Last week Ballyholme’s Dan McGaughey won the youth title and second overall in the Laser Radial UK Nationals at Largs, Scotland. This followed Howth Yacht Club’s Eve McMahon who won the Under 17 Laser Radial Youth Worlds title the week previous in Kingston, Canada. And of course, Eve’s brother Jamie won the Under-21 Laser Radial European title back in May in Porto. It all points to some home talent building for the Laser Radial European Youth Championships which Ballyholme will host next summer in July 2020.
Before that - Ballyholme Yacht Club will host the 2019 Irish Laser National Championships from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th August 2019 with support from Ards and North Down Borough Council, CH Marine, Quay Marinas, the Salty Dog hotel and the Guillemot Deli & Kitchen Cafe.
As Afloat reported previously, this is the first major Laser event at Ballyholme since 2014 when Ballyholme’s James Espey was attempting to keep eventual Rio rep Finn Lynch at bay, and Annalise Murphy was on her way to Olympic Silver at Rio 2016.
As Afloat previously reported, McMahon entered the final day in second place in the U19 category, but two race wins by the Australian sailor dropped McMahon to third overall. Clare Gorman (NYC) retained her overall fifth place.
In the Boys fleet, Tom Higgins finished strongly to gain three places on the final day to finish fifth overall, while Michéal O’Sulleabhain ended the regatta in 13th place and Jamie McMahon jumped from 34th to 19th overall.
Girls Gold Fleet:
3. Eve McMahon
5. Clare Gorman (NYC)
Boys Gold Fleet:
5. Tom Higgins
12. Michéal O’Suilleabhain
19. Jamie McMahon (HYC)
53. James Delaney (NYC)
49. Sam Rutherford
Full results here
Howth Yacht Club's Eve McMahon lies second overall – and first in the under 17 category – going into the final days racing of the ILCA Laser Radial Youth World Championships currently underway in Kingston, Canada.
The 2019 edition of the championships sees 208 competitors from 32 countries competing for World titles in both boys and girls divisions.
Six Irish sailors, four boys and two girls, have made the journey to the 1976 Olympic sailing venue.
McMahon went straight from this month's Youth World Sailing Championships in Poland for the Canadian event.
After 10 races with the final two on Wednesday, some of the Irish sailors are featuring strongly.
A great start for Irish sailors saw both Tom Higgins and Eve McMahon (HYC) top their respective leaderboards after day one.
Subsequent results have seen Higgins drop back to 8th, while McMahon has continued good form and now lies 2nd overall and 1st in the under 17 category.
Clare Gorman (NYC) is in 5th place in the Girls division, while Michéal O’Suilleabhain lies 12th and Eve’s brother Jamie McMahon is in 34th place in the Boys gold fleet.
Full Irish results (after 10 Races)(12 races to complete the regatta)
Girls Gold Fleet:
2. Eve McMahon
5. Clare Gorman (NYC)
Boys Gold Fleet:
8. Tom Higgins
12. Michéal O’Suilleabhain
34. Jamie McMahon (HYC)
51. James Delaney (NYC)
49. Sam Rutherford
Full results here
Fifty-five Lasers took to the water this past weekend on Lough Derg for the Laser Connaught Championships, hosted by Lough Derg Yacht Club. Understandably, the atmosphere and excitement around the club was palpable following the fantastic achievement of Aisling Keller in qualifying Ireland in the Laser Radial for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics during the week.
Sailors were greeted to a 5-6 knot South Westerly on the Saturday in warm, slightly overcast conditions. RO, Liam Maloney and his able team had made the wise decision to run four races on the Saturday as Sunday was forecast for even lighter winds. Laser Standards were off first, with Tom Keal (RCYC) showing a clean set of heels to lead around the course from start to finish. Unfortunately, the breeze shifted 90 degrees and died away to a whisper by the time the remainder of the fleet reached the gybe mark making it a paddle race to the shortened course finish line for the rest of the Standards. Aaron Rogers (RSC) and Fionn Conway (KSC) finished second and third respectively.
