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Irish OK Dinghy Class News & Regatta Results

Almost 40 Laser sailors enjoyed great sailing over the weekend in Belfast Lough, hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club at the Danske Bank Private Banking sponsored Irish Laser Master Championships. Despite the forecast of little wind on the Saturday followed by too much on Sunday, the conditions were much more enjoyable. Saturday was a bit gentler Westerly with the odd hole but there was plenty of hiking and the odd gust into the high teens or low 20's, whilst Sunday was a bit stronger but thankfully manageable with flat seas due to a fairly steady Southerly. Race Officer Aidan Pounder was heard to comment that somehow the wind strength on Sunday seemed to lower on each downwind leg - divine intervention maybe.

The racing was very tight for most with little room on the start-line for those not used to accelerating as quick as some of the others. Top and bottom mark roundings are always busy and there were more than a couple capsizing at the leeward mark on top of other Lasers - in fact one mast slicing the tiller extension rope somehow on the other. However you could almost see a smile on the victims face as instead of a long slog of a beat home, he happily accepted a tow.

It was always going to be a close championship between Cork's Nick Walsh and Ballyholme's Gareth Flannigan even if Gareth has been seen more in RS400's over the last couple of years. Both have won the overall title before, and it was Flannigan who set the early pace with a marked lead in Race 1 followed by 2 second places. Unfortunately Walsh hadn't fully read the sailing instructions which detailed different coloured buoys for the start and finish line and having thought he had finished high in the first race, was signalled by a colleague to finish properly and ended up counting an 8th. This proved pivotal as he then won 4 of the next 5 races (and by some margin on the Sunday) discarding the last race of Saturday but the race one event gave Flannigan some wriggle room.

More used recently to getting his RS400 crew mate David Fletcher (who won the final race of Saturday) to do the hiking for him, Gareth struggled a little on the breezier Sunday and was often found at the first mark mid-fleet or in the final race almost last. In the 5th race he even found himself upside down not once but twice after an initial rear end bump from Theo Little - a rare sight for the multiple Irish champion. However his downwind speed came to his rescue and needing a 4th in the final race, scrambled back through the fleet to win the championship by a single point from Nick Walsh.

Monkstown's Paul O'Sullivan won the Apprentice Masters whilst Great Grand Master Chris Boyd somehow kept his body with a 5th overall place and the GGM trophy. Grand Master Charlie Taylor also showed great speed as always in the breeze with 4,8,3 on the Sunday. Royal St George's Shirley Gilmore was Lady Master in the Radials with Colm McLarnon winning overall. With one year to go before the Laser Masters World Championships come to Dun Laoghaire, there was a lot of chatter on how to qualify for next years event, especially as 8 hope to go to Croatia this year but with only 6 guaranteed spaces. Ron Hutchieson spelled out that 3 out of the 5 provincial/national Championships will count towards ILCA ranking points and there should be a few more Masters seen at the next event at Wexford Harbour.

The event was great craic as always with the traditional Laser Masters dinner attended by most of the competitors and partners. Many thanks must go to Garth Maxwell of Dankebank Private Banking for sponsorship, and Quay Marina for assistance. It was great to see lots of visitors from Cork and Dublin bay to come and play with the large Ballyholme contingent.

Results

Radial
1st Colm McLarnon
2nd Shirley Gilmore (1st Lady Master)

Apprentice Master
1st Paul O'Sullivan
2nd David Fletcher

Master
1st Gareth Flannigan
2nd Nick Walsh
3rd Theo Lyttle

Grand Master
1st Charlie Taylor
2nd Richard Ramsay

Great Grand Master
1st Chris Boyd

Overall
1st Gareth Flannigan
2nd Nick Walsh
3rd Theo Lyttle

Published in Laser

DBSC Laser dinghy fleet began their month of May training over the weekend in both extreme conditions. Friday evening saw the fleet of Lasers leave the harbour in a solid 26–knot breeze and large swell practicing upwind technique, followed by some fun fast reaching and wave surfing hitting speeds of nearly 30km! The session built confidence while giving all sailors a good workout under coach Troy McNamara.

Sunday’s 3 hour session followed with little wind in the harbour – boat handling techniques was the focus for the fleet of all levels and abilities with new comers to the Laser fleet gaining invaluable knowledge and experience.

Tuesday night racing has seen a healthy turnout of 16 lasers from an entry of 25. DBSC race management have made the right calls to stay inside the harbour in the light conditions with 4 races completed already. Light air specialist Damian ’lightweight’ Maloney leads the fleet, with the much improved Conor ‘all that coaching’ O’Leary in 2nd and the usual pair of Gary ‘frostbite champ’ O’Hare and Ross ‘OCS’ O’Leary in joint 3rd. Darach Dineen is staging a comeback with two bullets in last Tuesday night’s racing.

DBSC Laser Fleet welcomes all Laser sailors of all abilities to get out for some good quality competitive and fun racing in Dublin Bay on Tuesday evenings. Radials and full rigs... the fastest growing section is ‘Ladies who Laser!’...

Interested in joining us get on to dbsc.org and enter now or contact class captain [email protected]

Published in Laser

Ireland's youngest ever Olympic helmsman won three of six races to be crowned Ulster Laser Champion yesterday at Royal North of Ireland. Finn Lynch, of the National Yacht Club, had a four point margin with six top three results but was chased hard by Ballyholme's Liam Glynn, who also had a consistent score sheet with five results in the top three to finish on 11 points. Kinsale Yacht Club's Darragh O'Sullivan was one point back to take third in the 13–boat fleet. Both Lynch and Glynn are on the Tokyo 2020 campaign trail, and benefited from a week of competition at the Sailing World Cup in Hyeres immediately before the Ulster event. 

Full results in each division are downloadable below.

