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Displaying items by tag: Optimist

Howth Yacht Club delivered 145 Optimist dinghies for IODAI's Ulster Championships, over the Maritime Festival weekend and with the support of Fingal County Council.

The IODAI Optimist regional had its biggest Irish fleet last weekend with 85 main fleet and 60 regatta fleet for the event. With a big mix of conditions, Principal Race Officer Richard Kissane delivered six races, by getting four races in the bag on Saturday in light conditions and 2 windy races Sunday in the shelter of the Claremont Strand.

Optimists racing at Howth Photo: Craig O'NeillOptimists racing at Howth Photo: Craig O'Neill

Dun Laoghaire sailor Jules Start was 1st in the Senior Fleet, with local sailor Harry Dunne missing out due to a black flag in R6.

In the Junior Fleet, Lilly Donagh from Lough Derg took first place; as one of three siblings to take the top three positions on the board, with sisters Emily and Maeve coming in 2nd and 3rd.

Kate Spain was the best local sailor, with a top-five finish in the Junior Fleet.

The Optimist class also run a gold, silver, and bronze league to maintain competition throughout the fleets.

Top Five Senior

1. Jules Start (RSGYC)

2. Caoillin Geraghty McDonnell (RSGYC)

3. Conor Cronin (MYC)

4. Jude Hynes Knight (TBSC)

5. Gemma Brady (LDYC)

Top Five Junior (U12)

1. Lilly Donagh (LDYC)

2. Maeve Donagh (LDYC)

3. Emily Donagh (LDYC)

4. Kate Spain (HYC)

5. Finn Foley (RSGYC)

There was lots to do for families at the Fingal Maritime Festival in Howth Harbour this weekend, which carried on inside the club, too.

The IODAI regatta coaching initiative occupied the younger sailors (ages 7-9yrs) with games, sailing coaching, and kayaking, while the Regatta Racing Fleet (ages 9-10yrs) for the less experienced got in 8 races under IODAI coach Kate Darcy and PRO Dave Sargent. Aurele Dion (NYC) Dylan O’Sullivan (RCYC) and Oliver Ryan (MYC), Jacob Browne (NYC) and Arthur Fegan (MYC) shared the prizes.

Next stop on the IODAI is the National Training week on 2-5 November at Lough Derg; aimed at the whole fleet, the week also includes a focus on developing coaches for the future.

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The four Northern Ireland competitors at the Irish National Optimist championships at Royal St George YC certainly had four days of valuable race experience last week which will stand them well for the future.

The four, three siblings from the Doig family, George, Freddie and Penny from East Antrim BC on Larne Lough and Matthew Holden from Ballyholme YC on Belfast Lough turned in commendable results in big fleets in challenging conditions ranging from the blistering heat, fickle winds, and strong tides.

It was challenging too for the Chief Race Office, Ed Totterdell, supported by David Lovegrove and David Bolger.

In the 37-strong Regatta Racing Fleet, a new departure for IODAI, ten-year-old Penny Doig had a 20th as her best place, and her brother George (12) finished 28th in the 70-strong Junior fleet with a best finish of 16th.

In the Senior fleet, Matthew Holden was 18th overall, counting his best result of 13th and Freddie Doig was 20th overall with scores which included a best result of 12th of 55 and in the same fleet.

Lucy Whitford Commodore of East Antrim BC was delighted to see the club junior and youth sailors representing the club; “They are gaining valuable racing skills to bring back to club racing. Freddie, George and Penny have had a busy couple of weeks and now it is the turn of our Topper, Laser and RS sailors who are all competing next weekend, good luck to them all”.

More on the Optimist Nationals here

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The final day of the four day, Grant Thornton, Avolon and SeaChange Now sponsored Irish Optimist National Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club brought further light winds and blistering sunshine to Dublin Bay.

The hope was to sail two races in the Main Fleet to bring the complete race schedule to eight races. However, just one was sailed in a five to six knot northerly before perseverant race officers Ed Totterdell and David Lovegrove had no choice but to send sailors ashore as the breeze had reduced to two to four knots and was oscillating wildly.

