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The Irish National Optimist Championships starting on Thursday 11th August at the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Dublin Bay is expected to attract 200 entries but it is understood only four of these are from Northern Ireland.

They are, from East Antrim BC on Larne Lough, three siblings from the Doig family, George, Freddie and Penny who will be racing in the Irish Championship fleet, as will be Matthew Holden from Ballyholme Yacht Club. George (12) is in the Junior fleet, Freddie (13) in the Senior fleet and Penny who is 9 will race in the Regatta Racing division. Matthew will also race in the Senior fleet.

(From l to r) George, Penny and Freddie Doig(From l to r) George, Penny and Freddie Doig

There used to be a few Optimist strongholds in the North, one of which was on the relatively sheltered waters at Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock but now the two main dinghy fleets are Toppers and Lasers. The East Antrim Boat Club has had something of an Optimist revival, as the original fleet dwindled and Toppers became popular but now the Optimists are growing in number.

Chief race officers David Lovegrove and David Bolger will be keeping the huge fleets in order over the four-day event which is sponsored by Avolon, Grant Thornton and Seachange Now.

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Royal St George Yacht Club organisers expect up to 200 entries for this year's bumper Irish Optimist National Championships at Dun Laoghaire Harbour from 11-14 August.

Over 190 entries have been received, with several dozen boats coming from the UK.

The Main Fleet is now at capacity at 130 entries, with a further 20 Regatta Fleet entries expected between now and the close of entry.

The event is sponsored by Avolon, Grant Thornton and Seachange Now.

This year, IODAI are breaking from the traditional format for the Regatta Fleet and introducing a coached and non-coached racing event for these participants. Coached Regatta Fleet sailors will remain in the confines of Dun Laoghaire harbour, while non-coached Racing Regatta Fleet sailors will sail outside the harbour, weather permitting. This will enable those sailors to experience something closer to Main Fleet racing on a slightly larger race course than they are typically used to while remaining with their peers. The idea is that these sailors will look to progress to Main Fleet in the distant future.

Optimist_RstGyc

As well as a superb racing format, under the watchful and experienced eye of chief race officers David Lovegrove and David Bolger, the Royal St George has laid on a complete social itinerary to keep sailors and families entertained for the duration of the four-day event. One hotly anticipated item is a Q&A session with past national champions.

Event information can be found here

Published in RStGYC

9th and 10th of July will see one of the largest competitive fleets seen in Galway Bay for many years take to the water for the Connacht Optimist Championships which is being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club.

Up to 150 boats from all corners of Ireland are expected to descend to allow the nation’s young sailors to battle it out in seven different fleets.

The competition will cater for a huge range of ages and abilities. There will be a senior fleet for the older children while the younger children in the junior fleet will have a shorter course to negotiate for each race. There will also be a coached Regatta fleet in the more sheltered waters closer to shore for those still learning their trade and working their way up to the main competitive races. Both the senior and junior fleets are separated into gold, silver and bronze groupings, ensuring a broad spectrum of participation and meaningful races across a range of abilities.

The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore.

Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech.

The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. An event of this size requires a huge volunteer effort. The competitors are grateful to all the volunteers who will be contributing time, effort and boats to ensuring their safety both on and off the water, with Safety Officer John Collins co-ordinating operations. All the sailing clubs around Galway Bay have come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.

The Optimist class originated in the 1940s and is now sailed in over 120 countries across the world. It is by far the most popular class of sailing boats for children aged between eight and thirteen. Despite its somewhat dumpy look, it has proven itself as an excellent boat for generations of children to learn the nuances of competitive racing. Most of Ireland’s sailing Olympians, including Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, learned their trade in the Optimist class.

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Skerries Sailing Club was a hive of activity last weekend as 113 enthusiastic young sailors aged 8-15 gathered from all over Ireland for the second regional event on the 2022 IODAI circuit, the Optimist Leinster Championships.

The sailing club put on a great reception for sailors and parents alike. The all-important goodie bags, including T-Shirts and ice cream vouchers got the thumbs up from the whole fleet.

In the main fleet Race Officer Liam Dinneen and his team made the most of the steady 10-15 knot Northwesterlies by getting four races completed for both Junior and Senior Main Fleet Divisions on Saturday. Sunday threatened to be a day of even stronger Northerlies, but fortunately, the wind abated for a few hours allowing a full schedule of six races to be completed.