The breeze on Belfast Lough held very well over the weekend despite fears to the contrary.  At eight to 13 knots, a mainly easterly wind had predictable shifts with a short and choppy sea for the combined turnout of 116–boats in three divisions.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, there were not many surprises in the six–race Radial division with Howth's Ewan McMahon staying top of the 32–boat fleet. Wexford Boat Club's Ronan Wallace was second with Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club third. A visting Norwegian girl Elnan Flotoft finished sixth.

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins was very quick in the 4.7 division with a scoresheet resembling Finn Lynch's. Higgins, a past UK and Irish Optimist Champion, had three race wins to be seven points clear of club mate Jack Fahy. Kinsale's Michael Caroll was third in the 24–boat fleet.

Published in Laser

Finn Lynch leads the Laser Ulster Championships At Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club this morning writes our Special Correspondent.

The fleet launched this morning on a beautiful sunny day two on Belfast Lough. There is a light breeze from the east. Its holding so far – many had anticipated no wind at all. 116 boats are on the water by tally. count.

Lynch, from Dublin's National Yacht Club, has two wins from three races and is on four nett points with Befast's Liam Glynn in second on eight points. Third is Kinsale's Darragh O'Sullivan on ten.

In the Radials, youth pathway champion Ewan McMahon of Howth YC (and Afloat's Sailor of the Month) leads a 31–boat fleet.

Yesterday was easterly also – solid to upper medium for a time in the morning, dying off during the next two races. Race three became a bit of a lottery with shifts and many experienced sailors playing an expensive game of snakes and ladders.

Results after day one are below for download

Published in Laser

In the Laser Radial fleet Howth Yacht Club sailor Aoife Hopkins has placed 40th after the first day of the live medal races in Hyères, France writes Nathaniel Ogden. Showing a consistent mid-fleet performance throughout the week, Hopkins has placed ahead of fellow Irish sailor Aisling Keller of Lough Derg Yacht Club, who finished in 42nd today after a similarly consistent week in the middle of the pack. These are important results for the young Irish sailors in an early Olympic preparation event. As Aoife says, "I wasn't looking for a result at this regatta as its near my Leaving Cert but my process goal was to improve my starts. I've made massive progress on them and am getting a good start in most races now. So it's been successful all round."

The success story of the week came from the women's 49erFX fleet when RIYC sailor Saskia Tidey and helm Charlotte Dobson came in 3rd overall, winning a bronze medal in the 20 boat fleet. Having only sailed together for team GBR for 4 months, the young pair have proven to be major contenders in this year's Sailing World Cup, and will be ones to watch during the quadrennial leading up to Tokyo 2020, which will be Tidey's second Olympics in the 49erFX, but first crewing with Dobson.

NYC's Finn Lynch is sitting in 32nd place, out of 60 boats, in the men's Laser class after the first day of live medal racing at Hyères, as NE winds continued to hover around 10 knots.

Seven medals were confirmed today (Saturday) at Sailing's World Cup Series in Hyères, France.

In the first of two live Medal Race days, France's southern coast was blessed with glorious sunshine. Coupled with an 11-13 knot breeze from the west, the day was virtually perfect.

The skiffs, windsurfers, multihulls, foiling kiteboarders and the Para World Sailing 2.4 Norlin OD concluded racing.

As the Medal Races played out, there was also fighting for the top ten positions in the one person and two person dinghies ahead of Sunday's live final day of racing.

Spain's 49er team, Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, had the luxury of knowing that whatever happened in the Medal Race the gold medal was theirs. With an unassailable overnight lead, even with the double points on offer in the final race, they could not be beaten.

Reflecting on the impressive win, skipper Botin said, "It's been a really good week for us. We hope every time we come in to a Championship that we will be in with a chance at the end of the regatta and this time around we were really surprised that we were top with a day to spare.”

Digging deeper to find their secret to success, Botin confirmed a simple fact of sport, "It was a lot of things. But it really came down to yesterday when we sailed well and everyone else didn't.”

Holding on to silver was Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell (GBR) who finished third in the Medal Race. The bronze medal went to Sweden's Carl Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark who just needed to stay ahead of nearest rivals Yago and Klaus Lange (ARG) which they did with ease as the Argentinean brothers fell to the back of the fleet finishing tenth.

In the 49erFX, Rio 2016 golden girls, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) have done it again as they claim another Medal Race and 2017 World Cup Series win. Backing up the gold they took in Miami, USA in Round One, the Brazilian girls were just too good for the fleet.

"We have nailed the year now with Miami and now Hyères,” said a smiling Grael, "but we have to keep our feet on the ground as we know there will be big competition ahead.”

One of those big competition's is the Final in Santander, Spain this coming June. So, could it be a clean sweep? "It would be awesome,” said Grael, "let's see what happens. The FX is a tough competition.”

Germany's Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz win silver and the new 2017 pairing of Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (GBR) claim their first World Cup Series medal with a bronze.

Whatever Grael and Kunze can do, France's Louis Giard can do too. Just like the Brazilian FX sailors, the French windsurfer has also added the Hyères title to the Round One Miami gold.

Despite a nervy start, Giard has slowly but surely climbed the ladder to the top of the podium racing better and better throughout the regatta, as he explains, "It's another win for me after Miami. It wasn't an easy week of racing and I had to improve my level throughout the week. I did that so I am happy.”

One sailor in the Men's RS:X not happy is Mateo Sanz Lanz (SUI). While Giard started slow and gained confidence, Sanz Lanz seemingly did the opposite. With a tenth place finish in the double point Medal Race, Sanz Lanz missed out on the medals altogether allowing Piotr Myszka (POL) to take silver and Kiran Badloe (NED) to sneak in to take bronze.

