With 47 sailors on the water in Tralee Bay in County Kerry in the first week of January, 2017 started on a very positive note for Junior sailing in Ireland. The 17 Optimist fleet included some of the most promising juniors in the country along with a small local contingent and were coached by Portuguese coach Fred Coutinho Rato, Greek coach John Kavarlikgos assisted by local former ISA squad sailor Donagh Buckley.
A mix in the drills afloat, the precision of the tuition and video analysis made it for an excellent 4 days of learning and progress. The 10 boats topper fleet was very feminine with a 7 girls line up. Clinic Manager and coach Thomas Chaix kept the group on its toes mixing close quarter drills with longer speed and technical exercises.
The 20 boats Laser fleet was split into two groups. Former academy sailor Cian Byrne challenged the laser 4.7 sailors whilst Polish ace Michal Grybselski assisted by former academy sailor Conor O’Beirne minded the larger radial fleet. The clinic concluded with a coached regatta. 5 races were sailed for all fleets and the young sailors battled for the various trophies giving some very close racing and even closer finishes. Cillian Foster from Cork clinched the optimist title. Kinsale sailor Michael Carroll took the laser 4.7 whilst his brother David just about secured the Toppers. The radials gave some very exciting racing and it was finally Dublin Sailor Peter Fagan who came on top.
The most coveted trophy, “the coaches award” went to Sophie Crosbie (Laser 4.7 from Cork). Nominees for the award were Killian Reidy (Optimist from Foynes), Rory O’Sullivan (Optimist from Cork), Amy Carroll (Radial from Kinsale) and Kate Fahy (Topper from Dublin).
The southerly winds and the relatively mild conditions allowed many hours on the water and centre principle Brian O’Sullivan could not have asked for more for the first Performance clinic organized by Tralee Bay Maritime Centre. No doubt it is just the start of its path towards becoming a valuable centre of excellence providing quality training to Performance sailors on the south West coast.
The event will be hosted from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd April 2017 and is open to all boats of the 420, Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, Optimist, Topper and for the ﬁrst time also the Topper 4.2 classes.
This is the first time that the event will have been hosted in Northern Ireland although many of the competitors will have visited Ballyholme previously for Topper, Laser Radial and Optimist events.
The ISA Youth Pathway National Championships will form part of the ISA selection trials for the 2017 World Sailing Youth Worlds and the ISA National Squads.
Although this is a first for Ballyholme, members from BYC have been regular attendees with Liam Glynn and Sarah Eames the most recent winners who then went on to represent Ireland in Malaysia 2015 and Portugal 2014/Cyprus 2013 respectively.
Competitors in the 420, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 classes shall be under 19 years of age on 31st December 2017. Competitors in the Topper and Topper 4.2 class shall be under 16 years of age on 31st December 2017.
#RS200 - Friendship is key to keeping Ireland’s youth dinghy sailing classes alive, according to this year’s All Ireland Champion sailor Alex Barry.
While clubs and associations around Ireland are doing “a really good job” with junior classes since the ISA’s shake-up, and the high performance team has celebrated Olympic success, there remains “a void” for over-16s “who just want to have a bit of fun, go to a few events camping, and be with their friends.”
Barry points to the traditional route into sailing — and in particular the transition to bigger boats and team racing at university age, after starting in Optimists and skilling up in Lasers or Toppers — as the point where many young sailors drop out, prohibited by the significant investment, among other factors.
“My goal is to get the parents to reinvest that €4,000-€5,000 from [the sale of a Laser or Topper] into a 200, which can keep people sailing through that financially tough period,” says the Royal Cork member and RS400 champion.
“If they make it through that with a boat and maintaining the friendships, I believe the chances of them staying sailing are much greater, thus driving dinghy sailing forward.”
The first RS200 open days of the new year take place next weekend Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 January, with another weekend of open days to follow on 21-22 January. More details are available to download below.
It’s indicative of the pace of Irish sailing in 2016 that for anyone taking an overview, it takes a bit of an effort to remember what the weather was like for much of our spring, summer and autumn. Admittedly, here in Afloat.ie we may skew recollections, as we’ll always go for a sunny photo or video if at all possible. Yet the cascade of memories of success and memorable events at home and abroad has been at such a pace that even if the sun wasn’t shining or the wind wasn’t obliging, the recollections are good. W M Nixon tries to make sense of the highlights.
If 2016 wasn’t the greatest Irish sailing season ever, then we’ll be happy to take on board proposals arguing the case for other years. And in the fantastic golden year of 2016, the supreme moment was on the evening of Tuesday August 16th, when the entire nation at home – or at least the entire sailing nation – was glued to a television screen of one sort or another, following every twist and turn for Annalise Murphy in the brief but intense drama of the final Olympic Medal Race for the Women’s Laser Radials on the flukey yet undeniably glamorous waters off Rio de Janeiro.
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As the weeks and months have passed since, we’ve forgotten that for Annalise to win the Silver Medal, it was a pilgrimage of sorts to put right the pain of missing out so closely on a medal at the 2012 Olympics. We’ve also forgotten that the tension was exacerbated by the fact that the Medals Race should have been held on Monday August 15th, but was blown out to cause an agonizing 24-hour postponement. And we’ve largely forgotten that only three months earlier, the prospects hadn’t seemed at all good for Ireland’s best hope, with a poor performance at the Worlds in Mexico.