GBR sailor Lila Edwards of Parkstone Yacht Club (PYC) continued her form with a fourth-place finish in the final race to take the Open Championship prize in the Senior Main Fleet, while IRL sailor Conor Cronin of MYC/RSGYC took the Irish Championship prize with Caoilinn Geraghty- McDonnell (RSGYC) in second and Harry Dunne (HYC) in third.

In the Junior Main fleet, GBR sailors Eliana Edwards (PYC), Jonny Rogers (Royal Limington YC) and Harry Draper (PYC) took first, second and third place, respectively, in the Open Championship prize category, while Emily Donagh (LDYC/RSGYC), Kate Spain (HYC) and Max O’Hare (RSGYC) took first, second and third place in the Irish Championship category.

After ten races in the Regatta Racing fleet, Aureiele Dion (NYC) was first, with Oliver Ryan (MYC/RSGYC) in second and GBR sailor Finn Byrne (Royal Southern) in third. Irish sailor Alex Butcher (MYC) took third in the Irish Championship prize.

In the Regatta Coached fleet, RSGYC sailors Adam Anderson, Jessica Walsh and Rebecca Murdock took first, second and third place, respectively.

At the sun-kissed closing ceremony, Mary Hanafin, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, highlighted the success of the female sailors across all categories and encouraged them to continue sailing and sports pursuits, especially through their formative teenage years. Mark Hennessey, RSGYC Vice Commodore, thanked the Cathaoirleach and DLRCOCO for their support of the event, particularly granting access to the Carlisle Pier for boat and trailer parking.

Irish Optimist Championship Prizegiving 2022 at Royal St. George Yacht Club by Andrew Clonan

Brendan Foley, Event Chairman, thanked the forty GBR sailors, their parents and coaches for making the trip over, which very much added to the fun and competitive nature of the event.

The Royal St George put on a masterclass in event management, with many visiting sailors saying it was the best event they had attended in quite some time. The sun most definitely helped add to the festival feel, but without the seventy-plus volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes, this event simply would not have been the great success it was.

Published in Optimist
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Dublin Bay turned up the heat again today for the Royal St. George Yacht Club run Irish Optimist National Championships, kindly sponsored by Grant Thornton, Avolon and SeaChange Now.

The sea breeze took a little longer to materialize, but when it did, it was certainly worth the wait.

After a course relocation further out into the Bay to get out to the building breeze, the Main Fleet was rewarded with a 10-13 knot easterly for their three races.

In the Senior Main fleet, GBR sailor Lila Edwards of Parkstone Yacht Club (PYC) showed her class again today with a second and first to add to her tally, leaving her in first overall, with Conor Cronin (MYC/RSGYC) and Harry Dunne (HYC/SDC) in second and third place respectively.

In the Junior Main Fleet, GBR sailors Eliana Edwards (PYS), Jonny Rogers (RLYC) & Harry Draper (PYC) hold first, second and third place respectively, with FRE sailor Lochlainn Hanley (LYC/CVS) just a point behind in fourth place.

The Regatta Racing fleet were raced closer to shore off the back of the East Pier and were challenged with a strong ebb tide in a slightly weaker breeze than Main Fleet, however, race officer David Bolger persevered and managed to get a remarkable five races in, bringing the total race schedule to seven so far. GBR sailor Finn Byrne of Royal Southern leads Oliver Ryan (MYC/RSGYC), with Aurele Dion (NYC) in third.

Following a morning in the harbour doing race practice, the Regatta Coached fleet joined the Regatta Racing fleet outside in the Bay for the afternoon and managed to get three super races in, leaving Zoe O’Hare, Adam Anderson & Jessica Walsh (all RSGYC) in first, second and third place respectively.

After a long day on the water, competitors were treated to hot food and Teddy's ice cream, which went down as a real treat amongst hungry sailors.

