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So many 50th Anniversaries in international sailing are being celebrated these days that you could be forgiven for thinking that all these major events - such as next week’s opening of the event’s Golden Jubilee celebration, and the staging of the Youth Sailing Worlds 2021 in Oman - are marking the successful 50 years of an event which came into being in a vacuum. And certainly, the inauguration of the annual Youth Worlds in Sweden way back in 1971 was a major development that has resulted in a globally-recognised supreme peak – a Junior Sailing Olympiad.

Thus the team of four travelling to Oman – Eve McMahon (Howth YC) in the ILCA6, Jonathan O’Shaughnessy (Royal Cork YC) ILCA6, and Ben O’Shaughnessy & James Dwyer (RCYC) in the 29er - are well aware of the weight of expectation on their young shoulders, though all are at the peak of impressive year-long achievements.

But nevertheless, in looking back over the 50 years of the Youth Worlds, the most vividly remembered will be the 2012 event which was of course staged in Dublin Bay, with Finn Lynch leaping into the limelight with a Silver Medal in the Lasers. However, others with a broader view will also remember that the challenge of staging an event of this scale and scope, with Ireland still staggering out of the financial crash of 2008, involved heroic sacrifice and the giving over of their entire summer by folk of the calibre of Brian Craig, while the defining image may well be the remembered vision of on-water organizer Don O’Dowd of the Royal St George YC looking as though he is being fuelled entirely by adrenaline through each frantic day.

Running on adrenaline…..Don O’Dowd in the thick of the 2012 Youth Worlds in Dublin BayRunning on adrenaline…..Don O’Dowd in the thick of the 2012 Youth Worlds in Dublin Bay

The financial constraints of 2012 Ireland are not thought to be a problem in 2021 Oman, even if the Sultanate has cheerfully taken on the running of just about every one of 2021’s global sailing championships which had been COVID-shunted out of other countries, and despite the business of overseas teams getting there through the maze of international pandemic prevention providing an added challenge in getting to Oman, arguably the most maritime of all the Gulf States.

But nevertheless, Irish involvement has been a tradition since the event’s inception, and we’ve seen the metal to prove it, the last one in the 20th Century being Laura Dillon & Ciara Peelo’s Bronze in the Laser 2 in 1996 - a busy year for Laura, as she also won the All-Irelands.

As for the 21st Century, in 2014 in Tavira, Seafra Guilfoyle repeated Finn Lynch’s 2012 Silver win, and then in 2016 Doug Elmes of Kilkenny and Colin O’Sullivan of Malahide, sailing jointly under the HYC colours, won Bronze in the 420s in Malaysia.

But is it strictly true to say that it all started in 1971 in Sweden? That it should be Sweden is all of a piece, as the Scandinavian influence in international sailing was formidable at the time. So much so, in fact, that many thought the Optimist dinghy – which was starting to spread at lightning speed – was a Swedish invention, whereas the original narrative is rather more endearing.

Oman with its spectacular coastline is perhaps the most maritime of all the Gulf States – this is Shabab Oman II, the Omani Sail Training Tall Ship.Oman with its spectacular coastline is perhaps the most maritime of all the Gulf States – this is Shabab Oman II, the Omani Sail Training Tall Ship.

It seems a Swedish ship was taking on cargo in Florida around 1960 in the Port of Clearwater, where the local kids were sailing a little plywood box-boat, invented in 1947 and called the Optimist. The Swedish captain was impressed, and bought up two or three to take home as his own kids were keen on sailing. Thus the Optimist as an international phenomenon was launched, spreading out from Scandinavia.

So when the Swedes hosted the inaugural World Youth Sailing Championship in 1971, it was already a solidly-founded gold-plated event, and it blew away any other established but more modest championships with similar aims. One of these was something called the International Junior Regatta, which claimed world status, but whose heartlands were in mainland Northwest Europe and Scandinavia, and it was basically an inter-club event for national teams selected by the premier clubs (ie the poshest) in each country.

For twenty years from the 50s and 60s onwards, ace Dun Laoghaire helm Terry Roche of the Royal St George YC cruised the coasts of Europe in his 19-ton Hillyard cutter Neon Tetra (crazy name, crazy boat), and built up an unrivalled contact list with these top clubs and the key people in them. Thus the RStGYC became the organising club for Ireland, and staged the International Junior Regatta when it was hosted here.

