight main builders to standardise the class to the highest One-Design requirements, an objective in which he succeeded.

david harte5David Harte of Schull, who in 1995 -1997 was instrumental in ensuring that the eight production builders worldwide of the International Optimist Dinghy were producing a truly One-Design boat.
David Harte being one of these people who seems ageless, it takes a bit of an effort to realize that he was doing this all of twenty years ago. But the result has been a much more total global acceptance of the Optimist. And in speaking to Thursday night’s gathering, Helen-Mary and Robert Wilkes addressed people’s concerns that the current event in Ballyholme, and other major Optimist championships in Ireland, are becoming too serious for the good of the young sailors.

“We’re every bit as interested in the kids who are into Optimists just for club racing and local sailing as we are for the high flyers. Over Easter, there are five major Optimist regattas under way at different venues in Europe. In all, more then 4,500 Optimists are sailing at every possible level of competition in these events. Yet at none of those regattas is selection for special strands of training under way. Ultimately, it is all about sailing for sailing’s sake. It only happens to be the case that it’s in Ireland the Easter Regatta is also being used for the trials. Inevitably, there’s criticism that the kids are being put under too much pressure here. But as a matter of policy, the International Optimist Dinghy Association is as interested in friendly local racing as it is in international competition”.

oppies lasers6“Get ’em up and move ’em out....” Optimists and Lasers swing into the launch sequence at Ballyholme. Photo: Pierce Purcell Jnr
Meanwhile last night up at Ballyholme they were able to post two days of good racing results in westerly winds for the Laser Radials, 420s and Optimists, and one day of racing for the Toppers, Laser 4.7s and Topper 4.2s.

LASER RADIALS
After a 7th, 4th and 6th on Thursday, when Aaron Rogers of Rush SC was the overnight leader, Ewan MacMahon of Howth came back like a rocket yesterday and posted 1,1, and 2nd to leave him leadng on 14pts to the 20 of Henry Higgins of the Royal St George in second (4,(26) 2,4,2,8), with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork finishing strongly with a bullet in yesterday’s concluding race for a scoreline of 2,8,10, (42 BFD) 3, 1 and a points total of 24. Rush SC pair of Conor Quinn and Aaron Rogers are next on 27 and 28 in a fleet of 43.

420
Geoff Power and James McCann of Dunmore East have recovered from an OCS yesterday to take over the lead in a healthy fleet of 16, they have totalled 6 points with a used scoreline of 2,1,1,1,1, with Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher of Malahide taking one of the two spare wins after the Power display of, well, power, the Malahide crew now lie second on 12 points, just one point ahead of the other race winners, Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry of Royal St George.

OPTIMISTS
Justin Lucas (13) of Tralee and Royal Cork had been hotly tipped as the favourite for the Optimists, and he has certainly lived up to the billing with a scoreline of 1,1,(12),11,4,5,1 after two days of racing in a 62-strong fleet. There has been some post-racing re-arrangement of results with protest outcomes, but Lucas is well clear of Royal Cork’s Michael Carroll with 23 points to the 37 of Carroll in second, while James Dwyer Matthews (Cork & Kinsale) is tied on 40 with the leading junior Luke Turvey (Howth and National,) who goes to fourth on the higher discard. Leah Ricard of the National is top girl at 9th overall.

LASER 4.7
The National YC’s Clare Gorman leads after the first day of racing for the 4.7s, with a scoreline of 4,2, and 1 to give 7 pts against the 9 of Royal St George’s Jack Fahey in second, third slot being held by David Carroll of Kinsale & Crosshaven while Tom Higgins of RStGYC and Eva MacMahon of Howth tie on 16, but Higgins takes 4th on the discard in a fleet of 33.

TOPPER
Rob Keal of Royal Cork had a good first day of it yesterday to lodge two firsts and a fourth, giving him 6pts against the 11 of second placed Kate Fahy (RStGYC & Lough Derg) while East Down’s Sarah Jennings’ 13pts keeps her in third ahead of Royal Cork’s Conor Horgan on fourth in a fleet of 32.