Yet we remember just enough of that situation to put into perspective the ten weeks transformation that Annalise wrought within herself. With her dedicated support team, she ensured that she’d become a hugely improved sailor, a fitter athlete and psychologically in a very good place, as she took on the Olympic challenge on August 8th with a cool confidence which in due course received its proper reward.
Thanks to the close focus which was put on the outstanding Murphy medal, we are well aware of the breadth and depth of the backup team which helped to make it all possible. But in the end it was just one lone sailor entirely on her own who was trying to carve out the right route through extraordinarily difficult sailing conditions, racing against the very best in the world. So it is entirely right and proper that Irish sailing will remember 2016 primarily as the year of Annalise’s Silver Medal.
With a peak like this, a manageable review of the season can only re-visit the highlights, so if your favourite event doesn’t come up in the next thousand or so words, that’s the way it when the Olympics come up, which mercifully is only once every four years.
A year hence, we’ll be looking back at a more normal season in all its variety, but for now some further thoughts on the Rio experience fit the bill. For the fact is, the entire Irish sailing team put in a decent showing. Best of the rest of them were Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern in the 49er. Had the chips fallen slightly differently, they might have come home with a medal themselves. But as it is, the fact that they had two race wins would have been a matter of added excitement in any previous year.
As for Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey in the 49er FX, they had one of their best regattas, very much at the races for most of the time, while the very young Finn Lynch – youngest sailor racing the Olympics – may not have been on his best form in the Laser Men’s, but his snatching of the Irish place in this class as late as May 18th in Mexico was testament to his grit, as he still hadn’t fully recovered from an injury sustained in an accident while out on some training cycling.
In fact, if there’s one little lesson which really came home from Rio, it’s the need to keep your athletes in one piece all year round. Our young international-level sailors can be an exuberant bunch, sometimes training and post-event relaxation becomes horseplay, and it was notable that some significant longterm campaigns were knocked off course by silly injuries.
Thus in looking back at the way Annalise’s success was celebrated in the heart-warming welcome home party at the national Yacht Club on Thursday August 26th, a notable recollection is that in thanking all those who had helped her to the Medal, Annalise particularly mentioned the physiotherapist Mark McCabe. For it seems that whatever training and guidance Mark McCabe has been giving her over the years, she has never been hampered by any serious injury or temporary disability.
This may seem a slightly odd point to be making in an annual sailing review, but there’s a lesson for sailors at every level in this. So if 2016 also emerges as the year in which we all learned the benefits of keeping ourselves in good shape and following best practice in sailing fitness, then it will have been be a very good year indeed.
But as the Olympics didn’t take over the stage until the second week in August, an impressive amount of sailing had already been registered. Indeed, it went right back to January when Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan – who sail from Howth but Doug’s from Kilkenny and Colin is from Malahide – returned from Malaysia with the Bronze Medal from the 420 Worlds.
Then in February offshore racing came centre stage with the RORC Caribbean 600 seeing Conor Fogerty of Howth with his Sunfast 3600 Bam! continuing a remarkable programme of Transoceanic criss-crossing (some of it single-handed), the Caribbean 600 “diversion” producing a win in Class 3.
Into April, and attention focused on the Irish GP 14 Association’s superb group effort in getting 22 boats to Barbados for the GP14 Worlds 2016. Merely to achieve that was quite something in itself, but then Shane McCarthy of Greystones, crewed by Andy Davis, emerged as the new World Champion. That provided extra impetus back home as the rapidly developing Greystones Sailing Club worked towards its new clubhouse, which came on stream in May with the hosting of the Cruising Association of Ireland’s Start-of-Season rally.
With the proper season in Ireland under way, June’s highlight was clearly the Volvo Round Ireland race from Wicklow, but before that ICRA had to get in their three-day Nationals at Howth, and despite light winds the programme was completed, winners including John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II in Division 1, Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV in Div. 2, Ken Lawless and Siobhan McCormack’s Quarter Tonner Cartoon in Division 3, and Colm Bermingham’s Elan 333 Bite the Bullet in Division 4.
In the Volvo Round Ireland Race starting June 18th, for the leaders at any rate lack of wind was definitely not a problem. For those biggies, it was a cracker. And as an event, the Round Ireland is back and then some, with 63 entries including George David’s wonderful Rambler 88 and three MODs which sailed the entire course within close sight of each other, and records tumbling at every turn.
Rambler had a brilliant a crew of international talents, and they were able to take every last advantage of the fact that the weather Gods – or more properly the wind Gods – smiled on them. They took monohull line honours in a runaway record time, and then achieved what many would have thought almost impossible for a boat with a stratospheric rating - they won overall on IRC as well.
As for the MOD 70s, with Damian Foxall with Sidney Gavignet on record holder Oman Sailing, and Justin Slattery with Lloyd Thornburg on Phaedo III, there was added home interest, particularly as both Irish stars admitted they’d been so busy all over the world building their sailing careers that they were Round Ireland virgins……
And what a race the trio of trimarans served up for those virgins…... Within reach of the finish in the dark, Team Concise was in the lead in a fading breeze, but Oman Sailing went a little bit offshore and found a fresher air to come in on port tack at first light and nip into the win.
As for any all-Irish contenders, the best performance was put in by the J/109 Euro Car Parks (Dave Cullen), the only Irish class winner, a good marker early in the season, for at the beginning of October the temporary Euro Car parks, long since reverted to her proper name of Storm, won the Irish J/109 Nationals for Pat Kelly and his keen crew from Rush Sailing Club.