 The Irish Optimist fleet in action including UKR71 The Irish Optimist fleet in action including UKR71 Photo: Anne Marie Hickey

A particular highlight of the weekend was the consistent series put together by talented Ukranian Sailor Sasha Bezpalyi sailing in his first regatta in Ireland.

In the Senior Main Gold Fleet Harry Dunne from Howth Yacht Club took 1st place, with Sasha (sailing with MYC) in 2nd place and Abigail Murphy from RSGYC in 3rd.

Juliet Ryan 1st Place in Junior Main Gold Fleet.Juliet Ryan won the Junior Main Gold Fleet Photo: Anne Marie Hickey

In the Junior Main Fleet Gold Division, Juliet Ryan from Malahide Yacht Club was 1st, closely following by clubmate Patrick Fegan in 2nd place and Andrew Mannion from LRYC in 3rd place.

Meanwhile in the Regatta Fleet, Race Officer Kieran Branagan packed in 7 races across the two days. Aurele Dion from NYC put together an extremely consistent series to take 1st place ahead of Charlie McKibben Monkstown Bay Sailing Club and Jacob Browne from NYC.

Aurele Dion took first place in the Regatta FleetAurele Dion 1st Place in Regatta Fleet Photo: Anne Marie Hickey

Skerries SC also had 11 local sailors competing and for many it was their first experience of a large regional regatta. It's hoped this will kickstart a Skerries Optimist Team that will take to the circuit later this year.

The event organisers are extremely appreciative for the support from their huge team of local volunteers, as well as the neighbouring sailing clubs and individuals who provided additional safety boats for the weekend.

 The Optimist fleet with Rockabill Lighthouse in the backgroundThe Optimist fleet with Rockabill Lighthouse in the background Photo: Anne Marie Hickey

Skerries SC would also like to acknowledge the generous support from our sponsors including Fingal County Council, CraftInsure, Stoop Your Head Restaurant, Oakes Pharmacy, Med Account Services, Coco C and Colour Green Landscaping.

Next on the agenda for the Optimist fleet will be a trip west to Oranmore, Galway Bay for the Connaught Championships at GBSC on 9&10 July.

Results here

Published in Optimist

Royal Cork's Oisin Pierse (14) won the Optimist Munster Championships on home waters after six races sailed in a 46-boat senior fleet. 

With three wins on his scorecard, the Gaelcholáiste Carrigaline schoolboy was nine points ahead of Royal St. George Yacht Club's Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell on 16 points. On 24 points, Malahide Yacht Club's Conor Cronin finished third. 

119 boats in three fleets contested the Championships hosted by Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven.

Both junior and senior fleets sailed the same course (with separate starts) on the Curlane bank in Cork Harbour.

Southwest winds of eight knots with gusts of 12/14 made for ideal sailing conditions for the youth sailors. 

In the Main Fleet race area, a decent tide and some gusty conditions made the race track a tricky read but the pre-event favourites managed the conditions well and took their expected places on the leader board.

Peter Crowley in his Committee Vessel Sparetime was in charge of both fleets with Race Officer Tom Crosbie in charge of the Regatta fleet and also racing on the Curlane Bank. 

Malahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan took two wins from four races ins the Junior fleet of the Optimist Munster Championships at Royal Cork Photo: Bob BatemanMalahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan was the Junior fleet winner of the Optimist Munster Championships at Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

In the Junior fleet, the overnight positions from Saturday's first three races were maintained with Malahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan clinching the title on 10 points, four clear of Royal St. George Yacht Club's Max O'Hare in second overall. Third was Royal Cork's, Dougie Venner. 

With no protests, a prizegiving followed on Sunday afternoon. Slight technical issues with the PA system left RCYC Optimist Class Captain Rob Bateman voicing the prize winners at the top of his voice.

Opening the proceedings, he welcomed Alex Walsh of IODAI, followed by RVYC’s Rear Admiral Dinghies Maurice Collins and rounded off by Cllr. Marcia D’Alton, Chairperson from the Carrigaline Municipal District Committee of Cork County Council.