George Henry (RStGYC) and Douglas Deane (Royal Munster YC) hoisting sail on their allocated Mermaid in the International Junior Regatta in Dun Laoghaire in 1955.George Henry (RStGYC) and Douglas Deane (Royal Munster YC) hoisting sail on their allocated Mermaid in the International Junior Regatta in Dun Laoghaire in 1955.

The late Dougie Deane of Cork remembered being sent up to Dun Laoghaire in 1955 to be part of the Irish squad, but as the racing was staged in Mermaids – at that time the only class in sufficient numbers of matched boats in Dun Laoghaire to stage an international invitational regatta of this sort - it wasn’t his happiest experience, as he was to become more accustomed to sailing to success in his own IDRA 14 Dusk with Donal McClement as crew.

However, as the 1960s gathered pace, the rapid development of Malahide as a powerhouse of rising talent began to show through in Irish participation in the International Junior Regatta, particularly when the Malahide effect began to be felt in Howth and brought forth the remarkable sailing talents of the “two sisters crew”, Margaret and Lee Cuffe-Smith, daughters of future HYC Commodore Bill Cuffe-Smith, who was no slouch himself when it came to inshore and offshore racing success.

The Irish Team at the 1965 International Junior Regatta in Denmark were (left to right) Robin Hennessy, Margaret Cuffe-Smith, Robert Michael, Lee Cuffe-Smith and Manager Terry RocheThe Irish Team at the 1965 International Junior Regatta in Denmark were (left to right) Robin Hennessy, Margaret Cuffe-Smith, Robert Michael, Lee Cuffe-Smith and Manager Terry Roche

The Irish team first leapt to fame in 1965 when the International Junior Regatta was staged at Skovshoved in Denmark, raced in International Snipes powered by as-equal-as-possible new Elvstrom sailed. The Cuffe-Smiths won the Girls Division, while the boys crew of Malahide’s Robin Hennessy and Robert Michael (a combination that later went on to win the coveted Endeavour Trophy in Enterprises in England) placed fourth to make Ireland second overall.

While Margaret and Lee Cuffe-Smith continued as the Irish girls representatives for much of the rest of the 1960s, Malahide furnished a changing lineup of top boy sailors, and in 1967 at Loosdrecht in the Netherlands, it was future Olympic Silver Medallist David Wilkins crewed by Philip Watson (yes, that Philip Watson), who provided the winning male ingredients for Ireland to win the International Junior Regatta Gold Cup for the first time, the podium points being Ireland 3415, Denmark 2973, and Finland 2747.

World Champions. The all-conquering 1967 Irish Team in the International Junior Regatta in The Netherlands were (left to right) Philip Watson, Lee Cuffe-Smith, manager Terry Roche, David Wilkins (Olympic Silver Medallist 1980) and Margaret Cuffe-Smith.World Champions. The all-conquering 1967 Irish Team in the International Junior Regatta in The Netherlands were (left to right) Philip Watson, Lee Cuffe-Smith, manager Terry Roche, David Wilkins (Olympic Silver Medallist 1980) and Margaret Cuffe-Smith.

The Irish team then repeated this performance in 1968 racing Flying Juniors at Alghero Bay in Sardinia. Thereafter, our top junior talents were moving into more senior racing, and sailing was opening up to a more democratic system, even if the new World Youth Championship in 1971 continued to manifest the all-powerful Scandinavian influence, but in time its worldwide locations reflected the new reality.

That said, it’s a cherishable thought that somewhere in the world in some fusty ancient clubs where the wearing of white-topped yachting caps and the onset of premature middle age is the norm, there are old buffers still discussing the need to provide some special sport in an International Junior Regatta for the young people, even as we see in Oman the glorifying of international sport as a tool of international commerce and a weapon of global politics, with fashionable clothing styles and accessories to match.