July had three major highlights – Volvo Cork Week at Crosshaven, the Topper Worlds at Ballyholme, and the KBC Laser Radial Worlds at Dun Laoghaire. While the numbers involved in the two dinghy events were stupendous, it was Volvo Cork Week which captured public imagination in an unexpected way with the inaugural Beaufort Cup series.
Racing for the trophy named after the famous Irish admiral and maritime researcher, the Beaufort Cup started out to be an event with an international flavour between crews from national defence forces. But then its remit was broadened to include personnel from emergency and security services with maritime links, and in the end 32 owners generously made their boat available for something which perfectly captured the mood of the moment. The amount of goodwill generated was beyond measure, and the win by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker II has given a visionary event an excellent inauguration.
The Topper Worlds at Ballyholme looked like providing an Irish win until the last day, when a fresh northerly swept in with real Belfast Lough vigour to make it a big boys’ game, but young Michael Carroll from Cork hung in gamely and finished fourth overall, while Sophie Crosbie from Crosshaven was first girl and 7th overall.
With a total fleet pushing towards the 350 mark, the KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dun Laoghaire were almost beyond comprehension, but a pattern was discernible, and what was most encouraging was that at least five young Irish sailors were serious contenders at the very top level.
However, one was head and shoulders above the rest in every way, and this was Ewan MacMahon of Howth. He was right in there pitching for the Gold in some ferocious racing, and though he concluded the series with the Silver Medal, this was serious stuff and the world quite rightly sat up and took notice of a remarkable and developing talent.
Came August, and just two days before the Olympics took all attention, 29ers took to the seas off Torbay in Devon for the annual British Championship, 76 boats in all and just one of them Irish – Harry Durcan and Harry Whittaker of Royal Cork. They won overall by two good clear points, an achievement so brilliant that further comment is superfluous.
Then in August we had of course all sorts of local festivals such as Calves Week out of Schull, but everyone’s thoughts were on the Olympics, with normality only returning after an afternoon and night of celebration seemed to have just about the entire Irish sailing community – and many non-sailors too - gathered in Dun Laoghaire and around the National Yacht Club to welcome home Annalise and her medal.
Cruising being something undertaken at its own pace, reviews of what has been achieved are a matter for more leisurely contemplation in the depths of winter. But in late August a real text-book cruise drew to its close when Neil Hegarty of Cork sailed his Dufour 34 Shelduck into Baltimore after an efficient Atlantic crossing from Newfoundland, with Shelduck blithely coping with two mid-Atlantic gales, one of Force 8 and the other hitting Force 9. There have of course been many other Atlantic crossings during 2016 involving Irish boats, but this successful conclusion of a detailed Atlantic circuit cruise of several years duration really was a model of its kind, a cruise to be savoured.
Other cruises and new additions to the fleet were to be savoured as the Cruising Association of Ireland held its end-of-season rally in Dublin’s River Liffey in mid-September, with a goodly fleet providing the annual entertainment of all the opening bridges being opened at the same time in a neatly choreographed exercise, which succeeded brilliantly in bringing a sense of the sea into the heart of the city.
Meanwhile in nearby Clontarf the 70th Anniversary of the iconic Irish Dinghy Racing Association 14ft OD Dinghy was celebrated in style with a series of well-attended events driven on by the energy and enthusiasm of Ian Sargent, who saw his efforts well rewarded with a memorable Gala Dinner for the class in Dun Laoghaire at the Royal St George Yacht Club, where the concept of the IDRA 14 was first aired way back in 1946.
As for those who like it offshore with a bit of competition, 2016 was a year of further growth for the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, with the season neatly rounded out by a points championship settled in the final race, the overall win going to Stephen Tudor’s J/109 Sgrech from Pwllhei.
The further we got into the Autumn, the better the weather became. So although the All-Ireland Junior Championship at Schull at the end of September raced in the Dave Harte-developed TR 3.6 dinghies was put through successfully despite some very mixed weather in the rest of the country, with Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork the new champion, a week later in the first weekend of October the All-Ireland Seniors were sailed at Crosshaven with racing in the new Phil Morrison-designed Ultra variant of the National 18, and they had weather that was almost too summery on the second day.
But a breeze filled in and it ended up as an absolute cliffhanger, with so many boats tied on points at the end that they’d to go through several permutations of countback to get a result, with RS 400 champion Alex Barry of Royal Cork and Monkstown Bay the Champion of Champions 2016.
October saw Irish interest swing towards the Mediterranean and the annual Rolex Middle Sea Race from Malta with extra Irish interest in three boats in the 107-strong fleet. Conor Fogerty’s ubiquitous Bam! appeared yet again, and though it wasn’t her most successful race, the points accumulated shunted her up to 3rd overall in the RORC Class 3 Points Championship 2016 despite doing only five RORC races, but the Caribbean 600, the Volvo Round Ireland, and the Rolex Middle Sea race all carry extra points weighting.
A better Middle Sea result was obtained by the XP 44 Xp-Act, which came second in Class 4 with her crew including the RIYC’s Barry Hurley and the Irish National Sailing School’s Kenneth Rumball. But our outstanding result was the clear overall win taken by Vincenzo Onorato’s Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino, navigated with pure genius by international star Ian Moore, who hails from Carrickfergus.