See the racing gallery of images from day one of the championships here

Bob Bateman's Optimist Munster Championships Prizegiving Photo Gallery

Regatta Fleet
1st Charlie McKieben MBSC
2nd Aurale Dion NYC
3rd Oliver Ryan MYC
4th Alex Butcher MYC
5th Theo Carney Cove SC

Best under 11 Emily Lynch RCYC
Best under 10 Louis Murphy Royal St.George YC
Best under 9 Arthur Fegan MYC

Coaches award
Most improved Matt HIras RCYC
Sportsmanship award Brendan Hughes RCYC

Youngest sailor award Fionn Pierse RCYC

Junior Fleet
Bronze
1st Finn Foley Royal St.George YC
2nd Emily Donogh Lough Derg YC
3rd Maeve Donogh Lough Derg YC
4th Thomas A Coistealbha MYC
5th Lily Donogh Lough Derg YC

Silver
1st Max O’Hare Royal St.George YC
2nd Patrick Fegan MYC
3rd Rian O’Neil RCYC
4th George Doig East Antrim Boat Club
5th Paudie A Coistealbha

Gold
1st Juliet Ryan MYC
2nd Dougie Venner RCYC
3rd James Gorman NYC
4th Olin Bateman RCYC

Senior Fleet
Bronze
1st Gemma Brady Lough Derg YC
2nd Grace Keating Lough Derg YC
3rd Conor O’Sullivan MYC

4th Henrietta Leach Lough Ree YC
5th Nathan Harris Waterford Harbour SC

Silver
1st Felix Dion NYC
2nd Marcus Shelley Royal St.George YC
3rd Hannah Scott Royal St.George YC
4th Zita Tempany Royal St. George YC
5th Suin A Coistealbha

Gold
1st Oisin Pierse RCYC
2nd Caoileann Geraghty McDonnell Royal St.George YC
3rd Conor Cronin MYC
4th Jules Start Royal St. George YC
5th Grace Cronin Royal St.George YC

More results are here

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Fresh from his IODAI Optimist Trials success at Ballyholme at Easter, Royal Cork's Oisin Pierse has taken the overall lead on home waters at the Optimist Munster Championships after four races sailed in the 46-boat senior fleet. 

119 boats in three fleets are contesting the Championships hosted by Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven this weekend.

On six points, Malahide Yacht Club's Conor Cronin lies second to Pierse with Royal St. George Yacht Club's Carolina Carra in third place on eight points. 

Both junior and senior fleets sailed the same course (with separate starts) on the Curlane bank in Cork Harbour.

Southwest winds of eight knots with gusts of 12/14 made for ideal sailing conditions for the youth sailors. 

Peter Crowley in his Committee Vessel Sparetime was in charge of both fleets with Race Officer Tom Crosbie in charge of the Regatta fleet and also racing on the Curlane Bank. 

Malahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan took two wins from four races ins the Junior fleet of the Optimist Munster Championships at Royal Cork Photo: Bob BatemanMalahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan took two wins from four races ins the Junior fleet of the Optimist Munster Championships at Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

In the Junior fleet, Malahide Yacht Club's Juliet Ryan leads on  5.0 points from Royal St. George Yacht Club's Max O'Hare Third is Royal Cork's Dougie Venner. 

Racing continues for all fleets on Sunday.

Results are here

Bob Bateman's Optimist Munster Championships Photo Gallery

Published in Optimist

Two race wins on the final day for Oisin Pierse (Royal Cork Yacht Club) sealed the IODAI Optimist Trials at Ballyholme Yacht Club in the 49-boat fleet on Sunday.

The Cork Harbour talent finished the youth sailing series with five race wins from a total of 11 sailed giving him 19 points overall.

Oisin is 14-years-old and has sailed out of the Royal Cork since he was eight. He also sails occasionally in Fenit, County Kerry. Oisin attends the Gaelcholáiste in Carrigaline and lives overlooking the mouth of Cork Harbour.

Second on Belfast Lough was Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell from the RStGYC who had kept the pressure on the Crosshaven youth throughout the championships.

Howth Yacht Club's Harry Dunne displaced Carolina Carra of the RSGYC on the final day to take third place overall.

Harry Dunne from Howth Yacht Club does a dissapearing act after rounding the weather mark of R5 during the IODAI Optimist Trials 2022Harry Dunne from Howth Yacht Club does a dissapearing act after rounding the weather mark of R5 during the IODAI Optimist Trials 2022

Based on the weekend events, the IODAI will now decide on the composition of the Irish squads for this summer's World and European championships.

