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Optimists are largest ever Galway fleet

28th May 2008
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The Optimist class maintains its standing as Ireland's strongest one-design fleet, with a swarm of 127 teenage and pre-teen sailors buzzing about Galway Bay last weekend for their Connacht Championships.

For grown-ups to even come close to those numbers, it takes a world championships.

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Optimists at the Connaught Championships in Galway Bay

The largest fleet of one-design sailing boats ever to race on Galway bay enjoyed keen competitive racing in brilliant sunshine and a fresh breeze of between 14 and 24 knots.

The fleet was split in to a main fleet of 87 boats where Race Officers Dave Vinnel & Aoife Lyons produced six excellent races in the outer bay. The Regatta Fleet, consisting of 40 boats, was provided with three races for the younger novice sailors in New Harbour beneath the Marine Institute building. Safety was paramount with numerous capsizes and consequent retirals who were unable to face the challenging conditions on the bay.

Those that toughed it out for all races were rewarded with close and exciting racing in the strongest breeze the young sailors had experienced all year. After racing on Saturday the competitors and their many supporters gathered in Galway Bay Sailing Club to enjoy Munster's European Cup victory over Toulouse.

Saturday produced the better racing in the open bay but with a strong north easterly breeze running out of Oranmore Bay on Sunday racing had to be moved to the more sheltered waters off Rinville Point.

Without being seen to blow a large commercial trumpet, it's worth mentioning that event sponsors, Volvo, have now brought Ireland's largest and youngest fleet to Galway, and are working to bring the largest sailing spectacle that Ireland will ever have seen, the Volvo Ocean Race, to the same waters next year.

Sponsors are increasingly important to Irish sailing, and where one comes on board to support events at either end of the spectrums of age and experience, praise is due in levels commensurate.

For full results, log on to Optimist Ireland's website, www.iodai.com

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