A timely reminder of the joys of sailing – Jonathan O’Shaughnessy in action on Lake GardaA timely reminder of the joys of sailing – Jonathan O’Shaughnessy in action on Lake Garda

She’s struck gold! Jonathan O’Shaughnessy and Eve McMahon at Lake Garda after the Worlds in JulyShe’s struck gold! Jonathan O’Shaughnessy and Eve McMahon at Lake Garda after the Worlds in July

The Irish team fly out next Wednesday (December 8th), and as the main event officially opens on Saturday, December 11th, they’ve little enough time to acclimatize. Jonathan O’Shaughnessy has the advantage of a recent intensive training session in Valencia (Spain, not Kerry), but Eve McMahon has been much involved with school exams, making her probably the only World Champion in Ireland to have been in this past week’s exam cohort.

As for the younger pair of Ben – who is Jonathan’s cousin - and James in the 29er, they’ve been first out of the school gates down Cork Harbour way each afternoon in recent weeks for an intensive two-hour session on the boat at Crosshaven. You could call it a One-Boat Twilight Regatta, but with November slithering darkly into December, the Miner’s Lamp Challenge might be a more appropriate title.

Ben O’Shaughnessy and James Dwyer in the 29er – they have been getting in some intensive post-school training at Crosshaven in the last of the daylight in recent weeksBen O’Shaughnessy and James Dwyer in the 29er – they have been getting in some intensive post-school training at Crosshaven in the last of the daylight in recent weeks

In Oman, the Team Leader and Head Coach will be three times Olympic sailing medallist Vasilij Zbogar, who has been involved with the Irish international sailing effort since 2018. Most recently last month, his supportive work in helping Finn Lynch out of a performance slump to take Silver at the Laser Worlds in Barcelona led everyone to conclude that though he may be from Slovenia, his home is clearly the Slovenian Gaeltacht. And if he and Support Coach Thomas Chaix of Tralee Bay can produce something similar to the Barcelona Breakthrough in Oman, Vasilij will be perceived as the Jurgen Klopp of sailing in Ireland.

Vasilij Zbogar racing an Olympic Finn – he retired from Olympic sailing after the 2016 Games in Rio, having sailed five Olympiads and winning Silver and Bronze in the Laser, and Silver in the Finn in their final appearance as an Olympic Class in 2016Vasilij Zbogar racing an Olympic Finn – he retired from Olympic sailing after the 2016 Games in Rio, having sailed five Olympiads and winning Silver and Bronze in the Laser, and Silver in the Finn in their penultimate appearance as an Olympic Class in 2016

Published in W M Nixon

There is no doubt that youth involvement is key to the future of sailing.

So it is wise for clubs to devote attention to developing youth sailing leading, hopefully, to onward transition into adult boats and classes and cruiser racing.

It is encouraging to see from incoming club reports that youth sailing is getting a lot of attention on the South Coast.

From Glandore and Kinsale to Monkstown, Cove and Crosshaven, there are positives to be taken from the past season and developed next year.

Youth sailing is getting a lot of attention on the South CoastYouth sailing is getting a lot of attention on the South Coast

Glandore Harbour Yacht Club has appointed Heather Mahmood as Assistant Manager of its Primary Schools' Programme, which is very popular in helping schoolchildren to get afloat.

At Kinsale Yacht Club, Junior Sailing Organiser, Conor Dillon says the future looks bright with new participants and ever-increasing fleet numbers as the young sailors become more skilled.

5o5 sailing in Cork Harbour5o5 sailing in Cork Harbour

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club is planning an outreach programme to city schools next year.

Cove Sailing Club started an Optimist fleet and the Royal Cork at Crosshaven has a vibrant and enthusiastic group of young sailors, some of whom also race on cruisers.

Overall, as clubs prepare for annual meetings, the future of the sport is attracting more youth participation and that is welcome and essential.

More about youth sailing on the South Coast in my Podcast here.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Twenty young sailors from Northern Ireland made the long journey south to Royal Cork Yacht Club for the Investwise Youth Sailing National Championships last weekend. They were members of Newcastle Yacht Club on the south Down coast, East Antrim BC on Larne Lough, County Antrim BC, Ballyholme and Royal North Yacht Clubs on Belfast Lough and Strangford Sailing Club and Strangford Lough YC on Strangford Lough.