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Oisin Pierse of the Royal Cork Yacht Club leads the IODAI Optimist Trials at Ballyholme Yacht Club with the final races to be sailed on Sunday.

The 49-boat Optimist fleet is the largest sailing at this weekend's Youth Sailing Championships on Belfast Lough.

Lying second is Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell from the RStGYC with clubmate Carolina Carra in third place overall.

Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell (2021 National Champion), currently in second place at the IODAI 2022 Trials sailed out of Ballyholme Yacht Club.Caoilinn Geraghty-McDonnell (2021 National Champion), currently in second place at the IODAI 2022 Trials sailed out of Ballyholme Yacht Club

Conor Cronin (Malahide and Howth Yacht Club, 1634), Lucy Moynan (Royal Cork Yacht Club, 1620) and Jules Start (Royal St.George Yacht Club,1588) approaching the windward mark during Race 5 of the IODAI 2022 Trials sailed out of Ballyholme Yacht Club.Conor Cronin (Malahide and Howth Yacht Club, 1634), Lucy Moynan (Royal Cork Yacht Club, 1620) and Jules Start (Royal St.George Yacht Club,1588) approaching the windward mark during Race 5 of the IODAI 2022 Trials sailed out of Ballyholme Yacht Club

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A superyacht linked to sanctioned billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was met with a protest as it arrived at port in Bodrum, Turkey.

Members of the Optimist dinghy Sailing Team Ukraine met the vessel in a small boat, chanting "no war in Ukraine" and waving their country's flag.

They were part of a junior sailing team that was in Turkey to compete in an annual competition, having left Ukraine before the Russian invasion.

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The final stop on the Optimist dinghy calendar found this intrepid bunch of sailors and their families back in Malahide Yacht Club for the IODAI National Training Week 27-30th October sponsored by CH Marine, the Grand Hotel and Dinghy Performance.

Ninety-five competitors were led by Head Coach Soren Laugesen (Denmark) and Senior Coach David Harte, along with the top national coaches.

This was a week that had something for everyone; big breeze on the Wednesday, light winds on Thursday, information sessions for class captains and parents on Friday and of course, the Halloween Regatta on Saturday. Not to mention the appearance of Olympic hero Annalise Murphy, who came to debrief the youngest of the fleet when they returned to shore and field all their many and varied questions. Trying to explain transits to eight-year-olds and why the trees don't actually need to be in the sea would test anyone's resilience but she rose to the challenge. Her presence was a huge lift to the sailors who hung on her every word.

Optimist The Optimists are briefed ashore at Malahide

The training week also saw the U12 and Development squads announced and selected sailors were able to train together as a group during the event. They will train and compete together throughout the 2022 season.

Onshore there was a dinner held in the Grand Hotel with fun and games organised for younger sailors while parents got to catch up. Class captains from all around the country met, exchanged ideas and Alex Walsh and Brendan Foley of IODAI presented the strategy for the development of the class for 2022.

The Halloween Regatta, which took place on the Saturday and also incorporated the Crosbie Cup saw OOD Neil Murphy run the main fleet off one start, getting through four races in a consistent breeze. The regatta is a precursor to Trails next year, allowing sailors from both the senior and junior fleets to compete against one another.

Optimists competing at the Broadmeadow in MalahideOptimists competing at the Broadmeadow in Malahide

William Walsh (NYC), for whom this was his last regatta, comprehensively led the way and took first place overall and first in Senior Main, closely followed by Oisin Pierse (RCYC) and Harry Dunne (HYC). The Junior Fleet saw two local sailors continue their close rivalry, Juliet Ryan (MYC) took first place, this time, with Conor Cronin (MYC) in second and Lucy Moynan (RCYC) in third. Ben Keating (HYC) finished in first place in the Junior Silver Fleet taking home with him the Crosbie Cup too.

Former MYC Commodore, Graham Smith took charge of the Regatta Fleet for the second time this year. As a number of sailors had progressed through the fleet during the season, there were lots of new faces and strong showings from

Hugo Breen (LRYC), James Crawford (RSt.George Yacht Club), Aurele Dion (NYC), Charlie McKibben (MBSC) and Alex Butcher (MYC) finished first to fifth accordingly

It was a fitting end to the year, cementing many friendships in the Oppie family as well as showcasing the sailors abilities and results of their hard work throughout the year.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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