TOPPER 4.2
Lewis Thompson of Ballyholme and Donaghadee has had three straight firsts to the three seconds of Ballyholme’s Hannah Dadley-Young, third overall is Donaghadee/Ballyholme’s Joshua McGregor with two hirds and a fourth while Adam Irvin of the Irish National Sailing School is fourth on 4,5,4.

ballyholme oppies7Justin Lucas of Tralee Bay is leading the 62-strong Optimist fleet. Photo: Mark Mackey

It is interesting to contemplate all this highly-regulated contemporary modern sailing on Belfast Lough, for it was far from Lasers and 420s and four days of intensive racing from committee boat starts that we were reared when we spent our first years afloat in and around Ballyholme Bay.

In those days, proper junior training and a structured junior racing programme weren’t so much in their infancy as barely a gleam in anyone’s eye. At a certain age – before any of us was even into our teens – we were given a new 14ft clinker sailing dinghy of the Ballyholme Insect Class, and told to get on with it on the assumption that, having sailed with adults in keelboats, we’d know how it was done.

grass hopper8Steep learning curve. We weren’t even into our teens when we were presented with a 14ft Ballyholme Insect Class, and told to get on with it. Photo: W M Nixon
With a massive lack of imagination, we called her Grasshopper. In truth, Rockhopper would have been more on target. The distinctly exposed Ballyholme Bay is sheltered to the northeast, ’tis said, by Ailsa Craig, which is 40 miles away. Admittedly the bay has a decidedly featureless shoreline at low water, which limits sailing options even if you aren’t hampered by strong onshore winds. But when the tide is well in, all sorts of little islands and channels are created, and we learnt our sailing threading our way through this miniature maze of skerries.

ballyholme bay9Ballyholme Bay at Low Water has a rather featureless shoreline....

ballyholme bay10....but at High Water it becomes a much more interesting place, with all sorts of islands and channels.........

grass hopper11......through which a sailing dinghy with centreplate half-raised can thread her way. Photo: W M Nixon
There was of course no such thing as an accompanying rescue boat, but from time to time we sailed in consort with a friend whose boat was a smaller sister, a 12ft–clinker dinghy, but made more exotic with a little bowsprit.

Safety rules were few. We were expected to wear kapok lifejackets when actually sailing, but not otherwise, and they’d immediately be used as fenders if we came alongside rocks or small jetties. As for sailing limits, we were supposed to stay in Ballyholme Bay south of a line from Luke’s Point on the west side over to a rock called Jenny’s Isle off Ballymacormick Point to the northeast. However, at high water you could sail with the centreplate half up inside Jenny’s Isle and the tidal islets beyond it, so you could keep going east, while staying within that outer limit line, until you’d gone clean round the world.

grooms port12Groomsport, a little fishing harbour which was our first “foreign port.” It is less than two miles from the anchorage at Ballyholme Bay Photo: W M Nixon
But there wasn’t that much mischief in us, so it was quite a day when official permission was given to sail all the way to the nearby fishing harbour of Groomsport, our very first Foreign Port of Call. And after that, the south shore of Belfast Lough from Orlock Point to Grey Point was our cruising paradise, and we’d disappear off for the entire day with a basic lunchbox and the hope of augmenting it with mackerel.

day cruise13Off for a days cruising, with a lightly packed lunchbox and a couple of mackerel lines to augment the meal. Photo: W M Nixo

day cruise14Cruise in company. The fleet gathers at Swinley Bay three miles west of Ballyholme, and lifejackets soon become fenders. Photo W M Nixon

If the wind fell light in the evening, we could row home, and over the years nobody gave our daylong absences any thought. There were some close calls, but we never actually capsized the boat. Which was just as well, for if you capsized an Insect, she stayed capsized, and you were barred for a week from Ballyholme Yacht Club for what was deemed reckless and unseamanlike behavior.