This rounded out a remarkable year for the Moore family, as his mother Wendy was Commodore 2016 in Carrickfergus Sailing Clyb, where they were celebrating their 150th Anniversary (as was the Royal Ulster YC across Belfast Lough in Bangor) with events at Carrickfergus including a Hilditch Regatta for boats constructed by the legendary Carrickfergus boatbuilder. He created many vessels of distinction including the 1898 Howth 17s, who in turn arrived in Carrick to help celebrate a year which was to finish in such style in Malta.
Except it hasn’t quite finished yet. Even as we write this. Cork Institute of Technology are in the top three in the 36th Student Yachting World Cup which concludes today in Las Rochelle. And then tomorrow the irrepressible Enda O’Coineen with Kilcullen Voyager will be one of 29 starters along the French Biscay coast off Les Sables d’Olonne, where the Vendee Globe gets under way before a crowd of tens of thousands. Irish sailing in 2016 is truly a complex and endless tapestry………
The first course runs over three weeks from Monday 3 to Friday 21 July, while a second three-week course runs the following month from Tuesday 8 to Friday 25 August.
In addition, a Junior Try Sailing Taster Course runs from Monday 24 to Friday 28 July comprising two half-day courses each day.
A challenging GP14 youth championship was held at Sligo YC on 24th and 25th September. The conditions proved difficult for both the sailors and race committee alike. An excellent turnout of 20 boats included sailors who had travelled from as far as England with others driving up to 6 hours to make it to this great event. As people braved the conditions in tents, others struggled to put their mast up.
Race 1 was exciting with the high winds and quick reaches which suited the Youghal/Sligo team of Adrian Lee and Ossian Geraghty. They were followed home by Peter and Stephen Boyle from Sutton with the Gallagher brothers, Gareth and Richard in 3rd.
Race 2 saw Dan and Hugh Gill winning from Peter and Stephen to make it a Sutton 1,2. Adrian and Ossian followed the Sutton boats to take 3rd.
Race 3, the last race of the day had a general recall in worsening conditions. The big squalls suited the heavier sailors. Edward Coyne and Colman Grimes were first around the windward mark but were caught by Adrian and Ossian at the gybe mark when they capsized and threw their first place away. The race changed towards the end with Dan and Hugh Gill taking another race win a from Edward and Colman who had recovered well to 2nd. Gareth and Richard Gallagher were third. Later, with the sailors back ashore, the Saturday afternoon results were amended as Peter and Stephen Boyle were awarded redress giving them another 2nd position to add to the second places they had already scored in races 1 and 2.
Sunday kicked off to less wind in the morning but it increased throughout the day. A pin end bias saw a large congregation of boats at that end. However those that opted to start further up the line in clean air ultimately suffered with the bias being so large. This race was won by Peter and Stephen meaning Peter is the new GP14 youth champion. 2nd place in the last race was Samuel Wray and Alan Thompson with Kevin Martyn and Colin O’Mahoney in third.
Overall apart from the weather it was a great event run in difficult conditions and an excellent level of sailing. Well done to all the youths who have improved since 2015.
Thank you all who attended and special thanks to all the long distance boats who travelled the length of the country - well done all. Many thanks also to those who crewed and lent boats to the youths
1st place Under 16, Under 18, Under 21 youth champion Peter Boyle crewed by Stephen Boyle
2nd Dan Gill crewed by Hugh Gill
3rd Adrian Lee crewed by Ossian Geraghty
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Last weekend Sutton Dinghy Club ran their Inter-Schools Sailing event. The event in its 41st year attracted 32 schools with 107 boats and 144 youth sailors making the start line last Saturday morning. Well 2 start lines actually with 38 boats in the Optimist Fleet and 69 boats in the Mixed Fleet racing under PY. For each Fleet there is an Individual and Team prize sailed for. The event has been graced by many of Irelands rising stars over the years including Dan O'Grady, Ger Owens, David Burrows, Scott Flanigan, Dougie Elmes and Robert Dickson. Indeed last year's Mixed Fleet winner was none other than Blackrock College's Ewan McMahon World Radial Silver medallist in 2016 and the Optimist winner in 2015 was Tom Higgins who went on to win both the British and Irish Optimist Nationals in 206. A unique event that enables Club sailors team up with future rising stars of Irish sailing.
Day 1 - Optimist – With poor weather forecast for Sunday, PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh was considering 3 races for the day. Was there even enough wind to get 2 races in? Racing commenced on time at 12.00 in a generally southerly breeze. In the light shifty wind the left side of the beat on an ebb tide was favoured with the fleet favoring a pin-end start. The leading group of 4 or 5 boats took control of the race and put clear air between them and the chasing pack. The race was shortened to two rounds with lightening winds and increasing tides. To ensure interest in the Team event is maintained boats outside the 15 minutes time limit were given a count back based on there position on the water rather than a DNF.
Race 2 was abandoned due to a major wind shift on the first beat and a postponement flag was hoisted while the course was re-configured. Again the conditions were not ideal but the PRO managed to get the fleet away on a shorter course with lightening winds and a strong ebb tide. The race was completed only just following a major wind shift which did not effect the leaders who rounded final leeward mark in a tight bunch with a following wind.
After 2 races St Fintans NS were making the running from Belvedere College and Schoil Mhuire teams with Johnny Flynn, Hugh & Luke Turvey, Luke Groarke Donagh and Leah Rickard all well placed in the Individual event. Young Abby Kinsella was best of the Sutton Dinghy Club sailors in 14th.
