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The Mirror dinghy season kicked off with a bang as 13 boats landed in Blessington Lake Sailing Club; a little apprehensive about how the weekend would unfold but certainly excited to get back afloat. There were some new faces and plenty of boats coming out of the wrappers from Wicklow to Royal North. As usual, Blessington did not disappoint with a generous welcome and a phenomenal lineup of volunteers, support and race management that brings the mirror class back year after year.

If the fleet thought there would be a chance to get rid of the cobwebs, they were very much wrong! Straight into some tight racing with very testing conditions.

Defending champions Ger and Robyn Owens came out of the blocks fast which one would have expected on the back of Ger winning at the first GP14 event of the year in Killaloe the previous weekend. But they didn’t have everything their own way, Ross (former Mirror World Champion) and Elliot Kearney were in hot pursuit, Aurele Dion and Ben Chaix (youngest partnership with a combined age of 19) were managing to get stuck into the mix and caused plenty of sore heads shouting and whooping as the wind picked up and the boats got going, scorching down the reaches. They kept in that order crossing the finish line in race 1.

Lucas Flynn and Freddie Nelson of the host club competing in Mirror dinghy Bandit Blue at the East Coast Championships on Blessington LakeLucas Flynn and Freddie Nelson of the host club competing in Mirror dinghy Bandit Blue at the East Coast Championships on Blessington Lake

Race 2 was all about Juliet Ryan and Ella Rock owning the first beat ‘like a boss’ closely followed by Aurele and Ben, Ger and Robyn. Ross and Elliot were pushing too hard to catch the leading pack which resulted in a capsize. Locals Lucas Flynn and Freddie Nelson were never far from the action and always ready to pounce when the opportunity presented. It was hard work, but experience prevailed, securing yet another win for Ger and Robyn, eventually getting the best of the "junior teams". Another 2 races were completed. The Juniors kept pushing but Ger and Robyn managed to keep a clean sheet of bullets after 4 races. With a similar pattern experienced the previous week at the GP14 event, there is certainly many youth talents outside the pathway classes to keep an eye on... The future is bright!

The fleet was grateful to get back on shore after a cold, blustery first day with 4 great races thanks to the PRO Joe Crilly and his team. Hot toasted cheese sandwiches, pasta and hot chocolate met us on shore and quickly warmed us up, and the buzz started exchanging war stories.

For those who survived day 1, they were rewarded with glamor conditions on day 2. A warm, sunny, light breeze greeted the sailors as they arrived. The rubber had hit the road, and the race management team delivered 2 wonderful competitive tights races. The top 3 boats, Ger and Robyn, Ross and Freddie, Juliet and Ella, were back sparring at the front, with the rest of the chasing pack a few boat lengths behind in race 5.

The Irish fleet gathered at Blessington Sailing Club for the 2024 Mirror Eastern Championship prizegivingThe Irish fleet gathered at Blessington Sailing Club for the 2024 Mirror Eastern Championship prizegiving

If Ger and Robyn had done enough to retain the title by then, it was all to play for 2nd position and the Youth trophy (U18) with Juliet (14) / Ella (14) And Aurele (10) / Ben (9) joint points with race 6 to go. It was close but it was to be Juliet and Ella 2nd place, one ahead of the boys that secured the youth title. The girls also won Silver whilst the boys won bronze... Promotions up the fleet coming up!

A massive thank you to Blessington for putting on an amazing event again and to all the volunteers and parents trailing and sailing who got the class its first championship of the year. Special thanks to Lisa Flynn as the class on the water instructor helping the less experienced sailors to enjoy their event.

Racing continues next in Lough Derg with the promise of even more new faces and returning legends to the Mirror Class.

Published in Mirror
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#JamboRí - Up to 6,000 young people will get afloat over the six days of JamboRí 2018, the biggest scouting event in Ireland for a decade.

Scouting Ireland will hold JamboRí at Stradbally Hall in Co Laois, the home of Electric Picnic, from 25 July to 2 August 2018.

As part of the festival, all participants will spend a full day on the water at Blessington Lakes in Co Wicklow where they will have the opportunity to sail, row, kayak, windsurf and more.

The water element is headed up by the Sea Scouts, the specialist group within the Scouting Ireland movement which uses nautical skills and experiences to create outdoor adventures for young people.

“Putting 1,000 young people on the water each day for a week is an exciting task and we can’t wait!” said Colum McCaffrey of Malahide Sea Scouts and team lead for the water element of JamboRí 2018.

“We do need support from other agencies to maximise the experience of the young people attending and we welcome contact from anyone wishing to help us by assisting with equipment, training or logistics.”

Offers of assistance with equipment welcome at [email protected].

Published in Youth Sailing