That was how you learned to sail back in the day. Eventually it was reckoned we knew enough to be reasonably harmless to others if we went racing with what was then Ballyholme’s only dinghy class. A long way indeed from the hotshot dinghies of today, and their accompanying coaches in their RIBs.

Published in W M Nixon

Day Two of the ISA Youth Sailing Pathway National Championships and Optimist Trials saw all of the fleets afloat for the first time with over 200 sailors visiting Ballyholme Yacht Club

With a stronger breeze than yesterday averaging 12-14 knots but peaking just over 20 knots, fitness and stamina were important especially in the Laser Radial fleet where Ewan McMahon and Johnny Durcan showed the form expected with Ewan winning the first 2 races and Johnny the latter. The Radial fleet were a bit excitable in the first race of the day with 3 general recalls and Johnny earned himself a BFD dropping him to third overall. Henry Higgins splits the two of them overall. Sally Bell continues to lead the ladies although she copied Johnny's BFD in the first.

There was lots of tight racing in the 420 class with little separating the first few at the finishes. Wexford Harbour's duo of Geoff Power and James McCann however managed to escape at the end of each race with three bullets for the day, and now leads overall.

420 Geoff Power James McCann IMG 2469420 leaders Geoff Power James McCann from Waterford Harbour Sailing Club Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Optimist fleet had four races today which tested all of the youngsters especially with a squall at the start of the last race with all but only a few getting too tired in the testing conditions to finish the last race.

Optimist Justin Lucas IMG 1142Optimist sailor Justin Lucas. Photo: Simon McIlwaine  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Laser 4.7 fleet started their racing today with Sally Bell's younger brother Harry from Royal North Ireland winning the first race. Jack Fahy won the second race and Clare Gorman the last but the most consistent and now leads overall with a 4,2,1

Laser 4 7 Clare Gorman IMG 7102Clare Gorman of the National Yacht Club leads the Laser 4.7s  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Another family affair, Jack Fahy's sister Kate showed great form in the Topper fleet which was also racing for their first day lying second overall from East Down's Sarah Jennings. Rob Keal won the first two races however and leads overall with 1,1,4. The Topper 4.2 fleet saw a local fight between Lewis Thompson, Hannah Dadley-Young and Josh McGregor with Lewis also getting 3 bullets for the day.

Top 5 3 Rob Keal IMG 1580Rob Keal of Royal Cork is the Topper leader  Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Full results are here. Optimist trials results may be found here.

In the evening, Rio Olympic Silver medallist Annalise Murphy gave the young audience some great reflections of her journey from the Optimist Trials through the various Pathway Championships in her Laser Radial and what it took to medal in Rio after the disappointments of London. There were lots of tidbits for the competitors to remember and Annalise revealed the level of commitment required with some of the extracts from her training diary started at the age of 13.

Day 3 of the racing starts tomorrow at 11:00 for all classes. The Championships finish on Sunday.

Published in Youth Sailing

Over 130 boats took to the water today at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough on Day 1 of the ISA Youth Pathway National Championships and Optimist Trials. The event is supported by Ards & North Down Borough Council. Only 2 courses were sailed today with the Topper and Laser 4.7 fleets starting tomorrow instead.

On the Optimist course, 3 races were completed in a light steady westerly breeze- the first two races saw all of the competitors behaving themselves on the start line but the eager youngsters couldn't help themselves on the final start with a single general recall under Race Officer Harry Gallagher.

The sailors from Royal Cork Yacht Club showed the strongest form with 13 year old Justin Lucas winning the first two races and Cillian Forster the last. First Junior overall after Day 1 is Luke Turvey from Howth YC in 7th whilst first lady is Emily Riordan from Royal St George in Dun Laoghaire. Four races are scheduled for thw Optimists tomorrow.

