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Jamie McMahon (Howth Yacht Club), put in a convincing performance at the Irish Youth Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club in the final weekend of April to emerge as Laser Radial overall champion, seeing off some determined challenges from a fleet of 27 from all over the country in a championship contested in decidedly unsettled weather patterns to make him one of two Junior Sailors of the Month for April.

Jamie McMahonJamie McMahon negotiates a leeward mark approach Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Sailor of the Month

I like the direct approach of Irish Sailing President Jack Roy. He makes his points clearly, such as telling me that the sport is under pressure from other sports and needs more young people to become involved and ‘yes’ it can be expensive to equip young people to go sailing. But there are ways to do it and he wants to see that happen.

He showed his commitment at the youth championships in Cork Harbour at the weekend, sailed out of the RCYC, Crosshaven, where a hundred and fifty young sailors under the age of twenty raced.

"What about the constant criticism that sailing is an expensive sport?"

“Sailing is under a lot of pressure to attract young people, but we offer a sport that is different and for life and the way to do it is getting children out on the water, so that they can enjoy what it offers".

I asked him: What about the constant criticism that sailing is an expensive sport?

In a direct way, which I have not heard too often previously, he replied: “Sailing and yacht clubs around the country have taken that point and are responding to it. Yes, to set children up in sailing can be an expensive outlay. To counter that, many clubs are investing in their infrastructure and their own boats, so that parents can bring their children down to their local club and, without any massive expenditure, get them on the water by use of club boats, right down to the equipment that is needed. This is what I want to see - access to the sport.”

He also discusses the new initiative in Team Racing.

Jack Roy was on the water during the running of the Youth National Championships and presented the prizes remaining for several while the event organisers wrestled with a problem in the results of the Topper Class. Prizes for Lasers, 420s and Optimists were presented in front of the big attendance, but a few hours later that had considerably diminished when the Topper results were announced, even though the top places had been known from early on. Jack Roy remained to present these prizes, underlining his commitment to young sailors.

There was no explanation for the delay. My information, from very reliable sources, is that the results sheet was blown into the water from the race official boat involved. Days afterwards Irish Sailing would only say that “the results taken from the score sheet submitted by officials were reviewed according to World Sailing rules.”

• Listen to the Podcast interview with the President of Irish Sailing, Jack Roy, below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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The 2019 Irish Sailing Youth National Championships hosted by Royal Cork Yacht Club provided wild oscillations in weather conditions over the four days of planned racing. Thursday was certainly the calm before the arrival of Storm Hanna and three races for the 420 class were completed in light and fickle conditions. Friday dawned with raceable conditions in the morning but the oncoming storm would have provided little opportunity to get on the water and over to the race area and back again before the onset of the strong winds around lunchtime thereby forcing the cancellation of racing. Saturday looked as if it would provide perfect 420 sailing conditions in the strong breeze at the tail end of the storm but a long postponement eventually saw racing eventually cancelled late in the afternoon.

Sunday dawned with fog and no wind, but the fleet launched at 8:30 in the morning to head out to the race course and they were eventually rewarded with a modest breeze in bright sunshine. The Ferguson sisters from the National Yacht Club provided consistency over the two days of racing with five race wins to retain the title again this year after their win in Dun Laoghaire in 2018. In second place with two race wins were another female crew of Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher followed by Morgan Lyttle and Patrick White in third position. 

420 winning crewsThe 420 winning crews at Royal Cork Photo: courtesy Wavelength Images

The Youth Nationals has traditionally been used by the 420s for team selections to travel to the European or World Championships each year. As reported earlier here, Nicola and Fiona Ferguson will represent Ireland at the World Championships at Vilamoura in Portugal whilst the qualifiers for the 2019 Junior European Championships at Vilagarcia de Arousa on the North East coast of Spain are as follows:

  • Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boat Club) and Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)
  • Morgan Lyttle Royal (St. George Yacht Club) and Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
  • Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

Royal Cork Yacht Club and their team of volunteers and race officials are to be congratulated on running a magnificent event under testing weather conditions.

Published in 420

A Howth Yacht Club brother and sister Jamie and Eve McMahon emerged on top of the 200-plus entries at the Irish Sailing Youth Championships sailed in Cork over the weekend in five classes. Both were competing in the single-handed Laser Radial event where Jamie won the class and Eve finished as best girl in fifth overall out of 27 entries.

Prizes were presented this evening on the lawn at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Cork Harbour.