Taking the Women's RS:X gold was Poland's Zofia Noceti-Klepacka. It has been a mixed bag of results from the Polish windsurfer, but in the end a string of high finishes throughout the week was enough to claim the title, "Today I enjoyed the racing. It was stable conditions and great planing. Compare that to yesterday when it was very hard.

"Overall though I have sailed consistent. If you think I haven't won a race but I have won gold. It was all about consistency.”

That consistency equated to a 23-point win over second placed Yunxiu Lu (CHN) who takes silver and a 32-point margin over third placed, and bronze medallist, Noga Geller (ISR).

If you are going to win a gold medal, you may as well win it with a first place in the Medal Race. That is what Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (ESP) did in the Nacra 17.

For the Spanish team it seems that Hyères has been a collection of puzzle pieces fitting to make one golden picture, as Echavarri explains, "It's a good prize for a lot of things coming together. We are enjoying our sailing and have a solid base. We are putting everything we have learned in the last two years together and it is working well.”

French medal hopefuls Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet secured silver when they finished ahead of Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN). That meant the Danes had to settle for the bronze medal.

It would seem that the mechanical issue that kept Damien Seguin (FRA) out of day four action was well and truly fixed. The impressive Frenchman returned to action in style to claim all three bullets on offer and close out the 2.4 Norlin OD series.

Summing up the regatta Seguin said, "We had ten beautiful races, especially today with an east wind and big waves. I'm happy because I love this place.”

Seguin's love has increased even more with a 17-point gap back to nearest rival Antonio Squizzato (ITA) in second. Xavier Dagault (FRA) claimed the bronze medal with 30 points.

If Seguin loves Hyères, just imagine how Nico Parlier (FRA) feels. The Frenchman has won all but one race in the Formula Foiling Kiteboarding, including the final three Medal Races.

Despite the dominance, Parlier still felt it was closer than the results suggest, "It's been tough with really close racing. I've been really dialled in with my equipment though and had the wind I like so I am really happy with everything.”

Parlier's compatriot, training partner and friend, Axel Mazella (FRA), has always been one step behind, but still secured the silver with room to spare ahead of Monaco's Maxime Nocher.

Australia's Mat Belcher and Will Ryan will have a Hyères gold medal around their neck in the Men's 470 no matter where they finish in the final Medal Race. With two bullets from two races, they opened up a 24-point lead to second placed Carl-Fredrik Fock and Marcus Dackhammar (SWE).

In the Women's 470, Afrodite Zegers and Annaloes van Veen (NED) and Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) have been neck and neck all week. Not anymore. The Dutch team took two bullets compared to a tenth and 11th from the Swiss. Zegers and van Veen now hold a 19-point advantage.

With a 1-2 finish on day five, Alican Kayner (TUR) remains top of the Finn fleet going in to Sunday's live Medal Race. Nicholas Heiner (NED) holds second and Ed Wright (GBR) third.

Six points separate the top two in the fight for Laser gold. Italy's Francesco Marrai is the current leader on 53 points from a 2-9 day, bettering second placed Cypriot Pavlos Kontides who scored a 2-11. Australia's Matt Wearn is in third.

Evi van Acker (BEL) has secured at least a silver medal ahead of the final Medal Race in the Laser Radial. Fighting the Belgian all the way will be second placed Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) who is 12 points behind.

Racing continues on Sunday 30 April at 12:05 local time as the final five Olympic classes race in the second and final day of Live Medal Races.

Published in Tokyo 2020

A blustery westerly breeze made for challenging conditions today at Hyères for Finn Lynch in the men's Laser fleet yesterday writes Nathaniel Ogden. A mixed set of results seem to be becoming a theme in this year's Sailing World Cup for the National Yacht Club sailor. Three strong finishes, coming in 7th, 10th and 13th from the 60–strong fleet, were again unfortunately overshadowed by some poorer finishes and a BFD. As racing continues today, and the live medal races begin, an overall mid fleet position will be an important result for Ireland's youngest ever Olympic sailor as he continues his Tokyo 2020 campaign. 

Aisling Keller slipped down the Laser Radial fleet slightly yesterday, coming in 35th overall as stronger westerly winds in the mid twenties dominated day four at Hyères. Producing another solid set of results during the day, coming in the mid-twenties in 3 races, the young Lough Derg sailors overall result was brought down slightly by two poorer finishes at the start of the day and a BFD in the final race (discarded), ending up 41st.

Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins climbed the rankings after racing on day four, ending up in 41st position. Heavier conditions proved to deliver a mixed set of results for the young sailor, who is currently taking time out of studying for the Leaving Certificate to compete at Hyères. She ended the day with an outstanding 8th place finish in the final race and is in 39th place.

So overall, FInn lies 35th, Aoife 39th, Aisling 41st. The Lasers and Radials still have two races to sail today. Overall results to date are here

In the 49erfx, Irish interest lies with Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey and Charlotte Dobson who maintained their 3rd place medal position, as the wind picked up on day four of the Sailing World Cup in Hyères, as a westerly breeze of 22-27 knots, with gusts of 30-35 knots, settled in yesterday morning. The pair will go on to represent Britain in the 49erFX fleet today and Sunday in the live medal races. 

Sailors are always thrilled when they have a return of straight race victories. Then there are times when they are happy to come out in one piece, still within touching distance of the medals.

That was the case today at Sailing's World Cup Series in Hyères, France as chaos reigned in the Laser Radial fleet.

The competition in Hyères reached a critical stage on Friday with Medal Races imminent.

Overnight, the forecast for racing on Friday was not looking good and Hyères was expected to be on the receiving end of 30knots of breeze, gusting 35. The breeze was strong in the morning and sailing postponed as the conditions were not deemed safe enough to sail. As the day progressed the breeze decreased enabling all but one fleet, the 2.4 Norlin OD, to hit the water.