On Course 1, Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher lead overall in the double-handed 420 class with 1,2,2 from Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry (3,4,1)

Laser RADIALLaser Radials reach the weather mark in the first race of the ISA Youth Championships. Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The Laser Radial fleet is the glamour fleet this weekend with ISA Performance squad members Howth's Ewan McMahon and Cork's Johnny Durcan battling it out with future ISAF Youth Worlds selection in view later this year - however Aaron Rogers from Rush leads overall with 1,2,1. Royal North's Sally Bell leads the ladies.

Racing continues until Sunday with 4 races scheduled for the Optimists and 3 for the other classes starting at 11:00 tomorrow. Tomorrow night Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy will be present to give a welcome and a talk to all the youth sailors on how to campaign for future international success.

Published in Youth Sailing

Annalise Murphy is just one of four evening talks taking place at the ISA Youth Sailing National Championships, being held at Ballyholme Yacht Club, 19-23 April. As Afloat.ie reported previouslty, it is the first time the event has been sailed in Northern Ireland.

The evening talks as well as the races are open to all young sailors who sail in the five ISA Youth Pathway Classes (Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, 420, Topper, Optimist). This is Ireland’ largest Youth regatta and the ISA’s primary talent spotting event of the year for the Academy and Junior classes. The ISA squad programmes will resume this summer in the Laser 4.7 and Topper classes, and these classes will have a squad trial to identify future ISA Pathway sailors. In addition, ISA spotters are out to assess sailors for Academy trials for the Laser Radials and 420s. (The Optimists will have separate Class-organised talent spotters).

Eight places on the ISA Topper Squad
In the Topper class up to eight sailors will be selected to join the ISA Topper Squad. The Squad coach and programme will be announced following the event. The programme aimed at developing young Topper sailors will provide training and also support at the 2017 Topper World Championship to be held in Brittany, France in July. Entry to the World championship is independent of ISA squad selection and through the International Topper Class Association.

Five places on the ISA Laser 4.7 Squad
Up to five sailors will be chosen at the ISA Youth Pathway Nationals to join the ISA 4.7 Squad. A further two sailors may be chosen at the 2017 Laser 4.7 Ulster Championship. The ISA 4.7 squad will provide training to help young sailors transition in the Laser 4.7 class. It will also aim to prepare and support the squad for the Laser 4.7 World Championship to be held in Nieuwpoort, Belgium in July. The squad coach and programme will be announced following event. Entry to the 4.7 Worlds is independent of ISA squad selection through the International Laser Class Association.

A line–up of big name evening speakers – including Annalise Murphy – open to all:

At 5.30pm each evening there will be a talk and Q&A session at the Ballyholme Yacht Club with speakers who have a deep knowledge of racing. The talks are open to all sailors and parents.

Full list of Evening Speakers:

Wednesday 19th April, BILL O'HARA will discuss “What to consider when preparing for an event - Rules Strategy for racing”. Bill is the current Principal Race Officer for the Volvo Ocean Race, International Umpire and Rules adviser to the Irish Olympic Team.

Thursday 20th April, Annalise Murphy (Olympic Silver medalist) will share her insights in a talk entitled “Beat the Best: Preparing for Competitive Gains at the Olympics”.

Friday 21st April, Matt McGovern (Double Olympian 49er Class) will talk on “Team Work in Sailing – Preparing a Professional Approach”

Saturday 22nd April, Ross Killian & Russell McGovern (ISA Performance Coaches) will give video analysis and coaching tips from the day’s racing.

Published in ISA

There was plenty of wind over the past three days as the 2016 420 Nationals took place at Howth Yacht Club.

Steady wind on the first two days ensured that Race Officer Derek Bothwell was able to keep on schedule for the first two days with two races on Day 1 and three on Day 2.

A record 25 boats attended the event, including four visiting boats from the UK. From the outset, HYC's Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan led the event, although they met with challenges from Geoff Power and James McCann who won Race 2, and GBR pairing Katie Davies and Madeleine Watkins who won Races 3 and 5.

