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Young sailors from all over Ireland are getting ready to compete in the highly anticipated Irish Optimist Dinghy Association (IODAI) Sprint Series 2024 and Youth Sailing National Championships.

The Sprint Series, is billed as 'one of the most exciting events on the 2024 sailing calendar'.

The series offers young sailors the chance to train and compete over the winter months and to prepare for the upcoming Youth Nationals in April.

The IODAI Sprint Series 2024 will be held on two race days, the first on February 24th at the National Yacht Club and the second on March 23rd at the Lough Derg Yacht Club. Unfortunately, the first leg of the series, scheduled to take place in January at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, had to be cancelled because of high winds.

This series is designed to be accessible to sailors from all parts of Ireland, with a convenient later start and a schedule of four races each day. It gives young sailors ample time to sharpen their skills and prepare for the official start of the sailing season.

But the Sprint Series is not just about racing; it is also an opportunity for young sailors to make lasting friendships and connect with the wider sailing community. As sailors compete and share experiences, they will be part of a supportive network that encourages everyone to strive for their personal best.

The series serves as a vital preparation ground for the Youth Nationals, which will take place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in late April. Success in the Youth Nationals is crucial for sailors aiming to represent Ireland internationally, as the nationals are a selection event for the teams heading to competitions in Italy and France this summer.

The IODAI Sprint Series series serves as a vital preparation ground for the Youth NationalsThe IODAI Sprint Series series serves as a vital preparation ground for the Youth Nationals Photo: Simon McIlwaine

These international events are a significant undertaking for the Optimist class, with some sailors away from their families for up to ten days for the first time. However, the benefits to their sailing and sense of achievement are immense. They offer young sailors the opportunity to don the Irish colours and represent their country on a global stage, grow in confidence, and make friends from around the world.

For those interested in learning more about the IODAI Sprint Series 2024 or getting insights from the recent IODAI webinar on the Youth Nationals and IODAI teams, check out the association's website.

Published in Optimist
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Royal Cork Yacht Club Crosshaven, Co. Cork is all set to host the Youth Sailing Nationals from 4th to the 7th of April.

The event promises great sailing at Easter in Cork Harbour, and entry to the event is now open. Sailors in ILCA 6 & 4, 29er, 420, Topper, and Optimist can participate in the event under Principal Race Officer Anthony O'Leary.

This year, 210 sailors are expected to attend the event, and sailors are encouraged to enter early as places are limited. The event forms part of the selection trials for the 2024 World Sailing Youth Worlds, IODAI Team selection, and National Squads.

Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain will be defending their 29er Youths title, while female European champions Alana Twomey and Lucia Cullen hope to top the podium.

U17 World Champion Sienna Wright will be in action in the ILCA6s in Cork Harbour in April U17 World Champion Sienna Wright will be in action in the ILCA6s in Cork Harbour in April 

In the ILCAs, Sienna Wright, who recently won the U17 ILCA worlds and was second overall in the ILCA 6 Youth worlds in Argentina, is expected to participate.

The Optimist fleet is also expected to be very strong, with more than just a title on the line, as these championships will finalise selection for the IODAI national team for 2024. Sailors are urged to refer to www.iodai.com for information about the IODAI selection policy and Optimist entry. 

With great sailing and tough competition, the Youth Nationals promises to be an exciting event. Don't delay, get your entry in now!

Published in Royal Cork YC

Fourth-placed Sienna Wright of Howth Yacht Club is in a four-way battle for a Youth World Sailing medal in the ILCA 6 class in Brazil.

Just four points separate the top four sailors overall going into Friday's final race.

Roos Wind (NED) took victory in both ILCA 6 female races to lead the competition heading into the final race on Friday.
 
Wind followed on from a bullet in the final race on Wednesday to make it three on the spin and give herself a small two-point cushion with one race remaining.
 
The Dutch sailor edged Petra Marendic (CRO) and Wright in the first race of the day before also beating Adriana Castro Nuñez (ESP) and Annalise Balasubramanian (CAN) in the second.
 
“It was really fun,” said Wind. “It started with 14-15 knots and then building to 20 and for me it was just about having a good start and pushing as hard as I could.
 