The Laser Radial saw a day of chaos but Evi van Acker (BEL) has been there and done it. Van Acker was beaming with a smile ashore after racing following a sixth and 13th place to take the lead.

Explaining the day van Acker said, "We waited a couple of hours because it was too windy, then we got out there and it wasn't windy at all. Then it was shifty. We were far out today between fighting winds coming from the left, then the right, so today you didn't know where you were.”

It was probably making sense of the chaos that brought the smile to van Acker's face, "When we were racing there were very big variations in wind and strength so you were winning, then in the middle.

"It was crazy, but I did ok.

"I had some pretty good results in some very tough conditions.”

Van Acker is 12 points clear of Tuula Tenkanen (FIN).

Overnight leader, Hungary's Maria Erdi, crept over the start line for her second black flag of the regatta and has fallen to ninth.

If van Acker was confused, then so was the young Hungarian, "I didn't push the line. I mean I didn't know what was happening at the start. Wind was shifting. People at the pin end. Wind turned. I just didn't know what was happening.”

Carrying two maximum scores in a one discard regatta effectively puts you out of the running, so what now for Erdi, "If I make the top ten I am happy. That was my goal before the regatta started and it's still my goal.”

Italy's Francesco Marrai took the shifty conditions in his stride with a bullet and fourth place to move him top above Cypriot Pavlos Kontides.

Great Britain's Nick Thompson is now tied with Kontides with an impressive second and third place. Those scores were impressive as second placed Kontides and fourth placed Matt Wearn (AUS) both had high scores on the day which they had to discard.

With another day of qualification racing before Sunday's live Medal Race, the top order in the fleet could yet again switch around as a competitive Laser fleet continue to battle.

It was a day of contrasts in the Men's and Women's 470. Blows were exchanged between the leaders in the women's and the men's saw some knock outs.

Still on the same points total, Afrodite Zegers and Annaloes van Veen (NED) and Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) both notched up a bullet and second place to ensure that the Hyères title goes right down to the wire. With one more day of racing before the Medal Race, you wouldn't bet against these two going in to a double points decider neck and neck.

With a perfect two bullet day, Rio 2016 silver medallist's Mat Belcher and Will Ryan now have a 19-point buffer over second placed Carl -Fredrik Fock and Marcus Dackhammar (SWE).

Overnight leaders, Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis have dropped after a 21-22 day which they have to carry. They now sit on 54 compared to the Australians 14 and the reason was simple, "We had really bad starts today,” said a despondent Mantis, "We also missed the first shift and when you do both of those you are in trouble. It was such a bad day.”

The Greeks will have to recover their composure quickly and return to winning ways just to stay in contention for medals after an impressive opening three days of racing.

What a day Spain's Diego Botin and Iago Marra had in the 49er. Coming in the day the Spaniards were in medal contention. At the end of the day they had guaranteed themselves a gold medal. With a bullet, sixth and 11th, Botin and Marra have an unassailable 27 point lead ahead of the Medal Race.

Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell and Sweden's Carl Sylvan and Marcus Anjemark are tied on 76 points and will fight it out with Yago and Klaus Lange, on 83 points, for silver and bronze.

Fast becoming a regular sentence in a 49erFX day review, Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are in first place. Looking to add yet another gold to their ever growing collection, the Rio 2016 Olympic champions hold pole position for a Hyères win with an eight point lead over nearest rivals Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz (GER).

There were some big climbers in the RS:X fleets shaking things up before Saturday's live Medal Race.

France's Louis Giard now sits top of the men's fleet after a 1-4-5 scoreline which gives him a one point advantage over the man who has occupied pole position all week, Switzerland's Mateo Sanz Lanz. The Swiss windsurfer could only card a 9-14-8 which are all scores he carries.

Winner of the first World Cup Series event in Miami, USA, Yunxiu Lu (CHN) was head and shoulders above the Women's RS:X fleet, claiming a bullet and two seconds. She leapfrogs several rivals into second. With a 19-point lead, Poland's Zofia Noceti-Klepacka remains top going into the double points Medal Race.

Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (ESP) hold a seven-point advantage over their nearest rivals, France's Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet in the Nacra 17. The Spanish pair finished the qualifying series with a bullet which made up for a discarded tenth place in the previous race. Add to that a second place and it was enough to lift them above the French team who scored 11-2-5.

On day three, Turkey's Alican Kaynar thought the then leader Nicholas Heiner (NED) had sailed conservative to take the lead. Well Kaynar was anything but as he took two bullets to take top spot from the Dutch sailor's grasp.

Damien Seguin (FRA) remains on course to win a seventh Hyères title in the 2.4 Norlin OD. The Frenchman was somewhat lucky however, that the fleet only raced once as he was back onshore fixing a mechanical issue on his boat while his competitors were out racing. Spain's Rafa Andarias claimed the only bullet on offer to lift himself in to fourth position. Two races will bring the 2.4 Norlin OD fleet to a close on Saturday

French friends and rivals, Nicolas Parlier and Axel Mazella continue to lead the way in the Formula Foiling Kiteboarding. Parlier has the upper hand with five wins from six races which gives him a four-point lead over Mazella. It was day of mixed fortunes for Mazella, but still good enough to give him a 22-point cushion over third placed Toni Vodisek (SLO)

Racing continues on Saturday 29 April at 11:00 local time with the first day of Live Medal Races shown on the World Sailing YouTube Channel. Sunday 30 April will be the second day of Live Medal Races and will bring the penultimate event before the Santander Final to a close.

Live Medal Races will be shown on the World Sailing YouTube Channel on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April, bringing the penultimate event before the Santander Final to a close.

Published in Tokyo 2020

There was such a cascade of results from the 190-boat, 208 -ailor Irish Youth Sailing Pathway Nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club at the weekend that fully analysing the results every which way can go on for as long as you wish writes W M Nixon.