The final day, Thursday, saw a sharp increase in wind strength and in the interest of safety a decision was taken to stand down the Silver fleet. Three races were completed by the Gold fleet, with Elmes / O'Sullivan retaining their lead and retaining their title from 2015. Power / McCann displayed their rising talent by taking second place in the Gold fleet .

Careful planning of the event had allowed UK sailors to attend this year without clashing with their own Nationals and the overseas visitors were warmly welcomed, with a charming thank-you speech from first overseas sailors Davies / Watkins acknowledging the excellent sailing and race management, and the camaraderie between the entire fleet.

In addition to the Overall Nationals trophy, this year a new First Irish Ladies trophy was presented, to Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry of RSGYC, and as part of the Class attempt to encourage new sailors to the fleet, National Optimist coach Thomas Chaix crewed for SSC's Ella May, taking first place in the Silver fleet.

The efforts of the Association to encourage new sailors to the Class, in conjunction with the obvious success of present and ex-420 sailors - HYC's Ewan MacMahon taking second overall in the 2016 Worlds, RCYC's Harry Durcan / Harry Whitaker today taking first in the 29er National Championships, and Elmes/O'Sullivan's bronze medal in the 2015 ISAFs - seem to be paying off, with the largest number of competitiors in recent history creating an extremely successful event.

Results are here.

Published in 420

On the last day of the qualifying series  of the 2016 420 World Championships in Sanremo, Ireland's best results of the day were achieved by Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain and Niamh Doran with two top ten results ensuring their place in the Gold fleet. They join Gemma and Cara McDowell, who had a consistent day putting them in 12th overall.

In the under 17 fleet Geoff Power and James McCann also made the Gold fleet. Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan will sail in the Gold fleet of the Open event

There were very light winds again yesterday with sailing not getting going until after 3pm and the girls division racing continuing until 7pm.

The priority on race day 3 was to get the qualification stage wrapped up for the 420 Open and 420 Ladies fleets, and confirm the teams advancing to the gold and silver splits for the 6 race final series.

All fleets headed out to the race track for midday, but the weather gods had other plans. Postponement on the water, as another windless morning threatened the patience of the most resilient sailors. Eventually, the wind swung to the west, enabling racing to get underway soon after 1500 hours in a testing 6-8 knot breeze.

420 LADIES
All change in the leaderboard pegging in the 84 boat 420 Ladies, as Francesca Russo Cirillo/Alice Linussi accelerated through the fleet to take the overall lead. A masterclass of sailing from this pair, with wins in races 4 and 5, and a fourth in the final race of qualification in the blue fleet giving them a 2 point advantage over Maria Caba/Pilar Caba (ESP). Russo Cirillo is familiar with front of fleet pressure, as two years ago at the 2014 420 Worlds she won gold. Back then she was at the front of the boat, switching to helm last year.

Overnight leaders Julia Szmit/Hanna Dzik (POL) drop to third. A phenomenal performance from Spain’s Maria Bover Guerrero/Clara Llabrés, banked them two race wins in the yellow fleet, and a leaderboard climb to 4th, up from 9th this morning.

A first win in the bag of the series to Italy’s Veronica Ferraro/Giulia Ierardi pushes them up into 6th overall.

The gold fleet cut was for those finishing 42nd or above from the 6 race qualification series, with all teams below the cut-off now racing in silver. A 100% conversion rate for Ireland, with both of their Ladies teams advancing to gold.

For the rest of the nations, disappointment for some, as only the top 42 best performers now continue the battle for a chance at World Championship podium glory.