“I ended up winning by a lot so it was really fun racing today.”
 
It sets up an enthralling prospect heading into the final race, with just four points separating the top four sailors.
 
Wind sits two points ahead of previous overnight leader Emma Mattivi (ITA), with Marendic a point behind in third and Wright a further point back in fourth.

Four Irish boats and six sailors are competing in Armação dos Buzios in four different classes.

ILCA 6 Male

Ireland's Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC competing in the male ILCA 6 class at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Brazil Photo: HeusiactionIreland's Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC competing in the male ILCA 6 class at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Brazil Photo: Heusiaction 

Mattia Cesana (ITA) maintained his grip on the ILCA 6 male class ahead of the final race of the competition on Friday.
 
Cesana extended his lead to 14 points despite an 11th-place finish in the opening race, which was won by Luka Zabukovec (SLO) ahead of Anton Messeritsch (AUT) and Boris Hirtsch (SUI).
 
The Italian responded with a third-place finish in the second and final race, with Felipe Mallmann Fraquelli (BRA) clinching victory and João Pontes (POR) in second.
 
That result sees Pontes third overall, six points behind Zabukovec, and tied on points with Hidde Schraffordt (NED).

Ireland's Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC regained 19th place from 48 in the male ILCA 6 fleet after eight races sailed.

29er Female
 
Sarah Jannin and Fleur Babin (FRA) won both races in the 29er female class to close the gap at the top of the standings.

The French pair sealed bullets on both outings to move 10 points behind leaders Ewa Lewandowska and Julia Maria Żmudzińska (POL), who have sat in first place overall for the entire competition so far.
 
Jannin and Babin sealed victory in the opening race of the day ahead of Malika Bellomi and Beatrice Conti (ITA) and Lucy Leith and Chloe Turner (NZL), before backing that up with another victory, finishing in front of Bellomi and Conti and Marleen Huisman and Anne de Kort (NED).
 
“It was wonderful on the water,” said Babin. “I had a really nice day. Tomorrow, we hope we can do the same as today.
 
“We are going to do everything to win and find the last energy in us to win.”

Ireland's Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) lie 19th after  UFD and BFD penalties scored in races ten and 11 in the 25-boat Female Skiff 29er class.

29er Male

Official results have not been updated since December 13th in the male 29er class. Ireland's 29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club were in fifth place after nine races sailed in their 30-boat fleet.

Racing concludes on Friday. Results are here

Published in World Sailing
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Consistent sailing from Sienna Wright sees the Howth Yacht Club ace on equal points with the overall leader of the female ILCA 6 fleet at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Brazil and 29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club have moved up from seventh to fifth place.

It was a day of change at the top of the standings across the Youth Sailing World Championships as new leaders emerged after a third day of racing.

Sienna Wright of Howth Yacht Club sits in second overall in the ILCA 6 fleet at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Brazil Photo: World SailingSienna Wright of Howth Yacht Club sits in second overall in the ILCA 6 fleet at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Brazil Photo: World Sailing

Alenka Valencic (SLO) and Roos Wind (NED) both earned bullets to leave little separation between the sailors at the top of the ILCA 6 female class.

Valencic took victory in the day’s opening race, finishing ahead of Sophie Zimmermann (PER) and Petra Marendic (CRO), who sits third overall.

That is just one place and six points ahead of Wind, who bounced back from a 17th-place finish in the opener to pip her Croatian opponent into second for the day’s final race, with Sienna Wright (IRL) third.

That was enough for Wright to sit second overnight, level on points with leader Emma Mattivi (ITA), who posted a pair of sixth-place finishes.

Four Irish boats and six sailors are competing in Armação dos Buzios.

29er Female

Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) lie 16th, dropping back from 11th in the 25 boat Female Skiff 29er class.

Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) lie 16th, round a mark during racing at the World Sailing Youth Championships in the 25 boat Female Skiff 29er class.Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) lie 16th, round a mark during racing at the World Sailing Youth Championships in the 25 boat Female Skiff 29er class

Ewa Lewandowska and Julia Maria Żmudzińska maintained their dominant lead in the 29er female class despite bullets going elsewhere on day three of the competition.