See photo gallery of prizewinners by Bob Bateman below

Irish sailing youth prizes2RCYC Admiral Pat Farnan (left), Brian Jones Rear Admiral Dinghies (centre) and IS President Jack RoyIrish sailing youth prizes2There was a fleet of 200 youth sailors for the 2019 Championships at RCYCIrish sailing youth prizes2IS President Jack Roy addresses the sailorsIrish sailing youth prizes2Justin Lucas, 7th in the Optimist TrialsIrish sailing youth prizes2Jessica Riordan, Optimist first girlIrish sailing youth prizes2Luke Turvey, fifth in the Optimist trialsIrish sailing youth prizes2Ben O'Shaughnessy, fourth in the Optimist trialsIrish sailing youth prizes2Sam Ledoux, third in the Optimist TrialsIrish sailing youth prizes2Rocco Wright, second in the Optimist TrialsIrish sailing youth prizes2 James Dwyer Matthews, Optimist Trials winnerIrish sailing youth prizes2Eve McMahon, fifth overall and first girl in the RadialIrish sailing youth prizes2Chris Bateman, third overall in the RadialIrish sailing youth prizes2Micheal O'Suilleabhain, second overall in the RadialIrish sailing youth prizes2Emily Riordan, third overall in the 4.7Irish sailing youth prizes2Alannah Coakley, second in the 4.7Irish sailing youth prizes2Cillian Foster winner of the 4.7Irish sailing youth prizes2Morgan Lyttle and Patrick Whyte, third in the 420Irish sailing youth prizes2Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher, second in the 420Irish sailing youth prizes2Nicola and Fiona Ferguson, 420 winnersIrish sailing youth prizes2Daniel Palmer, second in the Topper 4.2Irish sailing youth prizes2Peter Doyle, winner of the Topper 4.2 Irish sailing youth prizes2Ella Fitzgerald, third and first Topper lady

Lola Kohl third and first lady in the Topper 5.3Lola Kohl third and first lady in the Topper 5.3

Oisin Mac Sweeney, second of Topper 5.3Oisin Mac Sweeney, second of Topper 5.3

Darragh CollinsDarragh Collins, first in the Topper 5.3

Published in Youth Sailing

The RYA were issuing invitations to visiting sailors for the 2019 event in Weymouth so it gave the opportunity for a few Irish boats to compete at the premier British Youth Sailing event of the year writes Thomas Chaix

The RYA Youth Nationals 2019 produced seven days of great competition on the water of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.

The Irish contingent was composed by eight 29er partnerships (showing once more that the fastest growing class in Ireland is also keen to show its competitiveness against the well established UK class), two 420 partnerships, three Laser radials and two laser 4.7s. For the 29ers and the 420s, the event was also part of the trials process to earn selection into the Youth Worlds 2019 Irish team.

podium laser 4.7The Laser 4.7 podium with Michael Crosbie taking bronze

Laser 4.7

The Laser 4.7 class competed over a 4-day event and after 7 races, Michael Crosbie secured a bronze medal with a solid series including a race win and a 2nd. His teammate from Cork, Jonathan O’Shaughnessy, completed his challenge in 17th in the 45 boat fleet.

The youth classes competed over 5 days. It was certainly a challenging week with wind in excess of 25 kts on the first day followed by light and shifty conditions on day two, a long waiting day with fog midweek, a marathon fourth day with the 29ers on deck for over 10 hours, and finally glorious sunshine with dying wind on the final day.


The Laser radials completed 9 races. Dan McGaughey (Ballyholme) was top of the Irish in 13th overall with a series including three top 10 finishes. Moss Simmington concluded his event 24th and 6th U17 a few places ahead of Joseph Karauzum who was very happy with a 6th on his final race in the 50 boat fleet.


The 30 entry 420 fleet completed 8 races. Morgan Lyttle and crew Patrick Whyte (RStGYC) completed the event in 13th position overall to top the Irish hopes.

Irish 29er Class

The Irish 29er class is not short of enthusiasm and progress is stellar in a class that is only in its second year of existence in Ireland. Eight partnerships travelled to Weymouth and competed in the 11 race series in the largest fleet of the event with 61 boats racing.

Harry T Harry DHarry Twomey and Harry Durcan

As Afloat previously reported, the Irish raced well to collect several honours. Harry Twomey with class veteran Harry Durcan on the wire secured 3rd overall and silver medal in the boys after a strong series including 2 race wins. Not far behind, Rian Geraghty-McDonnell and crew Nathan Van Steenberge (NYC), also scoring 2 race wins, took 6th overall and top U17. It was no small achievement as the boys have now secured a “hat trick” having won the U17 category in all 3 events they attended in the UK since November! Also in the top 10 were Leah Rickard (NYC) and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty (TBSC) in 9th overall, bronze medal amongst the girls, and best U17 girls. Their impressive series included three 2nds.