After a short delay, the weather gods thankfully decided to play ball for the second race and offered up a lovely 10-13 knot South Westerly, albeit in shifty conditions. Keal, a recent Standard convert from the Radial, again showed super boat handling ability to steal first place from Conway, followed by Rogers, also a recent Standard convert, in third. These three sailors mixed it up for the remainder of the day, albeit with one disruption to proceedings when Gavan Murphy (RSGYC) stole a second on the line from Keal. Rogers grabbed another first and Conway won his first race of the day in race four, leaving just one point between first, second and third going into the Sunday.
In the ever-competitive 4.7 fleet, Kitty Flanigan (RSGYC) won the first race, followed by Conor Gorman (NYC) and Hugh O’Connor (NYC) in second and third respectively. Michael Crosbie (RCYC), Tim Norwood (RIYC) and Gorman ran affairs for the remainder of the day with Crosbie grabbing two seconds and a first, Norwood (two firsts and a fifth) and Gorman (fourth, third and second). Jack O’Sullivan (KYC) caused an upset to the above proceedings in race two with a hard-fought third place.
In the Radials, twenty-six entries was lower than usual, with some away at the British Nationals and a few more in Kingston, Canada for the Radial Youth Worlds. Doubtless, the Radial fleet will be back up well over 40 for the Nationals in Ballyholme (Aug 22-25) especially as this is the venue for the 2020 Radial Youth Europeans. Out on Lough Derg, racing was as close as ever but the home club’s Jack Fahey stormed into an overnight lead with three first’s and a second. This was despite a lower-key sailing season for Fahey, what with that pesky Leaving Cert getting in the way! Paddy Cunnane from Fenit took the other win and was basically snapping at Fahey’s heels all day, along with the speedy Rob Keal of RCYC. Paddy’s younger sister, Ellie, was the best of the rest on Saturday and seems to be improving rapidly this season. Thankfully Paddy at 6 foot 2 and almost 80kgs has an escape route into the Standard rigs next year, before Ellie starts beating him consistently! There was great racing throughout the fleet with a couple of Masters having their moments in the sun, none more so than LDYC ex-Commodore John Leech who had one great race right up at the front in his mustard coloured boat, sail number 82242. That’s a 1980 hull by the way - and that tells you all you need to know about the longevity of Laser hulls. But wait! Poor John came ashore to find he’d been black-flagged.
On Sunday, sailors were greeted to a light Westerly 3-4 knot breeze. The race committee duly postponed proceedings for a half-hour while the breeze flip-flopped before settling down, albeit for a short while. Standards were off first with a similar outcome to Saturday with Rogers taking the win in the first race, followed by Conway in second and Keal in third. The sixth and final race was postponed while the breeze shifted 180 degrees and the race course was relocated. A tightly compact fleet reached the weather mark within just a few boat lengths of each other making the downwind a tight affair. Keal, Rogers and Conway once again showed off their superior boat handling ability to claim first, second and third respectively which was the final placed outcome of the Standard results, following count-back. Standard Masters results were Gavan Murphy (RSGYC - fourth overall and first master), Alex Fernie (GBSC - sixth overall and second master) and Conor Roche (RIYC - seventh overall and third master).
In the Radials on Sunday, the same top three were up-front again, but Ellie Cunnane posted a super 2nd in the opener. Erin Mcllwaine from Newcastle YC showed the long trip from Newcastle YC up North was well worth it, with two really solid 4th places. Like many, Erin is now lucky enough to combine Laser with 29er sailing and it looks like all-round skill levels get enhanced. A 1st and 2nd were easily enough for Local Hero Fahey to wrap up the title but Rob Keal’s closing race win edged the unlucky Paddy Cunnane into 3rd on the dreaded tie-break! In the Radial Masters (who again travelled in good numbers) reaction-time to Derg’s ever-changing conditions was definitely slower than with the youths but, for the record, the 1-2-3 was Sean Craig (6th overall), Marco Sorgassi (10th overall) and Shirley Gilmore (12th overall) – all three being members of the RStGYC and it’s burgeoning Dun Laoghaire Masters fleet.