But in addition to the absolutely outstanding runaway win by Justin Lucas of Cork and Tralee in the Optimists, another aspect of note is the way that an eight mile stretch of coastline in Fingal has dominated what might be called the premier class, the Laser Radials.

In youth sailing terms, this is definitely the Grown-Ups’ Game. So when we recall that there are just eight sea miles between Howth Yacht Club at the end of its peninsula at the noted sailing/fishing port, and Rush Sailing Club to the north in its sunny south-facing building beside the swift-flowing waters of the sandy Rogerstown Estuary, it’s intriguing that between them, they filled the top three places in a very closely contested national championship.

Howth’s Ewan McMahon took first at the finish, yet at the early stages the leader was Aaron Rogers of Rush. He had his ups and downs thereafter, but the final race saw a rush of Rushmen as Conor Quinn (of RSC but also of CLYC) put in a stellar concluding performance to place second, while Aaron Rogers got his mojo back to take third

mermaids rush2Mermaids in Rush SC Annual Regatta, 2016. While the Mermaids continue to have one of their strongholds at Rush, the thriving club has a very healthy junior section, and this weekend it stages a Toppers Travellers’ Trophy event

They barely have time to pause for breath at Rush, as this weekend sees their staging of a national event in the Toppers Travellers’ Trophy series. And while there’ll also be all sorts of club racing as the season gets into full gear, with the long-established Mermaids playing a key role, another big one coming up the Rush agenda is the Leinster Lasers from 3rd to 5th August.

So the future is bright for Rush Sailing Club. But they’ve special links to the past in addition to their Mermaids. It goes back quite a few years now, to a time when St Marnock’s House in Portmarnock, ancestral home of the James whiskey family who were and are great sailors, had been sold to become a hotel.

It had an old-fashioned glass conservatory which was still in good order, but was too small for the needs of a modern hotel. The word was put out that the intact conservatory was available absolutely for free for anyone who was prepared to come and take it cleanly away. The sailing men of Rush saw their chance, as they were planning a proper clubhouse. They moved the conservatory lock, stock and barrel to the north shore of Rogerstown estuary, and created their hospitable clubhouse around it.

So if you sit in Rush Sailing Club in its sunny south-facing aspect, looking out over the crowded dinghy park and busy anchorage, you’re sitting in a conservatory which was once at the home of the legendary Willie Jameson, who was the hugely successful Royal Sailing Master on the Prince of Wales’s cutter Britannia during her greatest seasons from 1893 to 1897.

rush Sailing club aerial3Rush SC’s clubhouse (centre) was built around a conservatory acquired for free when the old Jameson house of St Marnock’s was being re-developed to become the Portmarnock Hotel.

Published in Youth Sailing

Three Irish Laser sailors are in the middle of the fleet as round two of the 2017 World Cup Series in Hyères, France began today for 541 sailors in ten Olympic classes writes Nathaniel Ogden.

After “one good race and one bad race” for the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch, he currently holds 31st position, from a total of 60 boats, in the men’s Laser fleet. Another young sailor with Tokyo 2020 in her sights is Howth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins, who finished her first day’s racing in 37th place in the women’s Laser Radial class, narrowly beating fellow Irishwoman, Lough Derg Yacht Club's Aisling Keller in 38th position.

The first day of racing began with a light 6-10 knot easterly breeze, allowing the various fleets to get into their stride before the stronger winds, which are forecast for tomorrow, fill in on day two.

In the women’s 49erFX class, Dublin’s Saskia Tidey ended her first day’s racing for Team GBR in an impressive 5th place with helm Charlotte Dobson. Saskia began training with the GBR squad after her Irish helm, Andrea Brewster, announced she was to become an international Olympic coach. Having only made the decision to aim to represent Britain together in Tokyo at the beginning of this year, the duo are wasting no time in getting up to speed in the international fleet.Events cannot be won on the first day in sailing but they can certainly be lost. So, in a stable 8-11 knot south easterly breeze, it was vital that those aiming for the top honours laid down a marker with consistent race results.

In the 38 strong Women's Windsurfer fleet, Israel's Noga Geller came out flying with superb starts and speed. Feeling comfortable in the conditions, she snapped up the first two race wins. "It was between 10-12 knots and good for planing downwind. The conditions were just like home for me so these are my favourite conditions,” Geller explained on her secret to success.

"I was a bit nervous before but winning the first race is always nice and then winning the second was great.”

Having won the first two races in the RS:X fleet, Geller was aiming for a perfect day but a bad start in the third bout of the day meant she was unable to assert herself as she had been doing.

Geller finished in 22nd place, quite the comedown from her flying start. So what happened? "I didn't start well,” said the Israeli, simply. "I was on the wrong side and then I couldn't catch up so it was a really average race for me.

"In these conditions it's that simple. If you don't start well and you don't have a free line then you can't get your speed. It's so important to get a good start.”

She concluded with a smile, "You can't have everything.”

Geller discards her 22nd and leads the way on two points. Zofia Noceti-Klepacka (POL) and Veronica Fanciulli (ITA) follow. The day's other race win went the way of China's Yunxiu Lu, winner at the World Cup Series in Miami, USA.

In the Men's RS:X, Switzerland's Mateo Sanz Lanz had a wonderfully consistent day, winning two races that were sandwiched with a fourth. Like Geller, he put the key to success on the day down to a good start, "As soon as you get clean wind you can get free and choose whichever side you want,” he explained. "It's the one thing that makes a huge difference to where you finish.

"I'm happy as it was a tough day of pumping all the time in gusty conditions. But I managed to start with clean wind and sailed fast.”

South American sailors occupy the top two places in the 49erFX.

Rio 2016 Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) lead on three points and Victoria Travascio and Maria Branz (ARG) follow on four.