420 Ladies - Top 10 after 6 races
1. Francesca Russo Cirillo/Alice Linussi (ITA 55476) - 12 pts
2. Maria Caba/Pilar Caba (ESP 55687) - 14 pts
3. Julia Szmit/Hanna Dzik (POL 56008) - 16 pts
4. María Bover Guerrero/Clara Llabrés (ESP 54697) - 17 pts
5. Sofia Giondi/Giulia Gatta (ITA 55914) - 19 pts
6. Veronica Ferraro/Giulia Ierardi (ITA 56042) - 23 pts
7. Maria Vittoria Marchesini/Cecilia Fedel (ITA 55641) - 24 pts
8. Jessie Kampman/Léa Sibertin-Blanc (FRA 55896) - 25 pts
9. Souzana Bakatsia/Nikoletta Papageorgiou (GRE 55002) - 28 pts
10. Sofie Schöne/Line Johanna Thielemann (GER 56064) - 29 pts

420 OPEN
France’s Jim Vincent/Victor Mas edge into the lead by 3 points, leapfrogging overnight leaders, Theo Carayon/Erwan Lucas (FRA), who slip to second on a 1 point deficit. These two have consolidated their lead, holding a useful 9 points margin over the rest of the pack.

The renowned Portuguese brothers and Diogo Costa/Pedro Costa have stepped up, thrusting through into the top ten in third, in a significant climb of 11 places. They are the Portuguese 420 National Champions, for the second year.

Behind the top three teams, the scorecard is incredibly close, with just an 8 point margin between 4th through to 10th places.

The 55 gold fleet teams are now poised for final series racing, and set to take on their biggest challenge of the Championship so far, with all the top teams pitched against each other. Two races are scheduled on Thursday, with a 1000 hours start.

420 Open - Top 10 after 6 races
1. Jim Vincent/Victor Mas (FRA 55096) - 15 pts
2. Theo Carayon/Erwan Lucas (FRA 54834) - 16 pts
3. Diogo Costa/Pedro Costa (POR 55289) - 25 pts
4. Otto Henry/Sam Worrall (AUS 55157) - 35 pts
5. Wiley Rogers/Jack Parkin (USA 55162) - 37 pts
6. Enrique Luján/Pablo Luján (ESP 56077) - 37 pts
7. Fausto Cruz Peralta/Martin Arroyo Verdi (ARG 54842) - 37 pts
8. Luca Valentino/Giacomo Bandini (ITA 56024) - 40 pts
9. Vasilios Gourgiotis/Orestis Batsis (GRE 54484) - 41 pts
10. Maxime Pedron/Ange-Loup Stimbre (FRA 55881) - 43 pts

420 U17
Two races for the 68 team under-17 fleet, propelled Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo/Dimitris Tassios (GRE) into the lead. The Greeks effectively matched the performance of Violette Dorange/Camille Orion (FRA) today, as with the discard kicking in at race 5, both teams achieved scores of 1,4 - reversed across the two races.

The French pair, who led going into the day, are one of two girls teams now remaining inside the top 10 in this highly competitive fleet of 420 Class teams aged 16 and under.

Spain’s Eduard Ferrer/Carlos De Maqua break into the top 10, gearing up to third overall after discarding their radical 46th score from yesterday’s race 2, and building in promising results of 4,1 today.

A disaster of a performance from Carlotta Scodnik/Camilla Scodnik, who opened yesterday’s assault in 7th overall, but plummeted to 25th by the end of the day after two black flag (BFD) penalties for being over the starting line early. One BFD is discarded, but the other counts on their scorecard. They now have a mountain to climb to break back into the top 10.

Introduced in 2015, the under-17 division has attracted a whole new breed of young 420 teams to the Worlds, who are keen to race within their own age group. As with the 420 Open and Ladies fleets, strict quotas apply limiting the number of teams a nation can enter, to ensure only the best young sailors in the world qualify to compete at the 420 World Championships.