In the 4.7 fleet, Crosbie continued on in the same rich vein of form as the Saturday with two first-place results. Norwood also showed fantastic consistency with two third-place results, while Gorman also bagged another second in race five. O’Connor again managed to upset proceedings in race six with a second-place result. Overall 4.7 results were Crosbie, Norwood and Gorman in first, second and third respectively with Flanagan taking first girl and fourth overall.
Report by Sean Craig & Gavan Murphy
Following the final two races at the Laser Radial World Championship this morning, Ireland has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing regatta in the women’s single-handed event, the only sailing discipline so far in which Ireland has qualified.
The berth was secured by the current Irish Radial Champion, Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) who had her best day in the Gold fleet final series to finish 46th overall in the 56-boat Gold fleet.
“This is a weight off my shoulders for sure, it’s probably the hardest regatta I’ve ever sailed,” Keller said. “To come in off the water and know that it’s done and dusted is just amazing (I’m) so happy.”
Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins placed 48th and both Irish sailors were inside the qualification criteria with Keller taking the seventh of ten-nation places decided at the championship. Hopkins would otherwise have been in the ninth nation place.
“It’s been a really long road to this moment. We’ve been working for a year towards this event particularly and even longer towards Olympic qualification,” said Hopkins. “It’s really nice to come away with the outcome we wanted.”
The world championship was won by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom who led overall going into to the final day of Gold fleet racing on Wednesday. Ten nation places for Tokyo 2020 were also decided at the event in addition to the 20 already won in 2018.
Now that Ireland has qualified, an Irish Olympic Trials Series will be held to determine which sailor represents Ireland in Tokyo. More details on the Olympic Trials format is here.
“Qualification was something that had to happen so that ended up being the focus here at the end of the regatta,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Next we go to the Olympic venue (at) Enoshima… now that we know we’re going to be there (at the Games) we’ve got to make the most of it.”
The sailing venue for next year’s Olympic regatta will host national representatives in all events next month for a scheduled test series for competitors and organisers alike.
Meanwhile, Ballyholme is getting ready to host their first major Laser event since 2014 when Ballyholme’s James Espey used to rule the Irish Laser roost and Finn Lynch had just become the Under 19 Laser World Champion. At the same event in 2014, Annalise Murphy became Irish Radial Champion on her way to Olympic Silver at Rio 2016, and another regular name in the sailing news these days, Johnny Durcan, won the Laser 4.7s.
Ballyholme’s Colin Leonard was the winner at the Laser Ulster Championships last month at East Antrim Yacht Club showing the form he has shown in the BYC Icebreaker and Club Points series.
Grand Master Chris Boyd is still often the one to beat at BYC - much happier now that he has returned to the Standard class after a year in the Radials training for the Dun Laoghaire 2018
Laser Master Worlds.
Over 130 Lasers are expected at the National Championships with support from Ards and North Down Borough Council, CH Marine, Quay Marinas and the Guillemot Deli & Kitchen Cafe.
A large Standard fleet will be boosted by the BYC Lasers, many of who make up for their lack of experience at the top end of the fleet with their enthusiasm. Last year's National Champion - Ballyholme’s Liam Glynn - is expected to defend his trophy at his home club, hopefully against the others from the Irish Performance Squad.
Ronan Wallace leads the Irish rankings from 2018 have narrowly missed out on a win at the Ulster’s after losing a protest with Nick Walsh.
Jamie McMahon has ruled the Laser Radials recently winning the Laser Ulster’s from Aisling Keller as well as the Under 21 Laser Radial European title back in May in Porto. Competition with his siblings - Ewan (now in the Standard), Eve and Jack - obviously spurs the Howth sailors on. Jamie and Eve have both been competing in the World Sailing Youth Championships in Poland with both getting some top ten individual race results. It’s great to see some early form for Irish sailors who will be looking forward to the Laser Radial European Youth Championships to be held at Ballyholme Yacht Club next summer.
The 4.7 class should see the resumption of competition between the Cork and Dun Laoghaire fleets with RCYC’s Michael Crosbie victorious at East Antrim while the National’s Hugh O’Connor won the Munster at Baltimore.
