With four days of an intensive programme getting under way tomorrow (Thursday) on three different course areas off Ballyholme Bay on Belfast Lough, the ISA Youth Sailing Nationals is making a spectacular debut in Northern Ireland writes W M Nixon.
The north in general, and Ballyholme in particular, have produced so many talented sailors that it seems surprising this is the first time the vibrant Ballyholme club, or indeed any club north of the border, has hosted the Youth Nationals in their contemporary guise.
But last summer’s successful Topper Worlds 2016 on Belfast Lough, and before that the F18 Worlds, have clearly shown that Ballyholme’s strong dinghy participation emphasis can confidently transfer itself into superb race management. And they’re certainly pulling out all the stops to deal with a total fleet numbers which should top the 250 mark by the time entries are finalised tomorrow tonight.
Yet even with entries finalised, it’s keeping pace with the new names in the rapid turnover of super-sailors in the junior divisions which test any analysis system. When you’ve a situation where you’re no longer a Youth Sailor after the age of 19, things happen very quickly. And though they’ll allow you to race a Topper at any old age you like (and some do), you’re only in the racing game if you’re under 16, while Optimists draw the serious line at 15, and all classes have further age sub-divisions.
Still and all, we’ll be looking forward to a real ding-dong in the Lasers between Johnny Durcan of Cork and Ewan MacMahon of Howth, who were first and second in last weekend’s 125-boat Munster Laser Championship at Baltimore. Let battle commence.
The ISA add:
Starting tomorrow Ireland’s largest Youth Sailing regatta is the ISA’s primary talent spotting event. The first time the event is being held at Ballyholme Yacht Club and it has over 200 sailors registered – the largest entry ever.
Racing will be held over three race courses and five classes. Organsiers say there will be great racing on the water and good fun at the club ashore.
Evening talks as well as the races are open to all young sailors who sail in the five ISA Youth Pathway Classes (Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, 420, Topper, Optimist).
The ISA squad programmes will resume this summer in the Laser 4.7 and Topper classes, and these classes will have a squad trial to identify future ISA Pathway sailors. In addition, ISA spotters are out to assess sailors for Academy trials for the Laser Radials and 420s. (The Optimists will have separate Class-organised talent spotters).
Eight places on the ISA Topper Squad : In the Topper class up to eight sailors will be selected to join the ISA Topper Squad. The Squad coach and programme will be announced following the event. The programme aimed at developing young Topper sailors will provide training and also support at the 2017 Topper World Championship to be held in Brittany, France in July. Entry to the World championship is independent of ISA squad selection and through the International Topper Class Association.
Five places on the ISA Laser 4.7 Squad: Up to five sailors will be chosen at the ISA Youth Pathway Nationals to join the ISA 4.7 Squad. A further two sailors may be chosen at the 2017 Laser 4.7 Ulster Championship. The ISA 4.7 squad will provide training to help young sailors transition in the Laser 4.7 class. It will also aim to prepare and support the squad for the Laser 4.7 World Championship to be held in Nieuwpoort, Belgium in July. The squad coach and programme will be announced following event. Entry to the 4.7 Worlds is independent of ISA squad selection through the International Laser Class Association.
At 5.30pm each evening there will be a talk and Q&A session at the Ballyholme Yacht Club with speakers who have a deep knowledge of racing. The talks are open to all sailors and parents.
Full list of Evening Speakers:
Wednesday 19th April, BILL O'HARA will discuss “What to consider when preparing for an event - Rules Strategy for racing”. Bill is the current Principal Race Officer for the Volvo Ocean Race, International Umpire and Rules adviser to the Irish Olympic Team.
Thursday 20th April, MATTY MC GOVERN (Double Olympian 49er Class) will talk on “Team Work in Sailing – Preparing a Professional Approach”
Friday 21st April, ANNALISE MURPHY (Olympic Silver medalist) will share her insights in a talk entitled “Beat the Best: Preparing for Competitive Gains at the Olympics”.
Saturday 22nd April, Ross Killian & Russell McGovern (ISA Performance Coaches) will give video analysis and coaching tips from the day’s racing.