The Brazilians are the ones to beat in the 49erFX having added Miami gold to their collection after Rio 2016. They got off to the best start in the 20-boat 49erFX fleet, collecting a 1-2-(4) scoreline.

Travascio and Branz were hot on the heels of the Brazilians on day one, finishing third in the opening bout and backing it up with a race win immediately after. They finished the day with a discarded 12th but are pleased to be on the tails of the Olympic champions, "It was really windy and wavy today but it was good,” expressed Travascio.

"I'm happy we got off to a good start. We had two good races but then a bad third race. We went to the right when we really should have gone to the left. Overall we are happy though.”

There were some mixed scorelines in the 49er pack but it's another South American contingent who lead the way. Brothers Yago and Klaus Lange from Argentina top the leaderboard on three points and World Cup Miami winners Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell (GBR) follow one point behind.

Pavlos Kontides (CYP) came out firing in the 60-boat Laser fleet, winning both of the days races. Good boat speed and positioning at the startline enabled Kontides to be within the leading positions at the top mark in both races. From there he was able to use his speed to take a lead at the first gate, in both races, and subsequently he dominated from there.

Nick Thompson (GBR) and Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Tom Burton (AUS) kept Kontides in sight in both races. Thompson picked up a 3-2 and Burton a 4-5.

In the Laser Radial, Evi Van Acker (BEL) posted two strong results as she bids to defend her Hyères crown. A third and a first gives her an eight point advantage over Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU). World Cup Miami winner Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) had a mixed day with a 35th and fourth. Sailors' worst races will be discarded after the third race so a good performance on Wednesday will propel the Greek racer up the leaderboard.

2.4 Norlin OD Paralympic Champion Damien Seguin (FRA) got off to a flyer in the 12-boat fleet. Seguin posted double bullets and has an early four-point advantage over compatriot Xavier Dagault and Italy's Antonio Squizzato.

Seguin has thrived in Hyères throughout his sailing career, winning gold six times. Winning a record seventh title will set the French racer up nicely for the upcoming Para World Sailing Championships in Kiel, Germany where he will be aiming for a fifth world title.

Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet (FRA) controlled the Nacra 17, picking up a (4)-1-2 scorecard to lead on three points. Lin Ea Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck (DEN) and defending champions Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (ESP) follow on six points.

In their first regatta together, Billy Besson, the four time Nacra 17 World Champion, and new crew Amelie Riou got off to a slow start with an 18th and 11th. By the third race, the pair were flying and took the race win.

Great Britain's Ben Cornish and France's Fabian Pic shared the race wins in the 34-boat Finn fleet. Cornish holds an early lead after he backed his race win up with a sixth and Pic sits in fourth after an 11th.

French racers Nicolas Parlier and Axel Mazella dominated their respective blue and yellow fleets in the Foiling Formula Kiteboarding. The pair won every single race, beating World Champion racers Maxime Nocher (MON) and Florian Gruber (GER) respectively.

In the 470 fleets, Rio 2016 bronze medallists Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) lead the men's division and Switzerland's Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler are in control in the women's after two races each.

Racing continues on Wednesday 26 April at 11:00 local time. Live Medal Races will be shown on the World Sailing YouTube Channel on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April, bringing the penultimate event before the Santander Final to a close.

Published in Tokyo 2020

One of the most notable aspects of the ISA Youth Pathway National Championship 2017, which has concluded this afternoon at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough with a good programme sailed, is the healthy way in which the new champions come from a wide range of clubs and sailing locations writes W M Nixon.

Admittedly, as the rising stars become more established as front runners, we find that bigger clubs at the main centres will make every effort to recruit this fresh talent onto their strength. Nevertheless with crews from as far away as Crookhaven Harbour, Dingle and Tralee Bay making their way up the long road to Ballyholme (and if you’re coming from Dingle, it is one very long road), there’s no escaping the feeling that the Annalise Effect is working. Irish junior sailing is not just undergoing a renaissance. It is putting out energetic new shoots in places where it was relatively dormant before, and the future looks rosy.

Prospects for today’s last races weren’t looking too good on some forecasts, with the lack of wind that bedevilled some of Saturday’s racing looking like persisting. But bang on cue a nice southwest to west breeze settled in on most of the sailing areas, and the fleets went at it as if they’d had no sailing at all until then, with the Optimist class particularly requesting that if at all possible they’d like three races.

ISA rory Fitzpatrick jack roy1"The bringer of sunshine”. After a championship of mostly grey weather, the sun came out when ISA star coach Rory Fitzpatrick took ISA President Jack Roy out for a spin around the three course areas.

That was a tall order with the last starting sequence required to be no later than 1300hrs. But with very efficient turn-rounds after each race, the thing was done and the series was completed with that wonderful feeling of a good regatta accomplished, which is a whole world away from the default position of “Well, we got a result....”

As for the final results, in the end there were no surprises from the overnight positions. But while some leaders may now look to have been securely in place for some time, in most classes they had to keep working at it until the very end.

In terms of sheer scale of win, the star of the show has to be Justin Lucas (13), who gives his clubs as both Royal Cork and Tralee Bay, so you can guess his career trajectory. In a fleet of 62, after thirteen races he was discarding a 12th and an 11th, leaving a scoreline of 1,1,4,5,1,2,3,5,1,1,4 and a total only 28 points against the 72 of next-in-line Conor Gorman of the National YC.

Third place kept up the pace for remote clubs, as it was won by Harry Twomey of Crookhaven Harbur, then the next two slots were filled by the leading 12-year-old juniors, Johnny Flynn and Luke Turvey, who are both members of Howth, but they also give allegiance to Royal St George and National respectively.