After three days of intense racing Tom Coulter of East Antrim Boat Club and Ellen Barbour of East Antrim and County Antrim Boat Clubs turned in results they can be justly proud of.

In the ILCA 6 fleet, Tom Coulter was fifth and had a first in Race 5 in the 30 strong division, and Ellen came 12th with a best place second in the same fleet.

Coulter was delighted with his top ten result; "The competition was intense, and positions fiercely contested, but I managed to stay fairly consistent, contending with wind shifts and tides throughout. Always lots of learning to take away though. Thanks to the organisers Royal Cork Yacht Club for putting together such a fantastic event! The food, hospitality and entertainment were first class, and it was great to catch up and have a laugh with sailors from all over Ireland, both on and off the water".

Daniel Palmer of Ballyholme finished fourth overall in ILCA 4 with a first, second and third as his best results with clubmate Hannah Dadley-Young 8th in the same fleet.

Bobby Driscoll (right)of Royal North and Ballyholme Yacht ClubsBobby Driscoll (right) of Royal North and Ballyholme Yacht Clubs Photo: Bob Bateman

And Bobby Driscoll of Royal North and Ballyholme Yacht Clubs put up a good showing in the largest fleet in the competition, the 38 strong Topper division, with a 3rd overall, counting two first places on the Saturday. Autumn Halliday from Strangford Lough Yacht Club was 12th in the same fleet.

East Antrim BC Commodore Lucy Whitford was pleased with the club's sailors' showing at the Championships; "I was delighted to see such strong performances from our members Tom Coulter, Ellen Barber, Callum Jackson and Zoe Whitford. It has been an incredibly busy year for all of them and this was a great way to end the season. Congratulations to them all".

Lauren McDowell, RNIYC and Erin McIlwaine, Newcastle YC sailing 1619Lauren McDowell, RNIYC and Erin McIlwaine, Newcastle YC sailing 1619 Photo: Bob Bateman

In the high-performance 29er class Lauren McDowell, RNIYC and Erin McIlwaine, Newcastle YC sailed very well to turn in a 6th. Perhaps lack of a competitive 29er Class in the North deprives Lauren and Ellen of regular competitive racing.

The northern contestants won't have such a long journey to the Championships next year because this prestigious event will be hosted by Ballyholme Yacht Club from 21st till 24th April.

Published in Youth Sailing
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The cut short Investwise Irish Youth Sailing National Championships on Cork Harbour had produced some clear winners in five classes regardless of today's Yellow Alert weather warning at Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Five titles were divided between Dublin and Cork sailors with the host club taking two crowns, the biggest haul of any single club with the 29er and Topper titles won by local sailors.

Both Laser titles go to Dublin, with Howth Yacht Club taking the ILCA 6 and the National Yacht Club winning in the ILCA 4.

The 420 title is shared by a combined Malahide and Wexford duo.

McMahon wins ILCA 6 but Crosbie's Reinstatement Makes it Close

ILCA 6 Champion - Eve McMahon of Howth

As Afloat reported earlier, the final results from Saturday’s long day afloat weren’t initially confirmed as two titles were eventually settled ashore in the protest room this morning.

On Saturday evening, a protest by ILCA6 (Laser Radial) overall leader Eve McMahon saw the Howth Yacht Club sailor extend her lead over Michael Crosbie of the Royal Cork YC when he was disqualified from Race 10 due to a port and starboard incident.

However, the Crosshaven sailor returned to the protest room on Sunday morning to have his result reinstated as McMahon had not informed the race committee of her protest on Saturday.

McMahon still emerged as ILCA6 Youth National Champion after the tie-break with Crosbie.

O'Shaughnessy & Dwyer Lift 29er Skiff Title 

29er Champions Ben O’Shaughnessy and James Dwyer (Royal Cork YC) Photo: Bob Bateman29er Champions - Ben O’Shaughnessy and James Dwyer (Royal Cork YC) Photo: Bob Bateman

Ben O’Shaughnessy and James Dwyer (Royal Cork YC) won the 29er skiff national title by a single point as Afloat reported here after a close contest with Tim Norwood and Nathan Van Steenberge from the Royal Irish YC and National YC respectively in their eleven strong demonstration class that immediately followed a European Championships campaign on Lake Garda last week.