Mixed Fleet – PRO Jim Lambkin got Race 1 for both Flight A and Flight B away first time. Flight A included both Laser Radial & 4.7's, GP14, 420 and RS Fevas and started on the same course 5 mins in front of Flight B which included Mirrors, Topper and Topaz. The 30+ boats in either fleet made for a very busy line. However the well behaved sailors ensured a single individual recall in each fleet was as bad as it got .The event is run on Portsmouth Yardstick with each boat timed and recorded for each lap of the course completed. The PY handicap system enables the Schools have teams race each other despite the teams being made up of mixed Classes. Race 1 saw the fleets well spaced along the line. In the light shifty wind the 420's looked like the early pace setters with McDowell/Dix (Loretto College) combination along with a with a few Radials including Olympic Laser aspirant Aoife Hopkins (Santa Sabina). The GP14 of Boyle/Coyne (Belvedere) after a slow start began to make an impression. A number of boats infringed by not coming through their start-finish time for time recording and paid the penalty. Meanwhile a number of the top Mirrors were travelling well and had opened considerable gap on the Topper and other Mirrors. As the wind lightened there was a little concern that the fleets may struggle to get round the last lap. But just when it was needed a short puff of breeze helped many home with some unfortunately time-out.
Race 2 saw a general recall for Flight A while Flight B showed them the way by getting away first time. Under Black flag Flight A got underway with pin end favored this time and an ebb tide adding its own challenge. For most of the first lap the wind was steady with the GP14 well up with the Radials and 420 from the start. As the race progressed the GP14 eked out an on the water lead but the Radials, 4.7 including Rickard (Gonzaga), Hopkins (Santa Sabina), Higgins (Gonzaga) and Hopkins (Mount Temple) and the Mirrors of Croasdel/Harrington (St Alyosius, Athlone) & Graf/Croasdel (Athlone Community College) in Flight B were also going well. However on the start of the second lap the wind became decidedly light. The PRO made a call to shorten the course for the Radials, 420’s and GP14 which meant everybody was finishing on end of lap 2. It was a good job the Committee boat was well stocked with sail number callers and recorders as Flight A and Flight B converged on the finish together. Race 2 was concluded again with a few boats timed out. The PRO went into sequence for a 3rd race, but quickly went to AP as the wind lightened. However with tide now an issue for getting ribs, committee boat and indeed some of the fleet back the PRO abandoned racing for the day to the delighted cheers of the by now tired crews. The fleet of 69 boats sailing back to the Club made for a spectacular sight.
After 2 races, Gonzaga hold a short lead over Belvedere College and Sligo Grammar with the furthest travelers the McCallister brothers from Bandon Grammar holding a small lead over the Athlone boats of Ben Graf and Caolann Croasdel with 4.7 of Tom Higgins and Dan Hopkins next followed by Aoife Hopkins and then Sutton Dinghy Club sailors Peter Boyle & Tim Coyne in the GP14.
Day 2 - Optimist Fleet – Day 2 arrived with great expectations of a little more breeze for the fleet than Saturday. The Fleets took to the water about 10:30 in 10-12 knots but that was really as good as it got. The clouds arrived with persistent mist rain and with it the wind dropped also.
PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh’s first start was abandoned due to a wind shift and then rain and then no wind. An AP was hoisted and after a lengthy delay the PRO and his team managed to get the Race underway in a light wind. 2 boats were over at the start with both boats returning to start line following individual recall. However in a dying wind PRO made the decision to shorten the race at the leeward mark following round 2. A number of boats did not make the finish due to the time limit, however they were all placed following a count-back to end of Lap 1.
The Opi sailors showed great patience having been on the water a long time with the light wind resulting in a single race for the day. The results were delayed as a Protest was heard that could have had a profound impact on the overall results. In the end the overnight leader Johnny Flynn retained his top position following consistent sailing with the Turvey brothers left to share the 2nd and 3rd spot. With 2 sailors in the top 3 the Team event was retained by St Fintan NS from Belvedere College A with Schoil Mhuire A taking 3rd.
Mixed Fleet – The PRO on the outer fleet, our Commodore Jim Lambkin struggled to get a steady breeze for race 1. Eventually after about 40 minutes both Flights were away but very quickly it became obvious that lightening breeze allied to a flood tide meant half the fleet had difficulties making the weather mark. Race abandoned and the Fleet waited patiently. Eventually around 1:45pm breeze picked having swung to the west and now from the Pigeon House direction. With marks relaid both flights were underway and with a Black Flag in operation 2 boats fell foul. The Radial of Aoife Hopkins and GP14 of local sailors Boyle/Coyne and 420 of McDowell/Dix lead from the front but again with a lightening breeze the PRO had no options but to utilize the times at end of the first lap to ensure a race results for as many of the fleet.
While many had hoped for a bit more breeze, the event had 3 races which of course meant there could be no discards in the Individual event meaning consistency was going to be the key to making the podium. The Individual event saw overnight leaders McAllisters (Rory & Oisin) slip to second place with Ben Graf & Lugaidh Croasdel take 1st. Caolann Croasdell and Dermot Harrington took 3rd a clean sweep for the Mirror. Well handicapped on PY they still need to be sailed well in these difficult conditions to stay ahead of some well sailed Lasers, GP14 and 420. In the Team event the Gonzaga team of Loghlen Rickard and Tom Higgins, both incidentally former winners of the Optimist event here, took 1st place ahead of Sligo Grammar's Mirror team (White/Wray, Wray/VanderGrijn, White/Bamber) with in 3rd Belvedere A (Peter Boyle/Tim Coyne, S Crawford, D O’Grady).