This was followed by the daily prize giving and firm event favourite, the ‘in it to win it draw’, which included signed Irish rugby jerseys and phones compliments of Vodafone, as well as lots of lovely Viking Marine, provided loot.

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Unfortunately, the wind god’s didn’t play ball on Dublin Bay for day two of the Grant Thornton, Avolon and SeaChange Now sponsored Irish Optimist Dinghy National Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

Just one race was sailed across both Junior & Senior Main fleets. Unfortunately, the northerly gradient never allowed the sea breeze to materialize, leading to a four to six knot average wind across the Bay. Nonetheless, the race committee persevered and managed to squeeze one race in before the decision was made to send the fleets ashore, not before they enjoyed some swimming, water fights and sunbathing from the mother ships.

Conor Cronin of MYC/RSGYC is the Senior Main Fleet overnight leader on equal points with Lila Edwards of Parkstone Yacht Club (PYC) in second, with Dylan Creighton of Cardiff Bay in third. Harry Draper, also of PYC, is leading the Junior Main Fleet, with Toby Waggett (TDSWC) and Max O’Hare (RSGYC) in a tie for second place.

A northerly gradient never allowed the sea breeze to materialize, leading to a four to six knot average wind across the BayA northerly gradient wind on day two of the Optimist Championships never allowed the sea breeze to materialize, leading to a four to six knot average wind across Dublin Bay Photo: Andrew Conan

In the Regatta Racing fleet, GBR sailor Finn Byrne of Royal Southern is leading Aurele Dion of NYC, with GBR sailor Roisin Epstein in third. In the Regatta Coached fleet, RSGYC sailors Jessica Walsh, Adam Anderson and Megan Foley lead the way in first, second and third place, respectively.

The Royal St. George put on another fabulous evening of fun, games, music and food before sun-kissed and tired sailors headed for bed, no doubt hoping for a breezier day tomorrow. The highlight of the evening was the daily prize giving and the ‘in it to win it’ prize draw, once again kindly sponsored by Viking Marine & Vodafone.

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The Irish Optimist Nationals at the Royal St. George Yacht Club started in blistering sunshine today with light variable winds on Dublin Bay on Thursday.

Chief Race Officers, Ed Totterdell, ably supported by David Lovegrove and David Bolger managed to get two races in across both main and regatta fleets, despite the tricky, shifty easterly conditions in a strong ebb tide.

The Main Fleet contains two categories, junior and senior, both of which account for one hundred and twenty-five of the total fleet.

UK visitor Lila Edwards from Parkstone Yacht Club leads overall after counting a 2.0 and 1.0 in the opening races. 

Conditions for the first day of the Optimist National Championships were tricky with shifty easterly winds and a strong ebb tideConditions for the first day of the Optimist National Championships were tricky with shifty easterly winds and a strong ebb tide

Second is the host club's Jules Start on 6.0 points with Conor Cronin of Malahide Yacht Club also on six points in third. Results below.

Many of these sailors are coming to the end of a compact season following three Irish regionals, a Europeans, Worlds as well as French and UK Nationals travelling parties.

Despite that, the hunger, competition and camaraderie in the fleet is evidently very strong, with lots of friends reacquainting after the long summer.

The thirty-seven-strong Regatta Racing Fleet, a new departure for IODAI, were raced in Scotsman’s Bay, while the nineteen Coached Regatta Fleet sailors were raced in the confines of the harbour.

Feedback from the Regatta Racing Fleet sailors was very positive, mentioning that they loved being out in the Bay and racing on a slightly larger course than they otherwise would have been used to.

The sailors were treated to hot food, party games, music and an ‘in it to win it’ draw when they returned to shore, the latter being a major hit. Thanks to Vodafone and Viking Marine for the daily draw prices.

The forecast is for light variable conditions for the remainder of the four-day event, but if the stars align and the weather gods play ball, a sea breeze would be very welcomed to the otherwise idyllic conditions. 

Results below.

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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.


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
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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