420 U17 - Top 10 after 5 races
1. Telis Athanasopoulos Yogo/Dimitris Tassios (GRE 56071) - 8 pts
2. Violette Dorange/Camille Orion (FRA 55959) - 9 pts
3. Eduard Ferrer/Carlos De Maqua (ESP 55980) - 15 pts
4. Enzo Balanger/Gaultier Tallieu (FRA 56030) - 17 pts
5. Luis Doreste/Julio Alonso (ESP 55539) - 28 pts
6. Aina Colom/Victoria Sisk (ESP 55987) - 31 pts
7. Alessandro Venini/Alessandro Bernardo (ITA 56046) - 35 pts
8. Tommaso Cilli/Bruno Mantero (ITA 56076) - 41 pts
9. Nick Zeltner/Till Seger (SUI 55553) - 43 pts
10. Giorgos Drosos/Nikolaos Giotopoulos (GRE 53456) - 49 pts

Racing on Thursday’s Championship day 4 will feature 2 races for the 420 Open and 420 Ladies fleets, in their first day of final series racing, and 3 races for the U17 fleet who continue a single series race format. First starts for all classes will be at 1000 hours.

Published in 420

Wind finally arrived this afternoon at the 2016 420 Worlds in Sanremo, Italy. All three fleets, open, ladies and under 17, completed three races before the wind dropped again.
Malahide YC sisters Cara and Gemma McDowell set a high standard for the 7-boat Irish team with a second in race one, finishing the day in seventh overall.

Howth YC pairing Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan got off to a good start with an eighth in race one ending the day in 11th place.

Published in 420

Opening day of racing at the 2016 420 World Championships in Sanremo, Italy, where 14 Irish sailors are competing, did not quite live up to expectations as the breeze failed to kick in.

The Race Committee chanced their luck and sent the 420 Open and 420 Ladies out to the race tracks off Marina degli Aregai, but the zephyrs of breeze failed to convert and any hope of racing was abandoned.

In contrast and exceeding expectations however, is the huge strength of fleets competing. An all-time record has been set at the 2016 420 World Championships of 524 sailors facing each other on the race track. Fleet splits are:
• 420 Open - 110 teams from 22 nations
• 420 Ladies - 84 teams from 21 nations
• 420 U17 - 68 entries from 18 nations

In an attempt to get racing back on schedule, the schedule for Tuesday 20 July is three races for all fleets, with the first starts scheduled for 1000 hours.

CHAMPIONSHIP OPENS
After three days of measurement and registration, yesterday's Opening Ceremony saw the 420 Worlds officially unveiled and parade of nations arrive in Baden Powell Square at the heart of San Stefano, a short distance east of Marina degli Aregai where the Worlds are taking place.

The racing schedule features 12 races for each fleet, with the 420 Open and 420 Ladies split into yellow and blue to race a 6 race qualifying and 6 race final series, with the 68 boat U17 fleet racing a 12 race single series.

420 OPEN
Featuring 110 teams from 22 nations, the 420 Open fleet will be a battleground for the world’s best junior 420 talent. Most of the teams are male, with a few mixed male/female teams in the line-up, reflecting the accessibility of the class.

The leaderboard is all open, with only a handful of teams who made an appearance in last year’s World Championship top ten leaderboard returning for another shot at the podium. Japan won gold last year, but with that partnership now advanced to Olympic 470 class sailing, the favourites must be the USA’s Wiley Rogers/Jack Parkin.

This punishingly accurate team won the 2015 420 Junior Europeans off the back of their bronze medal at the 2015 420 Worlds, and has won plentiful honours since. Rogers/Parkin has dominated at every 420 event they have contested recently, including last month’s Kieler Woche which featured over 160 teams in the 420 fleet. Add to that the experience they have gained since transitioning to the 470 Class, their Olympic steed of choice, so no question they are on a mission to seize the gold medal and wrap up their competitive 420 Class careers in style.

Also featuring in the line-up are the 4th and 10th placed finishers from 2015, Greece’s Vasilios Gourgiotis/Orestis Batsis and France’s Maxime Pedron who is now racing with Ange-Loup Stimbre.