The runners-up were also in the protest room on Sunday morning seeking redress for equipment failure in their second race of the series on Friday but their submission was ruled out of time.

Collins top Toppers, Newcomer Ledoux Wins 4.7s

Rian CollinsTopper Champion - Rian Collins of Royal Cork Photo: Bob Bateman

As Afloat reported earlier, Crosshaven’s Rian Collins won the 38-boat Topper class with a 12-point lead over his clubmate Dan O’Leary taking the runner-up place in their seven-race series. Bobby Driscoll's third overall kept the Belfast Lough Topper flag flying.

Sam Ledoux of the National YCILCA 4 Champion - Sam Ledoux of the National YC Photo: Bob Bateman

The Topper fleet shared the same course as the ILCA4 (Laser 4.7) class, the second largest of the event with 31 boats where a newcomer to the class, Sam Ledoux of the National YC, emerged youth national champion. 

Five wins Give McDowell & Thompson the 420 Title

420  champions - Jack McDowell and Henry Thompson Photo: Bob Bateman420 champions - Jack McDowell and Henry Thompson Photo: Bob Bateman

The Malahide and Wexford Harbour pairing of Jack McDowell and Henry Thompson continued their three-day lead of the 420 class to win comfortably as Afloat reports here over Eoghan Duffy with Conor Paul of Lough Ree YC in a disappointingly small nine boat class.

Published in Youth Sailing

Topper sailor Rian Collin of the host club leads the biggest fleet of the youth sailing national championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club.

After three races sailed, Collins, on four points, leads clubmate Dan O'Leary by an impressive ten points. 

Howth's Ciara McMahon took third place in the 38-boat fleet on 17 points, some six points ahead of Northern Ireland Topper champion Bobby Driscoll of Royal Northern Ireland Yacht Club.

The 38-boat Topper fleet was racing on the Curlane Bank courseThe 38-boat Topper fleet was racing on the Curlane Bank course

Topper : Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Entries: 38Topper : Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Entries: 38

Published in Topper
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Howth Yacht Club Laser Radial sailors share the top two places overall at the Investwise Youth Sailing Championships in Cork Harbour after six races sailed. 

There was no surprise yesterday when the World Radial Youth Female champion Eve McMahon leapt to the front of the fleet, almost unchallenged in yesterday's opening three races. 

The U18 champion continued her form to have a winning margin after today's race of seven points after six races sailed.

She proved consistent even in the tricky conditions and has a clean scoresheet except for two-second places scored in races three and four.

McMahon's clubmate Rocco Wright counted a race win, as did Michael Crosbie of the RCYC, level on points.

Good fleet awareness in variable conditions was a key to success in the ILCA classes where there are 30 boats plus fleetsGood fleet awareness in variable conditions was the key to success in the ILCA divisions, where there are 30 boat fleets in both classes. Photo: Bob Bateman.

Racing on the Curlane Bank race area, close to Crosshaven, shifting winds eventually permitted three races to be completed.

ILCA 6: Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 30ILCA 6: Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 30

National Yacht Club's Ledoux Leads ILCA 4s

Sam Ledoux of the National YC leads the ILCA4 (Laser 4.7) Class. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour ace has a two-point lead over neighbour Matteo Ciaglia of the Royal St. George. Local helm Max Tolan is lying third in the 32-boat fleet after three races sailed. Results below.

Racing continues tomorrow.

ILCA 4: Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Entries: 32ILCA 4: Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Entries: 32

ILCA 4 & 6 Day Two Youth Nationals Photo Gallery by Bob Bateman

Published in Laser

Four straight wins for the Malahide and Wexford Harbour pairing of Jack McDowell and Henry Thompson means they overtake the overnight leaders Imogen Hauer and Hugo Micka in the 420 Class of the Investwise Youth Sailing National Championships at Royal Cork.

Hauer and Micka are now third overall on 15 points, with Lough Ree's Owen Duffy and Conor Paul squeezing into second place on 12 points after seven races sailed. 