With sailors and parents well fed and watered, the packed Clubhouse watched the Croke Park Football final as they waited for the Prize-giving. Club Commodore and main-fleet PRO Jim Lambkin thanked the sailors, their parents and all the volunteers and Club members for making it another superb event. With 107 boats and over 140 sailors from 32 schools it was a tremendous effort. He particularly thanked the help from local Clubs around the bay for providing Ribs and crews to facilitate rescue and mark laying. Here is to next year!
Time was when youth sailing and junior sport generally were dealt with very cautiously by mainstream media, if at all writes W M Nixon. Apart from the need to provide space for young people to develop their personalities and sporting skills unhindered by too much attention and expectation, the youthful sportsmen and women and their activities were changing so rapidly that what they were doing, or had recently achieved, had already become history by the time they were properly recorded and analysed.
Then inevitably with rising stars there come the awkward years of the late teens when they’re growing into young adults, with the possibility of a psychological reaction against activities which have dominated their formative years, exacerbated by the fact that they have difficult career and training choices to make.
Ideally, it may well be that all this should happen out of the limelight. But the development of social media, and a much greater understanding of the support and coaching needs of potential high performers at important stages in their development, has made youth sport much more public. It can be tough at times – very tough, in fact - for the participants and their family and friends and supporters. But these days, everyone is aware of the scale of the challenge, and of the ways that encouragement and special services can be provided when necessary for those at every level of performance.
On this weekend of all weekends, with the ISA All-Ireland Junior Sailing Championship being staged at Schull where David Harte at the Fastnet Marine & Outdoor Education Centre has done so much to encourage new talent at local and national level, it’s timely to stock-take on this year’s top Irish junior sailing achievements at home and abroad to provide further insight into where we’re going from here, knowing that while sailing ability can manifest itself at all ages, the key Olympic success years seem to be between 25 and 36.
With all Ireland still basking in the glow of Annalise Murphy’s Olympic Sailing Silver Medal, we can have little doubt that this is a game-changer in the provision of resources for our sailing. The central decision makers are analysing facts and figures which will guide them in their sourcing and allocation of support for developing facilities, for particular boat classes, and for individual athletes and their personal programmes.
It will of course ultimately depend on increased funding, and the subsequent sensible use of resources. But when we look back on the achievements already logged by young Irish sailors in 2016 when - from time to time - sailing’s general public became aware of how some campaigns were somehow progressing despite a woeful lack of resources, it’s understandable that two viewpoints can emerge.
One of these will point to the British model, where the rise towards Olympics heights of achievement came with generous support through National Lottery funding going to those who achieved the required levels. But this was done with a ruthless weeding-out of those who didn’t quite make the grade. “Sport for All” this was not, but then that’s the way the Olympics are – it’s sport for the elite, while providing sport-watching for all.
Yet even as the wealthier nations made their regal progress towards Rio and other major events, Ireland was scoring tops in doing well on a shoestring. We carried features here on Afloat.ie on how the 19-year-old Finn Lynch (he only turned 20 in April) was battling towards an Olympic place in the Laser supported by a private funding initiative organised by Carmel Winkelmann of the National Yacht Club, while before that we’d a look at the rapidly rising talent of an even younger star, Aoife Hopkins.
But the stories of Finn Lynch and Aoife Hopkins were only two of many stories of young Irish sailing stars who continued to achieve international success in campaigns mainly supported by family and friends rather than through any official channels. For the ISA resources were limited, and the reality at the top level is that a sizeable chunk of the money available must go to professional input from coaches, sailing partners, psychologists, physiotherapists, nutrionists, marine technology experts and so forth, and the best of these specialists are expensive stars in their own right.
The achievement of success in the face of limited resources was heart-warming stuff. But having seen since the very beginning of the year the return of young Irish sailors – some of them very young indeed – fresh from success in significant events abroad, it is reasonable to hope that as they progress up the ladder, they can expect support of a more structured kind than the ad hoc raising of funds we were seeing with young sailors like Finn Lynch, Aoife Hopkins, Ewan McMahon and several others, who had found themselves placing reliance on the kindness of strangers in sometimes very distant countries in order to nourish and develop their talents.
Inevitably, there’ll be those who say that making it tough in every way at various crucial stages is part of the character development process necessary to produce champions. But experience indicates that, on the contrary, understanding, encouragement and support -including the absence of anxiety about basic funding – is the environment within which talent will best flourish, for heaven knows it’s tough enough already out there on the international racecourses and through the selection processes.
In a telling interview with Afloat.ie on July 26th a clear three weeks before Annalise won her medal, Colm Barrington of the Olympic Steering Group gave a succinct summing-up and analysis of the Irish Olympic sailing situation, and his thoughtful conclusions are more relevant than ever. For although he is standing down as Chair of the Olympic Steering Group, his formidable talents are focused on the Irish Sailing Foundation www.sailingfoundation.ie/the-foundation/ which he played the key role in establishing in order to support, develop and make sustainable a repeatable structure that is already basically in place with the James O’Callaghan–directed ISA Performance Pathway, and thus the ISF is very much in the business of high–powered fund raising.