Top girl sailor was Emily Riordan of Royal St George, she was 8th overall on 98 points, second girl was clubmate Alana Coakley at 11th while the National’s Leah Rickard was third at 12th overall.

jack Roy ISA 2ISA President Jack Roy speaking at the awards ceremony at Ballyholme after the biggest ISA Youth Pathway Championship ever staged, with 208 registered sailors all under the age of 19 (and many very much younger) taking part.

The little ’uns in the Optimists may have served up the numbers and an overall winner with a stratospheric lead, but inevitably the glamour class was the Laser Radials which had gone into Saturday night with Silver Medallist Ewan McMahon’s lead somehow looking vulnerable as he closed with an 11th while Cork’s Johnny Durcan, after a winter spent Laser racing in Australia, was coming on by leaps and bounds.

However, any evidence of super-kangaroo abilities were in short supply for the Durcan camp today, for although McMahon still looked off the pace with a 14th in the first race, Durcan was DNF, and when that was added to a BFD in Saturdays first race, his challenge was effectively over, and in the end he was 9th overall.

So McMahon’s 9th in the final race was enough to retain his lead with a final points total of 41. But all the excitement in the Laser Radials was elsewhere, as the talk today has been of the huge rush of Rush. Aaron Rogers of Rush Sailing Club was in fact the initial overall leader, but today it was clubmate Conor Quinn (who also lists Carlingford Lough YC as his affiliation) who set the pace, with an 8th and then a first to move into second overall, while Rogers took third overall by round the series with a 7th and a 13th.

For quite a few years, the population of Fingal aka North County Dublin was the fastest growing in Ireland, so it was only a matter of time before the new demographic began to show in the national junior sailing results. However, the smart money might have been on Skerries Sailing Club to lead the way, and for a while they did so. But now Rush Sailing Club is showing itself the pace-setter inshore at junior level as seen at Ballyholme, and offshore with the Kelly family in their all-conquering J/109 Storm.

But if you looked solely at club affiliation as an indicator of what’s going on where, the 33-strong Laser 4.7 fleet at Ballyholme would only have lead to confusion, as 2017’s overall winner Jack Fahy lists his clubs as Royal St George, Royal Cork, and Lough Derg. Presumably he has club subscriptions at the top of his preferred Christmas gift list.......

Be that as it may, his scoreline of 6,1,2,1,2,5 discarding his final 8th provides something for everyone. That said, Caoimhe Foster of Royal Cork came on very well at the end, starting with a discarded 11th but recording three straight wins on the trot in the final trio of races, to share 22 points with Clare Gorman of the National with Fahy five points ahead of them at 17, Foster edging ahead into second on the countback to make her first girl.

It came within an ace of being first girls every which way in the 420s, as Malahide’s Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher took second in the first race astern of Nicola and Fiona Ferguson of the national, but with overnight leaders Geoff Power and James McCann of Dunmore East losing places back in fourth. The final race might have changed things overall, but Power & McCann did the business by being fourth with McDowell and Gallagher in fifth. So Dunmore East had it over Malahide by two points in the end at 18 to 20, while Royal St George’s Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry were third on 21.

The competition is clearly close in the 420s, but in the Topper fleet of 32, much had been expected beforehand of northern star Jenna McCarlile of County Antrim Yacht Club at Whitehead, which is straight across the lough from Ballyholme.

But Jenna had a sporting quandary, as the first day’s racing clashed with her trial for the Ulster Under-16 Hockey Squad. She went for the hockey, and qualified. And then she threw herself into the sailing at Ballyholme. But even with three firsts, a 3rd and a 7th, the fact that the Toppers only had enough races for one discard made the mathematics impossible.

Nevertheless a sixth overall when short of a whole day’s racing is quite some achievement. But Heaven only knows what they’ll make of it all at Irish Topper HQ, as we read somewhere that only the first five places in the fleet at the Youth Nationals were eligible for positions in the Pathway programme......

Meanwhile among those who did the complete fixture, Rob Keale of Royal Cork continued his excellent progress with a scoreline of 1,1,4,3,2,4 with a discarded 10th to put him at 15, four points clear of Dan McCaughey of Ballyholme and Donaghadee, with Conor Horgan of Royal Cork third on 20 and Sarah Jennings of East Down fourth and also first girl. As for the Topper 4.2s, Lewis Thompson of Donagadee maintained his overnight dominance, in fact at the end he was discarding a second, but Adam Irvin of Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire came through on this final day to move into second overall with two seconds, while Hannah Dadley-Young of Ballyholme was third overall with two fourths today.

youth sailing prize crowd3This is the sort of crowd that soon overfills the marquee after the Youth Championship which beats all others. Meanwhile, all parents absent from this pic are loading up the boats for the long haul home…

Even as we post this on Afloat.ie, there are some little people with their tiny boats and long-suffering parents who still have a very long way to get home to many distant corners of Ireland after this cracker of a regatta. We wish them a safe journey. And for many of them, it’s back to school tomorrow after the Easter holidays. Gosh, what fun....

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

Ballyholme YC adds:

Ewan McMahon won the ISA Youth Pathways despite another difficult day in a light shifting south westerly on Belfast Lough. His earlier form in the championships allowed him to discard the higher of his two results today and comfortably win overall. The two Rush sailors Conor Quinn and Aaron Rodgers had better results with a win in the last race for Conor to lift him to second overall from Aaron by one point. Royal North of Ireland's Sally Bell won 1st lady.

Geoff Power and James McCann wrapped up the 420 fleet even with the worst scores of the top four. The best results went to the Ferguson sisters - Nicola and Fiona - with two 1sts although not enough to break into the tight top three places. Only 3 net points over 9 races split the winners from Gemma McDowell in second place overall and 1st lady crew, and Kate Lyttle and Niamh Henry in third.