The Polish pair sit 16 points clear of Fleur Babin and Sarah Jannin, who strengthened their grip on second with two bullets.

The French duo edged leaders Lewandowska and Żmudzińska into second on the first and last races of the day, with the other won by Laura Hamilton and Carolina Zager (USA).

The Americans edged Jule Ernst and Louisa Schmidt (GER) and Boróka and Szonja Fehér (HUN), with the Hungarians now third overall.

29er Male/Mixed

Ireland's 29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club have moved up from seventh to fifth place after nine races sailed in their 30 boat fleet.

Karl Devaux and Hugo Revil (FRA) kept their hold on top spot of the 29er male standings but face stiff competition from Alex Demurtas and Giovanni Santi (ITA).
 
Devaux and Revil clinched victory in the opening race of the day, their fourth of the competition, but were not allowed to extend their lead as the Demurtas and Santi won the final two races.
 
The Italians bid to reel in their French rivals who took a blow after a seventh-place finish in race seven, with Lukas Kraus and Ondrej Bastar (CZE) and Charlie Gran and Sam Webb (GBR) finishing behind Devaux and Revil.
 
But Demurtas and Santi bounced back with consecutive bullets to sit 14 points off the summit overnight, edging out the leaders in the day’s final race with Guilherme and Fernando Prazeres Menezes (BRA) taking third to climb to fourth overall, a point behind Gran and Webb.
 
''The wind shifted a lot in intensity,” said Guilherme. “We jumped to fourth in the classification and we’re going with everything we can to reach the top positions tomorrow and look for that podium.”

ILCA 6 Male

Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC stays 20th from 48 in the male ILCA 6 fleet. 

An opening race bullet helped Mattia Cesana (ITA) to the top of the ILCA 6 male standings after the third day of racing.

Cesana took his second race victory of the competition, coming in ahead of Santiago Guinand (PER) and Soma Sigmond (HUN) on another day of mixed results across the fleet.

The second race was won by João Pontes (POR), with Guinand again second and Jack Graham-Troll (GBR) third.

It leaves Cesana with a 12-point lead in the standings after nearest challengers Hidde Schraffordt (NED) and David Ponesti Mesquida (ESP) struggled to close the gap with finishes of 35th and 36th, respectively, in the second race of the day after strong showings in the first.

Racing continues on Thursday. Results are here

Published in World Sailing

Howth Yacht Club's first-day leader Sienna Wright has dropped to fourth overall but just three points off the ILCA 6 Female fleet leader after the second day of racing at the Youth World Sailing Championships in Brazil.

Two second-place finishes fired Adriana Castro Nuñez (ESP) to the top of the ILCA 6 female standings.

The Spaniard finished seventeenth and fifth in Monday’s two races but stormed to the front of the fleet on Tuesday.

Castro Nuñez finished behind Roos Wind (NED) in the day’s opening race, with the Dutchwoman sitting third overall.

“It was a great day,” said Castro Nuñez. “I am really happy with my performance.

“It was quite a complicated day. When we first came out, it was a bit cloudy, then the sun came out, then clouds came back again, and it had quite a big impact.”

Separating the pair is Emma Mattivi (ITA), who earned her second bullet of the competition in race four.

New Zealand’s Naiomi Ferrissey finished third in both races to rise up to seventh, just 10 points off the summit.

Four Irish boats and six sailors are competing in Armação dos Buzios.

29er Female

Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) lie 11th from 25 in the Female Skiff 29er class.

Leaders Ewa Lewandowska and Julia Maria Żmudzińska (POL) continued their fine form with a pair of bullets, but their winning streak was put to an end in the day’s final race by Tea Zeeberg and Cornelia Widestam (SWE).

The Polish pair won the day’s opening two races to make it five victories in a row, edging nearest rivals Fleur Babin and Sarah Jannin (FRA) in race four.

Jule Ernst and Louisa Schmidt (GER) then posted a pair of second-place finishes in races five and six to move up to sixth in the standings.

They sit just behind Zeeberg and Widestam who hauled themselves up to fifth with victory in the last race of the day, breaking the Poles’ winning run in the process.