Looking to boost their profile and stepping up to senior fleet racing in the Open fleet are all three of the podium finishing teams from last year’s U17 fleet. Each is capable of mounting a credible bid for the Championship, with U17 420 World gold medallists, Edoardo Ferraro/Francesco Orlando from home nation, Italy headlining the charge. Since their convincing win last year, the pair has proved themselves worthy of the senior fleet challenge, counting top 10 results at all recent events contested.

Also well up in the mix are a prevalence of reigning National 420 Class Champions. Brazil’s André Fiuza/Marcelo Peek to New Zealand’s Josh Berry/Henry Haslett, Portugal’s Diogo Coasta/Pedro Costa to Spain’s Marc Llado/Antoni Massanet and Switzerland’s Maxime Bachelin/Arno de Planta - have all proved themselves more than capable of National Championship glory. Will they make the grade for a World Championship podium finish?

420 LADIES
All change in the 420 Ladies fleet and an open race card with only three of last year’s top ten placing teams returning for another shot at podium glory. Mano Udagawa/Mino Ohashi (JPN) who finished 7th, Sofia Giondi/Giulia Gatta (ITA) who finished 9th and tenth placed Margot Vennin/Marie Zugolaro (FRA) will be intent on an upgrade, as the fleet dynamic changes this year.

Don’t overlook the fact that 2014 420 Ladies World Champions, Carlotta Omari/Francesco Russo Cirillo, who now compete in separate partnerships have all the depth of experience required to claim control of the leaderboard. 2016 Italian 420 National Champion, Omari is racing with Matilda Di Stefano, whilst Cirillo has switched to helming and teamed up with Alice Linussi. Both teams hold the advantage of many days of pre-Championship training on the same waters as the 420 Worlds – so you can expect a fiery assault from both teams when racing kicks off tomorrow.

As in the 420 Open, there are numerous podium leading ladies team more than capable of dominating the race track. Winners of the British Youth Nationals, Isabel Davies/Gemma Keers, Evaggelia Drouga / Eua Maria Vardali (GRE) who won Athens Eurolymp Week and many more top class 420 ladies teams have all the ingredients to make this a battle to the end.

420 U17
Introduced for the first time in 2015, the 16 years and under division offers younger 420 sailors the opportunity to measure up against rivals in their own age group. A critical performance pathway as younger teams advance into senior careers, boosted by their competitiveness against similar aged rivals.

More than double the number of entries, 68 teams in 2016 compared to 33 in 2015, will contest this division, as the 420 Class’ young raw talent faces off in a battle of wills.

Amongst the many names to watch are Violette Dorange/Camille Orio (FRA) who stamped their intent, by finishing 2nd overall last week in the 85 boat 420 fleet at the keenly contested French 420 National Championships.

Published in 420

The 2016 420 World Championships opened last night in San Remo, Italy. This year sees the largest ever number of competitors (256) with three competing fleets, Open, Ladies and Under 17.
14 sailors are representing Ireland at the event, Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain and Niamh Doran (KYC/CSC), Gemma and Cara McDowell (MYC), Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry (RSGYC), Geoff Power and James McCann(WHSC / RCYC), Shane McLoughlin and Patrick Whyte (HYC / MSC), Ronan Cournane and Ben Walsh (KYC / SSC) and Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan (HYC), supported by coaches Ross Killian and Graeme Grant.
The Opening Ceremony was held last night and racing begins today, continuing until Saturday 23rd. Results will be available from the event website 

Ireland had success in the dinghy at world youth level in January, winning a bronze medal in Malaysia.

Published in 420

Champion youth sailor Harry Durcan of Royal Cork took a swim during heavy weather training at last week's 420 dinghy training camp in Schull, West Cork. The near miss between the two 420s was captured on video and can be seen below.

Following on from the Schull session, the next 420 training will take place in Cork Harbour on March 5th. The training will be led by Ross Killian, ISA National Coach with an assistant coach on the water. Cost will be €50 per sailor/€100 per boat for the weekend, which will go ahead subject to a minimum of 4 boats.

 
 
Published in 420
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