Leah eimer(Above and below) Leah Rickard (NYC) and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty (TBSC) were 29er bronze medal amongst the girls and best U17 girls Photo: Simon McIlwaine

The remaining Irish had their ups and down with Emily Riordan (RStGYC) and crew Max Goodbody (RIYC) winning silver fleet a couple places ahead of Charlie Cullen and Ben Hogan (NYC & RStGYC) who took the bullet in the final silver fleet race.

podium 29er

best U17 29erRian Geraghty-McDonnell and crew Nathan Van Steenberge were top U17 team in the 29er

Sailing Youth Worlds Selection

The event was also the final leg of the Irish Sailing trials for selection into the Sailing Youth Worlds in Poland (Gydnia) in July. For the boys, Rian Geraghty-McDonnell and Nathan Van Steenberge's commanding performance secured their selection. Leah Rickard and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty also secured their ticket to Poland, becoming the first female Irish team to represent Ireland in the 29er in the Youth Worlds.

As usual, the British produced a very well run regatta under the leadership of event PRO Peter Saxton and we can only hope they will continue to issue invitations to Irish sailors and give us the opportunity to compete against the best Youth sailors from Britain.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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More than 150 young sailors with hopes of 'Olympic glory' will get the chance to take the first steps towards fulfilling their dreams at the Irish Sailing Youth National Championships at the Royal Cork Yacht Club later this month from 25-28 April at Crosshaven in Cork Harbour.

The competition is the one time every year when the best of Irish youth sailing come together to test their skills and ability to perform under intense competition conditions – with the added pressure of being under the spotlight for the selectors from Irish Sailing Performance.

The youngsters from throughout Ireland will compete across five different classes of boat during the weekend – the Laser Radial, Laser 4.7, 420, Topper and Optimist. These five classes have been identified, say Irish Sailing, as those that develop the necessary experience sailors need to successfully develop their skills from junior through to the Olympic classes and competing internationally.

As well as racing, there are three evening talks from members of the Irish Sailing Team. Those attending will be treated to 'inspirational talks' from Katie Tingle, who now partners Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy in the 49erFX as they seek Olympic qualification this year.  Royal Cork's Tingle should have plenty to talk about as she will have made her international 49erFX debut in the class the week previous at the World Cup in Genoa starting on April 14.

49er sailor Séafra Guilfoyle, a silver medallist at the 2014 Youth World Championships and current partner of Ryan Seaton, who was a finalist at the Olympic Games in London 2012, and Rio 2016; and James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing’s Performance Director, who will discuss resetting and refocusing during competition with Jessie Barr, Olympic athlete and Sport Ireland sports psychologist.

The occasion also is one of the few times where families and friends competing in the different classes can gather together in one location to share their experiences, learning and generally have some fun.

Sean Evans, Irish Sailing’s Olympic Laser Radial Academy Coach said “The Irish Sailing Youth National Championships are Ireland’s largest Youth regatta and our sport’s primary talent spotting event of the year. All the young sailors that are competing over the weekend have every chance of being selected for the Irish Sailing Academy. Sailors who demonstrate their proficiency at these championships can be chosen for squads that will be competing abroad and may even give something back by coaching and training others as well”.

Finn Lynch, just back from placing 4th in the Laser Class at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma said “I've great memories of the Youth Nationals, competing with my mates for the right to represent Ireland, racing was always great and the competition was fierce!”.

The Irish Sailing Youth National Championships, showcasing the best up-and-coming talent in Ireland, will take place from 25th-28th April at the Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven.

Published in ISA

Coach Thomas Chaix travelled with two Irish 29er pairs to Grafham Waters in the UK over the weekend to compete at the Inland Championships. The two pairs competed in the 42 boat fleet. Eight races were sailed in 8 to 18 kts providing a range of conditions suiting all level of skills.

Rian McDonnell Geraghty and Nathan Van Steenberge, both from the NYC sailed a very strong series (10-7-6-4-4-14-BFD-6) to take 7th overall and very comprehensively win the Junior (U15) category. It is a very encouraging result for the very ambitious young pair who teamed up on this demanding little skiff just 2 months ago. Early dividends for all the hard work at training is always nice to take!
NYC Leah Rickard, freshly returning from Injury and crew Kerry based Eimer McMorrow-Moriarty had highs and lows showing great skills in the lighter breeze early on topping their series with a 12th on race 2. Both were also competing in the junior category and they secured 6th for their first regatta together.

The 29er class is a growing class in Ireland with new boats and new partnerships getting hooked on this fast, yet challenging to master youth skiff. Exposure to the well established UK class is great for these young teams to gauge their progress.