“It feels very good to be the first one to break their streak,” said Zeeberg. “It is always fun to win the last race of the day and be the first one in.”

29er Male

Ireland's 29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club continue in seventh place after six races sailed in their 30 boat fleet.

Karl Devaux and Hugo Revil (FRA) remain top of the 29er male standings after picking up their third bullet of the competition.

Devaux and Revil won the first race of the day, finishing ahead of nearest challengers Alex Demurtas and Giovanni Santi (ITA) and Sean Kavanagh and Max Celliers (RSA).

The South African pair sit fourth overall after another third-place finish in race five, finishing behind Charlie Gran and Sam Webb (GBR), who claimed their first bullet of the competition.

The Brits now sit third overall, six points behind second-placed Demurtas and Santi, who finished second in all three races, as Cameron Law and Christopher Lam (HKG) took victory in race six.

“It is very good to have this consistency because it was a really difficult day, the wind was very shifty,” said Demurtas. “Other sailors didn’t sail as consistently as us so it is a great feeling for us.”

ILCA 6 Male

There is little to separate those at the top of the ILCA 6 male class, as David Ponseti Mesquida (ESP) and Luka Zabukovec (SLO) both earned victories.

Ponseti Mesquida took the win in the first race of the day, finishing ahead of Erik Norlén (SWE) and Max Stiff (GER), and now sits in fifth, seven points behind leader Hidde Schraffordt (NED).

Norlén is just two points off the top after finishing fifth in Tuesday’s second and final race, which saw Zabukovec take victory ahead of Mattia Cesana (ITA) and Anton Messeritsch (AUT).

Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC is lying 20th from 48.

Published in World Sailing
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Howth Yacht Club talent Sienna Wright leads the ILCA 6 fleet after the first day of racing at the Youth World Sailing Championships in Brazil, with a total of four Irish boats and six sailors competing in Armação dos Buzios.

Croatia’s Petra Marendic was declared an early overall leader in the female one-person class but then disqualified from race one, leaving Wright with a two-point lead at the top of the 45-boat fleet.

“It was a nice day on the water,” said Wright. “The wind was pretty nice, the waves were quite choppy, and there was quite a big swell out there, but the wind was up and down all day.”

The youth world championships scoreboard shows Sienna Wrigtht with a six-point lead in the ILCA 6 Female one person dinghy The 2023 Youth World championships scoreboard shows Sienna Wrigtht with a six-point lead in the ILCA 6 Female One-Person Dinghy 

A strong Cork-Dublin youth sailing team sees three of the four Irish boats sitting in the top ten of their respective fleets after two races sailed.

Female 29er

Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC) are lying sixth from 25 in the Female Skiff 29er class.  A near-flawless opening day on the water fired Lewandowska and Maria Zmudzinska to the top of the 29er female standings.

The Polish pair won all three races to establish an early six-point lead over Fleur Babin and Sarah Jannin (FRA), with Laura Hamilton and Carolina Zager (USA) a further two points back despite a black flag in the opening race.

Male 29er

In the Male/Mixed 29er, a pair of victories handed Devaux and Revil (FRA) the overnight lead in the 29er Male/Mixed class. The French duo, who won the event in 2021, earned bullets in the day’s second and third races to end the day with a 12-point lead at the top of the standings after finishing fifth in the opening race. Ireland's 29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club are lying seventh from 30.

Male ILCA 6 

A pair of third-place finishes guided Hidde Schraffordt (NED) to the top of the ILCA 6 male standings after the first day of sailing, with Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC lying 19th from 48.

There is no Irish representation in the 420, iQFOiL or Formula Kite classes.

 Racing continues on Tuesday. Results are here

Published in World Sailing

A strong Cork-Dublin youth sailing team will represent Ireland in four classes in Monday's Youth World Sailing Championships in Brazil, with a total of four Irish boats and six sailors competing in Armação dos Buzios.

Racing in the 52nd edition of the event sees the world’s best young sailors battling for gold, and Irish performances already this season suggest there may yet be a powerful end to 2023.

The Irish team is drawn from four clubs: Royal Cork is represented by two sailors, Royal St. George by two, National by one and Howth by one.