This has its own unique challenge in that sailing only genuinely comes centre stage in the national consciousness every four years when the Olympics are taking place, while in between it can very easily slip below public awareness. And it’s understandable that for ordinary sailors who potter about the seas in their local events or simply through going cruising, whether by day or for longer periods, all this begins to sound like some high-powered project from the business pages of a leading newspaper or website, rather than bolstering the wellbeing of their beloved sport whose attraction for such people might be the opportunity it offers to get well away from the frenetic world of the higher reaches of commerce.
So perhaps if we put more human faces and stories into the mix, maybe we’ll all feel less intimidated. Certainly my own recollection of this year’s junior successes began early in January when a group of us went up to Dublin Airport in a little expedition organised by Howth YC’s newly-elected Commodore Berchmans Gannon to welcome home Dougie Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan, complete with their new Bronze Medals from the 420 in the Youth Worlds in Malaysia.
Now young Dougie is from Kilkenny and started his sailing in Dunmore East, and is every bit as well-known around Crosshaven, while Colin O’Sullivan is a product of the wonderful sailing nursery of Malahide. But as it happens, for some years now Graeme Grant has been running an intensive 420 programme at Howth, and he produces potential stars who then come under the wing of 420 National Coach Ross Killian. The result is that while the rest of us were enjoying typical late December and early January weather in Ireland, the Elmes-O’Sullivan-Killian combo were campaigning successfully in Langkawi where the sun seems to have shone all the time, and Howth YC were quick to put down a marker for their claim to the newly-won title.
It was a good start to the year, and it was an experience which makes you look with benign fellow-feeling on TV news snips of people welcoming home sports star at the airport. But it would only have been in their innermost utterly secret thoughts that anyone might have harboured the dream that before the summer was out, on a balmy August night we’d see the most unbelievable outpouring of what seemed the entire Irish sailing community’s joy at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, when Annalise was honoured for her Silver Medal, a celebration which has now rightly entered the ranks of Irish sailing mythology.
But while both medals marked highs, their celebrations provided opportunities to learn again of the enormous efforts which go into any realistic sailing campaign, from the highly technical to the very mundane. For instance, if your developing sailing star is still under the age of 17, they won’t be eligible to drive a car. Thus the logistics of finding the best young sailing competition in Ireland means that the Mum & Dad Towing & Taxi Service is an essential component for any worthwhile campaign, and frequently it can involve the whole family.
The late Claire Bateman endearingly remarked that she could always tell that Spring was just around the corner when, towards the end of the week, she noticed an increase in the number of Dublin-registered 4X4s (not all shiny new by any means), trundling along the Cork-Bandon road with an Optimist on top, maybe another couple of Optys on a double trailer astern, the vehicle itself packed with assorted parents and kids and their baggage and gear, and the family mutt with its head hanging out the window, the whole shebang on its way to the big Optimist national opener down at Baltimore.
When you’ve grown up in a family where that’s an accepted part of life, the commitment and sacrifice essential for working up towards realistic international competition will be in your DNA, And there must be a dozen book-length family stories in this lineup of Irish youth sailing successes during 2016, all of which have been reported in Afloat.ie. Nevertheless it’s quite an impact when you see Irish successes in this mind-blowing list:
420 Class: Douglas Elmes & Colin O’Sullivan: Bronze Medal
LASER RADIAL WORLDS U19
2nd Nicole Hemeryck, 6th Jenny Fekkes, 8th Sally Bell.
LASER RADIAL WORLDS (Girls)
7th Nicole Hemeryck, 11th Aoife Hopkins
LASER RADIAL WORLDS U17
6th Ronan Walsh
Girls: 1st Sophie Crosbie, 2nd Ella Hemeryck, 3rd Jenna McCarlie
Junior Fleet: 3rd Justin Lucas
1st Ewan McMahon, 3rd Johnny Durcan
3rd Liam Glynn (6th OA), 7th Ewan McMahon
The high point has to be Ewan McMahon’s winning of the Silver Medal at the KBC Laser Radial Worlds in Dun Laoghaire from 23rd to 30th July, a massive event which in all attracted nearly 350 entries from 48 countries. McMahon, who had just turned 17 in June, has by no means had it easy progressing to the top ranks. He found most fulfillment and great success in racing a 420, but became too tall for that two-man boat (he is now 6ft 2ins, though extraodinarily thin), and had to find his way in the Laser Radial as best he could with no access to significant central funding during 2015.
Yet somehow he got himself to Canada for the Worlds entirely on his own with no supporting coach, got himself organized with accommodation and a chartered boat, and got to grips with racing a Laser Radial at world level. A year later, he almost wins the Gold, and has a very good Silver and a triumphal lifting ashore in Dun Laoghaire. Just recently, as a reward for that Silver Medal, Team Aqua invited him out to Cascais for three days of racing earlier this week aboard their RC 44 in highly intensive fleet racing from which he emerged unscathed, only to return to school on Thursday and break his toe on the first day back in the classroom…..
That’s one of the problems with junior sailors. They’re so hyper-active that they seem to sustain more than their fair share of injuries which aren’t necessarily related to sailing, but the recuperation process can certainly foul up sailing campaign plans. Even Annalise Murphy herself reportedly managed a broken nose a long time ago when out on some intensive training cycling, but a vital point she made at that gala reception in the National YC on August 25th was that she has never sustained an injury or any disablement while sailing, and she credits that to a large extent on the very positive input from leading sports physiotherapist Mark McCabe.