Entries so far are here
With just two races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan to be sailed on Wednesday, both Irish Olympic campaigners are within reach of the single Irish qualification place for Tokyo 2020. Ten nation places are being decided this week.
Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) moved up a place after the penultimate day’s racing to 41st place while team-mate Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tiperary) slipped down the standings from 40th to 49th.
However, Hopkins’ overall position equates to fifth nation while Keller’s result would be tenth nation: mathematically, it is still possible that both sailors could slip outside the criteria on the final day.
The Howth sailor was disqualified for premature starting in the opening race of the day though sailed the course amongst the leading boats. She then scored a 25th in the race that followed while using the single discard to drop the earlier disqualification.
Meanwhile, her team-mate from Lough Derg sailed well in the opening stages of both races but suffered on the downwind legs as conditions were the freshest of the series so far.
“Aoife did exactly what she needed to do after the disqualification - get stuck in and get a good result,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Her confidence and momentum are growing with the experience of racing at this level.”
Two final races are scheduled for Wednesday (early-morning Irish time) that will decide the world championship that is currently led by Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom.
Subject to qualification for Tokyo 2020 at this opportunity, a selection trial series will follow next year. A further qualification opportunity also exists for European nations in Genoa in April.
Genoa will also be the qualification opportunity for the men’s single-handed Laser event while Ireland’s skiff sailors will seek qualification for the Olympics at the 49er and 49erFX men and womens’ world championships in New Zealand in November.
Results are here
With just four races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan, Ireland’s Aisling Keller and Aoife Hopkins are on target to secure Ireland's berth on the Tokyo startline in the Laser Radial class.
Both Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) are placed 40th and 42nd in the 56-boat Gold fleet final round of the championship that started last Friday.
Hopkins had the stronger day on Monday with two top 30 results while Keller had two 42nd places, one of which she drops using the discard system. Another discard comes into force if the series achieves ten races.
Keller had been in 15th place in the second race but received a 'yellow flag' penalty for excessive propulsion technique and dropped back after taking the mandatory turn.
Conditions on Miho Bay, Sakaiminato have proven tricky for competitors and organisers alike with light, shifty winds delaying racing and causing the qualification series to miss one race.
Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) qualified for the Gold fleet final round at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan earlier today (Sunday 21st July 2019).
The event is the penultimate qualification regatta for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women's single-handed event sailed in the Radial.
After two days of light winds that put the championship behind schedule, the fleet had a protracted third day afloat for eight hours as the organisers staged three races to catch-up on most of the event schedule.
Both Keller and Hopkins had two good results apiece with an eighth and an eleventh respectively that leaves them 29th and 37th overall at the end of the qualification series for the 111-boat event.
A six-race Gold fleet series begins on Monday with two races scheduled daily before concluding the world championship on Wednesday.
A total of ten-nation places are available from the world championship for Tokyo with 14 countries in the Gold fleet all seeking one of the quota. Both Keller and Hopkins are currently inside the qualification standings.
"It was a challenging day to be consistent with winds ranging from fresh to moderate to light but flukey at all times," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach. "The plan continues to be to sail one race at a time as a very tough Gold fleet final round lies ahead."
Results are here
Both Irish women competing at the World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan achieved top 20 results as the pair aim to secure the single place for Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) had a 14th place while Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) was 17th in the single race day for their 55-boat Blue flight.
The moderate breeze that the two qualification flights started in proved quite unstable and soon eased to near calm conditions. Plans for a second race were dropped.
As Afloat reported previously, a second day of slack winds on Miho Bay has put the qualification round behind schedule and while three races may be attempted on Sunday, the finals series must begin on Monday regardless.
Two races on Sunday would see the series discard come into force and allow Hopkins to drop her 34th place from the opening day to maximise her potential to achieve Gold fleet for the finals.
“We have good momentum now so I’m pretty happy that Aisling and Aoife have settled in,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach.
Ten nation places for the women’s single-handed dinghy in Tokyo will be decided at this world championship in addition to the 20 already allocated from 2018 events. Either or both Irish sailors must first qualify for Gold fleet on Sunday and score well by Wednesday’s final race to achieve Irish qualification.