The 420 fleet sailed trapezoid coursesThe 420 fleet sailed trapezoid courses Photo: Bob Bateman

This year, the 420 numbers are reduced at the Nationals, a disappointment for double-handed followers, especially given the impressive 21-boat showing at Howth for the National Championships in August. 

Racing continues tomorrow, with more trapezoid courses expected off the Whitegate refinery in Cork Harbour.

420: Sailed: 7, Discards: 1, To count: 6, Entries: 9420: Sailed: 7, Discards: 1, To count: 6, Entries: 9

 420 Youth Nationals Photo Gallery by Bob Bateman - Day 2

Published in 420

After three races sailed in the 29er Skiff Class at the Investwise Youth Sailing Championships at Royal Cork, two of the Irish gold fleet finishers at the European Championships on Lake Garda in Italy on Wednesday continue neck and neck in Cork Harbour on Friday.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Royal Cork's James Dwyer and Ben O'Shaughnessy of the RCYC  finished 18th at the Euros with Clementine van Steenberge with Chiara Carra of the Royal St. George YC, three places behind in 21st place. 

After four races sailed in Cork Harbour, the battle continues with Dwyer and O'Shaughnessy one point ahead of the Royal St George girls. Another George pairing, sisters Emily and Jessica Riordan, are lying third. 

The fight for the lead of the 29er fleet was very impressive with the level of competition and standard of racingThe fight for the lead of the 29er fleet was very impressive with the level of competition and standard of racing on show Photo: Bob Bateman.

Top Irish performers at the Euros (finishing 11th), Tim Norwood and Nathan van Steenberge of the Royal Irish, are in fourth place, principally due to retiral in the second race this morning. They won the opening race and were fifth in the third.

The Irish team is adjusting from the big fleet tactics required for the massive 200 boats European fleet earlier this week to the much more modest 11 boat domestic fleet gathered on the Cuskinny Bank.

Racing continues tomorrow.

29er: Sailed: 4, Discards: 0, To count: 4, Entries: 1129er: Sailed: 4, Discards: 0, To count: 4, Entries: 11

 29er Youth Nationals Day 2 Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

Published in 29er

After four races sailed in the final gold fleet races at the 29er European Championships in Lake Garda, Royal Irish Yacht Club's Tim Norwood and Nathan Van Steenberge are in seventh place overall. 

Royal Cork's James Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy have dropped back in gold fleet and counted a ZFP penalty among their gold fleet scores yesterday to be 15th overall. 

Racing continues this morning. 

Italy's Zeno Valerio Marchesini and Carlo Vittoli lead from Hungary's Toth Attila and Borda Levente. 

Five Irish boats are racing in Italy.

Clementine van Steenberge and Chiara Carra also racing gold fleet are in 30th. Lauren O' Callaghan and Fiona Ferguson of the National Yacht Club stay 17th in the silver fleet and Royal St. George's Emily and Jessica Riordan lead the bronze fleet.

Prizes will be awarded for the Eurocup final series and the European Championships.

Download results from gold, silver and bronze divisions below.

Published in Youth Sailing
Tagged under

Royal Cork's James Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy continue to edge closer to the podium at the 29er European Championships in Lake Garda and are now just four points off the overall lead, sharing third place points overall after seven races sailed. 

Royal Irish Yacht Club's Tim Norwood and Nathan Van Steenberge are also in contention in sixth place overall, despite a disqualification in race seven yesterday evening. 

Hungary's Toth Attila and Borda Levente have moved into a slender lead on 21 points but only nine points separate the top six.

Denmark's Jens-Christian Dehn-Toftehoj and Jens-Philip Dehn-Toftehoj are second on 23 points with the Italian pairing of Lorenzo Pezzilli and Tobia Torroni sharing 25 points with Dwyer Matthews and O'Shaughnessy. 

Royal St. George's Emily and Jessica Riordan (pictured centre on port tack)Royal St. George's Emily and Jessica Riordan

Five Irish boats are racing in Italy.

Clementine van Steenberge and Chiara Carra are 48th. Lauren O' Callaghan and Fiona Ferguson of the National Yacht Club stay 84th and Royal St. George's Emily and Jessica Riordan are 112th

Prizes will be awarded for the Eurocup final series and the European Championships.

Download results below

Published in 29er
Tagged under
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