Buzios last hosted the Youth Worlds at the Clube Armação de Búzios in 2009, with athletes returning to the popular holiday destination to get a taste of its rich sailing history.

Female 29er class

Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YCLucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC

The 2022 silver medallist from France, Fleur Babin, has a new partner in the female 29er, making waves with Sarah Jannin this time out.

The competition will come from Slovenia’s Alja Petric, who has teamed up with Tarin Pecar following a bronze medal-winning performance alongside Katja Filipic in Oman.

Competing for Ireland are Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey (Royal St. George YC and Royal Cork YC). The Cork/Dublin duo built on their success from 2022 in the 29er class, winning two more titles in 2023. As Afloat reported previously, they placed third female at the 29er Worlds in Weymouth, UK. They then went on to take the Female European title and the 29er European Championships in Sweden

Male 29er class

29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club Photo: Mogens Hansen

It’s a family affair in the 29er class as brothers Andrew and Tyler Lamm line up for the USA after clinching the US Youth Sailing Championships earlier this year.

They will not be the only brothers on the starting line, though, with Spain’s Simon and Mateo Codoñer Alemany also in the mix after winning silver in the 2021 event in Oman.

However, all eyes will be on France’s Hugo Revil and Karl Devaux, who grabbed Youth Worlds gold in 2021 and added the EuroCup series title to their belts earlier this year.

29er European Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain of Royal Cork YC and the National Yacht Club have had an incredibly impressive progression in this fleet, winning title after title. Although they had a setback at the 29er World Championships in Weymouth, they still placed second at the British Nationals the week before it and are also the Irish Youth and National Champions. 

Male ILCA 6

Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC (right) Photo: Annraoi BlaneyFiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC (right) Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the male ILCA 6, Luka Zabukovec of Slovenia is back on the water as the only previous medal winner in the event and from Ireland, Fiachra McDonnell of the Royal St. George YC is in action after progressing into the ILCA 7 class, being introduced to some of Olympian Finn Lynch's training camps this season.

Most recently, McDonnell competed at the U21 ILCA World Championships in Morocco. 

Female ILCA 6

Sienna Wright (Howth Yacht Club)Sienna Wright (Howth Yacht Club)

A relatively new field in the girls ILCA 6, will see a brand-new podium of medallists. St Vincent’s Scarlett Hadley will make history as she competes in the boat, the first-ever sailor from her nation to compete in the event after a successful Pan American Games. From Ireland, Sienna Wright (Howth Yacht Club) took home two Silver medals in the U17 category this season, first at the ILCA 6 Youth Worlds in Dziwnow, Poland and second at the ILCA 6 Europeans in Gydnia, Poland.

There is no Irish representation in the 420, iQFOiL or Formula Kite classes. Racing in all classes begins on Monday, December 11th.

Published in World Sailing
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Over the weekend, the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Sailing Championships took place at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough, attracting over 130 sailors from throughout Northern Ireland and beyond. The sailing event marked the start of the competitive season for some, and the end for others.

While the first day had favourable weather conditions, shift light winds conditions throughout the event posed a challenge to both the race committee and competitors. Some courses had to be modified, and some fleets could only completed one race throughout the weekend.

Despite the conditions, a 20-boat Optimist regatta fleet, led by club coaches, enjoyed favourable weather throughout and participated in a training session and several short races.

However, on the second day, the racecourse was shrouded in thick fog, resulting in no races being completed.

ILCA 6

Race 1 on Saturday saw a shortened course ending at the windward mark and BYC sailor Charlie O'Malley taking the win from CAYC's Rory Pollard, with Daniel Palmer in 3rd. Race 2 was a duel between BYC's Lewis Thompson and Daniel Palmer, with Thompson taking the win from Palmer, EABC's Zoe Whitford taking 3rd. Only two races were completed for the 6s.

ILCA 4

3 Races for the ILCA 4's saw Oleksandr Bezpalyi of MYC take the opening win; however, consistency was rewarded for Freddie Doig of EABC with a 3,2,2, leaving him top of the fleet on Saturday. CAYC's Luke Simpson finished day one strongly with two wins.

A combination of low wind and mist on Sunday morning meant no further races were completed, leaving the ILCA 6 Fleet in Saturday Order: 1st Daniel Palmer, 2nd Lewis Thompson, 3rd Charlie O'Malley (all BYC). 1st Girl was Zoe Whitford from EABC in 7th.

The ILCA 4 final standings were 1st Freddie Doig, 2nd Luke Simpson & 3rd Oleksandr Bezpalyi. 1st Girl was Annika Hunter of BYC.

The celebratory prize-giving ceremony saw commendations given to sailors of all levels, from first-time medal winners and junior champions to the top youth sailors.

 RYA NI's Peter Kennedy with Daniel Palmer, the Overall Youth Champion and Male Youth Champion at the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Sailing Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club RYA NI's Peter Kennedy with Daniel Palmer, the Overall Youth Champion and Male Youth Champion at the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Sailing Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Daniel Palmer from Ballyholme Yacht Club was named the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Champion Overall.

Andrew Baker, the RYA Northern Ireland’s High Performance Manager, praised the event, stating that "the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships has always been fantastic. With the ILCA 6 Europeans to be held in Ballyholme YC next season, it was a great trial run for sailors and the club alike. The RYA Northern Ireland staff team are grateful to everyone involved."

 RYA NI's Peter Kennedy  with Annika Hunter, the 2023 Female Youth Champion at the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Sailing Championships at Ballyholme Yacht ClubRYA NI's Peter Kennedy  with Annika Hunter, the 2023 Female Youth Champion at the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Sailing Championships at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Junior OPI
3rd (First Girl) Penny Doig EABC
2nd Alex Butcher Malahide YC
1st George Doig EABC

Topper 4.2
3rd Girl: Alex Eadie, BYC 3rd: Boy: Tom Denning, Skerries SC
2nd Girl: Chloe Walls, Skerries YC 2nd Boy: Ben Brownlees, EABC
1st Girl: Polly Robinson, BYC 1st Boy: & 1st Overall: Adam Green LEYC (support by John Merricks)

Topper Full Rig
3rd Girl: Kate Kenny, Wexford Harbour BTC 3rd Boy: Tom Driscoll, Ballyholme YC
2nd Girl: Siun Ni Choistealbha, Malahide YC 2nd Boy: Leo Doherty, Sligo YC
1st girl: Iseult Spiers, Ballyholme YC 1st Boy: 1st Overall: Rory Brennan Hobbs, National Yacht Club

RS Feva
3rd overall and 1st All Girl: Emily & Annabel Rideout, Ballyholme YC
2nd: Felix Dion & Lucas Browne, National YC
1st : Matthew Holden & Peter Rideout, Ballyholme YC

29er Fleet
3rd overall & 1st all girl: Ella Fitzgerald & Lisa Flynn, National YC
2nd overall: Katie Brown & Hunter Reddy, Balyholme YC
1st: Oisin Pierce & Fion Daly, Royal Cork YC

ILCA 4
3rd Girl: Isabel Nixon, Ballyholme YC 3rd Boy: Oleksandr Bezpalyi, Malahide YC
2nd Girl: Abbie Stocking, East Down YC 2nd Boy: Luke Simpson, CAYC
1st Girl: Annika Hunter, Ballyholme YC 1st Boy & 1st overall: Freddie Doig, EABC

ILCA 6
3rd Girl: Autumn Halliday, SLYC 3rd Boy: Charlie O’Mallie, Ballyholme YC
2nd Girl: Charlotte Eadie, Ballyholme YC 2nd: Lewis Thompson, BYC
1st Girl: Zoe Whitford, EABC 1st Boy & 1st Overall: Daniel Palmer, BYC

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Any sailing competition for young people that began in 2008 and is still going strong must have an attractive format. The Strangford Lough Youth Series is still drawing sizeable turnouts, and maybe it’s because the timing, on the day after, and at the location of five of the Lough Regattas, suits well.

This is a club team race series organised by a cooperative of clubs on the lough and is designed to encourage young people to progress into racing. The SLYS allows junior sailors to develop their sailing and racing skills in a competitive but fun environment.