This emphasis on the need for young sailors to have access to proper physio services is enthusiastically supported by Oisine Hannan, the mother of the Hemeryck sisters Nicole and Ella who are both in our list of junior achievers. Oisine is a mine of information on everything to do with supporting junior sailing campaigns, and she is also a physiotherapist by profession. Yet when her eldest daughter Nicole began to experience a sore back after moving up from Topper racing to a Laser, a consultation was arranged with Mark McCabe, and things were put right.
But at least with anything involving Lasers, finding competition locally and nationally is a straightforward business. So spare a thought for sailing mother Yvonne Durcan of Cork. For although Johnny, one of her twin sons, was happy enough campaigning a Laser with many successes which are listed above, twin brother Harry only had eyes for the First 29er skiff, and he persuaded young Harry Whittaker to join him for a spot of campaigning.
The trouble is, 29ers are about as rare as hen’s teeth in Ireland, and that includes Crosshaven. Thus the two boys found themselves linking up with a small 29er group in Scotland who had a coach, but most of the time they were just training themselves against the clock, tearing around Cork Harbour entirely on their own, perfecting various manoeuvres while trying to imagine they were in the midst of a fleet of 29ers.
The situation was encapsulated by young Durcan doing his final school exam on the 26th June, and then departing that same evening for a campaign which saw them get 23rd in the 29er Worlds in Medemblik in Holland, a very respectable result. But it was only the beginning. By the time the UK 29er Nationals were held in Torbay in Devon, the two Harrys were flying, and they won overall against a fleet which included the Bronze Medallists from the Worlds. So now their sights are set on getting to the 29er Worlds 2017 in California. Following that, they might consider joining the 49ers, but that’s another day’s work. For now, the target is raising the resources to get to California, and in the meantime finding 29er competition wheresoever it might be.
In discussing top level adult sailing, inevitably the point comes up that even with all the support in resources and personnel which might be made available, there are inevitably a few times when the individual athlete will feel very much alone. But with young sailors of exceptional promise and ambition in Ireland, not only are there many times when they personally feel very much alone, but their families can actually feel isolated by the uphill struggle to support, help and nurture the young talent.
Let us hope that with the tidal wave of goodwill which is engulfing Irish sailing following the Olympic Silver Medal, we can find some way to take some of the strain off young sailors and their families who make enormous personal sacrifice in pursuit of a dream which, if achieved, the rest of us are only too happy to share.
Following their unprecedented success over the past months and years, the Ireland's Eye Kilcullen team threw a typically 'understated' celebration in Howth Yacht Club last Saturday night. Many of this team were founder participants in the K25 (under 25) programme when it was initiated in 2009 and now see themselves not only as successful graduates, but they've also developed and set the standard at the very highest level for those youth sailors from Howth following behind them.
In an extraordinarily short few years to the end of August this year and in addition to their numerous regional titles, the Ireland's Eye Kilcullen team held J24 National titles, ICRA National title, Match Racing National title (with former team member Ryan Scott), twice J24 European Under 25 winners, European IRC silver medal and won J24 European Championship bronze recently. Their last spectacular accomplishment in retaining their J24 National title in Dun Laoghaire recently seemed to slip past most of the sailing press's notice, where they sailed a flawless national championship series to win the title with seven straight race wins.
Most of this team will now be stepping down to make way for the next aspiring group of teenage and youth sailors motivated to replicate their success. As the remainder of the team now reaches 25 years of age, the youngest team member (Cian Manley) is empowered with forming and bringing one of the next teams through.
So what happens in the lives of these guys next? It was always possible that the K25 initiative would seed opportunities for those wishing to join the professional sailing circuit and Luke Malcolm seems to have relished this prospect, as he's currently spending the remainder of this year doing many of the RYA accreditation modules in the south of England. In tactician and sport science graduate Gordon Stirling, the K25's loss is Ulster Rugby's gain, because 'Gordo' is now working with them as Strength and Conditioning Coach. Having been one of HYC's youngest Senior Instructors just a few short years ago, helmsman Cillian Dickson will now be applying his time to concentrate on studying for his Actuarial Science Degree. The final member of the 'retired' team is Sam O'Byrne, who's own 'DropChef' business with another former K25 member (Ryan Scott) will undoubtedly flourish under the Howthman's relentless energy.
Acknowledging the support given to the squad since it's inception, the guys were quick to thank The gift to Ireland's Eye Knitwear included gold, silver and bronze medals won by the team. The gift to Ireland's Eye Knitwear included gold, silver and bronze medals won by the team their sponsors including local knitware company 'Ireland's Eye' - presenting Brendan and Paul O'Sullivan with a specially framed photo set integrated with gold (ISA National J24 title), silver (IRC Europeans) and bronze (J24 European) medals. In addition to hosting dinner in the club for the sponsors, they invited K25 mentors Brian McDowell and Fergus O'Kelly and former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to thank them and the club for their support of this hugely successful youth initiative. The team was also quick to thank coach Graeme Grant and others such as Paddy Gregory and Ian Malcolm for their help with logistics.
Brian Turvey praised the team for the way in which they applied themselves and developed as an extraordinarily capable force not just in terms of race results but also as ambassadors for Howth Yacht Club.
With the provision of three J24 keelboats (by Enda O'Coineen and Brian McDowell) and access to the HYC's five new J80s, the K25 initiative continues to build and young sailors interested in developing their sailing skills in a team-focused environment with a view to high-performance achievement should contact [email protected] for further information.