Howth Yacht Club's Douglas Elmes (17) and Colin O'Sullivan (16) have won a bronze medal for Ireland at the World Youth Sailing Championships that concluded in Malaysia today. The Irish National Champions sailed a consistent series in the 420 dinghy that saw them edge out a top Australian pairing in the closing stage of the nine race regatta to take Ireland's first double–handed world youth medal in 19 years.
Irish celebrations started as soon as the boys hit the beach in Langkawi to toast the result that equals the ISAF double handed bronze won by Laura Dillon and Ciara Peelo in the Laser II dinghy two decades ago. In another boost for Irish youth sailing, it is the third youth medal in four years for Ireland with Laser sailors Finn Lynch and Seafra Guilfoyle winning world silver in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Strong breezes swept the pair to the top of the fleet at the early stages in the competition, stunning some of their international competition but there was no surprise in the Irish camp when the on form duo moved into third overall on Wednesday after four races. They leap–frogged last year's Singaporean gold medallist Singapore's Jia Yi Loh, now sailing with Matthew Lau, in fourth to include a well earned win in race three. Although they dropped to fourth and on equal points wih Brazil in race seven, a race eight disqualification for the Aussies, Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston Smith, handed a bronze opportunity – and a possible silver too – to Ireland.
In the end, Gold went to American's Will Logue and Bram Brakman with a race to spare, the silver medal went to Brazil's Leonardo Lombardi and Rodrigo Luz, as they had a third in the last race, to finish on 37 points.
Elmes and O'Sullivan held off a late fight back in race nine from the Australian's and Argentina's Felipe Martinez, Autin Diniz and Ivan Aranguren, to claim bronze on 46 points. The Australian's scored a ninth and finished on 48 points and the Argentinian's took a bullet for 49 points. Elmes and O'Sullivan (below) finished 11th in the final race but had some breathing space going into the day, just enough to ensure Ireland was not going to be denied its long overdue double–handed medal.
Douglas Elmes (left) and Colin O'Sullivan World Youth Sailing Bronze medal winners in the 420 dinghy
As David O'Brien reported in the Irish Times reported last Friday, the Irish Leaving certificate students left for Malaysia on a high note this month when they won an end of season UK regatta to put them in top gear ahead of their Youth Worlds debut. It's not the only season success either; Elmes from Kilkenny and O'Sullivan from Malahide, now sailing together for 15 months, made a clean sweep of the Irish calendar, taking all four regional championships.
The former Optimist sailors also took a strong fifth place at Kiel week international regatta in Germany in June and – despite a broken toe later in the Summer – made the international qualification for this week's Youth Worlds in Japan at the 420 Worlds.
In addition to the 420 success, Irish sailors Aisling Keller and Liam Glynn had excellent results in the stiffest of competitions. In the Girls Laser Radial class, Lough Derg's Keller finished strongly to earn a 10th place overall - the best result in a generation of youth females. Glynn finished the event strongly and jumped back into the top 15.
The sailors are now preparing for the closing ceremony in Langkawi. Spot the Irish team top left in this video from the venue below: