The Topper Topaz National Championships took place at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary last Saturday, 13th August.
ISA National Race Officer David Vinnell of Galway Bay Sailing Club alongside local Race Officer Raymond McGibney of the host club were extremely effective in getting racing off on schedule and getting in the full race card of five races in westerly 8-16 knots of breeze.
Racing took place in an area east of Foynes Island and out of the main stream of the River Shannon. After a clean start in race one the fleet remained tight for all of the race until the final beat where Dingle sailors gained a small lead with the rest of the pack hot on their heels.
From the gun in race two almost all of the fleet headed to the right side of the course where there seemed to be more breeze. Just one sailor, Senan Tubridy from Royal Western Yacht Club, was a solitary looking figure on the left side, but correctly judged the sweep of the tide would carry him towards the mark and, by the windward mark had completely cleaned the fleet, holding onto his lead all the way to the finish.
The breeze picked up for race three to over 15 knots and the double handed boats (Uno Plus) started to move up the fleet in the stronger conditions with Adam Byrne & Ciarán Fitzgerald leading the way. While competitors can enter the Topaz Nationals as Uno (one person) or Uno Plus (two people) the Topaz Class Association rules score the event as one fleet, no handicap system is applied. Race four, in similar conditions, was won by an Uno sailor, Dylan Reidy but second and third place went to Uno Plus sailors Adam Byrne/Ciarán Fitzgerald and Diarmuid Desmond/Cillian Fogarty. With the final race approaching the result was still wide open with three boats in the running for the national title and the winners in the age categories still undecided. The lead changed many times throughout the race with the final result two boats were tied on points but on countback Dylan Reidy from the host club was deemed the overall winner ahead of Adam Byrne & Ciarán Fitzgerald from Dingle Sailing Club.
Racing finished well on schedule and such was the efficiency of the race team the beachmaster was caught completely off guard and asleep on his cruiser as the fleet was returning to shore after racing! Quick wakeup call required!
A notable mention must be made for Dingle sailor Ellie Cunnane, who sailed a superb event, winning three of the five races but following a technical protest was discounted from the event. A gutting decision for the fourteen year old who showed incredible strength of character and great sportsmanship respecting the decision of the protest committee and congratulating the new National Champion, Dylan Reidy.
Dylan Reidy (Foynes Yacht Club), who also won Topper Topaz Mainsail
Adam Byrne / Ciarán Fitzgerald (Dingle Sailing Club), also winning Topper Topaz Toe Straps
Diarmuid Desmond / Cillian Fogarty (Dingle Sailing Club), also winning Topper Topaz Carbon Tiller Extension
Age Category Winners
Under 18 Years: Ella Fay (Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club)
Under 16 Years: Clara Shanahan / Tadgh Shanahan (Foynes Yacht Club)
Under 14 Years: Oisín Finucane (Foynes Yacht Club)
Under 12 Years: Ross O’Shea (Foynes Yacht Club)
Foynes Yacht Club would like to thank the visitors from Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club, Dingle Sailing Club, Tralee Bay Maritime Centre and the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland for making the effort to attend the event. They would also like to thank the members for volunteering their time to run a great event, National Race Officer David Vinnell and Local Race Officer Raymond McGibney and finally the biggest thanks to sponsors Topper International Ltd., Ronstan (IMP Products) and UK McWilliam Sailmakers for their generous prizes.