This season, the winning club was the Whiterock-based Strangford Lough YC. Killyleagh, Quoile, East Down and Strangford were all involved.

Toppers at Strangford Sailing Club at the Strangford Lough Youth SeriesToppers at Strangford Sailing Club at the Strangford Lough Youth Series

The initiative for this series came from Davy Young from Killyleagh YC and Roger Chamberlain from SLYC. Gerry Reilly and Jane McMeekin, who had coached Strangford Sailing Club youngsters for years, got involved later. They realised that after initial instruction and Championship racing, there was nothing much in between, and the Lough series adequately filled that gap.

 A dinghy capsize during the Strangford Lough Youth Series  A dinghy capsize during the Strangford Lough Youth Series 

Over 50 young people between 8 and 18 have taken part over the years, and many have progressed to National and International competitions, and indeed, their children are now sailing. This season, over 20 took part in three classes of dinghies – Lasers, Fevas and Toppers.

The format also acts as informal training, and although scoring isn’t easy, a system was satisfactorily devised.

Strangford Lough Youth SeriesStrangford Lough Youth Series

Published in Youth Sailing

Whether it be football or sailing, the people of Larne in County Antrim have plenty to celebrate, for the football club won the Irish League Cup on 15th April and East Antrim Boat Club’s ILCA 6 sailor, Tom Coulter began his Irish Youth Nationals competition by winning the opening ILCA 6 race at Howth Yacht Club’s four-day jamboree Investwise Youth Sailing Nationals for nearly 200 young sailors from all over Ireland. Tom went on to take third overall and his clubmate Zoe Whitford clocked an excellent 7th to take first the first girl place in the same class.

Zoe Whitford  - in the ILCA 6 fleetZoe Whitford - in the ILCA 6 fleet

And on the County Down coast, Ballyholme is celebrating a decisive win by Tom Driscoll in the 40-strong Topper class and a close second by two points was his clubmate, Cormac Byrne. 

Tom Coulter was one of the 30 competitors from Northern Ireland making the shorter trip (compared to the long drive to Baltimore for the Munster ILCAs the week before) to the Howth club, north of Dublin. In a class in which the Howth sailor and ILCA 6 Bronze European champion, Rocco Wright continues to shine, it was always going to be a fight for Tom, but he did start with a win and just before being black flagged in the last race, clocked up another, having taken three runner up slots and never falling below sixth, Tom (and EABC) will be encouraged by his performance.

Bobby Driscoll in the TopperTom Driscoll in the Topper

In the top ten ILCA 6s also were Lewis Thompson (BYC) at fifth, Zoe Whitford, also from the Larne club was 7th and first girl, and Bobby Driscoll, representing Royal North on Belfast Lough was 8th. Tom, Zoe and another BYC competitor, Charlotte Eadie, had trained in Schull from 1st April, before racing at Baltimore and then going on to Howth. As Zoe’s Mother, Lucy confessed, “it has been a busy Easter”.

Although Ballyholme’s Charlie O’Malley’s score of 22nd in ILCA 6 wasn’t outstanding, what was pleasing was that his daily efforts to help competitors haul their boats up the slip was noticed, and he was given a Spirit of the Event award.

A consistent set of results in the Toppers assured Tom Driscoll of 1st overall, but only two points behind was the Strangford Sailing Club/Ballyholme sailor, Cormac Byrne. In this class too, Emily McAfee at 5th was second girl and another BYC sailor, Katie Brow was 7th and third girl.

The Carlingford SC sailor, Lucy Ives, took 10th overall in the ILCA 4 class despite a DSQ and a DNE and the only northern entries in the 29ers, Hannah Dadley-Young, Toby Huges, Joseph Robinson and Henry Nelson from BYC in the 29er Class made credible efforts in challenging breezes for their first event in a boat requiring a steep learning curve.

RYANI was very pleased with the contingent’s performance. “All our sailors did us proud in a range of challenging conditions, including drifting with many course changes, right up to 20 knots in bitter cold wet breeze”.

Read more of Afloat's coverage of the Youth Sailing nationals at Howth here

Published in Youth Sailing
Page 1 of 23

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