In the Laser 4.7 fleet on Course 2, Caoimhe Foster won both races on the final day to lift her to second overall and first lady. Jack Fahy had seen victory stolen from him before last summer at the Topper Worlds when he had been outgunned on the final windy day by the English squad sailors. This time his lead was large enough to maintain first place overall while Clare Gorman was third.

In the Topper fleet Rob Keal scored consistently to wrap up the championship. Local sailor from Ballyholme and Donaghadee - Dan McCaughey - won the final race to jump up to second overall while Conor Horgan was third. Sarah Jennings was first lady.

Another Ballyholme/Donaghadee sailor Lewis Thompson won the final two races and was the overall winner in the Topper 4.2 fleet with a net score of just 6 points from 7 races. Adam Irvin rose above Hannah Dadley Young for second place with Hannah first lady and third overall

The Optimist fleet on Course 3 managed to complete three races today with Race Officer Harry Gallagher determined to complete the full schedule. Justin Lucas continued his grip on the fleet with another 2 wins to add to his 3 earlier in the championship. Not only did he win overall but his net points were almost 50 points better than Conor Gorman in second and Harry Twomey in third. Emily Riordan was first girl.

ISA President Jack Roy thanked Ballyholme Yacht Club for successfully hosting the championships for the first time with the strong hint that it would return to the North again in future years.

Ballyholme Commodore Mark Mackey thanked all of the competitors and their families for travelling up to Bangor and making the event such a success - the largest entry ever. Thanks were also given to the Mayor Deborah Girvan and Ards & North Down Borough Council and Quay Marinas who supported the event, and CH Marine and McCready Sailboats who helped sponsor the prizes.

Thanks were also given by Jack and Mark to all of the Race Management team - the Principal Race Officer Robin Gray supported by Angela Gilmour, Harry Gallagher and Ruan O'Tiarnaigh, the Jury under Chris Lindsay and Gordon Davies, the 100 plus volunteers on the water and ashore helping at the event along with Eurosaf visitors and Andy Millington from the RYA marklaying team, and finally the event organiser Richard Glynn - more famous as the travelling father and sponsor of previous Topper World Champion Liam Glynn who is now campaigning in the Laser and just back from training in Croatia. Special thanks also went to the volunteers from local clubs in Belfast Lough and across Northern Ireland who took time off work this week and without who's help it would have been impossible to run three courses so successfully.

After the Prize Giving the teams for the various Irish Optimist squads travelling to the World Championships, Europeans, the ICT Poland and ICT France squads were read out - with particular special significance for Leah Rickard from the National Yacht Club who was born in Thailand and has qualified to travel to the World Championships which will be held there later this summer.

Published in Youth Sailing

Lighter breezes at Ballyholme have been providing some very different sailing conditions for today’s third day of racing in the ISA Youth Nationals on Belfast Lough. But in all classes the overnight leaders have stayed in front, with an exceptional pace being set by Justin Lucas of Tralee in the Optimists. He has been able to discard an 11th and 12th in a fleet of 62 boats, to have him on 22pts to the current next in line, 12 year old Luke Turvey of Howth and National who was 7th and 3rd in the most recent contests, nevertheless he’s back at 50pts.

The battle of the titans in the Laser Radials was frustrated by lack of wind in their race area, they only completed one race but it saw points leader Ewan MacMahon back in 11th while his closest challenger Johnny Durcan took a useful 4th and Aaron Rogers of Rush got back in the game with a third. Current scoreline is McMahon 21, Durcan 28 and Rogers 31.

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

After the strong breezes of yesterday, many of the 200 plus sailors plus the race management team were glad to see flatter seas this morning with a light and cold 6 knot breeze.

Topper sailingTopper sailors make the most of the light winds on Belfast Lough. Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Unfortunately for Course Areas 1 and 2 for the ISA Youth Pathway fleets, the breeze soon died away a little and all classes only managed one race despite many attempts across the day. With lighter winds, the tide cam into play for some of the fleets making it difficult to stay behind the line and most classes struggled with General Recalls, Uniform and Black flag starts.

Course 3 is set a little closer to Ballyholme Bay and further out into the lough than the other fleets and got the best of the conditions today with the Optimists managing 3 races - the last of which dragged on with a long final race. Sadly the breeze then filled in but the young sailors were by then tired and cold and sent home with Race 4 of the day postponed until tomorrow.

Harry Twomey made the most of the difficult conditions with two 1sts in the first and last race of the day. Johnny Flynn won the middle race with a great downwind leg which was finished at the bottom gate. The most consistent sailor however has been Justin Lucas fully deserving his overall lead at the end of Day 3 with three top 5 results and now counts only 22 points after 10 races with discards.

On Course 1, Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher got the best start of the 420 fleet whilst Geoff Power and James McCann struggled to keep speed and had to tack off after getting leebowed. The girls 1st place squeezes up the points margin between themselves and the boys who continue to lie 1st overall.

In the single race for the Laser fleet County Antrim's (Whitehead) Andrew Mitchell had his best race of the series with a bullet. Johnny Durcan saw the greater breeze on the left hand side of the course being enjoyed by the 420 fleet and managed a 4th whilst Ewan McMahon now discards the 11th he scored when struggling on the right hand side.

On Course 2, Caoimhe Foster had a great race in the Laser 4.7 with a win from Jack Fahy who continues to lead overall. Newcastle's Erin McIlwaine (also the daughter of our photographer) had a great day with a win in the Toppers and moves up to 3rd place on equal points with joint Donaghedee/Ballyholme's Dan McGaughey. Rob Keal continues to lie first overall with Conor Horgan in second. Adam Irvin from the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire won his first race in the Topper 4.2's with Lewis and Hannah leading still overall.

Three races are now scheduled for all classes tomorrow on the final day of racing in an attempt to catch up from those races postponed. 

Published in Youth Sailing
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