Published in 29er
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The Junior Irish Sailing All Ireland Sailing Championships will be held this weekend (29-30 September) at the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay using Firefly dinghies.

The Junior competitors include three female teams, lead by Alana Coakley (RSGYC), Grace O’Beirne (RSGYC), and Nell Staunton (National YC) who placed eighth in the Laser Radial 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships this summer in Texas.

Last year’s winner Micheal O’Suilleabhain (Kinsale YC) will compete alongside Tom Higgins (RSGYC) representing the first Team Racing entry and fresh from his top 10 placing at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Kiel; and two double nominees: Ben Graf (Lough Ree) who was nominated by both the RS Feva and Mirror classes, and Atlee Kohl (RCYC) nominated by the Laser 4.7s and 29er classes.

There’s also a strong Royal Cork Yacht Club representation – five out of sixteen nominations are from Crosshaven in Cork Harbour. Full list of invitees is here.

Published in Youth Sailing
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Lough Ree Yacht Club (LRYC) have created an event that brings all competitive youth double-handers to one location for a weekend of fun and racing. Now, after the inaugural success of 'Double Ree' last weekend, the only question for the County Westmeath sailing club is whether 'Double Ree' should be held every double year? LRYC Commodore Garrett Leech reports. 

What a showcase for double handed boats it was! 58 boats entered the event with 57 actively competing, this translated to 114 sailors on the start line; 8 29ers, 16 420s, 15 RS Fevas and 18 Mirrors.

RS Revas racing at Double ReeRS Revas racing at Double Ree Photo: Simon McIlwaine

It was a sight to behold to see such numbers of boats but also such mixture of colour on Lough Ree, a celebration of double-handed sailing. It was also a great opportunity for each of the fleets to gather together, have fun and hopefully appreciate the merits of each other’s class. It would be great to see the culture of more double-handed boats travelling to events, participation in outside events is key to success.

Many of the Sailors and of course their Parents camped at Lough Ree Yacht Club which produced a festival like atmosphere more akin to Electric Picnic! The weather held out well with no rain and some probably slept, facilitated more by the fine wining and dining that was provided by Fidelma Reid and her fabulous team!

Mirrors Double ree18 Mirrors competed at Double Ree Photo: Simon McIlwaine

However, it wasn’t all just Swallows & Amazons! Though the fun factor was high, the racing too was of a high standard and very competitive. Lake sailing for some can be a challenge but often this is perception, though when wind shifts happen, they can do so in style!

"Though the fun factor was high, the racing too was of a high standard and very competitive"

Race Officer David Dickson provided 4 great races on Saturday made tricky by the light conditions that prevailed with plenty of generous wind shifts. Running the four fleets on the same race area was always going to be adventurous as they were all started from the same line and on same race area but had two separate trapezoid courses with the 29ers & 420’s sailing on a longer course and the Mirrors & Fevas on a slightly shorter course. But Dickson ran the races off efficiently, quickly learning to adapt to ensure minimal crossover of the fleets. By Sunday it was down to a fine art with an additional three races executed in relatively quick succession. Highlight results for all four fleets can be downloaded below.

420 double ree420s racing at Double Ree Photo: Simon McIlwaine

A big thanks to Lough Ree Yacht Club and the many volunteers it took to run such an event, it was clear that the stops were well and truly pulled out both on and off the water. The question now is whether Double Ree should be held every Double year! Have your say in our reader poll below.

29erEight 29ers raced on Lough Ree Photo: Simon McIllwaine

Published in Youth Sailing
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The single–handed winners of the Easter domestic Laser trials held on Dublin Bay as part of the youth pathway championships are set to take their place at the Youth Sailing Worlds in the USA after making the required international standard. The qualifying results were achieved at the UK Laser Association Radial Qualifier at Pwllheli SC in North Wales last weekend. 

Royal St. George's Radial Boy Jack Fahy who came from behind on Dublin Bay to win the Easter prize on the final day was seventh overall in his 56-boat fleet in Pwllheli, an opening race win easily putting him inside the top 20% of his fleet, the required international minimum set down by Irish Sailing. 

The National Yacht Club Laser Youth Girl Champion Nell Staunton also made the cut for the Youth Worlds in Texas this July.

Results from Pwllheli are here. The results are subject to ratification by the Olympic Sailing Group which is 'expected to happen quickly', according to team manager James O'Callaghan.

The 420 double–handed international event at which Pathway winners Nicola and Fiona Ferguson, also of the National Yacht Club, must make top 20% of the UK fleet has not taken place yet.

Published in Youth Sailing
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Page 9 of 22

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